Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Changes afoot

I've decided, after a long deliberation to stop posting at this blog, and also at another one I author. For good or bad I'm not stopping posting, just doing it at another platform.

Both of these have been merged at lansburyslido.posterous.com. Unfortunately some of the comments seem to have been lost in the merge. But they will remain here for posterity.

Please update your bookmarks.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Full Employment

Capitalism isnt workingImage by Tess.McGill via Flickr
Full employment - Was it a myth or did we at one time have 'full' employment?

And by full employment I don't mean no unemployment but that whoever was able and wanted to work could find a job within a reasonable time frame. There will always be some unemployment with even the most 'benign' capitalist system. (If such a thing exists!)

Back in the mists of time in 1979 I left school with my clutch of CSEs and GCEs and I had a choice - go to college or get a job. For good or bad I chose to get a job. Looking back I don't remember any time where me or my friends did not have a job, nor do I remember anyone signing on the dole. There was always work, especially for the youth. Some of my friends used to start a new job on a Monday, get the sack on the Friday and somehow have a new job to roll into the following Monday. Certainly for the first 4 or 5 years of my working life I never had a problem getting a job.

I don't remember ever being aware of unemployment until about the time of the Miner's strike when it certainly did become an issue. Indeed towards the end of Thatcher's reign I also would be joining the ranks of those claiming the dole, a new chapter in my life that would last for three years out of the following four.

Should I wipe the rose tint from my glasses or is it true that we once had 'full' employment and a dogmatic political decision stripped this nation of that benefit?

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Clause IV

 When I was a member of the Labour Party the membership card (which was indeed made of card) had the text below, known as Clause IV emblazoned across it.

To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.

Sounded good in 1918, sounds good today. Unfortunately Blair came along and in 1995 managed to get it rewritten as the waffle below:

The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.

Now the new leader of the Labour Party comes along and in his maiden speech to  conference says it was right to do away with the old Clause IV!!

FAIL

Monday, 27 September 2010

IMF backs coalition spending cuts

So says the headline from the BBC. BBC News - IMF backs coalition spending cuts

It does beg the question though as to what would happen if the IMF didn't back the government's financial plans?

Wikipedia describes the IMF thus:

It is an organization formed with a stated objective of stabilizing international exchange rates and facilitating development through theenforcement of liberalising economic policies[1][2] on other countries as a condition for loans, restructuring or aid.[3] It also offers highly leveraged loans, mainly to poorer countries
Which really sums up what the IMF is about. It's not concerned with the well-being of people, of humanity but the well-being of the financial system it is part of. Capitalism. Especially the nasty neo-liberal type.

So if the IMF didn't agree with an elected sovereign government's financial plans then we can assume it would take action to register it's unhappiness. And there are many and varied ways it can do this.

The IMF does have incredible power for an unelected, unwanted organisation. It can and does dictate to sovereign countries what their economic policies have to be. It can demand the access of international capital to internal infrastructures like water supply, sanitation and other things essential to life.

For such a position of power it should be subject to democratic control. But it never will be because this type of capitalism cannot function under democraic control, being subject to the will of the people. A very good reason for any government with the best interests of it's population at heart to untangle itself from this monster. There is another way, this doesn't have to be the way things are. Don't let them tell you otherwise.

As Billy Bragg once sung, No Power Without Accountability.




Billy Bragg - "NPWA"

Friday, 10 September 2010

Dennis Skinner and David Milliband

I did a post a few months ago about how encouraging Dennis Skinner, the Beast of Bolsover was. You can read it here. Someone commented that Dennis had become all mouth and no trousers so to say. I was surprised by such a comment.

Now over at Left Futures it's been highlighted that Dennis has put his weight behind David Milliband for the leader of the Labour Party. There's a report of Dennis justifying his position by saying “the big question is who are the Tories afraid of”.

What a disappointment to discover that a hero from my youth now considers the future for the working man and woman and the left best decided by 'who the Tories are afraid of'. Not about fighting for a better way, not about fighting against injustice and a system that heaps misery after misery upon the worker and the poor. But about 'who the Tories are afraid of'. Methinks Dennis has become parliamentarialised if he thinks this is going to change anything. Time to pocket the fat pension I would suggest.

Oh dear.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Didn't know what their spouse did

Tory MP weeps over discovery that his Brazilian wife is £70-a-time suburban prostitute

The shame of finding out your husband is an MP. How will she live it down?

Tony Blair Book Signing

So 'Honest' Tone's cash cow book signing tour seems to be coming off the rails. Protests by those dastardly lefty types seem to be causing problems with his security so he may curtail any more book signings.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11197376

However, a little snippet from the site caught my eye.
But Mr Blair, prime minister from 1997 to 2007, said: "To be frank about it, I am concerned. I do not want to put everyone through a lot of cost and hassle on this Wednesday's signing so I am thinking about that."

The Metropolitan Police were "fabulous and they will do whatever we ask them to do" but should not be asked to commit resources unnecessarily, he added.

Given the moaning that certain sections have given to the state visit by the Pope, especially the costs, I've yet to see the same reaction given to Tone's security being provided by the boys in blue. Wonder who's paying?

And if you've had the misfortune to part with cash for the book or unfortunate enough to have read it then feel free to add your review to amazon! Seems he's taking a bit of flack on there as well.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Voting for the next Leader of the Labour Party.

It may be over 25 years since I tore up the yellow folded card with Clause IV printed boldly on it but it seems I still have a vote to influence the choosing of the next leader of the Labour Party. Got an envelope from the Electoral Reform Services today with details on how to vote together with some bumph from Unite. I had quite forgotten about my opting in to the union's political fund.
So what rag-tag buch have put themselves up for 'the job'?

Diane Abbot

Pros: Seems to talk some sense.
Cons: 'That' school issue.

Ed Balls

Pros: Not David Milliband
Cons: Stinks of New Labour

Andy Burnham

Pros: Promises to refocus the Labour Party away from being London-centric.
Cons: Previous govermental positions means he's got a whiff of New Labour about him.

David Milliband

Pros: Erm?
Cons: Iraq, torture allegations, stinks of New Labour

Ed Milliband

Pros: backed by toss-pot Kinnock
Cons: backed by toss-pot Kinnock
So there we go, so who should I be voting for?

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Banks forced to write off £40m a day in family debt

More media misinformation from the Daily Mail about the poor old banks.

Apparently the banks are writing off debt from struggling families to the tune of £40M a day. The paper goes on:

Between April and June banks and building societies were forced to 'write off ' £3.5billion, around £40million every day, the largest amount since records began.......

........The largest chunk of write-offs - a record £2.1billion - was credit card debt, with many spending more on the High Street in a day than they earn in a month.

A further £1.2billion came from overdrafts, personal loans and hire purchase agreements. Just £184million was from 'bad' mortgages.

