Jobs threatened at Culture Coventry Trust

Jobs threatened at Culture Coventry Trust

The Herbert

The plans to deliver Coventry’s City of Culture in 2021 were badly dented as news was released that as many as 17 staff (over 15% of the total workforce) could face redundancy at the city’s main museums and art galleries, including the Herbert and Coventry Transport Museum.

With reduced funding from Council grants and general cuts to art’s funding, the cultural experience for Coventry citizens and visitors to our city is continually threatened.

Cuts to library services, reductions in opening hours of museums and more reliance on volunteers have weakened the cultural foundations in our city. Initiatives such as the historic 12th century Grammar School building in the centre of the city are also at risk.

Local groups are constantly struggling to provide and enhance those activities which enrich so many people’s lives with arts and music, especially disadvantaged groups and people with disabilities. Many are having to spend huge amounts of time on bids and fund raising to keep their groups going.

Art, music and other subjects in our schools are under threat because of government underfunding and the pressure to deliver narrow exam results.

People in the past had access to a wide range of Adult Education classes in arts, crafts and music but many of those have now been cut.

It’s undeniable that Coventry has a rich cultural history and there is lots going on, but just imagine what cultural life in Coventry could be like if there were much more resources available and people had more time to get involved.  We are a wealthy country, but whilst the top 1% syphon off their money to squander on hugely expensive pieces of art for personal gratification instead of paying their fair share of taxes, the rest of us are expected to put up with endless cuts.

As Socialists, we believe that investing in the arts is important.  It is about creating a world to allow all people to live life to the full: to run society, to study, and to create.   We want to see a society where every city and community is a beacon of culture and not just for one year. To do that, will mean fighting for a different type of economy – a socialist system where human need is put before private profit.

  • Not a penny to big business or property development projects!
  • Use the money to fund services and leisure opportunities for working class people all across the city!

Shocking levels of child poverty in Coventry – time to fight against capitalism

Shocking levels of child poverty in Coventry – time to fight against capitalism

Figures from the End Child Poverty coalition have shown that in seven wards in Coventry, more than a third of children now live in poverty.

The highest rate is in St Michaels ward, which has a staggering child poverty rate of 52.7%. In Foleshill, the rate is 49.2% – affecting 3,400 children, the highest number of all the wards. (It is 2400 children in St Michaels ward).

Earlsdon ward has the lowest rate in Coventry, but even there, the poverty rate is 11.7%, affecting almost 300 children.

In total, the rate across the whole of Coventry is 32.7% – there are 24,931 children in the city living in poverty.

This is a major problem nationally – in 2015, 21 electoral wards had at least 50% child poverty rates. Now, it is 87 wards across the country which have that rate.

Clearly government cuts to benefits as part of the Tory austerity agenda, combined with rising living costs are to blame. But here in Coventry, the role of local Labour councillors in carrying out cuts and implementing austerity cannot be ignored.

Libraries and youth centres face closures, while cuts have had an impact on social services across the city.

Add to this the rise in council tax, going hand in hand with cuts to the council tax support scheme – due to affect large numbers of Coventry’s poorest households. Labour councillors need to be standing up against austerity and helping to organise resistance to the Tory agenda – if they don’t they need to be challenged.

This Tory government is weak and in crisis, and could be brought down by mass movements channelling the anger against austerity.

This is the sixth richest country in the world – the child poverty here in Coventry is a stark example of the complete failure of the capitalist system, and shows the vital need for an alternative.

Now more than ever, it is time to fight for socialism.

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Corbyn’s Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

Corbyn’s Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

We are pleased to republish this week’s editorial from The Socialist newspaper.

How can we save our local leisure centre? What can be done to halt gentrification and meet housing need? How can the deepening crisis in social care be addressed? What must be done to protect local jobs and halt attacks on pay and conditions?

These are just a few of the questions which working class people are asking, especially as we approach council budget setting and May’s local elections.

