Saturday, May 29, 2021

Death Disguised

By New Worker correspondent  

RIDDOR, Covid and under-reporting is the title of a short but damning report published by the Trades Union Congress on Sunday. It demonstrates that there has been massive underestimation by employers, public and private, of the number of deaths from COVID-19 contracted in the workplace.
    RIDDOR is the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations, which was established in 2013.
    According to the bosses, a mere 2.5 per cent of working age COVID-19 deaths were caused by workplace exposure. The TUC, using Office of National Statistics (ONS) and Public Health England (PHE) data, paints a very different picture. They argue that the system for reporting workplace deaths and infections is “letting bad bosses off the hook”, and that under-reporting has badly undermined health and safety regulation and enforcement during the pandemic.
    The precise figures are that between April 2020 and April 2021 the ONS reported that 15,263 people of working age died from COVID-19. On the other hand, according to reports filed by employers only 387 (2.5 per cent) of these deaths came from workers contracting COVID-19 at work.
     Of course it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint whether medical conditions came from work or pleasure. A computer games fanatic might claim his hours in the office were responsible for his repetitive strain injury and it is sometimes debateable if a postman’s bad knees come from his round or the football pitch. But the ONS figures are likely to be more reliable than the claims of bosses who could face a day in court.
    Employers are obliged to report cases of COVID-19 infection where exposure occurs as a result of a person’s work – but it is left to employer who “must make a judgement, based on the information available, as to whether or not a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 is likely to have been caused by an occupational exposure”.
    Between April 2020 and April 2021, a total of 32,022 COVID-19 infections and 387 deaths were reported under RIDDOR.
    Even the official Health and Safety Executive (HSE) accepts that there is “widespread under-reporting”. Of the 387 deaths, only 216 occupational COVID-19 fatalities were worthy of investigation.
    “Ethical” investments consultancy Pirc states that COVID-19 infections at food factories could be more than 30 times higher than reported. In the transport sector there were 608 COVID-19 deaths amongst transport workers between March and December 2020, but only 10 formal notifications.
    An ONS study shows that there are significant variations in infection rates. Those able to work at home had much lower rates and jobs where social distancing was impossible had higher rates. The lack of access to sick pay has also increased the risks of spreading the disease as those showing minor symptoms would come into work because they cannot afford to take time off, thus spreading the disease.
    Only amongst health and social care workers is there a higher is a higher correlation between the number of deaths recorded by ONS and the number reports made by bosses in the NHS and private sector. Here 886 recorded deaths were matched by 271 reports from bosses. As hospitals and care homes are places for less than healthy people, even that is likely to be an underestimate. Food manufacturing is another particularly badly hit area, the Pre-Christmas rush saw more workers in factories.
    The TUC has concerns about how HSE advice on COVID and RIDDOR is being interpreted. The HSE accepts that there is “widespread under-reporting” in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This appears to be an understatement. It is likely that the official figures – 216 occupational COVID-19 deaths worthy of investigation – are falling well short of the true number of fatalities following work-related COVID-19 transmission.
    Amongst the cases not reported by bosses were two workers at a Kent salad factory in Kent who died after 70 employees tested positive. Here the employer, Bakkavor, refused to report the deaths via RIDDOR. Before the fatalities, concerns had been raised about poor PPE and social distancing.
    In the education sector, at Burnley College bosses refused to report the death of a teacher even after a known outbreak. It was only when her union, UCU, reported it to the HSE did the College properly report it. In such cases the role of effective trade union health and safety representatives is clearly essential.
    The TUC suggests this lack of reporting is due to the official guidance and the HSE needs to take a tougher line to force employers to report such deaths. It points out that both the HSE and local authorities (who also regulate workplace safety) have suffered drastic funding cuts in the last 10 years. In 2009/10 the HSE received £231 million from the Government, and in 2019/20 it received just £123 million. The Government’s pandemic one-year cash injection to HSE largely went on contractors.

