Monday, October 26, 2020

Northern Lights

 Andy Burnham has chosen the right time to challenge the Johnson government. The Mayor of Greater Manchester is being asked to support the Government’s Tier 3 lockdown without the financial support that’s vitally needed to make it viable. Accusing the Tories of “playing poker with people's lives” the Labour mayor spoke for the millions in his region who need financial support to stave off unemployment and poverty that will otherwise follow the new local lockdown regime.

Greater Manchester is calling for between £65m and £75m to support businesses that would be forced to close during a Tier 3 lockdown and he’s won across-the-board support from other local government leaders in the region who have joined him in dismissing the Government’s current business support packages as woefully inadequate.
     According to a Daily Telegraph journalist “Politics is crazy right now. One Tory MP just told me: ‘We are on the cusp of having Andy Burnham carried shoulder-high through the streets of Manchester. He has demonstrated courage and principle, hope and determination and a spirit that the British people can be proud of’”.
     Meanwhile Sir Keir Starmer is calling on Northern Tory MPs to support Labour’s demand for furloughed workers to continue to receive 80 per cent of their wages after the current scheme ends at the end of the month and better financial support for areas in the top tier of restrictions. “The Prime Minister and the Chancellor need to make good on their commitment to the British people to do whatever it takes to help us through this pandemic,” the Labour leader said. “We need a fair one nation deal that can help us through the second wave”.
    This could mean trouble for the Tories particularly in the “red wall” Northern constituencies that they took from Labour in last year’s general election. The Government has put £60 million on the table and the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, clearly hopes that will be enough to buy off trouble in the run-up to next year’s regional elections. Sunak clearly doesn’t want to maintain the current national business and furlough support at the current levels. This is probably because Sunak fears that a national lockdown of a much longer duration than the currently touted two-week “circuit breaker” is inevitable and he doesn’t want to raise taxes or, indeed, cut the defence budget, to pay for it.
    This could also mean trouble for Starmer himself. Back in 2017 Tony Blair told us that Labour would be 20 points ahead of the Tories if it wasn’t for Corbyn. This year the Remainers said Labour’s fortunes would dramatically change once Starmer was at the helm.
    But that hasn’t happened has it? Starmer claimed to be a “unity” candidate who would continue along the trajectory charted by Corbyn. But he didn’t did he?
    Continuing with the bogus “anti-semitic” campaign and hounding out prominent left supporters of the old regime may have won him the plaudits of the Zionists and the ageing Blairites who still sit in the House of Commons. But it’s cut no ice with working people battling against austerity and the coronavirus plague. There’s been little sign of a breakthrough in England and Labour remains in the doldrums in Scotland.
    If Starmer stumbles in the regional polls next year there’ll be plenty of other “centre-left” Labour wannabees more than ready to take his place. Andy Burnham is one of them. Sadiq Khan is another.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Still Towering over London

