DWP to outsource more core work to Capita

DWP to outsource more core work to Capita

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We have received the following article from a Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) member in Coventry.

“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced on Wednesday 16th November that telephony work for new claims to Income Support and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) along with general enquiries for Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), would be outsourced to Capita.

This is not the first instance of outsourcing vital DWP work to a private company. JSA claims were handed to Capita in 2012, a move that resulted in a failure to meet targets on processing claims. DWP staff even had to go to Capita to clear the backlog!

The decision to outsource ESA new claims to Capita will be disastrous. A huge proportion of ESA claimants suffer with mental health issues and are therefore more vulnerable. If Capita performs as well as it did with JSA claims, then this is likely to have a severe impact on the wellbeing of those who most need support.

This is already beginning to affect the morale of DWP staff too – with many workers fearing either the prospect of losing their jobs, or the stress of a complete change in the roles in which they have been trained in. There is also the issue of staff feeling like they are ‘worthless’, ‘undervalued’ and not doing an important enough job.

For staff in Poole Contact Centre, this truly is a ‘slap in the face’ – along with the planned closure of the office in February 2018, the DWP will also contract out the Income Support work they do!

The PCS union which represents DWP staff has consistently opposed the privatisation of their work, and campaigns for it to be brought back in-house – the way our public services are meant to be operated!”

The Socialist Party echoes this, and we also call for:

• An end to all privatisation of public services – run them for people, not profit!

• No more benefit cuts or sanctions! For the right to a decent living, and support for those who need it!

• An end to austerity! For a £10 an hour minimum wage now and the scrapping of zero-hours contracts!

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What is the Single Market?

What is the Single Market?

corbyn and starmer

Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn

The announcement over the weekend from Keir Starmer has caused controversy over the position that Labour and the trade union movement should take towards Brexit, the Single Market and the European Union. This is a key question for the left – we are publishing this article from Hannah Sell, deputy general secretary of the Socialist Party, originally carried in the current issue of The Socialist newspaper. In this article Hannah spells out the socialist analysis of the EU and Brexit, and importantly the policies and programme that we think need to be fought for.


The Single Market: a neo-liberal tool of the bosses 

Fight for a socialist Brexit

Theresa May’s four-week holiday is drawing to a close. She is returning to an autumn of watching her party tear itself apart over the EU. Following her humiliating general election campaign she really is a ‘dead prime minister walking‘; powerless to be more than a passive bystander in the Tories’ civil war.

According to the capitalist media the only Brexit choices on offer are the ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ visions offered by the two wings of the Tory Party. Unfortunately, many leaders of the workers’ movement, including the leadership of the TUC, also paint the issue in the same terms: supporting the ‘soft Brexit’ wing.

None of the variants of Brexit on offer from the Tory Party, however, are in the interests of working and middle class people.

Reactionaries

The right-wing nationalist ‘hard Brexiteers’ represent the view of a small minority of the British capitalist class, if even that. They are full of utopian dreams of a return to the days when Britain was the world’s biggest imperialist power, and of resentment at their nation’s inexorable decline.

Their growing dominance in the Tory party, exacerbated by the collapse of a section of Ukip into their ranks, means that the Tories can no longer be relied on by the capitalist class to act in their interests. The idea, however remote, that the ultra-reactionary toff and ‘MP for the eighteenth century’ Jacob Rees-Mogg could become leader of the Tory Party sums up the dire state it is in.

It is clear that the nationalist ‘little Englander’ Tories offer no way forward, but nor does the ‘George Osborne’ wing. It is criminal to suggest, as Polly Toynbee has in the pages of the Guardian, that we should be looking to the likes of Osborne, responsible as chancellor for inflicting the worst austerity since World War Two, for a Brexit in the interests of the majority.

Osborne and his ilk represent the view of the majority of the capitalist class in Britain, which would prefer no Brexit, and are fighting for as ‘soft’ a Brexit as possible.

They aim to remain within the single market and the customs union, if not in name at least in substance.

They are driven by what is in the best interests of their system. In essence the EU is an agreement between the different capitalist classes of Europe in order to create the largest possible market.

The different national capitalist classes within it remain in competition with each other but cooperate in order to maximise their profits.

For the weaker economies of Europe – above all Greece – it has meant virtual neocolonial exploitation by the stronger powers.

Inevitably, since the start of the global economic crisis in 2009, there has been a rise in national tensions within the EU which will, at a certain stage, lead to a fracturing of the Euro and major crisis within the EU. Nonetheless, the majority of Britain’s capitalists think they can make fatter profits inside the EU than outside.

It is ludicrous to claim, as the Blairite Labour MP Chuka Umunna has, that the single market is, “uniquely, a framework of rules that protects people from the worst excesses of globalisation and unfettered capitalism.” It certainly doesn’t protect those fleeing war in the Middle East and largely kept outside of the borders of ‘Fortress Europe’; horrendously often left to drown in the Mediterranean.