They are questions which demand concrete answers in the here and now. Rhetoric, handwringing, and semi-pious exhortations to ‘hold on for a general election’ are all utterly insufficient.

Yet at present, it is this that is on offer, not just from Labour’s Blairite right (many who are actually brazen with their anti-working class policies and sentiments) but even from the leadership of Momentum.

Chris Williamson, the Labour MP for Derby North and former shadow fire minister, appears to have been pushed to resign from the front bench after making comments about an alternative to local government cuts.

Acknowledging that the austerity which has been dutifully doled out by councils over the last seven years is in fact intolerable, he argued that Labour-run local authorities could consider increasing council tax for those living in properties which fall within the highest tax bands.

This, he said, could be used to help raise the funds needed to stop cuts and protect services.

Fighting austerity

Socialists must always oppose any increases in taxation which have the potential to fall on people with low or middle incomes.

Council tax, which is calculated based on the estimated value of properties in which people live (whether as tenants or owners) and which does not properly take account of people’s ability to pay, could certainly not be described as progressive.

Chris Williamson’s proposals did acknowledge this, and included ideas for ways for those on lower incomes to ‘claw back’ increases in the tax on higher bands – to protect cash-poor pensioners, for example.

This complex schema, to be approved in each council area in a local referendum, would be open to ferocious attacks and distortions by the Tory media.

Nonetheless, he was grappling with vital questions: how can Labour councils act to protect working class people from the ravages of austerity? How can they play their part in fighting to ensure that the burden of paying for capitalist crisis does not fall on workers, pensioners and youth?

For Labour’s right, this is a crime which cannot be tolerated. Since the beginning of Corbyn’s leadership the Blairites have sought to use their base in local government – where they have the vast majority of Labour councillors – in order to undermine him.

In particular, they have ferociously opposed any suggestion that Labour councils might have options other than those of cuts, privatisation and redundancies.

In one indicator revealing the extent to which many Labour councillors have accepted the ‘logic’ of neoliberalism, it has been revealed that Leeds City council was on the verge of offering a £100 million contract to the parasitic company Carillion just before its collapse.

But councillors do have a choice. Around Britain, Labour councils currently hold over £9.2 billion in general fund reserves.

They administer combined budgets of almost £75 billion. They have substantial borrowing powers, as well as the ability to work together to ‘pool’ funds and collaborate with other local authorities.

In other words, far from being powerless ‘technocrats’, bound by the logic of austerity or the chaos of the market, Labour councils are in fact a potential alternative power in Britain.

Indeed, even if just one Labour council was to take a stand, using reserves and borrowing powers and refusing to lay more hardship on working class people, it could mobilise behind it a mass campaign and have a profound effect on the political situation.

It could hasten the demise of May’s weak, divided government and bring about an early general election.

Any hint that councillors could take such a road is anathema to the Blairites. That is why it was disappointing that Corbyn and McDonnell appear to have bowed to their pressure by encouraging Williamson’s resignation.

Unfortunately, this has not been their first retreat on the issue. As part of their mistaken strategy of attempting to ‘keep on board’ the Blairite rump that remains dominant in Labour’s parliamentary party, local government and machinery, they have made a number of concessions to the demands of the right on this issue.

NEC elections

But far from placating the right and buying their loyalty, concessions like these have only encouraged the Blairites to press Corbyn to back down on other issues.

In particular, these have included questions of party democracy and the selection and reselection of candidates.

Labour’s recent national executive committee (NEC) elections saw Momentum-backed candidates win all three of the available seats.

This means that for the first time since Corbyn’s election as leader, his supporters (all-be-it of varying shades of politics and loyalty) will have a narrow but clear majority. Momentum’s self-appointed leader Jon Lansman was among those elected.

This is potentially a step forward. The question is: how will this position be used? To fight for mandatory reselection that will allow Labour members and trade unions the chance to democratically decide candidates and kick out the Blairites? To help take on cuts-making Labour councillors and support any and all who are prepared to resist austerity and refuse to implement cuts?

