Filter
  • Welsh Election Appeal

    Communists in Wales are standing 20 candidates for the Welsh elections on 5 May. This bold initiative, will also gain the CP space on television from which it is so often excluded. But elections cost money and that is where you can make a difference. The Welsh Communist Party is for the second time contesting seats across the whole of Wales (the first time was in 2007).

  • 51st Congress: International Resolution

    Read the final version of the international resolution "Oppose imperialism’s drive to super-exploitation and war" from the 51st Congress of the Communist Party.

  • 51st Congress: Domestic Resolution

    Read the final version of the domestic resolution "Another Britain is possible — build the working class movement to challenge the bankers, bosses and their government" from the 51st Congress of the Communist Party.

  • CP Campaign Plan 2011

    BUILDING THE MOVEMENT, BUILDING THE PARTY is the CP Campaign Plan 2011 adopted by the Executive Committee, 9 January 2011. You can view it in full here.

  • Messages of Solidarity sent to 51 Congress

    View here the greetings of international solidarity sent by Workers' and Communist Parties to the 51st Congress of the CP in Britain.

  • New Executive Committee of CP elected at 51st Congress named.

    The 51st Congress of the Communist Party of Britain elected the following members to the Executive Committee for the coming two years.

  • CP CONGRESS: General secretary Robert Griffiths speech

     

    Read here Robert Griffiths speech to Congress in which he calls on organised workers to join the battle of ideas and describes the communist party, "...as a force for mobilisation, for unity, for militancy, for clarity."

  • CP CONGRESS: John Foster on the global struggle for progressive change

    International Secretary John Foster is interviewed about the opportunities and dangers in the current global struggle for progressive change.

  • 51st Congress - Communist Party hears inaugural public speech of Cuba's new UK ambassador

    Cuba’s new ambassador to the UK has given her first public speech since taking on the post to the 51st Congress of the Communist Party of Britain.

  • CP CONGRESS: Carolyn Jones, CP Trade Union Coordinator - proposes domestic motion

    Moving the Domestic Resolution on behalf of the EC, Carolyn Jones highlighted “a few choice myths and how we should respond”.

  • CP CONGRESS: Interview with Robert Griffiths sets out priorities and key issues

    Speaking ahead of the 51st Party Congress, general secretary Rob Griffiths sets out some priorities and key issues for debate.
  • CP 51st CONGRESS: Imperialism is still alive and well

    Last week's security and defence review lends urgency to the issues to be debated at this weekend's Communist Party congress writes International Secretary John Foster in the Morning Star.

  • CP 51st CONGRESS: Honing fightback strategies

    "Another Britain is Possible - Build a Working Class Movement to Challenge the Bankers, Bosses and their Government" is the challenge thrown down by the Communist Party's executive committee this weekend writes Bill Greenshields in the Morning Star.

  • Executive Committee International Resolution

    The Executive Committee International Resolution for the 51st Congress, 'Oppose Imperialism’s Drive to Super-Exploitation and War' is available for discussion.

  • Executive Committee Domestic Resolution

    Available now for discussion, the domestic resolution for 51st Congress, 'Another Britain is Possible - Build a Working Class Movement to Challenge the Bankers, Bosses and their Government.'

  • CUB2010 Unite the Labour Movement defeat the ConDems

    Moz Greenshields Unison, John Hendy Peoples' Charter and George Waterhouse general secretary YCL and Anne Field, UNITE addressed the current state of the labour movement and how we can develop a struggle against the government and its policies.

  • CUB2010 Heroes turned into outlaws?

    Robert Wilkinson CP delegate to the recent conference on historical revisionism in Brussels and Phil Katz author of 'Freedom From Tyranny'  talked about the growing opposition to the forces grouped around the reactionary agenda of the Prague Declaration which brings together anti communists, historical revisionists and even holocaust deniers.

  • CUB2010 Marx and Engels Green Fingers

    Scientist and chair of the CP Advisory on Science, Technology and Environment led a session on Marxism and the environment. It was a well attended session which covered a huge subject area.

  • 90th anniversary DVD launched

    The Saturday evening session of the CUB2010 saw the premiere screening of a 90th anniversary commemorative DVD charting CP history and record of achievement. This impressive DVD will soon be available for purchase. Watch this space.

  • CUB2010 - new draft programme launched

    Late on Saturday at the CUB a new draft of the CP programme 'Britain's Road to Socialism' was launched. A panel of speakers including members of the drafting commission met to present and and answer questions.

  • CUB2010 Heroes turned into outlaws?

     

    The first early afternoon session looked at the Prague Declaration movement. There are two versions of the Prague Declaration, one groups together anti communists, holocaust deniers and historical revisionists and the other is the Statement of Principles of the Conservative and Reformists Group in the Euro Parliament.

  • CUB2010 Marx and Engels Green Fingers

    Later in the morning one of the four sessions was on environmentalism. The lead speaker contended that Green theory pits science and ecology against each other when Marxism seeks to bring the two together. Marx throughout his life had a materialist conception of nature.

  • CUB2010 and the 'Battle of Ideas'.

      The first session, bringing together Education Professor Marj Mayo, Scientist Martin Levy and the chair of the YCL, James Rodie opened the first session of the CUB2010.

  • STAR INTERVIEW: YCL general secretary Waterhouse on CUB2010 and the challenges facing young people

    Morning Star reporter John Millington interviews George Waterhouse who talks politics, organisation, young people and socialism. Visit the YCL website.

  • CUB 2010: The Communist Response to the Middle East Crisis

    This year's Communist University of Britain will play host to a briefing session on Sunday 1st August 1pm, on  the Crisis in the Middle East featuring representatives from the Palestinian People's Party, Tudeh Party of Iran and the Communist Party of Iraq. Organised by the Co-ordinating Committee of Communist Parties, and chaired by SACP international secretary Chris Matlhako, the briefing will also see the launch of a new campaign to free Marwan Barghouti and all Palestinian Political Prisoners. Make sure you book your place for CUB2010.

  • CUB Social BBQ, bar and good company 'til late

  • CUB 2010: Speakers and sessions announced

    Young speakers and prominent labour movement figures top the bill in the CUB2010 which opens on Friday 30 July with an international rally. If you are active in labour, tenants, student or community organisations, CUB2010 is a great opportunity to exchange your ideas and experiences.

  • INTERNATIONALIST RALLY: Chris Matlhako and Prabhat Patnaik to speak

    On Friday 30 July Ruskin House, Croydon will play host to a range of International speakers at an evening rally 'The communist challenge to capitalism'. Amongst the speakers will be Chris Matlhako International Secretary of the South African Communist Party and Indian economist Prabhat Patnaik, a leader of the Communist Party of India [Marxist]. They will be joined by a representative of the Greek CP, and well known speakers from Britain's labour movement. You can view interviews with Prahbat and Chris. The rally kicks off this years Communist University. Find out more. Book your ticket.

  • 90th Anniversary Appeal

    If you read the Morning Star you will have seen how many people have already contributed to the CP 90 anniversary national appeal. Amounts have gone from a fiver to £200. We ask you to read here plans to spend the appeal income and what part you can play. Donate direct. Donate NOW.

  • 90th ANNIVERSARY APPEAL: Where your money goes

    No sum is too small. But we need big money too. So give to the appeal until it hurts… the bosses. Read on to find out how we plan to spend the amounts raised.

  • FINANCE APPEAL: Communists seek funds to up activity

    You can donate here - fund the fightback

    Download the appeal and start collecting

    Read on to find out where your money goes

  • CUB2010: Topics, themes and rally announced

    In the past year Communist Universities have taken place in Wales, Scotland and the Midlands. Now, from 30 July to 1 August, Communist University Britain 2010 is to be held in London. First plan of session topics can be found here.

  • LET'S TALK MARXISM: Midlands communists to host university

    Midlands communists are hosting a university in the Communist University of Britain series for 2010, to be held on 22 May in Birmingham. Details and outline for the day are here.
  • CP Campaign Plan 2010

    HS_4A PARTY CAMPAIGN PLAN 2010 was adopted by the executive committee on 17 January.

    The plan can be read in full here and for future reference is found in the CP category in the main menu here.


  • Needs of the Hour - take up the struggle in 2010

    CP FlagsThe Communist Party today issued the latest edition of its core proposals for the labour movement. The Needs of the Hour are available in full and by subject. A key element is the theme of freedom: against EU rule and ECJ dictat, for civil liberties in Britain, trade union freedom and opposition to the outlawing of radicals and communists in the Czech Republic.

  • 01.10 Needs of the Hour - Democratic rights in the Czech Republic

    DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC

    This [organisation] reaffirms its commitment to the freedoms of assembly, association and advocacy in the non-violent pursuit of legitimate political objectives.

  • 01.10 Needs of the Hour - Venezuela and Colombia

    VENEZUELA

    This [organisation] opposes and condemns any interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela and calls on the President of the USA to reject past attempts by the USA to treat Latin American countries as US colonies.

  • INDUSTRY: its importance explained

    Britain is an island nation and was amongst the first to embrace industry and manufacture.

  • King Coal, quality food and popular sovereignty

    Any sizeable country without much manufacturing lends itself open to being exploited by others – the more so, of course, at the moment, when the main economic agents, the global transnational corporations, are free to move their profits and capital around the world at will.

  • Key points of industrial strategy explained

    The following points will all play a role in developing an industrial and agricultural programme to direct the work of progressive government.

  • Industry for the people - an overview

    Industry for the people - the CP view

    In the sections, 'For work, rebuild industry', we set out an analysis of what can be done to turn Britain's industrial economy around.

  • The CP call, “Workers unite, fight for work, rebuild industry”.

    The CP call, “Workers Unite, Fight for Work, Rebuild Industry”.

    The Communist Party [CP] calls on Britain's workers and trade unions to fight for industry, work and skill.

  • Workers Unite! Fight for work! Rebuild industry!

    Workers Unite! Fight for work! Rebuild industry!

    Read on to view key points of CP policy aimed at promoting unity between workers and the fight for work! These go beyond the immediate and provide positive ideas which could begin to roll back capitalism.

  • Communist Policy from 50th Congress

    Find here, resolutions relating to industry and agriculture agreed at the 50th Congress of the CP held May 2008.

  • TYRANNY AT BAY? Martin Mayer on bosses' offensive

    There is something deeply distasteful about employers using workers they have made redunadant to frustrate the democratic wishes of others fighting for their jobs, writes Martin Mayer, Chair of the UNITE United Left, in the Morning Star.

  • UNIONS AND CRISIS: organising internationally

    Pic_of_maritime_workersThe International Crisis and Trade Union Organisation -Organising Internationally is an article by Graham Stevenson which introduces our new campaign feature section 'For work! Rebuild industry!'.

    ITF inspection - Photo courtesy of Maritime Union of Australia

  • Communists back Iceland's 'No' on debt repayment

    iceland_pic_Britain's communists have backed Icleand's right to say no to EU banking interests following a series of attacks on the country for its refusal to repay a huge bailout loan, writes John Millington in the Morning Star.

    Banging for change in Iceland Photo courtesy of Olikristinn

  • Victory over fascism - 65th anniversary

    Wars and rumours of wars*, crippling unemployment and drastic cutbacks in public spending. We seem to have been there before, writes Robert Wilkinson.

  • URGENT APPEAL: human rights abuses in Iran

    CODIRHuman rights organisations are calling on governments across the globe to demand an immediate end to the flagrant violations of human rights being perpetrated by the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

  • LOBBY PARLIAMENT: cuts cost lives

    RMT transport union has called a lobby of Parliament to combat a proposed cut of 1500 maintenance worker jobs. This would have a disastrous effect on rail safety and affects us all. For details of the lobby read more. The union is also balloting members on action.

  • MIDLANDS COMMUNISTS GATHER: Derby date set

    Midlands communists will gather in Derby [23 January] to discuss CP campaigns in the region and plans for the forthcoming national and local elections. The aggregate meeting is open to all CP members and supporters. View events and read more.

  • 2010: united we stand

    The British labour movement is heading for the rocks in 2010. The biggest rock on the horizon is the general election writes Robert Griffiths CP general secretary in the last issue of the Star in 2009.

  • NEWS OF ARRESTS - CODIR calls for protests at killings

    CODIRThe Committee for the Defence of Iranian People's Rights [CODIR], established in 1981, warns against repression and calls for solidarity with the Iranian people. Go here for CODIR. You can view latest film footage from Iran on YouTube. Download CODIR bulletin here. Donations are welcome.

  • IRAN: the people begin to impose their will

    The_Green_CheIran's ruling caste has again been shaken by the actions of the people on the rise. Read the communique of the Iranian communists, and the report of Jane Green in Morning Star [29 December 2009].

     

    Photo copyright Hamed Saber http://picasaweb.google.com/hsaber 

  • LAND REGISTRY: privatisation and victimisation go hand in hand

    All is not well at the Land Registry. A body which should be serving Britain is instead, promoting privatisation, falling prey to it and victimising its dedicated staffers, writes Gerrard Sables in the Morning Star.

  • MORNING STAR ANNIVERSARY: place your order!

    {webgallery}Childrens_annualFootball_AnnualLift_the_ban {/webgallery}
  • South Africa's search for a socialist future

    cosatu_on_marchCP general secretary Robert Griffiths, recently interviewed leading South African communist trade unionist Chris Matlhako in the Morning Star [Monday 21 December 2009].

  • BA: United We Stand campaign

    BA_UNITE_campaignNot a step back! The cabin crew United We Stand campaign continues. Unite confirms it will re ballot members. You can read members' website here. You can download a campaign poster.
  • 2010 calendar

    January

    80th Anniversary of the Daily Worker/Morning Star


    February

    CP Month of Action: Public Spending Cuts & Capitalist Crisis

    LGBT History Month

    February 5th -7th Trade Union & Political Cadre School

    February 27th Support to Convention on Left 'Making it Public' Conference.

    Go here for details.

    March

    CP Month of Action: Housing

    March 6th 45th YCL Congress

    March 6th International Women’s Day Seminar

    March 10th-12th Women's TUC

    March 13th International Women’s Day Rally & Social


    April

    CP Month of Action: Unemployment & Capitalist Crisis

    April 10 Support to National Pensioner's Convention demonstration Trafalgar Square

    April 28th Workers’ Memorial Day


    May

    1st International Workers’ Day

    May 6th Local elections

    May 8th 65th Anniversary of the defeat of Fascism in Europe

    May 16th Highgate Marx Oration

    May 15/16 Annual conference of Trades Councils


    June-July

    90th anniversary of the Party

    celebration events

    June 19th Morning Star Conference

    July 18th-20th Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival


    July 30th-August 1st

    Communist University of Britain


    September

    CP Month of Action: Trident Replacement

    September 13th-16th Trades Union Congress

    (Manchester)

    September 26th-30th Labour Party conference

    (Manchester)


    October

    CP Month of Action: Domestic Fuel Prices

    October Black History Month

    Oct 23rd/24th CP Congress committees

    October 30th-31st 51st CP Congress


    November

    CP Month of Action: Solidarity with Palestine

    November 7th 93rd Anniversary of the 1917

    Bolshevik Revolution

    November 29th International Day of Solidarity

    with the Palestinian People


    December

    CP Month of Action: Global Warming & Sustainable energy

  • COMMUNIST PARTY WARNS: workers' freedom in jeopardy

    The Communist Party expresses its unqualified support for the thousands of BA cabin crew denied their legitimate democratic rights by a single judge. The CP today, issued the following warning that the most fundamental of all worker' freedoms was now in jeopardy.

  • MORNING STAR: 80 years achievement

    Further photos courtesy of Marx Library presented to commemorate the Morning Star, an unrivalled achievement of 80 years unbroken journalism and print production in the service of the people.{webgallery}Worker_on_marchBill_Rust_HouseStar_Advert{/webgallery}
  • HIGH COURT TYRANNY: BA crews denied right to strike - union will reballot

    At CUB 2009, Bob Crow, RMT warned that courts were increasingly closing down on the right to strike. Read More for Unite response to court denial of right to strike and provocation against democracy. Morning Star report here. Unite joint general secretaries have written to BA cabin Crew. Cabin crew are blogging. As is 'littlemissbrightside', Sydney.

  • Cabin crews: BA workers oppose 'imposition'

    BASSAUnitedWeStandBA workers are standing firm in the face of employer pressure and outright attacks on their union. You can add your voice to those opposing a 'race to the bottom' -send a message to the British Airline Stewards' and Stewardesses' Association.
  • 80 years as the people's champion

    Photos not seen for decades, some not seen before, courtesy of the Marx Library. View here a pageant of the Daily Worker and Morning Star, presented to commemorate 80 years of achievement, overcoming bans and bombs, to bring news every day to thousands of workers' homes.{webgallery}Daily_Worker_2Daily_Worker_staff_marchDaily_Worker_Editorial_Board{/webgallery}
  • RMT NATIONAL ACTION: Network Rail day of action

    rmt_logoAcross the UK, on Thursday 17 December, RMT activists will be leafleting passengers outside 37 major stations urging opposition to the threat of 1500 jobs due to be axed. You are asked to help show support. For details, read more.

  • FUJITSU STRIKE: Unite solidarity call

    fujitsu_logoFujitsu, a key employer in the IT sector, threatens to rip up pension arrangements and threatens thousands of jobs, to get its way. Unite stands firm. Read the union bulletin and appeal for support. Purchase the CP pamphlet on pensions.
  • FROM THE STAR: Building the revolution step by step

    CP general secretary Robert Griffiths interviews a leading Hungarian revolutionary Gyula Thurmer in the Morning Star [14 December 2009].
  • Communist party calls for solidarity with Fujitsu workers

    unite-logoUNITE has issued notice of action for strikes and other action starting 18th December. The struggle is to defend jobs, pay and pensions at the giant multinational computer manufacturer, Fujitsu. Details here. This is the first national strike in the IT sector. Read coverage in the Morning Star

  • CAMPAIGN: young communists call for quality jobs

    Britain's young communists kick off a Red December leafletting campaign. "We need to stop the demonisation of young people, change the tenor of the justice system, invest in developing productive, sustainable, localised employment, re-establish community youth centres and develop schools and colleges as cultural as well as educational centres for young people."
  • Britain's communists welcome Morales victory

    Britain's Communists this week welcomed the re-election of President Evo Morales in Bolivia with an overwhelming 63 per cent of the vote. 'His election slogan was "Without nationalisation there can be no development"', John Foster told the Communist Party's political committee on 9 December.

  • The movement is gathering momentum

    The eleventh annual meeting of the world's communist and workers' parties last month represented another step forward in the renewal of the international communist movement, writes CP general secretary Robert Griffiths in the Morning Star [10 December 09].

  • NORTHERN NEWS: CP e-news issue one

    Throughout the twentieth century, Labour governments foundered by attacking the interests of their core working class supporters.  That was the fate of the MacDonald, Attlee, Wilson and Callaghan governments, and the writing is now clearly on the wall for this caricature of a Labour government which coes by the name of "New Labour".  The European Parliamentary poll has exposed the sheer depth of the crisis in which New Labour finds itself.  It has been rejected on a scale never seen before, and it is unlikely that the Labour Party will recover from this in the medium term, let alone in the short period of a year before the next General Election.

    Such a change will not come about by itself.  The recent wrangles among Labour MPs have not been about policy but about which personality at the helm might stand the best chance of saving their seats.  This is reminiscent of Nero fiddling while Rome burned.  The only thing that can save Labour now is a complete change of policies, in a left-wing direction - but that requires concerted action by the trade union movement.  The major unions have been far too quiet:  they are the main donors to the Labour Party, and their leaders appear to be worried about rocking the boat.

    Well the boat is sinking, and fast.  Such a desperate situation requires desperate measures.  Union leaders hould be telling Brown that either he jettisons New Labour policies like privatisation and making the working class pay for the financial sector's collapse, or they will take their money elsewhere.

    Campaigning and mobilisation by the unions are essential.  This time next year, there is likely to be a Tory government.  New Labour has enacted many Tory policies but you can bet your bottom dollar that a victorious Conservative government would be even more vicious in pursuing an anti-working class agenda.  The ground for that has been laid by Blair, Brown and Co.   The trade union movement has to start building now, both to challenge the direction of New Labour policies, and to create the fighting spirit needed to resist any Tory onslaught.

    The election of two BNP candidates as Euro-MPs is a major setback for all progressives in Britain. However, good mass work by anti-fascist campaigners throughout the country did prevent the BNP from scoring more than a small increase over 2004.  The main reason for their success was the collapse of the Labour vote, although the 10% or so that the BNP did get is a severe warning.  There are hundreds of thousands of working class voters who feel betrayed by Labour, and have demonstrated that feeling,either by not voting at all, or by voting for the BNP.  They need to be won for positive left-wing politics.

    The No2EU - Yes to Democracy campaign, in which the Communist Party participated, scored more than 153,000 votes nationally despite an almost complete media blackout, and having been formed only in January.  Given the platform's position of not taking up seats if elected, it is understandable that the vote was not higher.  It was, however, the first time that an EU-critical coalition had stood in Britain in any election, and it has demonstrated that there is a critique of the EU which is not a right-wing one. That critique will have added force now that the European Parliament has swung sharply to the right, demolishing the claims of the New Labour Europhiles that it could be used for progressive change.  The arguments about the EU and its anti-working class policies are going  to come back time and again, and No2EU - Yes to Democracy has succeeded in putting them on the agenda.  All those who helped the No2EU campaign in any way deserve thanks and appreciation.

    So what now?  How can we in the North East contribute to building a culture of resistance to pro-big business, pro-EU, anti working class politics?  What needs to be done?

    It is highly appropriate that the postponed 11th Northern District Congress of the Communist Party takes place at 11.15 am this coming Saturday, June 14, in Newcastle.  The venue is the Newcastle TUC Building, 4 Cloth Market, and the agenda and main draft resolution are on the Northern Communists web site, at http://www.northerncommunists.org.uk/index.php?option=com_eventlist&Itemid=1&func=details&did=90 andhttp://www.northerncommunists.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=42&Itemid=54respectively.  This biennial meeting is open to all CPB members in the Northern District, as Branch delegates, and to interested non-members as visitors.  We hope that you will be able to attend.  If you need further information, then please reply to this e-Newsletter.

  • ACT FOR INDUSTRY: Halpin calls for defence of Teeside jobs

    Writing about the steel closures on Teeside, in a letter to the Morning Star, Kevin Halpin insists "government should end its reliance on finance centre politics and get down to revitalising our industrial base by taking it into public ownership."
  • NORTHERN NEWS 2: Fighting back against the crisis

    NORTHERN NEWS is the new e- news from the Northern district of the CP. The current issue includes a report from the recent Morning Star conference Fighting Back Against the Crisis. Also, news of a new People's Charter leaflet being distributed. If you want to help distribute it let us know.

  • PEOPLE'S CHARTER: Derby support postal workers

    “Our fight is a fight for the future of the postal service,” Lee Barron, the Regional Secretary of the CWU, the postal workers’ union, told a lively discussion meeting organised on Monday 7th December by Derby supporters of “The People’s Charter”.

  • NATIONAL APPEAL: Glasgow boost

    With days to go to the end of the National Appeal, the CP Glasgow bazaar has collected the fantastic sum of £980 for the Star and a further collection towards the National Appeal is on its way.
  • SCOTLAND: shaping the high road

    The disappearance of what Alex Salmond, leader of SNP called, an "arc of prosperity", has sharpened minds on the question of Scotland and independence, writes John Foster in the Morning Star.

  • Red Alert 4- Rhybudd Coch December 09

    Issue four of Red Alert - Rhybudd Coch December 09, e-news of the Wales CP is now available. Includes: a report from the biennial congress and notice of a celebration of the life of Bob Jones.

  • 01.10 Needs of Hour - ENTIRE document

    NEEDS OF THE HOUR 2009/10

    (as at January 15, 2010)

  • 01.10 Needs of the Hour - Trade union democracy

    TRADE UNION DEMOCRACY dealing with general council reserved seats, the executive committee, amendments for congress and rules.

  • 01.10 Needs of the Hour - Cuba and internationalism

    CUBA

    This [organisation] congratulates the Cuban people on the achievements of 50 years since their Revolution and which include eradicating illiteracy, providing universal and free education and health care, greatly reducing infant mortality rates and increasing life expectancy.

  • 01.10 Needs of the Hour - Afghanistan and Palestine

    AFGHANISTAN and Palestine. Policies which take into account the latest developments in these two countries.

  • 01.10 Needs of the Hour - Ireland & Finucane Inquiry

    GOOD FRIDAY AND IRISH UNITY An Finucane Inquiry

    This [organisation] welcomes and congratulates the efforts by politicians of all political parties in Northern Ireland which resulted in the devolved Good Friday power-sharing arrangements.

  • 01.10 Needs of the Hour - European Union and ECJ

    EU policies and economic strategy, the rulings of the ECJ and calls for changes to EU rules.

  • 01.10 Needs of the Hour -Labour Party

    LABOUR PARTY

    This [organisation] notes that support for New Labour continues to erode as the New Labour strategy ignores the aspirations of working people expressed by unions and Labour Party conferences.

  • 01.10 Needs of the Hour - Arms industry, Trident & peace

    THE ARMAMENTS INDUSTRY, Trident, Peace and disarmament.

    This [organisation] notes that the international armaments industry is increasingly dominated by US monopolies and will not guarantee a long-term basis for manufacturing industry in Britain.

  • 01.10 Needs of the Hour - Civil liberties

    CIVIL LIBERTIES

    This [organisation] expresses grave concern at the erosion of civil liberties in Britain and declares our determination to resist further attacks and win back traditional rights and freedoms.

  • 01.10 Needs of the Hour - Migrant workers

    MIGRANT WORKERS

    This [organisation] welcomes the contribution made by migrant workers and their families to the economy and society in Britain.

  • 01.10 Needs of the Hour - Collective bargaining and union freedoms

    EXTENDING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING COVERAGE

    This [organisation] recognises that 2009 was the 60th anniversary of ILO Convention 98 on the right to organise and collective bargaining.

  • 01.10 Needs of the Hour - Pensions

    PENSIONS - lays down positive proposals for changing the direction of pension fund investment towards productive industry and measures which boost employment.

  • 01.10 Needs of the Hour - Work, unemployment and wages

    MANUFACTURING AND EMPLOYMENT  - the campaign against unemployment and precarious employment, and for higher wages.

  • 01.10 Needs of the Hour - People's Charter

    PEOPLE'S CHARTER FOR CHANGE

    This [organisation] welcomes the People's Charter and the fact that it is official TUC policy [and  instructs the national executive to affiliate to the campaign and provide assistance as appropriate].

  • 01.10 Needs of the Hour - Banking and economic crisis

    BANKING - policies for bank workers and bank users and the direction of finance to investment in the future of the people.

  • LOCAL DEMOCRACY: Conservative threat to town and country planning

    The party, which sought to deny society exists, have set their sights on town and country planning warns David Grove.
  • DEFEND, EXTEND LOCAL DEMOCRACY: developments in local government

    In the run in to local council elections, the CP is to stand candidates, issue a new pamphlet and a book on the State and Local Government, writes Dr Peter Latham.

  • GUEST SPEAKER: Martin Mayer [UNITE] at the Northern Morning Star conference

    Martin Mayer,  chair of United Left in UNITE, told the recent Star Conference in Gateshead that, "Strong unions can and do win!".
  • MEETING REPORT: Charter launch in Oxford

    Labour and Green councillors, Stop the War and the Communist Party along with many others attended the launch of the People's Charter in Oxford, organised by the Oxford and District Trade's Council.

  • Robert Griffith's intervention at New Delhi meeting

    SPEECH: Robert Griffiths, CP general secretary, recently returned from the New Delhi meeting of communist and workers' parties drawn from around the world. Read his speech here.

  • Declaration from the 11th International Meeting of Communist & Workers' Parties

    RESOLUTION: Read here, the resolution agreed at 11th International Meeting of the Communist and Workers' Parties, held in New Delhi, 20-22 November 2009.

  • Socialism is the 'real alternative' say the world's communists

    The eleventh international meeting of Communist and Workers parties ended with a mass rally in the Mavlankar auditorium, New Delhi on Sunday evening (November 22).

  • GUEST SPEAKER: Mike Kirby Unison Convener, Scotland

    Mike Kirby made a powerful and thought provoking opening speech to Saturday's People's Charter Convention. Click read more to view the speech in full.

  • Unite the Union plan defence of industry and transport

    Unity_for_Unite_november_2009Lay and national representatives of Unite the Union, meet at the weekend [22 November] in Eastbourne to consider the state of the British economy, sector by sector, and plan to reverse industrial decline, job loss and pay cuts.The Communist Party will be represented across all of the sectors and has produced a 'Unity' special edition to be distributed to delegates.

  • PEOPLE'S CHARTER: a milestone convention looking to impact

    John_hendy
    On Saturday 21 November, in central London, the People's Charter Movement held its first Convention. Gathering in the Camden Community Centre, the platform and the floor speakers remained unified and set about clearing the decks for the Charter to make a significant impact in the general election due in 2010.

  • Gawain Little, on People's Charter launch in Oxford

    Gawain Little of CND executive and the Oxford and District TUC, interviewed on CPtv, says that the People's Charter provides an opportunity to join the struggle for quality housing, health and education with that of justice, peace and the right to work.
  • Dyma Robert Griffiths ar yr Etholiad Cyffredinol

    Now on CPtv in English and Welsh, CP general secretary Robert Griffiths talks about the coming general election.
  • Ten years of social progress and democracy in Venezuela - speaking tour

    The general secretary of the Venezuelan printer's and paper maker's union and president of the Bolivarian Workers' Force are on a speaking tour throughout Britain, in late November and early December. Read more for tour details. Visit www.latinamerica2009.org.uk

  • Communists from around the world meet in New Delhi

    'CAPITALISM HAS TO BE OVERTHROWN' CALL TO WORLD'S COMMUNISTS
    'We meet at a time when the world is in the grip of an unprecedented economic crisis - the inevitable outcome of policies imposed in the garb of imperialist globalisation', Pallab Sengupta told delegates to the 11th International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties in New Delhi on Friday (November 20).
    'People at large are the victims of imperialist aggression, occupation and subjection as well as the crisis-ridden capitalist economy which jeopardises the life of the common people around the world', the Communist Party of India's international secretary declared at the opening of the conference.
    'However, irrespective of the intensity of the crisis, capitalism does not automatically collapse', Communist Party of India (Marxist) international secretary Sitaram Yechury warned, 'it has to be overthrown'.
    Emphasising the importance of cultural and ideological struggle, he urged all contingents of the international Communist movement to intensify popular action and 'mount an assault on the role of capital'.
    Over three days, representatives of 56 parties from 48 countries are discussing a draft Delhi Declaration on 'the international capitalist crisis, the workers' and peoples' struggle, the alternatives and the role of the communist and working class movement'.
    Among the participants are delegates from the Communist parties of Britain, Ireland, the USA, China, Palestine, Cuba and South Africa, the Hungarian Communist Workers Party, the Tudeh Party of Iran and the People's Progressive Party which governs in Guyana.
    Communists from as far apart as Brazil, Britain and Russia have met in New Delhi, India to discuss what can be done to face down the world wide crisis of capitalism.
  • CPtv: Andrew Murray puts PM Brown on the spot.

    Andrew Murray, Chair of the Stop the War campaign speaks out against war in Afghanistan. You can catch his views, patiently explained, but forthrightly put, over at CPtv.


  • Welsh CP congress itinerary

    You can view here, the itinerary for the Welsh CP congress to be held in Pontypridd.
  • Gwyn Alf Williams Memorial Lecture

    The 6th Annual Gwyn Alf Williams

    Memorial Lecture

    Clwb y Bont, Pontypridd

    Friday, 27th November at 7.30 pm.

    Socialist historian Gwyn Alf Williams was a brilliant writer and spellbinding broadcaster. He was

    perhaps the most colourful figure among the remarkable group of Marxist historians who emerged in

    the Communist Party after the Second World War.


    Since 2003 the Welsh Communist Party has been commemorating this great Marxist historian by holding its annual Gwyn Alf Williams Memorial Lecture.

    This year, as we experience another capitalist crisis and a return to mass unemployment, we look to learn from literature covering previous periods of crisis.

    Jane Aaron, who teaches postgraduate and undergraduate modules on Welsh writing in English, is the author of A Double Singleness: Gender and the Writings of Charles and Mary Lamb (Clarendon Press, 1991), a Welsh-language book on nineteenth-century women’s writing in Wales, Pur fel y Dur: Y Gymraes yn Llên y Bedwaredd Ganrif ar Bymtheg (University of Wales Press, 1998). She also coedited the volumes Out of the Margins: Women’s Studies in the Nineties (Falmer Press, 1991), Our Sisters’ Land: The Changing Identities of Women in Wales (University of Wales Press, 1994), Postcolonial Wales (University of Wales Press, 2005), and edited a number of volumes for the Honno classics series, including an anthology of Welsh women’s short stories, A View across the Valley: Short Stories from Women in Wales 1850-1950 (Honno Press, 1999). Her latest volume is the Nineteenth-Century Women’s Writing in Wales: Nation, Gender and Identity (University of Wales Press, 2007), the first in the Gender Studies in Wales series of which she is co-editor.

    ‘1926 and all that – strikes and

    unemployment in Welsh Literature’


    Jane Aaron

    Professor in Literature, University of Glamorgan

    For further information go to www.welshcommunists.org or e-mail: office@welshcommunists.org

  • INTERVIEW: John Hendy QC on People's Charter aims

    JohnHendy
    Question one
    You are speaking at the forthcoming Communist University of Britain in
    a session 'The People's Charter and the struggle for change'. What
    kind of 'change' are we talking about? The Charter is an attempt to show that there is a coherent answer to the concensus between the three major parties that, having found £1,300 billion for the bankers, that money must be paid by the ordinary people of this country. IN short: there is another way.
    Question two
    The People's Charter has had a flying start what with early
    endorsement by the TUC. Can you outline the issues involved in the
    debate which led to that endorsement? The overwhelming majority of trade unionists see through the great con trick and the Charter sets out elementary policies which they generally support. That is why six months after the Charter was launched, it had gained enough support to be overwhelmingly endorsed by Congress.
    Question three
    Essentially the Charter is a set of aims and a campaign tool. How
    should people use it? Why should they come to the People's Charter
    Convention? The Charter is not a political programme; it is simply a set of 6 obvious demands. We must build up a huge campaign as a result of which the politicians will have to recognise that the people want a different course to be steered. The general election in May 2010 presents an opportunity for the Charter to be put to every candidate who should be required to state whether or not they endorse it. If they do not then people, and particularly the unions, should not work for or support them. The Convention meeting on 21st November is an opportunity to discuss the steps that the Charter needs to take in the next 6 months and after.
    Question four
    We have had campaigns before and we will have many more. Can the
    Charter really impact? Can it help to hold the line against reaction
    and change people's lives? Of course it can. It’s simple, comprehensible, credible and enjoys the widest possible support. All we need to do is to bring it to the attention of the people and regain the courage and conviction to make these demands.
    Question five
    I watched Griffin the other evening. If I could have asked questions
    they would have been about the economy - his economic policies are so
    similar to Ted Heath's it's embarrassing - and about jobs, housing,
    services, freedom, peace. You would recognise these as the six points
    of the Charter. What hope does  the Charter bring to those parts of
    the working class who feel most marginalised? The six Charter points are precisely aimed at the interests of the working class as a whole and the most disadvantaged in particular. None of the main parties care about these people. But things can change if we get these Charter demands heard and a significant number of MPS committed to them. The next six months is a golden opportunity to do so. I would like the Charter to have so snowballed by next May that any candidate who refused to endorse the Charter would have little chance of election (other than in the safest Tory strongholds).
    Is there any precedent for this? There is. In 1905 the TUC required every labour candidate who sought trade union support to “furnish a satisfactory answer to the following questions: (1) Are you in general agreement with the reforms endorsed by the TUC?  (2) Has your candidature been endorsed by a trade union?” 51 candidates gave satisfactory answers and 31 were elected, and formed a hugely powerful group in the House of Commons, in consequence of which major reforms (like the Trades Disputes Act) were introduced in 1906. Then there were only 1.5 million trade unionists affiliated to the TUC, now there are 6.7 million. We can do it again.

    John Hendy QC is one of the architects of the People's Charter movement which reaches a milestone on 21 November when it holds it's first National Convention. We interviewed John about his vision for this movement and its immediate aims. You can view John later this week speaking on CPtv.

  • Strong anti-war show in Edinburgh

    A thousand demonstrators - trades unionists, peace campaigners and from a broad political spectrum -  turned out 14 November, in Scotland's capital to call for an end to war, NATO and Trident. You can read a report in Herald Scotland. Contact Scottish Stop the War. View a video report.
  • Murdoch's world grab stumbles on quality and skill

    What does the world stage chest beating of Rupert Murdoch and an NUJ day conference in 2010 have in common? Well known journalist and NUJ activist Martin Cloake reveals all.

  • OXFORD: trades council to launch People's Charter

    'Build the People's Charter' [24 November Public Meeting] is an opportunity to consider the challenges posed by job cuts, lack of investment in public services, climate change and war.  It is also an opportunity to discuss a positive alternative to these policies, contained in the People's Charter. View events.
  • CP call to Government - bring banks to account

    Britain's communists must do more to bring the government to account over its gift to the failed banking system of over £1.5 trillion of taxpayers' money, Morning Star editor Bill Benfield told the 11 November, CPB political committee meeting.
  • Africa & British Imperialism today

    africa_meet_picBritish imperialism is alive and well in Africa speakers told a meeting in Central London organised by the Communist Party’s International Advisory on Thursday night.

  • People's Charter 'a lifeline for Labour'

    Growing fascism and discredited neoliberal policies can only be combated by the broadest possible mobilisation around the People's Charter, speakers at Saturday's Communist University urged. Louise Nousratpour writes in the Morning Star.

  • Learning from miner's strike

    The left must draw lessons from the 1984 miners' strike and their "exemplary sense of unity" in order to mount an effective fightback against today's attacks on workers, a veteran of that struggle insisted on Saturday. Louise Nousratpour writes in the Morning Star.

  • Crisis engulfing working class representation - Robert Griffiths

    Wherever workers meet, be it in workplaces, local councils, unions or communities, they should discuss the crisis currently engulfing working class representation, writes CP general secretary Robert Griffiths in the Morning Star.

  • CUB 2009 - an important call by John Hendy QC

    John Hendy QC, a leader of the People's Charter movement, speaking in a CUB 2009 session on the People's Charter made an important call to trades union and community activists, "Don't wait to be asked, get involved!".

  • Hundreds of first-timers sign up for Hope Not Hate campaign weekend

    Hope_not_hate_header Across Britain, this weekend, thousands will volunteer for the Hope Not Hate weekend of action. Hundreds have signed up to take part in such activity for the first time. Visit the HNH site to find an event near you. Find out more by visiting Hope Not Hate.

  • WALES: launch of People's Charter

    The People's Charter is on the move. Launched in London, then Edinburgh and now in Newport. The Morning Star reports the launch in Wales. Go here to view the launch as covered by BBC. You can read the Charter in Welsh.

  • Manifesto Press launched

    Manifesto Press is a new venture that aims to publish working class history, socialist theory and the politics of class struggle. It is republican and anti-imperialist; secular and feminist; anti-fascist and anti-racist; committed to working class political power, popular sovereignty and progressive culture. And it has a new website with special offers.

  • A chance for left books to press ahead

    Nick Wright is Editor of a new publishing house, Manifesto Press. He describes this ambitious project in the Morning Star. Manifesto Press is to launch its first three titles at the forthcoming CUB 2009.

  • Speaking the language of socialism

    Joanne Stevenson, YCL general secretary, writes in the Morning Star about the CUB 2009, politics, Chilean pasties and a new publishing venture.

  • WALES CP CONGRESS: Left unity to fight reaction and win a people's parliament for Wales

    An important event in the political life of the people of Wales. The CP is to hold it's biennial congress 28 November in Pontypridd. Published here, the draft resolution, which will be discussed by party branches. If you want to take part in the CP discussions then send your views here.
  • INTERVIEW: John Foster "Crisis is their weapon".

    John Foster is to speak in the economics session at the CUB. In this interview he talks about what is wrong with capitalism across the world and what can be done to go beyond it.

  • INTERVIEW: Bill Greenshields on the crisis of working class representation

    Question one
    Bill, you are to chair a session at the forthcoming Communist
    University of Britain on the 'Crisis of working class representation'.
    Can you tell us which keynote speakers are taking part in this session?
    This is going to be a really sizzling session. With these four on the platform, and deeply held contradictory convictions amongst many on the left about the way forward generally, I think my chairing skills might be tested! There’s no doubt there are no simple answers to this, and slogans certainly aren’t enough. Be prepared for a really challenging session – and I’ll be looking for lots of questions and contributions from the floor.
    We’ve got Len McCluskey the strongly supported left candidate for the position of UNITE General Secretary He’s on record as saying we need to “drive the Blairite cuckoos out of the nest”, and has  talked about UNITE using its strength to put a return to workers’ priorities on Labour’s agenda. He told a UNITE youth workers conference, “The government has taken some half-steps in this direction. Our task is to turn those into real strides and if successful the next election can be won. But win or lose Unite will be fighting to reclaim our Party”
    Next up will be Ruth Winters of the FBU, and of course President during the historic 2002-4 dispute in which the New Labour Government sought to defeat the firefighters and thus, they hoped, the TU movement as a whole. Roger Seifert and Tom Sibley’s excellent account in their book “United They Stood” is a “must read”. The government didn’t get their way due to the FBU heroic struggle – but the FBU conference decided to disaffiliate from the Labour Party. A courageous step or an own goal? Ruth has very strongly held views on this, and I’m sure, will express them just as strongly in this session.
    Then we have Carolyn Jones who is from the Institute of Employment Rights, and who is the Communist Party’s Trade Union Co-ordinator. Speaking about the state of the trade union leadership, Cad told a recent Party Executive meeting, “‘Some seem to believe that that the present economic and political system is as good as it gets. They suggest that the role of unions is to beg for a few crumbs from the capitalist table rather than to fight for a socialist agenda’ She argued strongly for “a grass roots mass movement” around the Peoples Charter etc which “could raise people’s hopes, confidence and determination – and help prevent a Tory victory and an even sharper turn to the right at the General Election” I hope she’ll also tell us something about the Communist Party decision to explore an election strategy with other left groups and trade unions – and how this reflects the party’s position that the mass workers’ party needs to be “reclaimed or re-established”
    Lastly, we’ve got Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT, which coincidentally has a conference on the same weekend on this very issue. Of course, RMT were expelled from the Labour Party - in the same year that the FBU disaffiliated - for insisting on the right of branches to support parties and election candidates other than Labour.  To say Bob is outspoken on New Labour is obviously an understatement, but he’s pretty outspoken on everything. How about this? ““Labour, Tory, Lib Dems are all the same under their suits. They all support privatisation and anti-union laws. The political debate now is all about who is going to cut more from public spending. Political parties represent classes of people and if you stop representing your class and they feel under-represented, they will start going somewhere else. Where they are drifting at the moment is to the BNP.” Bob is currently in discussions with other organisations, including the Communist Party about what we can do in the coming elections to challenge this, and holds out very little hope of reclaiming the Labour Party. In 2002, when RMT was trying to get repossession of one of the union’s properties then occupied by John Prescott, Bob replied to a journalist asking if it was possible to reclaim the Labour Party, “Reclaim the Labour Party? We can’t even reclaim our flat off the bastards!” Well, they did reclaim the flat… and Bob will tell us the rest!
    Question two
    How will the Communist party define this crisis at these events.
    Well, let’s start by reminding ourselves that the Chinese don’t have a single character for “crisis”. They use two. “Dangerous Opportunity”. Very dialectical! And that’s how we need to look at all the situations facing us. How do we minimise the dangers and exploit the opportunities? How do workers move forward politically without turning our back on our history? That’s why there are no simple answers to this question of the political representation of our class. Only the most blinkered bureaucrat or most infantile of “leftists” think the answers are simple… but we need to find them.
    The mass workers Party formed by the trades unions in 1900 as the Labour Party, stood for reform, progress and transition to Socialism. Most important that Party was to a great extent owned, controlled and staffed by workers. It had a strong political presence at local level.
    Communists had many disagreements with that Party over analysis, ambitions, direction, tactics, strategy – and the essence of class politics, parliament, mass struggle, the State etc. But right from the time the Communist Party was formed we recognised the importance of a mass workers’ party under capitalism.
    Now with the global developments of capitalism, and with the destruction of the Socialist countries, the opportunities to reform capitalism, to change it from within, to win advances for workers are more and more limited. To be “electable” the Labour leadership made sure that they would not challenge the essence of capitalism – and that provided the opportunity for “The Project” as Blair and Brown et al famously called it to take control of the Party and establish New Labour. The “S” word – socialism – was to be banned. Talk of class was to be replaced by concepts of “social justice”. Rule changes and procedures were changed to minimise the significance
    So is the Labour Party still a workers’ party. Can it be reclaimed? Or will we have to re-establish a mass Party? If so could this be a simple coalition of the disparate “left”. Or would it need to be the creation of organised workers?
    What is clear at the moment is that the current New Labour Party has abandoned the working class, and is prepared to fight us hard wherever we try to assert ourselves. This has paralysed some sections of the leadership of the Trade Union movement as they pathetically can see no further than protecting the Party that was once theirs, and which now attacks them.
    Meanwhile, workers know that they have been abandoned and either give up hope, or look for answers elsewhere – some, a tiny minority as yet even looking to the fascist Right, as, at least, they talk about “our issues”
    So yes, there is a very real crisis – not a crisis of “left” and “right” but a genuine crisis of working class representation.
    Question three
    So it really is a crisis. Crises call for bold initiatives. What kind
    of issues would you expect the speakers at CUB to address and what
    kind of initiatives are required?
    I think we need to explore the relationship between parliamentary politics and representation and the daily struggle of working class people at home, in our communities, at work. Only by strengthening that daily struggle, and using initiatives like No2EU and The People’s Charter to bridge the gap between reality and the distant world of “politics” will we encourage our people to struggle not just to “get by” but to take control of their lives… and thus see the need for political parties based on class – the Labour Party (or what might replace it) and the Communist Party primarily.
    I hope the speakers will look at that day-in-day-out campaigning, at very large scale organisation at work and in the community, and how that can inspire commitment by workers to demand more. As Connolly wrote, “our demands most moderate are, we only want the Earth”
    Question four
    The RMT was a founder of the Labour Party but was expelled for
    adhering to the policies of its own union. What can unions, or what
    should unions be doing, to ensure that the interest of the workers is
    represented in local and national government?
    In the immediate, we should not be funding a Party which attacks us as a matter of course. Where unions have a strategy to reclaim that Party they will want to remain affiliated – but beyond affiliation fees, why would we want to fund their best endeavours to stop us from operating, and to prevent us from defending our members?
    Unions will want to challenge all candidate in coming elections in terms of their responses to Union policies, to the demands of The People’s Charter - now endorsed by the TUC – and, where they have been MPs before on their voting record on areas like privatisation, anti-union laws, war etc. Where we find positive pro-worker Labour candidates we should be prepared to support them – though we’ll have to look quite hard I’m afreaid!
    Where we are confronted by anti-worker candidates we need to look at forming a coalition of trade union and left forces to oppose them, and raise the general level of political debate and activity. Such discussions are taking place at the moment.
    Question five
    When he became wartime Minister for Labour Bevin said he was able to
    achieve more in a day politically than he had been able to achieve in
    twenty years industrially. Just how important is political struggle
    today?
    Well of course every class struggle, over wages, against job loss, on “modernisation and flexibility”, against privatisation, for decent housing, demanding REAl jobs for young people, against war, confronting racism and inequality… all of these are political struggles. And it is these struggles which the Communist Party sees as the primary form of political struggle - raising awareness, demanding solidarity, challenging reactionary ideas, inspiring people and providing the opportunities for people to gat involved. To the extent that such struggles spread and are at the forefront of the political agenda generally, we have more and more opportunity to successfully take part in the parliamentary struggle too. But political struggle begins where workers organise, not where they put their cross on the ballot paper.
    Question six
    I have to say that, whilst it's clear there is a crisis of
    representation, my worry is that workers are not political enough.
    What might unions for example, be doing to raise the level of
    political awareness of the local officers and stewards and the members?
    Solidarity is a key concept… and obviously more than just a concept. In practice it becomes a material force and an educator. We need to take ownership of our history and to ensure that trade union, labour movement and working class history feature prominently in union training of members and activist,
    We need to build and rebuild that solidarity that runs through our history, that concept and reality of class in every struggle and every community. We have to show that individual unions can win individual struggles, only to have the gains whittled away or attacked head on, and having to fight all over again. But unions working together on strategic objectives, the working class operating as a “class for itself” can win sustainable victories – and will develop the awareness in members that there is a need to operate politically – to transform society – if real gains are to be sustained for good.
    So small steps on a long march – and I hope this session of the Communist University will be a bit of a milestone on that march.

