Category Archives: National

Massacres at Jallianwalla Bagh and Peterloo.

It is one hundred years since British troops opened fire on defenceless people including women, children and men in the area of the Punjabi city of Amritsar known as Jallianwalla Bagh. It was an enclosed public space where people regularly assembled for meetings or spent leisure time. There were high walls and very narrow alleyways. Gates were locked at the time, and many died escaping the bullets by jumping into a well. This notorious massacre has gone down in history and on the centenary of the event many are lobbying parliament for an official apology of what took place.

Just two hundred years ago people had gathered in such a space in and area of Manchester. As in India armed militia were brought in and an order given to open fire directly into the crowd. This too has gone down in history as the Peterloo Massacre.

A meeting held in Handsworth Birmingham on Saturday, 20th April 2019, remembered both events and attention was drawn to how people have been, and continue to be oppressed by a ruling elite using armed militia. They unite people of India and the UK by the brutality they experienced at the hands of the ruling class in a shared history.

The film Gandhi (1983) recreates events at Jallianwalabagh on April 13th, 1919. A film about Peterloo was released in 2012. An illustrated book about the event is due out to coincide with the bicentenary of the Peterloo massacre in August 1819. Both events should be included in schools’ curriculum.

Booted and suited.

Brexit rides rough shod over political identities, Tory or Labour, left or right, brexiteers or remainers. The booted and suited remainers could well be Labour, we know that it is the Tory elite group who are leading the Brexit campaign since this is the message repeated ad nauseam in press reports. The left case is less well documented.

Brexit has been identified with the right from the start with UKIP getting full press coverage. Takis Fotopoulos analyses a situation where, not only in Britain, but elsewhere, including the US, confusion has abounded. The population, divided between the beneficiaries of globalisation and those (the majority) who have found themselves its victims, have looked for alternatives. The traditional left has failed to show support for the victims while many are giving support for remaining in the European Union, an engine of globalisation repressing further those affected by austerity, the loss of what were termed “essential services” provided by almost non-existent local government.

In case any one missed it, this was David Cameron’s promise around the time he offered the chance to take part in a referendum on staying in or leaving the EU. Since then local government has shrunk losing the ability to provide even the most essential of services at the same time as increasing council tax levels significantly. Privatisation of everything, following the highly praised model of Chile’s experiment under Pinochet, has taken hard as “globalisation” (neoliberalism) has taken firm hold. It has become the engine of the European Union and its institutions as well as governments universally whether calling themselves right or left.

Every where privatisation has been practiced flagship projects have ended in tears as private providers collapse through corruption and greed. Carillion failed in the middle of building new hospitals, our railways are costing more and more, at the same time as failing to deliver basic services with huge profits going to providers which include companies set up by state railways of Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy etc. Carillion’s highly paid boss not only landed a new job leading another failing company but was retained as a government adviser. Heads they win, tails we lose.

47th Anniversary of the Battle of Saltley Gate

Flier for meeting in Birmingham on 47th anniversary of the Battle of Saltley Gate, addressed by Arthur Scargill

The 47th anniversary of the Battle of Saltley Gate, which took place in Birmingham on 10th February 1972, will be celebrated in Birmingham with an address from the man who took a lead on that day, Arthur Scargill.

An act of betrayal of both socialist principal and a betrayal of the democratic vote of the British people

Press release from the Leader of the Socialist Labour Party

“Jeremy Corbyn’s statement that any discussions with the government will only take place provided that ” NO DEAL ” is taken off the table is not only deplorable but an act of betrayal of both socialist principal and a betrayal of the democratic vote of the British people and the 60 per cent of Labour Constituencies who voted to leave the European Union including its corrupt Customs Union, it’s rigged single Market and it’s unacceptable Free Movement of workers and Capital. His appalling abandonment of his previous position would have been condemned by the late Tony Benn; Michael Foot and is condemned by me who for over 40 years regarded him as a comrade and friend. No More.” 