But nor does it protect those already inside the EU’s borders from the ‘worst excesses’ of capitalism. On the contrary, the institutions of the EU have inflicted terrible hardship on the workers of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and elsewhere.

The pro-EU majority of the capitalist class currently has no party they can rely on to act in their interests. Instead there are politicians in all the major parties, not least the right wing of Labour, collaborating together to try and defend the interests of the capitalist elite.

According to the Financial Times, before parliament shut for the summer they came together in a meeting in the office of Blairite MP Chuka Umunna. Also present were Anna Soubry from the Tories, Stephen Gethins from the SNP, Jonathan Edwards from Plaid Cymru and Jo Swinson from the Liberal Democrats.

This alliance is not only about Brexit. It is also part of a conscious attempt to undermine Corbyn and help to prevent something that the capitalist elite fear even more than a ‘hard Brexit’ – a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government. Also over the summer rumours have abounded of a new supposedly ‘centrist’ party being formed for the same reasons. This may not seem to be posed immediately, but is inherent in the situation.

It is naïve for shadow chancellor John McDonnell to suggest, as he appeared to in the Guardian on 19 August, that it is no longer necessary to push for urgent constitutional changes to democratise the Labour Party because, “the nature of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) has changed”.

Measures like mandatory reselectionrestoring trade union rights within Labour and readmittance of expelled socialists are more urgently needed than ever. Unfortunately, the majority of the PLP remain pro-capitalist and opposed to Jeremy Corbyn, even if his popularity means that some of them are currently holding back from saying so openly. Instead they are mobilising against him on the issue of a ‘soft’ Brexit.

It is urgent that Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and the workers’ movement launch a major campaign – not for a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit – but for an internationalist Brexit that is in the interests of the working and middle class, both in Britain and across Europe. Otherwise it is inevitable that the different wings of the capitalist class will succeed in confusing and dividing working class people.

Our starting point is the diametrical opposite of the starting point for all sides of the Tory Party: we have to support what benefits working class people and cements their unity, and to implacably oppose that which undermines it.

Capitalist ‘freedom’

What attitude does that mean taking to the single market? The single market finally came into being in 1993, following negotiations that began with the 1986 Single European Act; something that Maggie Thatcher claimed credit for initiating!

From the beginning it has been based on the so-called ‘four freedoms’, the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour. It is policed by the European Commission (made up of one representative from each EU state), which takes infringements of market rules before the European Court of Justice (ECJ). From its inception it has aimed to drive through neoliberal, anti-working class measures in order to maximise the profits of the capitalist elite.

The single market compels the privatisation of public services, prohibits nationalisation, and makes it easier for employers to exploit workers in numerous ways. For example, the ECJ rulings in the Viking and Laval cases, which put corporations’ ‘rights of establishment’ before the right of workers to strike. Or the EU posted workers’ directive, which does not recognise agreements between unions and employers, and has been systematically used to undermine the rights and conditions of workers. The posted workers’ directive was at the heart of the Lindsey Oil Refinery strike in 2009. Jeremy Corbyn was right, therefore, to say shortly after the June general election that Brexit should not mean remaining part of the single market. Nor should it mean remaining part of the customs union which means handing the right to negotiate trade deals to the European Commission alone.

In his Guardian article John McDonnell expressed it as: “The bottom line for me, is the new relationship we have with Europe should be designed on the basis that we can implement our manifesto.”

This is not a bad starting point. A Corbyn-led government should pledge to enter the negotiations declaring that all EU laws which hindered this would immediately be annulled. This is not a question of fighting for British ‘sovereignty’, as Labour’s shadow trade secretary Barry Gardiner unfortunately put it when correctly arguing to leave the single market, but fighting in the interests of the working class not just in Britain but across Europe.

There are, of course, aspects of EU law – such as various environmental and health and safety protections – which the workers’ movement should have no objection to keeping other than a desire to strengthen them.

And no one wants to see what the ‘soft’ Brexiteers paint as inevitable outside the single market – economic crisis, job losses and price increases. On the basis of a Tory ‘hard’ Brexit, all of that would be posed – but nor does continuing as part of the crisis-ridden EU offer a way forward for working class people in Britain.

Socialist measures

A socialist Brexit, by contrast, could be the start of building a society that was able to provide everyone with the prerequisites for a decent life: a high-quality secure home, a good job, free education, a top class NHS, a living pension and more.

In doing so it would act as a beacon for workers’ and young people across Europe to take the same road, opening the path not only to mass opposition to the EU bosses’ club but also to a democratic socialist confederation of Europe.

A starting point for a workers’ Brexit would be to implement the demands at the end of this article, all of which would require a complete break with the single market.

At the same time, doing so would inspire the 450 million workers remaining in the single market to fight for similar demands in their own countries. It would also terrify the capitalist class, not just in Britain but globally, who would see their rotten profit-driven system under threat from a mass movement for a new democratic, socialist society.

Without doubt the world’s ruling elites would do all they could to sabotage the implementation of Jeremy Corbyn’s programme, including attempting to use the rules of the single market if Britain remained inside it.