Before you reach for the hankies it might be a good idea to consider the Mail's steaming pile of misinformation and downright lies a bit further.

Firstly, it's only in the case of bankruptcies that debts get 'written-off'. If it's just that you can't afford to pay then the debt will remain with you. The banks take a decision to maintain the debt or to sell it at for less than the value to a bottom-feeding debt collection company. There is no 'writing-off' in these cases. In fact if the bank values the debt at the price they're willing to accept from the debt collection companies then why not just let the debtor pay that back?

Secondly the banks are complicit in the level of debt initially and are doubly complicit in the acceleration of debt that people suffer when they are in trouble. Take the case of credit cards, one of the major sources of debt. You may be on a 'good' (don't laugh) interest rate of say 16%. At the first whiff of gunsmoke the banks will immediately hit you with a punitive interest rate of up to 30%. They say it's to encourage you to change your spending habits but in reality they're trying to increase the rate at which they claw back the debt before you go tits up. The fact that in doing so may be the difference between survival and pushing people over the edge is neither here nor there. When it comes to money the banks have no morals, no shame and no humanitarian spirit.

Thirdly, you'll find that most of the debt is simply compounded interest. If you've ever found yourself in the position of not being able to pay off credit cards and making do with the minimum payment then you'll know what I mean as you see the debt increase. Profit for the bank without it having to do a stroke of work. Genius! This is why the church is, and should be against usury. An activity that should be made criminal.

Fourthly, those parasites owe the masses big time. We've bailed them out by billions and watched them laugh in our faces, waving and taunting their bonuses at us like the Met at a miner's picket line. There's nothing I'd like to see more than the whole system come crashing down. Perhaps this is the way to do it!!

Banks forced to write off £40m a day in family debt | Mail Online

Monday, 23 August 2010

The Tallyman Cometh

I just got an email from Compass Online telling me about their campaign to put a cap on the rate of all forms of credit. In reality it's an attempt to protect the poorest members of society from what's become known as legal loansharking. This is where short term loans are offered with a very short repayment period ( which is why they're also known as payday loans ) which also have incredibly high interest rates which kick in should the loan not get repaid on time.

A noble cause I'm sure. But who is this going to benefit?

Let's look at why people use these services. In fact go back maybe a hundred years and you would find the same practices going on. In fact you would find this going on as long as our society has been going down the road of consumerism. There is a need within all of us to belong, to be part of something. In our society it expresses itself in conformity or a desire to share in goods or services, many of which aren't essential to life but promise to lift us out of the doldrums of poverty, albeit for a short time. So, many years ago people would use the tallyman to obtain what they needed or desired. And they used the tallyman because they had been disenfranchised from consumerism by circumstance, society and the banks. They didn't earn enough to buy direct, they didn't earn enough to get an official loan from the reputable banks so the tallyman appeared to fill the need. Offering money or goods he met the need of the people where reputable society wouldn't.That's not to say the reason of the tallyman and the organisations behind them was pure. There was a profit, albeit at a higher risk, hence the high interest rate. So you needed school uniform for the kids? Just get the tallyman to call.

I don't know if we still have the tallyman in England but their position has certainly been taken by the payday loan industry. It exists because it meets a need among the poor and dispossesed. And if you legislate out such an industry without having something in place to meet those needs then I would suggest you do more harm than good. There is intense pressure on people and parents to live the lifestyle or to get the 'latest' for their children and they will turn to whatever is there. It's no good pontificating on the evils of the system without offering an alternative. People will find alternatives, opportunists will find ways to meet that need. And you can bet they will be worse than the payday loan industry. Interest rate caps on loans would hurt the poor and vulnerable in society whilst warming the cockles of the capitalist.

So back to the question, But who is this going to benefit? I would suggest that it will be the consciences of the metropolitan chattering classes.


Liam Fox defends call for ban of Medal of Honor game

From the BBC News website.

BBC News - Liam Fox defends call for ban of Medal of Honor game

I'm left virtually speechless after reading that. To think this bloke is considered capable enough for a government job. Not even a humble whelk stall would be enhanced by his presence.

Who cares about Pakistan?

Pakistan floods: thousands of houses destroyed...Image by Oxfam International via Flickr
An interesting page on the BBC News website asking some 'experts' and the public on why donations to Pakistan relief are slow. Some very good points, and some very predictable ones, especially from the public.

BBC News -
Who cares about Pakistan?

I believe donations from the West will perk up when we read that it has been confirmed that Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia have donated sizeable sums.
You bet. Perhaps it's the same sort of scenario when a stranger falls ill in public. Nobody wants to go to their aid, but as soon as one does then others follow. So be the first.
If they can afford to be a nuclear country and boast about it, then they should be able to look after their own people.
What's the betting that the poster of the comment above won't apply the same logic when the ConDem government start chopping his health service and welfare system, or the services that he relies upon?
I don't think it's necessary to donate any money to Pakistan because there's enough money - and support - available within the Islamic community
Well that's ok then.
Pakistan has a long history of corruption.......the slow response for help, I believe, is due to its links to terrorism.
You should spend more time looking at the UK Parliament and local councils. Corruption in Pakistan would likely pale to be insignificant in comparison. And as for terrorism the people of Pakistan have suffered terribly as they seek to deal with the 'war on terror'.

Of course you can always give.

DEC
Islamic Relief
Red Cross

Some related reading....

The Socialist Way (1)
The Socialist Way (2)


BBC News - Who cares about Pakistan?



Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Driver's 30-hour protest in Wembley over clamped car

A heartwarming story from the BBC regarding a man who remained in his car for 30 hours to stop it being towed away after being pressured to pay £365 to remove the clamps.

A man sat in his car for 30 hours to prevent it being towed away after it was clamped.

Haroon Zafaryab began the protest in Wembley on Wednesday when he returned from Ramadan prayers to find his car clamped and was asked to pay £365.

He said that, as he sat in the vehicle, all four wheels were clamped and about 40 tickets were stuck to its window, amounting to £3,565 in fines.

Haroon Zafaryab, nice one!

Details of the incident emerged as ministers announced plans to ban clampers from all private land in England and Wales.

Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone said the move would be introduced in the government's Freedom Bill in November, and could come into force early next year.

So the question to ask Labour Party members is why has it taken the election of a ConDem government to start bringing back some of the freedoms that the Labour Party legislated out of our lives? ID cards, CCTV, DNA database, child database anyone?

BBC News - Driver's 30-hour protest in Wembley over clamped car





Sunday, 15 August 2010

The Liberation of Council Tenants

Two news stories have got to me recently. One led me to rage, the other to tears.

Let's start with the rage. David Cameron announces plan to end lifetime council tenancies | Society | The Guardian

It seems our ConDem overlords have decided that the destruction of state provided housing will continue unabated. The transfer of housing stock to private agencies has led to the concept of a 'life tenenacy' to all but disappear. To further bury this 'undeserved perk of the great unwashed' the government has now announced available changes to tenancy agreements.