Arthur Scargill Leader Socialist Labour Party and former President National Union of Mineworkers 1982 — 2002

Labour Party MPs and Labour Party leadership ” Betrayal “

Labour Party MPs and Labour Party leadership ” Betrayal “

The Labour Party MPs and the Labour Party leaders who voted yesterday to oppose a “NO DEAL”  are guilty of betraying the British people and betraying comrades such as Tony Benn and Michael Foot who warned that membership of the EEC and later the. European Union  would destroy our economy and hand over our sovereignty to an unelected body who take decisions and adopt laws which are binding on all member states, and more important membership would bind Britain to a EU which has a constitution which commits all member states to a Capitalist system. I congratulate Ronnie Campbell ( a mining MP ) Graham Stringer and Kate Hoey who were the only three to keep the faith. The Labour Party leadership should lead the fight for a ( NO DEAL) exit from this rotten bureaucratic E U.  

Arthur Scargill leader Socialist Labour Party and former President of the National of Mineworkers.

We Had the Vote: Leave the EU Now. Conference, Birmingham 27/10/2018

A veritable line up of speakers attended yesterday’s conference held in Birmingham against the flow of demos demanding that we stay in the EU and its institutions. None of them made arguments remotely resembling those associated with the Brexiteers on the right flooding page of press, tv representing the massive reaction of the EU elite to those who had the temerity to vote to leave the EU in 2016. We had the vote: leave the EU now!

Issues raised at the outset included sovereignty, which can be associated with the wishes of supporters of UKIP and the Tory right, although for totally different ends, but from thereon there was little if nothing comparable. Dr Kim Bryan from the Socialist Labour Party spoke of the endless and destructive wars in which NATO was involved in proxy wars accounting for 95% percent of deaths in continuing global conflicts: the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, the Yemen. The EU is committing increasing funds using NATO to protect its interests. 

Ken Capstick, former Deputy Leader of Yorkshire NUM, spoke of austerity as a “Capitalist Crime” which is being allowed continue after the 2007 financial crash. The leaders of the EU, financiers and bankers, were associated with fraud, theft and other criminal activities and should now be in jail. Don’t hear this from Tories and their right wing allies. 

Professor Costas Lapavitsas, a former Greek MP in the Syriza Government made an eloquent and clear case for the need to end any association with free markets and the tools being used by the EU to meet their agenda. Their aim was to bring about stabilisation through measures such as austerity. Since the method used was to created money is this “stabilisation” real? As is being shown now in Italy, as well as Spain, Portugal and Greece. Austerity is not a policy, it is now institutionalised so that voters have no choice of voting for a party which can do anything different. The “democratic deficit” has become an abyss. There is a profound divergence among people as a result with feelings of powerlessness reasons for which many are unable to comprehend. While the message is that EU produces harmony among member states the reverse is true: Germany is using the EU for its own purposes with France in a support role. Central European states support Germany’s industrial base while those in the south are sources of cheap labour. 

Prof. Lapavitsas ended with advice about what we can do now, discussed in more detail in his new publication “The Left Case Against the EU”. Reform he saw as complete surrender. We are internationalists, but we need the internationalism of labour, not capitalism. For this we have to start from home.

Doug Nicholls, General Secretary of the General Federation of Trades Unions, pointed out that we need to get out of the single market institutions to restore our freedom to determine our future. The “Freedoms of Maastricht” are restrictions except for big international corporations. The basis of the single market came from Thatcher’s decision in 1979 to remove exchange controls on capital in Britain. The result caused misery for many when industry moved elsewhere across the globe. People were told to “get on their bike” to get jobs, as we thought that we had a right to expect employment where we were living. Movement of labour internationally hollowed out the work forces of some countries. UK agricultural and fishing industries were devastated and our ability to sustain ourselves in food and energy was reversed. As net contributors to the EU budget we had a little of our money returned through projects across the nation.