beefeaters' lonely vigil
By Carole Barclay

The Tower of London has dominated the London scene for almost a thousand years. It began in 1066 when William the Conqueror ordered its construction to make his mark on the capital of his new kingdom. Since then the Tower has served as a fortress, palace, prison and even a royal zoo for those who sat on the throne of England.
    This is where the two young “Princes in the Tower”, who stood in the way of their uncle Richard III, were held before they conveniently “disappeared” in 1483. Ann Boleyn, one of Henry VIII’s unfortunate wives, spent her last days awaiting execution in the Tower. Many others, including Walter Raleigh and Guy Fawkes, passed through ‘Traitors Gate’ down the ages.
    During the Second World War Germany’s Deputy Fuhrer, Rudolf Hess, became the last state prisoner of the Tower when he was held here after he parachuted into Scotland to try and negotiate an armistice in May 1941 while the last man to be executed behind its grim walls was a German spy shot by firing squad in August 1941.
    Though this massive fortress may seems impregnable to the modern visitor the only time it ever fell was when sympathetic guards opened the gates to Wat Tyler’s rebel army during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. A rebel detachment led by John Starling seized the architects of the hated poll tax who were cowering behind its walls. The Lord High Treasurer Robert Hales along with the Chancellor of England Archbishop Simon Sudbury and John Legge, the king’s tax collector for Kent, were dragged out and beheaded on nearby Tower Hill.
    Though there is modest display dedicated to the Peasants Revolt in one of the bastions along the eastern ramparts walkway little or nothing is said about the turbulent times of the English Civil War.
    London was the staunchly Puritan capital of the Parliamentary forces during the Civil War which began in 1642 and ended in 1649 with the trial and execution of Charles Stuart and the abolition of the monarchy. The Republic of England, or Commonwealth as it was commonly styled in English, was proclaimed soon after.
    In 1653 Oliver Cromwell, the great commander of the New Model Army, became head of state, the Lord Protector. He established the Tower’s first permanent garrison and ordered the original crown jewels to be melted down to meet the needs of the new republic – a fact coyly mentioned in the current Crown Jewels exhibition.
    Cromwell never lived in the Tower but the fortress did provide a roof for some of his less than welcome “guests”. Most were Royalist prisoners. Others had once fought by his side.
    One was John Lilburne, a parliamentary army officer who had become a leader of the radical “Leveller” movement that campaigned for justice and equality during the conflict. “Freeborn John” denounced MPs who lived in comfort while the common soldiers fought and died in poverty. He ended up in the Tower for denouncing his former commander, the Earl of Manchester, as a traitor and a Royalist sympathiser and campaigning against the “grandee” army leaders who led the new republican government that the Levellers claimed were no better than the Cavaliers they had just ousted,
    Lilburne was accused of working with the Royalists to bring down the Commonwealth. Though a London jury acquitted him of treason charges his continuing opposition activities led to his exile soon after. Lilburn was sent back to the Tower when he returned to London without permission. He was finally freed in 1656. By that time he had abandoned his radical beliefs to become a pacifist and a Quaker and he died the following year.
    Lilburne told the Puritan preacher Hugh Peters, one of Cromwell’s inner circle, that he would rather have had seven years under the late king's rule than one under the present regime.
     Whether Lilburne had actually became a turn-coat, however, is still debatable.
But there’s no doubt about Edward Sexby, a prominent Leveller “agitator” who was arrested for plotting to kill Cromwell and distributing a pamphlet that incited the murder of the Protector.
    Sexby was an ambitious man. When the Levellers turned against the grandees he joined Cromwell’s camp and was rapidly promoted. He was elevated to the rank of Colonel and worked in France for the fledgling republic’s intelligence service. But he made many enemies along the way and by 1654 his military career had come to a halt. An increasingly bitter man, he returned to his radical past and the now underground Leveller movement.
In 1655 he fled to the Netherlands after being implicated in a new Leveller conspiracy. There he joined Royalist exiles plotting to assassinate Cromwell.
    Sexby helped produce, and may have actually written, an appalling pamphlet called Killing No Murder that called for Cromwell’s death. But he was speedily arrested after secretly returning to England in 1657. He died in the Tower the following year. The Commonwealth’s semi-official bulletin, the Mercurius Politicus, said he was ‘stark mad’.
    There’s plenty to see and this is the best time to do it. Before the coronavirus crisis the Tower of London was one of London’s most visited tourist attractions and one of the leading visitor attractions in the United Kingdom.
    Over 15,000 visitors, many from overseas, passed through its gates every day. In these troubled days London’s tourist industry has all but collapsed while the Covid-19 restrictions strictly ration the numbers allowed into the fortress at any given time. It’s around 800 on a good day. But when it rains visitors are almost outnumbered by the Beefeaters and the soldiers of the garrison. The long queues to see the Crown Jewels have vanished and you can really explore the nooks and crannies of this fascinating relic of London’s past.

The Tower of London is currently open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18.00. Tickets cost £25.00 (half-price for children) and visitors must book entry-slots with their tickets.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Remember Antietam!