In come short term tenancy agreements to 'help increase social mobility'. Basically this means a review of a tenancy after as little as five years. Not enough people living there? Out you go. Earning too much? Out you go. Mum died and an empty room? You can sod off and find somewhere else to live. The true face of capitalism. It can't bear the thought of common people being in receipt of anything that could be thought of as benefits and could be generating wealth for the monied classes.

The second story, the one which brings me to tears and which is intrinsically linked is that of pensioner Edward Meakins as reported in this local paper http://bit.ly/aoYquH.

Edward faces eviction for the crime of having his sister die. He's lived at the property in Cricklewood for 74 years and has been part of a family that has paid rent and looked after the place for all of that time. Edward is in his twilight years and following the death of his sister has been told that he's to sling his hook. As he says:

“This has been my life in this house since I was nine. Why do they want to turn me out? I don't suppose I have got many more years to go, so why can't they just leave me here until I die?”
Barnet Homes, the ALMO which took over council housing services and stock responded:

“We sympathise with Mr Meakins’ position, and we appreciate that the prospect of leaving the family home after so many years must be very difficult for him.
“However, Mr Meakins is living in a three-bedroom council house, which are in very short supply in Barnet.
“We have to balance our sympathy for his position against the needs of the large number of people on the borough’s housing register who are desperate for a good quality family home.
“We will continue to offer Mr Meakins all the support we can in finding suitable alternative accommodation.”

Better start packing Edward.

Council accomodation is in short supply because the witch Thatcher decided to transfer as much stock as possible to the private market with the right-to-buy policy. Then they started the process of transferring council stock control to third party organisatons. They they denied councils the ability to use council house sale receipts to build new housing. That's why council houses are in 'short supply'. And this political dogma is also responsible for the existence of organisations like Barnet Homes.

Barnet Homes, we salute your inhumanity to the most vulnerable in our society.

I've also discovered that my widowed mother in law, together with all the other widows in her street is going to be visited by inspectors from the housing association in the next few weeks. I wonder why?

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Royal Berkshire Hospital to axe up to 600 jobs

That's what the BBC News headline says - 'Royal Berkshire Hospital to axe up to 600 jobs'

So we'll have a hospital struggling to meet the needs of the community it serves. What's the odds on 12 months down the line our ConDem overlords will offer up private capital to come to the rescue? The dismantling of the NHS continues with renewed vigour.

BBC News - Royal Berkshire Hospital to axe up to 600 jobs



Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Council House Tenants Face Regular Eviction

I have to admit that there have been some things that our ConDem masters have done that should heap great shame upon the Labour Party. Things like scaling back on CCTV and the scrapping of ID cards. But underneath these small islands of joy the real shape of their politics remains for all to see.

Now they're looking to target people who live in council or association homes. Regular means testing, getting a job, checking for pay rises or changes in family structure, all could lead to them being evicted, relocated out of where they've lived all their lives or forced to move into private accommodation.

This government, both Tories and Lib Dems can't bear to see the state provide services and not see the private sector have it's hand in the pie. Family friendly this government ain't. There's only one family that they serve and that's the family of the wealthy.

Every bit of progress that the post-war Labour government made in terms of health, accommodation and social welfare is being dismantled bit by bit, being fragmented and torn apart for capital to feast upon. And we're letting it happen.

Voice of the Daily Mirror - mirror.co.uk


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Britons to pay more for a loaf of bread as wheat prices jump


Image via Wikipedia
As the title says, from the BBC News website - 'Britons to pay more for a loaf of bread as wheat prices jump'

So it seems that lucky old us will be paying more for our wheat, and hence our bread sometime soon. It's all because of wildfires in Russia and flooding in Pakistan. In Russia a drought coupled with wildfires has destroyed 20% of the wheat harvest. In Pakistan heavy rains and flooding have destroyed 15% of the crop.

So because here in the UK we import all our wheat from Russia and Pakistan it's going to be scarce. Actually that's a lie. We don't import any wheat from Russia or Pakistan. As part of the European Economic Community, we as the EU are competitors with Russia with regards to wheat production.

So there's no shortage of wheat and I'm sure that the rest of the world could easily accommodate this shortfall from 2 countries. That means prices shouldn't rise and this fluid 'value' of wheat should stay constant. After all, stability is something that should be sought after. But of course stability doesn't create the opportunity to generate huge amounts of money from doing very little. Because if the price of wheat goes up then those who store and control the wheat, and to some extent those who produce will make a lot of money for very little work.

So remember that when you go to buy your next loaf and find that the price has gone up from the already high £1.35. Every penny counts, especially for those trousering a grand profit from doing very little. As my mum would have said, "Money comes to money."

Britons to pay more for a loaf of bread as wheat prices jump - Telegraph


Friday, 30 July 2010

Jailed for throwing an egg

A bloke who threw an egg at 'Baroness' Warsi and called her 'Cameron's bitch' has been banged up for 6 weeks. As the Daily Mail reports :

A Muslim convert who pelted a Tory peer with eggs was jailed for six weeks yesterday.

Gavin Reid, 23, targeted Baroness Warsi as Islamic extremists shouted abuse at her, including 'Cameron's bitch', in a 'planned and deliberate' confrontation.

At least three eggs were hurled at the high-profile champion of Muslim women's rights, one of which broke on her face, soiling her hair and jacket.
Protester who hurled an egg at Muslim Tory minister Baroness Warsi is found guilty | Mail Online

I have to say that this seems a bit much for what is often accepted as a legitimate means of protest. I can't seem to remember anyone previously jailed for this type of protest in the past, and there's been plenty of historical precedent for egging politicians. Take the odious Nick Griffin of the BNP, he was egged a few months ago but I don't remember any police or court action involved.

Was it because he is a muslim or that Warsi is a muslim? Makes you wonder.

And should it be 'jailed' or 'gaoled'?

Thursday, 29 July 2010

UN declares clean water a fundamental human right


Image via Wikipedia
Sounds good, and I expect you were surprised that access to clean water wasn't already a fundamental human right.

The UN has declared that access to clean water and sanitation is a fundamental human right.

About 1.5m children under five die each year from water and sanitation-related diseases.

The resolution was passed with 122 nations in favour, none against and 41 abstentions.

But is there more to it than meets the eye? It's one thing desiring access to clean water, it's another thing ensuring it and making it possible.

So how could it be done? Well why not transfer a nations right to another organisation that would make this happen? What about the World Bank, or the IMF? Hold on, haven't those unelected organisations already been involved in liberating the water supply system of a number of countries ( cue Bolivian riots ) ? Hmm.

Utopian dream or back-door neoliberalism? We shall see.

BBC News - UN declares clean water a 'fundamental human right'



Greek Lorry Drivers Stand Up To The EU And IMF

Seems those Greek workers are getting uppity again. This time it's the lorry drivers looking to spoil the party.