In recent weeks, Momentum’s leadership has begun to push an alternative strategy for ‘fighting’ local government cuts, which is based on a model put forward by Bristol’s Labour mayor, Marvin Rees.

The essence of it is to support and call for protests against cuts, and to use these as a platform to ask the government to provide more funding – hoping that the pressure of large demonstrations will bear down on May’s government.

Borrowing from the strategy put forward by the Socialist Party, they even suggest drawing up ‘needs-based’ budgets.

But unlike us, they see this as merely an exercise in propaganda, not as something to be acted upon and implemented. It is here that the strategy ends.

Should the Tories refuse to provide funding, councils should, according to Momentum’s leaders, make the cuts as required.

Those who have joined protests to demand an alternative should be asked to simply accept that the council ‘has no other option’.

They should be asked to continue to cast their votes for Labour councillors, even while they make themselves busy destroying local jobs and services.

Demonstrations are not a bad place to start. But they must be linked to a strategy which includes councils refusing to implement cuts.

So far, the ‘Rees model’ has singularly failed to extract further funds from the Tories. Indeed, when the Bristol mayor came to London to meet the communities’ secretary he was snubbed – not even offered a meeting!

Socialist and left-wing politics means little if it is unable to provide a way forward in the real struggles faced by working class people in the here and now.

In the June election, Corbyn’s anti-austerity manifesto generated a surge of enthusiasm because it began to offer answers to the needs and aspirations of ordinary people.

But this manifesto provides a sharp contrast with the programme on which the majority of Labour’s right-wing councillors will be standing at this year’s local elections.

As Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett put it at this year’s TUC congress “if Labour councillors act like Tories we should treat them like Tories”.

In the view of the Socialist Party, this should include being prepared to provide an electoral challenge to cuts-making councillors – whatever colour rosette they wear.

Campaigners lobby Coventry council against cuts to disability transport

Campaigners lobby Coventry council against cuts to disability transport

Members of Coventry Socialist Party were supporting parents on Tuesday, 16th January, who lobbied Coventry Council for three hours against charges of up to £600 for school transport for children with special educational needs.

John Boadle and Isla Windsor explain: “The Council has previously provided free transport to school or college for severely disabled children. Now they are charging parents for each child 16 or over. The amount is £600 a year, or £300 if the family is on means-tested benefits. Almost 1000 children use the school transport, with those aged 16 and over facing the charges immediately, though as each child gets older their families will face the same problem.“

“The impact on families is severe – they are being asked for money they haven’t got.  Parents of children with severe disabilities have their whole lives dominated by that situation. Day and night, for the rest of their lives. And then they worry what will happen to their children when they are gone. If Coventry Labour council can’t provide help for people like that then what are they playing at?“

“There was a lot of public sympathy for the parents. And a lot of determination on the parents’ part. You can see that through the sharp irony of the slogan on their banner: Coventry, City of Cruelty!”

The Tories and UKIP may join protests such as these, but they should remember that they support the austerity that is behind these cuts.

Former Socialist Party councillor, Dave Nellist, who also attended the lobby, said: “If Labour’s national anti-austerity stance is to mean anything, then local councils such as Coventry should refuse to make these cuts.  Instead, they should be using money from reserves whilst building a fight against the Tory government for the restoration of the necessary funds for essential services.”

Support protest against cuts to disabled children’s transport

Support protest against cuts to disabled children’s transport

Parents and campaigners will be lobbying Coventry Council on Tuesday 16th January against council plans to charge up to £600 for disabled children’s travel to school. The lobby is from 11am-2pm.

It is not right that ordinary people in Coventry are still paying the price for the financial crisis. Coventry Socialist Party supports this protest and urges the maximum possible attendance.