    The Communist University of Britain is host to a discussion, 'The crisis in working class representation'. It is one of the key issues facing workers and trades unionists. We asked Chair of the session Bill Greenshields to outline the big issues.

  • Time to stand up and be counted - CP political committee

    Robert Griffiths warned the Communist Party political committee at its meeting of 28 October 2009, that the ruling class offensive against the working class is gaining in both impetus and intensity.

  • Communities unite to face down fascists

    Threcent farcical failure of attempts to spark "Welsh Defence League" marches in Swansea and Newport should encourage anti-racists but not lead to complacency, Leanne Wood told a Morning Star-Searchlight Cymru meeting in Cardiff.
    The Plaid Cymru assembly member criticised the BBC on Tuesday night for defending its decision to invite BNP leader Nick Griffin onto the Question Time panel on the basis of free speech.
    "What about the freedom for minorities to go about their business without risk of attack?" she asked.
    "Griffin's presence on the Question Time panel legitimises racism," Ms Wood declared.
    Searchlight organiser Matthew Collins said that BNP claims about "Islamic extremism" were simply a cover for its old agenda of "Paki-bashing."
    He said: "We campaign against all forms of violent extremism, but Sky and the BBC don't tell us about the great battles being fought in mosques against Islamic extremism."
    He contrasted fraudulent stories splashed in the Murdoch media claiming that asylum-seekers are given cars or swim in the Thames killing swans with subsequent one-paragraph corrections buried away on inside pages.
    "People are reading extremism in the daily mainstream media," Mr Collins said.
    Searchlight Cymru secretary Ian Titherington pointed out that English Defence League thugs had been bussed in from the Midlands to Swansea on October 17.
    "They wanted a ruck, but they didn't get one. No local people joined them, leaving them isolated," Mr Titherington said.
    He noted that the self-styled anti-nazi EDL supporters had been photographed giving Hitler salutes.
    A week later in Newport, the EDL had abandoned any attempt to march, faced with a large, united counter-protest built by local people, including representatives from Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities, he said.
    Searchlight Cymru will leaflet in Wrexham, Swansea, Cardiff and Newport on the weekend of November 7-8, as part of a UK-wide Searchlight initiative linked to Armistice Day to expose BNP pseudo-patriotic demagogy.
    Visitors to this site will be familiar with the comings and goings of the'Welsh' Defence League, which is really the BNP in mufti. The communities of Swansea and Newport have called the fascist bluff reports Political Editor John Haylett, in the Morning Star [28 October].
  • Post workers support leaflet

    Go here to view a new four page leaflet which sets out the issues involved in the October 2009 national strikes in the post service.
  • Broad condemnation of Baghdad bombings

    May_Day_in_IraqIraq's communists have condemned yesterday's [26 October] bombings in central Baghdad. Part provocation, part blood lust, definitely in the service of the occupiers and the dark forces which continue their anti-people assault.

  • Get Behind Your Postie

    Get_Behind_Your_Postie
  • CAMPAIGN RESOURCES: support the postal workers

    Support the postal workers. Available here to download and print off, a Morning Star 'Get behind the posties' poster.
  • INTERVIEW: Chris Reeves, film maker

    Chris Reeve's films cover a wide range of topics from poverty to the bombing of Belgrade, rail privatisation to the Pentonville dockers. The CUB is to showcase his series, 'The People's Flag' which amazingly hit prime time on Channel Four. Chris will introduce his work at the CUB and we asked him some searching questions about his approach to film making.
  • Griffin's twisted history

    BNP leader Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time confirmed what quite a few of us knew already - that he's an extremist buffoon who his embarrassed by his once-open Nazi sympathies , writes Robert Griffiths in the Morning Star, 25 October 2009.

  • INTERVIEW: Economic crisis - sunset for capitalism

    Catch this interview with Marj Mayo, Professor of Community Development and former tutor at Ruskin College, Oxford. Marj is to speak at two sessions at the forthcoming Communist University of Britain 2009.  Her first session is on the significance of the Ruskin student strike in 1909 and the other, shared with other keynote speakers, is a real live wire topic, 'Economic crisis - sunset for capitalism'.

  • Thousands demand troops are brought home

    Stop_war_homepage_pic_2

    Thousands of anti war protestors marched through London, 24 October 2009.
    To get involved in your local Stop the War campaign group go here.
  • The fight to rescue Scotland - John Foster

    .Scotland IconLast week's launch of the People's Charter in Scotland saw a remarkable degree of consensus across political boundaries writes John Foster in the Morning Star, 21 October 2009.

  • Who's Who at CUB09?

    Sharon Allen is secretary of the Charter for Women steering group

    Harsev Bains is the general secretary of the Indian Workers Association (GB) and a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

    Matt Brierley is Press & Communications officer of the Young Communist League

  • CUB09 Programme

    This year's programme for the November Communist University of Britain promises to be the biggest and most thought-provoking yet. The CUB kicks off with an international rally on Friday 6 November and is followed by two days of discussion, panels, plenaries, book and film launches. Read on for details of venue, dates and times.


    Friday 6th November

    International Rally 7.30-9.15pm

    China's Revolution @ 60, Cuba's Revolution @ 50 - Humanity's future is socialism

    Luis Marron, Maya Llamazares, Alvaro Sanchez, Azar Sepher, Chair Anita Halpin Organised by the Co-ordinating Committee of Communist Parties in Britain

     

    Saturday 7th November

    Plenary 1 10.30-11.45am

    Mobilising Against Racism & Fascism

    Matthew Collins, Anita Wright, Harsev Bains, Marc Livingstone Chair: Christiane Ohsan

    Workshops 1A-1C      12-1pm
    What do the BNP really want?
    Matthew Collins
    Mobilising communities against racism & fascism
    Harsev Bains
    Combating youth unemployment-fighting for decent work

    Matthew Brierley


    Briefings
    Afghanistan - war without end?
    Andrew Murray

    1-3
    What's happening inside Iran?
    Mohammed Omidvar
    1.15pm
    China & the capitalist crisis

    Jenny Clegg


    Plenary 2 2-3.30pm

    Workshops 2A-C    4-4.45pm
    Leninism & Democracy
    Martin Levy
    Capitalist Crisis & Climate Change
    Derek Wall
    The Charter for Women
    Sharon Allen

    The Great Miners' Strike & Its Lessons

    Davy Hopper, Ann Field, Charlie May, Andrew Murray

    Chair: John Haylett

     

     

    Plenary 3    4.45-6.15pm



     

     

    Mary Davis
    John Hendy QC
    Rob Griffiths
    Joanne Stevenson
    Chair: Anita Halpin

    Film Showings 6.20-7.30pm, 8.50-10pm

    The People's Flag: The Enemy Within 1979-87
    Introduced by Chris Reeves

    The People's Flag: From Victory to Consensus 1945-64

    Manifesto Press Book Launch  8pm
    Reception & launch with authors Theodore Macdonald, Robert Griffiths and Andrew Murray


    Sunday 8th November

    Workshops 3A-C    11.30am-12.30pm
    The Stonewall uprising & LGBT rights
    Peter Purton
    Working class education & the 1909 Ruskin Strike
    Marj Mayo
    TBA

    Plenary 4 10-11.15am

    Economic Crisis - The Sunset for Capitalism

    Jerry Jones, Megan Dobney, John Foster, Derek Wall Chair: Marj Mayo

    Question Time 2-3.30pm

    The Crisis of Working Class Representation

     

    Briefing 4 1pm

    The International Communist Movement in the 21st Century

    Sitaram Yechury

    Len McCluskey, Ruth Winters, Carolyn Jones, Bob Crow  Chair: Bill Greenshields

    All weekend CUB09 hosts the

    Commie Chef restaurant

    bringing you the finest in Chilean cuisine at revolutionary prices
    £7 waged, £4.50 unwaged, £2 kids

     

    KidzSpace 10.30am-6pm Saturday, 10am-3.30pm Sunday

    Children's activities & care available for CUB participants. Prior registration necessary - number, age & gender. Limited places available, first come first serve.

     

    Book your place now

    Prices
    KidzSpace - number, gender
  • Hail the October Revolution!

    Hail_October_revolution

     

    Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths reminds us of the powerful force that shook the world in 1917 when the workers and peasants of Russia took power to themselves and set about building the world's first socialist state.

  • Swindon communists go back to college!

    Wednesday members of the Communist Party in Swindon were invited by the students at the local college to give a presentation and display as part of the college political week. Party members chose Anti-Racism as their theme and spent most of the day talking to students in their social centre.
    Supported by CPB National Organiser Andy Goodall and YCL General Secretary Joanne Stevenson, Swindon comrades created an imaginative and eye-catching display that attracted the students. Several hundred of the 2000 full-time students together with many part-time students, some as young as 14, showed a great interest and support for the Anti-racist principles of the Communist Party.
    Nearly 100 copies of the Morning Star were handed out in addition to many copies of the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight.  Leaflets from various anti-racist organisations and campaigns were eagerly read by students and Swindon comrades had to work hard answering all the questions put to them.
    Veteran Communist Party member Ted Poole (84) held the attention of many as he distributed the Morning Star amongst the young people. His uncomplicated message to the students, “There’s only one race - and it’s Human” led to many students expressing their disgust at the BNP and their support for the Hope Not Hate Campaign.
    Swindon Branch Chairman, Mark Johnson said at the close of the day, “This has been tremendously successful. We have been able to reach these youngsters in their own environment and they have received our anti-racist message with eagerness and open arms. It is very encouraging.”
    A representative of Swindon College said it was hoped to hold the political week up to three times a year. He also confirmed the students had rejected a proposal that the BNP should be invited to take part.
    cp_stall_swindonMembers of the Communist Party in Swindon were invited by students at the local college to give a presentation and display as part of the college political week. Party members chose Anti-Racism as their theme and spent most of the day talking to students in their social centre.
  • Left and communist unity in Pakistan - big steps forward.

    pakistan-flag-iconImportant steps are being taken towards left and Communist unity in Pakistan. At a meeting in Lahore on October 17, after a year's discussions, three major parties agreed to merge into a single party on the basis of ideological and political unity.

  • The labour movement, the general election and the ruling class offensive

    Resolution of the Communist Party of Britain executive committee, October 2009

  • CP calls for labour movement to resist the 'ruling class offensive'.

    'Whichever government is elected at the next General Election, the ruling class offensive will continue to unfold', Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths told a special meeting of the party's executive at the weekend.

  • Siartr y Bobl – Newid er Gwell

    The People's Charter is to be launched in Wales, 4 November 2009 in Newport, the same place where the Chartists marched some 170 years ago. Go to read more, to reproduce and circulate, the six points of the Charter in Welsh. For further details see events.

  • Book Review: The Labour Movement in Britain from Thatcher to Blair

    Book Review: The Labour Movement in Britain from Thatcher to Blair

    by Keith Barlow (Peter Lang, 2008)

    Monday 31 August 2009

    This is an authoritative account of recent trade union and class relations in Britain, extended and updated to cover the first two New Labour governments.

  • Book Review: Zombie Capitalism by Chris Harman

    Book Review: Zombie Capitalism by Chris Harman (Bookmarks, 2009)

    Monday 24 August 2009

    Chris Harman marshals a superficially impressive array of facts and figures but fails to locate them in a coherent, continuous or theoretically rigorous structure.

  • Part 3: New unity to defeat the ruling class offensive

    Part 3: New unity to defeat the ruling class offensive

    Published Tuesday 25 August 2009

    The British ruling class is preparing a massive, wide-scale and co-ordinated offensive against public services, democratic rights and working-class living standards for the period after the general election, as British capitalism steadies and reorientates itself after the recession.

  • Part 2: Ruling class strategy after the recession

    Part 2: Ruling class strategy after the recession

    Published Tuesday 18 August 2009

    The British ruling class has always understood that the recession in Britain would run longer and deeper than in other major capitalist countries.

  • Part 1: Who are the ruling class?

    Part 1: Who are the ruling class?

    Published Tuesday 11 August 2009

    In 1961, Sam Aaronovitch produced his book The Ruling Class, which identified 15 groups of finance capitalists in Britain and showed how they exercised political as well as economic power.

  • An historic moment for left advance

    An historic moment for left advance

    Wednesday 08 July 2009

    We are in the midst of what will be the deepest and longest capitalist crisis since the early 1930s.

    Yet the economic meltdown has produced no political alternative to capitalist rule.

  • The real cause of far-right gains

    The real cause of far-right gains

    Friday 12 June 2009

    We don't need academic studies on voting behaviour to explain what happened in the European and local elections last week.

  • Why the European Union must be resisted

    Why the European Union must be resisted

    Monday 01 June 2009

    It is hardly surprising that the mass media has concentrated so much of its coverage on the Westminster MPs' expenses abuse scandal.

  • New openings for the left?

    New openings for the left?

    Wednesday 08 April 2009

    Two recent political initiatives could open up new perspectives for left and labour movement advance in Britain.

  • Capitalism—we can't afford it

    Capitalism—we can't afford it

    Friday 27 March 2009

    In preparation for the G20 summit of the world's major capitalist powers, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been on a Western hemisphere tour of political leaders.

  • Book Review: History On Our Side by Hywel Francis

    Book Review: History On Our Side by Hywel Francis (Iconau, 2009)

    Tuesday 24 March 2009

    Now the Labour MP for Aberafan, Hywel Francis is well-placed to write an authoritative account of the Great Miners' Strike in Wales. Son of Communist miners' leader Dai Francis, official historian of the 'Fed'—the South Wales Miners Federation and then the South Wales Area NUM—and long a champion of working class education, he tells a story with the appropriate fusion of commitment, fact and passion.

  • Greece—who are the 'enemy within'?

    Greece—who are the 'enemy within'?

    Sunday 22 March 2009

    Early last December, the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old youth by Athens police provoked a storm of riots, marches and sit-ins which did not abate until January.

  • What next for Greece?

    What next for Greece?

    Monday 09 March 2009

    In recent years, banking and energy corporations have led the expansion of Greek monopoly capital into the Balkans and south-east Europe.

  • Why the surprise?

    &quo

    Why the surprise?

    Monday 2 February 2009

    So this is where New Labour ends up. Tony Blair is a fugitive from international justice and Gordon Brown is a fugitive from the economic truth. Both will meet retribution sooner or later.
  • Services Directive - a race to the bottom

    The Services Directive – ‘a race to the bottom’

     

    How EU rules attack public services, jobs, pay, pensions and trade union collective bargaining rights

    Foreword

    I am pleased to introduce this important pamphlet on the proposed Services Directive and the threat it poses to working people and their families.

    This directive and the now discredited EU Constitution it formed part of is quite simply a privateers’ charter designed to allow big business more freedom to exploit workers.

    Despite the ‘no’ votes in France and the Netherlands in 2005, EU elites are carrying on regardless, exposing once more the contempt that EU institutions have for democracy.

    There was a time when even saying these things was met with disbelief and an almost mystical faith in ‘Brussels’.

    However, EU commissioner Jacques Delors’ famous 1988 speech to TUC Congress, promising eurojam tomorrow, now seems a long time ago.

    Behind all the flam of the so-called ‘European Social Model’, the full-bloodied neo-liberal, dictatorial and military agenda of the EU is now clear for all to see.

    Today, TUC policy decided by Congress in 2005 is against the EU Constitution, the Services Directive and other directives which enforce the privatisation of essential public services.

    From the rail directives that privatised British Rail to the EU diktats that broke up lifeline ferry services in Scotland, transport workers have borne the brunt of these attacks.

    Now that the EU has been exposed for what it really is, an unaccountable bureaucracy for extending the power of big business, it is time for workers everywhere to combine to resist what they have planned for us.

    Bob Crow

    RMT general secretary

    Introduction

    The Services Directive and the internal market

    “The Commission which produced the ‘country of origin’ principle, which was removed from the final text of the directive, will clearly return to it as a matter of course”

    EU internal market commissioner Charles McCreevy

    On May 29, 2006, exactly a year after the French people rejected the EU Constitution, EU institutions finally agreed a text for a controversial Services Directive.

    The directive must be translated into over 20 languages and there will be an extended period of three years for member states to comply despite the fact that no electorate in Europe has voted for it.

    The Services Directive is a mechanism for introducing ‘free-market’ competition to all services within the EU, including health and education, as originally envisaged within the rules of the now discredited EU Constitution.

    A major plank of the directive involves abolishing controls, democratically decided by national parliaments, which impede the free movement of services.

    In order to establish this new order, the directive gives the EU’s own European Court of Justice the power to deem which national laws are ‘illegal’ if foreign and offshore companies do not have total access to service provision markets.

    The original text of the directive, first presented by the EU internal market commissioner Frits Bolkstein in 2001, contained the so-called ‘country of origin’ principle which exempted foreign companies from the laws of host countries they operated in.

    Under these arrangements, all minimum wage levels and health and safety standards could be ignored in the pursuit of profit. As a result, companies registered in EU member states with minimal labour standards, could undercut pay and conditions secured by workers in other member states.

    Not surprisingly, this provoked huge trade union protests across Europe and raised concerns of widespread ‘social dumping’ that would spark a ‘race to the bottom’ regarding wages and conditions.

    These concerns proved to be a big factor in the French rejection of the EU Constitution followed by widespread calls for the ditching of the offending directive. However, within the undemocratic structures of the EU, only the unelected European Commission can initiate and withdraw legislation.

    Following these protests, over 400 amendments were presented to the European Parliament, including demands to remove all mention of the ‘country of origin’ principle and for health care and social services to be removed from the directive. These amendments, which left 85 per cent of the original directive intact, were agreed in February 2006.

    However, incoming EU internal market commissioner Charles McCreevy immediately declared that the amendments counted for very little and the original intent of the directive remained in place.

    He told the Council of Ministers: “article 16 fully recognizes the right to provide services on a cross-border basis and sets out clearly the kind of requirements on incoming service providers that have to be abolished in line with ECJ case law”.

    McCreevy indicated that the European Commission is also working on legislation for sectors exempted from the directive, including healthcare – meaning the National Health Service, as well as returning to the country of origin principle.

    “The Commission which produced the ‘country of origin’ principle, which was removed from the final text of the directive, will clearly return to it as a matter of course,” he said.

    Moreover, in the ‘reformed’ directive there is no ‘country of destination’ principle or any clear protection for national standards.

    And companies no longer have to register in host countries and can relocate to the most favourable locations to circumvent national standards. Any final decisions on the interpretation of EU law and the directive will be exercised by the EU court based in Luxembourg.

    The Services Directive is part of the drive to impose a Single European Market (SEM) within the EU in order to complete the “free movement of capital, services, people”(meaning labour) as laid down in the EU treaties.

    Thus cheap migrant labour can be cynically used to batter down hard-won national standards and undermine collective bargaining rights established by trade unions over many years.

    As such, the ‘reformed’ directive still creates an anti-social Europe by forcing open public services to the privateers.

    The Vaxholm case, dealt with later in this pamphlet in more detail, vividly shows how the European Court of Justice is seeking to undermine trade union collective bargaining rights. This particular case concerns a Latvian firm operating in Sweden using low-cost Latvian labour in contravention of Swedish law. Swedish workers took industrial action in protest and the case has gone before the EU court.

    The European Commission openly backs the Latvian firm’s union-busting case and claims that Swedish labour laws contravene article 49 of the EU treaties on the free movement of people.

    These and other EU rules are designed to allow big companies the freedom to move assets and services anywhere in Europe, where labour costs are lowest, and to force labour to meekly follow in the search of work.

    The recent Irish Ferries strike – where cheap foreign labour displaced Irish seafarers – and the  Gate Gourmet strike – where lower paid Polish workers displaced British Asian workers – and the Swedish Vaxholm case are all examples of how big companies are using these new-found freedoms to increase the rate of exploitation to enrich themselves.

    Part one

    The Services Directive and healthcare

    "We will come with a separate proposal on health services preferably by the end of the year", Margaritis Schinas, (Director of the Office of the EU Commissioner of Public Health)

    Following the exclusion of healthcare from the Services Directive, the European Commission immediately announced plans for a new separate directive by the end of 2006 to open up health services to free market competition.

    Not surprisingly, European Court of Justice rulings have assisted this process by using internal market arguments first mooted in the Services Directive.
    In a recent landmark case, the ECJ ruled that British national Yvonne Watts was entitled to claim money back from the British health service for treatment carried out in France.

    The Financial Times (17/5/06) reported that the court’s decision was a further step towards the establishment of a single market for healthcare in the EU, despite the member countries’ very different health systems.

    The recent Watts judgment forces countries to pay for treatment in other states. This ‘patient mobility’ represents the thin end of a very big wedge for introducing full-blown market mechanisms into healthcare provision.

    EU health spokesman Margaritis Schinas said that the ECJ ruling on patient mobility "clearly states that there is scope for community action to achieve public health objectives".

    He went on to claim that patient mobility was covered by under article 95 of EU treaties covering internal market rules –“that's what the court says" he helpfully pointed out.

    This has huge implications for the National Health Service, which is peculiar in Europe as it is free at the point of use and funded by the taxpayer. Most healthcare systems within the EU are insurance-based schemes which are more expensive and have not achieved the same level of free services as in Britain.

    The European Central Bank has openly speculated that the free range of services provided by the NHS may have to be curtailed because of their allegedly “inflationary” potential.

    An ECB report from May 2003 called on eurozone members to reform their health systems so that “public health and long-term care systems should focus on providing core services for healthcare prevention while leaving individuals to provide for non-essential expenditure”.

    The report argued that public health and long-term care arrangements are best reformed by “limiting the public sector's exposure” and “enhancing private funding”. It goes on to suggest that the best means to achieve this is through an enhanced role for “market forces”.

    These demands to open up healthcare provision to the private sector have manifested themselves in new Labour’s obsession with introducing hugely expensive Private Finance Initiatives into the health sector and turning hospitals into trusts. These moves have already led to a cash crisis in the NHS and the loss of over 7,000 jobs.

    Following the Watts judgment, EU officials like Mr Schinas wasted no time in claiming that Brussels should claim more powers over healthcare.

    He claimed that the judgment would allow the EU to dictate on health issues to avoid the ‘mess’ created by the EU’s own court ordering each individual member states about how to manage their healthcare arrangements.
    "We view the latest judgment as very timely encouragement ... saying that we are right because if we don't come up with a proposal, you can imagine the regulatory mess that would be created because we would have the court dictating health policy for national governments,” he said.
    In true EU-style, Mr Schinas has refused to share details or the scope of the planned directive but he said that it was likely to cover
    "patient mobility ... but probably other things as well".
    He said the commission "
    has already triggered the process" by launching a debate among commissioners over the scope of the proposals.

    It is illuminating that the EU still plans to create a healthcare market, as proposed in the original Services Directive, despite the fact that they were decisively rejected by citizens across Europe.
    Moreover, such decisions emanating from the EU’s own court and the commission enforce internal market rules even to areas where member states are meant to have sole power such as healthcare.
    The Kohll and Decker cases in 1998 were also landmark rulings in this area. Both cases found in favour of the claimants who were asking for reimbursement in member states other than their own for health care treatment. In both cases, the claimants’ claims were upheld under the free movement of goods and services law.

    "The two 1998 Kohll and Decker rulings of the European Court of Justice…have served to underline the point that member states' health systems, and in particular the delivery of health care, do not lie outside the jurisdiction of community law" said a recent European Commission high level group report on health.

    Ultimately, healthcare, like education, are highly emotive issues that are strongly linked to the confines of a modern nation state. Making it an EU competence at a stroke would have a massive impact on how people view their own governments and the undemocratic institutions of the EU.

    Part two

    The Services Directive and the Single European Act

    Margaret Thatcher was herself a driving force behind the Act and some of her ministers positively fizzed with enthusiasm about the Single Market which they believed achieved the Thatcherisation of Europe” Tory MP John Bercow

    The genesis of the Services Directive can be found within the Single European Act (SEA), which was signed in 1986 by EU heads of state including Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

    The SEA entered into force on 1 July 1987 and was designed to establish a Single European Market (SEM), defined as an area demanding the free movement of goods, services, labour, and capital.

    This Act sought nothing less than to set up a single market and establish a single economic, political and legal area within the EU.  It was the first major revision of the 1957 Treaty of Rome and introduced qualified majority voting in the Council of Ministers for some policy areas, stripping member states of independent veto rights.

    It replaced the rule of unanimity in four main areas: free movement of services, free circulation of capital, common policy on maritime and air transport and the introduction of a common customs duty.

    However, since then, the areas covered by qualified majority voting have been massively extended by stealth, stripping countries of much of the powers associated with independent nation states.

    The then president of the European Commission, Jacques Delors, also promoted economic and monetary union (EMU) and the single currency as a key element in this integration process.

    To sweeten this neo-liberal pill, Delors proposed a largely symbolic Social Charter to ensure support for the entire project from trade union bureaucracies across Europe, particularly in Denmark and the UK.

    Large parts of the labour movement fell for this particular trick following Delors’ infamous speech at the 1988 TUC conference which promoted the eurofederalist vision wrapped in progressive language.

    He told TUC delegates that the EU was the alternative to mass unemployment and endless Tory attacks on the working class in Britain. In exchange for signing up to the entire eurofederalist project, Delors offered British trade unions a sympathetic ear in Brussels and share in the supposed economic benefits of the EU.

    These alleged benefits obviously failed to materialise as over one million British manufacturing jobs have disappeared since 1997 alone. In Germany, the number of jobless has passed five million and French employment has ballooned to over ten per cent.

    Journalist Larry Elliot captured the mood at the 1988 TUC succulently by pointing out that the Delors vision appealed to some of the less attractive traits of the left, such as: “the worship of power, the notion that there is always a big solution to the smallest of problems and the feeling that there is something unseemly about loving your own country”.

    The Single European Act also began the long process of EU militarization, enshrining aspirations to create a single foreign policy and an EU-wide military-industrial complex to build and sell arms. This directly led to the hugely expensive project to build an EU fighter plane, the Eurofighter – a white elephant that has cost the British taxpayer over £20 billion at the last count.

    This Act should be seen as fundamental part of the process of slowly and irreversibly centralising power to Brussels on a huge scale.

    In 1991, EU heads of state signed the Maastricht Treaty, which formally proposed the introduction of the single currency. This was followed in 1996 by the Stability and Growth Pact, which established a strict convergence criteria for joining the euro.

    This pact represented a Thatcherite economic strait jacket that has enforced huge cuts in public spending and austerity measures on all member states. Many have still not met these targets and even former EU commission president Romano Prodi – now Italian president – has described this damaging pact as ‘stupid’.

    Since then, treaties like Amsterdam and Nice, and the failed attempt to impose an EU Constitution, all seek to centralise economic, political and legal powers within the EU without a democratic mandate to do so.

    Part three

    The big business origins of the Services Directive

    If we wait for our governments to do anything, we will be waiting for a long time. You can’t get all tied up with politics. Industry has to take the initiative”

    ERT member Wisse Dekker of Philips

    The Services Directive is widely known as the ‘Bolkestein’ directive after the Dutch EU internal market commissioner Frits Bolkestein who first proposed the idea back in 2000.

    However, this recipe for mass privatisation on an unprecedented scale was drawn up nearly 20 years earlier by the EU employers federation (UNICE) and the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT).

    ERT membership is strictly by invitation only and made up of representatives from around 50 companies including DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, Nestle, Renault and Siemens as well as UK firms like BP, Rio Tinto and Rolls Royce. It has a clear remit to promote further EU integration to benefit European-based transnational corporations.

    A simple Google search of ‘ERT’ reveals that this corporate group has been promoting the free movement of services and labour across the EU for over twenty years without any public accountability whatsoever.

    The group has access to major players at all levels of the EU. The ERT's own website boasts: "At European level, the ERT has contacts with the European Council, the European Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament”.

    In the early 1980s, Wisse Dekker of Philips and former EEC Industry Commissioner Etienne Davignon drew together a group of leading European corporate executives into the ERT with the objective of “relaunching Europe”.

    If we wait for our governments to do anything, we will be waiting for a long time. You can’t get all tied up with politics. Industry has to take the initiative. There is no other way,” Dekker argued.

    This was an internal Philips initiative led by the company’s Brussels representative, Coen Ramaer. He instructed four Philips consultants to:“imagine yourselves to be dictators of Europe and that you have decided that the job must be done in five years.

    “Once they had picked up this idea, they found it fascinating. And they discovered that it could be done – given the political will, of course,” he explained in an interview.

    Member states and much of the business sector had already rejected attempts by the European Commission to remove trade barriers within the EEC and create an internal EU market in 1984.

    However, in January 1985 Wisse Dekker published Europe 1990: An Agenda for Action, which proposed the elimination of trade barriers, legal harmonisation and the abolition of fiscal frontiers within the EEC by 1990. These proposals formed part of an ERT document called Changing Scales, which was sent to each EEC head of state.

    This plan demanded the elimination of borders, the opening up of public procurement markets and full tax harmonisation to create a European single market.

    Just days after Dekker presented his initiative, the newly appointed European Commission president Jacques Delors delivered a speech to the European Parliament closely matching Dekker's proposals.

    A few months later, Industry Commissioner Lord Cockfield published his remarkably similar White Paper, which formed the basis of the 1986 Single European Act.

    In the proposals, Lord Cockfield pushed through over 250 measures to remove barriers to trade by qualified majority voting. As Margaret Thatcher herself put it: “we wished to have many directives under majority voting because things which we wanted were being stopped by others using a single vote”.

    The ERT had achieved its aim.

    On January 11 2001, the European Commission formally launched plans for a Services Directive to force the wholesale deregulation of entire industries at a stroke. EU commissioner Bolkestein claimed it was time to end the sector by sector process of ‘liberalisation’ “when so many of the necessary changes are common to a wide range of services”.

    “Some of the national restrictions are archaic, overly burdensome and break EU law. Those have simply got to go,” he said.

    Bolkstein declared that “Article 49 of the Treaty of the European Union says that all restrictions on the freedom to provide cross-border services within the Union are prohibited.

    “According to article 50 ‘services’ include in particular ‘activities of craftsmen and of the professions’.

    “The European Commission has identified a large number of such obstacles. Their removal is crucial for the completion of the internal market,” he said.

    Commission spokesperson Margot Froehlinger claimed that this must be implemented because there had been “several complaints” from corporations.

    “We have come across all types of planning procedures which give discretionary powers to authorities which are clearly contrary to jurisprudence and are designed to protect local markets,” she said.

    The Commission’s 2002 report preparing the way for the directive also cited at length alleged barriers to service provision across the EU.

    However, even a report from the Europhile TUC, (Besides the Point, December 2005), criticized the vague and arbitrary nature of the commission’s claims and pointed out that many of the laws cited were irrelevant or not quantified.

    “Much of the detail appears to have derived from complaints made by businesses in response to Commission surveys and consultations.

    “Experience in the UK tells us that the volume of complaints about burdens on business has little connection with the actual importance of the issue when it comes to investment, growth and jobs,” it said.

    Nevertheless, the final genesis of Bolkestein’s Services Directive had begun and companies would be given the opportunity to undermine the best national conditions and wages and drive them down to the lowest level.

    For instance, a German company would be able to exercise its activities throughout the EU, including in Germany, with one branch operating from the Netherlands and another one from Belgium – depending on where the conditions generate most profit.

    Accordingly, the German building union IG BAU has warned of a wave of service provider relocations to countries which impose the lowest legal requirements and export them back home.

    Part Four

    Vaxholm and the threat to collective bargaining

    "What, until now, have been regarded as fundamental rights of workers in all democratic states would be undermined in the name of free movement," Swedish TUC (LO), vice-president Wanja Lundby-Wedin.

    A case currently before the European Court of Justice highlights just how the Services Directive and the internal market exploits cheap foreign labour and batters down minimum standards won at a national level.

    The case concerns a Latvian construction company, Laval, which was refurbishing a school in Vaxholm, outside Stockholm, using Latvian workers on low rates of pay.

    The Swedish Building Workers Union (SBWU) demanded that a local collective agreement that covered Swedish building firms should be in place.

    However, Laval refused and referred to a Latvian agreement instead which paid about a third of the Swedish wage and did not provide adequate insurance.

    As this was a clear case of ‘social dumping’, the SBWU, with the support of other unions, began industrial action by blockading the site.

    Laval argued that this action was not in compliance with EU law and brought the case to the Swedish labour court, which decided to ask for a ruling by the ECJ.

    The court is to decide if industrial action in support of demands for a collective agreement is in compliance with EU law, notably Article 49 on freedom of movement to provide services.

    While visiting Stockholm, EU internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy made clear that the commission fully backed the Latvian company and the "social dumping" that it had created.

    "If member states continue to shield themselves from foreign company takeovers and competition, then I fear that the internal market will begin to dissolve.

    "The question here is whether or not Sweden has implemented Article 49 in the treaty on free movement," he said.

    Understandably, the Swedish TUC (LO), which backed euro membership in a 2002 referendum when the people rejected it, has indicated that it would withdraw support for Swedish EU membership altogether if the court rules against collective bargaining legislation.

    LO vice-president Wanja Lundby-Wedin points out that industrial action is, by its very nature, an obstacle to the activities of a company and free movement.

    "However, the right to collective action is, together with freedom of association and the right to negotiate and conclude collective agreements, recognised as a fundamental right in international conventions," she said.

    As a result, if the ECJ finds that the industrial action taken in Vaxholm is against EU law, it would have serious consequences and not just for Nordic industrial relations systems.

    "What, until now, have been regarded as fundamental rights of workers in all democratic states would be undermined in the name of free movement," said Lundby-Wedin.

    The Viking case

    The Viking case also involved industrial action by the Finnish Seamen’s Union (FSU). The employer in dispute was able to initiate proceedings before the British High Court due to the fact that International Transport Federation offices are based in London.

    The employer’s claim was based on EU law was that the industrial action had violated the employer’s rights to freedom of establishment and to provide services, as provided in the EU Treaties, Articles 43 and 49.

    The FSU invoked the Finnish Constitution which protects the fundamental right to strike. At first instance in the High Court in June 2005, the judge upheld the employer’s complaint that EU law overrode any national law, even the national constitution of a member state.

    Both these cases highlight how EU Treaty provisions on free movement is being used as a battering ram against the trade union rights to take collective industrial action even if it is lawful under national law.

    Part five

    The “free movement of labour” and the attack on pay

    "It is an iron law of economics that an abundant supply of labour pushes down its cost. It is insulting people's intelligence to pretend otherwise," statement by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions

    Alongside the free movement of services, Brussels is pushing for the complete free movement of labour, moves that will have profound effects on all trade unions operating within the EU.

    Following the accession of eastern European states to the EU in May 2004, Ireland, Britain and Sweden allowed unrestricted access to their labour markets. As a result, migrant labour has been rapidly moving west while capital and manufacturing jobs are moving east.

    These three countries are experiencing a large influx of migrant labour while east European countries are suffering population falls and an inevitable brain drain.

    In Latvia alone, over 50,000 people have left a country of less than two million, leading to a loss of skilled labour and young people as well as an uncertain future of underdevelopment.

    In the three western states, meanwhile, wages have been under pressure in many sectors in a process known as ‘social dumping’, as cheap foreign labour replaces the indigenous workforce and trade union bargaining power is severely weakened.

    These problems have arisen in Ireland, most notably in the Irish Ferries dispute, when the company announced it was replacing 600 Irish seafarers with sweated labour from Eastern Europe at considerably lower rates of pay.

    This provoked huge protests across Ireland and even Irish premier Bertie Ahern was left wringing his hands about the injustice of the situation. Yet the Irish government is supporting the introduction of the Services Directive which would accelerate this kind of ‘social dumping’.

    Over a quarter of a million migrants, mainly from Poland and Latvia, now work in Ireland for cash pay, which considerably less than the legal minimum wage.

    Ireland is now facing the problems that arise from merging a labour force of just two million with an east European labour force of over 70 million.

    The Irish Congress of Trade Unions is demanding measures to protect particularly unskilled workers where social dumping is threatening jobs.

    "It is an iron law of economics that an abundant supply of labour pushes down its cost. It is insulting people's intelligence to pretend otherwise," it said in a statement.

    This theme was taken up as a source of satisfaction by Bank of England governor Mervyn King in 2005, when he declared that immigration from eastern Europe had "reduced wage inflation" in Britain.

    "In an economy that can call on unlimited supplies of migrant labour, the concept of output gap is meaningless," he said.

    This phenomenon will, of course, be exacerbated if Romania and Bulgaria join the EU in 2007 or 2008.

    Across Europe, it is clear that we are witnessing large movement of capital eastwards as labour heads west. And this is happening in accordance to the principles of the single European market, which allow the ‘free movement of goods, capital, services and labour’, regardless of the social consequences.

    Single market rules, therefore, truncate all forms of democracy, including rights to fair wages, working conditions, welfare and social protection and collective bargaining. These EU policies can only mean a continuation of mass migration and, ultimately, feed the poison of racism and fascism, the last refuge of the corporate beast in crisis.

    The ‘colonial’ brain drain

    Drawing limitless supplies of labour from Eastern Europe is clearly a strategy for pushing down wages and conditions within the EU to enhance corporate profits.

    Not content with this, Brussels plans to cream off the best talent from the third world by offering automatic rights to reside and work within the EU only to the very best students. EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has declared that he wants to "lure talent" from the South and to "capitalise on the lucrative international education market" by offering top African students instant EU citizenship.

    In other words, it is cheaper for EU businesses to exploit education systems in the undeveloping world rather than train the local workforce. The resulting brain drain from some of the poorest and underdeveloped societies in the world is clearly very damaging.

    Leading South African MP Kader Asmal has slammed the plans as "another form of discreet colonialism”.

    "EU countries assist in developing higher education in the South and then wish to take the cream of the PhD students by seducing them with the offer of citizenship.

    "This is not just a brain drain, but a destruction of the intellectual capital of the South," he said.

    To reverse this increasingly perverse situation, all nation states must have democratic control over their own immigration policy and have the right to apply national legislation in defence of migrant and indigenous workers.

    Part six

    Capital moves East

    “By 2008 Slovakia will be turning out 1m cars a year – compared with 1.6m in Britain this year. The reason is simple. The average gross wage a month for a car worker in Slovakia is £350 – compared with about £2,000 for assembly line workers at Ryton”

    Financial Times April 20, 2006

    The Services Directive is just one of many avenues that big business can use to their advantage to transfer production to where labour is cheapest. EU rules on ‘state aid’, which companies receive from governments, are regularly implemented in an arbitrary and partisan way to benefit transnational corporate interests.

    For instance, the planned closure of Peugeot’s UK plant in Ryton in 2007 and the shift of production to Slovakia is not an “inevitable” casualty of ‘globalisation’ as prime minister Tony Blair has weakly claimed.

    The death nail for Ryton began in 2002 when the UK government agreed a request of state aid of around £14 million to Peugeot so the company could build its 207 model in Britain.

    Inexplicably, the European Commission sat on the request for two years and, as a result, millions of pounds of extra investment was also held up.

    Meanwhile, in 2003, million of euros of state aid began being pumped into the new Peugeot/Citroen plant in Trnava, Slovakia. Peugeot switched production to France and now plans to move in Slovakia next year and over 2,300 more UK manufacturing jobs are set to disappear.

    In other words, while Brussels sat on the UK request for state aid, it allowed funds to be poured into upgrading the Trnava site and its surrounding infrastructure.

    The Slovakian government offered Peugeot £73 million subsidy, free land, construction financing, local infrastructure enhancement, a 10-year "tax holiday" and labour training subsidies, all backed by Brussels.

    A Single Programming deal between the Commission and Slovakia also gave massive EU funding for transport links near the site.

    The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) now says that Peugeot cited "proximity of quality transport links as one of the critical factors in picking Trnava".

    In order to obscure these facts, the BBC ran a major story at the height of the controversy based on a single quote from an EU spokeswoman dismissing the idea that the EU had anything to do with Ryton's closure.

    She said that the £78 million Slovakia received from the EU’s structural and cohesion funds could not have been passed on to Peugeot, claiming there are “very strict controls”.

    However, the BBC report failed to report the real issue of "state aid”, which can come in various forms from the government as in the case of Trnava.

    The tragedy at Ryton is the latest example of how capital and manufacturing is moving out of Britain in the interests of corporate capital.

    Over one million manufacturing jobs have disappeared since 1997 as a direct result of the creation of the Single European Market and its strict rules that requires the “free movement of capital, services, goods and labour”.

    Of course, when conditions in eastern countries such as Rumania, Bulgaria and Croatia allow, companies like Peugeot will move on to exploit these new regions with the connivance of EU institutions. The question then will be why can Asian workers toil at even cheaper rates?

    Part seven

    The attack on pensions

    If they are not reformed soon, public pensions systems in many EU member states pose a threat to the competitiveness of the European economy…confidence in the stability and political management of Europe’s new currency will be undermined.” ERT report.

    One of the services covered by the Services Directive is pension provision.

    Not surprisingly, the European Round Table of Industrialists drew up plans long ago to create a market in pension provision as part of creating an internal market.

    In 2000, the ERT produced a report on pensions to lobby the EU Lisbon summit.

    The report, European Pensions: An appeal for Reform, urged Brussels to order member states to lift retirement ages, stop early retirement and encourage individuals to save for their retirement through tax breaks and private pensions schemes.

    "If they are not reformed soon, public pension systems in many EU member states pose a threat to the competitiveness of the European economy", the report said.

    EU heads of state dutifully complied by agreeing the ‘Lisbon agenda’, which represented an orgy of privatisation and called for the harmonisation of national pension strategies.

    Member states have to prepare for the challenge of accelerated demographic ageing which will make it more difficult to provide adequate pensions in a financially sustainable way,” the European Commission declared.

    In December 2001, a set of eleven common objectives for the ‘modernisation’ of pension systems were adopted as a basis for harmonisation.

    In other words, no sooner had the ERT spoken in 2000, than the EU’s Report on Adequate and Sustainable Pensions appeared, echoing the ERT’s simple objective of making us work longer and harder for less.

    Achieving the general employment targets set in Lisbon will not be possible without increasing the employment rate among older people.

    This makes it necessary to adapt pension systems and other aspects of tax/benefit systems to encourage people to remain in work longer,” the EU report said.

    It went on to link the pension issue with the need to cut public spending.

    “Achieving high employment levels will, in many cases, not be sufficient to prevent a substantial increase in public expenditure on pensions as a proportion of GDP,” it said.

    By 2003, Brussels issued Directive 2003/41/EC to force pension funds to comply with the internal market principles of free movement of capital and free provision of services.

    It allows pension funds to manage occupational schemes for companies established in another member state and allows a pan-European company to have one pension fund for all its subsidiaries. This liberalisation of the pension fund market was accompanied by concerted attacks on state pension provision in all member states.

    Unelected employers groups ordered the EU in 2000 to reduce the pension cost for the state and for employers. The EU then tied in national governments to the agreement in 2001 and each state obeyed the orders and started to attack pensions.

    The Treasury’s ‘‘National Reform Programme’ published in October 2005 (www.hm-treasury.gov.uk) declared that “the government has proposed an increase in the normal pension age of public sector schemes from 60 to 65”.

    This was the UK response to the Integrated Guidelines package endorsed by the EU Council in June 2005. This document is designed to meet the requirements of the updated Lisbon Action Plan issued by the EU’s Spring European Council 2005 SEC (2005) 192.

    Under the heading, ‘Developing active aging strategies’ it requires member states to ensure the “suppression of early labour market exit”. These proposals were incorporated in the proposed Directive on Occupational Pensions.

    The UK response supplies detailed answers on steps to increase the working age and hand pension provision in order to complete the EU’s single market. This is designed to force workers to work longer and rely on inferior private pensions based on the vagaries of the stock market.

    Part eight

    Social partnership or independent trade unions?

    There is a mutual interest in getting this idea of European Union across. The European Commission needs the trade unions to implement European Economic and Monetary Union” European TUC spokesman Alfons Grunheber-Pilgram

    The Services Directive represents a wholesale attack on welfare, education and social structures which trade unions and working class organisations have fought hard for over decades. So what should the response of the labour movements in Europe be to this latest onslaught?

    The EU strategy is clearly to use the free movement of labour, capital and services to dilute, undermine and even destroy hard-won labour standards and public services.

    This neo-liberal drive will increase ‘social dumping’, displacing workers with cheap foreign labour and feeding racism and the far-right.

    The British and Irish governments back the Services Directive despite opposition from the vast majority of trade unions in London and Dublin.

    TUC policy, decided overwhelmingly at the 2005 Congress, is to oppose the EU Constitution, the Services Directive and other neo-liberal EU diktats which demand the privatisation of the railways, post office and other essential public services.

    Despite this official policy decided at Congress, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber found it possible to welcome the so-called ‘watered down’ Services Directive in a press release as a “major victory for social Europe”.

    Such as response betrays a desire by the TUC to create a common front with EU institutions to advance the EU agenda. This is a central tent of the ‘social partnership’ agenda – a world where trade unionists and EU bosses and eurocrats are supposedly equal ‘partners’.

    However, resistance to the EU’s corporate agenda and the Services Directive are appearing across Europe.

