Monday, September 25, 2023

A disgusting spectacle in Liverpool

This year’s TUC annual conference summed up all that is rotten in the British labour movement. The bureaucrats, left-wing posers and the rest of the gravy-trainers were all there in Liverpool to pass the usual platitudes that pass for working class solidarity these days.
Sir Keir Starmer joined the assembled general secretaries for a back-slapping eve of conference dinner but left it to his deputy Angela Rayner to assure the union bureaucracy and the bourgeoisie as a whole that they can sleep soundly in their beds when Starmer gets to Downing Street.
The most sickening episode was when delegates voted overwhelmingly for a motion backing the provision of “moral and material aid”, including arms, to the puppet regime in Ukraine.
Moving the motion, Barbara Plant, the president of the GMB, said Ukraine was fighting for its survival in the face of a brutal Russian onslaught and claimed that denying the Ukrainians of the means of self-defence would be like the arms embargo that crippled the Spanish republic in the 1930s.
Seconding the motion, Aslef Assistant General Secretary Simon Weller claimed Ukrainian unions were not subject to bans, while Russia’s recent declaration that the International Transport Federation was an “undesirable organisation” would put the rights of many workers, particularly seafarers, at risk. And needless to say, TUC general secretary Paul Nowak got up to tell conference that the General Council backed the motion.
Though a handful of unions including the RMT, UCU and the NEU abstained only the firefighters’ and the small bakers’ union took the principled stand to oppose the motion. Jamie Newell of the Fire Brigades Union, condemned the way debate on Ukraine has been shut down in Britain. “We do not think the escalation of war is in the interests of the Russian or Ukrainian working class,” he said.
The “Solidarity with Ukraine” motion committed the TUC to supporting “Ukrainian unions’ calls for financial and practical aid from the UK to Ukraine”, and “the immediate withdrawal of Russian forces from all Ukrainian territories occupied since 2014”— including Crimea and the eastern Donbas regions – exactly the  same demands of Anglo-American imperialism and the rest of the NATO pack.

Support the doctors!

Junior doctors joined consultants in industrial action called by the British Medical Association (BMA) this week. For the first time in the history of the NHS  consultants and junior doctors stood together in joint strike action for the first time. Ss with previous strikes the union ensured that patients are kept safe by ensuring that emergency services remain in place. 
Junior doctors account for nearly half NHS doctors - from medics fresh out of university to those sometimes with 10 years' experience. Their pay has been cut by more than 26 per cent in real-terms cuts since 2008/09. This mean newly-qualified medics earn just £14.09 an hour. This is in comparison to baristas at Pret a Manger, who can earn up to £14.10 an hour, after the coffee chain recently announced it has raised wages by 19 per cent this year. Consultants too have seen their real-term take-home pay fall by over a third over the last 14 years. his can’t going. Support the striking doctors! Defend the NHS! 

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Palestine: Absent justice...

the horror of Sabra and Shatila
by Fouad Baker

Though 41 years have passed we can still smell the stench of death and hear the voices of the martyred men, women and  children when we pass through the streets of the Shatila camp and the Sabra neighbourhoods in West Beirut.