Apparently they're upset with their industry and livelihoods being 'liberalised' on the orders of the EU and the IMF. Seems the shameful Greek government are using a law normally reserved for times of war or natural disasters to requisition their vehicles.

Greek police have fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of lorry drivers protesting in Athens.

The drivers are refusing to obey an emergency government order for them to end a crippling strike.

The strike, now in its fourth day, has paralysed Greece, depriving petrol stations of fuel and prompting tourists to cancel holidays.

Bottles were hurled outside the transport ministry as drivers tried to climb the gates and get inside.

Here's to the Greek workers, standing up for their rights where their own government has caved in like a squashed apple pie crust.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-10802239

The Right To Work Past 65

Take a fact, spin it through 180° and you get a Daily Mail headline.

Since the banks trousered all our money to shore up their little gambling system the pension of the people has been under scrutiny. After all it's a big pot and would keep a bus full of bankers in the style they've become accustomed to. So sally forth the ConDem overlords to tell us that the chances are we'll not be able to draw our pension at 65. (Really they're hoping we'll die before drawing it). From the wings comes the Daily Mail to spin it as the government giving us the right to work past 65 years of age.

Well that's ok then, you can't have too many rights, can you?

Laugh? I nearly cried.

Workers will no longer be forced to retire at 65 from next year under radical Government proposals to be unveiled today.

Ministers want to end the idea that people are 'past it' once they hit the existing retirement age.

From next October, it will be illegal for firms to get rid of staff when they reach 65, allowing millions who are facing retirement to stay on, the Daily Mail has learned.

Employees will not be forced to work beyond 65, but will have the option to do so and could even stay on into their 70s or 80s.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1298508/Now-right-work-past-65-Firms-banned-forcing-employees-retire.html#ixzz0v4QDS4fT



Tuesday, 20 July 2010

I should cocoa!

Cocoa beansImage via Wikipedia
As reported in the Telegraph, "Even Willy Wonka might struggle to use this much chocolate. Yesterday, somebody bought 241,000 tonnes of cocoa beans."

An odd story you may think but it's a fantastic example of why we need to knock this unbridled capitalism on it's head and replace it with something that serves the people of this world.

Someone bought all of Europe's cocoa, and we know not why and we know not who. In the real world our reaction should be along the lines of 'why the hell should I care'. But in the make-up-the-rules-as-you-go-along world of capitalism this strange act affects everyone both directly and indirectly.

Since this resource is now controlled by one person or organisation they can, if they wish restrict supply. Even the thought of it has sent the price of cocoa to it's highest level for 32 years. If they were to restrict supply then the price would go ballistic and whoever held that stock would make a killing. And a killing is what they are looking to make.

So we can see that this 'price' of cocoa isn't related to the 'value' of the cocoa as a substance but the price is related to how the market reacts. Which begs the question as to why we have a system that allows this sort of activity? And the answer is because it can make a few people extremely wealthy. They can control the price, they can transfer money from the consumer to their pockets by the simple act of buying. As my mum would have said, "Money comes to money."

In the end this sort of high finance shenanigans needs to be dismantled so that the ability to do such things no longer remains. By democratic force or by the force of the people.

How long though, how long?


Friday, 9 July 2010

Left Anti-Semitism?

It's not a website I normally frequent but there appears a peculiar story in the Brussels Journal. It's about the increasing harassment of Jews in Amsterdam.

As with any harassment of identifiable people groups the Dutch Police use undercover decoy tactics to hold accountable those guilty of such attacks. It's commonly used to identify people who are considered to actively harass groups such as prostitutes, gay persons, or the elderly. And to me it sounds a pretty good tactic. Who could find anything wrong with that?

Well it seems one particular party does, but only when the undercover police are dressed as Jews. The website reports Evelien van Roemburg, an Amsterdam counselor of the Green Left Party, saying that using a decoy by the police amounts to provoking a crime.

But only when it's the Jews. Apparently.

I would hate to think that a party that is identified by many on the left as 'of the left' in fact turns out to have such tendencies. Perish the thought.

But it could all be Daily Mail style reporting by what is obviously a right-wing website.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Local LibDem Highs and Lows

My local Tories knocked up a despicable election leaflet for the local elections earlier this year which was racist at worst and disingenuous at best. I blogged about it here.

Now the local LibDems have sent round a leaflet a major part of which is refuting the claims of the Tories. And good on them. Here's a few choice items from the list:

  • Rushmoor's waiting list is actually 2766 of which only 89 are Asian-Other. 
  • Rushmoor housed 5 Nepalese families between April 2009 and March 10
  • Rushmoor council estimates 3,000 Nepalese in Rushmoor against the 9,000 the Tories claimed
  • GP problems are nationwide and no data exists down to council level
  • Mayfield is not the 3rd most deprived ward in Hampshire. Breaking Mayfield down there is one area which can be ranked 3rd. (likely the one I live in!)
So good on the LibDems but their good work in unraveling the racism from the Tories is somewhat let down by the same leaflet highlighting their support for the ConDem government and their somewhat flexible principles!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Communist Parties

Many years ago when I took a job with the Ministry of Defence a question they asked was 'Are you or have you ever been a communist', or words to that effect. Obviously they already knew with the background checks carried out on anyone joining the MOD and signing the Official Secrets Act.

Decades on I've just thought what exactly did they mean with that type of question, leading on to what makes a person a communist. I suppose it's easy to have communist tendencies or to feel broadly aligned to the aims of socialism and communism. But I expect the question really implied was did I belong to the communist party.

So I did a google uk search for communist party and discovered there are more parties than you can shake a stick at. We have:

Communist Party of Britain
Communist Party of Great Britain
New Communist Party of Britain
Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
The Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
Communist Party of Britain Marxist-Leninist

Is there so much that can be argued over when it comes to communism, and to such a degree that parties can break up, diverge and reform in other shades? And I haven't included the communist based parties that have socialism in their name!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The Drink of the Death Squads

Coca Cola in Colombia seems to have a track record of bad working relationships with unions in Colombia. I mean really bad!

Now it seems the story is repeating itself in Pakistan. Since forming a union at Coca-Cola's bottling plant in the southern Pakistan city of Multan in June 2009, members have met with death threats, abduction, firings, extortion, forgery and fraud. Management's vicious response to the workers' fight for a union is a story drenched with violence, corruption, sleaze and escalating criminality.

Read more at the IUF Website 

Time to roll out a classic track by David Rovics called Drink of the Death Squads.

'Seems you American workers get downsized, us we just get shot'


H/T Jemmy Hope

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

VAT as a Weapon of Class Destruction

So the bankers and the media are gushing over posh boy George's rich man's budget. They've softened us up over the past few weeks with negative superlatives on the economy like dire, tough, bloody, unavoidable and now they praise it as a job well done.

