Sunday, January 28, 2024

Fanning the flames

The shameful decision of the Sunak government to send the RAF in to bomb Yemen in support of American offensive against the defiant Arab republic has done nothing for the merchant shipping the imperialists claim to be protecting. The Houthi government that controls most of the country have stepped up their blockade that’s closed the Red Sea to all Israeli shipping. And the US campaign, ludicrously called “Operation Prosperity Guardian” has now put the Red Sea off limits to British and American vessels as well.
    Though crawling to the Americans is second nature to Conservative and Labour leaders it’s a different ball game in Europe. Franco-German imperialism wants to sit this one out and the European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrel says that the bloc has no intention to send warships to the US naval mission in the Red Sea.
    “This bloc does not intend to escalate the conflict with the Yemeni army, we must do everything possible to ensure freedom of navigation, but at the same time avoid escalation,” Borrel said.
    The EU wants to distance itself from Anglo-American aggression to guarantee the continued supply of oil and gas from Qatar and the other oil kingdoms of the Persian Gulf which supply most of the continent with its energy needs these days. Qatar, which has long supported the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, has warned that the escalation of the crisis in the Red Sea could force shipping to take a much longer and more expensive diversion via South Africa that would seriously impact on LNG cargoes to Europe.
    It will also affect the delivery of supplies from the Far East to Europe. Tesla has announced that due to the auto parts flow disruption caused by transportation delays, it will stop its production in its Gigafactory in Berlin. Volvo, the now Chinese-owned car manufacturer. Has suspended production at its plant in Ghent, Belgium, due to delays in parts deliveries.
    The Houthi leaders have repeatedly said that their objective is to stop the slaughter in Gaza. Their blockade will end when the Israelis cease-fire. One call to Tel Aviv from the White House would do the trick, If the Biden administration had any sense it would do it now.

Preparing for Power?

The Tory government is on its last legs. Playing the race card over the refugee crisis has done nothing to boost their flagging fortunes. The pundits say Sunak will go for an autumn general election. The opinion polls put Labour streets ahead of the Tories. The media tell us Labour is preparing for power and Starmer is already writing the next King’s Speech. But what is Labour preparing us for?
    Absolutely nothing if anything the Labour leadership say is anything to go by these days. No national mass housing plans. No renationalisation of the railways or the energy and water utilities. No major increase in public investment in education or the health service, Doing whatever the Americans want – well that goes without saying.
    It difficult to see where Labour actually differs from the Conservatives on most issues – and this is what Starmer wants. Starmer’s spent most of his time knifing Corbyn in the back and driving out the former Labour leader’s supporters out of the party. The Labour leader clearly thinks this is the key to victory at the next general election.
    But a manifesto that consists entirely of vacuous platitudes will do nothing to mobilise working people to vote Labour – and if Labour can’t get their vote out then the Tories will win by default.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

A dangerous escalation

In the 19th century the imperialists used “gun-boat diplomacy” to carve up Africa the rest of the world into various European spheres of influence. It worked because only the colonial powers could manufacture the weapons of mass destruction needed to enslave the people of what is we now call the Global South. They thought their realms, like the British Empire on which “the sun never set” would last forever. They called it “civilisation” and “the White Man’s burden” when they brutally crushed all resistance to the forces used to build colonial empires that spanned the globe. But they couldn’t crush the spirit of freedom amongst the oppressed masses who swept away the colonial system after the second world war.
The masses of the Third World who took up the gun in the national liberation wars in Algeria and Zimbabwe showed that it was people, not arms, that decide the outcome of struggles while the Korean and Vietnamese people taught the American imperialists a lesson they still have yet to learn.
If the Anglo-American attacks on Yemen were meant to build a new NATO bloc in the Middle East to protect Israel and intimidate the Arabs it has clearly failed. Most of America’s allies have refused to join this new “coalition of the willing” which only consists of Britain, the United States, Canada and some tiny islands in the Pacific that no-one’s ever heard of.
If the US-led attacks were meant to force the Houthi government to abandon its blockade of Israeli shipping they have clearly failed. The Red Sea remains the “Arab Sea” and the Houthis are now adding British and American vessels to their list.
The Yemenis say they will end their blockade once the fighting in Gaza stops.  All the Americans have to do to make that happens is to tell their puppets in Tel Aviv to cease-fire and end the carnage.