Lincoln with his generals after the battle

by Chris Mahin

It was the bloodiest single day of fighting ever to take place in North America. On that day, more than 2,000 men gave their lives to halt a slaveholders’ army. Within days of their sacrifice, the first step was taken to abolish slavery in the United States. The Civil War’s Battle of Antietam deserves to be commemorated by all those fighting to transform society today.
    In a sense, the process of abolishing unjust property relations in this country began on 17th September 1862, on a battlefield near Antietam Creek in western Maryland. Twelve hours of hard fighting by brave soldiers that day gave the Union Army a victory of sorts. That gave Abraham Lincoln the political protection he needed to begin steps that would transform the Civil War from a defensive war to save the Union into a revolutionary war to abolish slavery.
    Five days after Antietam, Lincoln convened his Cabinet and announced that, if the Confederate states were still in rebellion on 1st January 1863, he would free all their slaves. Lincoln was true to his word and, on New Year’s Day in 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This executive order freed only the slaves in those states or parts of states that were in rebellion. It did not abolish slavery throughout the United States. However, it transformed the nature of the war, and unleashed a process that led inexorably to the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which did abolish slavery throughout the United States.
    By the time of the Civil War, slavery in the United States was dominated by wealthy capitalists, most of whom owned thousands of slaves. This tiny elite represented about one percent of the population of the United States. They sold their cotton and other commodities on the world market and were an important part of the world capitalist system. Since the average price of a slave was $1,000 and there were four million slaves in the United States, emancipation removed $4 billion in value from the hands of capitalists.
    At its time, the abolition of slavery in the United States was the greatest blow to a form of capitalist private property which had ever taken place in history. (That remained true until the Soviet Revolution of 1917)
    So, in a sense, the process of abolishing unjust property relations in this country began on the Antietam battlefield. The stage for the battle was set in early September 1862. Emboldened by several recent victories, General Robert E Lee moved the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland, a slave state that had remained in the Union. A major Confederate victory inside Union territory would strengthen pro-Confederate sentiment in the North right before the autumn 1862 Congressional elections. It might also convince some European powers to intervene in the war on the side of the Confederacy.
    Lee believed that the commander of the Union’s Army of the Potomac – General George B McClellan – was cautious to the point of cowardice. Lee also thought that McClellan’s army would be demoralised from recent defeats. As historian Stephen W Sears has pointed out, these assessments were “only half right”.
    McClellan was a supporter of slavery who constantly made excuses for why he would not fight the Confederate Army. At the Battle of Antietam, McClellan’s conduct fully justified Lee’s contempt for him. McClellan had learned Lee’s plans and had more troops at his disposal than Lee did. Still, he refused to move decisively against Lee, and allowed Lee’s army to escape after the battle.
    But if McClellan violated all the principles of warfare at Antietam, the same cannot be said for his soldiers. Forced to attack in “driblets” (as one Union general put it), the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac fought bravely.
    The courage of the Union troops was vividly demonstrated in the struggle to take “The Sunken Road” – a small depression at the edge of a farm. After several attacks against this strategic position failed, the task of capturing it fell to one of the Union Army’s most celebrated units – the Irish Brigade. This unit was known for marching into combat behind emerald green battle flags bearing gold shamrocks and harps. Shouting its battle cry (“Clear the way!”) in Irish, the Irish Brigade advanced across an open field. Intense enemy cannon and rifle fire “cut lanes” into its ranks. Within minutes, hundreds of its soldiers were killed or wounded. Ever since, the Sunken Road has been known as the “Bloody Lane.”
    In all, 2,108 Union soldiers were killed at Antietam; 9,549 were wounded; and 753 ended up missing. The carnage that day was so terrible that – as one Union soldier put it – “the whole landscape for an instant turned slightly red.” This sacrifice saved the day for the Union; Lee was forced to retreat back into Virginia.
    There are moments in history when the future of humanity rests on what a relatively few people are willing to endure. September 17th 1862, was such a moment. The bravery of the Union soldiers that day did not end the Civil War. Lee’s army would invade Union territory again, and the war would drag on for two more long years.
    The Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment, the fruit of Antietam, did not guarantee equality for African Americans or a just society. Eventually, the post-Civil War Reconstruction governments would be overthrown and the South plunged into a reign of terror which rivalled slavery. But acknowledging those grim facts should not blind us to the reality that, in a sense, the fight for a new America began at Antietam. The Union victory there transformed the Civil War into a revolutionary war to abolish one specific form of capitalist private property: chattel slavery.
    The finest tribute we can pay to those who died at Antietam is to finish their work. At Antietam, every soldier knew he risked his life if he drew enemy fire upon himself by picking up a flag dropped by a slain flag bearer. But battle flags in motion were absolutely necessary to signal the motion of troops, and so, time after time, a Union soldier picked up the fallen standard and raised it high again. In the Irish Brigade’s attempt to take the “Bloody Lane,” 16 of its flag-bearers were shot dead, one after another.
    Today, “picking up the flag” means fighting to end the rule of all capitalists, just as those who served in the Union Army helped end the rule of one kind of capitalist, the slave-owning capitalist. When we fight that good fight, we pay our best homage to those who bled for freedom’s cause years ago beside a winding creek, on a day when the very landscape itself seemed to turn red.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Look to Socialism

 As the Johnson Government introduces the new three-tier system to deal with the second wave of the coronavirus plague that is sweeping throughout Scotland and across swathes of northern England, Labour is calling for a “circuit breaker” national lockdown to bring the rising rate of COVID-19 infections under control.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for a short lockdown or "circuit-breaker" in England of two to three weeks to bring the rising rate of coronavirus under control. He says the current measures are not working and that a further two- to three-week sharp lock-down is needed to prevent a “sleepwalk into… a bleak winter”.

Dismissing Johnson as “an opportunist all his life”, Starmer told Parliament that the Government wasn’t doing enough to tackle the problem. What is needed is a short “circuit-break” like the draconian first lock-down that ran from late March to the beginning of August this year. This time schools and colleges would remain open, but “all pubs, bars and restaurants would 

be closed” and compensated “so that no business loses out because of the sacrifices we all need to make”.