    In France, following huge political pressure from the labour movement, the Europhile government called for the withdrawal of the “country of origin” principle and declared “the Directive must not undermine the rules applicable in France in the area of employees’ rights”.

    For the same reasons, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder warned that “the contents of the directive put fear and horror into the hearts of people” while the right wing Austrian Chancellor has stated that he could only support a directive text that would “prevent social dumping”.

    However, the whole point of the directive is to create exactly these conditions.

    These responses reveal a growing level of unease among working people to EU rules that shift the balance of power massively to the employer and big business and away from elected parliaments.

    As a result, the validity of ‘social partnership’, where bosses, hand-picked union leaders and eurocrats draw up laws for over 500 million people across Europe without a democratic mandate to do so, should no longer be taken seriously.

    We have to ask ourselves, how can workers’ have the same interests as private corporate entities that lobby EU institutions to make it easier to exploit staff and bring down wages?

    Endless academic papers on the need for social partnership and declaring the end of class struggle cannot hide the fact that trade unions should not be in the business of promoting rules drawn up by big business.

    These policies only favour corporate capital and the drive to maximise superprofits by exploiting cheap labour within the EU and around the world.

    However, the European TUC, which is 80 per cent EU-funded, openly colludes with the commission and employers groups to promote this damaging corporate agenda. Is this really what European workers want?

    It is widely believed that trade unions should exist primarily to represent their members’ interests, not to act as a conveyor belt for the policies of unaccountable and remote EU institutions.

    This government, in common with previous administrations and some trade union leaders, have blindly promoted EU policies and failed to protect those they should be representing.

    The alternative is for trade unionists to develop their own democratic agenda based on the interests of their members and their communities. Trade unions have an important and legitimate political role to play as agents for social change, not as the neutered partners of corporate interests.

    The Service Directive is not yet a reality and millions of workers’ are finding the confidence to say no to ‘social dumping’ and yes to protecting national standards.

    In order to protect jobs and this country’s industrial base, trade unions should be demanding that the government invests in manufacturing, training, research and development.

    Manufacturing could create the wealth required to finance and develop the welfare state including a public health service that is free at the point of use, education and decent pensions.

    All governments must have the democratic powers to control the flow of capital, jobs and people even if it offends neo-liberal EU rules, laws and directives designed to favour corporate capital.  These are the fundamental rights of any modern, democratic independent nation.

  • INTERVIEW: Robert Griffiths CP general secretary

    When we caught up to interview Robert Griffiths, he was right in the middle of helping to organise the Communist University to be held in early November. Rob's answers were open and wide-ranging and give a taste of what can be expected from platform speakers and in the plenaries. If you wish to view the programme go here. If you wish to sign up in advance go here.

  • CUB09 programme

    This year's programme for the November Communist University of Britain promises to be the biggest and most thought-provoking yet. The CUB kicks off with an international rally on Friday 6 November and is followed by two days of discussion, panels, plenaries, book and film launches. Read on for details of venue, dates and times.

  • Red Alert- Rhybudd Coch Anti fascist Special October 09

    Red Alert

    Rhybudd Coch

    E-bulletin of the Welsh Communist Party

    Anti Fascism Special, Issue 3, October 2009

    1. ANTI FASCISTS TO GO AHEAD WITH COUNTER DEMONSTRATIONS IN SWANSEA & NEWPORT
    2. NEWPORT ORGANISES SOLIDARITY BUS FOR SWANSEA
    3. SEARCHLIGHT CYMRU ‘HOPE NOT HATE’ LETTER TO MEDIA RECEIVING MASS SUPPORT IN WALES – ADD YOUR NAME!
    4. SPOT THE WELSH COMMUNISTS IN WELSH RAMBLINGS’ BLOG SPOT ‘TOP 50 WELSH LEFT-WINGERS’
    5. TAXPAYERS’ ALLIANCE DIRECTOR IS A TAX AVOIDER – NOW WHY ARE WE NOT SURPRISED?
    6. DIARY OF MEETINGS AND EVENTS

  • People's Charter website

    Charter_web_new_site

    The people's Charter has launched a new website. Visit, sign the petition and view details of the 21 November conference.

  • Tories build on New Labour's neo-liberalism

    CPB_logoTORY leaders are preparing to build on new Labour’s neoliberal policies to impose further hardships on working people, John Haylett told the Communist Party political committee on 7 October.

  • Lisbon - a pyrrhic victory

    The Irish Yes vote for the Lisbon Treaty is a pyrrhic victory for the EU writes Brian Denny in the Morning Star.

  • October Red Alert - Rhybudd Coch published

    A new edition of the Wales CP newsletter is available here. This issue includes the Labour leadership contest, the struggle against racism and the EDL, features on Cuba and CND Cymru and a diary of meetings and events.

  • Red Alert - Rhybudd Coch October 09


     

    Red Notes - Rhybudd Coch
    October 09

    WELSH COMMUNISTS CALL ON TRADE UNIONS TO BACK EDWINA HART FOR WELSH LABOUR LEADER

    The Welsh Communist Party’s Executive Committee, meeting in Pontypridd over the weekend, called on trade unions to back Edwina Hart in the labour leadership contest.

    Welsh Secretary Rick Newnham declared that the Party’s call was based on ”Edwina’s record on supporting the One Wales agreement and her demonstrated progressive credentials of reversing the trend of privatisation of the health service in Wales and doing away with the bureaucratic and costly internal market.”

    Mr Newnham went onto state, “Edwina has delivered where others have just talked and the people of Wales needs a decisive and progressive leader for the troubled times ahead ’.

    The Executive Committee also called for the biggest possible mobilisation against the fascist provocations being prepared by the English Defence League in Newport on 24thOctober.

    Rick Newnham argued that, “As always the fascists are scapegoating a vulnerable group in society to protect the rich and powerful from rightfully taking the blame for the majority of society’s ills. Their hateful bullying is no solution to any social or economic problems and should be actively resisted by the people of Wales”.


    2. NATIONAL APPEAL TARGETS SET FOR THE PARTY IN WALES

    The CPB’s Autumn national appeal is on us again and the target to be raised in Wales is £1, 500.00. The annual appeal is essential to ensure that the high level of political campaigning and Party building can continue.

    In order to spread the burden the Welsh executive has broken the Welsh target down into branch and Executive committee targets as follows:

    Executive Committee (500); Pontypridd (250); Cardiff (200); Swansea (150); Merthyr & Cynon (100); Flintshire (100); North West Wales (50); West Wales (50); Monmouthshire & Borders (50); Newport & Valleys (50)

    All members and supporters are asked to contribute so that this burden is spread as widely as possible. Finance is political without the resources the Party would not be able to function. 

    Please send all money (in cheque form) to Welsh Communist Party, PO Box 69, Pontypridd, CF37 9AB making cheques payable to ‘Welsh Committee CPB’.

    3. WELSH FOOTBALL CLUBS SHOW THE EDL THE RED CARD

    Clubs from throughout Wales have joined Show Racism the Red Card to condemn the provocations of the so called English Defence League. Newport County, Wrexham, Swansea and the Football Association of Wales have all moved to block the EDL from using club logos for the purposes of mobilising divisive actions against local communities.


    4. NEWPORTCOMMUNITIES AGAINST RACISM LAUNCHED

    Newport Communities Against Racism is a coalition of trade unionists, anti-racist campaigners and community activists promoting community solidarity and opposing racial hatred.

    In an attempt to increase racial tension and religious intolerance, the extremist “English Defence League” has called an “anti-mosque demo” in John Frost Square on the afternoon of Saturday 24thOctober.

    The EDL started holding intimidating street demonstrations this summer. They claim to oppose Islamic extremism but in reality target ordinary Asians. The group, which has links to the BNP has recently set up a “Welsh Defence League” to front the protest in Wales.

    They claim the conversion of the derelict United Reform church in Stow Hill into a mosque and multi-faith centre represents the rise of ‘foreign Islamic extremism’ and will mean the desecration of the war memorial.

    In reality a rundown empty building is being restored as a place of worship by the Islamic Society of Gwent, the renovation is being done by CADW specialists and the war memorial was moved and re-housed some time ago.

    We must not sit by whilst members of our community are singled out and attacked by groups of moronic extremists.

    Please gather in John Frost Square before mid day on Saturday 24thOctober and be ready to move if the bigots try to hold their hate rally elsewhere in the city.

    Check out: twitter.com/NewportCAR

    Recent intelligence from Searchlight Cymru indicates that the planned EDL rally in Swansea on the 17thOctober has now been pulled by the fascists.


    5. NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CELEBRATION OF CUBAN AND BOLIVARIAN REVOLUTIONS

    The Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan will be hosting a visit of ambassadors from the Cuban, Venezuelan and Bolivian Embassies on Wednesday 14thOctober; to mark the 50thanniversary of the Cuban revolution, the 10 years of Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution and the recent progressive advances in Latin America generally.

    Following Rhodri’s meetings with Rene Mujica Cantela (Cuba), Samuel Moncada (Venezuela), Maria Souviron (Bolivia)there will a Havana Club reception, sponsored by Cymru Wales UNISON’s International Committee and Thompsons Solicitors, where Assembly Members will mix with leading figures from the trade union movement and Latin American solidarity groups; hear speeches from the ambassadors and then chill to live Cuban music.

    The reception is being held in the Ty Hywel assembly building from 5.30 pm onwards and attendance is by invite only.


    6. THE POWER OF COMMUNITY – HOW CUBA SURVIVED PEAK OIL

    The Cuban people have built a sustainable society they are rightly proud of. However, in the early 1990's, this small Caribbean island of 11 million inhabitants was changed forever by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the loss of a significant amount of resources from preferable subsidies, which included oil. Following this, the Cubans have had to restructure their economy to deal without this fuel source, and to develop alternative ways of ensuring that the revolution continues to move forward.

    One of these changes has included the revolution within agriculture, and Cymru Cuba are delighted to have Steve Garrett, Chair and Director of Riverside Community Market Association, come and talk to us about his experiences in this field when he traveled there recently.

    The discussion will be followed by the acclaimed Roberto Perez film by “The Power of Community - How Cuba survived Peak Oil", a study of sustainable agriculture in Cuba.

    This will be held at Transport House on the 7th October; starting at 7pm. Entry will be free.

    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509725168&ref=profile#/event.php?eid=140837176499


    Matt Brierley
    Secretary Cymru Cuba South Wales


    7. CND CYMRU AGM

    The Annual Meeting of CND Cymru will be held in Swansea on 21stNovember (full details to be confirmed) and will be combined with a public event which will be publicized on the website www.cndcymru.org– keep an eye on the site for further information.

    On a campaigning note - whilst it's good news to hear that Britain may only build 3 new nuclear powered submarines with 160 nuclear warheads to replace the current 4 nuclear powered submarines with 200 warheads - that's still not good enough !!

    Please consider signing the below petition calling for Trident not to be replaced at all

    www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/rethinktrisept


    8. HANDS OFF OUR COOPS!

    The complaints against French, Spanish and Italian cooperatives that are being looked at by the European Commission are made by large shareholding companies. They are trying to get changes to the national tax rules for co-operatives. Any changes to these rules would reduce competition and would steal the coops' business. The Commission's decisions on the complaints may not just concern a few large co-operatives but they could also badly affect all coops across Europe.

    Cooperatives are specifically written about in the EU treaties. Twenty five European Union countries have their own laws for co-operatives. Co-operatives are a different kind of business. Cooperative businesses rely on the principles of democratic control, self-responsibility, equity and solidarity. Co-ops have a unique legal and financial structure that needs to be recognised. The Commission cannot be allowed to pretend that they are comparing the same things when they compare co-ops with private sector businesses.

    If you believe that attention has to be paid to the social and human dimension in economic activities and that a strong political message needs to be given to the European Commission, please sign the following petition.

    (http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/hands-off-our-coops.html)


    9. DIARY OF MEETINGS AND EVENTS

    October

    Cymru Cuba public meeting (details above) public meeting 7thOctober.

    Wil Morus Jones will be addressing the Pontypridd CPB branch meeting on his work with Bangla Cymru, a Welsh charity that supports development work in Bangladesh. The meeting will take place in Clwb y Bont on Thursday October 8th.

    Assembly’s Latin America celebration,14thOctober

    Celebrating Democracy: Our Voice, Our Vote, Our Freedom- 15thOctober, Newport Centre – for further information go to www.bevanfoundation.org

    Newport Communities Against Racism has called a counter demonstration to the EDL’s “anti-mosque demo” in John Frost Square on Saturday24thOctober – gather in John Frost square from 11 am onwards.

     

    November


    First two weeks of November Welsh Communist Party branch meetings to discuss the Party’s congress business, elect delegates and make nominations to the Welsh executive Committee. Contact your branch secretary or the Welsh secretary Rick Newnham for further details.

    The People’s Charter for Change / Siartr y Bobl – Newid er Gwell - Welsh launch in Newport on Wednesday 4thNovember. A press conference will be held in the Pen & Wig public house on Stow Hill at 12 pm

    The Red November dinner is being held in the Tandoori Mahal Restaurant, 98 Albany Road, Roath Cardiff on Thursday12thNovember. Tickets, waged £22.00 unwaged £15.00 for a two course meal with free wine, can be ordered fromoffice@welshcommunists.org

    The Annual Meeting of CND Cymru will be held in Swansea on 21stNovember

    Professor Jane Aaron will deliver this year’s Gwyn Alf Williams memorial lecture ‘1926 and all that – strikes and unemployment in Welsh Literature’, in Clwb y Bont, Pontypridd on Friday27thNovember, at 7.30 pm.

    The Welsh Communist Party’s bi-ennial congress is being held in the YMCA, Pontypridd on Saturday28thNovember.

     

    If you are not already a member of the Welsh Communist Party, and would like to join, then you can make an application by following the link below:

     

    www.communist-party.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=249:joinus&catid=7:general

     

    Or find out more about the Welsh Communist Party by visiting:

     

    www.welshcommunists.org

     

    If Red Alert was forwarded on to you by a friend and you would like to receive this e-bulletin directly, all you need to do is e-mail your request to:

     

    office@welshcommunists.org

  • Red Alert - Rhybudd Coch September 09

    Red Alert

    Rhybudd Coch

    E-notice board of the Welsh Communist Party

    September 2009

    1. INTRODUCING RED ALERT
    2. BONEHEAD EDL TARGETS WELSH CITIES
    3. BEDLINOG FILM SHOW IN AID OF REVOLUTIONARY ASSOCIATION OF THE WOMEN OF AFGANISTAN
    4. WELSH COMMUNISTS AT BEVAN FOUNDATION’S NEWPORT CHARTIST COMEMORATIVE EVENT
    5. WELSH LAUNCH OF THE PEOPLE’S CHARTER
    6. PROFESSOR JANE AARON TO DELIVER THIS YEAR’S GWYN ALF WILLIAMS MEMORIAL LECTURE
    7. WELSH COMMUNIST PARTY CONGRESS
    8. RED NOVEMBER DINNER MAKES A WELCOME RETURN
    9. BANGLA CYMRU – PONTYPRIDD BRANCH MEETING HEARS FIRST HAND ACCOUNT FROM BANGLADESH

    1. INTRODUCING RED ALERT / RHYBUDD COCH

      Red Alert was, for many years, the newsletter of the Welsh Communist Party – it is now being re-launched as a monthly e-notice board.
      The aim of Red Alert is to keep comrades and friends informed of progressive activities and events around Wales. If anyone would like to contribute a notice or comment then please e-mail Red Alert at
      office@welshcommunists.org

      Please forward on to sympathetic friends and comrades.


    2. BONEHEAD EDL TARGETS WELSH CITIES

      The English Defence League, a shadowy fascistic anti-Muslim group - thought to be a storm trooper front for the BNP, has targeted Newport and Swansea for their race hate demonstrations.


      Cynically relabeling themselves the Welsh Defence League, the EDL intends to hold city centre demonstrations in Swansea on the 17
      thOctober and in Newport on 24thOctober with a view to stoking up racial hatred and inciting violence. 

      Welsh communists are working with Searchlight Cymru and local anti racism groups to have these demonstrations band but, at the same time, mobilising the progressive and labour movement to counter the EDL on the streets if necessary.

    3. BEDLINOG FILM SHOW IN AID OF REVOLUTIONARY ASSOCIATION OF THE WOMEN OF AFGANISTAN

      There will be a showing of
      At Five in the Afternoon’, filmed in post 9/11 Afghanistan and directed by the Iranian Director Samira Makhmalbaf.
      Tickets cost £3 and all proceeds will go to The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.

      7.30pm on Friday 2nd of October in the Bedlinog Workmen's Hall, Garth Terrace, Bedlinog

      Bar will be open and there will be free cakes for everyone!

      You can read about the film here:
      www.channel4.com/film/reviews/film.jsp?id=118373&section=review&page=all#reviewnav

      And you can read about The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan here:
      www.rawa.org/

      If you need further information contact Catrin on 07966 288352.

      Tickets cost £3 and all proceeds will go to The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan

    4. WELSH COMMUNISTS AT BEVAN FOUNDATION’S NEWPORT CHARTIST COMEMORATIVE EVENT

      To mark the 170th anniversary of the Chartist Uprising in Newport, the Bevan Foundation is hosting an event to celebrate democracy and commemorate those who have fought to protect it.

      The Welsh Communist Party is supporting this event and will have a stall at this all day – could volunteers to staff the stall please contact Rick at
      office@welshcommunists.org

      Celebrating Democracy: Our Voice, Our Vote, Our Freedom

      15
      thOctober, Newport Centre – for further information go to
      www.bevanfoundation.org

    5. WELSH LAUNCH OF THE PEOPLE’S CHARTER

      The People’s Charter for Change / Siartr y Bobl – Newid er Gwell is scheduled to have its Welsh launch in Newport on Wednesday 4thNovember (170 years to the day since the Chartists marched on the Westgate in Newport).

      A press conference will be held in the Pen & Wig public house on Stow Hill at 12 pm followed by a march to the Westgate where there will be leafleting and speeches.
      Tony Benn is the invited guest speaker and key Welsh supporters will also be present.

      The press conference will report on the current Welsh supporters and on the intention to build support for the Charter throughout the length and breadth of Wales and to establish local chartist groups, and collect signatories, in every Welsh town and city.


      For further information on the People’s Charter visit: www.thepeoplescharter.com

    1. PROFESSOR JANE AARON TO DELIVER THIS YEAR’S GWYN ALF WILLIAMS MEMORIAL LECTURE

      On the eve of the Welsh Communist Party’s bi-ennial congress; Professor Jane Aaron will deliver this year’s Gwyn Alf Williams memorial lecture
      ‘1926 and all that – strikes and unemployment in Welsh Literature’, in Clwb y Bont, Pontypridd on Friday 27thNovember, at 7.30 pm.

      Jane Aaron
      Professor Jane Aaron, who teaches postgraduate and undergraduate modules on Welsh writing in English at the University of Glamorgan, is the author of A Double Singleness: Gender and the Writings of Charles and Mary Lamb (Clarendon Press, 1991), a Welsh-language book on nineteenth-century women’s writing in Wales, Pur fel y Dur: Y Gymraes yn Llên y Bedwaredd Ganrif ar Bymtheg (University of Wales Press, 1998). She also co-edited the volumes Out of the Margins: Women’s Studies in the Nineties (Falmer Press, 1991), Our Sisters’ Land: The Changing Identities of Women in Wales (University of Wales Press, 1994), Postcolonial Wales (University of Wales Press, 2005). Her latest volume is the Nineteenth-Century Women’s Writing in Wales: Nation, Gender and Identity (University of Wales Press, 2007), the first in the Gender Studies in Wales series of which she is co-editor.

    2. WELSH COMMUNIST PARTY CONGRESS

      The Welsh Communist Party’s bi-ennial congress is being held in the YMCA, Pontypridd on Saturday 28
      thNovember. 

      All Party branches will be holding pre-congress meetings in the first half of November to discuss amendments to a revised Party programme, vote on branch motions and elect delegates.

      The congress as well as adopting an up dated Party programme will also be holding 3 workshops on Branch life and Party structures; Party Finances & Propaganda; and will elect a new Executive Committee.

    3. RED NOVEMBER DINNER MAKES A WELCOME RETURN

      After a gap of one year the Red November Dinner, celebrating the Bolshevik revolution, is making a welcome return with guest speakers invited from the Cuban and Venezuelan Embassies.

      This year’s dinner is being held in the Tandoori Mahal Restaurant, 98 Albany Road, Roath Cardiff on Thursday 12
      thNovember.

      Tickets will be on sale shortly waged £22.00 unwaged £15.00 for a two course meal with free wine.


    4. BANGLA CYMRU – PONTYPRIDD BRANCH MEETING HEARS FIRST HAND ACCOUNT FROM BANGLADESH

      Wil Morus Jones will be addressing the Pontypridd branch’s October meeting on his work with Bangla Cymru, a Welsh charity that supports development work in Bangladesh.

      Wil was pleased to be invited to address a communist party meeting because of his positive associations with Bangladeshi communists.

      The meeting will take place in Clwb y Bont on Thursday October 8
      th.

    If you are not already a member of the Welsh Communist Party and you would like to join then you can make an application by following the link below:

    www.communist-party.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=249:joinus&catid=7:general

    Or find out more about the Welsh Communist Party by visiting:

    www.welshcommunists.org

    If Red Alert was forwarded on to you by a friend and you would like to receive this e-notice board directly, all you need to do is e-mail your request to:

    office@welshcommunists.org

  • Solidarity with Ireland

    The organisers of the No campaign, opposing the forced re vote on the Lisbon treaty, welcome messages of solidarity from all trade union and labour movement bodies in Britain.

    Send to the Irish People’s Movement: 25 Shanowen Crescent, Dublin 9 post@people.ie

  • Time for labour movement to be bold

    ‘Savage cuts in jobs, wages, pensions and public services are meeting an active fight-back from below, but too many labour movement leaders are adopting a timid and defeatist stance’, Communist Party trade union co-ordinator Carolyn Jones told the party’s executive at the weekend [24 September].

  • No BBC duty to give platform to fascists

    'The election of fascist MEPs does not turn the racist MP and its criminal leadership into a democratic, legitimate political party', Anita Halpin declared at the Communist Party's political committee on Wednesday evening (September 9).

  • 'Unity' @ union conferences

    CP daily paper at TUC

    and union confernces.

    View Monday  Tuesday

    WednesdayThursday.

     

  • Marx and Engels on trades unions

    'Marx and Engels on trades unions' is a paper prepared for branch education which opens up the contribution of Marx and Engels as builders of workers' organisations and the theory of working class liberation. It is available as a download PDF.

     

    Marx and Engels, in between waging revolutionary war against capitalism and reaction – oh, and the odd spot of pub crawling in Soho - spent a great deal of time writing and analysing things. Yet there’s no one single piece about trade unions to look up. Even so, the issue litters all their vast writings, many of which were posthumously collected and published over the years in a range of compendiums in Moscow and Beijing. Sometimes these writings were originally in the form of books but also variously in private letters, journalism, speeches and resolutions. So finding these texts would be more like a lifetime’s endeavour than `a book at bedtime’!

     

    Since he lived much longer than Marx, Engels was able to see for himself the development of mass trades unionism in Britain late in the 19th century and learn important lessons from this. Only a short while before he died, Engels wrote of the British unions that they were a “sleeping giant”, slow to rouse but powerfully ferocious when on the rampage. He had seen an early form of this in half a century before in Manchester. The effect of union activity was certainly powerful and the

    workers could not attack the existing order of society at “any sorer point than this”.

     

    But even in 1844, he thought that: “Something more is needed,” than unions and strikes to break the power of the ruling class.”

     

    No-one admired the British trade union movement more than Engels. “As schools of war they are unexcelled”. The French, with their revolutionary tradition had it easy, for “what is death … in comparison with gradual starvation, with the daily sight of the starving family” in the

    massive and solid strikes of the British working class. Surely, he thought, a people that can endure so much “to bend one single bourgeoise (capitalist) will be able to break the power of the whole

    bourgeoisie”.

     

    Marx posed the historical significance of trade union struggle sharply in his `The Poverty of Philosophy’. (The title of this work was a pun on a dreadful anarchistic thing called the `Philosophy of Poverty’!) Here the argument was that a rise in wages merely put up prices and strikes were

    a blind alley. But for Marx, trades unionism could take on a political character in the “veritable civil war” for higher wages. The notion that unions could just be hitched up to the revolutionary wagon was dismissed by Marx as naïve ultra-leftism.

     

    On the other side of the spectrum, right-leaning theorists in Germany twisted Marx’s economic thinking and put forward the notion of the `iron law of wages’. In essence this suggested that workers could never improve their lot no matter what they did; only winning elections could

    help. (Sounds familiar!) Marx countered that capitalism did operate a physical minimum, which kept workers alive, but that a social element also existed that reflected the balance of power between capital and labour – strikes could make a difference for a while at least. To make

    the most of this, we needed unions that were mass in character, not semi-political revolutionary organisations.

     

    But, in `Value, Price and Profit’ Marx wrote that even if unions “work well as centres of resistance” they “fail generally by limiting themselves to a guerrilla war against the effects of the existing system”. In addition to their original tasks, trade unions needed to become “focal points for the

    organisation of the working class”, to rally around them even workers still outside of their ranks. Yet, collective agreements won by unions from employers could “only be considered a truce”. Unions did need to act politically, but Marx fought against piling unions and workers’

    political parties into one heap. The aims might be the same but specific methods of working towards this needed to be recognised.

     

    Marx generally wrote at length about concrete examples of trade union struggle and the effect on working hours and wages and how this fed into labour legislation. He reported in 1853-4 for the New York Daily Tribune on the strike wave that swept Britain, culminating in the great Preston Lockout. Whilst his account of the London building trades lockout was sufficiently influential to help him found the International Workingmen’s Association, the first ever workers’ international body.

    (Unfortunately, it was the practice of the time to use the male gender to encompass all.)

     

    Marx and Engels attached great importance to solidarity work in times of strikes. Indeed one attraction for British unions about the International was the possibility of stopping the importation of scab labour from the continent and they joined it in large numbers. Marx spent a great deal of

    effort nurturing the forces that he had temporarily welded together, at a time when the TUC was just a gleam in the eye of a few people.

     

    Yet, whilst Marx always saw the need to keep up with the actual demands of the day he also understood that the difficulty was that, fundamentally, the British trade unions still “concerned themselves exclusively with wage questions”. Engels also noted that the “workers also get their morale thanks to the British monopoly of the world and colonial markets”. Only when this faded would we see the beginnings of change. In the 20th century, Lenin extended the work of both Marx and Engels in looking at the relationship between the revolutionary movement and the trade unions – but that is another story!

  • What is to be done? - an education paper

    WHAT IS TO BE DONE? From 1902 to 2004. Written at a time of intense ideological struggle, Lenin begins to formulate his ideas about political organisation and the class struggle. Available here to download as a PDF.

    At first sight, the book by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, "What is to be Done?", seems to be very fixed in the time and place it was written. He wrote it in 1902 as an answer to what the next steps that the fragmented trends of progressive opinion in Tsarist Russia had to take. At the time, few realised just how powerful Lenin’s ideas were.

    The kinds of civil liberties we take for granted in modern Britain (weak though they are!) were not open to radical groups in Russia then. Revolutionary forces were weak and had to operate underground. Trade unions were only just getting established and the revolutionary movement was grappling with how to relate to them. Lenin set out some clear principles, along the way sketching out how a successful strategy for achieving power could be developed. Within a couple of years, revolutionaries were in the thick of a revolution, partly brought about by Lenin’s approach. Though it was unsuccessful, there were many who thought that it could not have happened when they were reading what he had written. Only a dozen years later, broad councils of trades unionists and peasants’ leaders were actually able to take power.

    Lenin’s book was central to that process.

    Like most of his Lenin’s works, it’s a difficult book to get a handle on, if you read it without understanding the context in which it was written. Especially as he gets to his point by showing how many on the Left were following blind alleys. It’s not really necessary to intimately know all the fine detail of the politics of the time to grasp his direction though. It’s perhaps enough to realise that Russian socialism is in a bit of mess! He is against the idea that spontaneous strike waves can be a basis for revolution; you can’t rely on this as a means for making fundamental political change. Equally, those who supposedly follow Marxism, but who in practice fail to act in a revolutionary way (by saying that you have to follow every instinct of the workers) have it wrong.

    Only by the creation of a revolutionary Party can this mess be sorted out. This is Lenin's starting point: “there can be no revolutionary movement without a revolutionary theory.”(1) Such a theory must help the mass of the people move from spontaneity (or trade union  consciousness) to class (or revolutionary) consciousness. A new way ahead is needed. Not to worship spontaneity, but to “reject subservience to and conciliation with what already exists”. (2) He proposes a revolutionary party that acts as a guiding force, to educate and organise for revolution not reform.

    Complex political theories have always been developed by the intelligentsia, but this does not by any means exclude the working class from engagement in theory. For the Party can transform them into worker-intellectuals. Socialist theory explains to workers their position nd therefore it is attractive to them but it cannot spontaneously emerge from their minds. Without theory, the workers inevitably slide into trying to improve their conditions within capitalism.

    So, revolutionaries have an obligation to contract into the mass labour movement since struggle cannot become "class struggle" until it is led by “a strong organization of revoluionaries”. (3) Since Marxism seeks to abolish the wages system, it’s wrong to base strategy on bettering it - the essence of trade union action and the consciousness which flows from it. Lenin defines this approach as the conviction of the need for “fighting against the employers, and for trying to prevail upon the government to pass laws necessary for the workers”.

    (4)More than this is needed, as this kind of consciousness comes out of the workers' crude, rough-and-ready experience of the wages system. An altogether different source is the basis of socialism which “has grown out of the philosophical, historical, and economic theories” of the intelligentsia. (5) Spontaneous movements of workers are not revolutionary in character, moreover they minimise the possibilities by their form. In contrast, Lenin argues “no revolutionary movement can be durable without a stable organization of leaders which preserves continuity”. (6)

     Let no-one tell you that Lenin was only writing from an Asiatic perspective. His understanding draws from the analysis of Marx’s cowriter, Friedrich Engels. Living until only a decade before Lenin was writing, Engels was a close observer of the British trade union scene and Lenin has this experience in mind when he talks of trade union consciousness.

    Lenin saw the socialist movement as having been corrupted by those who would restrict action to a “`realistic’ struggle for trivial, gradual reforms... in practice, it meant an attempt to transform the nascent (i.e. coming into being) labour movement into an appendage of the liberals.”

    (7) He is not concerned as such with how to maximise the role of trade unions, but how to revolutionise the working class. However, this does not mean he does not care about trade union struggle. The “more rapidly our employers join together in all sorts of societies and syndicates, the more urgent does the need for this organization by trades become”.

    (8)But all groups amongst the people need to be mobilised by taking up all the issues that concern individuals and important groups in society. Even more vital is to identify a link between the varying issues and sections. Broad work is vital for Lenin, political agitation must be “unified throughout Russia, illuminating all sides of life and directed to the broadest masses”. (9) There is a need for political organisation to channel the grievances of the dissatisfied masses, “both the working class and ever more diverse strata of society produce every year increasingly large numbers of people who are dissatisfied”. (10) Trade union consciousness can all too often be parochial, not only in a sectional sense, but also can lack a wider national perspective. As

    Lenin puts it “local activists are too immersed in local work”, for this reason he seeks to “shift slightly the centre of gravity to all-Russian work”(11), especially by launching a national revolutionary newspaper.

    For Lenin the need for a revolutionary Party is paramount, unlike supposed `socialists’ who do not understand “our first and most urgent practical task: to create an organisation of revolutionaries able to guarantee the energy, stability, and continuity of the political struggle”.

    (12)There were those who thought there was no basis yet for a revolutionary socialist party in Russia and that Marxists should take part in the movements of the liberal bourgeoisie, whilst others believed that a revolutionary Party was important, but that it should be directed by the workers as to what it should do and say. Such groups, which were essentially revisionist in character and uninvolved in underground struggle, had seized upon the arguments of the, at times, militant activists on economic issues. But Lenin argued that militancy was not enough, developing the organisational base of the revolutionary party was the core of Lenin's concern. For there will be no transformation of the capitalist system into a socialist one without a revolutionary party.

    Achieving a revolutionary transformation of society requires a conscious and clear body of revolutionaries. Inevitably, to understand the character of society they live in and seek to change, they will need to study, analyse and theorize upon it in order that they can guide isolated grievances into a coherent revolutionary struggle. Hence revolutionaries need to be always prepared: “We must always carry on our everyday work and always be prepared for everything, because very often it is almost impossible to foresee in advance the change from period of explosion to periods of calm.”

    (13)In the final pages of the book, Lenin gives a short answer to the question `What is to be done?' – that’s to say to “liquidate” (15) the period of Russian socialist history which began in 1897-8 and which Lenin characterises as a “period of disarray, disintegration, and vacillation”. (16) He compares it to the breaking of a boy’s voice in adolescence, a stage in growing-up.

    Remarkably, the tactics argued for in `What Is To Be Done?’ formed the basis for transmitting Bolshevik strategy in 1917. The building of alliances with other anti-Tsarist forces (peasant and anarchist groups), the proposal of immediate and unifying broad policies (Bread, Peace, Land) and the construction of broad, responsive mass organisations (the soviets) are all pre-figured here. But the key was to gain understanding that there can be no revolutionary movement without a revolutionary theory and that trade union consciousness needs to be developed into a revolutionary consciousness in order to achieve socialism.

    The relevance of Lenin's thinking, both in the general body of his work, and in this text is ever more evident. The prevailing and ailing economic system in Britain will not be abolished in favour of a socialist system without revolutionary transformation. The building of a stronger Communist Party and Young Communist League is critical to such a process. From 1902 to 2004, an organic link between Lenin’s ideas and the British Road to Socialism is evident if only you are to look for it.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    References: All page numbers are from V I Lenin, “What is to be Done?” (1902) Oxford

    University Press (1963), Panther Modern Society Edition (1963) (1) p75, (2) p78, (3)

    p182, (4) p80, (5) p80, (6) p169, (7) p67, (8) p198, (9) p216, (10) p174, (11) p191, (12)

    p150, (13) pp215-6, (14) p147, (15) p222, (16) p220

  • Imperialism - a study paper

     

    This brief paper “Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism” is an excellent primer for branch education.
  • Marxism and terrorism

    This paper on Marxism and terrorism succinctly lays out the communist attitude to terrorism at a time when terror is actively promoted by governments [and non Government bodies] who aim everywhere to divide and rule the people. It is available here as a PDF. It deals with the attitude of Marx himself to an act of terror which took place in Clerkenwell in London in 1867, the same year that the working class took a real step forward on the road to gaining the vote.

    Contrary to the popular image of Communists as bloodthirsty types, itching to be gets the bombs and machine guns out, we have always seen the kind of actions that, according to George Bush anyway, now seemingly get a special war thrown at them. Terrorism and Communism, despite the title of book of exactly that text by a famous renegade from Marxism, Karl Kautsky, did most certainly not go hand in hand. 

    Just as in every generation, Communists have faced some nutter or other who thinks the short cut to solving problems is the proverbial black gunpowder ball with a fizzing fuse, the founding fathers of Marxism, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels had their very own case of it.

    13th December 1867, a group of Irish revolutionaries attempted to free some of their leaders from Clerkenwell Prison with a bomb. The attempt was a fiasco and the bomb only destroyed a number of neighbouring houses, killing a few people and wounding hundreds. The British press used the occasion for a campaign of anti-Irish hysteria. As far as Marx and Engels were concerned, brave though the Irish Terrorists were, their actions had set back the cause of Ireland decades. Engels wrote to Marx that day from Manchester:

    “The Clerkenwell folly was obviously the work of a few special fanatics; it is the misfortune of all conspiracies that they lead to such acts of folly because ‘we really must do something, we really must get up to something’. Especially in America there has been a lot of bluster amongst this explosive and incendiary fraternity, and then along come some individual jackasses and instigate this kind of nonsense.

    Marx wrote back from London the next day:

    “Dear Fred,

    The London masses, who have shown much sympathy for Ireland, will be enraged by it and driven into the arms of the government … One cannot expect the London proletarians to let themselves be blown up for the benefit of … secret, melodramatic conspiracies of this kind (which) are, in general, more or less doomed to failure.” [Marx-Engels Correspondence 1867; MECW Volume 42, p. 501]

    Four decades later, in Russia, the a autocratic monarchy, resistant to any social change, Marxists once again pondered the phenomenon. Long before the conclusion of the Russian Revolution, Lenin had outlined his ideas of Terrorism, which he completely rejected as a means of achieving revolutionary transformation. In a 1902 article for the underground paper, Iskra, entitled “Revolutionary Adventurism” he wrote:

    “Each time a hero engages in single combat, this arouses in us all a spirit of struggle and courage,” we are told. But we know from the past and see in the present that only new forms of the mass movement or the awakening of new sections of the masses to independent struggle really rouses a spirit of struggle and courage in all. Single combat however, inasmuch as it remains single combat …has the immediate effect of simply creating a short-lived sensation, while indirectly it even leads to apathy and passive waiting for the next bout. We are further assured that “every flash of terrorism lights up the mind,” which, unfortunately, we have not noticed to be the case with the terrorism-preaching party of the Socialist-Revolutionaries. [Collected Works Vol 6 pp  186-207]

    In `What is to be Done’, Lenin mused over the extraordinary commonality of opinion of a supporter of trade union spontanaiety as a strategy for revolution and a supposedly Marxist inclined revolutionary who argued for terrorism as a way forward. (Lenin called those who had subservience to spontaneity” `Economists’.) He thought Economists and Terrorists “showed themselves to be accidentally in agreement. Speaking generally, however, there is not an accidental, but a necessary, inherent connection between the two”.

    Lenin realised his readers might think he had gone bonkers, so he rushed to explain. It was their impact on political struggle and activity that was in common. At first sight, his assertion seemed paradoxical, so great is the difference between those who stress the "drab everyday struggle" and those who call for the most self sacrificing struggle of individuals.

    But there is no paradox. Economists and Terrorists merely bow to different poles of spontaneity; the Economists to the spontaneity of struggle and Terrorists bow to the “spontaneity of the passionate indignation” of individuals who lack the ability or opportunity to connect the revolutionary struggle and the working-class movement into an integral whole. It is difficult indeed for those who have lost their belief, or who have never believed, that such an integration is possible, to find some outlet for their indignation and revolutionary energy other than terror.

    By 1906, Lenin hardly bothered to state his case, against terrorism and the rest, as they say, is history: “the acts of individuals isolated from the masses, which demoralise the workers, repel wide strata of the population, disorganise the movement and injure the revolution”. [`Collected Works, Vol 11 pp 213-223]

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Wages, prices and profit - the great money trick!

    The following Great Money Trick was written by Robert Tressell in the great novel, 'The Ragged trousered Philanthropist'. It is available here as a PDF. It is unlikely to be surpassed as a way of explaining the exploitation and stupidity of waste of capitalism.

    Narrator: It seemed as if they regarded their own children with a kind of contempt, as being only fit to grow up to be the servants of the children of such people as Rushton and Sweater. But it must be remembered that they had been taught self-contempt when they were children. In the so-called ‘Christian’ schools. they attended then they were taught to ‘order themselves lowly and reverently towards their betters’, and they were now actually sending their own children to learn the same degrading lessons in their turn! They had a vast amount of consideration for their betters, and for the children of their betters, but very little for their own children, for each other, or for themselves.

    That was why they sat there in their old clothes and ate their coarse food, and cracked their coarser jokes, and drank the dreadful tea, and were content! So long as they had Plenty of Work and plenty of – Something – to eat, and some ragged clothes to wear, they were content! And they were proud of it. They gloried in it. They agreed and assured each other that the good things of life were not intended for the ‘Likes of them’, or their children.

    One of the men, sat on the upturned pail in the corner: ‘Wot’s become of the Professor?’

    Harlow: ‘P’raps ’e’s preparing ’is sermon,’ ending with a laugh.

    Easton: ‘We ain’t ’ad no lectures from ’im lately, since ’e’s been workin’ on that speshul job away in that top room. Ave we?’

    Sawkins: ‘Dam good job too! It gives me the pip to ’ear ’im, the same old thing over and over again.’

    Harlow: ‘Poor ole Frank. ’E does upset ’isself about things, don’t ’e?’

    Bundy: ‘More fool ’im! I’ll take bloody good care I don’t go worryin’ myself to death like ’e’s doin’, about such dam rot as that.’

    Harlow: ‘I do believe that’s wot makes ’im look so bad as ’e does. Several times this morning I couldn’t help noticing the way ’e kept on coughing.’

    Philpot: ‘I thought ’e seemed to be a bit better lately. More cheerful and happier like, and more inclined for a bit of fun.’

    Bundy: ‘He’s a funny sort of chap, ain’t he? One day quite jolly, singing and cracking jokes and tellin’ yarns, and the next you can’t hardly get a word out of ’im.’

    Man on the pail: ‘Bloody rot, I call it. Wot the ’ell’s the use of the likes of us troublin’ our ’eads about politics?’

    Harlow: ‘Oh, I don’t see that. We’ve got votes and we’re really the people what control the affairs of the country, so I reckon we ought to take some interest in it, but at the same time I can’t see no sense in this ’ere Socialist wangle that Owen’s always talkin’ about.’

    Crass (with a jeering laugh): ‘Nor nobody else neither.

    Man on the pail (profoundly): Even if all the bloody money in the world WAS divided out equal, it wouldn’t do no good! In six months’ time it would be all back in the same ’ands again.’

    Everybody: ‘Of course.’

    Easton: ‘But ’e ’ad a cuff the other day about money bein’ no good at all! Don’t you remember ’e said as money was the principal cause of poverty?’

    Owen (who entered at that moment): ‘So it is the principal cause of poverty.

    Philpot: ‘Hooray! (leading off a cheer which the others take up and then announcing like a master of ceremonies.) ‘The Professor ’as arrived and will now proceed to say a few remarks.’

    (Roar of merriment from all)

    Harlow: with mock despair: ‘Let’s ’ave our bloody dinner first, for Christ’s sake.’

    Owen, having filled his cup with tea, sits down in his usual place.

    Philpot (rising solemnly to his feet, looking round the company): ‘Genelmen, with your kind permission, as soon as the Professor ’as finished ’is dinner ’e will deliver ’is well-known lecture, entitled, Money the Principal Cause of being ’ard up, proving as money ain’t no good to nobody. At the hend of the lecture a collection will be took up to provide the lecturer with a little encouragement.’ Philpot resumes his seat amid cheers.

    The company make to finish their eating, making impromtu remarks about the lecture. Owen laughs, continuing to read the piece of newspaper that his dinner had been wrapped in.

    Harlow: ’Let’s oot ’im,’ The suggestion is immediately acted upon; howls, groans and catcalls fill the air, mingled with cries of ‘Fraud!’ ‘Imposter!’ ‘Give us our money back!’ ‘Let’s wreck the ’all!’ and so on.

    Philpot: putting his hand on Owen’s shoulder: ‘Come on ’ere. Prove that money is the cause of poverty.’

    Crass (sneering): ‘It’s one thing to say it and another to prove it.’ (We see that he is holding secretively a cutting from a newspaper.)

    Owen: ‘Money is the real cause of poverty.’

    Crass: ‘Prove it.’

    Owen: ‘Money is the cause of poverty because it is the device by which those who are too lazy to work are enabled to rob the workers of the fruits of their labours.’

    Crass: ‘Prove it.’

    Owen slowly folds up the piece of newspaper he had been reading and puts it into his pocket.

    Owen: ‘All right. ‘I’ll show you how the Great Money Trick is worked.’

    Owen (opening his dinner basket and taking from it two slices of bread): `Has anyone any bread left?’

    They give him assorted pieces, which he places in a heap on a clean piece of paper.

    Owen:`And your pocket knives?’

    Easton, Harlow and Philpot hand them over.

    Owen:These pieces of bread represent the raw materials which exist naturally in and on the earth for the use of mankind; they were not made by any human being, but were created by nature for the benefit and sustenance of all, the same as were the air and the light of the sun.’

    Harlow (winking at the others): ‘You’re about as fair-speakin’ a man as I’ve met for some time.’

    Philpot: ‘Yes, mate. Anyone would agree to that much! It’s as clear as mud.’

    Owen: ‘Now, I am a capitalist; or, rather, I represent the landlord and capitalist class. That is to say, all these raw materials belong to me. It does not matter for our present argument how I obtained possession of them, or whether I have any real right to them; the only thing that matters now is the admitted fact that all the raw materials which are necessary for the production of the necessaries of life are now the property of the Landlord and Capitalist class. I am that class: all these raw materials belong to me.’

    Philpot: ‘Good enough!’

    Owen: ‘Now you three represent the Working class: you have nothing – and for my part, although I have all these raw materials, they are of no use to me – what need is – the things that can be made out of these raw materials by Work. Now, I have invented the Great Money Trick to make you work for me. But first I must explain that I possess something else beside the raw materials. These three knives represent all the machinery of production; the factories, tools, railways, and so forth, without which the necessaries of life cannot be produced in abundance. And these three coins’ – taking three halfpennies from his pocket – ‘represent my Money Capital.’

    ‘But before we go any further, ‘it is most important that you remember that I am not supposed to be merely “a” capitalist. I represent the whole Capitalist Class. You are not supposed to be just three workers – you represent the whole Working Class.’

    Crass (impatiently): ‘All right, all right. We all understand that. Git on with it.’

    Owen (proceeding to cut up one of the slices of bread into a number of little square blocks.): ‘These represent the things which are produced by labour, aided by machinery, from the raw materials. We will suppose that three of these blocks represent – a week’s work. We will suppose that a week’s work is worth – one pound: and we will suppose that each of these ha’pennies is a sovereign. We’d be able to do the trick better if we had real sovereigns, but I forgot to bring any with me.’

    Philpot: ‘I’d lend you some, ‘but I left me purse on our grand pianner. Here, let’s use a few coppers instead.’ (They all throw a few pennies on the table.)

    Owen: ‘Now this is the way the trick works —’

    Philpot (interrupting, mock apprehensively): ‘Before you goes on with it, don’t you think we’d better ’ave someone to keep watch at the gate in case a copper comes along? We don’t want to get runned in, you know.’

    Owen: ‘I don’ think there’s any need for that. There’s only one force that would interfere with us for playing this game, and that’s Police Constable Socialism.’

    Crass, irritably: ‘Never mind about Socialism. Get along with the bloody trick.’

    Owen: ‘You say that you are all in need of employment, and as I am the kind-hearted capitalist class I am going to invest all my money in various industries, so as to give you Plenty of Work. I shall pay each of you one pound per week, and a week’s work is – you must each produce three of these square blocks. For doing this work you will each receive your wages; the money will be your own, to do as you like with, and the things you produce will of course be mine, to do as I like with. You will each take one of these machines and as soon as you have done a week’s work, you shall have your money.’

    They pretend to set to work, and Owen sits down to watch them. As soon they finish, they pass the nine little blocks to Owen, who places them on a piece of paper by his side and `pays them their wages’.