6 years on from the passing of Rob Windsor

6 years on from the passing of Rob Windsor

rob-windsor-349246747

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the sad and untimely death of our comrade Rob Windsor. Rob was well known throughout Coventry and further afield for his involvement in innumerable campaigns; from against cuts to local council services to helping to organise solidarity with Palestinians living in Gaza under attack from the Israeli military. He was also for many years an outstanding Socialist Party Councillor representing St Michaels ward with Dave Nellist and Karen McKay. However, his major role in the movement against the Poll Tax, which helped to bring down Thatcher was no doubt one which he will be remembered the most for.

The current political situation would no doubt have seen Rob throwing himself into action, helping to build resistance to austerity and popularising the ideas of revolutionary socialism and Marxism. Rob was a long time supporter of Militant, and member of Militant Labour and the Socialist Party, and an internationalist to his very core. The best thing we can do in Rob’s honour is to continue and step up the work of building a mass socialist movement, armed with Marxist ideas that Rob knew was necessary to defeat capitalism once and for all.

We are happy to post this video of Rob speaking at a demonstration in 2011 organised by Socialist Party youth members against the Coalition cuts to the Education Maintenance Allowance. As ever, his comments were warmly received by this audience of young students. Rob’s speech begins at around 2 mins 18 seconds in.

Coventry Socialists start 2018 campaigning to defend the NHS

Coventry Socialists start 2018 campaigning to defend the NHS

NHS stall

Signing the petition calling for Jeremy Hunt to go

Coventry Socialist Party kicked off 2018 in the city centre with the continuation of the campaign to defend the NHS against cuts and privatisation.

People were understandably angry with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who was forced to apologise over Christmas for the latest crisis in the NHS, with around 55,000 operations cancelled. SP members spoke to a number of NHS workers as well as patients and their relatives who are having to pay high sums of money to use the car park at Walsgrave – another result of the Private Finance Initiative rip off.

With a campaign stall also taking place in Radford’s Jubilee Crescent, Coventry Socialist Party are looking forward to building the movement to save the NHS during 2018.

“Their real aim is to run down the NHS and sell it off so they can make a profit from it at our expense”

“Their real aim is to run down the NHS and sell it off so they can make a profit from it at our expense”

jeremy hunt

Photograph by Paul Mattsson

The news headlines tonight have led with the NHS crisis and an apology from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. But as this letter from a reader of coventrysocialists.com points out, it is not enough


Well that didn’t take long did it?

3 days in and it’s New Year and new crisis in the health service. Crisis for NHS staff and patients that is.

Up and down the country appointments for long awaited operations are being cancelled because the service cannot cope. Emergency admissions wait for hours on trolleys or are even asked to make their own way to hospital rather than use an ambulance.

So has a bomb dropped? Has there been a massive terror attack? Has there been a nuclear accident?

No it’s winter.  Maybe you think the job of Government and the Health Secretary in particular is to prepare for this?

Well Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been forced to apologise, but that is not enough.This crisis affecting ordinary working people us a direct result of Tory government cuts.

Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly warned the Prime Minister in the House of Commons of the effects Tory cuts to health are having. Junior doctors and health service workers have repeatedly sounded the alarm.

But the Tories claim to be surprised! Their real aim is to run down the NHS and sell it off so they can make a profit from it at our expense. This totally ineffective Tory Government have proved themselves incompetent and incapable of delivering basic services.

We must demand that Hunt resigns, that May resigns and that an immediate General Election is called. Every day this Tory Government remains in office the more damage they cause. Let’s make it our New Year resolution to force them out!

 

The disgusting appointment of Toby Young

The disgusting appointment of Toby Young

Toby Young – photo from New Statesman

A young socialist and trade union member who works in a Coventry school in gives his views on the controversial appointment of Toby Young.

There are plenty of repulsive individuals who haunt the corridors of power, but some seem unable to maintain the pretence of competence for long enough to become a right-wing MP. One of these individuals is “The Honourable” Toby Young, who has inexplicably been appointed to the board of the newly-created “Office for Students”.