It was pointed out that the EU has not been audited for 20 years. It is rife with corruption and people don’t know where the money goes. We need to re-establish self-reliance to rebuild our own economy and industry. At present EU procurement and competition policies consistently disadvantage British industry. We have to ensure that EU law doesn’t continue to overrule employment law that we ourselves have created. Poland had to tear up all their collective bargaining agreements as a condition of joining the EU.

We need to reject protracted negotiations designed to keep us tied to the EU in some way, but we had a significant working class positive vote which generally lit a spark across Europe and which should mean that we will leave in EU on 29th March.  The elite were caught unawares that this would happen are themselves divided. Britain’s history has been one like a sleeping giant which periodically re-awakens to challenge. The question of an Irish border with controls is an excuse being used to frustrate an agreement. We should remember the great leaders such as James Connolly who stood for freedom and self-determination of their countries, free of impositions from others. These were understood as internationalist perspectives where all others would have their rights respected based on creative co-operation.

Arthur Scargill, Leader of the Socialist Labour Party concluded drawing on his long experience of campaigning against Europe, including in 1975 alongside Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn. Going into Europe had resulted in the UK losing its manufacturing base which accounted for 80% of the GDP. Germany is succeeding because of its manufacturing strength, not least in the automotive industry, formerly a feature of a strong British industry. If we take back control we can revive our manufacturing base, using our energy supplies, with new technology available for clean energy, and provide the jobs we need.  

We at this conference should determine to oppose the economic and political decision to sabotage the people’s decision to leave in an unprecedented and sustained campaign through media that ran even into children’s television. We have a responsibility to respond with the case against membership of the EU  We need to understand the issues now and go from here to tell others bringing people onto the streets to oppose what’s going on.

Scargill pointed out that we had a people’s vote. He was referring to the General Election called by Theresa May in 2017. In that resulted he noted that 75% of constituencies with Conservative MPS voted to leave the EU and 61% of constituencies with Labour MPs. If that was reflected in parliament there wouldn’t be a need for a debate. We don’t need further debate, we need action. 

Instead we have betrayal from many in the labour movement who need to understand the facts of life we’re discussing. No socialist can support the free movement of people or capital. Tony Benn made it clear that the EU constitution supported Capitalism. 

The Labour Party did not escape criticism in its wish for a customs union and a free market.

We need to call meetings like this across Britain to say what is going on and will not accept the sabotage of the right wing. That is the way to win the votes of the British people.

Corbyn’s Embrace of a Customs Union is a Sell Out to Labour’s Right Wing on EU Fanatics 

Jeremy Corbyn’s embrace of a Customs Union is a sell out to Labour Party’s Right wing EU fanatics Keir Starmer and Chuka Umunna and it means that the Labour Party is now committed to, Free Movement of Workers from 27 EU Countries in to the U K,  a Single Market which allows Companies to move out of the U.K. to other EU States where workers are paid lower wages, The EU’s constitution is committed to Capitalism and membership or collaboration with the EU means Britain has to accept the tariffs ( Import Controls ) stipulated by an unelected body in Brussels.

It appears that Labours Leadership have forgotten that the 1945 Labour Government applied import controls which saw a Britain build an economy which had 80 per cent based in Manufacturing( today it’s 10 per cent ) an economy which built cars, aircraft, steel,coal, cotton,wool,agriculture and fishing. Labours Leadership are ignoring that 60 per cent of Labour Constituencies voted to leave the EU, something Britain could have done the day after the referendum. Britain has an annual deficit of £80 billion in trade with EU countries whilst Britains trade with the rest of the world produces a £40 billion surplus. It’s economic and political madness to remain in the EU. If the Labour Party continues with its present policy on the EU the British people will never forgive what they are doing. The British people voted to leave this bastion of capitalism. I call on all who want an independent Britain to make clear in any future vote to support those who want ” No Deal ”

Arthur Scargill.  Leader Socialist Labour Party.