But, provided a determined mass movement was mobilised in support of the government’s programme, they would not be able to succeed. The reteat of the Syriza government in Greece over fighting austerity was not pre-ordained. If the government had shown the courage of the Greek people and refused to capitulate to the capitalists and their EU institutions, the outcome could have been very different.

However, to effectively prevent the attempted sabotage of the capitalist class – inside or outside the EU – will pose the question of taking socialist measures in order to remove control of the economy and finance system from the tiny unelected minority who currently hold it in their hands. Pleading with the City of London “to stabilise the markets before we get into government”, as John McDonnell suggests to the Guardian, will never prevent the financial markets trying to attack a government which threatens their obscene profits.

Nor will it work to beg multinational corporations to stay in Britain if they think they can make a bigger profit by moving to a country with cheaper labour.

Instead, socialist measures – bringing into democratic public ownership the 125 or so big corporations and banks that control around 80% of Britain’s economy – would be posed. This would provide the possibility of developing a democratic, socialist plan of production that could very quickly transform the lives of millions.

For workers continuing to suffer brutal capitalist austerity in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland – indeed to workers everywhere – it would act to show a way forward to a new, socialist world.


  • Not a penny to be paid in a ‘divorce bill’ to subsidise the capitalist elites of Europe
  • Ban zero-hour contracts. £10 an hour minimum wage for all
  • Abolition of all anti-trade union legislation. For the right of all workers to freely organise and when necessary strike, in defence of their and other workers’ interests
  • No ‘race to the bottom’! The ‘rate for the job’ for all workers. For democratic trade union control over hiring new workers
  • For the right of all EU citizens currently in Britain to remain with full rights, and to demand the same for UK workers in other EU countries
  • Immediate scrapping of all rules demanding ‘competitive tendering’, limiting state aid and opposing nationalisation. This would remove the legal obstacles to councils bringing all local services back ‘in house’. It would enable the immediate renationalisation of all privatised public services such as rail, energy and water. It would remove the obstacles to renationalising the NHS, throwing out the private multinational companies that are bleeding it dry
  • For a socialist society run in the interests of the millions not the billionaires. Bring the 125 major corporations and banks that dominate the economy into democratic public ownership

If you agree with us, get in touch to find out more! Fill in the form below

Scrap the Tory ‘rape clause’ and all benefit attacks

Scrap the Tory ‘rape clause’ and all benefit attacks

rape-clause

The form

 

The following article about the disgraceful latest attacks on benefit claimants was written by a DWP worker and member of the PCS trade union. A version was published in The Socialist newspaper. The full article is reproduced below.


Changes to Child Tax Credits and the ‘Universal Credit’ benefit system mean that people making a new claim from 6 April will have the number of children they can claim for capped at two. One exception to this is if the third child was born as a result of what the government calls “non-consensual conception.”

However, in order to prove this was the case, there is an eight-page mandatory form that the victim will need to fill out.

Dubbed the “rape clause,” it will require the claimant not only to name the child the exception will apply to, but also have a “third-party professional” fill out part of the form.

This represents a new low for the government.

Disgracefully, the exemption will not apply to claimants who still live with their rapist – despite a British Crime Survey finding that 45% of rapes happen within current relationships. Attacks can be extremely difficult for victims to disclose, let alone prove.

In evidence presented to the House of Lords, the manager of the Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre said: “We have more than 30 years’ worth of empirical evidence that tells us that the most dangerous time for a woman and her children is at the point of leaving an abuser. In the UK a woman is murdered every three days by a partner or ex-partner.”

This latest attack on women compounds the threat to women posed by the Housing Benefit cap, which could close two-thirds of the already insufficient number of women’s refuges.

Women and children need material support to escape abusive relationships and live stable, independent lives. The Tories’ rape clause punishes victims and will endanger lives for the sake of reducing the bosses’ tax burden. 

This vile Tory government has shown time and time again that there is no limit to how low it will stoop to in its attacks on the working class and the most vulnerable in society.

Our previous article reported on the callous measures to remove eligibility to Personal Independence Payment – a benefit designed to help with the extra costs of living with care or a disability – from 160,000 people, saving £3.5 billion.

Cuts to the weekly rate of Employment and Support Allowance for those in the ‘Work-Related Activity Group’ will see claimants losing almost £30 from their payments – measures the government claim are beneficial as they will incentivise people to find work!

The heavy-handed nature of the sanctions and conditionality regimes in the benefit system have really been brought to the forefront with the release of Ken Loach’s film I, Daniel Blake, which showcases the miserable living conditions faced by so many in Britain today.

A recent report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission on living with a disability in Britain today says:

“It is a badge of shame on our society that millions of disabled people in Britain are still  not being treated as equal citizens and continue to be denied the everyday rights non-disabled people take for granted, such as being able to access transport, appropriate health services and housing, or benefit from education and employment.  The disability pay gap is persistent and widening, access to justice has deteriorated, and welfare reforms have significantly affected the already low living standards of disabled people.”