RIDDOR, Covid and under-reporting can be freely downloaded from the TUC website.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Joint statement against US development of new types of biological weapons and increased military spending

Many countries are now experiencing the second and third waves of the coronavirus pandemic, which have exposed the complete inability of local health systems, destroyed by privatization and market reforms, to cope with the epidemic. The lack of adequate hospital beds, lack of oxygen, lack of medicines and lack of vaccines have led to an excessive increase in the number of deaths. This is the result of capitalism, when millions of workers were at risk of disease, losing their health, jobs, or even their lives.

In this situation, the leading capitalist countries, instead of increasing allocations for the health system, only increased their military budgets. In 2020, military spending in the world exceeded $ 1.98 trillion, which is 2.6% higher than in the previous year. The United States, as the most important hegemon of world imperialism, spent $ 778.0 billion on armaments, which is 39% of the total global spending.

Some of these funds go to the development of weapons of offensive biological warfare. According to American scientists published in the press, the United States has spent more than $ 100 billion on the offensive biological weapons industry over the past twenty years. 13 thousand biologists in 400 laboratories in the United States are busy creating new strains of offensive killer germs that are resistant to vaccines.

In total, the US Pentagon has created 1,495 laboratories 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. In a situation of increased international struggle and competition, the accumulated biological warfare agents can be used by the US military against its opponents, which will lead to disastrous consequences.

It is a matter of concern that new developments in biological weapons are underway. In particular, it became known that in Kazakhstan, a number of research institutes and laboratories built by the Americans are conducting military biological research under the Pentagon program, which is called "Camels as biosurveillance sentinels: Risk at the human-camel interface". The object of study is camels as natural carriers of a number of diseases in order to use them as containers for the spread of artificially created viruses.

The diversion or deliberate use of chemical warfare agents will hit millions of people and agriculture in Central Asia, China, and Russia. Such actions of American military biologists on the territory of Kazakhstan contradict both the "Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction" and the American "Law against Biological Terrorism" (Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, BWATA).

We support the immediate cessation of this research, development and production of biological and other types of weapons, and the transfer of military allocations to provide all workers and the general population with free medical care and to issue Covid-19 vaccines to everyone free of charge and without exception.

- We demand the admission of international observers of the World Health Organization (WHO) and representatives of all interested countries to military biological facilities in Kazakhstan, working under the programs of the US Pentagon.

- We demand the closure of all US military biological laboratories in all countries of the world.

- Funds spent on the development of biological and other deadly weapons should be directed to scientific research to combat the pandemic and to develop the health system.


Parties signing

  1. Communist Party of Bangladesh
  2. New Communist Party of Britain
  3. Socialist Workers' Party of Croatia
  4. Communist Party in Denmark
  5. Unified Communist Party of Georgia
  6. Communist Party of Greece
  7. Communist Party, Italy
  8. Party of the Communist Refoundation, Italy
  9. Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan
  10. Socialist Party of Latvia
  11. AKFM, Madagascar
  12. Communist Party of Norway
  13. Communist Party of Pakistan
  14. Philippines Communist Party [PKP 1930]
  15. Communist Party of Poland
  16. Communist Party of the Russian Federation
  17. New Communist Party of Yugoslavia
  18. Communist of Serbia
  19. Communist Party of Swaziland
  20. Communist Party of Ukraine
  21. Union of Communists of Ukraine

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Starmer must go!