    Owen: `These blocks represent the necessaries of life. You can’t live without some of these things, but as they belong to me, you will have to buy them from me: my price for these blocks is – one pound each.’

    Narrator: As the working classes were in need of the necessaries of life and as they could not eat, drink or wear the useless money, they were compelled to agree to the kind Capitalist’s terms. They each bought back and at once consumed one-third of the produce of their labour. The capitalist class also devoured two of the square blocks…

    (Owen eats the bread)

    `…and so the net result of the week’s work was that the kind capitalist had consumed two pounds worth of the things produced by the labour of the others, and reckoning the squares at their market value of one pound each, he had more than doubled his capital, for he still possessed the three pounds in money and in addition four pounds worth of goods. As for the working classes, Philpot, Harlow and Easton, having each consumed the pound’s worth of necessaries they had bought with their wages, they were again in precisely the same condition as when they started work – they had nothing.

    This process was repeated several times: for each week’s work the producers were paid their wages. They kept on working and spending all their earnings. The kind-hearted capitalist consumed twice as much as any one of them and his pile of wealth continually increased. In a little while – reckoning the little squares at their market value of one pound each – he was worth about one hundred pounds, and the working classes were still in the same condition as when they began, and were still tearing into their work as if their lives depended upon it.

    After a while the rest of the crowd began to laugh, and their merriment increased…

    The company laugh and act jovially.

    …when the kind-hearted capitalist, just after having sold a pound’s worth of necessaries to each of his workers, suddenly took their tools – the Machinery of Production – the knives away from them…

    Owen (grabbing the pocket knives): I regret to inform you that, due to Over Production all my store-houses are glutted with the necessaries of life. I have decided to close down the works forthwith.

    Philpot (vexed): ‘Well, and wot the bloody ’ell are we to do now?’

    Owen: ‘That’s not my business. I’ve paid you your wages, and provided you with Plenty of Work for a long time past. I have no more work for you to do at present. Come round again in a few months’ time and I’ll see what I can do for you.’

    Harlow: ‘But what about the necessaries of life? We must have something to eat.’

    Owen (affably): ‘Of course you must, and I shall be very pleased to sell you some.’

    All but Owen: ‘But we ain’t got no bloody money!’

    Owen: ‘Well, you can’t expect me to give you my goods for nothing! You didn’t work for me for nothing, you know. I paid you for your work and you should have saved something: you should have been thrifty like me. Look how I have got on by being thrifty!’

    Philpot, Harlow and Easton look blankly at each other, saying variously: `Eh?’, `Yer what?’, `Howsat?’ and so on. But the rest of the company, except Owen, only laugh at them. Then the three `unemployed’ begin to abuse Owen, in his role as the `kind-hearted Capitalist’, using extempore mild curses. `Bloody ‘ell’, `bollocks’, `bugger me’ and the like:

    Philpot: `Give us some of them necessaries of life.’

    Harlow: `Yus, them that you’ve got piled up in yer warehouses.’

    Easton: Can’t we come back to work, so we can make more things for our fam’lies? their own needs. Owen stares blankly at them, impassive.

    Philpot: `Ere, we could just take them things, if yer don’t let us `ave `em.’

    Harlow (menacingly): `Yes, could force yer. ‘

    Owen: `Don’t be so insolent! You working people have to learn the importance of honesty and respect for property. If you’re not careful I’ll have you locked up, the police won’t worry about knocking you about a bit when they throw you in a cell. If you riot or act up, I’ll get the army called out. You could be shot down like dogs, just as I had done at my mills in Belfast.’

    ‘Of course, if it were not for foreign competition I should be able to sell these things that you have made, and then I should be able to give you Plenty of Work again: but until I have sold them to somebody or other, or until I have used them myself, you will have to remain idle.’

    Harlow: ‘Well, this takes the bloody biskit, don’t it?’

    Philpot (mournfully): ‘The only thing as I can see for it, is to ’ave a unemployed procession.’

    Harlow: ‘That’s the idear.’

    Philpot, Halrow and Easton march about the room in a line, singing:

    `We’ve got no work to do-oo-oo’!
    We’ve got no work to do-oo-oo!
    Just because we’ve been workin’ a dam sight too hard,
    Now we’ve got no work to do.’

    As they march around, the rest of the company jeer at them, making offensive remarks, half in jest but with an edge of seriousness.

    Crass: Anyone can see that they’re a lot of lazy, drunken loafers. Never done a fair day’s work in their lives and never intend to.

    Philpot (to Harlow and Easton): ‘We shan’t never get nothing like this, you know. Let’s try sympathy.’

    Harlow: ‘All right. Let’s sing for our supper. What shall we give ’em?’

    Philpot (after a moment’s deliberation): ‘I know! We’ll sing `Let my lower lights be burning.’ That always makes ’em cough up.’

    They pretend to act the part of beggars, singing in the street.

    ‘Trim your fee-bil lamp me brither-in,
    Some poor sail-er tempest torst,
    Strugglin’ ’ard to save the ’arb-er,
    Hin the dark-niss may be lorst,
    So let try lower lights be burning,
    Send ’er gleam acrost the wave,
    Some poor shipwrecked, struggling seaman,
    You may rescue, you may save.’

    Philpot (removing his cap and addressing the crowd): ‘Kind frens. We’re hall honest British workin’ men, but we’ve been hout of work for the last twenty years on account of foreign competition and over-production. We don’t come hout ’ere because we’re too lazy to work; it’s because we can’t get a job. If it wasn’t for foreign competition, the kind’earted Hinglish capitalists would be able to sell their goods and give us Plenty of Work, and if they could, I assure you that we should hall be perfectly willing and contented to go on workin’ our bloody guts out for the benefit of our masters for the rest of our lives. We’re quite willin’ to work: that’s hall we arst for – Plenty of Work – but as we can’t get it we’re forced to come out ’ere and arst you to spare a few coppers towards a crust of bread and a night’s lodgin’.

    Narrator (as this is read, the company act out the action); ` Philpot held out his cap for subscriptions, some of them attempt to spit into it, but the more charitable put in pieces of cinder or dirt from the floor, and the kind-hearted capitalist was so affected by the sight of their misery that he gave them one of the sovereigns he had in his pocket. But, as this was of no use to them, they immediately returned it to him in exchange for one of the small squares of the necessaries of life, which they divided up and greedily devoured. They gathered round the philanthropist and sang, ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow,’ and afterwards Harlow suggested that they should ask him if he would allow them to elect him to Parliament. ‘

    The scene ends with the whole company gathering around Owen, singing:

    `For he’s a jolly good fellow,

    `For he’s a jolly good fellow,

    And so say all of us….

    As they sing Owen produces a large red rosette from his pocket and pins it on himself, waving to the audience in imitation of a smiling election candidate….

    `For he’s a jolly good fellow,

    `For he’s a jolly good fellow,

    And so say all of us….

  • Introducing Marxism - a course

    The following course was developed by the CP in Cardiff and became a series of education classes and talks to branches around the country. It begins with the Marxist method of looking at the world and events. It explains the exploitation of capitalism and why it inevitably leads to crisis. It asserts that the contradictions of capitalism can only be unpicked through the working class engaging in political struggle and revolution.


    The document can be downloaded in full here

  • Karl Marx's Capital - What is it all about?

    An introduction to Capital. Available here as PDF.

    KARL MARX’S `CAPITAL’ – WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

    BY GRAHAM STEVENSON

    “Capital – a critical analysis of capitalist production” by Karl Marx was the product of half a lifetime’s ongoing research on the nature of 19th century European economies. It is not, nor was it ever intended to be, a programme for socialist advance. Neither is it by any means the sole product of Marx’s intellectual life. He and his collaborator, Frederick Engels, produced a vast body of writings, many only published after their deaths. Whilst `Capital’ is the most significant and well known of these works, it is by no means an easy read. Famously, the 20th century Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, complained that he, a clever economics graduate, could not get past the first page!

    Much of the early pages are about understanding value. Obviously most things can be said to have `use value’. When things are swapped, we can be said to have created `exchange value’. The swaps probably have only one thing in common, that they are products of someone’s work.

    That might have been long in the past and some work may be particularly special. But all things store up labour value and express this in terms of exchange value.

    Really, the only consistent way to measure value is in the time taken to make things. But what time? It’s not a question of how much better one way of making things is compared to another. The average “socially necessary labour time” that adds value to something is the key. Things that we buy and sell have use value but only when they pass by way of exchange, after having labour expended upon them do they become commodities.
     
    A commodity is pretty odd, because it captures human labour within itself. The relationships between people get caught up in the relationship between things. Humans begin to see society in terms of these relationships, they `fetishise’ commodities and thus the true nature of human relationships (e.g. between worker and boss) is disguised.

    Money is another strange thing. It’s both a measure of value (labour time) and the price of something (exchange value). These should be the same, broadly but they vary, since prices are largely imaginary anyway.
     
    `What?’, I hear you cry! Just like that bloke in the pub who asked me about this. Listen…

    In selling something, we exchange a commodity (C) for money (M) and can buy something else (C) with that.

    OK…

    So: let’s call this C>M>C

    Right. Is this algebra?

    No! It’s just a way of thinking about it.

    I see. You’ve got something I want, say a pile of coconuts and I pay you for them and you buy … champagne - something like that?

    Mmm.

    M?

    No, forget that for now. Really this transaction is just: C>C. It just looks like the money is doing something but really it might as well not be there. We could use empty mussel shells as money for all the difference

    it makes.

    OK… so, why doesn’t money, sorry shells, make profit?

    Well, the second C is rarely that much bigger than the first and if it is I haven’t created anything new, it’s an illusion that ends up being sorted out across all transactions. Really, this is just you and me buying and selling to each other. We swap coconuts for champagne.

    OK…what about you; suppose you sell on to someone else for more mon…mussels shells?

    Ah, in profitable buying, my money (M) has grown and I can think of it as my capital. Thus: M>C>M2

    M2? What’s that? It’s not something to do with the square of the hypotens… hyp… Look, what is it?

    Well, the aim of C>M>C is to `consume’ something.

    What, like a hotdog?

    OK, if you like. Or coconuts.

    Couldn’t eat more than one of them. Anyway, all this talk about food is making me a bit peckish.

    Back to our game.

    Do we have to?

    But, unlike C>M>C, when I buy something from you, I have the money, you have the thing and we swap. That’s: M>C>M. That’s exchange value.

    But what’s with this M2 thingy?

    Well, the difference between M and M2 is extra value and that’s made by labour being applied to the commodity. It’s real value though, not made up.

    Oh! You got some chaps to grow and pick up a lot of coconuts and that way they made them worth something. Is that it?

    Bloody hell. You’ve got it! Well, the first few chapters anyway…

    Er… can’t stop. I’m going to the chip shop.

    Wait! There’s accumulated capital to worry about yet…

    Something like that anyway. Perhaps if Marx had been able to have a chat with Wilson over a pint, he might even have got him to go past page 32! If dear old Harold had persevered he might have found out that the capitalist, unlike the slave owner or feudal lord, buys labour power, not the labour itself which remains free and that is all the worker really has to sell. We’re no longer owned directly as slaves but, because we have no choice in the matter, wages actually enslave us. As William Shakespeare pithily put it: “You take my life, when you take the means whereby I live.”

    It is perhaps a dangerous thing to try but the core of what Marx has to say can be summarised thus:

    The exchange value of labour power is fixed by the time necessary for its production (or reproduction!), even if a historical and moral element also touches this. Unlike all other commodities, labour power’s use value is that it creates value. Suppose a worker takes 4 hours to produce commodities `worth’ this on that invisible market we hear about so much. This is actually the time needed to keep the worker and his family alive, more or less. Well, the boss will require another 4 hours work, making 8 in all, to cream off his `share’. (This ratio can actually be demonstrated today much as Marx did.) Marx called this lost extra element `surplus value’. After the boss has paid all other expenses what remains is usually called `profit’ in our society but this is not seen by Marxists as quite the same thing as surplus value. The boss redeems this value in money form by selling the combined use value and exchange value of the commodity, having only paid for the exchange value of the labour power.

    It is not generally realised that this massive work actually runs to three volumes and it may be said that each is successively less well read!

    `Capital’ is a gigantic exercise in economic analysis, thankfully, interspersed throughout with the most sardonic historical commentary you will ever come across. If you can penetrate past the first few chapters you will be rewarded with enormous chunks of this stuff.

    By the end of the third volume, Marx is preoccupied with his realisation that there is a seemingly permanent economic law of capitalism – the historical rate of profit tends to decline, not the level but the percentage.

    The amount of capital is broadly fixed at the outset, as is the rate of surplus value. But the level of exploitation can be varied by repressive methods, such as banning or weakening unions, or investors can seek a higher rate in a different country where this is already the case, or capitalists can initiating new technology. If all or some of these routes are closed, due to the strength of the international workers’ movement, then problems ensue.

    The very mechanism of a system relying on the application of capital (which is incidentally actually `dead’ labour) to production turns in on itself. Capitalists can find ways to protect their capital but it’s a constant fight. As surplus value constantly expands capital, the rate of profit diminishes relatively and undermines the base of individual capital. So powerful is the effect that, unless all these routes to boosting the rate are constantly employed, over a long and sustained period, the rate will fall. If this is not `corrected’, the relative power of the individual capitalist and their whole class will be undermined, especially as the population expands. Their ability to operate the system is compromised and this is not merely a matter of wealth for them but power – politics if you like. If unchallenged, owners of capital will act so that the trend is always for the relative balance of wealth to swing away from working people. This isn’t because they are personally nasty and greedy, the system and their interests force them to act like that.

    These cycles of competition between capital and labour appear to us as individual periods of greater or lesser class warfare. In Britain today, most people do not command the value they create by work. Few can live without working for money and at least as much value is spirited away as is given back to them. Those who own capital (technology, stock, shares and money) will fight hard to keep it like that. The challenge for working people and their families is to revolutionise this situation by acting politically and through trade unions to control the full value of all that they create, whether their job is in the service or manufacturing sectors, whether they are `manual’ or `white-collar’ workers. Ultimately, ending the wages system should actually be the aim of working people and the understanding that this is so is at the heart of what makes Communists a very distinctive and dangerous kind of socialist.

  • Marxism and William Morris

    William Morris and Marxism

    The following paper - also available as a PDF - was presented at a conference of the Marx memorial Library and the Chinese Central Bureau of Translation and Information in May 2007. It summarises, in brief form, ideal for branch study, the contribution of William Morris to the development of Marxism in Britain.


    William Morris was an exceptional Briton living in an exceptional century when Britain led the world in the unfolding of capitalism.

    Born in 1834 he remains a towering influence in the industrialised west. He was, in many ways, a renaissance man, born out of his time, a man EP Thompson has described as one “above the movement” and who “history will never overtake”. He was a:

    ·      craftsman,

    ·      founder of important socialist organisations

    ·      Professor of Poetry at Oxford University – he was approached to become the Poet Laureate after Tennyson,

    ·      writer of popular fiction at the level of Dickens,

    ·      personal friend and confidante of Engels and Eleanor Marx

    ·      innovator constantly experimenting with production,

    ·      editor of revolutionary journals and

    ·      designer/manufacturer of textiles, ceramics, glass and furniture.

    He is considered the father of the rebirth of fine printing both here and in the USA.

    Morris spoke, French, German and translated the Icelandic sagas into English.

    He founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, forerunner of the National Trust, which today is the largest voluntary membership organisation in Europe. In Victorian Britain, the established church was a sizeable landowner responsible for the destruction of many historic and ancient buildings. Morris conducted a lifelong struggle against the church to retain these historical records of the achievements of past generations of craft workers. During one such struggle he, uniquely, got Gladstone and Disraeli to co sponsor a petition to save St Marks Cathedral, in Venice, from destruction.

    Morris drew much of the British art world, and in particular the guild orientated craft art workers of the nineteenth century, to socialism. Morris wrote, with Belfort Bax, what Engel’s considered the most important introduction to socialism in the English-speaking world.

    He was amongst Britain’s foremost Orientalists, influential in building the South Kensington Museum and its great collection of carpets and tapestries, ceramics and print works – in which he saw the genius weavers, printers, glass and metal craft workers of Turkey and Iran, India and China. Morris advocated a national network of museums to bring such work to the attention of all workers.

    He was born in the year of the exile of the Tolpuddle Martyrs and dying with the emergence of a mass workers movement and the invention of the internal combustion engine. At his birth, unions were making the first tentative steps away from illegality and had successfully defied the Combination Acts. By his death in 1896, they were becoming a major power in the land.

    In the last twenty years of his life, the working class was beginning to organise its political power and make the transition from liberalism to independent working class action and in the inner recesses of the urban movement, to embrace Marxism. This period – 1880-1900 is characterised by

    ·    the working class male vote, secured slowly, but steadily

    ·    growth of massive production – plenty for all became a possibility

    ·    mass unionism and the consolidation of craft organization

    ·    mass communication through newspapers

    ·    Elementary Education made universal

    ·    towards the end a picture of a form of socialism began to emerge through municipal government  - in London and Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester - what Bernard Shaw called ‘gas and water’ socialism.

    Of course Marx was by then in his last years. But a number of characters such as Morris had shared the journey, taken part in the experience, stayed the course and built Marxian thinking and organisation. They had stood more than the test of time. Morris was an important figure who unequivocally supported the Paris Communards when others buckled.

    Morris established, edited, bankrolled or just wrote, for some of the most important working class newspapers yet produced: Justice, Clarion and the Commonweal. At least one was printed in this very building where we meet.  I have included for you on a memory stick - an electronic edition of an important defence of Morris written on these premises by the first President of Marx House in 1934.

    Morris made the transition from the romantic socialism of Shelley and Blake. Alongside Marx he drew the best from Robert Owen and John Ruskin, Thomas Hodgkin - who Marx would listen to lecturing on the ‘labour theory of value’ at the Mechanics Institute in Gower Street and the new generation of young trades unionists moving away from liberalism and church socialism to independent working class organisation and representation – this latter group were especially influenced by Marxism.

    When Morris joined the Social Democratic federation, the first openly Marxist organisation in Britain, its leader stated, it was as f the size of the movement doubled overnight.

    Ironically as probably the best-known British Marxist of his century – though he always referred to himself as a communist – Marx and Morris never met. There was little Marxian literature in English at the time and Morris read Capital in French. But the influences on Marx were contemporary to those on Morris.

    Morris too saw the answer in class struggle and a socialism of federated communities. He delved deeply into issues such as alienation and the relationship of culture and class. We are still catching up with his fresh thinking about how work might be. The great strength of Morris was an ability to think things through, to think differently, and to think in ways, which built the strength and unlocked the potential in the working class. Capitalism was to him, an aberration forced onto the wageworker. He saw the potential for Useful Work rather than Useless Toil, and wrote of ‘factories as they might be’.

    The influences, which shaped his outlook, were:

             ·    Power of the medieval guilds and, in particular, the independent craft workers – in the medieval period, the craft worker was powerful independent class owning its own means of production

             ·    Nature - “Nature” he said “yields her abundance to labour only” – all others were consumers or traders in labour power. In “nature” could be found all that man needed to thrive and he must learn to struggle with rather than against nature

             ·    History  - he sought to bring the Commonweal of the fourteenth century craft workers and later from the seventeenth century of Cromwell’s Republican Army, to sociallism. This was no sleight of hand as both Levellers and Diggers had established cooperatives of production based, not on money, but on the exchange of ‘equal labour time.’

             ·    Natural rights of freeborn Englishmen – which were an embryo of early communism. Morris saw in communism, not a further chapter in such struggles but their full liberation from such struggles. Natural rights is about popular sovereignty – as Colonel Rainsford said ‘no man was born with a saddle on his back or another spurred and born to ride them’

             ·    Iceland, an intriguing and in some ways modern country that, in the nineteenth century, continued to live in a kind of classless primitive communism where communal labour dominated - visited twice by Morris who learned to speak the language and became a translator of Icelandic Sagas

             ·    Renaissance and saw in it, much like Marx, the prototype liberated citizen – in the Grundrisse, Marx says “in communist society…nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity…” and later, “society regulates production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another thing tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner…” Morris believed that any worker of average intelligence could become a master of three different crafts in a single lifetime.

             ·    Craft and New Unionism, the first for strength, historical continuity and combativity, the second for energy and adherence to the eight- hour day. A key aspect of Morris struggle was to liberate time from exploitation, and create space for workers to think, grow, learn, organize and raise families and communities.

    The influence he had on us:

    Morris opted to conduct a “war against civilization” or “commercialism”. He believed that when workers owned their own tools of production, art and labour were as one. Art was simply work done well. During the period of capitalism, the bourgeois invented ‘high’ art as a means of separating art from craft – something that had not been the case during the greatest of art houses of ancient Rome or Greece or indeed during the renaissance.

    Workers were being dealt automation when they were mature enough to handle autonomy. For art to be reunited with workmanship it was necessary to change the way we work, change the relations of production. We would require:

            

    ·    Time - in place of haste – eight hours work, eight hours rest and eight hours for the pursuit of knowledge

    ·    Space - to experiment and innovate - Capitalism wanted profit now

    ·    an appreciation of nature – production that took account of consequences for future generations

    ·    A sense of history, of combination and purpose – it is in combination that the workers can take hold of future history

    ·    A culture of seeking after knowledge

    ·    Fearlessness of undue pressure – removal of exploitation and wage slavery

    ·    Each worker a master of craft not a controller of people – humans to be judged by their contribution rather than their relation to capital.

    In later years, Morris rejected sectarianism, called for unity of the socialist force, asserted that real, fundamental change, would come through the exertion of worker power but welcomed each small, seemingly irrelevant contribution to weakening the grip of capitalism. The influence of Morris is in every home, a result of his sway over the decorative arts – now commercialized into ‘interior design’. He is a part of our Labour Movement history though is underutilized. Above all he is a thinker who laid a challenge down in the 1880s that we are still grappling with today.

     

     

     

     

     


     

  • Reflections on No2EU: Yes to Democracy campaign

    'Reflections on No2EU: Yes to Democracy campaign' by Brian Denny and Phil Katz, two campaign candidates in the 4 June 2009 election is available as a download. The pamphlet is priced £1. You can order multiple copies here and donate to the No2EU: Yes to Democracy campaign.

  • CPB Advisory briefing and discussion paper 0809

    This paper looks at:

    Government plans and announcements

    Capital funding

    Reform of housing finance

    Security of tenure

    Housing allocations

    How to make best use of existing housing

    Homelessness

    Conclusions

    You can download the paper in full as a PDF here.


  • Teacher's pensions under attack 2008

    Teachers pensions are again under threat again with those of all working people in both public and private sectors, and we again have to organise to defend them.

  • Commodification of Education - a paper to CUB 2008

    Comrades

    I was pleased to be asked to introduce this workshop. I have been representing the NUT recently at Conferences of the main parliamentary parties, with their neoliberal consensus, and so I’m very pleased to be here at something rather different! The commodification of education is my focus – and we need to discuss that commodification as it appears right across our education service and not just school education.

  • Education, professionalism and solidarity - Bill Greenshields 2008

    You can download here, Bill Greenshield's speech in Manchester on assuming office of NUT President.

    " We teachers have never needed our union more than we do now. Our Conference theme - "Organising for education, professionalism and solidarity" - is not just a slogan or soundbite. As someone almost said, "This is not a time for soundbites; we feel the hand of history on our shoulders." Download to read on.

  • Education: learning the lessons, September 2009

    “Protect and improve our public services - no cuts. End corporate profiteering in health, education, social and other public services. Stop the EU privatisation Directives.”

    The People’s Charter

    Schools and colleges are about to experience a sustained period of fierce budget cuts and staff redundancies.

  • Tragedy and triumph - Bill Greenshield's Speech of thanks as NUT President 2009

    This was Bill Greenshield’s final speech to NUT Conference 2009 as President. He was introduced as ‘the man who was challenged to bring down capitalism in his year of office - and look what happened!’

    What sort of union do we want? One of the most important developments in the Union during my year as President has been our growing commitment to our organising agenda a commitment to build our strength and organisation at local level, and to prioritise the involvement of all members at school, Association and Division levels directly in the work and leadership of the Union. Our collective membership is the source of our strength, not wishful thinking and top-down “behind closed doors” government cronyism.

    Comrades!

    The organisation of Young Teachers in the Union both as young professionals and Union activists is a key feature of this. I was very pleased to speak at their conference, and to get such a positive response - but initially I found it difficult to know how to address them, and I have the same problem now in addressing you. ‘Colleagues’ seems to me to be an insufficient term. We don’t just work together we are much more closely related. We are bound together, united in a great social movement for the advancement of teachers and our education service, united against powerful forces, united in a struggle of ideas and action for progress…. a struggle that has always been an integral and inseparable part of the demand of ordinary people for dignity, social progress and the democratisation of society - and it remains so today.

    Elsewhere in our trade union movement, both at home - in individual sister unions and the TUC - and abroad in Education International, from Australia to Venezuela, from France to Cuba, from Canada to Greece there is a common form of address, which I’ve used quite naturally while representing you as President. They call each other ‘comrades’. It’s a concept very familiar to me, but I looked it up and found a definition of comradeship. ‘A close fellowship of those bound together fighting for a common cause; a mutually dependent group of equals, working in solidarity.’ That seems just about right to me.

    So… Comrades!

    The year has been one of tragedy and triumph, one in which we can be proud to have led the profession, in which we have campaigned well and won battles but a year in which, as we meet in conference again, the war remains to be won.

    Steve Sinnott

    Right at the beginning of the year we were struck a massive blow with the death of Steve Sinnott. This week particularly we remember Steve and our hearts are with his family. His death was a blow to all of us, regardless of where we feel ourselves to be on the wide spectrum of views in the Union. It was a huge blow to all of us not just because he was our General Secretary, but because Steve was the person he was, and because of his style of leadership. He set out to show due respect to all, to develop a modern union in which the talents of all are put to work, in which factional ambitions are seen for the infantile disorders that they really are, in which we can unite around a genuinely progressive and radical agenda based on members’ priorities, in which we can address each other genuinely as comrades. Steve embodied the organising agenda, so important to us now.

    He made huge progress in his three short years as General Secretary, yet he had much more to do and he knew it. He was optimistic, positive about the future, full of energy, and confident in the strength of the membership and the activist base of the Union and in our international role too. We have marked his passing and celebrated his life, and we will remember him throughout this conference and into the future recommitting ourselves to his message of unity and solidarity.

    I personally was looking forward to working closely with Steve, and have missed him throughout my year. But in Christine we found an Acting General Secretary who, taking on the job in such unexpected, sudden, tragic and stressful circumstances, stepped up to the mark and led the Union into national action on a scale we had not taken on for two decades. We owe a great deal to Christine, and the way she has led the Union. She has done a great job, and maintained our unity. No personal or factional ambition should be allowed to disrupt that unity, which is the source of the strength we are going to need in the coming years. Our Union leadership needs to reflect ALL our members.

    Our salaries action was entirely necessary, and we can be justly proud that in a time when others vacillated, we demonstrated clearly that teachers would not sit back and take year on year pay cuts and I was certainly proud to be President of the union that stood up for ALL teachers. Our action was strong, and in it we built new, stronger alliances with other public sector unions, with trades councils, with community organisations, with parents. But the issue remains to be tackled. There can be no sustained ‘world-class teaching profession’, no ‘21st Century public services’ without proper levels of pay and working conditions. This ambition will not be achieved by lip service and ‘aspirational statements’ by politicians. It will only be won by a sustained alliance of the workers in those services, and solid support from the communities that we collectively serve. I have been proud to have been President as the NUT took the lead in  working for that united approach, even though it proved difficult to sustain, and I look forward to being part of it in the future as Martin takes over the Presidency.

    Ending the child abuse of SATs

    But our role goes far beyond fighting for teachers’ immediate interests as a group of workers. We are in a life and death struggle for the survival and future development of state comprehensive education, facing up full-square to those who seek to dismantle it, turn education into a commodity, and to privatise it. In attempting to undermine state education, every trick in the book is used to denigrate our profession and our schools. Children are still subject to oppressive testing in order to provide the raw data for league tables in order to create and sustain competition between schools with all the negative curriculum and workload implications that go with it. A high point of my Presidential year was the joint conference between the Union and NAHT which has led to our working together to finally put an end to SATS. We WILL see an end to this child abuse.

    So, there is a world wide struggle between distinct world views of education and other public services. We stand for a systematic approach to meeting the real needs of children and particularly those from the toughest backgrounds, as Steve used to say. We see education as a liberating process, providing young people with the tools and the skills to take control of their own lives and society as a whole. Others see public services as Education International has said as ‘a dream market for future investment’ a source of profit. There can be no compromise, no “third way” between these positions.

    Again, as President I have been very proud to see our Union taking the lead on fighting privatisation, working closely on the ground with members and local officers of all our sister teaching unions, with other unions, and with the Anti-Academies Alliance. Speaking for the Union at our close ally UCU’s conference on ‘Commodification of Education’ was another memorable part of my Presidency.

    We should all be very proud that this concerted work is winning the struggle of ideas. Increasingly we are able to defeat the proposals of the privatisers, expose the false arguments of ‘diversity and choice’ and lead schools and communities in defending our community schools as indeed we did in my ‘home patch’ in Derby, in total unity with the local NASUWT branch and trades council.

    It is incredible to me that, despite the frailties and failures of the ‘free market’ system with its recurrent crises that are currently exposed for all to see, there are still very strident voices demanding that our schools be handed over to those very forces.

    Suppose that there had been a Woolworth’s Pick & Mix Academy? Or an MFI Academy? By the way when I heard that MFI furniture had collapsed, I have to say that it was not entirely a surprise. I’d come across this phenomenon before.

    But this is not a joke the fight to prevent the neo-liberal ambition to privatise education is the key struggle for the first couple of decades of the 21st Century. Together, we are winning that struggle, but they will not just give up… we have to develop the fight still further, and I know that Martin as President will have this as top priority.

    Of course there are many other areas of our work that the Union has taken on, that Conference will be reviewing and developing. I want to mention just one more, and that does not mean that I think the many others are unimportant.

    We are facing what is usually referred to as a ‘global recession’. I think it is referred to that way to suggest that it is somehow a natural disaster, and not man-made. It is, of course, a capitalist crisis entirely the product of the free market system and magnified and accelerated by the neo-liberal agenda which maintained that the market could solve everything. What is sure is that those who have got very rich from that system will not want to pay for the crisis, which, I believe is much deeper and more fundamental than we are being told.

    We are going to be living and working in communities that are going to suffer as a result. There will be accelerating unemployment, housing repossessions and growing poverty. We know already that it is class division and disadvantage that fundamentally determines underachievement of working class children in our schools and that disadvantage, that wealth-poverty gap, will grow. The fascist BNP will attempt, are attempting, to use this situation to build their support. We teachers, the NUT, have to be at the very heart of our communities. Every school must become a fortress, a rock in every community which stands up for ordinary people, which advocates community cohesion and solidarity, and which rejects the threat of racism and division which has only too often found fertile ground in economic crisis. So, I am very proud that it was in my Presidential year that we established the political fund expressly for the purposes of fighting the BNP… and we  will have to use it very soon. But no fund can do the work on the ground. Every Association and Division needs to take this work on as a matter of urgency.

    Our strategy

    Comrades, our great Union must have a vision of the future and positive policies for that future. We need furthermore a strategy, a developed game plan for how to achieve them policies are of little use if they are not implemented. That strategy must have some targets too, if you’ll forgive the expression.

    Maintain the internal unity of the Union Step up the fight to establish a single education union for divided we remain weaker than our cause can allow Reassert teacher professionalism, and defend and take control our work, our schools and our state comprehensive education service Build Union strength from the bottom up every school a fortress Put the Union at the heart of our communities and help stop all those who would promote division amongst our people Promote a world based on education, peace and solidarity, not  ignorance, exploitation and war.

    Join with all TUC unions in developing a new vision for society based on need not greed, on the common good, on public service not private profit.

    Thank you for allowing me to be your President. It has VERY genuinely been a real honour.

    Solidarity forever!

     

     

  • Education feature in 'Unity' CP daily for TUC 2009

    We call our bulletin produced for Union conferences “UNITY” and though its contents are often contentious its title usually isn’t!

    But with our three teacher union conferences, the question of unity could not be more challenging.

  • All Wales CP Summer School

    The Welsh Communist Party met in Borth, Mid Wales for a packed and successful Summer School for new and prospective members. For a full report go here. It concluded with a call to make it an annual event.

    You can read here Real Power for the People of Wales.

  • Seizing the left initiative

    The British ruling class is preparing a massive, wide-scale and co-ordinated offensive against public services, democratic rights and working-class living standards for the period after the general election, as British capitalism steadies and reorientates itself after the recession. Writes Robert Griffiths in the Morning Star 24th August 2009.

  • Housing back on agenda

    Three housing ministers in 12 months demonstrate what a 'hot potato' housing has become and a failure of the Government to think long-term or plan. Housing is one of those issues that really exposes the notion of so-called free markets. But council house building has been forced back on the agenda after 30 years.

  • Communist trade unionists to meet in Liverpool

    Communist trade unionists, many also being delegates to the forthcoming 141st TUC, will gather in Liverpool on 12 September, to discuss and plan union preparation for the forthcoming general election. Details follow, click read more.

  • Life after the recession

    The British ruling class has always understood that the recession in Britain would run longer and deeper than in other major capitalist countries writes Robert Griffiths, CP general secretary, in the Morning Star.

  • March against war in London 24.10, Edinburgh 14.11

    As the 204th British soldier dies in Afghanistan, let us remember why the New Labour government lined up behind the US invasion of that country in the first place. Robert Griffiths, CP general secretary, recently analysed events in Afghanistan during discussion at the party executive.

  • YCL Camp in Hope Valley, Derbyshire

    There is still time to book - but only just - your place on this year's YCL summer camp [18th- 21st August for under 16s and 21st - 25th over 16s]. The camp will be held in the aptly named Hope Valley in the wonderful countryside of Derbyshire. 

  • Ruling class - alive and well warns Rob Griffiths

    "Governments win and lose office, but the ruling class stays in power." Writes Robert Griffiths, CP general secretary, in the Morning Star newspaper. In this searching analysis, Robert begins to unravel the strands which together, make up the world's oldest and most voracious ruling class.

  • Dumfries provides the answers

    People were queuing to talk to the CP and YCL at our city centre stall in Dumfries, workers left shops to talk about their conditions, hundreds of leaflets were distributed explaining the capitalist crisis, literature and t-shirts sold and one young woman worker joined the YCL on the spot, as the CP/YCL Scotland tour drew to a close on Saturday.

  • Questions and more questions on streets of Aberdeen

    It was no holds barred on streets of Aberdeen, as the CP Scotland national tour took to the City Centre to set up a street stall. Hundreds of anti fascist leaflets were distributed and the Party stall was for a while surrounded by young people firing questions and not afraid to express an opinion. The street stall followed a morning organising meeting with comrades involved in the Aberdeen bus workers strike. Later a meeting was held with one of the strike leaders. 

  • Scottish tour - success breeds success!

    The CP tour in Scotland has notched up its first successes. Meetings have been held, based on CP branches, involving past and prospective members, young people, unemployed and other activists in the Scottish labour movement. Further meetings and street campaigning is planned. Workers have joined the CP in Glasgow, Fife and Dundee.

  • Join us, on the festival trail

      

    The Communist Party is calling for big turnouts at the Burston School Strike Rally in Diss, Norfolk and the Women Chainmaker's festival in Dudley, early in September. The Party will have stalls at both events and you are invited to join us on the festival trail.

  • Organising anti-fascism in Scotland

    A national speaking and organising tour of Scotland kicked off Saturday, in Glasgow. Following a gathering at the CP offices on 72 Waterloo Street, comrades and party supporters moved off to begin street campaigning in the busy and sunny Glasgow city centre.

  • Anti-fascist tour kicks off

    BRITAIN’s communists kicked off their national anti-fascist tour, with a view to reinvigorating the labour movement campaign against fascism, at the weekend. Beginning the tour in Scotland, the Communist Party of Britain and Young Communist League (YCL) held a successful street stall calling for unity of all progressive forces in the fight against the BNP.

  • 'Recess for MPs, recession for workers' says Halpin

    'Parliament goes into recess and MPs begin a long holiday, while workers and their families slip deeper into recession', Kevin Halpin declared at the Communist Party's political committee meeting on Wednesday evening (July 22).

    'Our pampered parliamentarians wouldn't be swanning off so quickly if banks were collapsing like factories and service centres are', he claimed.

  • Workers Rallies

    BurstonThe TUC has designated four events as having national significance in the celebration of worker history. First came the Durham Miner's Gala. Last weekend it was the turn of Toluddle. On Sunday September 6th will be the annual Burston School Strike Rally in Norfolk followed by the Women Chainmaker's Festival in Dudley, West Midlands on 12 September.

    Over the years, Tolpuddle has come to symbolise the celebration of core values of organised labour. Solidarity; which drew six agricultural labourers to a tree in the Dorset village of Tolpuddle where they formed a union in 1834, to raise the condition of their labour. Unity; following arrest they stuck together and exposed class justice as a means of repressing all workers. Combativity; when thousands came to their aid, successfully demanding of the state, their return from transportation in Australia. The Tolpuddle celebrations have grown year on year attracting many thousands of young and veteran activists. They come from all over Britain and all major unions are represented.

  • Tolpuddle

    The TUC has designated four events as having national significance in the celebration of worker history. First came the Durham Miner's Gala. Last weekend it was the turn of Toluddle. In the next month follow the Burston School Strike Rally in Suffolk and the Women Chainmaker's Festival in Dudley, west Midlands. Over the years, Tolpuddle has come to symbolise the celebration of core values of organised labour. Solidarity; which drew six agricultural labourers to a tree in the Dorset village of Tolpuddle where they formed a union in 1834, to raise the condition of their labour. Unity; following arrest they stuck together and exposed class justice as a means of repressing all workers. Combativity; when thousands came to their aid, successfully demanding of the state, their return from transportation in Australia. The Tolpuddle celebrations have grown year on year attracting many thousands of young and veteran activists. They come from all over Britain and all major unions are represented. Yet again this year [see photos] they were joined by members and supporters of the communist party and the traditional march, which accompanies the music festival, wound its way proudly through the village.
  • Campaigning & the General Election - Resoution from the July EC

    In the period between now and the General Election, the Communist Party will prioritise the following areas for public work:

    • Campaigning for the People's Charter and the Charter for Women as a part of broad movements.
    • Campaigning for the immediate withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan, including support for Stop the War Coalition and other peace movement initiatives to this end.
    • Campaigning independently against monopoly profit, for public ownership and the Left Wing Programme, mobilising Party branches, raising the Party's profile and winning new members.
    • Mobilising Party members in the trades unions and local communities for anti-fascist work, led by a reinvigorated Anti-racism anti-fascism advisory, supporting genuinely broad-based non-sectarian bodies and seeking ways to promote unity in the struggle against racism and fascism.
  • Communists Urge 'United Front' for Action

    The Communist Party is calling for a 'united front of left and labour movement organisations' to fight for left-wing policies in the period up to the General Election.

    Meeting in Croydon over the weekend, the party's executive committee urged unity around left-wing and progressive Labour candidates at the election. While expressing its preference for a Labour rather than a Tory victory, it also called for united support for other candidates who oppose imperialist war, Britain's nuclear weapons, a big business Europe, privatisation and the anti-trade union laws and who back public ownership, the People's Charter, workers in struggle and solidarity with oppressed peoples around the world.

  • End Imperialist Afghan War

    'It is as the accomplice of US imperialism that the New Labour government sends British soldiers to their death in Afghanistan', Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths told the party's executive committee at the weekend.

    'US corporations see Afghanistan as a major potential source of oil and natural gas, while US military strategy favours permanent facilities within striking distance of the Middle East, Russia, India and China', he declared.

  • BRIEFING: Tudeh Party of Iran

    Briefing given to Communist Party Executive Committee meeting on 12th July 2009 by Mohammad Omidvar, member of the Central Committee of the Tudeh Party of Iran.

  • Full Public Ownership is the Answer

    The New Labour project is beginning to disintegrate and the government is in disarray', according to Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths'.

    'On every side, its relationship with big business is characterised by profiteering, incompetence and corruption', he told the party's Political Committee on Wednesday.

  • About Us

    “The aim of the Communist Party is to achieve a socialist Britain in which the means of production, distribution and exchange will be socially owned and utilised in a planned way for the benefit of all. This necessitates a revolutionary transformation of society, ending the existing capitalist system of exploitation and replacing it with a socialist society in which each will contribute according to ability and receive according to work done. Socialist society creates the conditions for advance to a fully communist form of society in which each will receive according to need.”

    from Communist Party Aims & Constitution

  • Mass Action Needed to Change the Political Climate

    'The swing to the Tories and the extreme right in the European and local elections was based on massive working class abstention', leading trade union official Graham Stevenson told the Communist Party's political committee on Wednesday evening (June 10).

    'Workers and their families do not believe that the Labour government or party is defending jobs, incomes or public services - while the capitalist class sees no further use for the New Labour clique now that the Tories are electable again', he suggested.

  • New Labour to Blame for Fascists Gain

    'New Labour must bear prime responsibility for the election of two BNP fascists to the European Parliament', the Communist Party of Britain has declared in response to the EU election results.

    'Their failure to protect jobs, pensions and homes while promoting policies for privatisation, war and a police state has driven millions of working class electors away from the Labour Party', CPB general secretary Robert Griffiths said in a statement today (June 8).

  • Communists Urge Poll Turn-out for No2EU and Against Fascists

    'The need to project a progressive working-class alternative to EU neo-liberal policies has been reinforced by the Westminster expenses scandal', Steve Johnson told the Communist Party's political committee on Wednesday (May 27).

    'A high turn-out at the polls on June 4 is vital for the No2EU - Yes to Democracy alliance and the key to defeating the BNP fascists', the party's London district secretary insisted.

  • Vote No2EU - Yes to Democracy on June 4 (Election Broadcast

    {youtubejw}MOfv47sho_U{/youtubejw}

    No2EU - Yes to Democracy is a trade union-backed alliance of political parties and campaigning groups. We believe the time is right to offer the peoples of Britain an alternative view of Europe.

  • An alliance of trade unionists and left-wing parties has launched its European election campaign in Wales.

    From BBC Website

    An alliance of trade unionists and left-wing parties has launched its European election campaign in Wales.

    No2EU Yes to Democracy criticised the EU's "completely undemocratic institutions" - the European Commission and the European Central Bank.

    Launching at the Wales TUC Conference in Llandudno, the new party said it opposed moves "towards a big business, militaristic, united states of Europe".

    The party will contest the four Welsh seats in the poll on June 4.

  • 'Tidal Wave needed to save Labour's Bacon'' Says Haylett

    'Only a tidal wave of struggle for the kind of policies in the People’s Charter can force the government to change course and save Labour’s bacon at the next General Election', John Haylett told the Communist Party of Britain’s executive committee at the weekend.

    He urged support for Unite the Union’s demonstration in Birmingham next Saturday (May 16) for manufacturing industry, but warned: 'Joanna Lumley will continue to have more influence on Labour government policy than the labour movement unless trade union leaders use their financial leverage to demand massive investment in productive industry, full public ownership of the Royal Mail and the railways, the Trade Union Freedom Bill and the closure of all tax havens under British jurisdiction'.

  • Annual Karl Marx Oration

    Marx memorialThis year's oration on the anniversary of the birth of the founder of scientific socialism, at the graveside of Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery, London , will be delivered by Comrade RENE MUJICA CANTELAR Ambassador, Republic of Cuba.

    All party members, friends and allies are warmly invited to attend Highgate Cemetery, Sunday May 10, 2pm. Please assemble at the Chester Road gate 1.30 pm.

    This year's ceremony will be followed by a Reception and social at The Star, Chester Road, 3 pm.

  • PDFs to Download

  • NO2EU Leaflet

    Leaflet

  • Budget for Slump not Growth

    'New Labour have produced a Budget for slump not growth', John Foster told the Communist Party's political committee on Wednesday.

    'Chancellor Darling ignored trade union demands for a modest £13 billion boost for manufacturing and provided virtually nothing for housebuilding or new council housing', he pointed out, contrasting the government's 'miniscule' investment in green technology with the substantial amounts allocated by China and the US.

  • Longer Recession and Deeper Cuts to Come

    'The New Labour government is spending 100 times more on bailing out the banks and money markets than on employment, training and productive industry in this Budget', Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths said today (Wednesday, April 22) in response to the Chancellor's budget speech.

    'Relying on big business and market anarchy to boost the British economy will guarantee that we remain in recession well into 2010.

  • "Longer Recession and Deeper Cuts to Come" Claim Communists

    'The New Labour government is spending 100 times more on bailing out the banks and money markets than on employment, training and productive industry in this Budget', Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths said today (Wednesday, April 22) in response to the Chancellor's budget speech.

  • Joint Statement of the Communist Parties of Ireland and Britain

    The Communist Party of Ireland and the Communist Party of Britain held a bilateral meeting in Belfast on 18 April 2009. At the top of the agenda for both parties was closer co-operation in relation to strengthening the peace process and our response to the growing and deepening crisis of state-monopoly capitalism globally. 
     
    In relation to the peace process, both parties reaffirm their support for the Belfast and St Andrews Agreements as the only basis from which progress could be advanced and secured. Both parties see the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement as the only basis at present available from which to advance the legitimate and democratic demand for a united Ireland. 

  • Police violence part of a repressive state agenda

    'A clear pattern is emerging from recent state action against peaceful protest in Britain', John Haylett told the Communist Party's political committee on Wednesday evening.

    'The government and ruling class are gearing up to deal with any militant opposition to mass redundancies, home repossessions, benefit cuts and the privatisation of public services', the Morning Star's political editor declared.

  • Teachers Welcome New EU Election Platform

    'We are standing to provide a clear alternative to New Labour, the LibDems, Plaid Cymru and the SNP—all of whom support the drive to a United States of Europe based on a social market economy and bogus "social partnership"', Robert Griffiths told a well attended No2EU—Yes to Democracy meeting in Cardiff on Monday (April 13).

    'But even more important, we also represent a clear alternative to the Tories, UKIP and the BNP fascists whose hostility to the EU is fuelled by British nationalism, racism, support for US imperialism or the view that no concessions should be given to organised labour', he told a well-attended fringe at the National Union of Teachers conference.
     
    'It is also vital that the Lisbon Constitutional Treaty is exposed as the roadmap to a militarist, imperialist United States of Europe', the Communist Party's general secretary added.

  • 'Bankers Have Taken Over the Government' says Morning Star Editor

    'The British government hasn't taken over the banks—the bankers have taken over the government', Bill Benfield told the Communist Party of Britain's political committee on Wednesday (March 25).

    The Morning Star editor was speaking after Bank of England governor Mervyn King had warned Prime Minster Brown not to stimulate the economy and the City of London had refused to buy the full issue of new government bonds.

  • Put People First - March for Jobs, Justice & the Environment

    On 28th March thousands of trade unionists, socialists, communists and progressives will march through London as part of a global campaign to challenge the G20, ahead of their 2nd April summit on the global financial crisis.