One up for the RMT

The RMT transport union ended its dispute with Transport for London (TfL) following an improved pay offer from City Hall that has added an extra £30 million to the pay budget to meet union demands on pay, grading structures and travel facilities. 
Last month RMT rejected  a below inflation pay offer of five per cent from the London Underground. This, they said was “unacceptable when TfL has created a bonus pot of £13 million for senior managers and the commissioner took an 11 per cent pay rise in 2023 taking his salary up to £395,000”.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Following further positive discussions today, the negotiations on a pay deal for our London Underground members can now take place on an improved basis and mandate with significant further funding for a settlement being made available. This significantly improved funding position means the scheduled strike action will be suspended with immediate effect and we look forward to getting into urgent negotiations with TfL in order to develop a suitable agreement and resolution to the dispute”.
Though Management initially refused to budge the solid response by the membership to past strike calls and the union’s determination to continue prolonged industrial action forced them to respond realistically to the union’s demand for higher pay and the restoration of full staff travel facilities for all Tube workers.This is what collective bargaining is all about and this is why it has to be defended.


Monday, January 15, 2024

Stop the war – support the Palestinians!

Millions upon millions throughout the world are again demanding an end to the carnage in Gaza – not least in London where the biggest demonstrations in support of the Palestinian Arabs in the Western world are regularly taking place. Across the bourgeois political spectrum mainstream politicians justify their crawling to American imperialism by parroting Zionist lies and claiming the public as a whole largely support Israel. But a recent YouGov poll tells a different story.
    The survey commissioned by Medical Aid for Palestinians and the Council for Arab-British Understanding shows that there is an overwhelming level of public support in this country for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
    The survey conducted on 20-21 December 2023 found that 71 per cent of the British public believe there definitely (48 per cent) or probably (23 per cent) should be an immediate ceasefire in Israel and Palestine. Only 12 per cent felt that there should definitely not (6 per cent) or probably not (6 per cent) be an immediate ceasefire.This echoes the results of a similar YouGov poll on 19 October,     demonstrating robust and continuing public support for an end to the current violence in Gaza.
The poll also found that only 17 per cent of people approve of the Sunak government’s handling of the conflict and only 9 per cent approved of the Labour Party’s handling of the conflict.
    Chris Doyle, Director of CAABU, says “This poll shows a total and utter lack of public confidence in the way both the UK government and the Labour Party have handled this. The figures could hardly be lower. This should be a wake-up call to the political leaderships to realign themselves both with public sentiment, international law and the need to address the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza”.
    There’s not much chance of that happening in the near future. Crawling to the Americans comes as second nature to the ruling class who believe that their global interests are best preserved through the might of US imperialism. Since the Second World War grovelling to the White House has been almost compulsory for Tory and Labour leaders who drone on and on about “partnership” and the “special relationship” to justify British imperialism’s slavish support of American power throughout the world. So it’s no surprise to read this week that Keir Starmer regularly liaises with US national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
    But some Labour MPs disagree. One former shadow minister, told the parliamentary news blog PoliticsHome, that Labour should support a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and expressed concern over how much the US position appeared to be influencing Labour's foreign policy approach. "We don't have an independent foreign policy, a Labour policy," the MP who was not named, said. "We have outsourced it to the US administration: that's not helpful. I don't like it”.
    Starmer and his cohorts would have us believe that we live in what the Americans call the “free world”; that the USA is some sort of democratic utopia and that anyone who opposes imperialism is evil, mad or both. Backed by bought and paid-for labour leaders and a daily dose of lies from the bourgeois media these people think they can play this cynical game forever and ever. We must prove them wrong.

A man of his times

by Ben Soton

Yours For the Revolution – The Evolution of Tom Mann’s Political Thought: Phil Katz, Manifesto Press, 2023, £20.00

Yours For the Revolution” was how the legendary trade union leader Tom Mann would sign his letters; his life is the subject of Phil Katz’s latest book. Katz is also the author of works such as Freedom From Tyranny: The Fight Against Fascism and the Falsification of History; a study into how the, EU-backed far-right is attempting to falsify history and equate communism with fascism. With this in mind any book by Katz is certainly worth reading.