Young’s odious nature is obvious to anyone unfortunate enough to have come across him, and a brief scan of his Twitter history might have sufficed to demonstrate it to those who hadn’t – however, for some reason Young has decided to delete around 50,000 of his tweets. We can’t possibly think why this might be – but The Independent has helpfully listed some of his now departed online musings here.

Some notable comments he’s made include commenting on the “cleavage” of female Labour MP’s – on at least two occasions! -, claiming that he had his “d**k up the a**e” of a woman standing next to him in a picture, commenting on director Danny Boyle’s underage daughter’s breasts, and referring to disabled students as “illiterate troglodytes” in an article in The Spectator.

These comments would very likely be enough to get a public sector worker sacked for gross misconduct. As the son of a Baron, presumably Young’s only punishment for these “errors of judgement” is that he isn’t a Government minister yet. Ironically Young’s father, Baron Young, coined the term “meritocracy” – Young Jr.’s persistent presence in public life is perhaps the ultimate proof that meritocracy does not exist. Unsurprisingly, the Government’s court jester Boris Johnson is one of the few people to spring to Young’s defence, referring to his “caustic wit” – presumably Boris agrees that “caustic wit” is required to mock people who may struggle with reading when writing in a national magazine.

Young’s bizarre appointment has drawn attention to the Office for Students (OFS) as a whole. Looking at the 15 board members, not one represents an educational union, such as the UCU. Not one represents a students union, such as the NUS – in fact only one of the board members is a student! This begs the question, what exactly is the point of the OFS and whose interests will it be serving?

Young wrote a memoir called “How To Lose Friends And Alienate People”, believing the title to be a self-deprecating joke. Unfortunately for him, it’s a fairly accurate description of what much of the political class thinks of him – but what most ordinary people think of him is far more damning. Toby Young must go – and the OFS can’t be trusted to represent the interests of students and lecturers. Only students and lecturers organising against university fees, dodgy landlords and casualisation will result in any serious gains for ordinary people in higher education.

2018: more upheavals loom

2018: more upheavals loom

We are pleased to publish the following article by Socialist Party General Secretary Peter Taaffe from the forthcoming issue of The Socialist.

“Biggest fall in living standards for a generation.”

“Sharp rise in child poverty as cuts bite.”

“700,000 young people and pensioners join ranks of Britain’s poor in four years.”

“Stoke proposes £1,000 fine for homeless using tents.”

“Budget signals longest squeeze on living standards since 1950s.”

“OECD: Britain state pension is worst in the developed world.”

“Nursing ‘in peril’ as number of student applications falls below 18%.”

“Food banks stock up as reforms to welfare add to fears of cold winter.”

These are just some of the recent headlines gleaned from the capitalist press, as they regale us daily with a blizzard of facts, which unconsciously indicts their profit-driven system and their callous political representatives, the Tory government of Theresa May.

It is also a fitting testimony to the failures of capitalism in 2017, in Britain and worldwide, as well as a pointer of what is to come unless this system is seriously challenged in 2018, laying the ground for system change to socialism.

Worldwide capitalism is still in the grip of the enduring economic crisis, resulting from the meltdown of 2007-08.

Sure, the capitalist soothsayers seek to reassure us that the ‘worst is over’ that a ‘recovery’ is underway which they claim if not guaranteeing a return of the economic sunny uplands of yesterday, indicates significant improvements in the position of working people.

It is true that some countries have experienced an increase in the number of jobs – such as the US, here in Britain and a few countries in Europe.

But contrary to the propaganda that the future looks rosy, this recovery is not broad-based and certainly has not significantly improved living standards.

They have been largely concentrated in low-paid, part-time and precarious jobs. In Britain this means that the working poor are so low paid, increasing numbers are forced to resort to food banks – a confession of bankruptcy by capitalism.

It is also a criticism of right-wing trade union leaders in particular, who still fail to effectively fight for desperately urgent, substantial increases in wages.