    Even before the economic crisis, the world suffered poverty, inequality and the threat of climate chaos. With more than £1,200 billion pounds pledged to bail out the banks it's working people who are being forced to pay.

  • Left alliance to shake up EU elections

    Roger Bagley reports from the launch of the No2EU election campaign (Morning Star 19th March 09)

    EUROPEAN elections on June 4 will be electrified by new left-wing electoral alliance No2EU - Yes to Democracy, which launched on Thursday.

    Candidates are set to reach out to millions of voters across Britain, forcefully challenging the neoliberal economic onslaught from the authoritarian EU.

  • Campaign for the People's Charter & Decent Jobs

    'A MASSIVE campaign for the People's Charter and the right to decent work is crucial in the battle of ideas against big-business capitalism,' Communist Party  chair Anita Halpin told the party's executive committee at the weekend.

       'Here is the alternative to the bosses' crisis and mass unemployment as the bankers queue up for £1,200 billion of public funds without fear of prosecution for benefit fraud.' 

       Ms Halpin also welcomed the prospect of a 'No to EU - Yes to Democracy' electoral platform in the European elections set for June 4.

  • Brown Still the Bankers' Man

    It's rather late in the day for Gordon Brown to call for tighter regulation and a return to "traditional banking values"', Anita Halpin told the Communist Party of Britain's political committee on Wednesday evening.

       'He was the Chancellor who handed control of interest rates to the City of London via the Bank of England, who broke up the banking regulation system and whose policies enriched the financial monopolies through privatisation and PFI', she declared.

  • Cuba's Socialist Revolution—Fifty years of popular struggle

    AN INVITATION TO ALL PROGRESSIVES, SOCIALISTS AND INTERNATIONALISTS

    International Women's Day Rally


     We want bread - and roses too

    LONDON  
    Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.

    Saturday March 7, 6pm-9pm,

    International Women's Day Rally at 7pm,

    Cypriot Community Centre,

    Earlham Grove, N22 5HJ,

    (organised with the Coordinating Committee of Communist Parties in Britain). 

     The chief speaker will be Nancy Coro Aguiar, a senior official and representative of the Communist Party of Cuba. She is 40 years old, a fluent English speaker and also:

     

  • New Labour flagships are sinking

    'One by one, New Labour's flagships are sinking in the sea of recession', Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths told the party's Political Committee on Wednesday.

    'The bosses are demanding more money up front for forcing the sick and incapacitated into non-existent jobs, Private Finance Initiative schemes are being abandoned and big business will only take part in renewable energy programmes on the basis of massive state subsidies', he pointed out.

  • Bob Crow called for maximum support for the new Peoples' Charter

    Trade Unionists from across the country gather to discuss crisis response

    Steffen Lippert and Charlie May

    Trade unionists from across Britain gathered at Ruskin House over the weekend to debate the impact of the current capitalist crisis.

    A broad platform of labour movement figures were speaking at the Communist Party of Britain's Trade Union and Political School event.

  • Trade Unionists from across the country discuss crisis response

    Trade unionists from across Britain gathered at Ruskin House on Saturday and Sunday to debate the impact of the current capitalist crisis.

    Noting the forthcoming Peoples' Charter, RMT General Secretary Bob Crow called for maximum support of the charter, aiming to gain 1 million signatures and use the opportunity to 'put forward a powerful alternative which also combats the inroads the right is able to make by exploiting the crisis situation scapegoating non-white and foreign working-class people. By acting as a class and bringing everyone forward together, the Peoples' Charter will form the basis of a movement leading a progressive way out of the current crisis.'

  • Cuba 50 National Tour

    Nancy Coro Aguiar
    Official of the International Relations Department
    Manchester - Monday 2nd March
    Newcastle - Tuesday 3rd March
    Glasgow - Wednesday 4th March

    Cuba’s revolution is 50 years old this year, and remains as vibrant as ever. In a world dominated by capitalist crisis, ecological and environmental collapse and imperialist war, Cuba stands out.. and stands up for liberation and progress – for Socialism.

    There are many people who support Cuba and who recognise its achievements, but who still do not realize that its continued success and progress would not have been possible without its political system.

    Yet others recognize the significance of Cuba ’s politics, yet still believe that it is not democratic.
    The Communist Party and the Young Communist League invite you to attend one of a series of meetings to find out more about Cuba ’s deeply democratic system, the role of the Cuban Communist Party, and the challenges and opportunities now facing the Cuban people to develop their revolution still further. This national tour takes place from the 26th February.

    The speaker is Nancy  Coro Aguiar – a representative of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba – a unique opportunity to hear someone in that position.
    Please contact us for any further information

  • 'BACK POWER WORKERS ACTION' URGE BRITAIN'S COMMUNISTS

    'Workers taking action at Britain's power stations are fighting for jobs, decent terms and conditions and trade unionism', Carolyn Jones has declared today on behalf of the Communist Party of Britain.

       'Objectively, the strikers are opposing the EU "free market" in labour which, in reality, is dominated by transnational corporations that move workers across the map to undercut pay and conditions and maximise profits', Ms Jones tells members in the party's monthly Political Letter.
     
       Pointing to European Court of Justice rulings undermining national pay and conditions agreements and the record of company law-breaking, victimisation and corruption in the British construction industry, she applauds workers for 'rising up against the whole rotten set-up'.
     
       She also points to the advantages of taking unofficial action where the basis exists, circumventing anti-union laws to frustrate ballots, delay action and sequestrate trade unions.

    CLICK ARTICLE TITLE TO READ MORE

  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month

    The Communist Party welcomes and supports the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month held in February this year. Since it started in 2005 LGBT History Month has gone from strength to strength with a growing involvement and participation by trade unions and the labour movement.

    LGBT History Month is a celebration of our past and present and of creating and shaping our future. The Communist Party's 50th Congress called upon schools, libraries, councils and trade unions to promote LGBT History Month and urged party organisations to look at working alongside teaching unions and trades councils to tackle issues such as homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools.

  • Action needed to combat youth unemployment

    'The labour movement must meet its responsibility to mobilise the unemployed and casual workers, especially among young people', Graham Stevenson told the Communist Party of Britain's political committee on Wednesday.

    With the real number of unemployed in Britain heading towards three million, he urged the Scottish, Welsh and English regional TUCs to organise and support broad-based initiatives over the spring and sumer.

    CLICK ARTICLE TITLE TO READ MORE

  • Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths, salutes the memory of Bob Doyle (1916-2009)

    Bob Doyle BOB DOYLE 1916-2009

    Irish patriot, Communist, International Brigader 
     
    Bob Doyle, one of the last of the International Brigaders who fought fascism in Spain in the 1930s, died in London last Thursday. He fell a few weeks short of his 93rd birthday.

     
     Born in Dublin two months before the Easter Rising, he was lucky to reach his 23rd birthday. Along with Irish Republican leader Frank Ryan, he had been captured in battle by Italian troops on the Aragon front, tortured by Spanish prison guards, interrogated by the Gestapo and taken out on one occasion to be shot. It would have been a brutal ending to a short and, in places, brutal life.

    CLICK ARTICLE TITLE TO READ MORE

  • Irish patriot, Communist, International Brigader BOB DOYLE 1916-2009

    Bob Doyle

    Death of Bob Doyle (12 Feb. 1916 - 22 Jan. 2009)

    Statement issued by Manus O'Riordan Jan. 23rd 2009 (slightly edited, CC)

    The last surviving Irish combatant on the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War has died, leaving one surviving Irish veteran, Paddy Cochrane, a medic.

    Bob Doyle passed away in London on Thursday, aged 92, after a short illness.

    Doyle was born in Dublin on February 12, 1916, shortly before the Easter Rising, and became politically active himself in the 1930s, joining the IRA after being beaten up in street fights with the Blueshirts which left him with permanent damage in one eye.

  • Demonstration for Gaza: Saturday 24th January

    Demonstrate for GazaIsrael Out Of Gaza Now: Lift The Blockade

    Assemble 2pm,
    BBC Broadcasting House
    Portland Place, London, W1A 1AA (Nearest Tube Regents Park and Great Portland Place)
    March to Trafalgar Square via Downing Street

    Information on coaches to protest

  • No more handouts to City scroungers

    No more handouts to City scroungers“Another huge sum of public money is going to be poured down the drain”, Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths declared today.

    “This extra £300 billion is unlikely to save one single householder from eviction or save one single job, except those of incompetent and anti-social bankers”, he said, responding to the government’s latest aid package for Britain’s banks.

  • Stop the Massacre - Israel out of Gaza!

    Join in the Global day of action

    Over 1,000 Palestinians killed, 40% of whom are women & children.

    Support your local event, go to Stop the War CoalitionPalestine Solidarity Campaign websites for full listings.

     

  • Step up opposition against Gaza massacre

    Stop the Genocide in Gaza - Communist Party leaflet  “Whilst we welcome the largest demonstration in British history in support of the Palestinian people we must build for further demonstrations and continue to keep up the pressure. Demonstrations and protests are not just taking place in Britain but all over the world including protests by peace activists in Israel. London district secretary Steve Johnson told the Communist Party executive committee this weekend.

    “Israel’s brutal air assault and ground invasion has already led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians including children and the death toll is still rising with this week seeing the bombings of three UN schools.” 

  • 100,000 march for a free Gaza

    From the Morning Star
    by DANIEL COYSH and ADRIAN ROBERTS in central LondonCommunist on Free Palestine Demo - No to Israel Aggression

    THOUSANDS of people joined in Britain's biggest ever pro-Palestine demonstration in London on Saturday, marching through the capital chanting: "Free, free Palestine."

    As 100,000 protesters gathered in Hyde Park, Stop the War Coalition chairman Andrew Murray told the crowd that "at least 260" Palestinian children have been pulled lifeless from the rubble in the last 10 days."

    Children's Poet Laureate Michael Rosen then read a specially written poem for the youth of Gaza, before four British youngsters read out the names and ages of 30 of their fellow children to have been butchered by Israeli bombs.

    Trouble flared outside the rear gates of the Israeli embassy as the march passed.

  • Israeli occupation and war crimes must end

    Israel's brutal attack on the defenceless people of Gaza shows once more the reactionary nature of the Israeli state and the cynicism of all its leading politicians', Steve Johnson told the Communist Party's political committee on Wednesday (January 7).

      'This military invasion was planned well in advance to destroy Palestinian resistance and any prospect of a united, viable Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem', he alleged.

      'After the illegal blockade of Gaza and a series of provocations, culminating in the killing of six Palestinians on November 4 to break the ceasefire, the Olmert regime gained its pretext with the resumption of rockets fired into southern Israel'. 

     

  • 'Protest against BBC bias' urges CP General Secretary

    CP Demo at BBC'Israel has violated international law and UN resolutions with impunity for more than 40 years', Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths told a rally in Cardiff on New Years Eve.

    'Armed to the teeth by the USA, successive Israeli governments have been licensed to occupy Palestinian territory and massacre Palestinian civilians on a scale that would not be tolerated by the US, Britain and the European Union anywhere else in the world', he told the crowd of 200 protestors beneath the Aneurin Bevan in Cardiff city centre.
     
    The demonstration had been called at short notice by Palestine Solidarity Cymru (Wales) to protest against Israel's continuous bombing of Gaza. 

  • Where has all the money gone?

    The New Labour government made £550 billion available to the banks and the money markets to bail them out. 

    That's equivalent to nearly half of all government spending, or one-third of Britain's gross output of goods and services.

  • OCCUPY TO RESIST REDUNDANCIES AND EVICTIONS' SAY COMMUNISTS

    Britain's Communist Party is calling for occupations by 'workers and local communities' to defend workplaces and homes facing closure and repossession.

    In a New Year's message today (Thursday), the party's General Secretary Robert Griffiths made the call if what he dubbed 'this feeble New Labour government' fails to act to prevent mass redundancies and housing evictions.

    In a letter to the national and regional mass media, he dismisses Prime Minister Gordon Brown's planned £20 billion boost to the economy as 'chicken feed', demanding to know what has happened to the £550 billion made available to the banks and money markets.

  • International Resolutions

    50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution

    The Communist Party notes that next year, 2009, sees the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. We send our congratulations to the Cuban people on their many outstanding achievements in areas of health and education. We congratulate the Cuban people on their achievements in health and education and the example they have set in international solidarity for the last 50 years, and we also pay tribute to their unique contribution to international solidarity over the last 50 years.

  • Domestic Resolutions

    Opposing a new generation of nuclear power stations

    Uranium used in the energy process is becoming a rare commodity and may soon run out. Radioactive waste has to be stored in bunkers and it remains radioactive for over a thousand years. There is a link between nuclear energy and nuclear weapons as depleted uranium is used to tip missiles and bullets.

  • Britain's Communists demand action against Israeli aggression

    Free PalestineThe Communist Party condemns the barbaric attack of the Israeli armed forces on largely defenceless police and residential areas of Gaza.

    The callous slaughter of innocent Palestinian lives cannot be justified by mostly ineffectual and token missile attacks from Palestinian militias on Israeli territory.

  • Communist Party of Israel condemns deadly attacks on Gaza and calls for international mobilisation

    The Communist Party of Israel and Hadash (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) condemn today’s deadly attack by the Israeli Air Force on the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the killing of over 150 Palestinians.

    The CPI calls on Communist and Workers parties and social movements throughout the world to mobilise against these Israeli war crimes and demands that the international community implement sanctions against Israel and indict Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak and other Israeli political and military leadership for these blatant war crimes, committed as part of Israel’s election process. 

     

  • Credentials Report

    Credentials forms for 83 full delegates and 4 consultative delegates were completed, representing 36 branches and 9 districts and nations. There were 70 male delegates and 17 female delegates.

    Trade union membership:
    UNITE, 20
    UNISON, 13
    NUT, 7
    UCU, 6
    NUJ, 4
    GMB, 3
    NUS, 3
    NAPO, 2
    PROSPECT, 2
    UCATT, 2
    PCS, 2
    CWU, 2
    EIS, 2
    USDAW, 1

    Membership of other organisations:
    People's Press Printing Society, 48
    Young Communist League, 17
    Cuba Solidarity, 35
    Palestine Solidarity Campaign, 10
    Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, 36

    Length of Party membership:

    Less than 1 year, 18
    1 to 5 years, 19
    6 to 10 years, 10
    11 to 20 years, 4
    21 to 30 years, 8
    31 to 40 years, 10
    41 to 50 years, 12
    Over 50 years, 5

    Age profile:
    Under 21, 6
    21 to 30, 11
    31 to 40, 15
    41 to 50, 16
    51 to 60, 15
    61 to 70, 16
    Over 70, 7

  • Congress Elections

    The following comrades were elected for the next two years:

    Executive Committee:

    Ivan Beavis
    Geoff Bottoms
    Mary Davis
    John Foster
    Pauline Fraser
    Bill Greenshields
    Robert Griffiths
    Anita Halpin
    Kevin Halpin
    John Haylett
    Joel Heyes
    Steve Johnson
    Carolyn Jones
    Martin Levy
    Gawain Little
    Alan Mackinnon
    Emily Mann
    Tommy Morrison
    Andrew Murray
    Rick Newnham
    Ben Stevenson
    Graham Stevenson
    Carol Turner
    Anita Wright

    Appeals Committee:

    Tony Briscoe
    Margaret Levy
    Dominic Macaskill
    John Moore
    Jamie Ritchie

    Auditor:
    Tony Kain

  • Amendments to Rule

    Rule 4: Conditions of membership
    Insert at end: All Party members aged between 16 and 28 (inclusive) will at the time of joining also become members of the Young Communist League, save that any such member shall have the right to opt then or subsequently to hold CPB membership only.

    Rule 5: Membership dues
    Insert at end: Party members who have accepted YCL membership at the time of joining the Party shall pay only CPB membership dues as laid down in this rule. The YCL dues of such members shall be paid by the Party.

  • Left-Wing Programme

    Main Domestic Resolution

    Since its election to office in 1997, the New Labour government has pursued policies to maximise profits for big business, falsely arguing that this approach would also bring prosperity to working people and their families. It has enthusiastically embraced the neo-liberal orthodoxy which is practised by most governments in the capitalist world, whether nominally social-democratic, liberal or conservative. But it has combined this with a ruthless commitment to maintaining Britain's position as a major imperialist power, with more capital invested abroad than any other except for the USA.

      For the British economy at home, the consequences have been to undermine both manufacturing, as jobs are exported to low-cost and super-exploited workforces abroad, and the public services through privatisation and marketisation.


     

    Economic, environmental and social advance

    Yet a government which refuses to protect key sectors of our industrial base or to fund fair pay in the public sector can find tens of billions of pounds to prop up the Northern Rock mortgage bank. Significantly, the European Union Commission and European Central Bank raise no objection when state intervention is used to rescue irresponsible company directors and their shareholders. But Northern Rock should have been taken into public ownership as part of a wider programme to re-establish a socialised banking sector.

      The over-dependence of the British economy on financial services, the City of London and profits from overseas investment not only makes us more vulnerable to financial instability and crisis. High interest rates, a high-value pound and the export of capital also tend to hold down investment and the modernisation of industry within Britain, drawing in imports and undermining exports. The Communist Party believes that state intervention should take place to change these priorities and develop the British  economy in the interests of the working class and peoples of Britain generally. 

      In particular, the haemorrhage of more than a million manufacturing jobs since 1997 has devastated many local communities. Yet the New Labour government has consistently refused to legislate against mass redundancies in viable enterprises, to limit the export of capital or to impose a levy on imports produced by jobs exported overseas.

      British industry would also benefit from determined policies to reduce atmospheric pollution. Our dependence on imported energy resources creates economic as well as environmental dangers, increasing our vulnerability to price rises and supply restrictions. Much more domestic energy generation from renewable resources such as wave, wind, solar and geothermal power, on the other hand, would increase renewability and self-reliance, reduce import bills and stimulate our science and technology, engineering and manufacturing sectors.

      New Labour's approach to energy and the environment is private profit-driven and prompted by bourgeois concepts of 'energy security'. That is the basis for the massive but dubious incentives for onshore wind farms, the overriding of local democratic decisions on these and on open-cast mining, the promotion of airport expansion and bio-fuels and support for mega-projects such as a new generation of privately-owned nuclear power stations.  

      This is the context in which to judge New Labour's pre-emptive endorsement of the proposed Severn Barrage tidal power scheme as a capitulation to the big business lobby. While we support in principle the proposal to develop a Severn tidal power scheme, there has to be full and proper consideration of important factors. Public money must be matched by a public stake in the ownership of the project and control retained in the public sector with arrangements acceptable to both the British and Welsh Assembly governments. The maximum effort must be made to limit any adverse environmental and ecological effects, including the impact on wildlife habitats, including feasibility studies of tidal lagoon schemes in the Severn estuary and elsewhere in place of a Severn Barrage.

       As clean and renewable sources of energy are opened up, Britain's vast reserves of coal could be utilised. Rather than continuing to subsidise the privatised coal industry, the government should take it back into public ownership and provide funds for the development and application of clean-coal technology including carbon capture. This would be a far safer and less expensive option than the proliferation of nuclear power stations—since condemned on safety grounds by eminent nuclear scientists—and would stimulate engineering, construction and manufacturing as collieries are opened and coal-burn replaces oil and gas in the electricity generation industry.

      Public ownership and economic planning provides the only rational basis on which Britain could develop and utilise its energy resources in tandem with an integrated public transport policy, enabling us to meet much more ambitious targets to cut carbon emissions and move to renewable non-nuclear energy generation. Where European Union treaties and directives seek to prohibit or frustrate measures of public ownership or economic planning in Britain, they should be defied on the basis of 'popular sovereignty' expressed through mass mobilisation together local government and parliamentary action. The impact of the EU Postal Services Directive on the Post Office as a government-owned public service provider should be highlighted constantly, with community campaigns to retain the Post Office as a public service and to prevent further closures being stimulated in concert with the Communication Workers Union. These campaigns should also set out to usurp and maximise the popularising effect of the slogan 'the people's Post Office' and make it reality. 

      But there would have to be a different model of public ownership from the old bureaucratic-command one which was installed first and foremost to serve the needs of big business. Socialist nationalisation would not burden socialised enterprises with enormous debt to wealthy individual and corporate shareholders, would involve workers in decision-making and administration at every level, and would ensure that devolved and local government as well as consumers are fully involved and consulted in the policy-making process. 

      The armaments industry has long represented a drain on socially-useful investment, research, development and production in Britain. Billions of pounds of public money are used to fund the arms corporations through government contracts, diplomatic and trading policies and even state-backed financial guarantees for military exports. The labour movement must support the Campaign against the Arms Trade and demand the abolition of nuclear weapons, no replacement of Trident and a genuine policy to convert armaments R&D, engineering skills and production to civilian use. 

      Our public and welfare services would also benefit from such a shift in public spending priorities. 

      Since its inception, the Communist Party has supported council housing. At a time when spiralling property prices are denying many families the right to a home in the first place, and a faltering capitalist economy is then making the fortunate ones homeless through repossessions, demand has never been greater for decent, publicly owned housing. Yet we have the farce of a Labour government actively forcing councils up and down Britain to privatise their housing stock—with financial inducements to do so, and the threat of service cuts across the board for not complying. Communists calls upon the government to support councils which wish to apply the 'Fourth Option' and retain their housing stock, carrying out repairs under their own administration. Yet in the face of public outcry the government arrogantly withholds funds, preferring to channel them through rag-bag coalitions of privateers, who in turn take a cut of the money for profit and take control of public housing away from the public for generations to come. We demand that this government cancel the historic housing debt used to build council housing, alleviating the burden of an ever-decreasing pool of council tenants having to pay off the debt on houses which have been privatised through 'Right to Buy' and housing which has long since been demolished.

      The Tory policy of selling off council housing—continued by New Labour—and the virtual cessation of council house building has created a crisis for millions of people in need of secure accommodation. Handing a monopoly on housing supply to private sector companies and estate agents has created a bonanza for big business and mass misery for the homeless and for mortgage slaves saddled with huge debt and high interest payments.

       The present crisis will only be solved by an enormous drive to build more local authority housing of every type—including sheltered accommodation—funded by past council house sales revenue and fresh funds from central government. Public ownership of development land would help prevent landowners, agents and speculators from diverting a large share of these funds into corporate bank accounts. In making the case for much more council housing, not less, it is vital that the campaigns against housing stock transfer by Defend Council Housing and tenants groups receive the widest support from the labour movement and the left. 

       In education, too, the New Labour approach has been to expand the role played by profiteers and big business. City academies, in which private investors buy control while receiving large public subsidies, are the forerunner for a school system run for profit and not pupils. Already we see how excessive and inflexible testing, league tables, an overemphasis on numerical results and the privatisation of so-called 'failing' schools are being used to undermine the concept of education as a collective and co-operative investment in our society, replacing it with a narrow profit-oriented concept of training for insecure and 'flexible' employment. The quality of education has also been undermined by the recent extension of religion-based  schools. The only solution to the problems caused by such schools is the complete secularisation of the education system. Local well-resourced comprehensive schools are a prerequisite for raising the achievements of all students. 

      Further, Clause 6 of the recent Education and Inspections Act, by making all youth work subject to statutory contestability, is effectively privatising public sector Youth Services—budgets are already being cut and whole Youth Services put out to tender by some local authorities. But, outside some local authorities and well established voluntary organisations, there are no private youth work providers who have any credible track record. The Party and YCL will work with progressive youth organisations to fight for a publicly funded and accountable Youth Service.

      Moreover, the collapse of manufacturing employment has denied many young people the prospect of an apprenticeship, skilled work and a stable job, leaving them without hope or ambition for the future. Raising the school-leaving age to 18 will achieve little or nothing unless there is government intervention to rebuild Britain's manufacturing base.

      Government measures to expand the private sector and impose further 'marketisation' within the NHS have met with large-scale opposition from unions, pressure groups and local communities. Not only must this resistance continue, but supporters of the NHS should go on the offensive against the PFI and drug company profiteering which is siphoning billions of pounds out of our hospitals, clinics and surgeries. We will also campaign for the creation of a state owned drug company that would reduce NHS costs and set high standards of research and development for the rest of the sector, as the first step towards public ownership of the pharmaceuticals industry.

      Across the public sector, including local authorities, the New Labour government's pay freeze and so-called 'efficiency' savings are cutting real wages, jobs and services with damaging consequences for the local economy. 

      Local community campaigns play an important role in defending public and social services against New Labour cuts and privatisation. The maximum possible trade union involvement is essential in order to ensure that these campaigns are genuinely broad-based so that more victories can be won. Trades union councils, in particular, can play a unifying role within the labour movement and act as a bridge between the unions and local communities.   

      The Left-Wing Programme projected by the Communist Party provides a labour movement alternative to the economic and social policies of monopoly capital and New Labour. The programme's key economic, environmental and social policies include:

    • no more imperialist wars and occupations for big business, scrap Britain's weapons of mass destruction
    • increased taxes on the rich and big business, including a wealth tax on the super-rich and a windfall tax on energy, banking and supermarket profits, to boost public spending
    • restoring the value of  state pensions and benefits and reintroducing student grants in place of fees
    • price controls on basic foods, household fuel and petrol and cuts in VAT on essential goods and services such as children's clothes
    • a wages offensive by the trade union movement to increase public and private sector pay, including a drive to win bargaining rights for the TUC to negotiate with the government on the national minimum wage
    • state intervention to stop mass redundancies in viable enterprises, impose import levies on companies which have exported jobs from Britain and to rebuild Britain's industrial base
    • controls on the export of capital and directed investment into civilian research, development and manufacturing production with an emphasis on green technology and sustainable energy production
    • public ownership of the railways, bus transport, energy utilities, armaments and pharmaceuticals, together with the reconstruction of a state banking sector
    • ending all forms of privatisation, profiteering and marketisation in the public sector
      a massive programme of council house building to provide affordable housing and create jobs.

    This ten-point programme would not only make the monopoly capitalists pay for their crisis and raise the quality of life of many millions of people. It would also begin to shift the balance of wealth of power in favour of the working class, pointing the way forward to Britain's road to socialism.

     


     

    Democratic and equal rights

    In its pursuit of monopoly capitalist policies at home and abroad, New Labour has eroded civil liberties, widened inequalities and strengthened the repressive apparatus of the state. Further restrictions on the right to protest and demonstrate have been added to the draconian anti-trade union laws, which once again include the ban on industrial action in the prison service. Detention without arrest or trial has been extended to an extent unknown in Britain outside wartime, and almost without parallel in the other developed capitalist countries today.

       The use of legislation and the courts against the Gate Gourmet strikers showed once more why the United Campaign for the Repeal of Anti-Trade Laws and the Trade Union Rights and Freedom Bill need the active support of the whole labour movement. The unlikelihood of the Bill going through Parliament soon, however, was underlined by the failure of more than half of the Parliamentary Labour Party to support it. Nevertheless, the postal workers and prison officers have indicated a way forward. By continuing their action unofficially while the CWU executive was hamstrung by legislation—including the threat of sequestration—sections of the workforce demonstrated how militant unity around legitimate grievances can outflank the anti-union laws. Prison Officers Association members defied a court injunction to take action on pay and the Police Federation have balloted their members on the right to take industrial action following their below-inflation pay offer. Industrial action called by rank -and-file organisations would render much of the anti-union legislation inoperable provided workplace militancy and unity can overcome threats of dismissal. The Communist Party calls for union rights for the Police, the Armed Forces and other non-unionised services, together with full unionisation of the Immigration Service, in order to maximise the strength of the labour movement and to fight for union rights for all. 

      Community relations in Britain have been dangerously undermined by New Labour policies designed to appear 'tough' and 'patriotic'  when it comes to terrorism, asylum and immigration. Government ministers and the gutter press have deliberately blurred the distinctions between these three separate issues, encouraging anti-Muslim prejudice and fertilising the ground for fascist groups such as the BNP. New measures to curtail visiting rights to Britain will have a particularly severe impact on the Asian, African and Caribbean communities here, especially upon poorer families. The Communist Party will campaign with the Indian Workers Association and other progressive movements to repeal such racist and anti-working class regulations.

       The trade union movement in Britain has responded magnificently to the issues raised by a large influx of migrant workers, concentrating on the need to stop super-exploitation, to provide housing and educational facilities and to take the special steps necessary to recruit migrant workers into unions. This is the working class and internationalist response, rather than pandering to racism and xenophobia. But greater involvement of the unions—including trades union councils—in anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigning is vital if the challenge of the BNP and others is to be decisively rebuffed in working class communities.

       The Charter for Women puts forward key measures to achieve equal rights for women in society, at work and in the trade union movement. As more unions adopt the charter and steps are taken to build a grass-roots movement to project it, the pressure for equal pay through compulsory audits and statutory  trade union equalities representatives needs to be maintained. Trade unions and the government  should not allow employers—including the civil service—to reduce inequality by cutting pay rates for some sections of the workforce rather than by raising them for others. Glass ceilings should be broken from below, not lowered, with public sector equality requirements extended to the private sector. Lifting the national minimum wage to half median male earnings, rising to two-thirds over time, would benefit millions of working women and children currently living in poverty.

      Extending democratic freedoms and renewing the drive to equal rights would create more favourable conditions for the fight for economic, environmental and social progress. The Left-Wing Programme therefore proposes:

    • replacing the anti-trade union laws by a bill of trade union and workers rights
    • repealing recent restrictions of fundamental civil liberties and abolishing the plan for ID cards
    • ending all racist immigration, asylum and nationality laws, an amnesty for all illegal immigrants and scrapping new restrictions on visitation rights to Britain
    • allowing asylum seekers to engage in paid employment and receive benefits in terms of subsistence and medical care
    • repealing all tests or proposals to test people—including such vulnerable sections of society as immigrants and young people—on their 'Britishness'
    • measures to eliminate employment and pay discrimination against women, young and migrant workers
    • genuine democratic scrutiny and control over the police, security and intelligence services.

    The need for vigilance in the area of reproductive rights remains paramount. Recent attempts to reduce women's access to abortion, although unsuccessful, show the necessity for a positive and proactive approach. 

      Although the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales have expanded democratic and national rights in those two countries, the settlement is an unstable one. The central apparatus of the British state has sought to maintain as much control as possible through legislative and financial arrangements, denying the Scottish and Welsh governments the powers and resources to intervene in the economy in the interests of working people and their families. At the same time, the issue of legislative arrangements for England-only matters has been avoided by Labour and seized upon by the Tories for reasons of narrow party advantage.

      The Communist Party supports national self-determination for all the peoples of Britain with maximum devolution to its constituent nations. This would best be achieved in a federal system with Scottish and Welsh law-making parliaments exercising substantial legislative, economic and financial powers, together with an English parliamentary chamber in which MPs for English constituencies legislate for England-only matters. In this perspective, too, we support the political campaign to establish a Cornish Assembly.

      Nonetheless, Britain's Communists reiterate their opposition to separatism in current conditions, on the grounds of revolutionary strategy. The unity which has been built up between the working class and progressive movements across Britain is an historic achievement in the struggle against British state-monopoly capitalism. It should not be jeopardised in what could appear, falsely, to be the partial or short-term interests of sections of the working class. The reality in present conditions is that capitalist  'independence'  for Scotland and Wales would mean dependence on monopoly capital within the European Union, while socialist independence would be a pipe-dream. The dangers of economic dislocation and xenophobia also have to be taken into account. Instead, we see the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly of Wales as focal points for struggle, showing Labour MPs at Westminster and the labour movement across Britain how progressive policies can be implemented with public support.

     


     

    The labour movement and its parties

    As British state-monopoly capitalism becomes ever more reactionary, anti-social and undemocratic in almost every respect, this process has been led by what purports to be a 'Labour' government. The pressures of the international capitalist system have resulted in social-democratic parties in government around the world adopting policies which promote the interests of the capitalist monopolies. Indeed, the New Labour government in Britain is not recognisable now as being a social-democratic one. 

      The Communist Party has urged the trade unions to reclaim from the New Labour clique the party which they founded, and restore it to the labour movement. The credibility of this perspective has been weakened by the disaffiliation of some left-led trade unions and the loss of 200,000 Labour Party members since 1997, many of them socialists or social-democrats.

      Nevertheless, the labour movement needs a mass party capable of winning general elections and forming a government as much now as it did a century ago. Fighting to reclaim the Labour Party still remains the most direct and practical route to securing this essential objective. But the severe erosion of internal party democracy carried through by New Labour, with the misguided support of trade union leaders, makes it far less likely that this can be achieved through the procedures and structures which remain. Rather, the affiliated unions will have to use all their political, logistical and financial power to demand that the Labour government and Labour Party leadership change course radically or face losing union support. In particular, those misguided union leaders should work to reverse their disastrous decisions and insist upon a resolutions-based Labour Party conference in 2008. 

      Furthermore, a commitment to active high-profile campaigns, nationally and in local communities, is needed to raise the morale of trade union members and change the balance of the political debate. In short, the working class has to be reclaimed for a political alternative to New Labour and for the action to achieve it.

       Waging this fight should not preclude open and comradely discussion across the labour movement and the non-sectarian left about how the labour movement can ensure that it has a mass party, including the future option of re-establishing one. The Communist Party’s continuing commitment to reclaiming the Labour Party should be reviewed regularly, in the context of its effects on the credibility of our party. Non-affiliated unions and socialists outside the Labour Party have an equal responsibility to develop and put forward their views on this vital strategic question. In order to be successful, reclaiming the Labour Party or re-establishing a mass party of labour would need to emerge from—and be sustained by—the trade union movement.  

      Both in terms of continuing the struggle to reclaim the Labour Party and stimulating discussion on how to ensure that we have a mass party of labour in Britain, the Labour Representation Committee can play a pivotal role laying the basis for a resolution of this political crisis. 

       The Communist Party therefore urges trade unions—whether affiliated to the Labour Party or not—and non-sectarian socialists and left organisations including Morning Star readers and supporters groups to participate in and help build the LRC nationally and in the localities.

      One immediate objective for the LRC and unions must be to restore policy-making motions to the annual Labour Party conference. This will be essential as part of the struggle to change the policies of the New Labour government and so prevent a Tory victory at the next general election. Such a result would offer nothing to the working class or peoples of Britain, sowing further demoralisation and fragmentation while allowing the New Labour clique to revert to progressive-sounding positions without the need to match their words with deeds.

      While having its own mass party is necessary for the labour movement, it is not sufficient. The impact and legacy of British imperialism mean that such a party will tend to be reformist and social-democratic, although conditions can develop which might strengthen the militant and socialist trends within it. In any event, what is also required in all conditions is a Marxist party of the labour movement, rooted in the working class, internationalist in outlook, and with a programme for socialist revolution through political class struggle. 

      Therefore a much stronger, more influential and militant Communist Party, together with a dynamic Young Communist League, is essential for popular and working class advance. Through our work in the working class and in the labour and progressive movements, Britain's Communists will continue to raise the levels of political struggle, consciousness and unity in a broad, non-sectarian way. 

      On the electoral front, the Communist Party will seek to increase its impact by developing Unity for Peace and Socialism as a Communist-led alliance between the CPB and overseas Communist and workers parties domiciled in Britain. The alliance will project the key policies of the Left-Wing Programme on a mass scale, standing on a consistent anti-imperialist and socialist platform where the social and political basis exists for such a campaign. The participation of non-communist forces and individuals in Unity for Peace and Socialism shall be contingent on acceptance of the character and political basis of the alliance. This should accompany increased independent Communist Party participation in elections where our domiciled allies are not in a position to make a significant contribution. Where possible, we will look to stand in constituencies where there are high-profile government ministers in order to expose New Labour policies and put forward the socialist alternative.   

      In the struggle for the Left-Wing Programme, a mass party of labour and a more influential Communist Party, the Morning Star continues to have an indispensable role to play. Together with its campaign committees and readers and supporters groups, it remains an invaluable vehicle for knowledge, discussion and mobilisation across the labour and progressive movements. We congratulate the staff of the Morning Star who work so hard to ensure the daily production and distribution of the paper.

      The labour movement and the left in Britain face formidable challenges in the period ahead, not least the threat of further imperialist war, the erosion of democratic freedoms, the drive to a military-capitalist United States of Europe, economic and financial crisis, attacks on trade union and bargaining rights, more privatisation, the poison of racism and the return of a Tory government. Unity in action around a left-wing programme, regaining the movement's mass party and extending the influence and size of the Communist Party will provide the best platform for confronting those challenges.

      The Communist Party's new executive committee is instructed to promote a discussion which analyses the state of our labour and progressive movements to establish which issues can bring about the maximum unity of the widest progressive forces in this country. It is essential that we condense all of the multitude of struggles and prioritise key issues. We must also raise the theoretical understanding of the working class so that it is equipped to take on the bigger task of the left-wing programme highlighted above.

     



    Emergency Statement

    The labour movement and the Labour Party

    The Communist Party is urgently concerned at the inevitable return of a Tory government unless Labour changes course—because it will be a Tory government that will be able to build on its predecessor's destruction of public services, denial of decent pensions and enforcement of anti-trade union laws that cancel out trade union rights.

      A change of Labour leadership will not be enough by itself.  The New Labour machine would work to ensure that whoever won would follow New Labour policies.

      As in the past any change of policy will entirely depend on pressure from below, on demands for change from the labour movement, in particular the trade unions, and a mobilisation of working people in struggle.

      We welcome and support the initiative of the Labour Representation Committee to campaign against pro-big business policies both within the Labour Party and outside in the labour, left and progressive movements and in local communities. Only by developing such campaigns, and by strengthening the alliance between the social-democratic trend in groups such as Compass and the socialist trend represented in the LRC and the Campaign Group against New Labour, can sufficient pressure be brought to bear to change the political climate and enhance the possibility of reclaiming the Labour Party for the labour movement. 

      For this reason the Communist Party calls on trade unions affiliated to the Labour Party to:

    • Immediately demand the restoration of the democracy of Labour party conference, its ability to debate contemporary motions and a commitment from the government to carry these resolutions into policy.
    • Withhold financial contributions from the Labour Party centrally, while maintaining their affiliation fee, until there is acceptance of policies which will secure a better life for their members including public sector pay settlements that maintain and enhance living standards, a linking of pensions to earnings, the repeal of anti-trade union laws and an end to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This programme should be financed out of a tax on the super profits of the financial giants and a limitation on the export of these profits.
    • Use their voting power within the Labour Party conference, the National Executive Committee and within constituency parties to demand the end of pro-big business policies.
    • Take a position that trade union funds should only go to constituency parties and candidates who back such trade union policies should the Labour Party leadership refuse to support them.

    We also urge all trade unions to oppose proposals currently being considered by the government for the automatic direction of trade union political levy funds to the Labour Party centrally as an attack on the independence and democracy of the trade unions.

      Steps should be taken to win a common position on these matters between unions affiliated to the Labour Party, those not affiliated and those currently disaffiliated.

      Should the above steps be ineffective in bringing a change in Labour government policy, trade unions should collectively consider, in consultation with labour movement organisations including local Labour parties, what kind of political organisation would best suit the needs and interests of their members and whether the time has come to re-establish a mass party of labour based on the trade union movement.

  • Imperialism

    The end of the Soviet Union in 1991 removed what had been the principal barrier to capitalism’s global dominance. The imperialist powers, led by the United States, were able to re-divide the world, subject hundreds of millions to capitalist exploitation for the first time and intensify the exploitation of all others, especially those in Third World countries that previously received support from the Soviet Union. Imperialist forces waged brutal wars in Central Asia, across the Balkans and in Africa to remove remaining resistance and seize natural resources. These years saw a sharp rise in the rate of profit and an exceptionally high level of capital accumulation.

    By contrast, the first years of the present century have seen sharp contradictions emerge. The massive accumulation of capital, the search for new areas for high-profit investment and the drive to further intensify the rate of exploitation resulted in marked inter-imperialist rivalries and renewed resistance.

    The attempt by the United States to seize unilateral control of Middle East oil reserves and build new military outposts through its invasion of Iraq was undertaken without the support of the principal European powers, with the exception of Britain. In Latin America, the deep economic crisis of the late 1990s resulted in a general swing to the left. In Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia, and later in Ecuador and Nicaragua, left-wing governments have come to power which in varying degrees have challenged the dominance of the United States. Those countries which defended their socialist state systems have strengthened their economic positions—with global significance in the case of China. Cuba has emerged as a beacon of socialist aspiration, particularly in Latin America. The formation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2001 has created a new alignment between China, Russia and Central Asian states committed to peaceful development and mutual assistance against imperialist attack.

    Economically, the rise of China to become the world’s third largest power, the control exercised by Russia over oil and gas resources and the growth of India all present long-term challenges to US dominance of the world’s banking and currency systems. The financial crisis which began in August 2007 reflects the immediate imbalances: the unprecedented scale of capital accumulation by the rich, the inability to maintain previous rates of profit and the unregulated use of fictitious capital to sustain demand by the poor. It also reflects US abuse of its currency to pay for its military interventions and the unprecedented scale of its external borrowing. The radical devaluation of the dollar represents an attempt to export the costs to its competitors.

    In sum, both politically and economically, the past two years have seen the uni-polar dominance of the United States come under serious challenge.

    The response of the Bush administration has been to intensify long-term plans to exploit its overwhelming military superiority and at the same time draw other imperialist powers, especially in Europe, into more immediate strategies to reassert regional control. Its Missile Defence project is designed to give the United States a first strike nuclear capacity without fear of retaliation. Its bases in the Czech Republic, Poland and Britain are part of a system that is designed to be fully operational within twelve years and be directed at SCO countries. Immediately, the US seeks control over energy supply routes in Central Asia, the military pacification of Afghanistan and a solution in the Middle East that can sustain its client regimes in Saudi Arabia and Israel, maintain access to oil assets in Iraq and neutralise Iran. In Africa it seeks to involve the European powers in its plans for regional domination in the oil-rich areas. In Latin America it sustains the right-wing paramilitary-based regime in Colombia and is stepping up its efforts to subvert democratic advances in Venezuela and Bolivia and to isolate and cripple socialist Cuba. In Europe it has involved European powers in dangerous plans for political realignment in the Ukraine and Belarus and for territorial secession in Serbia.


     

    The threat to humanity's future

    A key part of the US strategy is its continuing reliance on nuclear weapons. This is true both in terms of the enhanced military superiority they provide and the way in which nuclear weapons have been used to tie European countries, and particularly Britain, into long-term US military strategy. The US has around 480 tactical nuclear weapons in Europe at bases in Britain, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the Netherlands. In addition to this, all features of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system are dependent on US support with the missiles themselves being leased from a US missile pool. All of this is carried out under the auspices of the 1958 Mutual Defence Agreement (renewed by the New Labour government in 2004) which ties Britain into a nuclear collaboration framework with the US. The Trident submarines, along with US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, are assigned to NATO and, in line with NATO and US first strike policy, the 2006 'defence' White Paper refuses to rule out Britain’s first use of nuclear weapons. In this context, the New Labour government’s plans to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system can be seen as key to US global strategy.

    At the same time, Trident replacement and other major military expenditure can be seen as another way to generate super-profits for state-monopoly capitalism by transferring money directly from the public purse into the pockets of the arms monopolies. This money will come primarily from outside the current military budget and, therefore, social spending can be expected to suffer as a result.

    The current moves by Britain and the US to replace and upgrade their nuclear weapons, along with the US development of its Missile Defence system with components based in Europe including Menwith Hill, have the potential to plunge the world into a new nuclear arms race. Already Russia has begun to respond to the threat of an enhanced US nuclear first strike capability. The social, economic and human costs of another nuclear arms race should not be underestimated.

    Overall, the US strategy represents a threat to the future of humanity as well as dangerously complicating and worsening the continuing long-term threat posed by climate change.

    Climate change is already starting to affect some of the poorest and most oppressed communities around the world. If global temperatures continue to increase, we can expect to see extreme weather events, localised droughts, increasingly frequent tropical storms and sea-level rises within our lifetimes. In its pursuit of maximum levels of profit, imperialism’s continued reliance on oil and the failure of the advanced capitalist countries to make any significant progress towards cutting their carbon emissions has deepened the crisis. Market-based carbon-trading schemes have been shown to be ineffective in reducing emissions or promoting the development and use of renewable energy sources. In spite of this, they are still promoted as an answer to climate change because of the profit to be made by trading in carbon emissions. Indeed, the British government has even objected to renewable energy targets on the grounds that they may undermine the EU carbon-trading scheme. Currently, total world expenditure on energy research is equivalent to about 2 per cent of the US military budget.

    In Britain, nuclear power has been proposed as a viable answer to the energy crisis in spite of the dangers of nuclear accidents and the unresolved question of radioactive waste. In fact, the government’s own Sustainable Development Commission suggests that doubling nuclear power capacity would only result in an 8 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from 1990 levels and that, as uranium resources become scarcer, it may no longer be able to be classified as a low carbon technology due to the increased energy required to extract uranium from low-grade ore.

    The position of the leading imperialist powers can be contrasted with the example of Cuba. While, in 2004, Britain (0.9 per cent of the world’s population) accounted for 2 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions at 9.8 tonnes per head and the US (4.6 per cent of the world’s population) accounted for 20.9 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions at 20.6 tonnes per head, Cuba (0.2 per cent of the world’s population) accounted for 0.1 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions at 2.3 tonnes per head. By 2005, Cuba had reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent compared with 1990 levels. This is due to the implementation of sustainable development policies at every level from investment in the national grid and water piping to providing every citizen with free energy-efficient light-bulbs. The Cuban government has invested in renewable energy projects and mobilised the people through mass organisations such as the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution and the Federation of Cuban Women to plant trees in response to a call from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Cuba has been recognised as the only country to have achieved sustainable development. None of these initiatives would have been possible under the anarchy of capitalist production. The inability of state-monopoly capitalism to direct investment ensures that, under capitalism, there can be no collective solution to the question of global warming. While there are still vast profits to be made from the oil economy, big business and its mouthpieces in government will not act on climate change unless forced to do so.

    This is a fight which must be taken up by Britain's labour movement alongside the task of opposing our government’s complicity in the continued US war drive and the plans to develop new nuclear weapons.

    Britain, as the United States’ closest ally, plays a key role in sustaining US military and political dominance of the world. This ‘special relationship’ is based on the objective interests of sections of the British ruling class, and the struggle for an independent foreign policy based on the principles of peace and respect for national sovereignty is an essential part of the struggle against our own ruling class. The British labour movement has an important part to play in campaigning against Trident replacement, campaigning against Missile Defence and calling for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and the ending of the occupation of both countries. It must also be at the forefront of opposition to any attack on Iran.

    Britain needs an independent foreign policy based on the principles of peace, self-determination and anti-imperialist solidarity. As Communists, we have a key role to play both within the labour movement and the broader peace movement to ensure that these struggles are taken up by all sections of the working class and that a class-based analysis of imperialism is projected within the movement. This will help to link the struggles of the trades unions, CND and the Stop the War Coalition while retaining the separate focus of the various campaigns. We must continue our support for CND, coordinating the work of Party branches in this area and strengthening our collective input into the Stop the War Coalition. This work will be the direct responsibility of the Party's incoming executive committee. Campaigning must start now with a view to influencing the vote on the ‘First Gate’ stage of Trident renewal in 2009.