 Many in the labour movement questioned whether Sir Keir Starmer capable of leading Labour when he got the job in the first place. Now there can be no doubt following last week’s disastrous elections which cost Labour 323 council seats, eight councils and the once save parliamentary seat of Hartlepool. Even the Blairites who have been covertly advising Starmer over the past year are beginning to openly call him an “interim leader” while they scrabble around to find another Blairite clone to replace him.
     Under current rules a Labour leadership election can only be forced if a challenger gets the support of 20 per cent of the Parliamentary Labour Party which more or less rules out the Corbynistas. But there’s no shortage of wannabee leaders from the supposed “centre” of the Party who would eagerly step into Starmer’s shoes if the opportunity arose.
    Andy Burnham, flushed with victory after trouncing the Tories in the Manchester Mayoral election, once again hints that he’s up for it. “In the distant future, if the party were ever to feel it needed me, well I’m here and they should get in touch,” he says. But Burham will need to get back into Parliament before he can stand under current Labour Party rules – unless they’re changed. And that’s not impossible given the curious remarks of the Blairite Lord Adonis who said last week that a future leadership race should not be “restricted to people who are currently members of the House of Commons”.
     Rule changes take time. Burnham can afford to. Others may not be as patient. After telling everyone he would take full responsibility for Labour’s setbacks in the polls Starmer tried to scape-goat his deputy, Angela Rayner. But she turned the tables on him and now her standing in the party has risen despite her apparent demotion. Whether that’s enough to win a future Labour leadership vote is, however, debatable.
     The same can be also said of Lisa Nandy, the Shadow Foreign Minister whose followers are already testing the waters in support of a possible bid for power when Starmer goes.
     At the end of the day what Labour needs is a campaign that reflects the unions’ agenda and the demands of the street and a campaigning leader who can mobilise working people to beat the Tories at the next election. At the moment Labour has neither.


Justice for the Palestinians

The Palestinians are calling for support in their struggle against the brutal Israeli occupation that began when Israel seized the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967. But the tragedy really began when British imperialism first occupied Palestine during the First World War. British imperialism encouraged Zionist immigration to create a community of Zionist settlers to support the colonial administration. The Zionists helped British colonialism crush the Palestinian Arab revolt in 1936. But in the immediate post‑World War II situation the Zionists seized the opportunity to push for a separate state of their own. In 1948 the British colonial mandate ended and the State of Israel was proclaimed. On that day the first Arab‑Israeli war began. It has never ended.
The first war led to the expulsion of around a million Palestinian Arabs from their homes by the Zionist regime. Those refugees and their descendants have never given up their right to return to their land. And this is the heart of the crisis that has led to five full‑scale wars and continuing confrontation in the Middle East.
Zionist violence always leads to an equally violent resistance. A lasting solution must be based on the right of return of refugees and an independent Palestinian state with Israel giving up all territories seized since 1967.

Solidarity with Palestine

 Millions of people all over the world took to the streets last weekend in solidarity with the Palestinian people and to demand an end to Israeli aggression. In Britain, a 150,000-strong crowd marched through the heart of the capital in support of the Palestinian Arabs. Over 80 other demonstrations took place across the country on the same day.
    The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is urging a total military embargo on Israel, a boycott of firms ‘complicit’ in Israel’s occupation, and the cancelling of academic, cultural and sporting events in the Zionist state that is trying to terror bomb the Palestinians into abject surrender.
     Outside the gates of the Israeli embassy the former leader of the Labour Party stood shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinian ambassador, other left Labour MPs and the rapper Lowkey, to call for an end to the bombing and an end to the Israeli occupation.
    “Think what it’s like being a mother or father and seeing a building bombed in front of you, knowing your family is in there, and you can do nothing,” Jeremy Corbyn said. “It’s our global voices that will give succour, comfort and support in those settlements alongside Gaza, and all over the West Bank and East Jerusalem who are suffering at this time. End the occupation now. End all the settlements now and withdraw. End the siege of Gaza now.”
    Celebrities and sporting stars have now joined the legions of support for the Palestinian people. They include Hollywood stars such as Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman, Mark Ruffalo and Viola Davis, and Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters. Top footballers in Britain, Turkey, Chile and the Arab world have also taken the principled stand in support of the Palestinian people. Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny posted his support for the Palestinians on social media. Leicester City stars Hamza Choudhury and Wesley Fofana held up the Palestinian flag as they celebrated their team’s victory in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
    This week key unions, including Unite, Unison and the postal workers’ union, pledged their support for the Palestinian general strike that shut down the occupied West Bank and the Arab regions of Israel on Tuesday. But where is Sir Keir Starmer?
    The new Labour leader has, to his credit, hit out at the “violence against worshippers at the al-Aqsa mosque”, but as Jeremy Corbyn told ITV, Starmer needs to be “stronger and clearer” over his policy towards Israel and the Palestinians.
    In the British Palestinian community, Labour supporters say Starmer is ignoring their concerns. They say that the straight-jacket imposed by the central party on any discussion of the issue of Palestine at Constituency Labour Party level is “disturbing and inimical to party democracy”, and they talk about the “hostile environment” that they say has engulfed the party since Starmer took over. They’ve sent five letters to Starmer asking him to intervene. They’re still waiting for a reply.
    Starmer thinks he can do what he likes. He thinks he can dismiss the slump in Labour’s fortunes as a mere blip on the road to recovery. He believes he can ignore the peace movement, the unions and the ethnic minorities with impunity. We must prove him wrong.
He’s utterly useless. The sooner he goes the better.