It is clear that capitalism isn’t working – we need to fight for the transformation of society along socialist lines, to ensure it is run in the interests of the majority, not the minority.

Under a socialist programme, everyone would be guaranteed a decent job, housing, and education, with the full support there for those who need it most.

Under capitalism, not even these basic demands are possible for so many people. If the system cannot afford these, then we cannot afford the system.

The Socialist Party says: scrap the rape clause. Reverse all benefit cuts and fund secure, genuinely affordable housing for all. You can’t fight domestic violence without also fighting the cuts.

A UNISON member responds to Dave Prentis over by-election results

A UNISON member responds to Dave Prentis over by-election results

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Prentis looking on as Jeremy Corbyn addresses UNISON conference (RT)

We are pleased to publish the following comments from a UNISON member in Coventry in response to an article by UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis in the aftermath of the Stoke and Copeland by-elections. The original article by Prentis was originally carried on the website of the New Statesman. We welcome comments and discussion on the issues raised here.


The votes in the two by-elections that took place this week in Stoke Central and Copeland had barely finished being counted before UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis had an article published in the New Statesman. This article can hardly be considered helpful from the point of view of Jeremy Corbyn and those hundreds of thousands of people who support his anti-austerity policies and wished for something better than the ‘same old Tory lite’ of New Labour.

The article was quickly and unsurprisingly picked up by the right wing press as another example of how Corbyn’s position is becoming untenable as his ‘friends’ start to lose faith in him.

Let us be clear from the outset. Despite the soothing words of Prentis, the fact that UNISON supported Corbyn in the leadership contests was a result of the massive pressure from ordinary members in the union to do so. Prentis would not have wanted to support Jeremy in a million years.

In fact he would have felt threatened by the mass influx in to the Labour Party and people signing up as supporters to support Jeremy. No doubt Prentis would be thinking – if it could happen in the Labour Party, could a ‘Corbyn moment’ happen in UNISON to get rid of him as general secretary? (We think yes, more on that later)

Prentis rightly points out

‘There will be those who seek to place sole blame for this calamity at the door of Jeremy Corbyn. They would be wrong to do so. 

The problems that Labour has in working-class communities across the country did not start with Corbyn’s leadership’.

However timing counts for a lot in politics. And in this case timing says it all – with the knives inevitably coming out once again for Corbyn’s leadership this article from Prentis only adds to the pressure.

Prentis could and should have turned his fire on the Blairites and in particular Tristam Hunt (who took his ‘dream job’ with the V and A) and Jamie Reed (moving on to a highly paid job in the nuclear industry). He could have said that Copeland would still be a Labour seat if Reed had not resigned to pursue higher wages. He could have attacked Tony Blair for his intervention over Brexit, timed to destabilise Labour in the days running up to the by-elections. But no, we get an attempt to undermine Corbyn disguised as comradely advice from a ‘friend’.

Socialist Party supporters in UNISON have raised comradely criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and the role played by sections of Momentum. In particular Jeremy’s willingness to placate the right wing in Labour (for example on the issue of the democratic policy of mandatory re-election), the changing of his traditional position of opposition to the EU (if he had held to his position he would have been in a good place to change the whole debate over Brexit – the left wing, internationalist case against the EU as a bosses club would have been heard by a wider audience which could have undercut UKIP) and the unwillingness to organise and mobilise the hundreds of thousands of people against the Blairites in favour of a ‘broad church’ where the right control the PLP and the party machinery.

Unfortunately Jeremy and John McDonnell have also allowed the right wing to get their way with regards to Labour Councils implementing Tory cuts. These concessions have not consolidated or strengthened Corbyn’s position – they have greatly weakened it.

However we do this from the position of wanting to see the building of a mass, anti-austerity socialist movement and that the election of Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party is a big step forward.

That is not the position of Prentis. The general secretary of UNISON is also on the Board of the Bank of England and receives a 6 figure salary which is far removed (to say the least) from the majority of members he purports to represent. Under the leadership of Prentis, our union has failed to mount any sort of campaign to defend jobs or services – with hundreds of thousands of posts being lost in local government and the Tories declaring open season on the NHS. Where is our union? Where is our leader Prentis? There have also been accusations that Dave and his team in the general secretary elections broke the rules of which more can be read about here

Socialists in UNISON have been involved in building support for the UNISONaction Broad Left in the forthcoming elections to the union’s National Executive Council  – this will be a key opportunity to elect activists who are united in their belief that the leadership of Prentis is not fit for the purpose of building a fighting, democratic UNISON. The intervention of Prentis in the aftermath of the recent by-elections further confirms why we need change in our union.

For more analysis of the elections results and what they mean, click here

2017: Upheaval and fightback will continue

2017: Upheaval and fightback will continue

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Enormous show of strength against the cuts from 2011

We publish below an article written by Peter Taaffe of the Socialist Party and the Committee for a Workers’ International setting out what 2017 will bring and the political situation we are facing.