There some data from the Office for National Statistics that shows that the richest 10% spend £1 in every £25 on VAT whilst at the poorer end £1 in every £7 goes towards VAT.

So posh boy's knee-jerk reaction is to up VAT as it hits the poorer more than the richer. But wait, haven't we heard mention of upping VAT before? As a reminder here's some posters from not so long ago.

First off the Tories with their nightmare scenario of Brown upping VAT.


Then there's one from posh boy Clegg's little grouping about the Tories upping VAT.


Spot the difference? No, of course not. There is no difference. This current ConDem coalition shows the Liberals for what they truly are. Where we hoped that they would temper posh boy George's hatred for the working class we receive disappointment. At the first whiff of 'power' their principles have been discarded like a used condom. The problem is that in Parliamentary terms we have no opposition (aside from Caroline Lucas, the Green MP and a few left leaning Labour MPs) to the neoliberal financial model of screw the workers. The Labour Party's line is the same - the poor, the sick, the young, the old, the working man and women, they're the ones who have to pay for the failure of the rich. If they'd retained power we'd still be in the same position.

The BBC were interviewing some members of the public on the day of the budget. They were set up somewhere along the Thames with posh flats and houses on one bank and poorer housing on the other. One woman commented 'This is class war'. I don't know how the BBC let her slip through but she is right, this is now open class warfare. Parliament has failed in that it is not representative of the people. The MPs are chosen as clones to be representative of the state, people who say one thing yet quietly promise not to upset the status quo. I think we're in for a summer of discontent.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Where does the Labour party go from here?

The Guardian has an article looking at the views of nine leading 'left-wing' thinkers. You can read it here.

This is reported as the 'left-wing' of the Labour Party so there should be some radical ideas knocking about. Let's have a look. Well, I was going to go through it but I think it's easier to just list the items. If you want to know more then follow the link above.

proper voting reform
an Apollo-style declaration to turn Britain into the Saudi Arabia of offshore wind
families and work-life balance
job share in the shadow cabinet
a non-selective school entrance system
deciding what is the right size of the public sector
move on tax avoidance
scrap inheritance tax, introduce a French and Swedish-style wealth tax
regulate the market
democratise the state
introduction of modern capital controls
European-wide minimum wage and tax on bonuses and high pay
directly elected education boards
a 35-hour week
a big examination of family law
a careful look carefully at adoption
clamp down on dangerous and nuisance driving
investigate the activities of pubcos [big pub companies]
a universal banking obligation
a green investment bank
a competition inquiry into the big banks
abolish the current higher-rate pension tax relief
introduce tax relief of 20p in the pound for anyone who saves
how we can afford fairness and equality
VAT on private school fees.
universal tax credit system, going to everybody
a new way to pay for politics
more women into politics
Invest in prevention
formalise cash-in-hand working
responsibility charging
All well and good taken in their own right but the stuff of change? The issues we have with the country and the wider world boil down to power and greed. The capitalist system uses these to retain control in the hands of the few. I've come to realise that I don't want a party that seeks to tinker round the edges, that looks to spin the positive from a situation, that seeks to limit their remit to turd polishing.

None of the above is going to change things. All it will do is give the illusion of change but leaving the underlying malaise free to fester.

The Labour party was once described as a 'broad church' which was one of its powers but it now seems to have descended into a small sect of a much larger mega-church, the church of greed and capitalism.

The answer to the question of this post is "into history'.

Now, where to find a party that will bring in socialism?

What to read next?

I'm in the market for some new reading material so if you'd be so good as to help then you can find my 'looks interesting' feed from Goodreads.com in the sidebar. If you have a Goodreads account then feel free to add me as a friend.

And if you have anything else to recommend then I'd like to hear it!

** Update - just ordered these two:

The Revolution Betrayed by Leon Trotsky

Global Justice: Liberation and Socialism by Ernesto Guevara

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Birthday #1 Meme

Phil at A Very Public Sociologist: Birthday Song Meme is asking what was the #1 single when you were born.

So here's mine, Gerry & The Pacemakers - How do you do you do it?

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Child Trust Funds

So Osborne and Laws, the dynamic duo at the Treasury have announced plans to knock Child Trust Funds (CTF) on the head.

For those who don't know CTF are savings accounts set up to provide a cash fund when a child reaches 18. The Government puts in £250 when a child is born. When the child reaches 7 then the Government shells out some more cash. Parents and relatives are encouraged to add money when they can afford it.

For some it seems a good deal - providing a handy nest egg for University or house buying. Others deride it as giving money away to the poor and undeserving.

Ian Cowie in the Telegraph is certain that pulling the plug on the CTF was the right thing to do.

Here and now, unpopular though it may be to scrap the CTF, it is undoubtedly the right thing to do at this stage of the credit crisis. The reason is that these payments were gifts from a government up to its neck in debt. This scheme was an egregious example of Gordon Brown’s Great Debt Delusion.


And Kate Green MP, a chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group explains the vindictive nature of the cut in Child Trust Funds.

This is just the sort of mean-spirited, below the radar cut we can expect to get used to now. Young people wouldn't actually have received the money in their Child Trust Fund till they reach age 18 - so today even the first potential recipients won't yet have reached their teens. By the time families notice what they've lost, the blame that attaches to George Osborne for this ungenerous decision will have been long forgotten. But for two parties that have made such play of improving social mobility, this is a cynical step.


As for me I'm with George Osborne! Although not for the same reasons.

About 20% of the UK population is below 18. Over that 18 years stretch the Government will be pumping in £500 a child, plus whatever other voluntary contributions the parents and relatives can afford. In Government giving it will be about £330M a year.

That's £330M+ a year that's going to the banking system, the very same system that treats the working man as nothing more than a trust fund to allow them to play super casinos. We've seen how they've raided the working man's pension funds, reducing the benefits yet maintaining their fees. On the basis that we're funding a wretched, corrupt and immoral financial capitalist system should be enough for it never to have got off the ground. These bankers will be benefiting more from this influx of cash more then our children ever will.

Why we can't create a world where everyone has the same opportunities, where everyone is equal, where the state is a servant of the people, where greed is frowned upon, where a harm to a neighbour is a harm to all? A world where your potential isn't engrained by where you live, what your parents do or what school you went to! I despair when I see our Government buying into this capitalist system and entrenching it into our daily lives.

A new world is possible.







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Monday, 24 May 2010

Bollocks to the Big Society

Just been reading the paper on the 'Big Society' put out by the Government of all the talentless. It's not pretty reading.

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/407789/building-big-society.pdf

Running through it all is the theme of offloading services from local and national government to so called 'local' initiatives. It doesn't take a genius to understand why. Take people's taxes and instead of redistributing them via local councils and national initiatives you pass the loot over to local organisations. And of course all these local organisations will need 'managing'. From Secretaries to Treasurers to Committees, all posts that will undoubtedly come at a price and can be filled by men and women of good upstanding, of course. 'Jobs for the boys', the 'old school tie network', it's not what you know it's who you know. Unelected as well, no doubt.