Whose finger on the trigger?

by Ben Soton

Danny Boy: BBC2 2021; currently available on BBC iPlayer. Director: Sam Miller. Writer: Robert Jones. Stars: Toby Jones, Anthony Boyle, Alex Ferns.

One of the ironies of British imperialism is naming a checkpoint in southern Iraq after an Irish folk song. The irony being that Ireland was the first acquisition of the British Empire and Iraq one of the last.
     The ‘Battle of Danny Boy’ took place close to the city of Amarah in southern Iraq, on 14th May 2004, between British soldiers and about 100 Iraqi militiamen of the Mahdi Army. Some 28 Mahdi Army militiamen were killed in the fighting. Some of the British troops were wounded but none were killed in the action. Brian Wood, who led a bayonet charge during the battle, was awarded the Military Cross.
    The battle is named after a local British checkpoint in Iraq called ‘Danny Boy’. Its repercussions are the subject of the BBC2 drama of that name that was shot nearer to home in fields made to look like the Iraqi desert just outside Watford while scenes set in Turkey were filmed in a Turkish restaurant in north London.
     The question of what constitutes a war crime is a touchy subject for the ruling class. The trial of two former British paratroopers accused of killing an Official IRA commander in 1972 collapsed after the judge found that the soldiers’ statements were inadmissible because they had not been cautioned while campaigners argue that the new Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Act 2021 risks undermining key human rights obligations that the UK has committed itself to respect. Now a coroner’s report has concluded that all those killed by British troops in the 1971 Ballymurphy massacre in northern Ireland had been innocent and that the killings were "without justification”.
     Danny Boy is set in the more recent conflicts in the Gulf. It focuses on the decorated soldier, Brian Wood (played by Anthony Boyle), who is accused of war crimes and a human rights lawyer, Phil Shiner who is played by Toby Jones.
     Wood is portrayed as a family man suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder; although it shows the guilt of a man who should have realised that the Arabs his men mistreated were not insurgents but simply farmers caught in the cross-fire.
    Shiner is portrayed in a less sympathetic light although it is pointed out that he represented more soldiers than any other lawyer. What is interesting are Shiner’s motivations. He is no anti-imperialist. He simply takes the view that the British army should adhere to higher standards than other imperialist powers. War-crimes are something done by the Germans on the Eastern front, Japanese in Korea, the French in Algeria and obviously the Americans in Vietnam. The truth is what should we expect of an imperialist power in a foreign country fighting a population who don’t want them there?
    Former soldiers abandoned by the army often find themselves living on the streets or in prison. Some even say that soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, with horrific injuries and damaged minds are, in fact, victims of imperialism as well.
     The key word here is imperialism, which is a system. This raises the question of should individual soldiers be put on trial for what are after all crimes of that system. It could even be argued that the actions of the likes of Shiner, who has since been barred from practising law for acting dishonestly, simply obscure the issue. 