    While recognising that opposition to our government’s slavish support for US imperialism will be a priority in the coming period, the left should also guard against any move to support one imperialist formation instead of another. We must ensure that the threat to peace posed by the development of the European Union is recognised throughout the peace movement.


     

    Developments in the European Union

    Right-wing social democrats continue to present the European Union as a neutral organisation for economic cooperation which provides a counterbalance to the United States and promotes European social values that can benefit working people. By contrast, Communists see the EU as the collective agency of capitalist state power across Europe. Its primary function is to advance the interests of one section of the capitalist class, monopoly capital, and to limit the scope of any challenge by neutralising the democratic institutions of member states. It reflects monopoly capital’s narrowing social and political base, its increasing need to attack both the post-war social democratic concessions and the interests of small business and its growing difficulty in maintaining control over democratic institutions at national level. The transfer of economic and social powers from national parliaments to the EU Council of Ministers thereby strengthens the capitalist state within each of the dominant powers of Europe—while in the accession states of eastern Europe it strengthens a political elite who represent the interests of external capital and insulates them from democratic mobilisation using national institutions.

    As a collective agency for monopoly capital, the EU inevitably reflects the continuing rivalry between the interests of monopoly capital in different states, particularly those in which monopoly capital is most dependent on that of the US: Britain, the Netherlands, Ireland and Portugal. France and Germany have traditionally sought a tight, centralised EU with strong military and foreign policy powers which could fund a military-industrial complex to rival that of the US. Britain and its pro-US allies have sought a looser and territorially-expanded EU with a military apparatus fully integrated with that of NATO. They have prioritised a single market which minimises public sector intervention in services and industry and gives maximum scope to the operations of US companies and banks. In particular, Britain has sought to maintain the City of London as a joint centre for US and British finance capital immune from control by the EU. Within the past year there are indications of realignments in France and to a lesser extent Germany by which their monopoly capital groups may seek closer alliances with those of the US.

    The contested origin of the EU Reform Treaty reflected these differences. But the Treaty itself represents the collective interests which unite monopoly capital. The Treaty is anti-working class. It extends to many new areas the power of the EU Council of Ministers and the European Court of Justice to attack all forms of social provision, labour safeguards and collective bargaining. It is anti-socialist. It writes a binding commitment to the free market into the Treaty protocols. It is anti-democratic. It reflects the authoritarianism inherent in state monopoly capitalism. It is imperialist. It provides a new legitimacy to EU interventions elsewhere and a military structure by which to do so. Its role is to consolidate a state structure that can enforce a new offensive against working people and at the same time limit the scope for democratic opposition by decisively reducing the powers of national parliaments.

    Cumulatively, when added to the impact of existing treaties and EU directives, the EU Reform Treaty will decisively limit the democratic powers of existing institutions and their ability to reflect the needs of working people. This is so for the Westminster parliament, the Scottish parliament, the Welsh assembly and for local government, already hamstrung by EU requirements for competitive tendering, restrictions on public spending and the imposition of executive-dominated, single-tier structures. We need to demonstrate the common anti-democratic, pro-big business thread running through these changes to shatter the social-democratic illusions that still paralyse opposition to the EU. Across Europe, in Greece, France, Ireland and Portugal, struggles are taking place to halt EU-enforced privatisations of services, to stop cuts in pension rights and resist the fundamental threat posed to collective bargaining by the EU’s new 'flexicurity' policy. It is vital that the British trade union movement is won to play a full part in these campaigns. It is even more vital that it defends our own democracy by opposing the EU Reform Treaty and campaigning for a referendum. Our position rejects xenophobia. It seeks, on the contrary, to defend democratic rights across Europe and thereby defeat an imperialism which threatens working people internationally.


     

    Peace in the Middle East

    There can be no peace in the Middle East without the immediate withdrawal of British, US and NATO troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and justice for the Palestinian people.

    A very high priority should be given to solidarity with Palestine. We note that 2008 will be the 60th anniversary of the 'Naqba', the catastrophe for the Palestinian people of 1948, which saw mass killings, and of the Palestinian diaspora on the back of British withdrawal. The support given by US imperialism to Israel's continued occupation of Palestine, the flouting of international law by the occupiers through waging war against the occupied population, the building of illegal settlements and the Apartheid Wall, must be exposed and opposed.

    We support Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation and call for the establishment of a two-state solution which would create a viable Palestine based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and a right of return for refugees in compliance with UN resolution 194.

    We condemn the importation of the concept of a 'Jewish state' into negotiations to establish two states. This would threaten the future of the 20 per cent of the Israeli population who are non-Jews and make Zionist racism a reality. Israel would continue to operate as a threat to the entire Middle East region.

    While welcoming additional funds to the Palestinian Authority from international governments, we should condemn any partial donation of finances to further divide the Palestinian people. We stand in solidarity with progressive Palestinian and Israeli parties and organisations that are working towards peace and reconciliation between the factions in Palestine.

    To these ends, Communists should work through their trade union organisations to create and develop links with sister unions in Palestine, to assist those trade unions through support for appropriate boycotts of Israeli goods and services and divestment campaigns from financial investment in the Israeli economy and to oppose the direct involvement of British firms in Israel, in particular through the arms trade and the construction of the Apartheid Wall. This campaign is of the utmost importance as international financial investment in Israel has risen to record levels.

    Campaigning should be carried out in close cooperation with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The Communist Party of Britain is affiliated to PSC and branches are urged to do likewise and to nominate a member of the branch to take particular responsibility for work with PSC.

    We call for the dismantling of all Israeli nuclear weapons and facilities for their creation, as the first step towards a nuclear-free Middle East. At the same time, we oppose the imposition of sanctions on Iran in response to its civil nuclear programme. This, and the pressure from the United States for stronger measures, form part of a strategic plan by the United States for regional dominance. The danger of outright military attack against Iran remains significant. Communists should work with CND and Stop the War Coalition to mobilise the widest opposition to any action by the British government to support US government war plans. Any so-called peace process which is not based on the implementation of United Nations resolutions and international law is not an attempt to bring true peace to the region, but an attempt by the United States and its allies to legitimise Israel’s attacks on the Palestinians and neighbouring states and its role as imperialism’s police force in the region.

    We must work to maintain a united opposition to US, British and EU imperialisms in the greater Middle East. We should also recognise that there is widespread repression of trade unionists, women and progressive forces in these countries. We must work through our trade union organisations to support trade unionists in Iraq in their struggle to develop and maintain independent representation of their members, and to prevent the theft of Iraqi resources by imperialism. We should likewise support trade unionists and progressive forces in Iran and in Afghanistan. We should work with Communist and other progressive forces to counter the imperialist policy of dividing Iraq and Afghanistan along ethnic and tribal lines and to oppose imperialist aggression against Iran. The excellent relations which exist between ourselves and the domiciled parties should be developed by working more closely together in our work in the trade unions and Stop the War Coalition.


     

    The 'general crisis' and the international Communist movement

    The term ‘general crisis of capitalism’ characterised the growing depth of capitalism’s contradictions in the 20th century. Capitalism’s monopoly stage drove forward capital export, inter-imperialist rivalry and war. Monopoly split the capitalist class and led to greater authoritarianism and attacks on democracy. Finally, socialist revolution and the establishment of a socialist state system presented workers with direct alternatives to capitalism and thereby transformed working class attitudes and class organisation within capitalist countries.

    The end of the socialist world order in 1989-91 temporarily suppressed this contradiction and enabled capitalism’s proponents to assert that system’s inevitability, to demoralise many on the left and to increase exploitation and oppression across the world. Yet individual socialist countries have survived and today the international Communist movement is growing in confidence and strength. Communists have been particularly heartened by the AKEL victory in the recent Cypriot Presidential elections, a result which is of key importance for the future of all the working people of Cyprus and a result which sends a clear message that significant Communist advance is possible even within the neo-liberal European Union. This power of the Communist movement internationally stems precisely from its ability to demonstrate that socialism remains both practically viable and humanly essential. It is able to do this, and expose anti-Communist propaganda, because of its commitment to critically assess its own past struggles and learn from the successes and failures of building socialism. It is this practical knowledge of how to secure and sustain working class state power that makes our movement so dangerous to capitalism and why internationally the movement now faces a resurgence of anti-Communist propaganda, bans and proscriptions.

    Our party has a responsibility to offer support and solidarity to those parties in eastern Europe and elsewhere that currently face legal proscription. Our party also has a responsibility to combat Cold War propaganda and defend the integrity of the Communist tradition from capitalist and ultra-left distortions. Strengthening links with Communist parties internationally is vital for our work of rebuilding confidence in a socialist future among working people in Britain.

    Capitalism’s general crisis therefore continues, deepens and broadens. Fundamentally, it is an economic crisis, but it extends to democracy, the environment, living standards throughout the world, education, culture and individuals' own sense of purpose in society. But, though profound, it will never of itself bring the end of capitalism. This requires conscious action by the working class. Our work as Communists is to secure this and to win an understanding of the all-encompassing character of the system’s crisis: that imperialism and war are its inherent consequences; that its need to attack the collective rights of working people is resulting in increasing authoritarianism; and that its chaotic and wasteful development is both the direct cause of climate change and what makes it incapable of the type of social planning required to reverse it. Only socialism can secure humanity’s future.


     

    Immediate priorities

    End British military collaboration with the US in Iraq and Afghanistan; oppose any military assault on Iran
    End long-term British collaboration with the US on Trident, nuclear weapons and Star Wars
    End British government complicity in US funding of the Israeli war machine; step up the campaign to secure British government support for the just settlement of Palestinian demands in line with UN resolutions
    Defeat the EU Reform Treaty and the neo-liberal drive in Europe
    Call for the British government to fully implement all sections of the Good Friday Agreement and to build support for this issue in the labour movement
    Support for socialist Cuba and a drive to publicise and celebrate its socialist achievements in the 50th anniversary year of the revolution
    Solidarity with Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and all Latin American and Caribbean nations seeking to escape from neo-colonialism, and with the working class and peasants of Colombia against the brutal US-backed regime
    Solidarity with anti-imperialist, progressive and socialist states
    Solidarity with Communist parties facing bans and proscriptions
    Promote understanding of and cooperation with the People’s Republic of China
    Support for Serbian independence and its territorial integrity in the face of Western interference
    Win labour movement support for pressure on British governments to secure decisive international action on climate change, including implementation of sustainable development policies at every level, investment in energy conservation and renewable energy projects, and technology transfer to Third World countries.

  • For Communism & Unity

     

    General Secretary's Address - Robert Griffiths, May 24 2008

     


    Comrades,

    This is the 50th congress of the Communist Party in Britain.

    The congress is an event of supreme importance in the life of a Marxist-Leninist party. It is here that we report and assess the work which has been done - or not done; here that we renew our party leadership democratically for the tasks ahead. And it is here that we make a concrete analysis of the concrete situation, nationally and internationally, in order to develop the policies which will guide our actions - and those of some of our closest allies - in the period ahead.

    At its founding congress in 1920, the Communist Party in Britain adopted as its aim the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, where the working class would exercise political power through soviets or workers councils, using that power to abolish the concealed dictatorship of capital and to build a socialist society.

    Later experience in the 20th century, not least in fascist Germany, gave the word 'dictatorship' a wholly negative meaning in the minds of most people. Nonetheless, we remain true to the original concept that the working class must win state power so that - together with its allies - it can dispossess the monopoly capitalists and create socialism as the first stage of a communist society.

    On the fourth day of its existence, our party urged all members to agitate for a general strike against further British military intervention in Soviet Russia, where more than a dozen foreign armies had been trying to strangle the socialist revolution in its cradle. A mighty display of working class unity and determination scuppered ruling class plans to once again invade Soviet territory.

    From the outset, Britain's Communist Party acted in solidarity with the oppressed and super-exploited peoples of the British Empire. As the first Labour government of the 20th century was suppressing the Iraqi Arabs with mustard gas, our party's 6th congress in 1924 confirmed that 'the continued enslavement of the colonial peoples makes our own freedom in this country absolutely impossible', and sent its fraternal greetings to Communists and workers in British imperialism's prisons from Egypt to India.

    From the beginning, too, our party did not waver in its support for the principle of a united Ireland, free from British rule.

    The 7th party congress approved a resolution in solidarity with the miners, moved by Arthur Horner, which pointed out that 'only through working-class loyalty and working-class solidarity can the workers hope to improve their conditions, and make a successful fight against the attacks of the employers'. A few months later, twelve leading Communists were arrested, put on trial and imprisoned as part of the prelude to the 1926 General Strike.

    Our 13th congress in 1932 took place on the eve of the massive demonstrations organised by the National Unemployed Workers Movement, led by Wal Hannington, which overturned proposed cuts in unemployment benefit.

    The 15th congress took place in 1938, as Prime Minister Chamberlain was scuttling back and forth to settle the fate of Czechoslovakia with Hitler. Palme Dutt and Communist MP Willie

    Gallacher warned the congress that Chamberlain was preparing to betray Czechoslovakia and therefore to betray peace, rather than form an anti-fascist alliance with the Soviet Union. They were proved right within a fortnight.

    That same congress also acknowledged that the Communist Party had underestimated the democratic and progressive content of the national question in Scotland and Wales. This rectification opened the way to full support for the establishment of Welsh and Scottish parliaments. At our 50th congress this weekend, with a parliament finally established in Edinburgh and a national assembly in Cardiff, we will be considering which democratic arrangements would be appropriate for England to enjoy, within a federal Britain.

    In the post-war world, as the Labour government aligned Britain with US imperialism, NATO and the Cold War, our party drew up its new programme The British Road to Socialism, endorsed at the 22nd congress in 1952. Today, we know much more about the role of Stalin in proposing some of its contents. This is not an embarrassment for us, although it might be for those ultra-revolutionaries who seek to revive a Stalin cult - and find that he broadly endorsed a programme they have been denouncing for years as reformist class treachery. It may also be embarrassing for some self-styled 'anti-Stalinists' to discover that he also warned against illusions in Labour governments and in measures of capitalist nationalisation.

    That 22nd congress pointed to the 'flagrant and shameful forms of racial discrimination' suffered in Britain by immigrants from the colonies, demanded that colour bars be made a criminal offence and condemned the propaganda which portrayed Britain as being flooded by immigration.

    In his political report to the 25th party congress in 1957, John Gollan called for a new, independent foreign policy for Britain - one which 'ends subservience to the United States, insists on the withdrawal of American troops and outlaws nuclear weapons, brings about a European Security system, finishes with the colonial wars, and makes Britain a force for new international understanding'. This was, of course, the same congress which confirmed our party's opposition to counter-revolution in Hungary and our continuing commitment to democratic centralism - controversial decisions that led to a large but temporary drop in party membership.

    Party congresses in the 1960s and 1970s had to grapple with the problems thrown up by the end of post-war expansion, the beginnings of de-industrialisation and the rightward trajectory of Labour governments. Our analysis enabled Britain's Communists to help instigate and lead the great trade union battles against antiunion laws, for jobs and higher wages in the engineering, shipbuilding, coal mining, docks, construction and car industries.

    'Jobs Not Bombs!' was the slogan raised at our 37th congress in 1981, when the party provided the driving force for the first People's March for Jobs against Tory mass unemployment.

    At the 38th congress, CND general secretary Bruce Kent scandalised Tory Cold War warriors by greeting us as 'partners in the cause for peace' and praising the Morning Star for its 'steady, honest and generous coverage of the whole nuclear disarmament case'.

    Yet the years of Tory rule from 1979 intensified the crisis within our party, with revisionists and opportunists in leadership positions promoting policies based on class collaboration and defeatism. This necessitated the special congress in 1988 which re-established the Communist Party, thereby securing the political basis for the continued existence of the Morning Star as well.

     


     

    Comrades, We have spent 20 years since then patiently rebuilding our party's organisation, alliances and influence, particularly in the trade union and peace movements. We have re-established the Young Communist League and the Communist University. We have maintained the Communist Review as our theoretical and discussion journal. We have restored the Executive Committee's annual ceremony at Highgate in honour of Karl Marx, launched an annual cadre school, re-established the Economic Committee and strengthened relations with scores of Communist and workers parties across the world, including their domiciled sections in Britain. Unity For Peace and Socialism now exists as a Communist-led coalition which projects the Left-Wing Programme and socialism in the electoral arena.

    And we have made full use of our party congress to deepen and develop our political understanding and strategy. The past 49 occasions have amply demonstrated the democracy, vitality and relevance which must be the hallmarks of a Communist Party congress. For us as Marxists, as Communists and as democrats, free discussion without prior mandates and block votes is the vital essence of congress.

    It was our 46th Communist Party congress, in 2002, which launched the Charter for Women, since taken up by more than ten national trade unions. That is why this 50th congress is right to devote discussion time and a commission to considering how a grass-roots movement can now be built to carry the charter forward on a mass scale.

    The 48th congress endorsed the important work of our Science, Technology and Environment Advisory in its pamphlet A World to Save, setting out the policies which can ensure sustainable energy and ecological security. Here is a vital dimension of the general crisis of capitalism, which has reasserted itself since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist systems of eastern Europe.

    Recent congresses of our party have also identified so-called 'globalisation' as an emerging new phase of imperialism, combining new features with older ones from previous phases, rather than it being some random, disembodied conglomeration of factors not rooted in the motive forces and tendencies of capitalism in its imperialist stage.

    One of the primary features of this general crisis in the new phase of imperialism is the intensification of contradictions and rivalries between the imperialist powers themselves. This occurs despite their common interest in exploiting the rest of the world, opposing socialist state power in countries such as Cuba and China and suppressing working class and revolutionary movements at home.

    It is in this perspective that successive Communist Party congresses have viewed the Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty and the proposed European Constitution as milestones on the road towards an imperialist, militarist United States of Europe. It gives us no pleasure to point out that this analysis has been confirmed by the three most recent judgements of the European Court of Justice, aimed as they are at the very principles of trade unionism, collective bargaining and legal minimum standards for workers, and by recent measures from the EU Council of Ministers and the European Commission to further liberalise and privatise Europe's postal and energy industries.

    Our 49th congress introduced the concept of 'popular sovereignty' to embody the struggle of the working class and its allies in each country to challenge neoliberal policies emanating from the European Union, the  IMF, the World Trade Organisation or the World Bank, using industrial action, popular mobilisation and representative democracy to enforce the interests of the vast majority of the nation against those of transnational capital.

    Successive congresses have characterised the New Labour trend as the open representatives of monopoly capital in the Labour Party, as a break from traditional social-democracy with its concern to negotiate better terms for workers and their families within the confines of capitalism. New Labour represents something fundamentally different. It is the political expression, in the labour movement, of globalisation as a new phase of imperialism. After a brief social-democratic term of office discharging unavoidable debts to trade union and other supporters, the Labour government since the 2001 general election has enthusiastically led the drive to privatisation, war and a police state.

    It is a drive which - if not checked by extra-parliamentary struggle, by the trade union movement and the left inside and outside the Labour Party - will end up in the ditch of defeat at the next General Election. Far better that it be defeated by the labour movement and not the Tories. At our 48th congress, we drew up a Left-Wing Programme of policies to unite and mobilise the left and the labour movement around an alternative to New Labour neo-liberalism. We argued that the basis exists for a coalition between the social-democratic and socialist trends in the Labour Party - with the essential support of the affiliated trade unions - to defeat New Labour and reclaim that party for the labour movement.

    It is in this light that the 50th congress is being asked to restate the need for a mass party of labour in Britain - not for a front organisation manipulating by a small ultra-left sect, or for a new party backed by just one or two unions - but for a mass party based on large sections of the trade union movement, capable of winning elections, forming a government and enacting policies in the interests of the working class and the clear majority of the population.

    Even now, we do not write off the possibility that the Labour Party can be restored to such a role, provided the affiliated unions use their political and financial power to force a change in the policies and direction of that party. We also have to take due account of the diverging positions in Wales, Scotland and England, where the internal balance of forces between the social-democratic, socialist and New Labour trends is different.

    Yet whether the labour movement can or will reclaim the Labour Party, or whether it has to take the necessary steps to re-establish a mass party of labour, we have no doubt about the indispensable role of the Communist Party and the Young Communist League.

    Comrades, We remain the only party of any significance in the trade union, peace and other progressive movements which seeks to apply a Marxist-Leninist understanding to all aspects of monopoly capitalist society, the only party which is organised to participate in mass struggle on every front, including industrial action and electoral activity, the only party which understands the need for the organised working class to lead a democratic anti-monopoly alliance aimed against state-monopoly capitalism, as the opening stage of the socialist revolution, the only party which successfully combines the maximum democratic discussion and participation by its members with the disciplined unity required to contribute effectively to the struggle for progressive advance, to operate real democratic-centralism without perpetual purges, splits and diktats from above, the only party in Britain which is an integral part of the world's biggest, most experienced and most influential revolutionary movement, the movement of Communist and workers parties to which we committed ourselves in the very first of our 50 congresses. That movement has fought many great battles against feudalism and capitalism. We have overthrown empires, we have routed fascism, we have built new societies out of the ruins of the old. In many countries across the globe, Communists have sacrificed every possession in the fight for workers rights, for democracy, for peace and for national liberation. We have scored historic victories, and we have made some momentous mistakes.

    But we are still here, inspired by the ideals of Communism, determined and convinced that humanity can and will liberate itself from capital and so throw off those reactionary ideas, prejudices and practices which Marx called 'the muck of ages'.

    And we are proud still to proclaim:

    We are for Communism and unity!
    Our Flag Stays Red!

  • No return to old Labour

    When is Keynesianism not Keynesianism? When it's Brown's version. ROBERT GRIFFITHS explains why.

    Has the new Labour government turned back to the policies and values of old Labour? Have Prime Minister Brown and Chancellor Darling embraced the strategy and policies of Keynesian economics?

  • Use Public Money to Boost Economy and Save Jobs

    'With hundreds of billions of pounds of public money, the only jobs the bankers have saved are their own', Morning Star editor John Haylett told the Communist Party's political committee on Wednesday.

       Speaking as the official unemployment figures in Britain reached almost two million, 6 per cent of the workforce, he accused the New Labour government of ignoring the other sectors of the British economy.

  • Capitalism in Crisis: Organising & Mobilising for Change

    Capitalism in Crisis: Organising & Mobilising for Change

    Communist Party annual Trade Union & Political Cadre School

    7th & 8th February 2009

    Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Rd, Croydon CR0 1BD

    Sessions include:

    Trends in Employment & the British Economy
    Organising the Unorganised
    The Role of the Left Wing Programme
    Local Campaigning & Trades Councils
    Internationalism & Trade Unions

    Book your place now to avoid disapointment (booking deadline January 26th)

    Contact office@communist-party.org.uk  02086861659

  • China's Line of March

    The Communist Party of Britain sent a four-person delegation to the People's Republic of China in April 2006 at the invitation of the Communist Party of China's international department. The delegates were CP general secretary Robert Griffiths, industrial organiser Kevin Halpin, women's organiser Emily Mann and Morning Star editor John Haylett.


     

  • Queen's speech 'Mix of Hot Air & Malice'

    'The Queen's Speech proposals are a mixture of hot air, missed opportunities and malice', Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths declared today.

     

    'Even as unemployment officially climbs above 2 million - although the real figure is nearer 3 million - the government is pressing ahead with its plan to drive people off incapacity benefit and into insecure, low-paid or non-existent jobs', he said, 'This brutal attack is a betrayal of the history, values and ideals of the Labour Party and labour movement which the trade unions cannot allow to proceed.

     

  • Communists gather from around the Globe in Sao Paulo

    10_international_meeting_CWPThe 10th International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties was successfully held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on November 21-23, 2008, hosted by the Communist Party of Brazil. Sixty-five parties attended from 55 different countries.

    The 10th meeting received a message from the President of the Federal Republic of Brazil, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, expressing his recognition of  ‘all your struggles in defence of the workers and the poor’ and ‘your commitment to build a new economic international order‘.

    Representatives of the parties delivered speeches on such themes as the international economic and financial crisis; worsening national, social, environmental and inter-imperialist contradictions and problems; the struggle for peace, democracy, sovereignty, progress and socialism; and unity in action of Communist and Workers’ Parties. The meeting allowed an important exchange of ideas to take place between the parties.

  • A Marxism-Leninism for the 21st Century

    Contribution to the 10th International Meeting of Communist & Workers' Parties by Robert Griffiths general secretary, Communist Party of Britain.

     

    Comrades, time is short and so I want to share with you eight brief but, I hope, thought-provoking reflections on the current economic situation and its implications.

     

     

  • São Paulo Conference proclaims solidarity with the peoples of Latin America & the Carribean

    The 10th Communist and Workers Parties Meeting, being held for the first time in Latin America, welcomes and congratulates all Communist and Workers Parties and all democratic, progressive, popular and anti-imperialist regional forces united and strengthened in popular struggle and in the gains made during the last decade. These advances have made this part of the world one of the outstanding centres of anti-imperialist resistance, setting the scene for the development of alternatives to imperialist hegemony and for further victories in the fight for democracy, national sovereignty and social progress.

     

  • São Paulo Proclomation - Socialism is the Alternative

    The world is facing a grave economic and financial crisis of large proportions. This capitalist crisis, which cannot be dissociated from capitalism’s own nature and its unsolvable contradictions, is probably the gravest crisis since the Great Depression which commenced with the 1929 crash. As always the workers and the people are the main victims.

     

  • Crisis of Capitalism - Your Questions Answered

    Britain's Communists launched a new campaigning leaflet to explain the current capitalist crisis and what can be done to counter the attacks on working people.

    Order copies of this leaflet here.

    Read/download the leaflet here.

  • No change as New Labour bolsters capitalism

     

     

    'New Labour have not changed - they are using public funds to bolster capitalism instead of taking bankrupt monopolies into democratic public ownership', Kevin Halpin told the Communist Party political committee on Wednesday.

     

    'Chancellor Darling's pre-budget statement sends the clearest signal that public services are going to be slashed to subsidise failing capitalist companies', he declared.

     

  • A common-sense stategy

    ROBERT GRIFFITHS sets out a socialist programme that will give the people of Britain a fair and secure future.

    THE banking and financial crisis is far from over. It's fuelling the recession that's under way in leading capitalist countries.

     

  • Mass struggle needed to challenge capital, Communists insist

    'Barack Obama's election in the US represents a significant victory for the mass progressive and labour movement and a serious defeat for the warmongering neo-conservatives', Communist Party international secretary John Foster declared at the weekend.

    'As US imperialism reorientates itself towards a softer, multilateral and hegemonic strategy, that people's movement needs our solidarity for new battles over trade union rights, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Cuba', he told the CPB executive committee.

    Analysing the international economic crisis, Mr Foster highlighted 'the contradiction between the process whereby monopoly capital extracts super-profits and the state helps redistribute wealth in favour of the super-rich through deregulation, privatisation and anti-trade union laws'. 

  • Communists welcome Obama victory

    Britain's Communists welcome the election of Barack Obama as US President as a victory for the mass popular movement for progressive change.

    'It is a victory not only for a remarkable candidate, but for the growing forces for peace and social justice which supported him, including the trades unions and the US Communist Party', Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths declared.

  • 1st Annual Red November Campaign – Stop the housing rip-off

    November 08, the YCL officially kicks off the first annual Red November campaign, a month of targeted campaigning in communities on a ‘social’ issue. Throughout the month of November there will be street stalls, mass leafleting sessions, public meetings,  street meetings, stunts & protests organised by YCL regions and nations as part of a campaign for decent housing under the slogan

    ‘NO VACANCIES?
    DECENT HOUSING FOR PEOPLE NOT FAT CAT PROFITS.’

    Play your part in the campaign. Party organisations have a range of publicity material, which can be obtained here.

    Red November A3 Poster PDF

    Red November A5 Leaflet PDF

  • Communist Party attacks 'dangerous' proposals for immigration

    "THE speculators and racketeers should be swept out of the City of London," Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths told the party's political committee in London on Wednesday evening.

    "Gambling in commodities and financial derivatives should be outlawed, along with such rackets as short-selling and leveraged buyouts," he insisted.

  • Communist University

    ABQIAAAAJVPGo9BuONKHpPb7LsHLxhTRlnhkAaxwOIof2_J4JGpRy_7CDBSLh6BHgfdZlz-at7iiDshTkdr2_g
  • Assessing the Collapse of the Soviet Union

    Download original pamphlet PDF 

     

    Introduction

    As the culmination of an inner-party discussion, the 41st Congress of the Communist Party of Britain reconvened in November 1992 and adopted the resolution Assessing the Collapse of the Soviet Union. This remains the basis of the party's view of what went wrong in the Soviet Union - and in most important respects the other socialist societies of eastern Europe - and why the attempts to renew and save the socialist system failed. It also represents a qualitative development in our analysis from the resolution of our party's Executive Committee in May 1956, following revelations at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union about the Stalin period, and the article and pamphlet by former General Secretary John Gollan, Socialist Democracy - Some Problems (1976); both of these documents were critical of important aspects of the Soviet system, and self-critical of our own party's acquiescence.

    Now is an appropriate time to reprint this Congress resolution. The Soviet Union has ceased to exist as such; it has broken up into separate republics, a process characterised by ethnic and national conflict, war and discrimination. Boris Yeltsin's drive to transform Russia into a privatised, capitalist 'free market' economy and society has run into a ditch; small groups of millionaires and gangsters control whole sectors of commerce and industry; millions of workers are unemployed and many millions more receive no wages; the state is tottering on the edge of bankruptcy despite tens of billions of dollars from the International Monetary Fund; the rouble has lost much of its value and people's savings are almost worthless; homelessness, begging and prostitution are rife. The advisors, investors and speculators from the capitalist countries have made a killing in every sense of the word. Thirty million Russians voted Communist in the 1997 presidential elections, with millions of others turning to extreme right-wing and authoritarian parties out of desperation ... but Yeltsin has shamelessly used the power of the state and Western assistance to hang on.

    The collapse of Communist rule in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe also set off a new wave of reaction around the world. Capitalism proclaimed its eternal victory in the battle of ideas, the `end of history' had supposedly arrived and a 'new world order' established. Supported by their respective states, the capitalist monopolies (notably the transnational corporations or TNCs) reaped the profit from sweeping privatisation, mass redundancy, cuts in social and welfare programmes and other attacks on working class rights and living standards.

    The imperialist countries kept their nuclear weapons, pushed NATO eastwards and - led by the US - assumed the right to bomb and invade any, nation that stepped out of line. At the same time, rivalries between the imperialist powers and their TNCs have intensified, demonstrating that capitalism remains a system wracked by contrrdiction and crisis.

    According to our analysis of what went wrong under socialism, the young Soviet state faced two enormous and fundamental problems: firstly, it had to try to build socialism in an underdeveloped, semi-capitalist empire which still suffered many of the legacies of feudalism; secondly, it had to attempt this task whilst surrounded by hostile imperialist powers. Despite all the efforts of Communists and progressives in the advanced capitalist countries, these powers inflicted three crippling wars on the Soviet Union: the war of intervention from 1918, the fascist invasion from 1941, and the Cold War from the mid-1940s.

    But we do not accept that the collapse was inevitable due to the conditions in which the 1917 October Socialist Revolution took place - that 'socialism in one country' was impossible, even in these difficult circumstances. We certainly cannot accept that building socialism was impossible in the new situation that developed in eastern Europe and China after 1945.

    Nor do we subscribe to the idea that the US Central Intelligence Agency and its 'front' organisations, in alliance with reactionary exiles and dissident anti-socialist and nationalist elements, brought about the collapse. Their long-running efforts may have made things worse, and perhaps even accelerated the final crisis, but that was only possible because the foundations and structures of the Soviet system were already crumbling.

    Our Congress sought to identify the main errors and mistakes which enabled this to occur. Some points were elaborated in an editorial in the Communist Party of Britain's theoretical and discussion journal, the Communist Review (No. 26, Autumn/ Winter 1997).

    For example, concerning the Soviet Union's economic and industrial performance: over long periods, idealism and dedication, the impetus of war and reconstruction, the intrinsic advantages of economic planning all combined to produce rates of economic growth up to twice and even three times those of advanced capitalist countries. But from the late 1950s, the level of investment growth began to fall; economic output growth rates declined dramatically from 1960 as the technological gap between the Soviet Union and the developed capitalist economies widened.

    Fundamental problems of how to secure innovation, to apply new technology across a wide range of industries and services, to raise labour productivity humanely in a socialist society which commits itself to full employment, were not solved.

    Quality was sacrificed to quantity, inefficiencies and waste were overlooked, mistakes were covered up and records falsified as fulfilment of the plan became the sole measure of performance for each enterprise and for whole Ministries.

    The imposition from above of 'one-man management' in each enterprise negated any notion of workers' control or self-management.

    Moreover, we have to continue to examine a number of pertinent historical questions in the light of new information: did the industrial `Great Leap Forward' from 1928 take place because of - or despite - the reign of mounting conformity and coercion? What precisely was the contribution made by the collectivisation of the peasantry: did the immediate and longer-term positive effects outweigh the immediate and longer-term negative ones, both politically and economically?

    There were also serious deficiencies in the treatment of vital democratic questions.

    For instance, the national question was not solved despite announcements to the contrary. Lenin's advice to compensate the small nationalities for the historical injustices suffered at the hands of Great Russian chauvinism, to show the greatest sensitivity to national feelings, was not heeded. As the party exercised ever-tighter centralised control over the constituent republics, regions and areas, Stalin's Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic (the 'autonomisation' rejected by Lenin) was established in deeds if not in words. The democratic rights and patriotic feelings of many nationalities were violated by forced transfers of territory and population, by processes of `Russification' instead of the assimilation of migrant workers into the local population and schools, and by the restoration under Stalin of some of the symbols, 'heroes' and insignia of Imperial Russia.

    Soviet laws and proclamations concerning the equality of the sexes did not reflect the reality: women were not fully liberated from the burdens of unplanned pregnancy or the drudgery of housework. They worked what we now call the 'double shift' -outside the home as well as inside. The relatively high proportion of women in parliamentary forums did not progress to the highest levels; the party and State leadership was almost entirely male right to the end. Professions where women made much more headway than in capitalist countries - in scientific and educational work for example - lost some of their status and income differentials as a consequence.

    Therefore a potentially dynamic force for the defence of socialism - women - was never fully developed.

    Nor could the battle of ideas have been waged in the most effective way in each generation. With the working class excluded from a genuine mass role in the administration of industry and the state, with neither the party nor the trades unions winning workers to Marxism and in turn being enriched by their experiences and class alignment, and with the party exercising state power as a bureaucratic-centralist organisation, Marxism-Leninism was distorted into a dogma and adopted as a state religion. It became associated in people's minds with slogans, formulations and devices to justify, glorify and misrepresent the status quo. Instead of utilising Marxism in order to understand and solve the problems of building socialism, with all the clashes of viewpoint that characterise genuinely free Marxist debate, theoreticians and political leaders proclaimed the achievement of 'developed socialism'; indeed, it was even proclaimed under Brezhnev that the Soviet Union had entered the stage of 'perfecting' developed socialism as the immediate preparation for the transition to the higher stage of communism.

    In relation to the serious violations of socialist democracy during the Stalin period, there was some debate in the Communist Party of Britain as to whether the term 'crimes' was appropriate in the Congress resolution. A minority, as it turned out, felt that it was too strong and could only help the enemies of Communism. However, the opening up of CPSU, Comintern and Soviet state archives provides an uncontestable mass of evidence that enormous and brutal crimes were indeed committed by the party and state leadership in the 1930s and 1940s; that Stalin bore a heavy and direct personal responsibility for many of them; and that many thousands - hundreds of thousands if not millions - of the victims were loyal Communists and Soviet citizens.

    Those crimes were a shameful blot on the proud history of the Communist movement, and they must not be denied or covered up with the excuse that great economic and cultural advances were also made during the Stalin period. Attempts in some quarters to revive the Stalin cult will not raise our movement's credibility in the eyes of people who are committed to democratic and human rights and who believe in honesty and truth.

    To frankly identify the problems, shortcomings and mistakes of socialism as it actually existed is not to belittle the great historic gains of the socialist experience. We certainly did not do so in the past, and we should not do so now.

    As our 41st Congress resolution pointed out, large-scale industry was developed which - among other things - laid the basis for the defeat of fascism, thereby saving the whole of humanity from unprecedented tyranny and genocide. There were massive advances in education and culture. The frontiers of science were extended in dramatic fashion; sweeping improvements in health, housing and social services transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Women threw off many of the shackles forged by feudal and religious customs and beliefs. Whole peoples acquired a written culture and national consciousness as the Tsarist `prison-house of nations' was demolished. Around the world, peoples struggling for national liberation and against imperialism received invaluable assistance from the Socialist community.

    Were we to draw up a balance sheet, the positive features of the socialist experience would far outweigh the negative ones. But we must learn the lessons from the problems, the mistakes and the reasons for the downfall.

    Communists can learn from going back to Marxist-Leninist basics, provided we do so in a Marxist-Leninist way: critically and analytically.

    In particular, the last writings of Lenin on bureaucracy, co-operation and the national question will repay study. Much of what Lenin said and wrote is enormously instructive and perceptive. For example, he urged a combination of boldness and careful training to overcome bureaucratic inertia - the party's Central Committee should be at least doubled in size by the election of new members who 'must be people closer to being rank-and-file workers and peasants'; in addition, between 75 and 100 workers and peasants should be elected to the Central Control Commission, and given sweeping powers to check the work of party and state officials at the highest level.

    It is significant that Lenin's solution to problems of bureaucratic conservatism, careerism and party leadership manoeuvring began with a turn to the working people and their most advanced sections.

    But even in Lenin's prescriptions, might there not also have been the seeds of future mistakes? For instance, when he proposed the merger of a part of the party's apparatus - the Central Control Commission -.with a section of the state apparatus (the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate), was he departing from what should have been an inviolable principle in all but the most exceptional circumstances, namely the separation of party and state machinery?

    When he advocated federalism but emphasised the role that 'party authority' should play in holding the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics together - should he not have foreseen the danger of a form of Great Russian chauvinism emerging under this pretext?

    These questions and this analysis are presented in a spirit of Marxist-Leninist inquiry. Having defeated revisionism in the Communist Party in Britain in the recent past, we stand firm in our commitment to socialist revolution.

    There endures an international Communist movement of which the Communist Party of Britain is proud to be a part: we have comradely relations with more than 60 working class parties and national liberation movements around the world, including the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. We each have our own ruling class to overthrow - but we are aware of the important role that international solidarity plays in the economic and political class struggle.

    We are confident that the Communist and workers' parties can and must play the leading role in making the 21st century the one in which socialism finally triumphs over moribund, corrupt, anti-human and anti-planet capitalism. *

    Robert Griffiths
    General Secretary
    Communist Party of Britain
    September 1998


     

    Assessing the Collapse of the Soviet Union

    Resolution of the Reconvened 41st Congress of the
    Communist Party of Britain, November 1992

    THE COMMUNIST PARTY of Britain rejects the view that the collapse of the Soviet Union shows that socialism itself has failed and is no longer relevant to the solution of the many problems facing the people of the world today.

    Although recognising the failures of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Communists in Britain must also be self-critical. They failed to analyse critically developments taking place in the Soviet Union since the October Revolution, and the analysis in this resolution is therefore an essential contribution to developing the struggle for socialism in Britain itself.

    The root cause of the collapse lay in the particular forms of economic and political structure which developed in the Soviet Union. Specifically, the great mass of working people came to be progressively excluded from any direct control over their economic and social destiny. This erosion of the very essence of socialism increasingly affected all aspects of Soviet society.

    This Soviet system was gradually elaborated in the course of tackling the very difficult problems of building socialism in a backward country, surrounded by hostile imperialist forces, which on two occasions led to the Soviet Union being plunged into devastating wars - the war of intervention immediately following the revolution, and the Second World War, which was followed by the defence burden of the Cold War period.

    The effects of encirclement by hostile imperialist forces cannot be underestimated. The problems this caused for the Soviet Union -diplomatically, militarily, politically, culturally, and above all economically - were immense. The 'siege mentality' provoked by this encirclement was a powerful factor in giving rise to wrong political and economic policies.

    Many problems could have been overcome had the Soviet Union, in accordance with the principles of Marxism-Leninism, freely admitted errors and shortcomings and at all stages, when difficulties and set-backs occurred, consulted with the Soviet people and involved them in working out solutions.
     
    It is possible that the collapse of the Soviet Union which eventually took place could have been avoided had the right measures been taken in time.

    Historical Roots of the Crisis

    CERTAINLY it cannot be denied that a latent crisis was developing before 1985. Growth rates, while still remaining positive, fell dramatically from 1960 to 1980. The technological gap between the Soviet Union and the West grew enormously.

    The Soviet Union showed itself increasingly unable to seize the opportunities presented by the scientific and technological revolution, particularly in the crucial sphere of information technology.

    From the late 1920s onwards, decisions began to be made which took Soviet society down a road leading to the violation, in important respects, of socialist and democratic principles. The main effects of this can be summarised as follows:

    · There was an excessive centralisation of political power, which in effect eroded the rights of the elected soviets. This was accompanied by restrictions on democratic rights.

    There was state repression against all who refused to conform. Law-breaking became endemic, seen particularly in widespread corruption, nepotism and the bcrimes of the Stalin period, especially during the purges.

    * Bureaucratic commands replaced economic levers as an instrument of planning. Everything was subordinated to this highly centralised system of management, stifling individual initiative.

    · Industry and commerce were nationalised down to the smallest enterprise, though within the collective farms their members were allocated individual plots for producing vegetables, fruit and milk with their own labour.

    Inevitably this situation gave rise to an extensive shadow economy, including a black market.

    · The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was integrated into the state. The leading role of the Party was written into the state constitution instead of being won in the course of mobilising the people from the grass roots up. The Party's policies were given the force of law instead of having to be fought for in various forums and in elections.

    As a result, working class control and rule were distorted and eventually degenerated into the dictatorship of the Communist Party. In essence the Communist Party became the command centre of Soviet society, and lost its ability to act as a political party.

    This was accompanied by the erosion of the Party's democratic structures and their replacement by bureaucratic centralism.

    ·      The trade unions also became part of the administrative state structure. They became a vehicle for transmitting the wishes of the administrative system to the workers rather than their independent voice fighting for their interests against all-comers.

    ·         In the course of all this, Marxism-Leninism was reduced to a dogma justifying the status quo. Its creative, critical function which is so vital to understanding social development and therefore to solving the problems of building socialism, was effectively removed. It ceased to act as a science and became a dogma.

    All these defects within the Soviet system, taken together, meant that serious obstacles were placed in the way of developing democracy in its fullest sense.

    People were not involved in decision-making at every level in the way they should have been. Important decisions were frequently taken by small groups.

    It must be recognised that a high level of arms was needed to meet the threat from the capitalist powers, which was not sufficiently countered by the world peace movement.

    The arms race led by the United States had two aims: to turn back socialism by the threat or use of arms, and to compel the Soviet Union to channel massive resources into its arms programme. In effect this diverted resources away from civilian needs, including consumer goods. The unfavourable comparison with the West which this created and which took no account of the way the West exploited the Third World, contributed to undermining confidence in socialism among sections of the Soviet population.

    In total, the diversion of resources into arms undermined the key task of creating a modern economy on which the defence capability of any state must ultimately depend.

    Furthermore, it created within the command system a very powerful network of bureaucratic interest groups, straddling industry, the scientific community and the military establishment. Clearly, this helped to strengthen the whole bureaucratic administrative structure on which the Soviet Union's system of socialism had become based.

    Theoretically, the working people of the Soviet -Union owned everything. But in fact they were the masters of very little. Society was actually run by an elite, issuing orders from the top down. Inevitably, working people became passive. All that was required of them was to implement orders handed down from on high. Independent thought and action which might come into conflict with this bureaucratic hierarchy was unwelcome. It could land people in trouble. Conformism was the way to the top.

    Such a system, which placed a premium on the safe, conservative approach, ossified socialist society and emptied it of its dynamism. The failure of the system to continue to meet the expectations of the people, the stagnation and fall in living standards and the lack of any effective means to influence events, inevitably led to people looking for other ways to solve their problems.

    This is one of the causes of the growth of nationalism, a belief in many of the republics that they would be better off on their own. It has fed on the ethnic, national and religious feelings which have always existed but which did not emerge as a crucial organised force so long as Soviet society was developing. It is now clear that the strength of these feelings was totally underestimated by communists, and that not enough was done, ideologically and politically, to accommodate them within the socialist system.

    The ending of Tsarist national oppression, and the great advances made in national liberation since the 1917 revolution is being played down, particularly by some demagogues who now use the genuine national and ethnic aspirations that exist to extend their power.

    This is not to deny what was achieved in the Soviet Union. Large-scale industry was developed. There were massive advances in education, and a cultural revolution which changed the face of what had been a very backward country. The development of the Soviet Union's scientific potential is beyond question. In health, housing and social services big steps forward were recorded.

    The Soviet Union made a tremendous impact on the movement for national liberation against imperialism in the world. Its role in supporting the anti-colonial movement and in the fight for peace is beyond dispute.

    But the fact remains that the defects in the Soviet system sapped socialism of its strength within the Soviet Union.


     

    The Failure of Perestroika

    PERESTROIKA set out to break out of this impasse. Its approach was based on democratisation and the combination of socialist planning with market mechanisms. The idea was to release the initiative of the people, to make them the real masters of society, to restore dynamism to socialism.

    But reforming socialism when it had become as ossified as in the Soviet Union, could not be an easy task.

    Management cadres, used to working in the old way and fearful of their future and loss of privileges, were bound to be resistant to change. Yet they occupied the commanding heights of the economy, the state, the Party, the trade unions, all aspects of society.

    The Party and the trade unions were also instruments of the command system, and had ossified along with it.

    Yet any reform movement would need these as instruments of change, as a means of mobilising the working people, a difficult enough task in itself because they had been reduced to passivity by the claustrophobic conformism of the command system.

    The possibility has to be faced that the model of socialism in the Soviet Union may have passed the point of no return. Reform may have been impossible.

    There may have been general agreement on the need for reform at the beginning, and some important steps towards democratisation were taken. But as soon as the reform had to be translated into concrete measures which would have cut deep and challenged the nomenklatura's privileges and power, the conservatism and inertia in Soviet society reasserted itself as it did in previous attempts at reform.

    For Perestroika was not the first attempt. Khruschev tried to introduce reforms in the late 1950s. Kosygin tried again in 1965, with a reasonably well-worked out plan of reform in the economic field.

    But both failed in the face of the conservatism and inertia which had become built-in features of Soviet society.

    The contradiction in Soviet society between its authoritarian form and its socialist content, which required the widest expansion of democracy into all spheres of social life, had become intractable. Perestroika tried to deal with this contradiction on a broader front than Khruschev and Kosygin. But the problems arising from it were too many and too deep. This is the basic reason for the failure of Perestroika.                                    ‑

    Without the fullest co-operation of the leading cadres in the Party and in the management of the state and the economy (i.e. the nomenklatura), the majority of whom were in practice resistant to change, it became impossible to work out a detailed programme for reform, let alone implement reform in any consistent way.