There's talk of local people being able to start up their own schools if enough people consider that local ones are failing in some way. Fantastic news to the middle-class pushy parents - take the money from the local comp and set up up a school in your own image. Result! Poor kids in the local school get starved of funds and undoubtedly the new school will have some from of admissions policy. How jolly it will be to lord it over the riff-raff on the estates!

Another by-product will be the marginalisation of trades unions, I mean if the employees 'own' the company then it's bleeding obvious that the potential for strike action diminishes. That'll be a poke in the eye for the red menace!

And how long before this expands to the provision of what we now see as rights - unemployment benefit, housing benefit and the rest. Imagine all this being put into the hands of an organisation who can dish the pittances out at their own whim! I shall have to buy a cap, else what else will I have to doff with?

There's a favourite quote of mine from a book written by Clem Attlee in the 1920s. It goes thus:

'In a civilised community, although it may be composed of self-reliant individuals, there will be some persons who will be unable at some period of their lives to look after themselves, and the question of what is to happen to them may be solved in three ways - they may be neglected, they may be cared for by the organised community as of right, or they may be left to the goodwill of individuals in the community. The first way is intolerable, and as for the third: Charity is only possible without loss of dignity between equals. A right established by law, such as that to an old age pension, is less galling than an allowance made by a rich man to a poor one, dependent on his view of the recipient’s character, and terminable at his caprice'.


God help us in our hour of need that relief comes in the form of charity when we have a perfectly good welfare state that can deal with all of these matters.

Then there's the plan for a 'National Citizen Service'. When we have all these unemployed what the chuff are we doing cobbling together a pool of the young whose labour can be harnessed for free. Another nail in the coffin for the Minimum Wage. I smell the Hitler Youth!

I don't think I can write anymore, getting too angry. I'm normally reserved in my wording but I have to say to this ConDem government. You're a bunch of cunts.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Phil Ochs - Outside Of A Small Circle of Friends

This song has left me absolutely gobsmacked. Getting to my age and never knowing about Phil Ochs - inexcusable!

Friday, 21 May 2010

My Contribution to the Labour Leadership Extravaganza

There's a certain cartoon in the Morning Star archives by the excellent Martin Rowson. It goes something like this:


Who's that in the window?

Sunday, 16 May 2010

E. ON call centre workers suffer from pay cut

Call centre workers at one of Britain's biggest energy companies, E. ON, have had their pay slashed while their bosses have escaped from any wage cuts.At least 2,500 of the lowest paid staff at the gas and electricity firm have been told their pay will be cut by about £2,000.

The announcement comes just a day after the business, which is owned by a German company, had increased its profits six fold in Britain thanks to keeping customer bills high, despite enjoying substantial falls in wholesale prices.

It comes to something when a Tory paper like the Telegraph posts a damning item on corporate greed yet the party that claims to represent the workers is woefully complicit in this sort of activity by refusing to repeal the repressive anti-union laws brought in by the Tories. Any party with balls would have been vociferously condemning this sort of industrial activity. I can only conclude that the Labour Party is for all intents and purposes defunct. To be honest it has ever since it crowned Kinnock.


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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Ryan Harvey - Men Can Stop Rape

Rummaging around for some David Rovic songs I came across the Riot Folk Collective at www.riotfolk.org. A collection of folk musicians whose aim as the website says is "Making folk a threat again!"

Here's Ryan Harvey.

I hope you are satisfied

That's what I'll be asking my local Lib Dem councillor should I have the misfortune to bump into him. Mind you, the way the Lib Dem councillors have behaved in the past I don't expect to hear a peep from him until the next council elections.

I put my hands up and admit to voting for Lib Dems in the national poll. There was no chance of them getting elected in Aldershot, even less of Labour but there was hope, however miniscule that Howarth could be given the heave-ho. I mean, could it be so bad? After all, the Lib Dems are a progressive party with some policies to the left of Labour. In the end Howarth increased his percentage of the vote. So I suppose I can wear the badge that says "I voted Lib Dem but all I got was a stinking Tory/Lib Dem Coalition Government".

Now Clegg must be old enough to remember the last Tory administrations under Thatcher and Major, how the poor, the weak, the disenfranchised, the minorities were treated, how unemployment was a "price worth paying". Yet he still got into bed with Cameron and his continuation of Thatcher policies.

Clegg, you and your party have betrayed a generation, you have betrayed the progressives in your party, you have betrayed the voters. I will never, ever consider voting for the Lib Dems until my dying day. You have aligned with the enemy, dropped the mask and shown your true colours. At least we can be thankful that the charade of playing up as a progressive party has been shattered. Orange Tories.

I hope you are satisfied.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

A defeat for who?

So the UK is in a state of flux because of the situation of being in a hung Parliament. Good and bad news for those on the left. But bad news for the Tories and the Lib Dems.

The Tories have failed to capitalise on 13 years of right-wing Labour government which has given us 3 foreign wars of dubious legality,  a massive encroachment onto civil liberties with calls for 90 days detention without trial, ID cards and trial without jury on the mainland. Even with the Cashcroft coffers they just can't muster the support of the people. We've seen numerous business talking heads talking bullshit with no sign of the media bringing on board the trades union leaders to give a balance. But still the Tories flopped.

The Lib Dems were given a totally unjustified equal platform with TV debates amongst the leaders yet we see no increase in the number of MPs. What a farce, pure media hype to try and spin some viewer interest.

On the left the good news is that left leaning Labour MPs have bucked the trend and been re-elected, many with increased majorities (congratulations to John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbin and others!). And Labour has made huge inroads into local government at the expense of the Tories and Lib Dems.

Now what to do?

I would let the Tories and Lib Dems join in marriage and let them carry the can for the pain and hurt that the British people will be seeing, along with the Greeks, Portugese, Italians, Germans and others. For there is nothing that national sovereign governments can do within the capitalist framework. The real power lies with the middle-aged white men controlling international finance. This worldwide crisis in capital is merely the system being re-jigged to ensure that the system is optimised for continuing profits off the back of the working class and the world's resources.

So whoever's in charge it's going to hurt. I spent three years unemployed during the last Tory administration and I really fear for the future. But this is a fantastic opportunity for the left to rally and to educate the voters about the disgusting system that capitalism is.

Let's use the next couple of years to really highlight where the blame lies.
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Friday, 7 May 2010

The Socialist Sixth of the World

Soviet hammer-and-sickle symbolImage via Wikipedia
So who wrote this?