“The government has not got a credible plan to slow infections. It has lost control of the virus and it's no longer following scientific advice,” Sir Keir said, adding that it could fix some problems by handing over track and trace responsibilities to the local authorities.

Labour’s demands are popular on the street, particularly with the older and vulnerable sections of the community who suffered the most from the first wave of the coronavirus plague this year. Starmer now needs to step up the pressure on the Johnson government to maintain the same level of support to furloughed workers and extend the coverage of the job retention scheme when it is replaced at the end of the month.

Any new scheme should mirror the original job retention scheme and reimburse employers for 80 per cent of the wages of their workers. We need an enhanced local Job Support scheme for businesses in local lockdown areas that are affected by low demand but not required to close. There should be no requirement to work a minimum number of hours. And the government should cover 60 per cent of wages for non-working time, with the employer covering 20 per cent, in line with the existing furlough scheme.

Self-employed workers also need support, and this could be done by increasing the payments rate of the self-employment income support scheme from 20 per cent to 60 per cent of taxable monthly profits, for those affected by additional local restrictions.

The only alternative to lockdowns at the moment is the fascist mis-representation of the theory of “herd immunity”, whereby they want to let the plague run its course regardless of the countless deaths of the old and infirmed that would inevitably follow. We’ve seen it happen in Brazil and Donald Trump’s America. We don’t want to see it here.

In fact, until we get a COVID-19 vaccine, lock-downs are the only way to deal with the crisis and we need to take even firmer measures to safeguard the health of the people. We only have to look at the stringent methods of the people’s democracies to see that they work. Not one case of COVID-19 has been reported in Democratic Korea, life has returned to normal in People’s China and Vietnam, Laos and Cuba have all effectively contained the coronavirus plague. This, once again, demonstrates the superiority of the socialist system.

Monday, October 19, 2020

China’s immense achievements

by Dilip Barua
General Secretary, Communist Party of Bangladesh (ML)

The Communist Party of China (CPC) was founded on 23rd July 1921, in Shanghai. The birth of the Chinese communist party has now given a message to the world community that the historical mission of the founding of the CPC has succeeded for humanity. Following the ceaseless struggles and sacrifices of the Chinese people, the New China stood up on the 1st October 1949, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China led by Comrade Mao Zedong.
    History shows us that the CPC had a deep-rooted connection with the people, and the leaders were firm and committed to their causes and objectives. The party made some mistakes during the struggle but today’s leaders, having taken lessons from the mistakes of the past, have moved forward in a determined way. The outstanding quality of the CPC leadership is that they can feel accurately the pulse of the time, social development and the international situation. After the founding of New China, the leadership led the country in proper way and gradually transformed China into a modern, advanced and technologically developed country.
    After the collapse of the Soviet Union and in other socialist countries, the world communist movement was at a low ebb. The leadership of the CPC gathered experience from the collapse of the different socialist countries, subsequently formulating objective policies based on creative Marxism in localised form and upholding the banner of Marxism and Leninism. People’s China has now become the centre of the international communist movement.
    The western countries tried their best to transform the colour of China in the name of neo-liberalism, but western political scientists failed totally in this. The country is developing rapidly with its own model. The COVID-19 pandemic has also exposed deep flaws in the western systems. China’s achievement in its COVID-19 fight is a comprehensive manifestation of the capacity and capability of the people’s government. US political scientists now regard China as an ideological enemy. This perspective will continue to exist for a much longer period.
    The CPC, led by Comrade Xi Jinping, is upholding the banner of socialism. The Chinese government is continuing to run the administration, covering every aspect of social development, on this principle. Based on Comrade Xi Jinping’s farsightedness and thoughtfulness, the Chinese government has succeeded in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.
    The coronavirus has so far caused huge casualties and economic devastation throughout the world and even in China. But the CPC under the leadership of Comrade Xi was giving priority to protect lives, minimising the number of deaths, concentrating all their efforts on containing the onslaught of the coronavirus and finally to winning the battle. The Chinese government and the CPC also sent enormous support and materials needed to control the pandemic to different countries and political parties, including Bangladesh. This is the ethos of fraternal assistance. For this reason, we extend our heartfelt thanks to the People of China, the Chinese Government and the CPC for their solidarity with us.
    The Chinese government has focused objectively on the economic problems of the country, accelerating the momentum of economic growth. At the same time, they took into account the COVID-19 pandemic that has put the entire world economy into severe recession, disrupted industrial supply chains, and caused a contraction in international trade and investment, and volatility in commodity markets.
    Furthermore, the Chinese government has identified small and medium businesses that face growing difficulties as well as the pressure on employment that has risen significantly. To gear up the economic momentum, the Chinese government has taken pragmatic decisions such as supporting with stimulus packages. The people of the world are now witnessing China’s all-out success in controlling COVID-19 and creating a faster economic pace. On the other hand, the western countries and their followers are lagging behind in all respects, and still suffering from the devastating effects of COVID-19 as well as economic depression.
    In the prevailing world order, the Chinese people are relatively much better in all respects and are moving forward to build up a prosperous and harmonious world. The Chinese government has reformed its policies over time and has been proven capable of leading the people to brave difficulties to win victory after victory in the revolution, reforms and economic emancipation.
    Since the foundation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on 1st October 1949, the Chinese people have done everything in their own way and developed their own model on the basis of their own national interest. The Chinese government has developed the basic foundation of industrial growth, continuing the reform process and technical innovation whilst improving the cultural conditions of the people.
    China has risen from being a semi-feudal, semi-colonial and culturally backward country, to become the second largest economy in the world. This is the glorious achievement of the CPC, and in this process the party will lead China to achieve its goal to become the number one economic giant.
    After the founding of the PRC production was low. Socio-economic conditions were backwards, and poverty was an integral part of the-then social systems. Poverty was gradually reduced but total alleviation of poverty has not been possible so far. In 2015, after becoming the General Secretary of the CPC, Comrade Xi said that poverty was the barrier that prevented China from transforming into a developed nation. He introduced stimulus packages and by the end of 2017 China’s rural population in poverty dropped from 98.99 million to 30.46 million – an impressive reduction rate of 70 per cent! Moreover, thanks to Comrade Xi’s party work at the end of the 1980s, Ningde prefecture, which was primarily a backward rural area in Fujian province, developed into to a modern and prosperous region. Since then, Comrade Xi has tirelessly worked to eradicate poverty entirely in People’s China.
    Under his able leadership, China will become a poverty-free society by the end of 2020. This will be earth-shattering news, particularly for western political scientists.
    Based on the Chinese model, the PRC has mobilised to eradicate poverty in a revolutionary drive to end the legacy of thousands of years of feudal society.
    Only the CPC could do it. Upholding the banner of Marxism and Leninism and continuing to develop the ideology from time to time with Chinese characteristics by Comrade Mao, Comrade Deng and Comrade Xi.
    Today the CPC under the leadership of Comrade Xi Jinping upholds the banner of socialism and faces all difficulties to make China one of the most modern, prosperous and harmonious countries in the world.