     Although Danny Boy was first shown on 12th May it is available on iPlayer for the next eleven months.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Donbas: The people have made their choice

 by Boris Litvinov

Chair of the Communist Party of the Donetsk People’s Republic

In February 2014, a coup d'etat took place in Ukraine. The capitalists of Ukraine, with the support of international capital, brought to power Ukrainian nationalists with their fascist ideology and methods of governing the country.
     Incitement of hatred towards the Russians and Russia, towards Soviet history and the socialist country, towards communist ideology and the supporters of the union of fraternal peoples became the basis of the state policy of Ukraine. With the money of Ukrainian oligarchs, the United States and a number of Western countries, armed detachments of neo-fascists were created, which forced the citizens of Ukraine to submit to the will of the organisers of the coup by force and threats.
     Crimea, thanks to the unity of the goals and actions of the people and local authorities, held a referendum on its self-determination in March 2014 and returned to Russia, where it had been historically located until 1954.
     Resistance to the invaders came from the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. But in most areas, protests have been suppressed by force of arms and repression of dissent.
    The local authorities of Donbas chose the way of opportunism, submitting to the Kiev junta. And only the people of the proletarian, multinational Donbas (the Donetsk and Lugansk regions) rebelled against nationalism and fascist methods of imposing the will of those who had seized power on the inhabitants of Ukraine.
     Guided by the Constitution of Ukraine, which states that the source of power is the people who exercise their power, first of all, directly, using the UN principle of the right of peoples to self-determination, guided by the UN Charter and the practice of creating many states of the world, the rebellious people proclaimed the creation of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR). At a national referendum, with a turnout of 75 per cent, by a majority of votes – 90 per cent – the people of Donbas approved of the creation of the DPR and LPR.
     The Kiev authorities have been trying, for more than seven years, to strangle the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics. Hopes for a peaceful solution to the issue within the framework of the Minsk process have practically melted away. Kiev does not want to peacefully resolve the contradictions between us, does not agree to conduct negotiations with the representatives of the DPR and LPR.
     The military situation is extremely tense. From the shelling of Ukrainian troops, people in the DPR and LPR, including children, die every day. The position of the communists of the DPR and the position of the Republic's leadership coincide in matters of war and peace. We have been calling on Ukraine for peaceful coexistence for seven years already. The lives of people on both sides of the confrontation should be the main value for any politician and government.
    We, the inhabitants of Donbas, defend our land, our cities and villages, our civilisational choice, our chosen path of life. And the Kiev junta is driving people to our land from all areas of its nationalist state – to die for the interests of Ukrainian big capital, for the geopolitical interests of the United States and some European satellites of America.
     Their goal is to destroy the people's republics, draw our brothers and sisters from the friendly Russian Federation into the internal Ukrainian conflict, weaken it and stop the barely outlined movement towards the unification of the peoples and states that previously made up Russia – the Soviet Union. Ukraine is counting on the help of the USA and other NATO countries. But drawing NATO countries into our internal conflict is drawing Europe, and indeed the entire Western world, into a war with us and Russia. We do not want this. We are against such a scenario.
     The people of Donbas made their choice to be with Russia in 2014. This is what our ancestors did back in 1654, when they were reunited with Russia into a single state. The inhabitants of the Ukrainian lands, together with the peoples of Russia, built and defended our united motherland for centuries. Our grandfathers and fathers built a great country – the USSR. Together they made the decisive contribution to the victory over fascism, liberated the peoples of the world from Hitler's bondage. Together they revived the country after the war devastation. They created a powerful industry, first-class science and education, sent the first man into space, created a reliable military shield to defend the country, built socialism and fought for peace on Earth.
     Yes, in the struggle against capitalism, the Soviet Union suffered a temporary defeat in 1991. For 30 years, we – the inhabitants of the Donetsk land – have experienced all the vices of the capitalist system, realized the futility of dragging behind Western civilisation. Like our ancestors, we decided to live in unity with Russia, Belarus and other peace-loving countries that respect our choice.
     Now we have to recreate and defend the civilisation called the "Russian world". And no pro-fascist Ukraine with its overseas masters will stop us on the path of uniting fraternal peoples together with Russia.
     Time will pass, and the people of Ukraine will realise that Donbas, fulfilling the behest of its ancestors “Together with Russia forever”, made the right choice this time too. They, the inhabitants of Ukraine, will go our way. So it was, and so it will be. For together we are strong. Only together with Russia and other fraternal peoples do we have a future.

Stand by the Donbas resistance!

