Verdict on Cameron’s legacy: “a shitshow”

The comment made by Barack Obama on the Tory intervention in Libya probably characterises Cameron’s legacy as “a shitshow”. Why it takes an official report, at great public expense, to come up with this is another question. I thought it was common knowledge at the time. However the verdict has been delivered rather more quickly than that on Iraq, which again the 1 – 2 million who marched in London and those who demonstrated elsewhere across the globe knew instinctively.

Obama’s description could be applied to Brexit, after the faction winning turned out not to have a clue what to do when the result came out in their favour. The outcome has led to what Jean-Claude Junkers has called an “existential crisis” for the EU. Donald Tusk qualifies the argument by pointing out that the issues identified by Britain are shared by other member states:

In a letter to the 27 governments sent before the meeting, the man organising the summit, European council president, Donald Tusk, said it would be “a fatal error to assume that the negative result in the UK referendum represents a specifically British issue”.

He writes that “it is true that the leave campaign was full of false arguments and unacceptable generalisations”, but the Brexit vote was also “a desperate attempt to answer the questions that millions of Europeans ask themselves daily”, citing border control and the fight against terrorism.

“People in Europe want to know if the political elites are capable of restoring control over events and processes which overwhelm, disorientate, and sometimes terrify them. Today many people, not only in the UK, think that being part of the European Union stands in the way of stability and security.”

Guardian 14/9/2016

What he doesn’t mention is the commonality of substantial opinion from trades unions and working people in France, in Greece, even Germany faced with EU directives towards stepping up privatisation and forbidding state intervention such as the nationalisation of railway systems etc. The German state railway is currently being soften up for private intervention and is itself bidding for railway franchises, including London Midland in the UK. Brexit continues to be characterised as a far right racist, anti-immigration move while ignoring appeals by sections of unions and parties who supported from a left-wing perspective. This aims at bringing working peoples’ common interests together across Europe with their work forces consisting of peoples of all origins open to exploitation. Who is representing their interests? Not UKIP or the Tories under Johnson et al. Sadly not the Labour Party who voted to remain under a regime flagrantly against them.

Vote to leave the EU strengthens our fight for a better world

Press Release from Arthur Scargill, LeaderSocialist Labour Party
Vote to leave the EU strengthens our fight
for a better world

Socialists have good cause to celebrate the British people’s decision to come out of the European Union and get back into the world. The Socialist Labour Party’s policy and reasons for leaving the European Union – very different from those of Tories or of UKIP – have been vindicated by the outcome of the Referendum.

The SLP has always recognised the EU as an engine of free-market globalised capitalism. Membership of the EU has inflicted horrendous economic, social and political damage to all working people trapped within it. As for Britain, 90% of our manufacturing and key industries have been wiped out with our health, education and welfare provision steadily wiped out. We see the damage everywhere around us in the need for food banks and campaigns to protect homeless families and hundreds of individuals sleeping rough, whilst high-cost sky-scrapers shoot up to house billionaires and blight our cities.

The decision by the British people to ‘come out’ of the unelected and unaccountable bastion of the European Union allows us to renew the fight to restore all the industries and services privatised by Tory and Labour Governments to public ownership – but this time we must campaign for true common and social ownership and control: in our badly damaged National Health Service; our social services including care for our elderly and children; in our education system; and we must demand the restoration of council housing, owned and controlled by local authorities.

The vote to leave the European Union is a challenge to Britain’s trade union leaders to reflect the views of their members on issues such the abolition of Trident and opposition to nuclear power and fracking, alongside job protection, wages, zero-hours contracts, agency working and privatisation. The Socialist Labour Party has consistently pointed out that EU membership has eroded – not protected – workers’ rights.

European Union directives and European Court of Justice decisions have robbed us of hard-won free collective bargaining, the right to strike, and attacked our pension rights. We must now all join a fight to overturn these injustices – and Britain’s trade unions must give a lead in recovering the rights our forebears fought to hard to achieve.

Free movement of labour and capital

The Socialist Labour Party has consistently made clear the fundamental difference between immigration and people seeking asylum, on the one hand, and the massive inflow of ‘migrant labour’ from EU countries under the ‘free movement of labour’. Both before and after the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 the number of immigrants/asylum-seekers entering Britain averaged 250,000 a year whilst the number of people emigrating from Britain averaged 350,000 a year.

On the other hand, in 2014/2015 whilst official figures recorded the numbers of ‘migrant workers’ entering Britain from EU countries as 480,000, during that same period the Government issued 1,222,000 National Insurance numbers – to migrant workers. This clearly shows that over 1.2 million EU ‘migrant workers’ entered Britain in 2014/2015.