    As a result a confused situation developed, characterised by prevarication, abrupt changes of policy, and the taking of measures without adequate preparation or consideration for their consequences.

    Thus, in the economy Perestroika disrupted established links, but failed to replace them by new ones based on a more flexible planning system and the use of market mechanisms.

    This is not as easy a thing to do as some imagine. It cannot be done overnight, yet it is extremely difficult to have a transition period between the old and the new, with elements of both co-existing and in constant contradiction, the one weakening the effectiveness of the other.

    In the political sphere the old party-state structures were broken down, but there were no properly functioning political organisations, including the Party itself, with their own democratically-decided policies, with which to replace them.

    The position was further aggravated by the way in which the dogmatisation of Marxism-Leninism had stunted the development of political understanding and creative socialist thought at all levels in the Soviet Union, leaving the door wide open to false ideas about the supposed advantages of private ownership and the so-called 'free' market.

    The capitalist option, which this presupposed, was eventually embraced by key elements of the nomenklatura who saw it as protecting their privileged position - which any process of reform within a socialist context would be bound to threaten.

    Without a mass political movement based on the working people and led by a Communist Party armed with a clear perspective for reform, neither of which existed nor could so because of the ossification of the Party and the trade unions, the pressure for this capitalist development became irresistible and descent into chaos became almost inevitable.

    In the absence of this mass popular movement and of a united Party committed to reform, Gorbachev became involved in manoeuvring between different sections of the elite, seeking to find a consensus for a programme of reform.

    This involved making compromises which increasingly moved in the direction of accepting privatisation, and although these compromises were never implemented, they played into the hands of the growing numbers within the nomenklatura who were opting for a capitalist solution.

    In this latter phase, Gorbachev himself moved increasingly towards accepting privatisation and aspects of the so-called 'free' market philosophy, though he favoured the longer time-scale in achieving any change in that direction.

    His total commitment to the preservation of the Union, combined with an underestimation of nationalist feelings in the republics, meant that he did not act quickly enough in working out a new federative structure acceptable to the republics and capable of defusing the ethnic conflicts which were already taking place.

    As the situation developed, many within the nomenklatura, who were by now opting for a capitalist development, combined this with playing the nationalist card, adding to the difficulties of working out a new federative structure.

    The undemocratic and adventurist coup [of August 1991], about which the full circumstances are as yet unclear, was the final debacle. But it is important to notice that the coup leaders - all nomenklatura members and former allies of Gorbachev - were also in favour of extensive privatisation. Their main concern was the preservation of the Union.

    The failed coup helped the 'reformers' to speed up the process of disintegration, and Gorbachev's resignation from the CPSU, together with his subsequent part in the banning of the Party, was an act of betrayal.

    The processes leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union also operated within the other socialist regimes in Europe aligned with it, and led to their disintegration. There are a number of reasons for this. These countries arose in special circumstances out of the ashes of the Second World War. They were liberated by the Red Army and in most cases were not based on strong, organised and experienced working class movements. the Communist Parties in these countries were mostly inexperienced. Inevitably, they were very dependent on the Soviet Union for aid in building their devastated economies, and their organisation and control were patterned on the Soviet model. Their economies became tied, to a 'greater or lesser extent, to the Soviet Union, and suffered from the same type of weakness that led to the Soviet crisis.

    Of crucial importance was the fact that the Communist Parties in these countries also modelled themselves on the Soviet Communist Party. There was the same integration of the Party with the state, the growth of the ruling bureaucracy, the alienation of the Party and the state from the working class, and democratic rights were severely limited. There was the additional problem that, given their geographical position, the Western capitalist powers could more easily influence events taking place within them. The consequence of all this was that as the crisis developed in the Soviet Union, it began to trigger off similar developments in the other European socialist countries.

    While the present situation is unresolved, the dominant political trend in Eastern Europe is toward the restoration of capitalism and the destruction of the many positive gains of socialism. However, the success of this counter-revolutionary process is by no means inevitable. While the anti-socialist forces are seeking to obliterate all vestiges of social ownership, they have not as yet succeeded in creating relatively stable capitalist economies.

    The emergence of mass unemployment, price rises, and attacks on welfare and pension rights have created enormous social tensions in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere.

    The anti-communist decrees and the commandeering of former CPSU property make an effective fight-back by pro-socialist forces in the former Soviet Union very difficult, and this problem is aggravated by political and ideological differences within the left-wing opposition itself.

    There is great need for communists and other progressives in Britain to show their solidarity with trade unionists and socialists in the former USSR, and for channels to opened up which would enable discussions to take place with them and to exchange information.

    The lesson to be learned from the history of Soviet society since the mid-1920s onward is that socialism and democracy are inseparable. Democracy is not an added extra, but is integral to socialism.


     

    Learning The Lessons

    Socialism is about raising living standards. But it is about more than that. It is about gaining for working people control of their own destiny. It is about overcoming alienation. It is inseparable from the fight for democracy. Indeed, without these there can be no sustained rise in living standards.

    it has to be recognised that because they saw the way in which the imperialists were seeking to undermine and isolate the Soviet Union over many decades, communists carried their support of the USSR to the point where they defended many aspects of Soviet life and policy which, with hindsight, were indefensible.

    The British Road to Socialism [the programme of the Communist Party of Britain] conceives a socialist economy as one in which the commanding heights of the economy are in public ownership. A capitalist economy, even with some nationalisation as in Britain, and controlled by economic levers in the interests of the capitalist transnationals, has patently failed to deal with unemployment and social welfare.

    These are the concepts of socialism espoused by The British Road to Socialism. It stands for the fullest respect for all human rights and freedoms.

    The fight for socialism, which it envisages, involves the intimate interplay between the struggle in Parliament and the mobilisation of the people outside through their political parties, trade unions and other democratic organisations. It means encouraging working people to participate fully in decision-making at every level, from the workplace to the locality, to the national, to the international.

    The fight for socialism is a long-term complex struggle to extend democracy to every sphere of political, economic and social life, including the state itself which has to become more responsive to the people's demands, open and fully accountable to them.

    This cannot be achieved except through policies which tackle the domination of our society by the giant capitalist transnationals. These oligarchic organisations stand in opposition to the democratic participation of the people and popular control. They exist to make profit and build up their own positions of power. They are the backbone of the present capitalist system which has failed to satisfy the needs of the peoples of the world.

    Some Communist Parties may have failed socialism. Capitalism has failed humanity!

    Download original pamphlet PDF

     

  • Battling the crisis

    STEVEN MARTIN reports from the final day of this year's Communist University.

    THE Communist University of Britain drew to a close on Sunday with a demand for a "people's charter" to offer answers to the economic crisis.

    On a day when experts announced that Britain has already been gripped by recession, top trade unionists and socialists warned that the country's workers face misery unless they fight to defend themselves.

  • We need a Marxism for the 21st century

    DELEGATES reaffirmed the need for a 21st century Marxist philosophy at the Communist University on Saturday.

    Communist Review editor Martin Levy said that the dawn of the Enlightenment of the 18th century had stemmed from the realisation that humanity could control nature.

  • Capitalism can be beaten, says Irish Communist Party leader

    COMMUNIST Party of Ireland general secretary Eugene McCartan told attendees at the Communist University of Britain 08, on Saturday that "resistance to capitalism is growing and it is beginning to look like it can be defeated."

    The present capitalist crisis was the hot topic at the third plenary of the Communist University, with a broad panel of speakers discussing its roots and how the labour and communist movement should respond.

  • US communist backs Obama's 'grass-roots election campaign'

    US Communist Party national committee member Sue Webb rejected the argument that there was little to choose between Democratic candidate Barack Obama and Republican John McCain at the Communist University on Saturday.

    Ms Webb said that there were many progressive democrats in the US congress who work with communists and trade unionists.

  • Women issue call to arms for liberation

    JAMES TWEEDIE reports from the opening rally at this year's Communist University of Britain

    WOMEN from around the world opened the fifth annual Communist University of Britain at the weekend with a call to arms for women's liberation.

    Leading representatives from Ireland, Iran and the US joined figures from the British trade union movement and Young Communists for the opening Rally for Liberation on a number of important anniversaries for the feminist movement.

    The fifth Communist University was on the theme of "Fighting for bread and roses too," which was coined by demonstrating women workers in the US in 1908.

  • What direction for the left? Discuss.

    ANDY GOODALL previews the Communist University, where progressives can debate the issues of today.

    WITH the US presidential ballot only weeks away, people across the world will be considering the implications of the result.

    Would president John McCain be an improvement on George W Bush? Would he step up US military intervention in the Middle East and elsewhere or follow a less aggressive foriegn policy?

  • Don't bail out the Fat Cats!

     

    The Communist Party will be supporting the protest called by the London Shop Stewards’ Network at the Bank of England on Monday.
  • Stop the Great Fuel Robbery

    PRICES UP! PROFITS UP! DIRECTORS SALARIES UP! FAT CAT PENSIONS UP! SHARE DIVIDENDS UP!

    And who's paying for it all?

    YOU!

    Privatisation of our gas & electricity companies have been a giant rip off. Electricity prices have risen by as much as a QUARTER in 2008 while gas prices have rocketed up by as much as a HALF. That's at least TEN TIMES the average increase in wages, benefits and pensions.

    Yet the Big Six monopolies which control the market are making record profits—£4.3 billion in 2007.

    They claim they need the money for investment. But they paid £1,813 million—nearly half—of those profits to their shareholders in dividends.

    And the monopolies are still raking it in. Centrica made £992 million profit in the first half of 2008. Dividends went up by 16%, five times more than wages.
    The Communist Party says

    ITS TIME TO TAME THE FAT CATS

    LET’S NAIL THE LIES!
    LIE: Gas and electricity prices have to go up because wholesale prices have gone up.

    FACT: Wholesale prices were LOWER in July and August 2008, when retail prices went up for the second time in six months, than in early 2006.

    LIE: Britain has to import more gas and European markets are over-charging us.

    FACT: Due to under-investment in storage, British gas is sold to Europe and bought back later at higher prices. Even so, imports only account for 15% of home usage.

    Most gas suppliers are also gas producers. They charge themselves higher prices—and pass them on to us at extra profit.

    LIE: The New Labour government and regulators Ofgem can't do anything to stop the rip-off.
    The Communist Party says:

    FREEZE GAS AND ELECTRICITY PRICES at their January 2008 level. The French government has capped gas rises at 5% & electricity at 2%.

    END THE SURCHARGE ON PRE-PAY METER USERS who pay up to 20% extra.

    PUT A WINDFALL TAX ON MONOPOLY SUPER-PROFITS.
    Invest it in cheaper energy including solar power.

    TAKE GAS AND ELECTRICITY INTO PUBLIC OWNERSHIP. Invest profits in generation and storage, not hand them to fat cat shareholders. 
    SIGN THE PETITION AGAINST THE GREAT FUEL ROBBERY

    Order your Publicity Material Now Images

    Download the PDF Petition

     

     

  • Communists denounce Darling's £500 billion bail-out of British banks

    "THE government's £500 billion bank rescue plan will do nothing to halt the economy's slide into recession," the Communist Party declared on Thursday.

    "Nor will it resolve the banking crisis, since recession is shrinking bank assets faster than government subsidisation."

  • A call for arms

    CallForArms'A call for arms' , a pamphlet by the legendary Communist leader, Harry Pollitt, well illustrates the energy that the Party gave to the anti-fascist struggle in the war years when Britain, the USA and the Soviet Union were allies in a common struggle. Every effort was made to maximise arms production, so as to enable Allied activity on the 'Second Front', that’s to say a invasion of France, so as to relive the 'First Front' of the Red Army’s Herculean struggle with Hitler’s forces in eastern Europe.

  • Metal worker

    MetalWorkerThe `Metal worker’ was a rank and file journal of shop stewards in the engineering and aircraft industry, originally just for the latter industry and first called the Propellor. All the main activists were Communist Party members and the associated shop stewards’ body, the Engineering and Allied Trades Shop Stewards’ National Council became a powerful force during and after the Second World War.

  • Blaid Gomiwnyddol’

    WelshCMIdris Cox’s translation of the 1848 `Manifesto of the Communist Party’, `Maniffesto'r Blaid Gomiwnyddol’, was published by the Welsh Committee of the Communist Party in 1948. Cox was a self-educated miner and life-long Communist from 1924. He was the leading Party official in Wales at the time of the publication of this pamphlet and was a keen supporter of Communists adopting a positive attitude to Welsh national issues. In 1950, Cox was the Party’s representative on the first unity campaign committee for a Parliament for Wales. Idris Cox (1899-1989) went on to be the Party’s International Secretary for many years, working with the leaders and soon-to-be leaders of many liberation movements in the British Empire.

  • Coventry and Stalingrad

    CoventryStalingradStrong ties were formed between Coventry and Stalingrad during a difficult time in the war against fascism when the Soviet city represented the only real resitance to the seeming unstoppability of Nazi aggression. One million Soviet citizens died in the defence of the city, Coventry had been blitzed by Nazi bombers, to the extent that Goering, the chief of the Gernam Luftwaffe, said he had coined a new word `Coventration’.

    This badge shows the degree of Anglo-Soviet friendship in Coventry, thousands of workers in factories signed up to the Anglo-Soviet Unity Committee. An individual member's card showed the hammer and sickle against Coventry's famous Three Spires. Delegates were appointed by all the local political parties – headed by a proud Coventry Communist Party - and by the Chamber of Commerce, the Engineering Employers' Federation, the Trades Council and nine trade unions, the Co-op and its Women's Guilds, the Business and Professional Women's Club and many others. The Mayor was president; nine councillors and the town clerk were members.

    Much of the committee's work was focused on appeals for medical aid for the Red Army. Exhibitions were organised depicting life in the USSR. Concerts, dances, flag-days and street parades were held and the London Philharmonic Orchestra played. Soviet films were shown in schools and at the Opera House. The crates of parcels for the Soviet troops were a record for any town in Britain: the Town Hall overflowed with them. Apart from toys, books and much else, the schools collected in two months enough to provide a mobile X-ray unit of their own. A flag-day was organised and enormous sums of money raised in factories.

    Packed meetings greeted a series of celebrated speakers, including Ludmilla Pavlichenko, Soviet riflewoman and holder of the Order of Lenin, and Madame Maisky (the wife of the Soviet Ambassador), who brought a message signed by 36,000 women of Stalingrad.

  • The Next Step

    TheNextStepTo understanding the significance of this pamphlet, it is necessary to start with the fact that the Communist International was a world federation of Communist Parties, a world party. Like any party, it had its leadership, an executive committee. This is a report of one of the side sessions.

    The 12th Enlarged Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI), held in Moscow from August 27th to September 15th 1932, was attended by 38 voting and 136 speaking delegates. A `plenum’ was a full meeting of the EC and this meeting was extended to observers, given the importance of the event.

    The Plenum was opened by Ernst Thälmann, leader of the German Party and sessions focused on the international situation and the tasks of the Communist Parties, the struggles of the unemployed, which had propelled Communists in all developed countries into positions of leadership in mass movements and the construction of socialism in the USSR.

    It was the practice in ECCI sessions for groupings of Communist Parties in sub-regions to come together to give reports, at which segments of the EC would attend, to consider the situation on the ground in specific countries or sub-regions. This pamphlet contains the speeches and reports given by the leaders of the British, Irish and American Communist Parties to such a session.

  • People's Convention Movement

    PeoplesConventionDespite being generally known to history as a Communist Party campaign, the People's Convention Movement was actually kicked off by the Hammersmith Labour Party and Trades Council in July 1940. led by Denis Noel Pritt, a recently expelled Labour MP, the PCM did however have policies that largely coincided with those of the Communist Party.

    This was the period known as the `phoney war’, Britain and Germany didn’t seem to be doing much fighting and Hitler had yet to attack the Soviet Union. What was the war for? It seemed that ordinary people would have to shoulder all the burdens, with their homes being bombed and little shelter being provided. It was even the Communist Party – not the government or even Labour or the TUC – that proposed that the London Underground should be used as shelters. Businessmen seemed to be creaming off profits from suddenly very expensive foodstuffs. The government, meanwhile, was dominated by the Tories, the same people who had spent the 1930s ignoring unemployment and encouraging Hitler to satisfy his expansionist aims by looking to the fertile plains of Soviet Russia. So, what were the aims of the war? That was what galvanised support for the PCM and in the process the Communist Party, too.

    The actual Convention that gave the movement it title eventually came together in January 1941. Some 2,000 delegates representing over a million workers attended, yet only a couple of weeks later, the Daily Worker (predecessor of the Morning Star) was banned for saying some of these things. A plan to intern Communist Party members was even put in place. Despite this, the Convention movement grew apace all around the country. But Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in the middle of 1941, saw a big change in the situation. The Communist Party now threw its weight behind production for war and the Convention movement followed.

  • London Communists in the Second World War

    BombersOverLondonTed Bramley, the leader of the London Communists in the Second World War, exemplifies the spirit of working class Londoners, especially in the East End, who braved the Nazi blitz on the capital. Bramley gives an example of a railwayman and Communist Party member, a G MacCullough (does anyone out there know his first name?) who was awarded a bravery medal for his heroism.

    MacCollough single-handedly rescued many hundreds of people trapped at Sloane Square underground station after it was totally destroyed by German bombers in a ten-hour raid. A large concrete fragment landed on the roof of a carriage of a departing train, injuring 79 people. The Communist hero cut through girders with an oxy-acetylene torch, at great personal risk, to secure everybody’s rescue.

  • Harworth Men Make History

    HarworthMenThis pamphlet from the Nottingham Communist Party, represents the story of one of the more illustrious events in the history of the county's mineworkers. A consequence of the long lockout of miners that followed the General Strike was the formation of a breakaway scab county union, led by the Nottinghamshire miners' official George Spencer. This `Nottingham and District Miners' Industrial Union' gained support from the coal owners. But rank-and-file hatred of the 'Spencer Union' was so great that the breakaway in Nottinghamshire could only proceed by the virtual outlawing of the official miners' union. Even then, despite the intense repression, some 20 per cent of Notts miners stuck loyally in opposition to company unionism.

    This struggle came to a head in 1936 at Harworth Colliery, where the Notts Miners' Association members came out on strike for recognition of the genuinely independent miners' union. Their strike lasted six months, during which time they and their families endured arrest, police harassment, evictions from their homes by the pit bosses and violent intimidation from company thugs.

    When it was over, Harworth's branch president and leading Communist, Mick Kane, was charged with leading a riot (when it had been the police that had turned on the men) and sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour. Kane's steadfastness and dignity brought him and the Harworth men massive support from within the British trade union movement and furthered the growing isolation and loss of membership of the Spencer breakaway.

    Talks on a reconciliation between the two Notts bodies began in 1936 but when the national miners' federation put the question to a ballot vote (illustrated on the cover of this pamphlet), the NMA's membership overwhelmingly rejected it! Even so, a deal was eventually done so that Spencer to become President of the Nottinghamshire Miners within the MFGB in May 1937.

  • What is the United Front?

    WhatIsTheUnitedFront

    The United Front was a call to all workers and their organisations to stand together in common alliance against capitalism.

    The Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) adopted the united front call at its the December 1921 session, as a response to the fading of a wave of revolutionary consciousness that had particularly swept Europe from 1919. Despite the enormous popularity of Communists in some countries, the movement was, overall, not yet a majority in the working class and capitalism seemed now to be once again on the offensive.

    The United Front had first been successfully applied in Germany, where uniting socialists of all kinds of stripes had proved to be very powerful. In Britain, the Labour Party had rejected Communist Party affiliation yet it was understood by ECCI that "peculiar circumstances” applied here. It was important not to accept this setback, since the Labour Party “is a kind of general workers’ association for the entire country". Labour movement unity in Britain therefore would take the form of an even broader appeal to the whole organised working class with a special focus on trade unions. Subsequently, the Communist Party focused on united front work in the National Left Wing Movement and the National Minority Movement, in the Labour Party and in the unions respectively. So successful was this work that ECCI held up the British Party as a model to watch to other sections of the International.

  • Communist parliamentary policy and electoral programme

    Cover of booklet entitled 'Communist parliamentary policy and electoral programme'. Cover of booklet entitled 'Communist parliamentary policy and electoral programme'.
  • Neo-Liberalism to blame for 'credit crunch'

    Commenting on the crisis of capitalism and the economic and political reaction of recent weeks, Carolyn Jones, speaking at the Communist Party’s executive committee, rejected the attempts, by neo-liberal apologists to suggest that the crisis was a one-off problem due to specific global circumstances.

    ‘As communists we need to reinforce that the crisis reflects the inherent weaknesses in capitalism. This is a capitalist disease and there is a cure. Lets start with socialism and unite around our alternative left wing programme,’ she declared.

  • Election address of the Communist Party

    'The Communist Party on Trial: Communist Party pamphlets


     Cover of booklet entitled 'The Communist Party on Trial: Wm. Gallacher's defence and Judge Rigby Swift's summing up' published by the Communist Party in 1926. 
     
      
     

     

     

     

    CrawfordAddressElection address of the Communist Party candidate, Helen Crawfurd, for the Govan ward in the Glasgow municipal election of November 1921.

    more...
     
     
     
     
     
     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    CommunistElectionProgramme1922Cover of booklet entitled 'Communist parliamentary policy and electoral programme'. 
     
     
     
     
     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    WhatIsTheUnitedFront1922_hi.jpgCover of Communist Party booklet 'What is the United Front?' 
     
     
     
     
     

     

     

     

    HarworthMen'Harworth Men Make History' pamphlet from the Nottingham Communist Party

    This pamphlet from the Nottingham Communist Party, represents the story of one of the more illustrious events in the history of the county's mineworkers. A consequence of the long lockout of miners that followed the General Strike was the formation of a breakaway scab county union, led by the Nottinghamshire miners' official George Spencer. This `Nottingham and District Miners' Industrial Union' gained support from the coal owners. But rank-and-file hatred of the 'Spencer Union' was so great that the breakaway in Nottinghamshire could only proceed by the virtual outlawing of the official miners' union. Even then, despite the intense repression, some 20 per cent of Notts miners stuck loyally in opposition to company unionism.

    This struggle came to a head in 1936 at Harworth Colliery, where the Notts Miners' Association members came out on strike for recognition of the genuinely independent miners' union. Their strike lasted six months, during which time they and their families endured arrest, police harassment, evictions from their homes by the pit bosses and violent intimidation from company thugs.

    When it was over, Harworth's branch president and leading Communist, Mick Kane, was charged with leading a riot (when it had been the police that had turned on the men) and sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour. Kane's steadfastness and dignity brought him and the Harworth men massive support from within the British trade union movement and furthered the growing isolation and loss of membership of the Spencer breakaway.

    Talks on a reconciliation between the two Notts bodies began in 1936 but when the national miners' federation put the question to a ballot vote (illustrated on the cover of this pamphlet), the NMA's membership overwhelmingly rejected it! Even so, a deal was eventually done so that Spencer to become President of the Nottinghamshire Miners within the MFGB in May 1937.

    more...
     
     
     
     
     
     Bombers over London

    Ted Bramley, the leader of the London Communists in the Second World War, exemplifies the spirit of working class Londoners, especially in the East End, who braved the Nazi blitz on the capital. Bramley gives an example of a railwayman and Communist Party member, a G MacCullough (does anyone out there know his first name?) who was awarded a bravery medal for his heroism. MacCollough single-handedly rescued many hundreds of people trapped at Sloane Square underground station after it was totally destroyed by German bombers in a ten-hour raid. A large concrete fragment landed on the roof of a carriage of a departing train, injuring 79 people. The Communist hero cut through girders with an oxy-acetylene torch, at great personal risk, to secure everybody’s rescue.


     The People’s Convention 1940-1

    Despite being generally known to history as a Communist Party campaign, the People's Convention Movement was actually kicked off by the Hammersmith Labour Party and Trades Council in July 1940. led by Denis Noel Pritt, a recently expelled Labour MP, the PCM did however have policies that largely coincided with those of the Communist Party.

    This was the period known as the `phoney war’, Britain and Germany didn’t seem to be doing much fighting and Hitler had yet to attack the Soviet Union. What was the war for? It seemed that ordinary people would have to shoulder all the burdens, with their homes being bombed and little shelter being provided. It was even the Communist Party – not the government or even Labour or the TUC – that proposed that the London Underground should be used as shelters. Businessmen seemed to be creaming off profits from suddenly very expensive foodstuffs. The government, meanwhile, was dominated by the Tories, the same people who had spent the 1930s ignoring unemployment and encouraging Hitler to satisfy his expansionist aims by looking to the fertile plains of Soviet Russia. So, what were the aims of the war? That was what galvanised support for the PCM and in the process the Communist Party, too.

    The actual Convention that gave the movement it title eventually came together in January 1941. Some 2,000 delegates representing over a million workers attended, yet only a couple of weeks later, the Daily Worker (predecessor of the Morning Star) was banned for saying some of these things. A plan to intern Communist Party members was even put in place. Despite this, the Convention movement grew apace all around the country. But Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in the middle of 1941, saw a big change in the situation. The Communist Party now threw its weight behind production for war and the Convention movement followed.


     
     
     
     
     
     The XII Plenum of ECCI - `The Next Step in Britain, Ireland and the USA’

    To understanding the significance of this pamphlet, it is necessary to start with the fact that the Communist International was a world federation of Communist Parties, a world party. Like any party, it had its leadership, an executive committee. This is a report of one of the side sessions.

    The 12th Enlarged Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI), held in Moscow from August 27th to September 15th 1932, was attended by 38 voting and 136 speaking delegates. A `plenum’ was a full meeting of the EC and this meeting was extended to observers, given the importance of the event.

    The Plenum was opened by Ernst Thälmann, leader of the German Party and sessions focused on the international situation and the tasks of the Communist Parties, the struggles of the unemployed, which had propelled Communists in all developed countries into positions of leadership in mass movements and the construction of socialism in the USSR.

    It was the practice in ECCI sessions for groupings of Communist Parties in sub-regions to come together to give reports, at which segments of the EC would attend, to consider the situation on the ground in specific countries or sub-regions. This pamphlet contains the speeches and reports given by the leaders of the British, Irish and American Communist Parties to such a session. 
     
     
     
     
     Coventry Anglo-Soviet Unity Committee

    Strong ties were formed between Coventry and Stalingrad during a difficult time in the war against fascism when the Soviet city represented the only real resitance to the seeming unstoppability of Nazi aggression. One million Soviet citizens died in the defence of the city, Coventry had been blitzed by Nazi bombers, to the extent that Goering, the chief of the Gernam Luftwaffe, said he had coined a new word `Coventration’.

    This badge shows the degree of Anglo-Soviet friendship in Coventry, thousands of workers in factories signed up to the Anglo-Soviet Unity Committee. An individual member's card showed the hammer and sickle against Coventry's famous Three Spires. Delegates were appointed by all the local political parties – headed by a proud Coventry Communist Party - and by the Chamber of Commerce, the Engineering Employers' Federation, the Trades Council and nine trade unions, the Co-op and its Women's Guilds, the Business and Professional Women's Club and many others. The Mayor was president; nine councillors and the town clerk were members.

    Much of the committee's work was focused on appeals for medical aid for the Red Army. Exhibitions were organised depicting life in the USSR. Concerts, dances, flag-days and street parades were held and the London Philharmonic Orchestra played. Soviet films were shown in schools and at the Opera House. The crates of parcels for the Soviet troops were a record for any town in Britain: the Town Hall overflowed with them. Apart from toys, books and much else, the schools collected in two months enough to provide a mobile X-ray unit of their own. A flag-day was organised and enormous sums of money raised in factories.

    Packed meetings greeted a series of celebrated speakers, including Ludmilla Pavlichenko, Soviet riflewoman and holder of the Order of Lenin, and Madame Maisky (the wife of the Soviet Ambassador), who brought a message signed by 36,000 women of Stalingrad.  
     
     
     
     
     The Communist Manifesto - in Welsh

    Idris Cox’s translation of the 1848 `Manifesto of the Communist Party’, `Maniffesto'r Blaid Gomiwnyddol’, was published by the Welsh Committee of the Communist Party in 1948. Cox was a self-educated miner and life-long Communist from 1924. He was the leading Party official in Wales at the time of the publication of this pamphlet and was a keen supporter of Communists adopting a positive attitude to Welsh national issues. In 1950, Cox was the Party’s representative on the first unity campaign committee for a Parliament for Wales. Idris Cox (1899-1989) went on to be the Party’s International Secretary for many years, working with the leaders and soon-to-be leaders of many liberation movements in the British Empire.


     
     
     
     
     The Metal Worker

    The `Metal worker’ was a rank and file journal of shop stewards in the engineering and aircraft industry, originally just for the latter industry and first called the Propellor. All the main activists were Communist Party members and the associated shop stewards’ body, the Engineering and Allied Trades Shop Stewards’ National Council became a powerful force during and after the Second World War.


     
     
     
     
     Call For Arms

    'A call for arms' , a pamphlet by the legendary Communist leader, Harry Pollitt, well illustrates the energy that the Party gave to the anti-fascist struggle in the war years when Britain, the USA and the Soviet Union were allies in a common struggle. Every effort was made to maximise arms production, so as to enable Allied activity on the 'Second Front', that’s to say a invasion of France, so as to relive the 'First Front' of the Red Army’s Herculean struggle with Hitler’s forces in eastern Europe.

  • Communists demand 'Policies for the People, not big business.'

    The Communist Party rejects the notion that the current economic and financial crisis is primarily the result of so-called 'sub-prime' mortgage lending to high risk homebuyers in the USA.

    While US corporate greed and war expenditure helped precipitate a credit crisis, the New Labour government and the financial monopolies in the City of London cannot escape responsibility for their policies.

  • 'The Communist Party on Trial:

    Communist Party on Trial: Wm. Gallacher's defence and Judge Rigby Swift's summing up' Cover of booklet entitled 'The Communist Party on Trial: Wm. Gallacher's defence and Judge Rigby Swift's summing up' published by the Communist Party in 1926.

  • Why nationalisation isn't socialism

    ROBERT GRIFFITHS explains why we shouldn't get too excited over the recent spate of nationalisation.

    LIKE the nationalisation of Northern Rock in Britain, US President George W Bush's plan to bail out Wall Street finance corporations to the tune of $700 billion has spread ideological confusion far and wide.

  • Yorkshire Communists Celebrate 'Red October'

    Red October PosterYorkshire activists from the Communist Party & Young Communist League are leading the way in the annual international celebrations of the Russian Revolution of 1917 by declaring ‘Red October’ throughout the region this month.

    The Party & YCL has worked with a variety of local progressive organisations to create a programme of public events to celebrate the 91st anniversary of the revolution, and to add some much-needed revolutionary heat to a dour Yorkshire winter.

    Events begin with a public meeting in Leeds at the Swarthmore Education Centre on the 1st October at 7pm, where Richard Burgon from Leeds Labour Party will be speaking about the current political crisis within Labour. Admission is free and all are welcome.

  • Gas & Electricty October Briefing Paper 2008

    Price rises in 2008

    Household gas and electricity prices have been rocketing this year, as the 'Big Six' which dominate the retail industry in Britain strive to maintain last year's record profits.

    All six of the monopolies announced massive above-inflation increases at the beginning of this year, with another round in the Autumn - most of them with more or less immediate effect (just in time for winter).

    Price increases announced 2008

     Company Gas Electricity
     Centrica (British Gas) 15% (Jan), 35% (July)  15% (Jan), 9% (July)
     Scottish & Southern (a)  16% (April) 29% (Aug)  14% (April) 19% (Aug)
     E.ON UK (Powergen) 15% (Feb), 26% (Aug)   10% (Feb), 16% (Aug)
     NPower (RWE) 17% (Jan), 12% (Sep)  13% (Jan), 7.5% (Sep)
     Scottish Power 15% (Feb), 34% (Sep)  14% (Feb), 9% (Sep)
     EDF Energy UK 13% (Jan), 22% (July) 8% (Jan), 17% (July)

    Note: (a) Parent company of Scottish Hydro, Southern and Swalec.

    The energy monopolies claim that their price rises are unavoidable because (1) wholesale prices of gas and electricity have risen substantially; and (2) they need extra profits for new investment.

    Two points can be made in reply. Firstly, wholesale prices have been no higher in 2008 than they were at the beginning of 2006, so why the need for huge increases in retail prices now? The table below indicates changes in wholesale prices and domestic bills (for gas and electricity combined) over the recent period. Wholesale energy prices have been falling since July this year:

     

     Wholesale gas (p per therm)

     Wholesale electricity (£ per Megawatt hour)

       Average annual household G&E bill

     Mar 06 peak

     80

     69

     £740

     Jun 07 trough

     20

     22

     £910

     Mar 08

     53

     56

     £1,030

     Aug 08

     38

     47

     £1,209

     

    It should also be noted that wholesale gas prices are tied to wholesale oil prices—although there is no reason why this is or should remain the case. In any event, the wholesale market price of oil is now declining rapidly.

    Will the gas suppliers cut their retail prices or withdraw the price rises? Also, all of the Big Six or their groups are involved in gas production or electricity generation, so they themselves are benefiting from wholesale price rises, the final cost of which is then dumped on householders.

    Secondly, new investment is funded from borrowing and share issues, not from current profits.

    In allowing all the price rises so far announced in 2008, the statutory regulator Ofgem has caved in to the greed of the energy monopolies. Yet it has the power to halt price rises. Our petition demands that the gas and electricity corporations restore retail prices to their levels at the beginning of January 2008.

    Even before this year's increases, gas prices in Britain had gone from being 15 per cent below the EU average in 2004 to 12 per cent above in 2007. Electricity went from 30 per cent below to 3 per cent above over the same period.

    In August 2008, the French government announced that electricity price rises would be capped at 2 per cent, and gas at 5 per cent. So French company EDF can make super-profits in Britain, while its profiteering is limited in France.

    Profits

    The Big Six made enormous profits in 2007. What did they do with them?—they handed nearly half of the loot to their shareholders:

     Company 2007 net profit (a)  dividends % of profit
     Centrica (British Gas) (b) £1,507m £417m 28
     Scottish & Southern £873m £503m 58
     E.ON UK (Powergen) £699m (c) £234m (d) 34
     NPower £545m £328m (e) 60
     Scottish Power £475m £221m (f) 47
     EDF Energy UK (g) £240m £110m 49
     TOTAL £4,339m £1,813m 42

     

    Notes: (a) after tax and depreciation; (b) the figures for the whole group are used, because the integration between their production, distribution and retail operations means that most of their profits are ultimately made at the expense of British consumers; (c) German group E.ON only publishes gross profit figures for its UK operation (Powergen before being taken over), so this is an estimate of the net figure after tax and depreciation; (d) dividends are payable to the group as a whole, so this is an estimate of the share of dividends generated by E.ON in the UK; (e) dividends are payable to German group RWE as a whole, sothis is an estimate as in (d); (f) dividends are payable to Spanish group Iberdrola as a whole, so this is an estimate as in (d) and (e); (g) owned by French state corporation Electricite de France.

    It should also be noted that many of the published figures for gas and electricity monopoly profits in Britain are under-estimates: they usually include only the British Gas share of Centrica profits, while excluding the British share of E.ON and Scottish Power/ Iberdrola profits.

     

    Although half-year operating profits for the biggest domestic supplier, Centrica/ BG, fell by 19 per cent to £992 million for the first half of 2008, this still represents a profit of £1,200 a minute. What the group lost in its retail sector (British Gas) profits it, almost completely made up for in production sector profits, shuffling money from the former to the latter. The two customer price rises this year should also ensure that shareholders will not go hungry. The average annual dual bill for Centrica/ British Gas customers has risen from £913 at the beginning of 2008 to £1,317 today—an increase of more than 40 per cent.

    Investment

    New investment is needed in Britain, not least because most of the Big Six have been under-investing in storage, production and generation capacity in order to enrich their shareholders. As a result, surplus North Sea gas has been sold on the European markets and then—when Britain could run short—is bought back at inflated prices which are then passed on to consumers. Germany has seven times more gas storage capacity than Britain and France 11 times more. Even so, imports only account for around 15-20 per cent of gas used in Britain (although set to rise sharply over coming years), and so even this is no excuse for most of the price rises here.

    Pre-pay meters

    It should also be noted that most of the Big Six impose substantially higher charges on pre-pay meter users:

    Average household annual gas bill (February 2008)

      Direct debit bill Standard Credit extra PP Meter extra
    Centrica (British Gas)  £588 +£68 +£124
    Scottish & Southern £501 +£32 +£78
    E.ON UK (Powergen) £603 +£19 +£73
    AVERAGE £590 +£38 +£67

     

    Average household annual electricity bill (February 2008)

      Direct debit bill Standard Credit extra PP Meter extra
    Centrica (British Gas)  £394 +£20 +£38
    NPower (RWE) £404 +£21 +£49
    Scottish Power £367 +£65 +£52
    AVERAGE £379 +£24 +£32

    Average household duel-fuel bill (February 2008)

      Direct debit bill Standard Credit extra PP Meter extra
    Centrica (British Gas)  £968 +£87 +£176
    E.ON UK (Powergen) £967 +£64 +£130
    NPower (RWE) £972 +£84 +£155
    AVERAGE £942 +£78 +£125

    There is no justification for this discrimination, as administrative costs are no higher, many of the meters were installed years ago by previous owners or the nationalised industry and require little if any maintenance, and the users enjoy little or no credit unlike quarterly payers. It is simply a case of the monopolies ripping of the most vulnerable. About 3.6 million electricity users (14 per cent) and 2.2 million gas users (10 per cent) now have meters, many in order to avoid disconnection. Pre-pay meter users tend to be people on low incomes, including one-third of the long-term sick or disabled, single parents and the unemployed; one-quarter of those dependent on welfare benefits; and one-in-eight of those wholly dependent on the state retirement pension.

    Fuel poverty

    'Fuel poverty' is defined as a household which spends more than 10 per cent of its income on fuel. At the beginning of 2008, about 3.8 million households were in this situation. According to consumer group Energywatch, the price rises between January and August 2008 increased this number by 660,000 to 4.5 million. It will reach 5 million by the end of this year. The New Labour government's target of abolishing fuel poverty for the 3 million most vulnerable households (the elderly, disabled, long-term sick and those with children) by 2010 looks further away than ever.

    The package of measures announced by the government on September 11 will make little or no difference. They include:

    • free house insulation for pensioners and 'poor households'
    • half-price insulation for other households
    • freeze on bills for 500,000 poorest customers
    • partial restoration of cuts in 'warm front' central heating provision for poorest pensioners
    • increase in cold weather payments for pensioners, disabled, and unemployed with children—if temperatures fall below zero for seven consecutive days this winter.

    Many people struggling with their bills will not qualify for much or any of this assistance. Many people already have cavity wall and/or loft installation—or cannot afford half the cost as required (ie., half of anywhere between £475 and £600).

     

    The utilities refused to pay more than £910 million to fund the package—less than 2 per cent of their 2007 profits. And contrary to government pleas not to pass on this cost to customers, chief executive David Porter of the Association of Energy Producers (which represents the Big Six) told the BBC on September 11: 'Someone has to pay for the green agenda ...' and while the companies would try and absorb the cost of the package 'because they have to', nonetheless 'it remains to be seen just how much of it ends up on the customers' bill in the long term'.

     

    Public ownership

    One of the arguments for privatising the gas and electricity industries in the late 1980s and early 1990s was that prices would be driven down by competition, as numerous private generators and suppliers replaced the two state monopolies. Britain would become a share-holding democracy as millions of investors climbed aboard the 'people's capitalism' bandwagon. Yet in fewer than 20 years, four-fifths of the gas and electricity industries have passed into the hands of just six transnational monopolies, four of which are based outside Britain. Scottish & Southern Energy is likely to be taken over by one of them in the near future to reduce the 'free market' to the 'Big Five'.

    Ofgem, Parliamentary committees of MPs and the European Commission have all conducted inquiries into price-fixing cartels, anti-competitive practices and excessive profits, but the abuses continue. Naturally, none of the criticisms or proposals for reform have aimed to break the stranglehold of monopoly. Rather, they are designed to absorb widespread political and consumer criticism without challenging the power of big business. Public ownership is the only longer-term basis on which the problems of profiteering, customer neglect and under-investment can be solved.

    Economic Committee of the Communist Party

  • National Fuel Petition

    NATIONAL PETITION AGAINST

    THE GREAT FUEL ROBBERY

    Addressed to the British government:

    We the undersigned note that household gas and electricity prices have been increased substantially in

    2008, even though wholesale prices were no higher than at the beginning of 2006.

    We also note the enormous profits being made by the main supply companies and that nearly half of this money is handed to shareholders.

    Download PDF

  • Who’s who at the communist university

    Sue Webb is a member of the Communist Party USA national committee and associate editor of the People's Weekly World newspaper.

    Erwin Marquit is editor of the international journal Nature, Society and Thought, and a contributing editor to Political Affairs, a magazine published by the Communist Party USA

    Jenny Clegg teaches Asia-Pacific Studies at the University of Central Lancashire, and is the author of China's Global Strategy: Towards a Multipolar World, to be published in January 2009. She is a lifelong peace activist.

    Martin Levy is convenor of the Communist Party's Science, Technology and Environment Advisory, and editor of the party's theoretical and discussion journal Communist Review.

  • Communist University Timetable

    FRIDAY OCTOBER 17

    Rally for Liberation:
    'Fighting for Bread—and Roses Too' 7.30 pm:

    Chair: Anita Halpin Sue Webb, Joanne Stevenson, Azar Sephr, Lynda Walker, Mary Davis

  • Fightback at la Fête

    French communists are calling on the left to unite, writes ROB GRIFFITHS.

    Hundreds of thousands of young and working-class Parisians ensured that this year's Fête de l'Humanite was as vibrant as ever.

  • Our final crisis is near

    ROB GRIFFITHS on Brown's priorities - privatisation, war and a police state.

    LAST month, The Guardian published its annual survey of executive incomes at the 100 biggest companies on Britain's stock exchange.

  • Communists warn workers face tough times

    CP Poster - Freeze Prices Now!

    Communist Party trade union co-ordinator Carolyn Jones told the party's political committee that workers are facing dire times. "Ten years ago, Prime Minister Blair told us things can only get better. Now, Chancellor Darling says things can only get worse," she commented.

    "Workers and their families face price rises of 30 per cent or more for essential items, while pay rises are held below 3 per cent and the corporate fat cats put by millions of pounds for their retirement," comrade Jones pointed out.

    Warning that Labour will lose the next general election if the government does not change course, she urged trade unions to fight pessimism and defeatism by promoting a left-wing programme.

  • A crisis that's made in Britain

    CP Poster - There is an alternativeCommunist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths analyses the economic crisis in Saturday's Morning Star The recession starting to hit workers. As Britain's economic growth ground to a halt in the second quarter of 2008, Establishment pundits and politicians became obsessed with official figures and targets. Can the consumer price index be brought down nearer to the government and Bank of England's inflation target of 2 per cent

    Will gross domestic growth figures for the next two quarters reveal that economic activity in Britain is actually shrinking and that the economy is therefore technically in recession?

  • Cheney, Bush and the Georgia crisis

    Georgian pipelineWriting in the Morning Star on Tuesday 12 August 2008 Andrew Murray looks behind the headlines to discover the root causes of the ongoing crisis in Georgia. THE conflict now unfolding across Georgia with terrible human consequences is a tipping point in the global "long war" of the last seven years. Make no mistake, it is a conflict which can only be understood in the context of the same war already causing carnage in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia and menacing Iran.

    That is to say, it is a further conflict which has its ultimate cause in the ambitions of the US ruling elite to impose a global hegemony.

    It differs from the other fronts in the war in that the aspect of inter-imperialist conflict is the main determining factor in the Georgian crisis.

    The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have borne the stamp of wars of neocolonial aggression. The question of the sovereignty of the people resisting invasion and occupation is the main one, whatever other cross-currents there may be.

    Of course, there have been differences between great powers over Iraq, as there were over the Yugoslav war of 1999. But these differences have remained at the diplomatic level.

    In the Georgian crisis, this balance is reversed. National independence is an issue, but not in the same way.

    The peoples of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the two disputed regions, do not wish to be ruled from Tbilisi, but the idea of full national independence has not been raised and is, particularly in the former case, scarcely practical.

    Georgia will, on the other hand, claim to be asserting its national independence from Russia. Yet it is led by a government which has fully dissolved the country's independence into an alliance with the US, turning it into the explicit and avowed instrument of George Bush's global policy.

    And it surely had the green light from Washington before embarking on its sudden effort to conquer South Ossetia by force last week, sparking the crisis by shelling civilians whom it regards as its own citizens and Russian peacekeepers into the bargain.

    Thus, the confrontation between South Ossetia and Georgia became immediately a confrontation between Russia and the US. "Russia's aggression must not go unanswered," Dick Cheney announced on Monday.

    Pausing perhaps from trying to figure out how he can yet get his war with Iran going before leaving office, the US vice-president has returned to the original Project for a New American Century handbook in his response to the crisis.

    It has been an explicit aim of the neoconservative faction in the US establishment to prevent any reintegration of the "former Soviet space." The sole superpower aims to stay the sole superpower, which means, among other things, stopping Russia reviving as a rival superpower.

    Therefore, those peoples who, like the South Ossetians, have found themselves stranded on the wrong side of what became interstate boundaries overnight with the collapse of the Soviet Union cannot be permitted to reintegrate with Russia even if it is their overwhelming desire to do so.

    Conventional wisdom will put the conflict down to "enduringÉ territorial and ethnic hatreds," in the Sunday Telegraph's words, or "historic grudges," in those of The Observer. These are convenient liberal bromides - the real enduring tradition here is great-power rivalry.

    In fact, Ossetians and Georgians rubbed along all right in Soviet times, at least in part because neither was in a position to lord it over the other.

    South Ossetians could form part of Soviet Georgia while their kin on the other side of the barrier of the Caucasus mountains in North Ossetia could be a constituent element of Soviet Russia because they were all, ultimately, Soviet. And people of all the various nationalities of Georgia intermingled with little friction.

    That was before the break-up of the Soviet Union and Georgia attaining first its independence and, more recently, the status of fully fledged US satellite.

    The latter development suits not just neoconservative strategy - to avoid the consolidation of any rival power centre by keeping the world a patchwork of diminutive states wherever possible - but also helps Cheney's energy policy.

    Georgia sits astride the only pipeline sending oil westward from the Caspian Basin that does not pass through Russian territory. For that reason, Bush has showered special attention on Georgia's government which, like all its post-1991 predecessors, came to office via a coup rather than election.

    Despite this and the suppression of opposition political activities last November, the Tbilisi government has been hailed as a "pro-Western democracy," as if the two aspects were inextricable. It is, of course, the "pro-Western" element which is decisive for Washington if one or the other has to be discarded.