Boris Litvinov speaking from his office
by New Worker correspondent

On Saturday 8th May, the eve of Victory over Fascism Day, 25 left-wing parties and movements from four continents joined the International Anti-Fascist Forum video-conference organised by the Communist Party of the Donetsk People's Republic.
    The forum was chaired by Boris Litvinov, the leader of the Donetsk communists,, from their office in Donetsk City, and it included comrades from the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, the USA, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, Serbia, Croatia, and the Philippines.
    Its aim was to strengthen international anti-fascist solidarity or in the words of the CP DPR newspaper Vperyod! (Forward!) “to draw the attention of the world community to the problems of "hot spots", in which imperialism is especially actively attacking the rights of workers and most clearly threatens the security of countries and peoples.
    “The people's republics of the Donbas, Syria, Venezuela, Belarus and some other countries are at the forefront of the struggle against American hegemony, and the duty of the progressive forces of the world is to provide them with all possible support”.
    Comrade Bessonov, a leading member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) told the forum that at its 18th congress the CPRF called for full recognition of the Donbas republics by the Russian Federation, “the only party in Russia to take this position”.
    The forum heard that after the collapse of the Soviet Union Germany “became the aggressor it was before” with Ukraine “a means for German imperialism to strengthen its position in Eastern Europe”.
    Delegates were also told of the political persecution in Lithuania including assassinations, deportations, and anti-fascists imprisoned or categorised as mentally ill.
    Greg Butterfield, a veteran American activist in Ukraine solidarity, said that western media reporting of Ukraine “turns black into white and white into black”.
    “No mention is heard of the march by Nazis in Kiev last week to honour Ukraine's WW2 SS battalion,” Greg said adding that activists in the US have organised educational meetings to bring together solidarity with Haiti, Korea and other countries, and to connect anti-imperialist struggles.
    In reply, Boris Litvinov said that "the people of Donbas are also looking at the people struggling against imperialism in the United States, to see if they can be successful".
    Theo Russell, representing the NCPB, said that the February 2014 coup in Ukraine "brought to power the most open, naked manifestation of European fascism since 1945, real nazism using violence and terror to crush all political opposition, workers struggles and freedom of speech".
    He added: "Even in February 2014, BBC TV showed British agents with the rioters in Kiev, and since then the UK military has been present in Ukraine".
    The participants agreed a resolution calling upon the workers of all countries:
  • To strengthen international solidarity in the fight against all forms of fascism;
  •  For all progressive forces of the world to cooperate in support of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics;
  •  For the recognition of the will of the people of Donbass to create peaceable People's Republics
  •  For the creation of an international tribunal to bring to justice the military and political criminals of Ukraine.
he following demands were agreed:
  •  From the Ukrainian authorities - to stop the war in Donbass, to begin negotiations with the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics on the establishment of peaceful relations;
  •  From the European Union and the United States - to stop funding the military spending of the Ukrainian government and supplying arms to it;
  • From the Governments and Parliaments of all states - to recognize the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics as sovereign states, being guided by the UN Charter, the basic principles of international law, the peoples' right to self-determination, respecting the will of the people of Donbass confirmed in a national referendum; to establish a peaceful, friendly and mutually beneficial relationship with them.

No to the war in Donbas!

Yes to the self-determination of the DPR and the LPR!

Long live international anti-fascist solidarity!



Saturday, May 15, 2021


Statement of the Secretariat of the European Communist Initiative

Solidarity with the Palestinian people

We denounce the intensifying Israeli aggression against the heroic Palestinian people and the new murderous attack that led to dozens of dead and injured people.

We denounce the heavy responsibilities of the USA and the EU, which support the ongoing oppression and massacre of the Palestinian people in various ways.

We demand:

  • The end of the massacre and occupation by Israel.

  • The immediate liberation of all Palestinian and other political prisoners in Israeli prisons.

  • The creation of a unified independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in the borders of 1967, and the people masters in their own land.

  • The right of all Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, based on the relevant UN resolutions.

  • The immediate recognition of the Palestinian state.