"England is the land of justice." Nine in ten of the comfortable classes take this for granted. Yet it is false. Where is justice when, in times of slump, two million unemployed are restrained by force from access to land, machines, and tools with which they could be profitably employed, and condemned to eke out a miserable existence in enforced idleness and dwarfing poverty? Where is justice when, in an age of potential plenty, millions live in needless want; and half Britain is paralysed by fears of sickness, old age, or the other insecurities and vicissitudes of life ?
It is taken from a publication called "The Socialist Sixth Of The World" by The Very Reverend Hewlett Johnson who was commonly know as the Red Dean. He was the Dean of Canterbury from 1929 to 1963 and was infamous for his support of the Soviet Union from the October Revolution until his death in 1966.

He died in 1966 but it's only now that his family have released thousands of documents from his archive. Here's to hoping that they become publicly available as to me his life seems absolutely fascinating. I come to Socialism not through Marxism (although I may or may not disagree on specific aspects) but through Christianity so anything like the life of Hewlett Johnson is especially interesting to me.

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Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Local effect of Bigotgate

Just received a local election leaflet from the local conservative candidate Lucy Kurjeza for my ward, Mayfield in Farnborough, Hampshire. I think she's received her encouragement from Gillian Duffy and 'Bigotgate'.

Let's have a look at what's splurged on the page:

...many in Mayfield are alarmed at the increase in the number of Nepalese..

...Borough of Rushmoor has 2nd highest number of Nepalese in England...

...local schools unable to cope...

...GPs' surgeries unable to cope...

...not able to keep up with the relentless influx of not only the Nepalese, but also those from mainland Europe...

All the usual stirring you'd expect from a party like the BNP. Except that it's not the BNP but Cameron's Tories. And with quite a high level of BNP support in this ward perhaps it's what you'd expect. But with such a tactic comes the message of dividing a community and encouraging racism. Perhaps a true reflection of how the Tories care about what she says is the "3rd most deprived ward in Hampshire."

She should be ashamed of herself. Bigotry at best, incitement to hatred at worst?




Saturday, 1 May 2010

God is the only landlord

I like this!

Sung to the tune of "We Plough The Fields And Scatter"

H/T The Episcopelican

An Anglo-Catholic Socialist hymn, for May Day.
Original lyrics by Charles Dalmon.
Revisions by Fr. Kenneth Leech for the Jubilee Group, and Ted Mellor.

1. You faithful saints and martyrs
Who fought for truth and right,
We ask your prayers and blessings
To aid us in our fight.
Your faith shall be our watchword,
Your cause shall be our own -
To fight against oppression
Till it be overthrown.

Lift up the people's banner
And let the ancient cry
For justice and for freedom
Re-echo to the sky.

2. In many a golden story,
On many a golden page,
The poets in their poems
Have sung the golden age,
The age of love and beauty,
The age of joy and peace,
When everyone lived gladly
And shared the earth's increase.

Lift up the people's banner
And let the ancient cry
For justice and for freedom
Re-echo to the sky.

3. Today the tyrants triumph
And bind us for their gains,
But Jesus Christ our Saviour
Will free us from our chains,
And love, the only master,
Will strive with might and greed,
Till might is right no longer,
And right is might indeed.

Lift up the people's banner
And let the ancient cry
For justice and for freedom
Re-echo to the sky.

4. God is the only Landlord
To whom our rents are due.
God made the earth for everyone
And not for just a few.
The four parts of creation --
Earth, water, air, and fire --
God made and ranked and stationed
For everyone's desire.

Lift up the people's banner
And let the ancient cry
For justice and for freedom
Re-echo to the sky.

5. God made the earth for freedom
And God alone is Lord,
And we will win our birthright
By truth's eternal sword;
And all the powers of darkness
And all the hosts of pride
Shall pass and be forgotten
For God is by our side.

Lift up the people's banner
And let the ancient cry
For justice and for freedom
Re-echo to the sky.

6. Christ blessed the meek and told them
That they the earth should own.
And he will lead the battle
From his eternal throne.
O have no fear, my comrades,
Cry out in holy mirth!
For God to us has promised
His Kingdom here on earth.

Lift up the people's banner
And let the ancient cry
For justice and for freedom
Re-echo to the sky.

May Day Message by the Central Committee of the Greek Communists

Elections in GreeceImage via Wikipedia
As international capital seeks to strip the resources and dignity of the Greek people the KKE, the Greek Communists, have released a statement this May Day.

Worth reading all the way through. Can't say I disagree with a word of it. All power to them and their cause.

Comrades, workers, Greeks and immigrants, young women and men, pensioners, unemployed,

KKE calls you to turn the events of this year’s 1st May in honour of the struggles and the sacrifices of our class into a new beginning of class political awareness and militant uplift in order to repel and overthrow the criminal policy of the government and the plutocracy that leads the working class, our families and children to the most savage and brutal exploitation, to permanent poverty and unemployment.

It is our duty, especially towards young workers, men and women, towards the children of the workers and the people, to defend the conquests that the previous generations have shed their blood for. Nobody should be afraid to make sacrifices for the struggle; nobody should succumb to the dark days, the result of this policy that serves the profitability and the reinforcement of the monopolies. It’s time to rise up with class unity and people’s mobilisation against the war on our rights. To struggle for our rights and for our children’s future. Our class has the power and the capability to lead the formation of a great antimonopoly, anti-imperialist, democratic front that will overthrow the power of the monopolies and will struggle for people’s power.

People should have no trust in the parties of the plutocracy or in the EU.

The brutal anti-labour measures of the PASOK government, supported by the parties ND and LAOS, will persist and will escalate as long as the workers and the people do not show their real strength. The subversion of social security rights, the dramatic increase in retirement age limits, the drastic cuts on pensions and benefits, the abolition of restrictions on mass dismissals, the elimination of Collective Labour Agreements, even the abolition of the basic salary and the generalisation of the temporary and flexible employment are measures predetermined years ago.

Their goal is the labour force to become even cheaper, the young people to be deprived of fundamental rights as regards labour, education and healthcare services. The same measures are promoted in all EU countries as require the interests of the capitalists. They want the workers to pay for the capitalist crisis and the impasse of their aged, outmoded capitalist system.

Capitalism cannot become human; neither can it avoid the crises. It is not a one-way road. The more powerful the monopolies get, the more the workers and the people will suffer, the greater parasitism, corruption and barbarity will become.

Today, more than ever, the material preconditions in order for the people to have contemporary rights and stable secure job actually exist. The working time and the retirement age limits can be reduced, Health and Welfare services, Education, housing, sports and cultural activities can be free and contemporary. Do not tolerate the deterioration of the terms of your life.

You have already experienced the path of development that serves the capitalist profit. It will only place new burdens on your shoulders. However, there is a way out. There is a path of development that serves workers’ and people’s needs. It’s the path of people’s power, of people’s economy.

It is imperative our class to trust and use its own strength.

The working class is the most powerful social force. It produces the wealth; it creates and makes the factories, the enterprises and the infrastructure work. Greece has natural resources that are required for the development of the country in favour of the people.