The massive increase in the numbers entering Britain are a direct result of the European Union’s central policy of free movement of labour and capital – in other words, a free-market philosophy. The free movement of capital has seen the destruction of key industries such as our automotive industry and heavy and light engineering, whilst all our key utilities such as electricity, gas and water are owned privately by foreign companies (not to mention the sell-off of our railways!). Our coal and steel industries have been or are being eliminated – yet Britain is importing – at an enormous cost – both steel and coal, produced elsewhere through subsidies and/or by slave (including child) labour.

Back into the world

The Socialist Labour Party has always argued that Britain’s economy will thrive when it leaves the European Union and gets ‘back into the world’. EU membership has left us with a trade deficit of between £60-and-£100 billion each year, whilst trade with countries outside the EU has led to a trade surplus of between £30-and-£50 billion per year.

We should extend our trading arrangements not only with the 53 Commonwealth countries but with the 100-plus other countries outside the European Union while maintaining trade on a fair basis – not a free-market basis – with the 27 countries inside the EU.

What next for Britain?

In the Referendum campaign we have witnessed the majority of Tory MPs desperate to remain within the European Union monolith, which is incidentally on the brink of settling an iniquitous free trade agreement – TTIP – with the United States. The Referendum campaign has exposed the collaborationist philosophy of the Labour Party with a majority of its Members of Parliament and its Leader shown to be completely out of touch with the problems facing their constituents.

Statements by Jeremy Corbyn (long admired as a Socialist campaigner/politician) that he is now in favour of a ‘mixed economy’ show an abandonment of principle and a betrayal of those Socialists who gave birth to the Labour Party in 1918. It is beyond dispute that the present-day Labour Party and its Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, are pursuing the same collaborationist policies as other social democratic parties in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Greece.

The result of the Referendum and the Socialist Labour Party’s campaigning should persuade people to join our Party and its fight for a Socialist future, for our children and our grand-children.
Arthur Scargill
Leader, Socialist Labour Party
24 June 2016
Socialist Labour Party: slpgeneralsecretary@gmail.com

The entrails left by profiteers. Life is cheap

As I understand all life derives from a single source and we can see that we are just a part of this evolution. Yet the mass market of food production takes little into account about what is necessary for a quality of life among animals and crops produced. Since we are inextricably linked human life and welfare will be deeply affected. Profits are all, welfare nowhere as we can see by the entrails left by profiteers. Life is cheap to them.

Chicken is cheap – probably cheaper than chips – yet its production leaves many question with the entrails – literal as well as in fact – leave a trail of harmful and deadly bacteria. The agencies charged with ensuring we have a supply of nutrious, healthy food are seriously challenged. One or two articles and programmes have documented intensive production. It is characterised by low wages, shocking working conditions with health and safety of workers difficult to spot. The problem is we don’t know where our food is sourced. If we did we wouldn’t want it.

This week President Obama landed in UK, prospective trade agreement TTIP in hand. Stay in the EU in trumpeted, otherwise UK will be at the back of the queue for trade agreements. Isn’t that precisely what we want? TTIP would take away any ability to challenge the filthy part of the food industry when corporate interest takes over from ours with ability to take even governments to court if they question damage to health by, not only tobacco, but harmful food production. Thanks, but no thanks Barack.

The Steel Industry Game

In 2007 Tata brought up the British Steel Industry. This I learn now was several times bigger than itself and, with the collusion of banks, pulled off the deal. This is the Steel Industry Game played by corporate interests and governments with peoples’ lives as the pawns. Jobs and community infrastructure are nowhere in the reckoning. In India this could be seen as the tables turning on colonial history.

Games began in earnest in the 1970s as industry after industry was closed, jobs lost and communities shattered. To those in charge of us it didn’t matter that an economy based 80% on heavy industry with just 20% service industry was about to be turned on its head. Manufacturing could be outsourced to far away with people on low or no wages being exploited. Unions had become too strong to handle having won decent wages and working conditions supported by health and safety legislation. The “enemy within” had to be stopped at all costs in the class war that ensued. The power of workers demonstrated at the Battle of Saltley Gate in 1972 should never be repeated as the Battle of Orgreave over a decade later made clear as violently repressive measures were used on unarmed demonstrators.

MPs enjoying their Easter hols were slow to wake up to Tata’s announcement that it was going to decide to off load British Steel by 31st March 2016. Hell, that’s today! The first to come back was Jeremy Corbyn requesting a recall of Parliament and visiting Port Talbot where he alone was able to make calm and considered suggestions on action, including nationalisation of the industry whole or in part. David Cameron appeared rather lame as he dismissed requests for the recall of Parliament and nationalisation but claiming nothing had been ruled out.