Monday, May 10, 2021

fight the real fight!

This week is election week up and down the country. While mainstream parties battle for control of local councils, devolved assemblies and the regional governments in Scotland and Wales others run simply to make a point.
     Some like the stand-up comics who pose as “Count Binface” or “Lord Buckethead” do it for laughs and to raise money for charity. Others take it more seriously like Laurence Fox who is running for the London Mayoralty in what looks suspiciously like a publicity campaign to promote his acting career. He faces competition from Brian Rose, a cranky former American banker who leads the “London Real Party”, who drinks his own pee and promotes conspiracy theories on his popular YouTube channel.
     So spare a thought for the band of hapless left social-democrats who are standing in England, Scotland and Wales this week. They range from the absurd “Northern Independence Party” and whatever George Galloway’s followers call themselves these days to old-time Trots and revisionists who have learned nothing over the past fifty years.
    The fact that these platforms are rejected time and time again by the same working class these programmes claim to advance, never deters these pseudo-revolutionaries who believe they can change the consciousness of the masses through rhetoric and wild promises.
    Some argue that they split the Labour vote and let the Tories in by the back-door. But this misses the point. These people usually only get support from the sort of people who might otherwise vote for Buckethead or the Loonies – a “protest” vote than rarely gets beyond the low hundreds these days.
    Standing left candidates without mass support against Labour divides the movement and the class and ignores the obvious fact that the only realistic alternatives are those of the Tories, Scottish nationalists and the Liberal Democrats that have been, and would be, much worse than any Labour administration.
     Disaffected Labour voters generally abstain or turn to another mainstream alternative. Past beneficiaries include the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party. At the last elections a significant number even switched to the Tories over Brexit. But few ever succumb to the allure of the self-styled “revolutionary” left. All these left posers do is simply reinforce the erroneous belief that the class collaborationist ideas of social democracy can be defeated by simply imitating it in the countless variations of the British Road to Socialism upheld by the revisionist, pseudo-communist and Trotskyist movements in Britain today. At the same time they reinforce the legitimacy of the Westminster parliament that creates the illusion of the bourgeois “democracy” that we live in today.
    There have been exceptions. But they only served to prove the rule. The two communist MPs who sat in the House of Commons during the Attlee era achieved next to nothing. George Galloway, who returned to the House of Commons on his own Respect ticket, achieved even less. That’s possibly why he barely even bothered to attend sessions of that august body.
    We can all play games and conjure up imaginary legions beyond the British working class to take us down the revolutionary road. We can all invent a class that is seething with anger and mobilised for revolutionary change that is just waiting for the correct party with the correct formula to lead them to victory. But the real struggle to defeat the class-collaborators and agents within the labour movement is being fought inside the trade unions and the Labour Party today. That’s where we need to be. We are communists. We work with the working class that exists and not the phantom of romantic ultra-leftism.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