Labour Party’s proposal to give shares in firms. Statement from Arthur Scargill, Leader, Socialist Labour Party (SLP)

The Labour Party’s proposal to ” give shares to workers in the firms that employ them” means that the Labour Party is now firmly committed to retaining a Capitalist System, a clear abandonment of Socialism. It’s the same stupid policy as the Labour Government’s ” Bullock Commission” in 1976. How on earth can any socialist support this party’s continued ” Sell Out ” Arthur Scargill ( Author with Peggy Kahn) of The Myth of Workers’ Control ( 1976)

Arthur Scargill, Leader, Socialist Labour Party (SLP)

Further reading

Statement from Arthur Scargill: Labour Party Leadership– Act of Treachery

The statement by the Labour Party Leadership that they would support a second referendum is an act of treachery for which they will never be forgiven. The ruling class have used and will continue to use every means including a media which has sought to overturn to overturn the decision of the British people in the 2016 Referendum. Tony Benn warned that membership of the European Union would mean that Britain would governed by a Constitution which is committed to Capitalism. The ruling class and the EU will demand another referendum and another until they get the result they want. As a socialist I call for all those who call themselves socialists to condemn this act of treachery by the Labour Party Leaders and campaign for withdrawal from this bastion of Capitalism.

Arthur Scargill, Leader Socialist Labour Party.

We Had the Vote. Leave the EU Now

This year’s round of conferences by the British labour movement have been forced to put Brexit on the table. Has it produced more smoke than fire? Will those who voted for Brexit be given more respect: I mean the voters who did so because they have felt the full effects of the neoliberal agenda heaped on them. It doesn’t include the privileged Tory right and UKIP leadership which hasn’t suffered from endless austerity and falling living standards, loss of benefits or homelessness. They meant it. So did the fishermen and women of Brixham who once again speak of yet more betrayal remaining in the hands of the E.U.

     Trawler in Brixham Harbour where members of the fishing industry are cmapigning to leave the EU

The TUC Congress opened the debate on what should happen post-Brexit at last. While TUC leader, Frances O’Grady’s call for “a people’s vote” gave us little to go on it provoked a reaction from others. The Morning Star reported Mick Cash of the RMT giving a “warning against joining the Blairite’s call” to support the proposal. Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey pointed out that the people’s vote “had already happened.” Dave Ward, General Secretary of the CWU preferred “a people’s government” to another “people’s vote”.

Now the Labour Party are at it. “We will honour the peoples’ vote expressed in the outcome of the July 2016 referendum” the leadership declared. Not at Conference. Shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, laid out the stall. Labour’d prefer a General Election, but if not there’d be a vote. Whether this was on the terms of the deal, as some, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell amongst them, stated, or one that would override the first referendum so we could remain in the EU was declared. Clearly there was deep division in the hall as some stood to applaud as others remained firmly in their seats in utter despair.

This begs the question whether any deal achieved would make the slightest difference to the EU’s neoliberal agenda of austerity, privatisation and general attitude to pay conditions, not least putting profit way above decent working conditions and health and safety measures. This affects everyone, not just the workers campaigning on our behalf. Any deal is certain to lead to surrendering to the EU agenda. Surely it’s clear by now that the EU is fundamentally anti-union and no champion of workers’ demands. Unions and their members are seen simply as a major threat to the operation of free markets and the competition required by international capitalism, fundamental to the EU modus operandi. As Prof. Costas Lapavitsas has noted there appears to be a general ignorance on what the EU is actually about. (Morning Star 11.09.2018)

The Nuffield Foundation at Oxford University undertook research on why people voted as they did in the 2016 Referendum. They gave four reasons to choose from:

“The most frequently selected reason among Leave voters––ticked by 45%––was, ‘to strike a better balance between Britain’s right to act independently, and the appropriate level of co-operation with other countries’. The second most frequently selected reason among Leave voters––ticked by 26%––was, ‘to help us deal better with the issue of immigration’.”