Tory Education Policies Unravelling

The infamous budget speech from George Osborne has not left the news headlines since its delivery weeks ago. “Austerity” was a term dreamed up to blind people from the reality of Tory policy which was avowedly to shrink the state. Local accountability has certainly shrunk with nowhere to go to question those now running our precious and hard won services.

Education has been overshadowed by proper concerns over what is going on in health, with threats there of increasing privatisation which, with TTIP proposals, could end up with multinational concerns running NHS services. In Birmingham Perry Beeches School was held up as an example of the brave new world, its head teacher, Liam Nolan, elevated to the position of “super-head”. Perry Beeches attempted to produce clones across Birmingham with “Perry Beeches II, III and now V”. “Super-head” has now become a bit big for his boots. Although he has for now retained his position of Head Teacher, his designation of CEO and Accounting Officer of a Trust set up to run the whole empire has been withdrawn, his second six-figure income having drawn fire. The Trust has been paid well over a million pounds annually, with Mr Nolan protesting that £200,000 was too little to reward his brilliance.

Like health and other public services essential to our well being, education is not served by being forced into a market place which discriminates between the well-off and the majority who live from their labour and ability to get employment. Speeches as the National Union of Teachers and NAS/UWT Conferences this Easter serve to show how Tories are now being challenged with a national protest on 16th April and teachers supporting junior doctors with strike action. Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, was well supported at the NUT Conference in Brighton while Education Secretary Nicky Morgan had a torrid time in Birmingham speaking to NAS/UWT delegates. Her assertion at the outset that there would be no u-turns in her proposals looks particularly vulnerable in the light of Osborne’s back tracking on benefits following his budget announcement.

Extract from Nicky Morgan’s speech.

What does Nicky Morgan know about Education?

What does Nicky Morgan know about education, or anything else come to that? Her abysmal performance on a recent Any Questions showed her floundering about her own Chancellor’s budget proposals to attack the most vulnerable. Two news stories today ask what qualifies her to foist inappropriate testing on our children and press ahead with her “irreversible” decision to force all schools into becoming Academies.

It has long been blatantly obvious what the Tories were about with education giving all assets away to private ownership, putting it in the hands of many who, like Nicky Morgan, understand little about education or children and how they learn. The 11 plus test used to brand children as failures with living with that idea into adulthood. Now Morgan proposes what teachers are saying is totally inappropriate testing at 7 as well as 11. They believe many adults would have difficulty in understanding the questions children will be expected to answer. In many countries formal education begins at 7 and children have happier experiences of learning through play. In UK private tutors are converting their homes into school rooms to coach the young of pushy parents demanding their children perform to order. How damaging this is to the many is about to be proved once again.

Why it has taken so long to hear the assertion that Tory policy on education is asset stripping is puzzling, except the last Labour Government also promoted Academies. At last Jeremy Corbyn Labour Leader, has said it at the NUT Conference. Nicky Morgan is due to speak at the the NAS/UWT Conference. She should meet with an appropriately hostile reception. Hopefully they will have read the DFE’s own figures on the performance of the the academy chains which are very clear that the Government’s assertion that they will improve schools is utter rubbish. It leaves us in no doubt at all that the Tories’ plans for schools, as with other privatisations, is purely ideologically based as more and more tax payers’ finances are handed to organisations with no mandate or accountability. Typically those at the head of the underperforming chains are paying themselves telephone number salaries. Their schools are allowed to employ unqualified staff and worsen the working conditions of teachers. Morgan is dismissing the parent governors, once welcomed unpaid into schools to carry out very difficult tasks. Now rubbished she wants them replaced by the “experts”, presumably those engaged in foisting proposals as stupid and uncomprehending as hers on our invaluable education system. Indeed what does Nicky Morgan, and many other politicians including Labour imitators know about education?

Socialist Labour Party Policies for Education.

EU substitutes Syrian threats to security with Turkish

Same old incomprehension from governments as EU substitutes threats to security with Turkish as Syrians are sent back from Greece to Turkey and Turkish are given free passage. Just who are enemies and who are friends? Friendship seems to be synonymous with anyone regarded as economically useful never mind  who they associated with. Profit making is blind to any problems arising as Russia Today reveals.