Meeting to tackle global poverty

by New Worker correspondent

 NCP leader Andy Brooks went online to take part in a seminar on how political parties could help poverty eradication, which kicked off on Monday in Eastern China's Fujian province.
    Ambassadors to China from more than 30 countries, including Pakistan, Egypt and Argentina, joined in the seminar in Fuzhou, the capital city of Fujian, whilst delegates from more than 100 political parties worldwide attended via video link.
    The seminar, organised by the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Fujian Party provincial committee, was attended online or offline by nearly 400 participants from more than 100 countries, including representatives of political parties, diplomatic envoys to China, representatives of international organisations in China, media representatives of developing countries, and think-tank scholars.
    `Heads of some foreign countries expressed via video or in writing their appreciation of China's historical achievements in poverty reduction and emphasised the necessity for political parties to play a leading role in building a consensus and promoting co-operation in global poverty eradication.
    Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a message of congratulations to the seminar calling on the international community, including political parties in all countries, to work together to accelerate the process of global poverty reduction because difficulties and challenges in this regard are still severe.
    Xi was a communist leader in Fujian in the past and he elaborated his thoughts on poverty eradication through his experiences in the province. Practices in Fujian such as officials being stationed in villages, sending technicians to poor areas, targeted measures and close monitoring to avoid returning to poverty were subsequently adopted nationwide.
International delegates learned about the poverty eradication experience of Fujian, and shared challenges and efforts of their own countries as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which falls on Saturday this year, approaches. Attendees said this forum was timely in exchanging ideas and practices on poverty alleviation, especially at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic makes the task even more difficult.
    “To eliminate poverty, to improve people's livelihoods and achieve common prosperity are the essential requirements of socialism with Chinese characteristics and important missions of the CPC," Xi said.
    Xi, who is also the General Secretary of the CPC, said that since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, China has made poverty eradication a key task in achieving its first centenary goal, and it has made a series of major plans and arrangements to fully launch the poverty reduction battle. The issue of absolute poverty, which has plagued the Chinese nation for thousands of years, is about to be solved historically.
    “China has the confidence and ability to resolutely win the battle against poverty and realize the poverty reduction goals of the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule,” said Xi.
    “Global poverty alleviation efforts have scored huge progress, but the difficulties and challenges are still severe,” he said, calling on the international community, including political parties of all countries, to build a consensus and work together to uphold multilateralism, and maintain peace and stability.
    “It is hoped that through sharing experience and summarising rules, seminar participants can discuss ways to advance the cause of global poverty reduction, enhance confidence in fighting poverty, and contribute to the realisation of the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” the Chinese leader said.