A bad week for Boris

It’s been a bad week for Boris Johnson. The aging lothario once basked in the applause of the Tory rank-and-file who dismissed his bumbling indiscretions as the foibles of a renaissance man who led them to victory in the 2019 general election and took Britain out of the European Union.
    The bourgeois media called him “Boris” or “BoJo”and praised his “blundering brilliance” and his supposed classical knowledge and learning. Or at least they did until his sacked former aide, Dominic Cummings, stabbed him in the back last week.
     Now Johnson is being compared to Shakespeare’s Lear, the mad king who is betrayed by his daughters and dies of grief in the last act. If the leaked “let the bodies pile high” reports are true it’ll be King Herod next.
     The grandees never had much time for Johnson. Ken Clarke famously said: “Boris is great fun as company and all the rest of it, but he couldn't run a whelk stall. I really... I don't think I could follow him on any complicated or serious policy issue!” But most of them were Remainers whose grip on the Tory party faltered when they lost the 2016 European Union referendum.
     The others, the movers and shakers, thought Johnson walked on water. This was the man who could preside over the government’s incompetent handling of the coronavirus plague and fund a colossally expensive trace and trace system that didn’t work yet still take the credit for the NHS that bailed the country out with a national vaccine programme.
     The snobbery, callousness and sleaze exposed by the leaks in the mainstream media are, indeed, damning. But bourgeois politicians wear corruption as a badge of honour these days and the Tories are still way ahead of Labour in the opinion polls. Why this should this all change because of the revelations of a former aide who is hardly a pillar of virtue himself?
     Well we don’t know the answer but it almost certainly is part of the continuing struggle over Europe.
    In the past the ruling class has always closed ranks during times of economic crisis. But this slump only sharpened the divisions between those who believe that the future for British capitalism lies in greater European integration, those who think British imperial interests are still best served through the alliance with the United States and those who believe that British imperialism can extract the maximum benefit by playing off one against the other by acting as a trans-Atlantic “bridge” between American imperialism and that of France and Germany.
    The Remainers lost the referendum but they have not given up the fight. Hopes that Sir Keir Starmer would become the focus for a second referendum campaign have been dashed by his utter inability to mobilise Labour to win anything – let alone a new vote on Europe. But getting Johnson to dump Cummings in November was a master-stroke. It weakened Johnson and divided the Tory Brexiteers who are now fighting amongst themselves.
    The next step is the return of the Remainer grandees to the Tory fold to help build a new Europhile consensus in Parliament. They don’t have to worry about Starmer. If the pollsters are right he’ll fall on his sword after the Spring elections. Whoever takes his place will invariably be another Remainer.
    Johnson will go when he is no longer of any further use to the ruling class. Speed the day by helping the mass movement democratise the unions and the Labour Party while fighting to put the communist answer to the crisis back on the working class agenda throughout the country.

Ghosts and middle class angst

 by Ben Soton

The Secret of Cold Hill: Peter James: Pan Books 2020, 400 pp; hbk £11.99; pbk £8.99; Kindle £4:99

The appearance of a mysterious old woman. Sightings of people long dead and general strange happenings. This is the subject of Peter James’ new novel The Secret of Cold Hill – a sequel to his 2019 work The House on Cold Hill.
     Peter James is a native of Brighton and many of his novels are set in that seaside town and the surrounding area. His books have been made into television programmes and stage plays. Many have occult themes. This one, at face value, is a supernatural thriller. In fact the two Cold Hill novels are essentially about the anxiety suffered by that section of the population referred to as the “middle class”.
     Marxists have often debated whether they actually exist. Are these people not just the better off section of the working class?
     The middle strata is made up of small business people and skilled white-collar workers who often possess a university degree. Less likely to suffer poverty and low pay as other sections of the working class they instead suffer issues of insecurity, anxiety and occasional guilt toward those less well off.
    In The Secret of Cold Hill two couples move from Brighton into an up-market housing development in the Sussex village of Cold Hill. Jason Danes is an artist and his wife Emily runs a catering business. Oliver Penze-Wendell has recently been made redundant from a Brighton insurance company while his wife Claudette is a woman of leisure.
    Penze-Wendell tries to hide his financial problems from his wife, who is happy to spend her time scoffing entire boxes of chocolates and guzzling cheap wine. Meanwhile Jason Danes, who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, is anxious about the success of his recent paintings.
    As the first residents of the new housing development, they meet hostility from older villagers who see them as intruders. Then both couples start seeing strange things and suffering odd experiences – namely the ghosts of the residents of the house that once stood where they live. Rather than comparing notes with those in a similar situation they snigger at each other’s bad taste in clothing, wine and use of terminology.
    As the strange and frightening events worsen Jason Danes sees something from his studio window. A construction worker is killed in a tragic accident and Jason initially feels guilty for having failed to prevent it. He then decides to paint a picture depicting the dead worker as a skiver – a sign of the ambiguous way in which these people view those below them.
    I wonder whether there will be a third Cold Hill novel. At the end of the book another couple move into the same housing development. Their surname is Middle. Many of us lower down the social order view the likes of the Danes and the Penze-Wendell’s with a degree of envy. After reading the novel I felt glad to live in a modest house in an Edwardian suburb, just west of the city-centre of another south coast city.