    The book, by its name covers the ideological development of Tom Mann (1856-1941) from Christian Socialist, through syndicalism to eventually arrive at Marxism-Leninism and the Communist Party of Great Britain. It is divided into seven sections covering key periods in Mann’s life. Subsequently the book is useful for anyone interested in the history of the labour movement from the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries.
    Mann is best known for his involvement in the 1889 London Dock strike and the development of New Unionism. New Unionism saw the emergence of Trade Unions representing unskilled workers; a move away from unions representing primarily skilled, and to that matter male workers. The 1889 Dock Strike saw gains for many workers including an eight-hour day and the establishment of a Royal Commission of Labour. The Royal Commission eventually saw some union leaders bought off by the establishment; most notably John Burns, who later became a Liberal Peer. This was far from the case with Tom Mann. He remained active in the Labour Movement in Britain and abroad; with his activism taking him to Australia, South Africa, America, Russia and eventually China. His support for workers across the globe drove him in the direction of internationalism and his understanding of the state eventually lead him from the limited ideology of Syndicalism to Marxism-Leninism.
    Katz criticises revisionist historians who wish to keep Mann in his early Christian (Utopian) socialist phase; thus, hiding the syndicalist and especially communist phase in his development. To achieve this, they often make little reference to his life after the 1880s; subsequently ignoring the remaining sixty years of his life. The author points out that there have been attempts to dilute the work of William Morris in a similar war; portraying him as a romantic artist and a designer of wall-paper rather than a Marxist revolutionary.
    In this, highly detailed book Katz performs an outstanding role in debunking this reactionary myth; making the book a fitting tribute to one of the British labour movement’s most outstanding figures. Tom Mann was after all a founder member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, which he remained a member of until his death in 1941.

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

The hopes and fears of all the years

So this is Christmas. Celebrating the winter solstice goes back to hallowed antiquity from the Stone Age hunter-gatherers whose lives revolved around the seasons to the Saturnalia when Roman masters served their slaves in orgies of feasting and drinking in which all the rules of society could be temporarily broken. In the Middle Ages the Catholic Church, itself largely a product of the feudal era, turned the old pagan holiday into a Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of the founder of their faith in pageants and parades that heralded the coming spring.
In Britain Jesus seldom gets a look in these days. Though still fun for the kids the modern festival has been largely been reduced to eating and drinking and a ritual exchange of cards and gifts.
This orgy of consumerism is, of course, a welcome break from the drudgery of work. A chance to put one’s feet up, eat and drink and enjoy the life the rich enjoy in their mansions every day of their worthless lives. But for the homeless, unemployed and destitute victims of the capitalist crisis, it’s just another day of despair. The festive clich├ęs of the politicians and the princes of the church mean nothing to them. Meanwhile the Palestinian Arabs fight to stave off a brutal Israeli enemy in Gaza.
In Britain millions of people of many faiths or none at all have taken to the streets to call for an end to the fighting. People from all walks of life are now campaigning for Palestinian rights and freedom. They are taking on corporations that profit from the Israeli occupation, the Sunak government that still refuses to hold Israel to account and the media that does not report the truth.
Palestinian solidarity protests have been held every week in London and in many other towns throughout the country. Huge marches, the biggest in Western Europe, have rocked London. They must continue until the guns fall silent and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian Arabs are recognised once and for all.
  Over Christmas we get the usual drivel from the Established Church, whose clergy reserve their most pious platitudes for the supposed birthday of the ‘Prince of Peace’ on 25th December while ignoring his teachings for the rest of the year. 
These modern Pharisees talk about the “poor and needy” while ignoring the words of the Nazarene who drove the money-changers out of the Temple and told his followers to “go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven”. 
They tell us to think about those needier than ourselves and many of us, will indeed, give generously to beggars or charities. But what we should be thinking about is those much wealthier than ourselves and the capitalist system they uphold and how they’ve got the money to spend every day of the year like Christmas, living off the backs of workers forced to make do with the miserable crumbs left at the rich man’s table.
   But the days when people listened to the rich men who told us that the greatest virtue of humanity was the possession of the largest amount of money are over.
    The ruling class maintains that capitalism is the only game in town. And it is – but only for themselves. Capitalism, in the final analysis, is simply a system designed to perpetuate the rule of the rich to ensure that a tiny handful of parasites can live the lives of Roman emperors on the backs of the millions upon millions of working people. There is only one answer to the crisis and that is socialism. Speed the day!