Johnson dips his snout into the bloody Ukrainian trough

 By Theo Russell

The British government is massively stepping up its military and political involvement in Ukraine, after a visit to Britain by President Volodymyr Zelensky and a high powered delegation which included a meeting with Prince William and a visit to Portsmouth Naval Base.
    The Johnson government is not concerned that Ukraine is infested with dozens of openly fascist militias who operate with freedom on the streets, where the Interior Minister Arsen Avakov sponsors the infamous Azov Regiment (logo based on the Waffen SS), and the head of the Kiev police, Vadim Troyan, is an Azov commander and an active member of the neo-nazi ‘Patriot of Ukraine’ movement.
    The UK has crossed a rubicon by agreeing to supply hi-tech armaments to the Kiev regime, reversing a policy of only providing ‘non-lethal’ military equipment, and a plan for a British military base in Ukraine.
    According to Russian sources Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba told his British hosts that Ukraine is ready to agree to the creation of a British military base in the Nikolaev region, and “is considering the possibility of deploying British paratroopers”.
    The excuse for this put forward by Zelensky’s advisor Andriy Yermak is that Ukraine needs help to safeguard its security because “the suppression of post-election unrest in neighbouring Belarus posed a potential direct threat to Ukraine” – a pathetic bullshit lie.
Britain is also providing a £1.25 billion loan to Ukraine for the purchase of fast attack missile boats “capable of use in the Black Sea” with the contract for the first two ships conveniently going to UK shipyards.
    As if that isn’t enough, the Johnson Government has also proposed setting up a European Union or NATO centre to combat Russian ‘disinformation and counter-propaganda’ based in Ukraine. And at what the Ukrainians called “a historic meeting with the head of British diplomacy Dominic Raab” Britain agreed to support an international platform for “ending Crimea's temporary occupation by Russia”.
    Dmytro Kuleba said that during the visit last week Zelensky had pressed Boris Johnson to set a timetable for Ukraine to join NATO. This, along with US hopes to gain control of the Crimea naval base, is the principal reason for the imperialist-backed coup in Ukraine which swept hordes of fascists into positions of power in February 2014.
    As British defence minister Ben Wallace proudly announced during a visit to Kiev: “The Maritime Training Initiative will enable even closer collaboration with the NATO Alliance and Armed Forces around the world, and allows us to build on Ukraine's new NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partner status”..
    The British Embassy in Ukraine Facebook page revealed in August that “as of today, more than 18,100 Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel and nearly 4,000 military instructors have been trained by the UK-established Operation Orbital mission since 2015”, which “has deployed over 2,500 British military personnel and 400 courses”. Last year Operation Orbital was extended for another three years until March 2023.
    British taxpayers may wonder why it is so important for hundreds of millions to be spent training soldiers in a country 1,500 miles away, where over 80 fascist militias, who worship the traitors who collaborated with the German occupiers in the Second World War, have been incorporated into the armed forces.
    We sincerely hope that one day our politicians will be held to account for actively supporting and collaborating with Ukrainian fascists, and trampling on the glorious memory of the fighters against fascism who were our allies in the Secon
d World War.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Do they mean us?

by Ben Soton

Us. Based on the book by David Nicholls. Four-part television comedy series, shown from 20th September at 9pm on BBC1; currently available on BBC iPlayer. Director: Geoffrey Sax. Producers: Roanna Benn, Greg Brenman and Tom Hollander. Starring: Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves.