  The massacre,  carried out by the Israeli army and their Lebanese militia allies, lasted for three continuous days during the Israeli occupation of the Lebanese capital in 1982. Some 3,000 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians were killed. Their mothers and children are still waiting for international accountability and justice for the victims.
When a Palestinian refugee visits the Sabra and Shatila camp, the scenes of the massacre still come to mind. They have become engraved in the conscience of every Palestinian. The images of the victims being butchered while militiamen stopped ambulances entering the camp and refused to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to provide relief supplies for the refugees makes the Palestinians even more determined to return to their land.
The Israeli goal was to eliminate the Palestinian refugees who fled after the pogroms organised by Zionist extremists drove them from their lands in 1948. Their plan continues to this day but the features have changed as the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon no longer have the right to live in dignity. They are deprived of their rights to education and health services, work, or own property, ... especially with the decline in international financial support for the United Nations relief agency, UNRWA.
The Sabra and Shatila massacre is not the only massacre committed by Zionist and Israeli gangs against the Palestinian people. We have not forgotten the Qana massacre or the massacres in Deir Yassin, Haifa, Balad al-Sheikh, Jerusalem, Abbasiya and Jaffa... and with the absence of justice and accountability of the Israeli occupation government, these pogroms continue every day against the Palestinian people.
These massacres show that the Israel wants to eliminate the Palestinian people in order to prove to the world the false narrative of the Zionist movement that Palestine is ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’, which is refuted by all historical and scientific evidence.
What Israel is doing is a real holocaust to annihilate the Palestinian people wherever they are, whether inside or outside Palestine. But when the Palestinians want to hold the Zionists accountable, they are accused of “anti-Semitism” even though the Palestinian people are Semites themselves
We saw how the Belgian government amended its laws, when charges were made against General Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Defence Minister, over Sabra and Shatila, to prevent him from being tried for war-crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. We saw this repeated at the International Criminal Court when the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda when she announced the opening of an investigation into Israeli war crimes committed in the Gaza Strip in 2014.  When Attorney-General Karim Khan took over, the investigation was frozen in 2020 and it remains like that today..
Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (1969-1974) said when she was asked about peace in Palestine that the old die and the young forget, but how can the young forget their martyred fathers, their wounded brothers, and their prisoners’ mothers? How can they forget how the Israeli occupiers demolished their homes and displaced them from their homes? 
They are still refugees to this day. They do not have the right to self-determination and establish their independent state. We are talking about peace while justice is absent, the land is still usurped, and thousands of settlers live in homes of Palestinians, stealing Palestinian land and falsely ascribing Palestinian food, heritage culture to themselves! 
Despite all these crimes and massacres committed by the Zionist and Israeli gangs against the Palestinian people, the major powers are still trying to force the Palestinian people to give up their legitimate rights that are recognised by international law.
Some Arab regimes have now normalised relations with Israel as if nothing had happened while the Israelis impose a siege on Gaza Strip, depriving Palestinians of benefiting from the natural resources the Israelis have stolen.
But when the Palestinian people resist the occupation some countries accuse them of  violence and terrorism. They ignore the Palestinians’ non-violent struggles, such as the boycott of Israeli goods movement, which they criminalise. They ignore the prisoners’ hunger strikes. There are 5,000 Palestinians jailed in Israel without charge or fair trial, including women, children and the elderly. They are living martyrs sentenced to life imprisonment, because they struggle against injustice and the occupation.
The countries that support Israel refuse to hold Israel accountable. Rather, they support it with weapons and money to kill the Palestinian people and commit more massacres and crimes against them. Not only did the countries that financially and militarily support Israel fight the Palestinians, but they also take control of the media to spread the false Israeli narrative over the true Palestinian narrative, and restrict content supporting the Palestinian question on social media. 
Our hope lies with the freedom fighters and the free people of the world who reject injustice wherever it exists. As  Che Guevara said “wherever there is injustice, this is my homeland,” and we call on them to put pressure on their governments with the aim of boycotting Israel, imposing sanctions on it, withdrawing investments from it, and stopping its support financially, militarily, and politically... and holding it accountable for its crimes committed against the Palestinians, and supporting the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, establishing their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, and the return of refugees to their homes.

The author is a member of the  international criminal court bar association and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

A step in the right direction

 When the United States openly called itself the leader of the “free world” American leaders were raised to Churchillian heights in the bourgeois media. General Eisenhower was, of course, a famous war-time commander who led the Anglo-American advance into Nazi Germany during the Second World War. A halo of sanctity surrounds John F Kennedy and the Carters, Clintons and Obamas are regarded as role-models for the “American way of life”. Ronald Reagan and the Bush family are praised for their supposed leadership during the Cold War. Even Richard Nixon gets a look in these days.
But what can they say about Joe Biden, an octogenarian US president who barely knows which day it is, facing a not much younger Donald Trump preparing to make a come-back while fighting criminal charges in four jurisdictions.
Last week Biden was at the G20 summit in India. President Xi Jinping of China and Russia’s Vladimir Putin gave it a miss. The Chinese delegation was, instead, headed by Prime Minister Li Qiang and the Russian by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as Putin could not travel to New Delhi because of the ludicrous “International Criminal Court” warrant for his arrest on trumped-up charges of “war-crimes” is valid in India. 
But they still got the better over the leader of US imperialism at the conference which ended with a joint statement that pointedly avoided any criticism of Russia over Ukraine. The  Zelensky regime had hoped the Americans would give them another cheap propaganda victory at  this international economic forum that consists of 19 major countries, including China, Russia, India, the UK and the United States as well as the European Union and the African Union. The final declaration, the Ukrainians said, was “nothing to be proud of”. 
But the Biden team were realistic. They went along with the consensus that merely noted "the human suffering and negative added impacts of the war in Ukraine with regard to global food and energy security". It was, as Sergei Lavrov, said, a “turning point” and a “landmark” decision.
The West had failed to ''Ukrainianise'' the summit declaration. The  final agreement on the wording was "a step in the right direction".
The G20 is being transformed from within by members from the Global South, with the West failing to hijack the intergovernmental forum’s agenda to focus on the Ukraine crisis, the Russian Foreign Minister said. 
Lavrov also touched on the declaration’s inclusion of important concrete objectives, like reforming traditionally Western-dominated institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and the need for the US and its allies to fulfill the obligations and promises made to the Global South, like technology transfers and financial support.
A new wind of change is sweeping the world as millions upon millions of people throughout the Global South rise up against Washington’s new world order. Another world is possible but it is not the European Union or the American dream of world domination.  A new and better world ia coming – the world Marx and Engels predicted and a world that will surely come to pass. It is already being built in the people’s democracies of today. It is now being fought for in every continent and every country.