The impression given by countless published reports is that immigration was key. Clearly it is a poor second to the question of sovereignty – an issue of concern to all shades of political opinion. Yet it is asserted that racism and xenophobic views are spread across those who voted leave.

17,410,742 voted to leave the EU in the referendum held on 23rd June, 2016. Who were they? In the campaign itself air time and column inches were dominated by right wing parties and their leaders such as Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson. Brexit appears to have been achieved by them and their relatively few supporters. In the 2015 General election UKIP had secured 4,376,635 votes (falling to just 594,068 in 2017). This leaves in excess of 13,000,000 leave voters whose views and motives are unknown and untested.

In an article “Why they Left” published in the Jacobin (jacobinmag.com) Prof. Costas Lapavitsas describes in more detail the characteristics of the voters on both sides in a description of two rifts, minor and major, among the elite and in wider society. He says “according to the Ashcroft poll 64% of the C2, D and E categories (i.e. class classifications) voted for Brexit; these are basically skilled and unskilled manual workers, casual workers, those who depend on the welfare state for their income and so on.” This is followed by a detailed breakdown area by area. It articulates how the confusion arises in a description of a “minor rift” between leavers and remainers in the “British ruling class” contrasted by much more serious a “major rift” in the wider society. How much the elite Brexiteers, relatively small in numbers, have with the majority is doubtful from the description of who they are. The first group are highly articulate, wealthy and with ready access to media outlets, the others at the sharp edge of austerity, cuts to their “essential service”, withdrawal of benefits etc. It may be the case that the leaders of the Brexit campaign display races and xenophobic ideas and attitudes. It by no means follows that the 13,000,000 who have not been identified concurred.

Another Greek commentator, Takis Fotopoulos, has written about “The Systematic Effort of the Transnational Elite to Crush the ‘Brexit Revolution’.” (www.antiglobalization.org). He states that “the apparent collapse of the ‘Brexit revolution’ far from reflecting the feelings of the victims of globalisation, which, if anything, gets stronger all the time, it simply reflections the vicious attacks of the elites against any political expression that the Brexit revolution has taken….either in the UK, the USA or France. Therefore through suppression and mostly deception, they may have successfully temporarily succeeded in suppressing the growing anger of the victims of globalisation.” He notes that the left, associated with “societies’ victims, has clearly changed sides in the globalisation era…..”

Recent events have brought the current situation into stark focus in the wake of the visit of the US President, Donald Trump. It had appeared that many of those active in the referendum campaigned had melted away, but there they were associating themselves with individuals and groups even further to the right than they had appeared earlier. Steve Bannon, a one time associate of Donald Trump, closely involved in his election, came to Europe. Both Bannon and Trump recommended Boris Johnson as next PM! (Bannon’s activities were not confined to the UK it should be noted. He consorted with some far right leaders including Austria, Hungary and Italy.) Significantly he was interviewed by Nigel Farage. “Tommy Robinson” the jailed English Defence League leader was discussed and hailed in glowing terms by Bannon as “the ‘backbone’ of England”. A prominent Union Leader, member of RMT, Steve Hedley, was injured in a vicious attack by his supporters taking part in a violent demonstration on behalf of the EDL.

Other reasons why the “victims of neoliberalisation” voted to leave could well be the neoliberal agenda itself. Seen as uneducated and lacking understanding it is considered, it seems, that voters would lack the sophistication to vote for this as a reason to leave the EU. Of course the neoliberal agenda is shared by the current British government as well as many other administrations across Europe. It is of great concern that many who consider themselves on the “left” have bought into this ideology.