For some time, I have pointed out that the BBC tends to create dramas about people whose lives are totally detached from the rest of the population. The latest Sunday night drama, Us, is no exception. Based on a book written by David Nicholls, the drama centres around the Petersens, a well-off London couple facing divorce and their teenage son. Douglas (played by Tom Hollander) is a scientist, and his wife Connie (played by Saskia Reeves) is an artist; their son Albie (played by Tom Taylor) is about to start university.
    I am not one who argues that to be working-class you must reside in a council flat and exist on a diet of pie and mash and drink brown ale. Assuming Douglas and Connie receive enumeration in the form of wages they are indeed working class. The lifestyle of the characters in this drama is still a considerable improvement on that of the rest of us, however.
    Many of us go through divorce. It is usually an unpleasant experience, especially regarding children and the division of money and property. In Us, the Petersens go on a holiday across Europe, which to me seems a rather enjoyable, even a holiday-of-a-lifetime, experience.
    Us could be best described as a coming of middle-age drama where Douglas, who insists on sticking to a tight itinerary, discovers that he is basically boring and lacks spontaneity. Meanwhile, generational differences are exposed when Douglas wants to view historic buildings and Albie, who is arguably too old to be holiday with his parents, wants to make friends with the opposite sex.
    The drama is interlaced with flashbacks to the 1990s, when the couple first met. This is when I decided that Douglas and Connie were never compatible in the first place; however, in one flashback to the 1990s Douglas’ character impressed me. At a dinner party the young scientist is confronted by a New Age hippie who states that he does not like all these chemicals, Douglas points out that the human body is simply a collection of organic matter. This is something we should be aware of when confronted by anti-rational arguments that oppose scientific logic in the fight against COVID-19.
    Another argument for watching Us is that in an era of travel bans and quarantines, many of us are unlikely to experience a foreign holiday for some time. Travel is an important part of the drama and the idea behind it is that you can discover yourself at any age.

And did those feet…

Boris Johnson was once the darling of Tory Party conference. He was the conference star who could pack halls with cheering delegates who believed that peppering his speech with school-boy Latin quotes put him in the same league as Cicero or Cato the Younger. Now Boris stands in front of a camera drivelling on about building a “New Jerusalem” with opportunities for all whilst his government staggers into another coronavirus crisis that could have been avoided if the lockdown had been maintained.
    COVID-19 is now spreading like the plague in all our universities that were prematurely re-opened last month. It is also returning with a vengeance across Scotland and large parts of northern England. The updated test, track and trace system is faltering, and there is confusion on how to use the NHS smart phone app that’s supposed to warn you of risk of infection.
    Whilst the Government has taken some steps such as the belated order to make face masks mandatory in public spaces that clearly are helpful, there is confusion over the local lockdowns as well as outright opposition from the publicans and the rest of the ‘hospitality’ trade over the 10pm curfews which, they say, will destroy their industry.
    The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has yet to unveil his post-furlough plan to subsidise jobs over the coming coronavirus winter. But it’s clear that Sunak’s second phase will be a much more limited exercise and that millions of workers could lose their jobs in the coming months.
    “I can't pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job that they were doing at the beginning of this crisis. That's why we've put a lot of resource into trying to create new opportunities,” he says. He says that whilst the Government is “trying to do everything we can to protect as many jobs as possible”, unemployment is “likely to increase”.
    What exactly are these “new opportunities”? Well, Johnson talks about developing offshore wind power that would power every home in the country within 10 years, along with some mortgage reform designed to lure people back into the property market and some waffle about fixing “the injustice of care home funding” by “bringing the magic of averages to the rescue of millions”.
    And there is the “New Jerusalem”, the “bright future”, which Boris says will follow the end of the coronavirus crisis. We’ll see. The Puritans fought a civil war to build a new Jerusalem in 17th Century England. Things didn’t turn out quite the way they planned. Although they did get rid of a king their utopia lasted little beyond the death of their leader, Oliver Cromwell.
    Boris Johnson is no Cromwell and all his talk about a “world-beating” future to come is just more guff from a man who has clearly failed, even by the dismal standards of the Conservative & Unionist Party, to deal with the deadly crisis we are all in.
    Johnson’s vacuous promises barely inspired his own followers. He talked in front of a camera to a nation that was not listening. No one cheered. No one cared.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