We must and have welcomed refugees. The majority have fled the horrific situation arising from political expediency from the likes of Bush and Blair in stoking up with wars predicated on ancient conflicts between “Christians” and “Muslims”. The use of such blanket ideas as “terrorism” were intended to serve the interests of those leaders by uniting the nations they led by fear promising protection from such enemies. The series “The Power of Nightmares” shows how we have been misled by people who should now be on trial for the war crimes following their horrendous bidding, backed (if not led) by an international arms industry pushing for permanent war. The death and destruction that has followed has been infinitely greater than could be mustered the “axis of evil” that George W. Bush’s administration invented with the aid of the likes of Rumsfeld, Cheney and Milton Friedman and the Chicago School promoting the “Shock Doctrine” to be unleashed on the invented enemies they needed to save us (in the “World of Capitalism”) from.

The distorted vision seems to created a reality as we follow actual “terror” attacks in Paris and in now in Brussels. Instead of understanding this the responses remain uncomprehending repeating the same lack of understanding and imagination as EU substitutes threats to security with Turkish. Do we imagine that the majority of those fleeing the destruction of their homes and communities are “terrorists” rather victims of terror from all sides, including those who have intervened supposedly to save them? The EU has shown itself to be totally unprepared to collectively take precautions so that those with the intention of bringing death and destruction into the heart of Europe can disappear into the crowd. In the end the majority become the suspects and the world of Islam conflated with “Terrorism”. Of course the doctrine of “Shock and Awe” used against not just the “Terrorists” but the peoples of ancient nations and the destruction of their (and our) heritage) is not defined as the perpetration of terror. It is most powerful educational and recruiting agent that the “Terrorist” could possibly have as they revisit the perpetrators (our governments) and apply just that doctrine to us.

As Obama visits Cuba he exposes the continuing reality of the nation that imposes power irrespective of ideas: ideas that have long been a subject of discussion in Cuba do not register in his patronage of this supposedly hostile state, once, if not now (?) a candidate for the “axis of evil”. The Cubans know that the enmity is not being ended by this exhibition of friendship as threat is related by a charm offensive without even touching US intentions towards the neighbour in its backyard. Obama hasn’t even tried to tone down the rhetoric. What he seems to have failed to note is how ideas discussed throughout Latin America are a reality in the alliances that have sprung up with Cuba as a key player rather than excluded from American partnerships. The ideas are refreshing alternatives which include voices of former victims of colonial rule across the world.

In Europe mass movements have begun to emerge demanding something different from the impositions that affect people internally as well as externally. This is also evident within the United States itself as Bernie Sanders refuses to withdraw from the Presidential race and states continue to endorse his candidature for Democratic nominee. Promises of resistance in Greece have been compromised by the powerful economic interventions of the dominant nations of Germany and France. In UK Blairite factions which support policies of privatisation and austerity dog the Labour Party membership’s leadership choice of Jeremy Corbyn. In consequence he has backtracked on policies long associated with him, including membership of the EU itself, and the need for Trident for our security. (How will that prevent ISIS mingling with fleeing refugees across mainland Europe?)

Arthur Scargill returns to Birmingham for 44th anniversary of Saltley Gate

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John Tyrrell, SLP President, introducing Party Leader, Arthur Scargill

On 6th February the Socialist Labour Party once again remembered the anniversary of Saltley Gate when 300,000 workers stopped work in support of the miners. This was on 11th February, 1972. 150,000 marched on Saltley Gate preventing deliveries of coke intended to break the strike. There were lines of workers marching east to west and west to east, the police intending them to pass each other. As they reached the gate Arthur Scargill gave the order over loud hailer to “Stop”. When this happened the order was given by the police “Close the Gate”. This victory shows how effective mass action is against unfair and anti-working governments, such as the one we have currently, are. It is necessary to remember and for the first time since the 40th anniversary held at Saltley Gate in 2012, Arthur Scargill returned to Birmingham to speak at the 44th anniversary, this time to a packed audience at the Priory Rooms in Bull Street, Birmingham.

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Arthur Scargill. Leader, Socialist Labour Party & Leader at Saltley Gate speaking on the need to exit the bureaucratic EU

As in 2012 Scargill’s speech focussed on current issues, notable the European Union and the crucial need to leave what he had predicted would become a bureaucratic organisation serving there freedom of movement of Capital and workers for the benefit of the large corporations. Their involvement in TTIP showed where their interest lay. He emphasised his disappointment with Labour failing to tackle these key issues, drawing back after Jeremy Corbyn’s massive majority to bring about significant change putting the need of people before corporate greed. The idea of sending submarines around the globe with unarmed Trident missiles was laughable. Corbyn had the chance at the Labour Annual Conference of insisting on stopping Trident and putting forward other changes he had articulated in his bid for leadership of the Labour Party.

As far as 1972 was concerned there was much to be learned about working people acting together in solidarity. It had proved that doing this brought about the changes they needed in the face of coercive and anti-union governments such as that in office now.