2017: Upheaval and fightback will continue

2016 was the year when the pent-up anger of the masses worldwide finally spilled over in a series of political earthquakes – a delayed reaction to the devastating world economic crisis of 2007-08. And tremors are still being felt, with serious aftershocks – if not new earthquakes – expected in 2017.

The changed situation was dramatically illustrated by Brexit, with repercussions not just in Europe but worldwide. At bottom, this reflected a working class revolt against the austerity programme both of the British Tory government and the predatory capitalist EU.

The Socialist Party has consistently opposed the capitalist, imperialist EU from its origins and therefore called for a Leave vote in the referendum, along with the transport workers’ union the RMT and many others.

Moreover, it was striking that those who had suffered under the iron heel of the EU – the Greek, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian workers – hailed Brexit, which they saw as striking a decisive blow against their mortal enemies, the gang of EU robber capitalists.

Fight the right

We also fought against the corrosive nationalism of Ukip and other reactionary forces who attempted to seize hold of Brexit as a means of dividing workers against one another. We will stay implacably opposed to the neoliberal EU while at the same time proposing a class and socialist alternative: no to the EU, yes to a socialist confederation of Europe.

It is no exaggeration to say that the leave vote resounded throughout the world. How dare the ignorant untutored masses defy their rulers, reasoned an army of capitalist comentators!

The leave vote upended the Tory cabinet and Cameron was soon consigned to history. Absolute turmoil has ensued, which continues into 2017, plunging the Tory party under Theresa May into an endemic crisis. The capitalist media constantly harps on the split within Labour but from the medium and long-term perspectives, the divisions within the Tory party are much more serious.

A schism within the Tory party, like that over the Corn Laws in the first half of the nineteenth century, is entirely possible. This saw the Tory party out of power for generations.

In Italy, Renzi has followed Cameron, after a stunning 60% to 40% rejection of his own undemocratic referendum, which sought to consolidate his austerity regime.

But the far right in Europe is still on the march, having been given a lift by the victory of Trump in the US presidential elections. Although the Austrian far right failed to win the re-run presidential election.

It is not even excluded that at a certain stage some countries – Austria, France, the Netherlands and possibly also Italy – could repeat the successes of the far right in Eastern Europe, participating in right-wing coalition governments.

Failure

It is the transparent failure of right-wing social democracy in Spain, Greece, Portugal and Britain – trapped within the framework of diseased capitalism and consequently presiding over savage cuts, eye watering poverty, mass unemployment etc – which has provided this opportunity for the right to emerge and threaten past conquests of the working class.

They believe that they have been given a huge comfort blanket by the victory of Donald Trump in the US elections. There are even some on the left who believe that a ‘festival of reaction’ will follow.

Nothing of the kind is likely or possible. Without in any way minimising the threat from the right – which should be fought – the relationship of class forces is still decisively in favour of the working class and its organisations, although weakened. The fascists could not successfully use today the methods of Hitler or Mussolini, the mobilisation of mass middle class forces to terrorise and atomise the working class.

Coming to power – even partially sharing power in a right-wing, conservative government – would act like a crack of thunder to awaken the working class and particularly the youth into ferocious resistance to such governments and the measures that they would undertake.

Witness the marvellous resistance of Polish women to the attempt to restrict abortion rights. Other powerful mass women’s movements have developed in Ireland against strict abortion laws, in Argentina against vile attacks on women, and in Turkey against attempts to legitimise rape.

Look also at the mass resistance that erupted against Trump’s fraudulent victory in cities in the US, in some cases led by our co-thinkers in Socialist Alternative. It is expected that mass demonstrations in the US and worldwide will take place on 20 January at Trump’s inauguration. This is just a little payment on account for the mass working class resistance he is likely to encounter in the next years.

Moreover, such right-wing governments with far-right participation would pave the way for a massive swing towards the left among the working class, which would be reflected in the labour movement. This will act to further discredit the right-wing social democrats, who through their failure have paved the way for the right’s re-emergence.

The truth is class radicalisation overwhelmingly predominates worldwide. This was shown in the 180 million Indian workers who demonstrated their power in a mighty general strike against the right-wing Modi regime in September 2016.

Unprecedented mass movements have also a broken out in South Korea, which are likely to force the president out on corruption charges.

Middle East

Of course, this has to be balanced against the horrific intractable crisis in the Middle East with its countless victims – a monument to the endless horrors to which humankind will suffer on the basis of outmoded capitalism.

The war in Syria has lasted longer than World War One, and moreover there is an element of that situation in the present conflict with its mutual slaughter. Leon Trotsky remarked in relation to the pre-1914 Balkan war: “Our descendants… will spread their hands in horror when they learn from history books about the methods by which capitalist peoples settled their disputes.”

If nothing else, the Syrian war has demonstrated beyond all doubt that none of the capitalist powers – the US, Russia, the European Union – can provide a solution to the myriad national conflicts within the region.

Indeed, imperialism in all its guises – British, French, US – is the author of the present divisive patchwork divide-and-rule tactics on a massive scale, undemocratically stitched together when these imperialist powers were forced to retreat from direct domination of the region in the post-1945 situation.