Friday, September 15, 2023

People’s China: taking the lead for peace

 by Andy Brooks

New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks took part in a seminar on the role of the Communist Party of China and the world today at the Chinese embassy in London in August. This is his contribution to the discussion.

We meet at a time of sharpening contradictions — and the primary contradiction in the world today is between United States imperialism and the rest of the world it seeks to dominate.
    Generations of Chinese communists struggled against dogmatism and sectarianism to build a people’s democracy in their own way, to serve the needs of the working people of China and throughout the wider world we live in – a world torn apart by war and stricken by poverty and disease. While the American imperialists incite conflict and sectarian division People’s China has taken the lead in helping to build the economies of the Global South while working for peace and harmony throughout the world
    We too must struggle for peace and nuclear disarmament – as well as the abolition of
other weapons of mass destruction.
    Imperialism fans the flames of war in Ukraine and the Middle East, blocks the return of Taiwan to its Chinese homeland and prolongs the unhappy partition of many countries including Cyprus, Ireland, Kashmir and Korea. China’s perspective, on the other hand, is based on the concept of ‘one country, two systems’ and the principle that ‘a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’. But the most aggressive sections of the American ruling class now at the helm in Washington clearly believe in “one world, one system” and that nuclear war is, under certain circumstances, entirely winnable.
    The Chinese revolution that established the people’s government in 1949 has transformed the country that was then the poorest in the world. Since then China has risen from being a weak semi-feudal, semi-colonial country to become a force for peace in the global arena with the second largest economy in the world.
    People’s China, the fifth permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, is the only veto-power actively supporting proposals for multilateral nuclear disarmament. Pledging never to be the first to use nuclear weapons in any conflict, China stands for the complete prohibition and total destruction of all atomic weapons.
    China, backed by many other countries, has repeatedly challenged the West to implement the entire non-proliferation treaty, signed in 1968, that not only called a halt to nuclear proliferation but also committed the signatories to work towards universal nuclear disarmament.
    The struggle to abolish nuclear weapons is crucial for the survival of humanity. But central to averting a Third World War is the need to eliminate the causes of war. And that is why communists have always understood that the struggles for peace and socialism are indivisible.
    The Chinese communists are striving to achieve lasting world peace, so that all countries can enjoy a peaceful and stable external environment and their people can live a happy life with their rights fully guaranteed to build a world that is free from fear and enjoys universal security. 
    This is, of course, a quantum jump from the post-war Soviet policies of “peaceful co-existence” and “detente” that failed to end the Cold War and probably accelerated the collapse of the USSR. Peaceful co-existence mistakenly believed that the capitalists could be economically beaten at their own game while detente was, in essence, a futile Soviet attempt at achieving nuclear parity with the Americans to divide the world into Soviet and American spheres of influence.
    Sadly the United Nations has been marginalised by the imperialists who only pay lip service to UN institutions when it suits their purposes. When it doesn’t the world forum is ignored and discarded.
So though the United Nations remains a prime focus China has taken the initiative in setting up other platforms for economic and diplomatic co-operation including BRICS, the Belt and Road Initiative and the Shanghai Co-operation Council.
    China has become a beacon of hope for all the peoples of the world struggling to build their own independent economies without imperialist interference. While Anglo-American and Franco-German imperialism use their military and economic might to impose their neo-colonial rule throughout the Global South the Chinese people can, and do, provide the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America with an alternative source of high technology and economic assistance without the odious strings attached that always go with deals with the West.
    China puts people first. China has become a pivot for peace in a world torn apart by imperialist greed and aggression. China is strong but it threatens no one. China respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries. It stays true to the principle of equality of all countries big or small, strong or weak, and rich or poor, and it respects the development paths and social systems independently chosen by all the world’s peoples. The people’s government is dedicated to promoting a human community with a shared future.
    China stands ready to work with all countries and peoples who love peace and aspire to happiness to address all kinds of traditional and non-traditional security challenges, protect the peace and tranquility of the planet, and jointly create a better future for humanity, so that the torch of peace will be passed on from generation to generation and shine across the world.
    Earlier this year the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, launched the “global security initiative” that lays out core concepts and principles regarding global peace and security.
    The first is to eliminate conflict through the establishment of a balanced, effective, and sustainable security framework under which countries respect the legitimate security concerns of each other and promote political solutions to cope with hotspot issues.
    The second is the promotion of economic development in the Global South.
    The third is respect for diversity. It is the right of every country to choose its own
political system and development path.
    Finally all international disputes should be resolved through dialogue not unilateralism and hegemonic acts. The UN can play a positive role in international affairs if the voice and representation of countries throughout the Global South is expanded in the world forum.
    This is what we should all be working for. Hopefully we will live to see it happen in
the years to come.