    Hence President Saakashvilli announcing that the Russian attack on his country was an "attack on the US itself" and one of his spokesmen asserting that, if Russians are allowed into South Ossetia today, they could turn up in any European capital tomorrow.

    In seeking to spread the conflict, Cheney has material to work on. The statement by the Ukrainian government, most likely after consultation with the White House, that it would drive the Russian navy out of its historic Crimean base in Sevastopol would certainly provoke a clash if an attempt was made to act on it.

    The "pro-Western" Ukrainian government is only able to utter this threat in the first place because the Crimea was moved to Soviet Ukraine from Soviet Russia somewhat arbitrarily by Khrushchov in the 1950s.

    This mattered little at the time, but it has become a running sore since 1991, as the population would rather be in Russia again. Indeed, they turned out in vast numbers to protest at a visiting US military "training mission" last year.

    There is also a very substantial minority of ethnic Russians in the Ukraine who would probably welcome closer ties with the Russian Federation.

    These potential flashpoints highlight the fact that, in many cases, the formerly internal borders between Soviet republics do not work as interstate boundaries. They are a consequence of the indecent haste with which Boris Yeltsin and his cronies liquidated the Soviet Union the better to get their hands on the levers of power in Russia.

    Not only are there national minorities, often Russian, now in the "wrong" state, there are also peoples who, having neither the means nor even the aspiration to set up fully fledged nation states of their own, felt much more at ease in a large multinational federation than they do in a smaller nation state dominated by a single national group.

    Since one of the undoubted successes of the nationalities policy of the Soviet Union was its promotion of the cultural, linguistic and educational development of each ethnic group, no matter how small or how historically marginalised it had been, all now have both an enhanced awareness of their distinctive rights and the means of articulating them.

    This could all be resolved peacefully were the US not hell-bent on using every difficulty and difference as a lever to keep its putative Russian rival weak and "in its box."

    This is a recipe for an unending series of escalating conflicts as Russia strengthens itself and seeks to reassert its role - sometimes, no doubt, with right on its side and sometimes not.

    Ultimately, the matter of principle is reasonably clear. Ossetians and Abkhazians do not want to be governed from Tbilisi, just as Georgians do not want to be governed from Moscow. Let each define their own future, within or outside the Russian Federation, free from coercion.

    But there is absolutely no positive part to be played by a duplicitous and power-hungry US administration stoking up trouble in yet another part of the world.

    The anti-war movement has long warned that the conflicts in the Middle East and south Asia, dreadful as they have been and are, would most likely only be the foothills of a still bigger war unless the US drive to world hegemony was decisively challenged.

    We are now out of the foothills and progressing towards a situation that more unmistakably bears comparison with 1914. More than ever, the need for Britain to break with Cheney's foreign policy and challenge the slide to ever-widening war is the main imperative.

    Andrew Murray is chair of the Stop the war Coalition and a member of the Communist Party executive committee

  • Labour must change direction: Anita Halpin

    COMMUNIST Party of Britain chairwoman Anita Halpin told the party's political committee that "new Labour's plans to purge the long-term unemployed and incapacitated deserved the response they received from the voters of Glasgow East."

    She condemned as "disgraceful" the endorsement of the proposed reforms by the recent Labour Party national policy forum.

    "There is no guarantee that the few positive measures agreed at Warwick will ever reach Labour's manifesto for the next general election, let alone be implemented by a Labour government afterwards," she pointed out, urging support for the change of direction outlined in a new "People's Charter" launched by the Communist Party at Tolpuddle.

    "Co-ordinated action by affiliated trade unions is vital to stop new Labour destroying the Labour Party and paving the way for the election of an even more reactionary Tory government," comrade Halpin insisted.

    On the same day as British Gas announced increases in gas and electricity prices of 35 per cent and 9 per cent respectively, Britain's Communists also finalised plans for a national petition against rocketing energy bills. It calls for prices to be pegged at their January 2008 levels, an end to surcharges on pre-pay meter users, a windfall tax on corporate super-profits and public ownership of the gas and electricity utilities.

    Dismissing the justification for price rises put forward by the corporations, comrade Halpin pointed out that "gas and electricity wholesale prices are still lower today than in January 2006, yet these latest increases will mean that the average household bill will have doubled since then."

  • Communists mourn the death of Harkishan Singh Surjeet

    Harkisan Singh SurjeetBritish communists have joined their Indian comrades in mourning the death of veteran Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet who has died after a prolonged illness. He was 93 years old. Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths paid tribute to the outstanding leadership role of Surjeet and his contribution to strengthening ties between British and Indian communists. Avtar Sadiq offered condolences to the family and the CPI(M) on behalf of the British-based Association of Indian Communists (Marxist). "This is a sad day for Indian communists in Britain, to whom comrade Surjeet gave essential political guidance for 60 years," he said. An outstanding figure of India's communist movement and a prominent national politician, Surjeet began is seven-and-a-half-decade political life fighting against British colonial rule.

    He played a pioneering role in developing the peasant movement and the Communist Party in Punjab before emerging as a national leader of the Communist Party of India and the All India Peasants Union. It culminated with his leading role in the CPI(M) for an eventful four decades.

    Surjeet joined the CP in 1934 and became a member of the Congress Socialist Party in 1935.

    He was elected as secretary of the Punjab State Peasants Union in 1938.

    He went underground after the outbreak of the second world war and was arrested in 1940.

    Surjeet was imprisoned in the notorious Lahore Red Fort, where he was kept for three months in solitary confinement in terrible conditions. Later, he was moved to the Deoli detention camp, where he remained till 1944.

    During the partition, he worked tirelessly for communal harmony in violence-torn Punjab.

    Surjeet was elected to the central committee and politbureau of the Communist Party of India at the third congress of the party in January 1954.

    He continued in the leadership of the CPI until the split in 1964.

    Surjeet constituted the core of the "anti-revisionist" leadership which went on to form the CPI(M).

    His wealth of experience in developing the peasant movement and building the party led him to shun left-sectarian positions.

    He had a life-long association with the peasant movement. Surjeet led the anti-betterment levy struggle of the farmers in Punjab in 1959.

    He served as president and general secretary of the All India Peasants Union for a long period.

    Surjeet was elected to the central committee and politbureau of the CPI(M) at the seventh congress in 1964 and he continued in these positions until the recent 19th congress of the party.

    In these four decades, Surjeet made a key contribution to the party's programmatic and tactical policies.

    In the CPI(M), he headed the international department for three decades, developing relations with all the communist and progressive parties around the world.

    Under his leadership, the CPI(M) expressed firm solidarity with anti-imperialist struggles and national liberation movements.

    He made a notable contribution to the solidarity activities during the Vietnam liberation struggle, the Palestinian movement and the Cuba solidarity campaign.

    Surjeet always stressed the fundamental importance of critically examining the party's positions on the basis of Marxism.

    After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he guided the party in arriving at correct positions, learning from the experience of the past.

    As CPI(M) general secretary, Surjeet worked tirelessly to defend democratic and secular values and to see that India maintained its non-aligned and independent foreign policy.

  • Alas, poor Warwick

    Communist Party PosterCommunist party general secretary Robert Griffiths sees little to celebrate at last weekend's Warwick forum. NO price freeze on basic foods, domestic fuel, petrol or public transport fares. No windfall tax on the mega-profits of the gas, electricity, oil, banking or supermarket monopolies. No end to the surcharge on household prepay meter users. No public ownership of the railways. No halt to the closure of 2,500 post offices.

    This article was first published in the Morning Star on 30th July 2008. 

    No employment rights from day one. No repeal of anti-trade union laws. No commitment to the Trade Union Freedom Bill.

    No restoration of the 10p low-income tax band. No abolition of discriminatory minimum wage rates against young workers. No mandatory equal pay audits in the private sector. No personal liability for corporate manslaughter.

    No restoration of the full value of the state pension. No state-run second pension scheme. No higher rates of income tax for the rich.

    No assistance for council tax or mortagage payers in difficulty. No measures to force down mortgage rates. No action to stop housing repossessions. No "fourth option" funds for an immediate programme of council house building.

    No halt to privatisation of NHS hospitals and GP services. No abolition of prescription or hospital car parking charges in England. No halt to PFI.

    No abolition of student tuition fees. No restoration of student maintenance grants in England.

    No end to the military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. No scrapping of the £76 billion plan for a new generation of British nuclear weapons.

    No withdrawal of plans for six weeks detention without charge. No abandonment of ID cards.

    No wonder that new Labour ministers are pleased with the outcome of Labour's national policy forum at Warwick University last weekend.

    They even persuaded the forum of trade union and constituency Labour Party representatives to support their drive, designed by multimillionaire banker David Freud, against income support and incapacity benefit claimants which will be prosecuted with far more fervour than any campaign against rich and corporate tax dodgers.

    The forum accepted the Darzi report's proposals to turn NHS hospitals into competing supermarkets, enforced by fresh battalions of bureaucratic checkers and reviewers.

    The forum also agreed to the extension of city academies, funded mostly from public money but run by religious fanatics and other millionaires.

    For their part, the trade union representatives "won" equal pay measures in the public sector, already proposed in the government's Framework for Fairness document, and a lower starting age for the full national minimum wage, already recommended by the Low Pay Commission. Some 50,000 21-year-old workers will receive an extra £1 a week, still leaving up to 147,000 younger workers on the lower rates.

    Other "concessions" wrung from ministers included more in-house cleaning at NHS hospitals and an extension of parental leave to cover children up to the age of 16. Increased redundancy pay will come in handy for the hundreds of thousands of workers about to lose their jobs.

    Retreaded commitments to the NHS, the Post Office, council housing and combating corporate manslaughter were happily regurgitated to the media by some union leaders, one of whom proclaimed this "son of Warwick" bundle as "a sound basis for rebuilding support for Labour's core values."

    In truth, they laboured until 5 o'clock on Sunday morning to produce an anaemic child who will not live beyond the next general election.

    Meanwhile, the two wings of the new Labour faction continue with the final phase of their project to make Labour the party of war, privatisation and a police state. In the process, they are destroying the party as a social-democratic vehicle for working-class and middle-class aspirations.

    That is why another 21,000 members have left the Labour Party over the past 12 months. Individual membership now stands at 159,000, compared with 407,000 when new Labour came to office in 1997.

    More than four million people have stopped voting Labour since those heady days when "things can only get better." Yet, so many Labour MPs and trade union leaders refuse to recognise the truth which stares them in the face.

    This new Labour government is ideologically committed to the big-business profit system. Most of its members are proud representatives of British monopoly capitalism, at home and abroad.

    That is why they will not change direction, even though they are destroying the Labour government and the Labour Party.

    Government ministers claim that nothing can be done about the severe problems afflicting working people and their families. What they mean is that nothing should be done that eats into the profits and prerogatives of the monopoly corporations which, it so happens, will be employing many of them after the next general election.

    As economic growth grinds to a halt, unemployment goes up, child poverty increases and the gulf between rich and poor widens, the government of the world's fifth-biggest economy blames it on the rest of the world and pleads impotence.

    Yet this same government can find £100 billion of public money overnight to bail out Northern Rock and the banking system. The Chancellor moved swiftly enough three weeks ago to underwrite, again with public money, all bank deposits between £35,000 and £50,000.

    But the government is supposedly powerless, for example, in the face of rocketing household fuel prices. One of the six monopolies which dominate the British market, EDF, has announced 17 and 22 per cent rises in electricity and gas, respectively, with immediate effect. It will soon be emulated by the other five monopolies.

    The average household energy bill has already increased by around 64 per cent since the beginning of 2006.

    "We have to pay world market prices for our supplies," explain company representatives.

    But wholesale gas and electricity prices are still significantly below the levels of January 2006, as they have been throughout the whole period since that time. When they were on an 17-month downward trend until May 2007, average bills went up by around 27 per cent.

    Unsurprisingly, then, the combined profits of the "big six" have risen by almost one-third, from £3.7 billion in 2006 to £4.9 billion last year.

    Hardest hit by new price increases will be the unemployed, the long-term sick or disabled and other benefit claimants, who are two or three times more likely to use pre-pay meters. Most of the monopolies charge them extra for the privilege, by up to £200 a year for gas and £120 for electricity.

    So, what have regulators Ofgem done about the profiteering and the prepaid surcharge? Nothing. Not even a squeak about the EDF price ramp.

    What is the government doing? Nothing. No price freeze, no windfall tax on superprofits, no directive against ripping off the poor.

    With 660,000 extra households sliding into fuel poverty so far this year, joining the other four million who spend more than 10 per cent of their income on domestic fuel, their need for a government which represents their interests is becoming desperate.

    The grim farce of Warwick shows the size of the task which confronts the whole labour movement and the non-sectarian left.

  • Remember the Tolpuddle Martyr's

    1834 demonstartion in support of tolpuddle martyrsIf trade unionists took strike action to free the Tolpuddle martyrs today they would be breaking Thatcher's anti union laws that Labour promised to repeal. Every year thousands of trade unionists descend on the sleepy Dorset village of Tolpuddle to commemorate working class struggle & sacrifice. In 1834 local farm workers met under a sycamore tree to organise a Union. Six of them were arrested and deported to Australia for seven years.

    The emerging trade union movement organised massive protests (Copenhagen Fields demonstration pictured above) up and down the country and won free pardons and a return to Britain for these six, who became known as the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Along with many others they become potent symbols of the struggle for working class and trade union rights.

    To commemorate this historic struggle and to celebrate trade unionism and workers struggle the South West TUC along with practically every national Trade Union organise a weekend long festival of music, drama & debate.

    Meet up with the Young Communist League, the Communist Party and the Morning Star at the Tolpuddle festival.

    You can get the full details of the programme and where coaches are travelling at www.tuc.org.uk/ <http://www.tuc.org.uk/tolpuddle> tolpuddle. You can get to the festival by train and a shuttle bus to the festival site from Dorchester station.

    Directions from the Tolpuddle website are as follows:

    Getting to Tolpuddle

    Follow signs from the A35 to the car parks. For campers and those unable to cope with a short walk, enter from the west of the village. For the main festival car park, enter from the east and turn right in the centre of the village. View online map.

    Parking Charges: Free car for each camping tag or £10 per car on Sunday; £15 weekend pass, £5 each day on Friday and Saturday. Coaches Free, drop off and park to the east of the village. Look for coaches travelling to Tolpuddle and log your coach.

    Train - Take the train to Dorchester or park and ride. Bus from Dorchester South on Sunday 10.30am and 11.30am return from Tolpuddle 5.30 p.m and 6.30 p.m.(subject to timetable review in June 2008) - £1 each way.

    Car share scheme: Need a lift to the Festival or can you offer someone a lift? Register your details at Freewheelers.com

  • Britons need a People's Charter

    Contemporary engraving of the 1839 Newport Rising Communist Party general secretary Rob Griffiths told the executive committee at the weekend that "the people of Britain need a People's Charter for the 21st century." He said that a "mass united campaign by the labour and progressive movements is vital in order to influence the next general election and win a clear progressive alternative to a right-wing Tory government."

    Britain's communists are proposing a charter based on an independent foreign and defence policy, an alternative economic strategy, a drive for social justice, a progressive tax system, a new equalities framework and an extension of democratic rights.

    The party also announced plans to launch a petition against further increases in household energy bills, calling instead for a price freeze until 2009, an end to the surcharge on pre-pay meter users, a windfall tax on monopoly profits and public ownership of the electricity and gas industries.

    Noting the G8 summit's failure to secure significant progress towards goals on carbon emissions, Third World aid and universal HIV treatment, comrade Griffiths pointed to the "re-emergence of an all-round general crisis of capitalism" as the main obstacle to meeting humanity's needs.

    Expressing concern about the rise in violent crime involving knives and other weapons, he warned that repressive measures would not solve "deep-rooted problems in a grossly unequal society which takes hope, confidence and security away from young people while exploiting and demonising them."

    Condemning any moves by Israel or the US towards a military strike against Iran, the CPB urged full support for the September 20 Manchester Stop the War demonstration, as the city hosts the start of the Labour conference.

    New party officers elected

    THE Communist Party of Britain's new executive committee elected its officers for the next two years at the weekend.

    They include Robert Griffiths as general secretary, chairwoman Anita Halpin, international secretary John Foster, women's organiser Mary Davis, Communist Review editor Martin Levy and Communist News editor Emily Mann.

    It was also agreed to establish a new post of full-time national organiser and the committee said that a paper on the party's future trade union work will be drafted by Carolyn Jones.

  • 'Labour Electors on Strike Against New Labour' say Communists

    'Masses of working class electors have gone on strike against New Labour policies of privatisation, war and a police state', Robert Griffiths told the Communist Party's political committee on Wednesday.

  • Brown's 42 day 'bribery' will not help Britain's security

    BRITAIN’S Communists condemned the government yesterday for forcing its plan to hold terrorism suspects for 42 days without charge through the House of Commons. John Haylett told the Communist Party of Britain political committee that Gordon Brown's victory, which had been achieved "through bullying and bribery," would not enhance people's security

  • Bush not welcome here!

    DEFY POLICE BAN ON ANTI-BUSH MARCH SAYS STOPWAR COALITION There will be two demonstrations this Sunday 15 June against the state visit by the world's war criminal-in-chief George Bush. The first will call for his arrest for war crimes when he has afternoon tea with the Queen in Windsor. The second demonstration will be in London, now that the police have accepted that the we can assemble in Parliament Square at 5.00pm. However, the police are still insisting on banning our march from Parliament Square to Downing Street, where Gordon Brown will be providing dinner for Bush.

  • Communist Congress: Liberation for Palestine

    Palestinian leader Hannah Amireh called on Britain's communists to intensify the struggle for his people's national liberation at the weekend. Addressing the Communist Party's 50th congress on Saturday, Palestinian People's Party member Hannah Amireh said that, while Israel celebrated the 60th anniversary of its birth this month, Palestinians had been marking the 60th anniversary of the Naqba, the "catastrophe" of the loss of their country.

  • Unions must force changes in government policy

    Delegates to the Communist Party congress overwhelmingly called on the trade unions to take decisive action to force changes in government policy. "The labour movement has not challenged new Labour policies sufficiently, offering a kind of timid appeasement," declared Rick Newnham (Cardiff), moving the document.

  • New Labour are the open representatives of monopoly capital: Robert Griffiths

    New Labour are the open representatives of monopoly capital in the labour movement general secretary Robert Griffiths told delegates to the Communist Party congress in London.

  • We are for Communism & Unity - Our Flag Stays Red

    Full text of general secretary Robert Griffiths, address to the 50th Congress of the Communist Party.

  • Annual Karl Marx Oration 2008

    The annual Karl Marx Oration was originally given by Dr Carolus Wimmer - Head of the International Bureau of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), deputy in the national assembly of Venezuela and Vice-President of the Latin American Parliament - by Marx's gravesite on Sunday 11 May.

  • 'End 60 Years of Oppression in Palestine' Demand Communists

    'Many who welcomed the founding of the state of Israel did not anticipate that it would bring 60 years of oppression for the Palestinian people and of insecurity for Israelis', Emily Mann told the Communist Party executive committee at the weekend.

  • COMMUNISTS WELCOME ELECTION ADVANCES

    Communist Party of Britain candidates made small but welcome gains in Thursday's local elections. Four candidates in England and Wales increased their share of the poll and two experienced a decline compared with previous elections four years ago.

  • Stop the Tories in London on May Day

    London communists called for a massive defeat for the Tories and the election of a progressive Greater London Assembly. "There is no better way to mark International Workers Day said the Unity for Peace and Socialism candidate Jean Turner who is chair of the London Communist Party. The London communists called for a majority vote for Ken Livingstone as mayor of London and a massive turnout to ensure the most progressive Greater london Assembly majority possible.

  • Communists back Ken Livingstone for mayor

    Britain's Communist Party has called for the maximum turn-out in the local elections to beat the fascist British National Party, for first preference votes for Ken Livingstone as Mayor, for support for Unity for Peace and Socialism and Communist candidates and for Labour wherever it will stop the election of Conservatives and Liberal Democrat controlled-councils. 'This must be combined with a renewed struggle by the left and the trade union movement to defeat right-wing New Labour policies and restore Labour party democracy', the party's international secretary John Foster told the Communist Party political committee.

  • Communists Urge Solidarity with Low-Paid and Pensioners

    ‘Those facing real financial crisis today are the pensioners and the low paid’, international secretary John Foster told the Communist Party's political committee on Wednesday. ‘Basic food, energy and housing costs are rising much faster than the retail price index, while at the same time the government is doubling the rate of tax on the low paid', he pointed out.

  • Association of Indian Communists to deepen ties with the British working class movement

    Press Statement by the AIC The AIC is to deepen ties with the British working class movement and increase intervention in political, economic and social structures.

  • Karl Marx oration

    This year's oration on the anniversary of the birth of the founder of scientific socialism, at the graveside of Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery, London , will be delivered by Dr Carolus Wimmer, head of the International Bureau of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), deputy in the Parliament of Venezuela and vice-chair of the Parliament of Latin America.

  • London’s people before profit

    London communists are contesting the First of May Greater London Assembly election as part of the Unity for Peace and Socialism coalition. Standing for the all-London list - which is elected on a form of proportional representation - are Christiane Ohsan, Pauline Fraser, Avtar Uppal, Ivan Beavis, Mohammed Khan, Jean Turner, Sarwan Singh, Harunor Rashid, Monty Goldman, Peter Latham, Philip Brand, Charlie May and Eleni Geropanagioti

  • Welsh communists announce election plans

    THE Welsh Communist Party has announced plans to contest 11 seats in this year's Welsh local government elections.

  • Communists Condemn 'Anti-China Propaganda Drive'

    'The anti-Chinese propaganda drive is being stepped up a gear in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics with disproportionate coverage of so-called "Free Tibet" events', Anita Halpin told the Communist Party of Britain's political committee on Wednesday.

  • ‘Step up Fight for Women's Equality’

    'Women won the vote in the reforms of 80 and 90 years ago, but for working class women in Britain much else remains almost the same now as then', Mary Davis told the Communist Party executive committee at the weekend. Pointing out that the gender pay gap here remains one of the highest in western Europe, at 17 per cent for full-time and 36 per cent for part-time workers, she attacked local authorities who try to close it by cutting men's wages and the new Equalities and Human Rights Commission for dropping support for equal pay claims.

  • Thousands march to stop the war

    British communists march with thousands in Britain as millions joined a world wide day of action against imperialist aggression. Organised by the Stop the War Coalition, CND and the British Muslim Initiative they took to the streets in London and Glasgow demanding that the British government withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan

  • A Budget For Tax-Dodgers and War

    'Chancellor Darling is like the boy standing on the burning deck, told to stay there looking heroic by his callous father', Communist Party industrial organiser Kevin Halpin declared in response to today's budget.

  • Left Victory in India Hailed

    Communists and progressives in Britain have welcomed the overwhelming victory of the Communist-led Left Front in the Indian state of Tripura over the weekend.

  • International Women's Day greetings

    International Women's Day greetings from the Communist Party. 2011 will see IWD's Centenary - 100 years of women's united action for g equality and change. Organizations around the world have already commenced planning for their IWD Centenary celebrations. The first International Women's Day was launched on 8 March 1911 in Copenhagen by the German revolutionary Clara Zetkin.

  • Socialist revival

    ROB GRIFFITHS looks at the possibility of an upturn in fortunes for the left.

    IN THEIR superb history The British Labour Movement, AL Morton and George Tate begin one chapter as follows.

    "In 1875, only men over 45 had even a lad's memories of the great days of Chartism and only men over 55 a lad's memories of Robert Owen's Grand National (Consolidated Trade Union). It seemed that socialism in Britain was almost extinct."

    Leaving aside the fact that older women may have had some recollection of movements in which their mothers might have taken part too, a similar point could be made today.

    In 2008, only men and women over 45 might have some memory of the miners' strikes of 1972 and 1974, the campaign to free the Pentonville dockers or of a Labour government which repealed anti-trade unions laws, ended casual labour on the docks, taxed the rich and extended public ownership to the aircraft and shipbuilding industries.

    Many millions of younger people today have no such memories. Moreover, they have had little or no opportunity to learn about socialism, about its ideas or the policies which embody them.

    Quite a few people who would have proudly proclaimed their socialist convictions in the the 1970s and early 1980s have ceased doing so. That includes many of those wretched Labour MPs, from Gordon Brown down, who worship today at the shrine of the market, "free" enterprise, privatisation, anti-union laws, a police state and a foreign policy which condones torture and launches aggressive war.

    Morton and Tate's chapter goes on to record what it calls the revival of socialism.

    They describe the spread of popular campaigns from the mid-1870s to extend democratic rights, demand self-government for Ireland, take the land into public ownership and to tackle poverty, slum housing and other social problems.

    In his manifesto To the Working Men of England, William Morris articulated the growing mood against British imperialism's machinations in the Balkans.

    Answering his own question, "Who are they that are leading us to war?" Morris denounced the "greedy gamblers on the stock exchange, idle officers of the army and navy (poor fellows!) ... desperate purveyors of exciting war news for the comfortable breakfast tables of those who have nothing to lose by war; and, lastly, in the place of honour, the Tory rump that we fools, weary of peace, reason and justice, chose at the last election to represent us."

    While many radicals spent the last decades of the 19th century trying to transform the Liberal Party, a growing number argued for labour to develop an independent voice of its own. The Social-Democratic Federation, the Fabian Society and the Labour Emancipation League were founded to promote ideas about a socialist society as the alternative to capitalism.

    The radical and labour movement press could not help but reflect the new mood, with Frederick Engels writing for The Labour Standard until the Liberals on the London Trades Council demanded a pinker approach.

    Socialism's analysis helped a new generation of militant trade unionists to make sense of capitalist exploitation, inequality and crisis. Socialist remedies underlined the need to go beyond radicalism and the Liberal Party.

    Socialist women like Annie Besant and Eleanor Marx contributed to the unionisation of a million unskilled and semi-skilled workers. Tom Mann and other leaders of the dockers, gas lighters and transport workers embraced socialism.

    The establishment of the Independent Labour Party helped push the Trades Union Congress to convene the Labour Representation Committee which, as the Labour Party in 1918, adopted its socialist programme Labour and the New Social Order.

    We desperately need a revival of socialism in the British labour movement now.

    Millions of people are sickened by the greed, double-speak and corruption of the banks, energy monopolies, oil corporations, railway companies and the City of London. They can't bear to listen to the lies, evasions and excuses of regulators, ombudsmen, professional politicians and the other claptrap merchants.

    They know that something is deeply rotten about our society. But they neither see capitalism as the root of the problem nor socialism as the root of the solution.

    Our trade unions have the meetings, the journals, the schools and apparatus to facilitate the revival of socialism. But do their leaders still have the socialist principles to initiate such a drive?

    They could begin by ending their embarrassing, unrequited love affair with Gordon Brown and the new Labour rump.

    The shameful decision to shelve Labour Party conference democracy should be revoked in time for this year's conference. If union representatives on the party's national executive committee lack sufficient vertebrae to fight for democracy and their own union's policies, they should be replaced.

    Why are unions backing MPs who refuse to support the Trade Union Freedom Bill and equal rights for temporary workers, who ban industrial action in the prison service, who support privatisation and the closure of Remploy factories?

    The Parliamentary Labour Party has never contained so many spineless, power-worshipping, snivelling apologists for big business, a creeping police state and a foreign policy based on double standards and military aggression.

    This makes it all the more essential that people across the political spectrum work together to defend peace, civil liberties, the environment and social justice.

    But socialists need to go further.

    The case must be made for public ownership of the energy and transport industries, the banking monopolies, arms corporations and pharmaceutical giants, for economic planning and controls over the movement of capital, for public services not privatisation and for a massive redistribution of wealth and power from a narrow, destructive minority to the mass of working people and their families.

    The interests of the capitalist monopolies - and the policies of states and international agencies which serve those interests - must be challenged as incompatible with peace, national self-determination and ecological security.

    The case for reorganising society from top to bottom, in all spheres - in short, the case for socialism - must be developed and set out with renewed vigour.

    And nothing would shake the traitors to the labour movement so much as the revival of socialist ideas, socialist policies and the vision of a socialist society.

  • Common Declaration of Communist and Workers’ Parties on the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo

    The undersigned Parties faced with the self-proclaimed Kosovan independence, promoted by the United States of America, NATO and European Union declare that:

  • Communist Wins Cypriot Presidential election

    Dimitris Christofias, general secretary of AKEL, defeated Ioannis Kasoulides, the leader of right-wing party DISY, with 53.36% of the vote in the final round of the Cypriot Presidential election. This was the first time that AKEL had run a presidential candidate, having previously supported Tassos Papadopoulos, who was defeated in the first round of the election.

  • Iraqi Communist Party Calls for Immediate End to Turkish Military Operations

    The Iraqi Communist Party issued a press statement on 22 February 2008 condemning the incursion by Turkish forces into Iraqi territory and calling on the Turkish authorities to immediately end their military operations. The following is the text of the statement:

  • 'Step Up Fight Against Fat Cats' says Stevenson

    'Victory for Boris Johnson in the contest for London mayor would be a calamity for Londoners, a defeat for the anti-war movement and a big set-back for community relations', Graham Stevenson told the Communist party's political committee on Wednesday.

  • EU constitution! Lobby your MP to demand a referendum

    The European Union (Amendment) Bill is currently going through Parliament. It is vital to amend it so that the peoples of Britain have a referendum on a measure which will have a profound impact on our future. The Bill is currently in its committee stage in the House of Commons, where amendments to secure a referendum are likely to be considered later this month. Trade Unionists Against the EU Constitution along with the Democracy Movement and Open Europe have organised a Lobby of Parliament on 27th February. You can help to demand a referendum by asking your MP to sign early day motion 597 put down by Kelvin Hopkins MP and demanding they support a referendum on the EU reform treaty. Go to http://www.tuaeuc.org for more information.

  • New Labour's racist laws exposed

    General Secretary of the Indian Workers Association, Harsev Bains, shocked the Communist Party industrial cadre school at the weekend as he outlined the human impact of government citizenship and residence policies. Home Office fees for non-British passport holders and their spouses and dependants to remain here or become British citizens have increased by factors of between ten and a hundred over recent decades, he pointed out.

  • “Fight Monopoly Greed & Fear” say Communists

    “Monopoly market greed & fear have produced the current financial crisis, accelerating a general economic downturn”, general secretary Robert Griffiths told the Communist Party political committee on Wednesday.

  • ‘Democratic Rights for Police, Army & Prison Officers’ Demand Communists

    The Communist Party today called for full democratic and trade union rights for the police, armed forces and prison service. London district secretary Steve Johnson told the Communist Party executive committee that the New Labour assault on trade union rights in the prison service and the failure to repeal Thatcher's anti union laws strengthened the employers and the state in preparation for mounting class struggle.

  • Vote for the Anti-War Movement

    The shortlist has been announced for the Channel 4 News Award for most inspiring political personality of the last decade. The shortlist includes ‘Anti-Iraq war protestors’ as well as ‘Tony Blair’! We have just a short while to score a decisive victory. The closing date for voting is 18 January. The shortlist has been announced for the Channel 4 News Award for most inspiring political personality of the last deca

  • New Labour Paves the Way for Tories

    'New Labour's reactionary policies are paving the way for the election of an even more right-wing Tory regime', Steve Johnson told the Communist Party's political committee on Monday. He condemned recent government initiatives to drive more people off unemployment and incapacity benefits into low-paid, unskilled and insecure jobs and accused Tory leader David Cameron of 'trying to go one step worse' in persecuting the unemployed and long-term sick

  • Who's going to pay?

    As the British economy teeters on the brink of a recession, ROBERT GRIFFITHS warns that working people are set to pay the price for a society run for the rich.

    OVER recent decades, vast and mobile funds have been built up by transnational corporations, oil-rich and trade-surplus countries and their state banks.

    Unable to find profitable investment in the production of consumable goods and services, these have been poured into shares, bonds and ever more complex financial instruments on the world's stock, foreign exchange and money markets.

    This accumulation of what Marx identified 150 years ago as "fictitious" capital has far outstripped the growth of what he called "real" capital invested in the real, non-paper economy.

    Were too much of this fictitious captal to be cashed in and used to buy consumable commodities in the real economy, the result would be crashing banks, currencies and governments and the highest hyper-inflation in history, followed immediately by devastating shortages.

    The adjustment of fictitious-capital values downwards to meet productive-capital values has to happen sooner or later or the holders of fictitious capital will realise very little of their wealth in any tangible form. The problem is that, in a deregulated, monopoly-dominated, globalised capitalist system, that adjustment will not be planned, managed and gradual.

    Instead, there will more likely be sudden runs on stock markets, credit and currency shocks, panic sellouts, ruthless speculation, asset-stripping and the usual drive by the rich to dump the consequences of the inevitable crisis on the poor.

    The sub-prime house mortgage debacle and its resulting "credit crunch," demonstrated most dramatically in Britain by the collapse of Northern Rock, are early signs of the downward adjustment of "fictitious" capital values.

    The stock market may be next.

    After an initial shock in the autumn, share prices in Britain and the US have resumed their upward climb from the trough of January 2003.

    While property, banking, housebuilding and general retail share prices have taken a big hit, there have been sizeable gains in mining, telecoms and utilities. This reflects the fact that non-financial corporate profits in Britain have been at a record high throughout this year, although, as in the US, more companies are issuing profit warnings.

    Stock exchange indices are once more approaching the peak that was reached during the dot-com bubble in December 1999. The average ratio of share prices to earnings per share has now climbed to a projected figure for 2008 of 16 in the US and just under 13 in Britain.

    This ratio is a useful but limited measure of the shifting difference in values between fictitious capital and real capital. It is still some way short of the ratio of 18 reached on the brink of the Black Monday crash in October 1987. So, although the new issues market has been jolted by the credit crunch, share prices may continue upwards for some months yet, barring further bank collapses.

    But the point will come when those prices are not worth paying in order to reap the dividends. Then we will see huge capital assets lose much of their value overnight, as funds and companies collapse. And the likelihood is that the longer the delay before the earthquake, the steeper the landslide.

    Such a crash would quickly embrace almost all shares across almost all industries and services, the result of a collapse of confidence in the financial sector as a whole.

    That would be bad enough, especially as the City and financial services already account for an unhealthily large proportion of Britain's domestic economy and, together with remitted proceeds from British capital invested overseas, prop up our balance of payments with the rest of the world.

    The impact on our real economy would be real enough. However, stock markets and currencies can recover quickly if drastic corrective action is taken with urgency.

    But what if such a financial meltdown takes place when the real economy is heading for recession anyway?

    That is the nightmare scenario for British monopoly capitalism and its more serious-minded analysts and pundits know that the threat is a significant one.

    Alistair Darling has inherited Gordon Brown's vain assertion that new Labour chancellors of the exchequer have abolished the economic cycle. He may be in for a rude awakening.

    In his October pre-budget report, Darling had already cut his forecast of domestic economic growth next year from 3 to 2.5 per cent. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has reduced its estimation to 2.3 per cent, while economists at Lombard Street Research have gone down to 1 per cent.

    The IMF view is that "weaknesses" in the housing market are slowing down Britain, the US and the euro zone, with China and India set to account for nearly half of global economic growth in 2008 of some 4.8 per cent.

    In the British housing market, sub-prime loans have all but dried up and even prime mortgage and buy-to-let packages have have been tightened up or withdrawn altogether.

    In the US, the housing and property markets are sagging, house repossessions have rocketed and the government has had to impose a deal to limit the damage to those mortgage lenders, brokers and investors in mortgage-backed securities whose reckless greed created the meltdown in the first place.

    Many housebuyers tempted into mortgages by an introductory low interest rate will be allowed to continue to pay at the "teaser" rate for an additional five years - British Treasury take note.

    But two major factors are already draining demand from the British economy, combining with the international slowdown to push us towards recession.

    More than a decade of continuous economic expansion has been made possible for two main reasons.

    First, the ready supply of household credit through greedy banks, mortgage companies and brokers, much of it based on rising house values. However, with household debt reaching a staggering £1,300 billion in Britain, this boom was coming to an end even before the credit crunch put it to the guillotine.

    Bank refusals of credit card and personal loan applications are soaring. Next year, too, some 1.4 million mortgage slaves will see their cheap fixed-rate "bargains" coming to an end.

    Second, there has been the continuous expansion of government spending since the end of 1999, much of it financed through borrowing - and a lot of it wasted on private contractors.

    But, with 500 of Britain's 700 biggest corporations paying little or no tax on their bloated profits and multimillionaires enjoying our status as a "tax haven" for the super-rich, in the view of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Treasury receipts have fallen way under target.

    As a consequence, Chancellor Darling's public finances deficit is now running at an abnormally high £38 billion, nearly 3 per cent of GDP, which jeopardises sterling's exchange rate. That's why his comprehensive spending review in October confirmed a drop in the annual growth of government spending to around 2 per cent from next year, about half the growth level of the past eight years.

    Of course, he could cut public spending on privatisation contracts, private finance initiative repayments, wars and nuclear weapons or tax the rich and big business. But he would prefer to do neither and cut social spending while raising regressive taxation instead.

    Public-sector workers are to be forced to lead the way in belt-tightening, reducing the capacity of working people still further to buy many of the products that they produce. Indeed, household disposable income in Britain is growing at its slowest pace for 25 years, while factory gate prices for manufactured products are rising by 4.5 per cent annually, their fastest for 16 years.

    Inflation as measured by the retail price index, which includes housing costs, is now running at 4.2 per cent a year - up from 2.5 just two years ago - while wages growth is now down to 3.2 per cent and 2.5 per cent or less in the public sector.

    So, more working-class wages, benefits and pensions will be swallowed up by higher food, energy and transport costs.

    For instance, household gas prices are likely to rise by 15 per cent early in 2008. Most of the 50 per cent fall in wholesale gas and 30 per cent in wholesale electricity prices over the past year has not been passed on to consumers.

    The Treasury and Bank of England's main concerns will continue to be maintaining the predominance of the City, the value of the pound, higher interest rates where possible and tight control of inflation, which eats into the value of the financial assets held by big business and the rich.

    Tumbling living standards, lower-value wages and mass unemployment for working people will be the inevitable result of British state monopoly capitalism's response to recession.

    The European Central Bank is even more obsessed with restricting government borrowing and public-sector expenditure and holding down inflation. It has increased euro zone interest rates nearer to City of London levels, raising the stakes in the euro's challenge to sterling.

    The Bank of England's monetary policy committee could shun this challenge and reduce British interest rates a little more. China and India might help the advanced capitalist economies stave off a recession, which is defined as a contraction in economic activity over two successive quarters. But it is coming, if not next year, then some time in 2009 or early in 2010.

    The question is whether the labour movement will fight for policies to ensure that the monopoly capitalists, rather than the working class, pay the heaviest price for capitalism's crimes and contradictions.

    The Communist Party proposes a Left Wing Programme to try to soften the blow for working people and their families by shifting the burden onto the rich and big business, where it belongs.

    The kind of policies that are needed are:

    • Increased taxes on the rich and big business to maintain public spending and economic demand, including a wealth tax on the super-rich and a windfall tax on oil, banking and supermarket profits
    • Price controls on basic foods, household fuel and petrol to keep inflation down and maintain working-class living standards
    • A substantial rise in the national minimum wage, state pensions and benefits
    • A wages offensive by the trade union movement to increase public and private-sector pay and eliminate discrimination against women, young and migrant workers
    • State intervention to stop mass redundancies in viable enterprises
    • Controls on the export of capital and directed investment into civilian research, development and manufacturing production with an emphasis on green technology and sustainable energy production
    • Public ownership of the railways, bus transport, energy utilities and pharmaceuticals, together with the reconstruction of a state banking sector
    • Restoration of interest rate powers to the Treasury and elected government
    • An end to privatisation and profiteering in the public sector
    • A massive programme of council house-building to provide affordable housing and create jobs.

    This 10-point programme would not only make the monopoly capitalists pay for their crisis and raise the quality of life of many millions of people. It would also begin to shift the balance of wealth of power in favour of the working class, pointing the way forward to Britain's road to socialism.

  • New Labour's Big Business Policies Heading for Defeat

    'This government's denial of fair pay in the public sector contrasts sharply with its generosity to big business', Emily Mann told the Communist Party's political committee on Wednesday. 'It's low pay and redundancies for the workers and £43 billion to bail out the reckless, greedy directors of Northern Rock mortgage bank', she pointed out, urging solidarity with local Unison representatives in Newham and Manchester, Mick Gavan and Karen Reissman, who have been sacked for campaigning against cuts and privatisation. Warning that New Labour policies are on course to lose the next general election, Ms Mann called upon affiliated trade unions to fight to restore policy motions and democratic debate to next year's Labour Party conference.

  • From crunch to crisis

    ROBERT GRIFFITHS argues that the greed of financial fantasy threatens the real world.

    THE Bank of England monetary policy committee cut interest rates by one-quarter of a point to 5.5 per cent last week amid fears that an economic slowdown later in the new year could tip into recession.

    This might look like action, but, in reality, it's running in slow motion.

    Yet again, the Bank of England has erred on the side of the City of London's financial institutions at the expense of working people's jobs and living standards. A bigger reduction was needed, but the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street has long pandered to the whims of her wealthy clients.

    In most circumstances, the City prefers a higher interest rate to a lower one, because it generates more business. More loan capital flows into City funds, not least from foreign corporations and governments seeking a high rate of return. Even when these same high interest rates discourage borrowing at home, lucrative outlets for City funds can usually be found overseas.

    When new Labour came to office in 1997, one of the first acts of chancellor Gordon Brown was to hand over his responsibility to set the Bank of England's base interest rate to a monetary policy committee (MPC) comprising City bankers, monetarist academics and a former CIA officer. This step was presented by the government and acclaimed by the City as a much-needed "depoliticisation" of financial policy - leaving it to the "experts," in fact.

    True to kind, the bank's MPC then maintained interest rates at between 5-6 per cent over the next four years, further crippling investment in British industry and contributing directly to the destruction of 268,000 manufacturing and engineering jobs.

    Interest rates were not the only factor, of course.

    British capitalists have long preferred to gamble in the City's casinos - dealing in currencies, commodities and financial instruments of every kind - and to export huge amounts of capital abroad rather than equip and modernise productive industry in Britain.

    Only when faced by the meltdown of Britain's industrial base - and in the run-up to the 2001 general election - did the MPC begin cutting rates repeatedly in order to revive domestic investment and industrial production.

    Now, the MPC is demonstrating the same disregard for the "real" economy in Britain. While the bankers don't necessarily want to see a deep recession in manufacturing, their first concern is to maintain interest rates as high as politically possible. Finance sector profits come first, other big business profits second and working people's jobs and wages nowhere.

    The crisis in the financial sector is real enough.

    It first surfaced in the United States last August, when the so-called "sub-prime" house mortgage market collapsed. Banks and other mortage providers had been extending massive credit to would-be homeowners with poor credit records, many of them workers whose wages have been squeezed for a decade or more.

    Moreover, these advances had been financed on the short-term high-interest money market, with the borrowing arrangements packaged in lucrative but complex securities known as structural investment vehicles (SIVs) and collateral debt obligations (CDOs) and sold on to various banks and hedge funds.

    But, with millions of mortgage borrowers unable to meet higher interest rate payments, the packages began to unravel after their introductory "teaser" rates had come to an end.

    US banks and hedge funds are now heading for mortgage-linked losses of around $600 billion (£290 billion), which the chief US economist at Goldman Sachs warns could force the global financial industry to slash its lending by up to £1,000 billion, thereby triggering an international recession.

    The US Federal Reserve bank has already cut interest rates three times and put forward $8 billion (just under £4 billion) to prop up the banks and money markets. But, as repossessions soar and house prices fall, the credit crunch will get harder.

    The financial vultures have landed mortgage slaves and their own financial system in deep doo-doo of their own making.

    In Britain, the Northen Rock mortgage bank revealed that it could not meet its financial obligations to savers and the short-term money market. Depositors queued up to withdraw their funds in September, as the first British bank in 150 years faced total collapse.

    After initial dithering and confusion between three different sets of regulatory authorities, the Financial Services Agency, the Bank of England and the Treasury, Chancellor Alistair Darling guaranteed Northern Rock depositors an £18 billion safety net, while the Bank of England has since lent £25 billion to the bank and offered to pump an extra £10 billion into the money markets.

    Before the run on Northern Rock, the four most senior directors had trousered £26 million in salaries, bonuses and share incentive schemes over a five-year period.

    Chief executive Adam Applegarth sold shares at their peak price in January 2007 to net nearly £2 million, before persuading his employees to buy the company's shares in an invest-as-you-earn - or, more correctly, "lose-as-you-invest" - scheme. The shares that he sold at almost £12 each then are worth less than £2 today.

    Some of the more agile City vultures even managed to rip £1 billion flesh from the carcass as Northern Rock's shares dropped dead. They "rented" shares from the owners, sold them, bought them back at a lower price, returned them and paid the rent out of the profit. It's a classic example of the spivvery which is perfectly legal and normal in the City of London, known technically as "selling short" in a "bear" - ie falling - market.

    Now, public money is footing the bill for the reckless and greedy mismanagement of Northern Rock.

    The £43 billion assistance made available to the bank is already equivalent to half of British government spending on the NHS this year and more than half the education budget.

    For that amount, a real Labour government could have immediately taken the railways back into public ownership, cancelled the debts of NHS trusts and saved thousands of hospital jobs, beds and wards, awarded an above-inflation wage increase to public-sector workers, launched a massive council house-building programme, saved profitable manufacturing concerns from closure, agreed the £725 million rescue package for 125,000 workers robbed of their pensions by unscrupulous employers - and still have enough left over to double overseas aid.

    But it was not only Northern Rock which gambled in the sub-prime and money markets.

    Many financial corporations are now having to devalue their assets and write off or make extra provision for bad debts.

    For example, Britain's second biggest bank the Royal Bank of Scotland has just downvalued its sub-prime related assets by almost £1 billion. But it is still on course to make record profits this year of more than £10 billion, having made plenty of money in the US through packaging and trading property-linked securities before the sub-prime crisis struck. Shareholders have been promised a generous dividend.

    Lloyds TSB has written down SIV and CDO assets by £210 million, but is still heading for an 11 per cent rise in profits this year to more than £4 billion. Barclays has written down SIV assets by £1.3 billion, but is still likely to achieve record profits this year of more than £2 billion. They have a cushion, but it may not be enough if house prices fall drastically, defaults increase and securities fall through the floor.

    Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Alliance & Leicester are all writing down their assets, but the true extent of their exposure to mortgage-linked securities has yet to be fully revealed. Other mortgage banks and building societies in Britain are struggling to raise funds to meet present and future lending commitments and are having to sell assets below their value. Likewise, property investment funds are in trouble.

    Thankfully, record profits this year at "Goldmine Sacks" will ensure that its directors and traders can still share a £9 billion Chirstmas bonus.

    Meanwhile, wider afield, the world's largest reinsurance company Swiss Re has written down or written off £525 million of CDOs and other mortgage-backed credit derivatives.

    The European Central Bank is pumping an extra &#8364;30 billion euros (about £22 billion) into the money markets.

    <