A representative of the British spy agency MI6 recently appeared on British television and had the effrontery to quote from the Roman historian Tacitus – “You create a desolation and call it peace” – while attacking Putin’s Russia! If so, then Putin learnt well in the school of the British ruling class and MI6. They were the first to pursue a bloody divide-and-rule policy, to carve out their empire upon which the ‘sun would never set’.

Only the decisive intervention of the working class and poor in the Middle East region through a programme of class unity and socialism on the basis of a democratic confederation can put an end to this horror once and for all. The first step towards this would be the development of an independent political voice for the masses.

But in the meantime the catastrophic situation which has beset all countries in the Middle East will continue. The alleged coup in Turkey has led to an even bigger and more effective right-wing counter-coup led by Turkish President Erdogan himself. Over 100,000 public sector workers have been dismissed; there has been a clampdown on the media and suppression of democratic rights. Only by determined struggle, and a vision of a new humane, socialist society, will the forces of the right be pushed back.

Donald Trump

Nowhere is that more necessary than in the US following the victory of the right-wing demagogic populist Donald Trump, who lied and cheated his way to power by pretending to champion the ‘working class’. Nothing could be further from the truth.

He lacks any real ‘legitimacy’ for his right-wing programme. While he won the Electoral College, he was decisively beaten in the ‘popular vote’ by 2.6 million, receiving fewer votes even than the last defeated Republican presidential candidates Romney and McCain, and George W Bush when he won.

Within a matter of weeks – and without being installed yet as president – he has shredded most of his promises. His proposed government, true to form, is stuffed with billionaires, representative not of ‘Main Street’ but of Wall Street, which he denounced during the election campaign.

He is recruiting heavily from Goldman Sachs, which after the crash of 2007-08 was described by Rolling Stone magazine as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”. Its tentacles are poised to try and further strangle working people in the cause of Trump’s pro-big business agenda.

The trade unions face a massive challenge as he seeks to emulate Ronald Reagan in rolling out so-called ‘right to work’ legislation to weaken them. He will seek to reward Wall Street sharks who supported him by ruthless measures like privatisation and sackings, particularly of public sector workers.

Infrastructure and jobs

He hopes to soften the blatant pro-billionaire agenda by borrowing from capitalist economist Keynes with a promise to increase government spending of at least $1 trillion on the US’s collapsing infrastructure.

However, as welcome as any new jobs would be in restoring the confidence of the US working class to fight back against the bosses and providing the unemployed with work, nevertheless these would not replace the high paid secure jobs which have been lost in the massive deindustrialisation of the US.

An estimated 70,000 factories in the US disappeared during this process, never to return on the basis of capitalism. Since 2010 something like 15 million new jobs were generated in the US but these have been overwhelmingly low paid and insecure, many the equivalent of the hated zero-hour contracts in Britain.

Moreover, the US is already saddled with colossal debt – government, corporate and personal – which is the main reason why enfeebled US and world capitalism has been able to still stagger on.

But will even a Republican congress ratify big increases in public spending, without any overall economic growth and ratcheting up even more debt? Top US tax expert and Congressman Ken Brady has declared: “The greatest threat to our prosperity long term is our growing national debt.”

On the basis of capitalism, particularly the parasitic kind which Trump represents, a return to a ‘golden age’ when today appeared to be better than yesterday, and tomorrow would certainly be better, is over. The 60% of the US population who now consider themselves worse off than before signifies this.

Bernie Sanders

Hence the explosive developments in the US with the rise of the Bernie Sanders movement. Sanders’ call for a political revolution drew mass support from discontented workers and young people and in turn terrified the pro-capitalist Democratic Party establishment.

When he was denied victory in the primaries by the manoeuvres of the pro-Clinton Democratic establishment, Bernie made a big mistake in not taking to the open road and establishing a new party. He had successfully appealed to the same impoverished and discontented layers of workers and young people to whom Trump was also pitching his message.

If he had stood for the presidency, then if not beating Trump, he would have at least attracted sufficient support to have allowed for the possibility of Hillary Clinton coming to power. This would have been the ideal scenario for the prospects of the further political awakening of the American working class and the youth.

A Clinton Democrat administration, which would have been tested to destruction – much as the Liberal Party in Britain was at the turn of the 20th century – could have created the base for the emergence of a new mass workers’ party. Given the economic catastrophe of US capitalism and the desperation of the masses for an alternative, a new mass movement for socialism would have taken shape.

The election of Trump – the whip of counter-revolution – will not halt but ultimately spur on this process. There are features present in the current situation reminiscent of the explosive years in the 1960s and 70s. Socialism is an idea which has already captured the imagination of the new generation of workers and young people.

Socialism in the US

‘Trotsky in New York 1917’ – part of the avalanche of new books in preparation for the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution this year – while inaccurate about Trotsky’s real political views, nevertheless provides valuable insights about the powerful attraction for the American masses of socialism and its leading international figures then.