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New Style Radio presenter, George Gordon, speaks about Harold Crawford

George Gordon, a radio presenter at New Style Radio based at the Afro-Caribbean Millennium Centre in Winson Green, Birmingham, was in 1972 a shop steward. He brought his workers out then. Two years ago he mentioned the name of Harold Crawford, a Barbadian who had made a contribution to the support of the miners at that time. George pointed out that there was considerable apathy amongst African Caribbean workers and Harold Crawford galvanised them into action by convincing them of the need to give active support. Other sections of the community were brought together by organisations like the Indian Workers’ Association. We had come to realise that 1972 was supported across diversity and included women and men from various backgrounds. However it didn’t come about by chance, but through leadership from within sections of the community.

The meeting had started with a song from Banner Theatre’s 1972 production of Saltley Gate by Dave Rodgers. (I suggested this should be a candidate for an English National Anthem!).

Following George Gordon, Dr Kim Bryan, Secretary of the Socialist Labour Party spoke of other acts of solidarity in Britain at the time in the early 70’s, including rent strikes in Liverpool and beyond. There was no reason why such resistance should not come again. This was followed by an informative debate with those present.

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Guest speaker Jorge Luis Garcia Garcia from Cuba

Jorge Luis Garcia Garcia representing the Cuban Embassy spoke briefly on the situation since Cuba and the US had begun talks and exchanged visits late last year. Regrettably there was no time left for discussion on the important issues raised by the exceptional speakers.

An earlier meeting in London had discussed Cuban Futures at greater length and depth. A report can be seen here.

 

Photographs: Neil Barrington with thanks

Housing and Cameron’s deceit

PMQ’s this week Jeremy Corby questioned the PM on housing. We were treated once more to Cameron’s deceit.

Whoever built council houses the right to buy has meant that very many homes have been passed to private ownership. Among the people who have profited have been the landlords who have bought up multiple homes, charge extortionate rents and frequent allow people to use their properties for all sorts of things that affect the neighbourhood substantially devaluing neighbouring properties. They are out of control.

As the Daily Mirror points out Tory policy is to remove government from housing responsibility. In their eyes a £450,000 home counts as affordable. With homelessness likely to increase exponentially, while local authorities reduce their homeless centre, we have yet another horrific crisis intensifying. Corbin makes an effort to challenge, but his own party’s lack of support for him undermines him at every turn.

I note that in London, a group is producing a bulletin under the title “Socialist Labour”. It should be noted this is not to be confused with the Socialist Labour Party. This Party already has policies which oppose Trident, the bombing of Syria or any other country and the withdrawal from Europe. It is a Socialist Party founded by James Connolly at much the same time as Keir Hardy was regarded as the founder of Labour. They worked together in the Independent Labour Party and Connolly wrote a moving tribute to Hardy. In my view those wanting Socialism should join a party that has Socialist policies. Labour has shown itself to vie with the Tories to show who can be better supporters of Capitalism. Socialists know that’s not going to work. While Corbyn’s efforts have to be recognised already those expecting change are being disappointed. We have seen Hilary Benn support bombing of Libya from the front bench and the tussle on Trident seems insoluble.

Varoufakis starts a movement in Berlin

Interesting that Yannis Varoufakis has begun a new pan European movement in Berlin. His view of Europe that is being run by a cartel is shared, and has been for some time. Notwithstanding many who agree still believe our future is in Europe.

Across the world the desire for something different is emerging, something that is challenging the existing elite. In New Hampshire the people have selected Bernie Sanders as their candidate for the Democratic Party and Donald Trump the Republicans. The controlling elite will contest this to ensure they hold their power intact.

On Saturday last, 6th February, Arthur Scargill, leader of the Socialist Labour Party in the UK, spoke in Birmingham on the 44th anniversary of the Battle of Saltley Gate. Scargill then took a leading role in halting the 15,000 Birmingham workers marching in support of the miners. The police had intended that they march from east to west and west to east but that they should pass each other. When they were outside the gate Arthur Scargill gave the order to stop and the police gave the order to “shut the gate”. In all 30,000 had stopped work representing all sections of Birmingham society: African Caribbean, Asian, women and men. Their action culminated in the end of another appalling Tory administration. If there is such solidarity it can happened again.

Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party illustrates how the entrenched MP’s of Labour are joining opposition to him in spite of the substantial majority of Labour Party members voicing support. In Westminster the revolving door system is illustrative the in-built corruption and the stranglehold of the ruling elite over MPs of all parties. The lobbyists from the arms industry for one will not countenance an end to the outrageously expensive, and ultimately useless, Trident.