Monday, September 11, 2023

For a democratic Labour party

Summer is known as the silly season by the press because the long parliamentary recess means they have to fill their columns with even more rubbish to make up the difference. This is a good time for bourgeois political leaders to shuffle their packs while the backstabbers make their play in the corridors of power. And it always ends with the spectacularly tedious "conference season" starting with the TUC and followed by equally boring Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative bashes that we've all grown to know and love down the years.
    This time round we’ve seen Rishi Sunak replace Ben Wallace with Grant Shapps in Defence – though Sunak had little choice as Wallace was going anyway after he failed to get the top job in NATO – while Sir Keir Starmer continues to purge the ranks of his Shadow Cabinet to make room for more Blairites eager for high office when Labour wins the next election.
    Some Corbynistas are rallying around the call to “Stop Starmer” from a campaign backed by two former Labour MPs, George Galloway and Chris Williamson, along with veteran Liverpool campaigner Audrey White who was kicked out of the Labour Party last year after she confronted Starmer in a cafe to challenge his right-wing policies and the ongoing purge of supporters of his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.
    Former Labour campaigner Crispin Flintoff, a stand-up comic who raised more than £150,000 for Labour before he too was kicked out, says “Keir Starmer is a danger to our democracy. He will say or do anything in pursuit of power. He is the most untrustworthy political leader this country has seen …the media hasn’t shown the reality of Starmer. But people who’ve been members of the Labour Party know what he’s really like. He stabbed the previous Labour leader in the back, he has broken all the pledges he has ever made, and he is carrying out a McCarthyite witch-hunt of the party — the biggest political purge of recent times...Starmer’s campaign to get into No 10 is the most cynical attempt to manipulate public opinion ever undertaken. We cannot allow him to get power because then it will be too late”.
    Whether Starmer is the most untrustworthy politician this country has ever seen is a matter of opinion – there’s been plenty of other Tory and Labour leaders over the years who would fit that bill. What is a fact, however, is that the only way Starmer is going to be stopped from getting into Downing Street is to vote Conservative at the next general election.
    Though Labour was founded by the trade unions to give the working class its own voice within Parliament, the Parliamentary Party leadership has been dominated by the middle class intelligentsia since the days of Ramsay McDonald.
    But the enemy of the working class is the ruling class not the Labour Party. Labour still maintains its links with the unions and the co‑operative movement and as long as that continues it remains the best option for the working class in the era of bourgeois parliamentary democracy. Our strategy is for working class unity and our campaigns are focused on defeating the right‑wing within the movement and strengthening the left and progressive forces within the Labour Party and the unions. Day‑to‑day demands for reform, progressive taxation, state welfare and a public sector dedicated to meet the people’s needs are winnable under capitalism, particularly in a rich country like Britain today.
    We don’t want to waste time on futile efforts to build social-democratic platforms to rival Labour at election time. We need to break with the “broad left” factions in the unions that do little apart from elevating their leaders on to the gravy train of the bureaucrats who line their own pockets at the members’ expense. We do need a democratic rank-and-file movement within the unions committed to peace and socialism. It can be done!