We are informed that “at least six New York newspapers with more than half a million readers would announce Trotsky’s arrival in the city. Three put the story on the front page.” There was a vibrant socialist movement and Eugene Debs had stood as a Socialist Party candidate in every presidential election since 1900, receiving over one million votes in 1912, the equivalent of six million today.

Those traditions will be revived, alongside those of the monumental class battles of the 1930s. American capitalism’s colossal wealth and power allowed it to soften class relations in the post-1945 situation. Its relative economic decline has now sharpened these divisions, which will be further deepened by Trump.

And this will develop with American speed and elan. The success of our US co-thinkers, with the spectacular growth of Socialist Alternative and the election of the first socialist councillor in 100 years in Seattle – Kshama Sawant – is a measure of the changes wrought in the heartland of world capitalism.

As is the success of the school student union in Spain, which chalked up a big national victory against the PP government – the first in five years – when it successfully mobilised two million school students in a national strike which compelled the government to withdraw its attacks on education.

The political force behind this victory, the Spanish Marxist organisation Izquierda Revolucionaria, is in the process of linking up with the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), which represents a great strengthening of the genuine forces of Marxism internationally. This will undoubtedly act as a magnet for other Marxist forces to come together with us to confront capitalism and its agents within the workers’ movement.

Warnings

Never has this been more necessary. Even the representatives of the capitalist system, like Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, have warned the class they represent of the inherent dangers arising from the current crisis. Carney warned of the worst crisis for over 100 years with the UK “suffering its first lost decade since the 1860s”, when Karl Marx was alive.

He repeatedly referred to the sense of insecurity and frustrations with global trade and technology, which has favoured “the superstar and the lucky… But what of the frustrated and frightened?” He denounced “inequality” as well as the banks who had been, according to him working in a “heads I win, tails you lose bubble”.

Its intent was to warn the bosses who Carney represents of the incendiary economic and social situation in Britain which threatens to blow the system apart. And the examples which he uses are damning indictments of British capitalism, as well as an indication of further seismic events to come.

More than a fifth of the UK’s population – almost 14 million people – is below the official yardstick for calculating poverty, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. That includes 4.8 million adults and 2.6 million children in poverty despite living in a working family. The numbers in this category grew by over a million in the last decade, symbolising the inexorable impoverishment of broad swathes of the British people.

Stories now creep into the press of how those who come from the middle class can now rapidly sink into a desperate situation. From having a job, to no job, therefore no income, then being incapable of paying the rent and ultimately ending up on the streets. The wheel of progress has gone into rapid reverse towards barbarism, with some homeless people now found to be living in caves in Wales!

Jeremy Corbyn and Labour

It was these conditions – arising from the complete failure of traditional ‘social democracy’ trapped within the framework of outmoded capitalism to provide an answer – which lit the flame of populist revolt symbolised in Britain through the mass movement gathered around Jeremy Corbyn. And yet 18 months after this – and with the crushing defeat of two right-wing Blairite coups – his campaign has now stalled. Jeremy himself seems to be missing in action. Why?

Because a policy of ‘peaceful coexistence’ during a civil war, which has existed in the Labour Party and the labour movement from the very first day that Jeremy was elected, has been adopted by his closest supporters in the leadership of Momentum. It is potentially fatal for his leadership prospects and the mass anti-austerity movement around him. This has been successfully urged on him by his closest advisers in Momentum.

There is an element of dual power in the Labour Party at the moment. The right controls the Parliamentary Labour Party – mainly the unreconstructed Labour right, who display their opposition and contempt for Corbyn and his allies on a daily basis.

These ‘Labour’ MPs are unmistakably in the camp of the bosses. This was illustrated by Chris Evans, MP for Islwyn – one of the poorest constituencies in South Wales – seeing himself as the ‘voice’ of the parasitic hedge funds rather than the working class, and proposing a parliamentary liaison committee with these City of London creatures.

This right-wing MP is prepared to get into bed with the financial spivs, who create nothing and who treat factories and workplaces as ‘assets’ that can be gambled away on the stock exchange. They are the sworn enemy of working people and yet this alleged representative of the workers of South Wales seeks the participation of corrupt, parasitic swindlers who are shunned by even ‘respectable’ capitalists.

This shows just how politically corrupt large swathes of the Parliamentary Labour Party are – the sooner they are driven out the better. The Labour right have played for time, while the left has dithered and refused to conduct a real struggle, therefore playing into the hands of the right.

This is particularly the role of the leaders of Momentum. They refused to consistently support the one measure that would have mobilised hundreds of thousands of left-leaning workers and youth who joined the Labour Party in great enthusiasm to complete the Corbyn revolution: namely, subjecting right-wing MPs to reselection.

The Socialist Party has offered to further this process, to join the Labour Party on the basis of a political and organisational reconfiguration, leading to a federal form of party. Jon Lansman, the leader of Momentum, unceremoniously refused to support this, while showing touching sensitivity to the right. His tactics have blown up in his face, with Momentum torn apart over forms of organisation.