The basic preconditions are all monopolies to become popular-social property and to be subjected to central planning and to social and workers’ control, as well as our country to be disengaged from the imperialist organisations.

Reject the slander and the lies of the supporters of capitalism about the socialist construction in the 20th century. It has been the first attempt to construct socialism which despite the difficult conditions and the mistakes proved that the working class and the people can live much better without capitalists.

It proved that the planned social production can bring an overall development without crises and at the benefit of all the people. We draw lessons from the achievements but also from the mistakes made during this great effort so as to construct socialism with confident steps, to achieve unprecedented incomparably greater gains.

Workers, young people

Trust KKE!

The Central Committee assures you that our party will devote all its forces to the unwavering defense of the rights, the present and the future of our class. However, we cannot win the general war that plutocracy and its parties launched against our rights without your participation in the struggle.

Join the struggle without any delay; for a movement with strong roots in the workplaces and the sectors; with a strong class unity and solidarity liberated from corporatism, yellow trade unionism, the erosive influence of labour aristocracy that spreads the poison of submission and defeatism.

Rely on your party and support it in the big coming struggles, for the big radical change; for the rights, the power of the working class, for socialism. This is our class patriotic duty for the present and the future of our class, our internationalist duty towards the working people of Europe and all over the world who suffer from capitalist exploitation and the plundering by the monopolies.

Nowadays, we have to struggle without any compromise, we deserve a better life where the needs of the people will be satisfied.

Honour and glory to the victims of our class, to the class struggles; their sacrifices have yield fruits; they call us to new and victorious struggles. The future is in our hands.

The Central Committee of KKE
http://inter.kke.gr/News/2010news/2010-05-1may

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Thursday, 29 April 2010

The Corporate Pension Script

CONWY, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 06:  In this ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

How to manipulate your employees and their pension.

Step 1. Complain about the cost of the final salary scheme.

Step 2. Close the final salary scheme to new entrants.  Do not under any circumstances admit that this act will lead to Step 4!

Step 3. Introduce a money purchase scheme for new starters to reduce corporate cost.

Step 4. Complain about the continuing cost of the existing final salary scheme.

Step 5. Highlight the differential of the final salary scheme to the money purchase scheme employees. Show how we have 2 groups of employees. Divide and Conquer!

Step 6. Ensure the aggrieved voice of the money purchase scheme employees is heard loudly.

Step 7. Suggest that in the interest of employee harmony the final salary scheme benefits are reduced to the legal minimum.

Result!
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Parasites

Parasites in Ranchi #2: Unauthorised MeetingImage by premasagar via Flickr
Headline on the BBC News caught my eye this morning - Greece crisis: investors wait on deal details.

So there's a nation in trouble and investors are waiting on details. What details? The best way to aid the economy? The best way to work with the democratically elected sovereign Greek government?

No. A big fat No.

They're waiting to ensure that they get a good risk free return on their money at the expense of the Greek people. If Capitalism was invented today it'd be banned as immoral, genocidal and an environmental catastrophe in the making.

Another headline - Greek bonds rated 'junk' by Standard & Poor's

Global stock markets tumbled after Greece's debt was downgraded to "junk" by rating agency Standard & Poor's over concerns that the country may default.

It makes the struggling nation the first eurozone member to have its debt downgraded to junk level.


So if the artificial actions of middle class unelected white men are causing trouble by classing Greece's debt as 'junk' then why bother doing it? Credit ratings do not alter the factual situation one iota, but they do alter the outcomes of any action. So why do it? To create a situation where capital can make a profit at the expense of the Greek people.

How long will this vile system continue? Parasites the lot of them.

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Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Lansbury's Lido on Twitter

I've created a new account on Twitter to link to this blog, wasn't really any visible link with my old identity.

So I'm now lansburyslido on Twitter. Feel free to follow me, and I've been following a fair few who may be reading this blog.  

@lansburyslido

What are we doing to Greece?

So in terms of capital Greece is having problems with paying off it's creditors. The countries in the Eurozone seem to be slow putting together a 'rescue package' and now all talk is of the IMF rolling in in as the knight in shining armour with a poison chalice of loans and repayment schemes.

But scratch the surface of any capitalist scheme and you'll find the real load carried - asset stripping, passing control to foreign investors, making the state dependant on unelected capital and the transfer of assets held in common to the capitalists. Oh, and the people pay with the attached 'austerity package'.

There's a good article by James Meadway on Counterfire, well worth a read. In fact I'll cut and paste some items from there to make a few points as the article is so well written! It captures and puts into words a lot of the anger and disgust I feel inside.

As of this morning, the effective interest rate on Greek debt, paid back over two years, stands at 38% - compared to 1.3% last November.


Typical capital response to 'problems'. Greece is in trouble so you screw them into the ground when what they really need is help. Loans are now attracting a massive 38.1% interest compared to 1.3%. So how doe this help Greece and her people? It doesn't. It's a mechanism to enrich those who have by taking from those who don't. It mirrors what we already see with personal debt with credit cards - what you have to repay depends on how much you have. The less you have the more you repay.

Credit rating agencies, which assess the ability of borrowers to repay their loans, yesterday downgraded Greek debt to ‘junk bond’ status. The cost of insuring loans to Greece against default has risen to an all-time high.


So the way in which the international community relates to Greece is dependent upon the status awarded to Greece by these unelected bodies called credit rating agencies. Our assistance is not based on need but on the estimated potential to get a return. In capitalism humanity is discarded.

‘Default’ can in practice mean many different things. The Greek government, and the major Euro economies, will be desperate to avoid a complete cessation of debt repayments. The damage to the credibility of the Euro itself would be immense.


So the reaction of international finance and countries is not in response to the need of the Greek people but a tool to retain the credibility of the Euro? God help us that these people are in such positions of influence.

The critical issue for the markets is the credibility of the Greek government to meet its debt obligations. They are demanding massive public spending cuts to pay for them.


Spending cuts. So we know see the usual method of enriching those with capital - they take from those without influence and power.

But IMF cash is no gift. It will be strictly conditional on the Greek applying exceptionally harsh austerity measures, like further wage reductions and redundancies, public spending cuts, and privatisation.

The aim of an IMF loan, as always, is to pummel an economy for international investors. It steps up the international pressure already applied to Greece.

Measures already promised, under EU supervision, include cuts of up to 30 per cent in public sector wages and pensions, and swingeing tax increases for ordinary people.


An enhanced version of what our political leaders in the UK are softening us up for. The people will pay. As always. Why is it never the financiers who pay? Why is it never the shareholders who pay? Why is it always the people? Because this is capitalism and this is how it has to work.

I think I'm going to stop here before I explode. We have already seen rioting in Greece and inside a part of me is excited by it. Would that this civil disturbance could spread and eventually lead to the dismantling of this evil system and it's replacement by one that works for the people.

Cant Pay, Won't Pay: Solidarity with the people of Greece - Join the Facebook group