C21 Manifesto

Politics and culture blog - edited by Nick Wright, which goes straight to the heart of the main issues

Country Standard

Published since 1935 - edited by Mike Walker - for rural and food workers and countryside communities.


Unity! is the CP's regular bulletin published for Trade Union Conferences, events and disputes

AVTAR SADIQ: an election candidate advocating socialism

Whichever party wins the general election, there will be a need to project a socialist alternative to the neoliberal agenda favoured by all three of the major parties, says Avtar Sadiq.
Sadiq is standing on behalf of Unity for Peace and Socialism in the Leicester East seat held since 1987 by former minister Keith Vaz.
Unity for Peace and Socialism (UfPS) is an electoral initiative created by the Communist Party of Britain and members of overseas communist parties who are domiciled in Britain.
One such component is the Association of Indian Communists (GB), which provides a political home in Britain for members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
While the CPB is putting forward six candidates under its own name and a seventh, John Metcalfe, is standing as the Socialist & Trade Union candidate in Carlisle, Sadiq will be the sole candidate representing UfPS.
"What kind of a difference can my candidature make?" he asks rhetorically.
"By standing I am representing those fighting back against the crisis, against the cuts, against war, against cuts to the welfare system, against racism and fascism.
"I stand shoulder to shoulder alongside CPB candidates and with other left forces standing in the election. It's not a matter of winning or losing but of raising resistance and marching forward to build unity of all those forces, trade union, labour and progressive forces belonging to various groups."
Sadiq says that the labour movement in Britain ought to learn from what is happening in other countries, especially where exploited people have come together to take control of their lives.
He cites recent examples of Venezuela, Ecuador and Paraguay where popular forces have taken possession of natural resources and begun to run the country in the interests of the absolute majority of the people.
In contrast, Britain is run by a ruling-class minority, which, he says, must be confronted on ideological, organisational, cultural and economic fronts.
Sadiq, who settled in Britain in 1964 as a qualified teacher, gained a certificate in youth and community work from Leicester University and an MA from the University of Warwick.
He was for many years a senior executive officer for the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) and led the Indian Workers Association (GB), which was founded in Coventry in 1938, as general secretary and president.
He retired from the CRE in 2002 and is currently IWA (GB) vice-president.
"The IWA was set up to establish links with trade unions in Britain and to seek support from the labour movement for the campaign for Indian independence," Sadiq explains.
In those days, Indians found it hard to find factory work because the racist media suggested that black people couldn't manage machines.
This changed, of course, once the second world war started and labour was needed. In addition, many Indians arrived to study.
"The Communist Party developed great links with Indians who came to this country for education. As well as education, the party trained them to be trade unionists, to be Marxists and they returned to India to fight for Indian independence.
"The best known of them is Jyoti Basu," says Sadiq, recalling the legendary Indian communist who was for many years the CPI (M) first minister of West Bengal state and who died last year.
The IWA has a long history of progressive activity in Britain, having united with the trade unions to set up the Campaign Against Racist Laws in the 1960s in response to racist immigration and nationality laws.
"Britain became the first country that tampered with its own citizens' nationality rights. The government systematically took away our rights," says Sadiq, recalling that there used to be no distinction between British citizens and Commonwealth citizens in terms of free travel.
The Commonwealth Immigration Act of 1961 took away the right of Commonwealth citizens to move freely into Britain and there has been a succession of ever tighter regulations since then.
"The IWA encouraged immigrants to settle here and to integrate with local communities, while IWA members became involved in British trade unions, many becoming shop stewards and other representatives," says Sadiq.
He remains supportive of the trade union movement, calling in his election material for the repeal of all anti-trade union laws and urging solidarity with workers taking action to defend jobs, conditions, pensions and public services.
However, he has no truck with those who suggest that new Labour generally or Gordon Brown personally has any understanding or sympathy for working people.
"The Labour government's record has been anti-working-class. It deliberately pursued the neoliberal economic policies that created the current crisis.
"The British people are being conned. The three main parties are planning drastic cuts in the public services we all depend on.
"New Labour, Tories and Lib Dems are all doing what big business wants - making ordinary folk carry the costs of the capitalist crisis."
Sadiq says that the labour movement ought to point out clearly that capitalism cannot be crisis-free and that the crisis of international finance capital, which has spearheaded imperialist globalisation over past three decades, is complemented by crises of energy, food and managing globalisation.
He points to the phenomenon of jobless growth in which higher production is achieved without any corresponding increase in employment levels, intensifying workers' exploitation.
"Jobless growth has created divisions between rich and poor countries and between rich and poor people within countries," Sadiq declares.
And he attacks the Labour government's record, itemising ongoing privatisation of public services, 2.5 million officially unemployed, five million people on council housing waiting lists, 30 per cent of children growing up in poverty, a similar percentage of pensioners in the same plight and six million people on low wages, most of them women.
"Why have people not got jobs? Why have they not got houses? Why are we cutting back on public services, libraries nurseries and so on?
"Planned public-service cuts could lead to half a million jobs being lost. School teachers, nurses, youth workers, social workers, community workers and care workers will disappear.
"The crisis is being used by racist forces for their own benefit. Deprivation, social injustice and poverty are being exploited by the BNP," he insists.
Sadiq reports a conversation with two nurses on the doorstep during his canvassing. Unison members, they pay the political levy but are dubious about what Labour will do for them, especially since they know that Labour's manifesto contains a pledge to make cuts in public spending.
The nurses also deplored the lack of unity among public-sector unions which they feel ought to be taking action together to frustrate the cuts agenda supported by all three major parties.
"This contradiction provides a major challenge," says Sadiq.
"There is a need to unite the public-sector unions on political and trade union issues. They cannot confine their battles to within a legal framework. Wages and conditions must be defended politically.
"When airline workers, oil refinery workers, local authority workers go on strike, they are expressing their resentment against the crisis, but unions restrict their comments to defending jobs and pay.
"These are very general questions but also very political questions. This economic crisis has opened up a political crisis."
Sadiq believes that it is necessary to bring all left forces together to build unity and to develop the project of socialism, suggesting that the CPB can play a leading role on the ideological front and the economic front in uniting the left.
"The Labour Party's social democratic project has proven to be bankrupt," he says.
"I don't believe that the Labour Party can be reclaimed for socialism. The party that was set up to represent the interests of trade unions has systematically deviated from that original objective. Blair removed clause four on public ownership and new Labour then carried out a neoliberal agenda."
Sadiq emphasises that the ruling class is united on politics, secure in the knowledge that capitalism benefits the small ruling class that profits from the exploitation inherent in the system.
"We need to advocate the project of socialism more strongly, more strenuously and more collectively. Trade unions cannot restrict themselves solely to the economic agenda. They have to discuss politics," he says.
And tackling David Cameron's rhetoric about giving power to the people, Sadiq insists that you can't give power to the people to run the economy without taking over the means of production, distribution and exchange.
"You can't have power without ownership and control," he says.

Whichever party wins the general election, there will be a need to project a socialist alternative to the neoliberal agenda favoured by all three of the major parties, says Avtar Sadiq in a Morning Star interview with political editor John Haylett.

Read more ...

Powered by Spearhead Software Labs Joomla Facebook Like Button