In the shadow of the atom bomb


by Ben Soton

Christopher Nolan’s latest film covers the life of J Robert Oppenheimer, played by Cillian Murphy, the theoretical physicist who developed the atomic bomb. Based on the 2005 biography American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, Oppenheimer largely consists of a series of flashbacks covering the most significant aspects of the life of the “father of the atom bomb”. Most notable of which is the part he played on the Manhattan Project which led to the United States using atomic weapons against Japan at the end of the Second World War.
    Oppenheimer was a New Deal Democrat who was on friendly terms with a number of communists, was openly sympathetic to causes such as Republican Spain and was staunchly pro-trade union. His wife, played by Emily Blunt, was at one point a member of the CPUSA; as was his brother Frank, played by Dylan Arnold and part of the film is taken up with Oppenheimer’s affair with the communist activist Jean Tatlock, played by Florence Pugh.
    His Jewish background made him a staunch opponent of Hitler. It was possible concerns about the Nazis obtaining atomic weapons that motivated him to develop one for the United States. During the Second World War he may have favoured sharing scientific knowledge with the Soviet Union and in the post-war era he campaigned against the spread of nuclear weapons.
    It could be said that Oppenheimer, although not a communist was not an anti-communist. However, to the US far-right, such as Senator Joseph McCarthy, himself a supporter of Adolf Hitler, there was no distinction. It was for this reason Oppenheimer eventually lost his security clearance to work in the Atomic industry. Much of the film is set in a committee room where Oppenheimer is questioned about his political allegiances.
    Meanwhile in a film about a scientist one would expect some reference to science; in this the film does very well. Albert Einstein, who developed the Theory of Relativity is portrayed by Tom Conti whilst the Danish physicist Niels Borr is played by Kenneth Brannagh. Although the film is set largely in the United States, it features many British actors.
    A point of discussion in the film was the possibility of a nuclear explosion igniting a chain reaction that couyld destroy the Earth’s atmosphere. Although this did not happen in 1945; it is still a possibility, especially if a larger and less one-sided conflict was to take place. The film also touches on the somewhat complex subject of quantum mechanics; the study of the movement of sub-atomic particles and the space between them.    The issue of Oppenheimer’s own feeling of guilt features heavily in the film. This is shown in scenes where Oppenheimer imagines radiation damage on those he is talking to. Meanwhile the film uses sound to dramatise the effect of the nuclear explosion as well as it’s impact of Oppenheimer’s conscience.
In a scene with President Truman (Gary Oldman) the scientist expresses his guilt. Truman sarcastically hands him a handkerchief and points out that the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki don’t blame J Robert Oppenheimer for their fate. They blame him. It’s not often that I agree with the 33rd President of United States but on this occasion, he has a point.

Thursday, September 07, 2023

Walk on by…

None of us are going to miss Nadine Dorries who formally resigned as an MP  this week almost 12 weeks after she said she was stepping down with "immediate effect". 
Her resignation letter – a rant against her leader, Rishi Sunak, whom she clearly despises –  no doubt sets the scene for the launch of her forthcoming book on the downfall of her idol, Boris Johnson. 
In politics Johnson liked to be surrounded by people lesser than himself. Rishi Sunak and Dominic Cummings were notable exceptions. Nadine Dorries was not. 
Few, apart from herself, can recall her achievements as an MP and later a Cabinet minister in the Johnson government. If she’s remembered for anything at all it will be for the string of novels she’s written over the years or the time she lost the Tory whip for taking part in the TV reality show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! In 2012.
Many will be glad to see the back of her – and not just in the House of Commons. Adam Zerny, the Independent leader of Central Bedfordshire Council, says his constituents won’t be shedding any tears over her departure from the political scene.
  "There's a great degree of relief amongst the many people who are constituents that finally this may be over and we may soon find that we have an MP that actually cares about the local community.” Zelny said. “She's rarely ever been seen in the area. And I think we've had very much the impression that what she cares about is her own life and her life at Westminster rather than Mid Beds”.
With exquisite timing Ms Dorries has ensured that the by-election in her Mid-Bedfordshire constituency will fall soon after the publication of her book The Plot: The Political Assassination of Boris Johnson and the Tories’ annual conference in October.
And Sunak may rue the day he denied her a peerage if her safe Tory seat falls to Labour or the Liberal Democrats – and both have high hopes given the slump in Tory fortunes. 
The fact that the Tories are openly fighting amongst themselves shows how deep the divisions are between the Remainers and Brexiteers. Back in the halcyon days of the 1960s and 70s Tories of all hues closed ranks to stop Labour returning to high office. These days they clearly think they’ve nothing to fear from Sir Keir Starmer and his Blairite chums. 
The latest opinion poll puts Labour 25 points ahead of the Conservatives and suggest that Labour has the support of 50 per cent of the electorate and at the moment Labour seems to heading for a landslide at the next general election.
Ms Dorries says in her resignation letter that “it is a fact that there is no affection for Keir Starmer out on the doorstep. He does not have the winning X factor qualities of a Thatcher, a Blair, or a Boris Johnson, and sadly, prime minister, neither do you. Your actions have left some 200 or more of my MP colleagues to face an electoral tsunami and the loss of their livelihoods, because in your impatience to become prime minister you put your personal ambition above the stability of the country and our economy,”.
She may not be right about Sunak but she’s spot on about Starmer.