Bank of England strikers marching for a pay rise, 3.8.17, photo Sarah Wrack

Bank of England strikers marching for a pay rise, 3.8.17, photo Sarah Wrack   (Click to enlarge)

It is no accident that retail trade has been flat – spending is therefore down – because of the limited purchasing power of the working class, in turn due to chronically low wages.

In other words, the working class cannot buy back the goods that it produces, one of the inherent contradictions of capitalism that Karl Marx drew attention to 150 years ago.

The capitalist economists and their institutions – the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank – are actually bemoaning the lack of ‘demand’.

They are ‘theoretically’ urging the bosses to increase wages and, in some instances, even urging the trade union leaders to fight harder for increases.

But individual and groups of capitalists and governments resist this ‘advice’ and continue to viciously oppose workers fighting even for small increases. Witness the ferocious resistance of Serco, one of the numerous ‘privateers’ who leech off the NHS, to Unite hospital workers in the Barts Health Trust for an increase of 30p an hour!

They are not likely to respond to the demand of the unions in the public sector – including nurses and other hospital workers – for wage increases beyond the 1% ‘limit’ without trade union mobilisation and effective unified action.

So it has always been and will always be under capitalism. Even a wage increase of 2%, given the remorseless rate of increase in the cost of living, will leave most working people with continued reduced living standards.

This requires bold and decisive leadership from the trade unions, which is unlikely to be forthcoming from right-wing trade union leaders.

Their policies amount invariably to ‘compromise’ and endless postponements of struggle, in the hope that the anger of low-paid workers will be dissipated and resignation will set in.

Yet the anger of working people is at boiling point – as the rash of small strikes indicates. These include civil servants in the PCS, RMT rail workers and more.

They have brushed aside the recent anti-union legislation by taking action after record turnouts and majorities in strike ballots.

This can mean that if the union tops are not prepared to lead, then they can be pushed aside to make way for those militant leaders who are prepared in this urgent situation to fight the government and the employers.

Crisis of system

However, this struggle – as with all the other battles on housing, education, etc. – is closely connected with the current crisis of capitalism.

In the past, the capitalists were prepared to give reforms – crumbs off their very rich table – to the working class.

But those days have gone, with boom conditions having been replaced by an organic drawn-out crisis of capitalism.

In order to safeguard their profits and interests they have conducted an offensive against all the gains of the past.

The capitalists and their governments do not resist demands for change just because they are greedy and cruel – which they are.

They see no alternative but to savage living standards in order to safeguard their system. This means endless poverty – disguised by the anodyne word ‘austerity’ – which will be inevitably resisted by the working class.

May herself, in the honeymoon period after she became leader of the Tories, appeared to sympathise with the ‘left behind’ and with poor families, and promised an end to austerity.

But the demands of those she represents, the capitalists, dictate otherwise even if she did ‘sincerely’ want to lessen misery and suffering.

This is a system based upon production for profit not social need. It is founded on inequality by virtue of the fact that, individually and collectively, the capitalists exploit the labour power of the working class to create what Karl Marx called ‘surplus value’ – which is then divided among the different exploiters into rent, interest and profit.

The struggle over the surplus between the capitalists and their governments on the one side and the working class on the other drives the class struggle and is the key to understanding history.

Historically, the capitalists used this surplus value to reinvest in industry, create new means of production – the organisation of labour, science and technique – and drive society forward.

This is largely what happened in the upswing of capitalism, when it was a system which was relatively progressive in laying the economic foundations for a new social system of socialism.

This, Marx wrote, was the historical mission of capitalism – to drive forward the growth of the productive forces.

But today it is betraying this ‘mission’, failing to invest. The capitalists are now more interested in piling up their own personal wealth through the massively inflated salaries of CEOs, stoking up ‘shareholder value’ rather than retooling and investing back into industry.

This also undermines productivity – which is static, if not falling, in Britain and throughout the advanced capitalist countries.

In the US for instance, a colossal total of $2.7 trillion from investments abroad is kept ‘offshore’ – outside of the US and not invested in US industry itself.