An easy target

Boris Johnson was an easy target for Sir Keir Starmer this week. The Labour leader mocked him during Question Time when he said: “If the prime minister doesn’t understand the rules and his own council leaders are complaining about mixed messages, how does the prime minister expect the rest of the country to understand and follow the rules?”
     Johnson’s answer that: “actually, I think that the people of this country do understand and overwhelmingly do follow the rules” may be true. The problem is knowing what these new rules “actually” mean.
    This has been a week of mixed messages from the Johnson government that has ordered more local lock-downs as the country staggers into a second wave of the coronavirus plague. Badly briefed Ministers stumble trying to explain the re-introduction of emergency measures to deal with the crisis that health experts predicted would inevitably come in the autumn while Tory back-benchers grumble at “government by decree” and launch half-baked parliamentary revolts that fizzle out when Johnson waves his big stick.
    But the speculation on how long can Boris last continues in the bourgeois media. Last month the rumour spread that Johnson was going to stand down early next year on “health grounds”. Now some of the media gurus are saying Johnson should go because he’s useless, regardless of his health.
    A lot depends on the outcome of the US elections. Johnson has pinned his political future on a post-Brexit American trade deal that only Trump can deliver. We still have not been told the full terms of this “Treaty of Washington” that Johnson hopes will replace the Treaty of Rome that Britain tore up when it left the European Union last year. The Remainers tell us that this ‘free trade’ agreement will open the door to chlorinated chicken and let big American pharma corporations plunder the health service. It also seems that other clauses will prevent Britain from entering any free trade agreement with People’s China without American approval.
    Some of the Tory Brexiteers are, of course, all for it, Though China is the UK’s fifth largest trading partner they are not interested in expanding the British share of the Chinese market. They talk about the “Anglosphere” – the old imperialist dream of wielding the “English-speaking people” into a new economic and political bloc that would dominate the world.
The idea goes back to the early days of the 20th century when some members of the ruling class believed that they could curb German ambitions by wooing the Americans into their camp.
    The “Anglosphere” is, of course, a meaningless concept. It covers Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It excludes Ireland and South Africa but includes Israel. In fact the leading Israeli daily Haaretz tells us that Benjamin Netanyahu “would like nothing better than to nestle under the wings of a grand Anglo-Saxon alliance. He and several of his close associates are not only English-speaking, they view themselves as co-champions of capitalism and laissez-faire economies”.
    Needless to say the idea was never taken seriously in the United States. Winston Churchill, whose mother was a daughter of a wealthy American businessman, did believe in some sort of “union” with US imperialism. In the end, he had to settle for a “special relationship” within the NATO framework that included Franco-German imperialism.
Today Australia, Canada and New Zealand remain monarchies under the British Crown but London is no longer the hub of an empire that spanned the globe and support for British institutions goes little beyond sentiment for the “mother country” amongst the older population.
    Tories who repeat this “Anglosphere” nonsense are only doing it to justify the humiliating terms they will have to accept to get their trade deal with the Americans. They should wait for the outcome of the American elections. If Biden wins all bets are off.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Joint statement against biological weapons

Joint statement against the proliferation of biological weapons and for the closure of US military biological laboratories around the world

We, the Communist and workers ' parties, with a sense of responsibility to our peoples, struggle for immediate measures for the protection of health and the access of all workers to free treatment and the coronavirus vaccine. At the same time, we express our deep concern for the existence and operation of military biological laboratories and declare that we demand a ban on the development and proliferation of biological weapons.

Against the background of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the crisis of capitalism and the aggravation of its contradictions, we once again see the deep shortcomings of the health system in all capitalist countries, as well as the violation of workers ' rights, and the generally anti-national nature of capitalism.

At the same time, we are particularly concerned about the fact that many countries continue to develop biological weapons. Only under the programs of the us Pentagon, 1,495 laboratories were created around the world, which are not accountable to the governments of the countries where they work, and their activities are not transparent. Similar laboratories have been established in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and other countries.

The United States has not signed the Protocol to the international "Convention on the prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons and on their destruction", thereby blocking efforts to control the Convention, while continuing to develop new types of deadly diseases.

State resources allocated for the development of biological and other deadly weapons, as well as modern scientific and technical potential, should be fully directed to providing all workers and theother popular strata with free medical care and to distribute Covid-19 vaccines to everyone without exception free of charge.

  • We, the Communist and workers ' parties are speaking out: For the prohibition of the development and proliferation of biological weapons
  • For the immediate elimination of all US military biological laboratories in all countries of the world
  • For the adoption of immediate measures to protect the health of workers, including free medical care and receiving vaccines against coronavirus


Signed by


  1. Communist Party of Albania
  2. Communist Party of Argentina
  3. Communist Party of Australia
  4. Party of Labour of Austria
  5. Communist Party of Belgium
  6. Communist Party of Bangladesh
  7. New Communist Party of Britain
  8. Communist Party of Canada
  9. Socialist Workers' Party of Croatia
  10. Communist Party of Bohemia & Moravia
  11. Communist Party in Denmark
  12. Unified Communist Party of Georgia
  13. German Communist Party
  14. Communist Party of Greece
  15. Communist Party of Kurdistan-Iraq
  16. Communist Party (Italy)
  17. Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan
  18. Socialist party of Latvia
  19. Socialist Party (Lithuania)
  20. Communist Party of Mexico
  21. New Communist Party of the Netherlands
  22. Communist Party of Norway
  23. Communist Party of Pakistan
  24. Palestinian Communist Party
  25. Palestinian Peoples Party
  26. Philippine Communist Party (PKP-1930) 
  27. Communist Party of the Russian Federation
  28. Union of Communist Parties-CPSU
  29. Russian Communist Workers' Party
  30. Communist Party of the Soviet Union
  31. Communists of Serbia
  32. Communist Party of Spain
  33. Communist Party of Sri Lanka
  34. Syrian Communist Party
  35. Communist Party of Swaziland
  36. Communist Party of Turkey
  37. Communist Party USA