Neoliberalism itself has been the subject of considerable discussion while its world-wide progress shows little sign of abating. “Neoliberalism: the Idea that Swallowed the World” ….(18/8/17) ”the reigning ideology…that venerates the market and strips away the things that make us human.”; “Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us” (19/8/17) and “Neoliberalism-the ideology at the root of all our problems” (19/8/17) are articles on the subject, all published in the Guardian in the space of a couple days last summer, seem to have made little impact, including on the Guardian itself still supporting a rearguard action to remain. Likewise the Independent and Mirror. For me the article that sums it up was printed in an International Monetary Fund paper in June 2016 which lays bare its inhuman origin. In the article headed “Neoliberalism Oversold?” it is stated:

“Milton Friedman in 1982 hailed Chile and an “economic miracle.” Nearly a decade earlier, Chile had turned to policies that have since been widely emulated across the globe. The neoliberal agenda – a label used more by critics than by the architects of the policies – rests on two main planks. The first is increased competition- achieved by deregulation and the opening up of domestic markets, including financial markets, to foreign competition. The second is a smaller role for the state, achieved through privatisation and limits the ability of governments to run fiscal deficits and accumulate debt.”

There are a number of other possible serious reasons why people voted against the EU given its current rightward drift.

One such is the EU’s adherence to policies of austerity and privatisation. This has deeply affected the victims of globalisation/neoliberalism with stories about the effects of cuts to benefits, health and social services, education services, the criminal justice system, transport reported daily. Homelessness, the proliferation of food banks are the results that many have endured, This is more frequently seen to be the fault of the Westminster government rather than Brussels, yet if we look across Europe we can see that Brussels “diktat” affects many countries, those in the south suffering the most. Many look to Brexit as a sign of hope for themselves. Could it not be the case that leave voters realised this all along?

It was Tony Benn who asserted that “The EU has the only constitution in the world committed to capitalism. It destroys the prospects of socialism anywhere in Europe, making capitalism a constitutional requirement of that set up.” He and others were campaigning against the EU in 1975, including Arthur Scargill and Jeremy Corbyn. It was repeated when the Maastricht Treaty defined the so-called “four freedoms” underlying the way the European Union would proceed. If it wasn’t clear then it is abundantly so now in the light of experience. “Freedoms” referred to free trade allowing powerful organisations to move their operations around in order to make use of the cheapest labour available.

NATO’s role inextricably linked with the EU is a cause of concern for many. A reason to vote against the EU? In 1999 78 days of bombing by NATO resulted in the deaths of 100s of people including those in hospitals and schools. Some wanted this investigate along with other “war crimes” in the former Yugoslavia, but this was rejected because of pressure from Washington and London. Involvement in other military expeditions involving widespread bombing together, backing EU intervention in countries like the Ukraine, setting up military bases on Russia’s doorstep. This is something US Presidents have avoided for years, perhaps with the memory of a time when they were faced with a threat in their own backyard during the Cuba missile crisis. Many recognise this as provocative and a significant threat to world peace. They’re unlikely to want to stay in this E.U.

In 2016 NATO joined EU in hunting for refugees fleeing persecution (because of the countless wars across the region). The “militarisation of a human crisis” is abhorrent to many. Not a reason for voting leave?

The wish to rerun the referendum campaign ignoring the outcome of the ballot is itself a threat to democracy and can be seen as an act of treachery by those advocating it.

Arthur Scargill, Leader of the Socialist Labour Party made this statement:

The statement by the Labour Party Leadership that they would support a second referendum is an act of treachery for which they will never be forgiven. The ruling class have used and will continue to use every means including a media which has sought to overturn to overturn the decision of the British people in the 2016 Referendum. Tony Benn warned that membership of the European Union would mean that Britain would governed by a Constitution which is committed to Capitalism. The ruling class and the EU will demand another referendum and another until they get the result they want. As a socialist I call for all those who call themselves socialists to condemn this act of treachery by the Labour Party Leaders and campaign for withdrawal from this bastion of Capitalism.

We had the vote. Leave the EU Now.