There have been no systematic protests at the arbitrary and bureaucratic denial of access to its ranks or that of the Labour Party.

Our request for readmission of 75 supporters of the Socialist Party previously expelled has met a brick wall. This while the right have ruthlessly used their position on the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party to consolidate their grip.

Unresolved civil war

The right have a clear plan to expel and marginalise all those on the left who pose a threat to their continued rule. The left under the baton of Momentum’s leadership – organisationally and politically inept – have allowed the right to make a comeback.

All of this could have been avoided if clear direction had been given from the beginning to the hundreds of thousands who rallied enthusiastically to Corbyn’s anti-austerity programme and clearly demonstrated the desire to drive the Blairite right out of the Labour Party. The response of Momentum’s leadership was to rule out any such political ‘confrontation’ with the right.

The Labour Party is still composed of two incompatible parties in one. The right from the beginning showed they were absolutely unreconciled to Corbyn’s leadership and would overthrow him at the first opportunity. That still remains their goal.

The civil war which has existed from the beginning of Corbyn’s accession to the leadership remains unresolved. The right, having failed to remove him in an open coup and afraid of leaving the Labour Party in the hands of the left, have fallen back on a ‘creeping coup’. The tactics consist of a war of attrition, constantly seeking to discredit Jeremy and John McDonnell, and marginalising and excluding their supporters.

Blind alley

There is nevertheless everything to play for in 2017. Capitalism is a blind alley, incapable of taking society substantially forward. All of those parties who accept the system will ultimately fall under the wheels of history.

The movement around Jeremy represents a determined attempt to throw off the outmoded shell of Blairite pro-market, pro-capitalist forces and take to a more radical, socialist road.

The Socialist Party, together with the CWI, will do everything in its power to assist workers and young people to attain the goal of a mass, socialist party fighting for a socialist society in Britain and the world.

100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution – launch of new section on website!

100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution – launch of new section on website

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The new section of the website celebrating the Russian Revolution!

Coventry Socialist Party are pleased to announce the launch of a new section on our website in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution. 2017 will see a sustained attack on the ideas of Socialism, Marxism and Bolshevism as the defenders of the capitalist system seek to denounce and denigrate the events of 1917, where working class people took power.

We will be publishing articles to both set the record straight and draw out the historical lessons to be able to apply them to battles against capitalism today. As well as articles we will also be holding public meetings, rallies and discussions to help understand what took place.

The new section can be found on the menu bar of the website (see picture above) and so far contains a welcome and intro, and two further articles. The first is Russia’s 1917 socialist revolution and the second is the editorial from the current issue of Socialism Today.

If you would like to join us or get more information, fill in the form below! We are also happy to give talks and discussions for schools, university societies, community groups and trade union branches. Get in touch!

Trotskyism, the Militant tendency and the Corbyn insurgency – Coventry public meeting

Trotskyism, the Militant tendency and the Corbyn insurgency – Coventry public meeting

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A leaflet we have been distributing for the meeting – text below

Thursday 25th August, 7.30pm, Coventry Methodist Central Hall. Warwick Lane, Coventry City Centre, CV1 2HA

The Socialist Party has had a lot of media coverage over the last few weeks, after Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson claimed that Trotskyists were joining the Labour Party and “twisting young arms” to support Jeremy Corbyn. He then submitted a “dossier” to back up his claims, which included reports from Socialist Party members about events they had spoken at. All these reports showed that, rather than secretly joining the party, we are openly attending events as the Socialist Party and putting forward our views – but this didn’t stop the media widely sharing Watson’s claims. These attacks on the Socialist Party, and our predecessor organisation Militant, show how scared the Labour Party right-wing are of genuine socialist ideas.

We have organised a public meeting in Coventry on Thursday 25th August, with former Militant Editorial Board member and Socialist Party General Secretary Peter Taaffe speaking – as seen on Channel 4 news! If you want to hear about the real ideas of the Socialist Party, rather than media distortions, come to the meeting and find out what we stand for.

The deputy leader of the Labour Party has laid the responsibility of Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity at the feet of supposed Trotskyist infiltrators.

Why has the Labour Party right wing and the media suddenly become interested in the influence of Leon Trotsky; one of the leaders of the Russian revolution who dedicated his life fighting for socialism and against Stalinism?

The Socialist Party proudly stands in the tradition of Trotsky in fighting for the working class and fighting for democratic socialism.

It was the Socialist Party, then Militant, who led the mass non-payment of the poll tax which was scrapped and led to the defeat of Thatcher.

In recent years Socialist Party members have been at the forefront of fights against privatisation, the bedroom tax and attacks on workers and young people.

It is these ideas that the right are scared of and are trying to discredit.

A programme to improve the lives of majority and a strategy to win. We’re fighting for a different kind of society – a socialist society where the world’s resources are controlled and planned for the good of all not for the profits of a few.

Thursday 25th August, 7.30pm, Coventry Methodist Central Hall. Warwick Lane, Coventry City Centre, CV1 2HA