Following Trump’s so-called ‘tax reforms’ – a bribe to big business, together with the loosening of some state supervision of the banks – some or all of this could be ‘repatriated’ to the US.

But it is unlikely to be reinvested into industry, thereby rewarding Trump’s base of unemployed industrial workers and others with improved job prospects and living standards.

It will inevitably go into the pockets of the rich, pushing up shareholders’ wealth, the loot of the 1% and, in particular, the fabulously rich 0.001%; the plutocrats who ultimately call the shots under capitalism. Eight individuals control the same wealth as half the world’s population!

This indicates the increasingly parasitic character of modern capitalism in Britain and worldwide. The earlier Panama Papers and now the aptly named Paradise Papers – which means hell for the rest of society and heaven for the super-rich – have revealed this in great detail.

The Financial Times aptly described such tax havens as “getaway cars” for the super-rich.

And capitalism has demonstrated beyond all doubt that it is incapable of taking society as a whole forward.

Another economic crisis in the manner of 2007-08 – which only genuine Marxists, like the Socialist Party and the Committee for a Workers’ International (the international organisation that we are part of), fully anticipated – could take place at a certain stage.

The timing of such a crisis is impossible to predict but the inevitability of an economic breakdown is inherent in capitalism.

Moreover capitalism has not fully recovered from this crisis which, we should recall, resulted in the loss of ten million jobs in the US and Europe alone and the wrecked lives that flowed from this.

As Jeremy Corbyn said at the Labour Party conference – echoing the analysis of the Socialist Party – 2017 was the year when this crisis saw a delayed political expression of the crash.

The political earthquake of the general election, as well as many other recent upheavals such as the Scottish referendum in 2014, Brexit in 2016 and Trump’s accession to the US presidency, were rooted in this.

Developments in the US

Subsequently, Trump has rampaged on the US and the world stages, breaking the crockery of world capitalism in the process.

Rather than the usual ‘official’ role of US presidents as an international ‘stabilising’ force, he has acted as a firebug, fanning the flames of already inflammatory situations.

His ‘recognition’ of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel promises to reap a whirlwind in the Middle East and worldwide among Palestinians and Muslims in particular.

He has proved to be a disaster for the American ruling class as he bypasses the normal channels of capitalist democracy, preferring to rule by tweet in a special expression of US parliamentary bonapartism.

Even the New York Times has used unprecedented language by describing him as the “liar-in-chief”. The growing opposition to Trump has resulted in an open discussion about his removal from the US presidency, similar to that which preceded the overthrow of Nixon in the 1970s.

Even a right-wing commentator like Anne Coulter can write: “Who isn’t in favour of his impeachment?”

The Republican Party is split, which may result in a complete cleavage between Trump and his outriders like Steve Bannon on one side and the Republican establishment on the other.

This could lay the basis for a new right-wing nationalist Trump party and the increasingly alienated ‘moderate’ Republicans organised in their own party.

The Democratic Party may also itself split between the right wing and the supporters of Bernie Sanders – the ‘Berniecrats’ with their ‘Our Revolution’ movement – resulting in a new mass radical left formation.

Socialist Alternative, our cothinkers in the UK, has played the role of a catalyst for the left. This was shown by the electrifying effect of the election and re-election of Kshama Sawant – the first socialist councillor in 100 years in Seattle – and now with the spectacular performance of Ginger Jentzen in Minneapolis, who led among working class voters after the first round of the recent election.

Therefore, the US could be faced with an unprecedented four-party set up, which would have colossal repercussions not just in the US but worldwide.

The ideas of socialism are spreading like a prairie fire among young people in the US in particular, at a faster rate than even in Europe at this stage.

The earlier emergence of Podemos in Spain, the Corbynista surge in Britain, a similar movement around Mélenchon in France, and the Sanders revolution in the US are all part of the political awakening of a new, radical generation.

Corbyn surge

In Britain this is tending to fuse with the reactivation of older layers of the left who were discouraged by the previous move towards the right within the labour movement.

It represents a rejection of sell-out Blairite ‘social democracy’ and is potentially a powerful agent for socialist change.

However, programmatically it has not yet reached the same political awareness, consciousness, as the 1980s Bennite left within the Labour Party – which Militant, now the Socialist Party critically supported – with its demand for the nationalisation of 25 monopolies.

If implemented, Benn’s programme from that time would make serious inroads into the power of big business but would not completely eliminate it.

It would provoke the capitalists to mobilise to bring down a left Labour government, similar to the events in Chile with the Allende government in the 1970s.

We therefore proposed the nationalisation, with minimum compensation on the basis of proven need, of the top 200 monopolies and the implementation of a democratic socialist plan of production.

But Corbyn’s programme does not even go as far as Benn’s proposals for large-scale nationalisation.

Betrayal in Greece

Unless economic and political power is taken out of the hands of the capitalists, they will use this to sabotage any threat to their system.

Is this not the lesson to be drawn today from the experience of Greece, where the Tsipras government raised expectations with the clarion call that “hope is coming”? Instead, all the hopes of the Greek working class were dashed on the rock of the Troika (IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank) and its demands for a further round of savage austerity – cuts in wages and pensions, mass privatisation – which the Tsipras government is presently implementing.

This retreat is comparable to the infamous betrayal of the German social democrats with their support for their own ruling class and the bloody World War One.

The Syriza government had a clear choice. It could bend the knee to capital, or break the hold of big business and move towards a democratic socialist Greece; at the same time appealing to the Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and European working class to join Greece in a great socialist confederation of the region, linked to socialism in Europe as a whole.

This same dilemma could be posed before a Corbyn government, maybe as soon as this year, 2018.

Brexit

An immediate collapse of May’s Tory government seems to have been averted through the recent negotiations on Brexit.

There were congratulations on all sides of the Tory party when May returned from Brussels with the latest deal consisting of ‘studied ambiguity’ on key issues like the border between Northern and Southern Ireland and the single market. This represents a colossal fudge.

May has stolen some of the clothes from Jeremy Corbyn, who on all the fundamental issues relating to the EU – the single market, migration, etc. – appeals to both those opposed to the EU and those who wish to remain in it.

The Socialist Party believes that it would still be possible to appeal to both with a class and socialist approach.

This would involve clear opposition to the neoliberal aims of the EU by emphasising trade union rights and opposition to policies like the posted workers directive, which furthers the process of a capitalist race towards the bottom for all workers in all countries.

We stand for a socialist united states of Europe as the only lasting solution to the problems facing working people.

The strategists of capital – such as Lord Heseltine – were seriously considering support for Labour and Corbyn, despite his programme, as an electoral alternative to May and the Tory Party, which seemed wedded to a ‘hard Brexit’.

They were prepared to consider this despite their fears that a Corbyn government, once in power, could be propelled under the pressure of a politically aroused working class to go much further than the mild social democratic programme on which Corbyn successfully fought the the election.

These issues have not been solved by kicking the can down the road, which is what the latest agreement amounts to.

They could return once more and May could yet flounder, with splits within the Tory Party widening and breaking out, resulting in a general election being forced. Labour is eight points ahead in the polls and could be pushed into office this year.

Moreover the radicalisation which we have witnessed internationally will be fuelled further by the underlying continuing crisis of capitalism – more like a series of crises, rather than a sudden collapse, although a repetition of the 2007-08 crisis cannot be completely ruled out.

2017 represented an important stage for the labour movement, for the working class and for the Socialist Party.

In November we had the largest Socialism rally yet – Socialism 2017. We continue to draw some of the best fighters for socialism and the working class into our ranks, particularly of young people and workers.

This has allowed us to forge ahead in all fields, in the trade unions and the daily battles of working class people. 2018 promises to be an equally successful period for the struggle for socialism in Britain and worldwide.