Find the event on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/381359188615476/
11.30-13.00 Speakers: Richard Wilkinson of the ‘Spirit Level’ and two Hull councillors from labourcouncillorsagainstcuts.org (councillorsagainstcuts is a website for Labour party councillors only,other parties are not yet allowed)
13.00-14.o0: 1hr networking lunch, groups are allowed stalls in main hall. First come, first served, bring your paste tables!
14.00-15.00 ish: 4 workshops on NHS, Housing, Education and Welfare:
Housing: Speakers include John Davies of ‘Hands off our Homes’.
Education: Speakers include Patrick Murphy (NUT)…..possibly NASWUT rep and a student campaigner.
NHS: Speakers include John Puntis of ‘Leeds Keep Our NHS Public’ and Adrian O’ Malley who has been involved with mid-yorkshire NHS strike.
Welfare: Speakers include Disabled People Against Cuts, a researcher in benefits + others
15.00- 17.00 ish: Plenary: Speaker from mid Yorkshire NHS strike followed by ideas from workshops. Current ideas include:
-Leeds council budget lobby 27th February
-European wide strike on March
-York NHS demo April 6th
-Stalls by Hands off Our Homes
-Leeds KONP protests outside Virgin Media (Virgin/Assura actively buying up NHS)
-And your ideas!!!
On November 15th the UK will for the first time have elections for ‘Police and Crime commissioners‘. I have yet to meet anyone who supports these elections and many have little idea what the post means.
But it gets better. The deposit for each candidate is £5000! (for reference the average wage is below £25000 and even this distorted by the presence of the super rich) The vast majority of candidates are from political parties and politicians should not be running police budgets.
There are 41 positions in England & Wales costing £3055000 (not including business expenses)
So what can I do?
1)Spoil your vote with “no to police commissioner, yes to democracy’
2)Spoil your ballot card and post the photo online
3)Send your postal vote/ballot to a suitable MP
4)Join the facebook group http://tinyurl.com/a56b7br
5)Retweet the above facebook group or suitable article with hashtags #spoilpoliceballot #PCC
To find out more about spoiling your ballot paper see here: http://bit.ly/SpoilPCC
Representative from trade union committee
We have gone from J30 to N30 and now to O20! The impact of the 2011 ‘localism’ bill is still to be felt. Build for October 20th.
CWU youth national chair
Unemployment is higher in the north than the leafy Tory heartland. University fees also have a big impact. Jobs created in the private sector have been stolen from the public sector. The recent cabinet reshuffle has made things worse. Banks are a problem but government is the main enemy.
Divisional secretary of Wakefield NUT
Disaster of ‘free schools’, one in Bradford failed before is started. One academy charges £1 per for each 15 minutes a child is left behind at school! The scrapping of GCSEs has been mockery and disgrace and an insult to people who recently took them. Many pupils are upset and even certain head teachers are against the changes made by Gove. However there is hope, a 9 day strike in Chicago proved successful. Future NUT/NUS actions are planned.
Initially a KPMG report put 36 sites at risk of redundancy. This was followed by a sham consultation.Leaflets were poorly designed and very confusing, especially for those with learning difficulties. Initially there were 65 private bids which soon became 9 and then 4 successful bids for 3 sites. 27 factories will now closed and 3 further sites are under consideration. Recently they found out that 4 of the 9 will now be closed. A small group at Boston Spa and Pontefract closed have closed Leeds Remploy will close in November. Managers don’t want to talk to workers and “don’t care”. Management appeared to get a better pay deal and are still getting bonuses even when business is closing. The unions are taking legal advice.
Leeds Remploy now plans to set up a workers cooperative like the disabled workers co-op in York. But they can only get funding for set up not start up. They decided to pool together their redundancy money and take some of their clients with them. However several Remploy sites are been sold off cheap. In one example a factory with many ¾ made chairs will make a fortune for anyone connected to the furniture industry and who can finish the chairs for a tidy profit.
Other trade unions have sold out compared to Mark Serwotka & PCS. Yes we could have a general strike as we have had 86 years to plan it! There were 62000 less students this year, a 17% drop. This has proportionally hit more the working class and mature students. 3000 students are facing deportation after the London Met crisis. But in Quebec the students have finally won. The NUT has voted for another strike but needs a date!
The opposition from the Labour party is dire and Ed Milliband is out of touch. Labour and unions have conspired to wait till next election. But we can’t wait!
Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the PCS
A double whammy of ATOS assessments and then closing Remploy. They are using a tactic of political ‘shock and awe’, do everything at once and hope to split us. We all need to be ”under the same banner of fighting austerity.” But the children see the unemployment, the EMA cuts, the tuition fees and the mockery of their GCSEs. What will they do when older? Our welfare state is considerably less than many other countries. Yet they are asking people to relocate hundreds of miles because rents have become too high in London. The government doesn’t understand. In Merthyr Tydfil there was 1500 job seekers, yet only 39 jobs at the job centre! These communities rely disproportionately on the public sector which is been cut to the bone
In the PCS we are losing 4000 jobs every month. Proportionally the public sector has never been smaller since the 2nd world war. There will be 1.3m out of work by the end of 2013. Real pay has been cut by 20% over 4 years; increasing poverty for those who are in work. Even Mervyn King wondered why more people aren’t more angry. Our proposed pension age of 68 is the highest in the EU. Graduates will have to work till 71 and those born may now have to work till 77! People won’t be able to afford to retire. If the Tories win in the next election then there will be huge cuts to the public sector.
What can we do?
“People have to think there is an alternative or they won’t fight”. We need to give people “hope”. We currently do not have an opposition, we need an actual left rather than a centre. If the French president can propose 75% taxes then why can’t we? The PCS threatened to strike before the Olympics and this saved thousands of jobs. We also manage to get an extra 3000 people recruited to the tax office before the next general election. Mini 1-2hr walk outs with no notice are particularly damaging. “We need to be supporting campaigns in our communities… action will unite us”
I saw the below article I felt I had to comment.
Nothing on inequality, nothing on the gap between rich and poor, nothing about environment, land or that prevention is often better than cure. 25000 houses, is that it? What about the c. 1M empty ones? How are you going to encourage the idea that housing is for living not an ‘asset’? And I bet he advocates PFI! He borrowed ‘predistribution’ from an American friend, great, what with America having the largest gap between rich and poor in ‘developed’ world. Centre-Left? that’s far too complimentary.
I really hope we aren’t heading towards the US model in which the Democrats and Republicans are increasingly similar. Mind you, our education, health and welfare state is following the US model. Why not go the whole hog and beat the US in been the most unequal ‘developed’ country in the world?
From the 5th-9th July the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) hosted ‘Marxism 2012’ in and around University College London. Here is a brief review of several lectures and conclusions.
2)The left in Germany
4)The oil road: Baku to London
5)How the vote was won and lost
6)BRICS and South Africa
7)Politics of Autonomism
Argued that Keynesian Economics does not work. Keynesian can be: capital financed, redistribution/investment, civilian or military. Civilian sectors often chosen as theoretically doesn’t compete with private sector. The crisis is caused by the fall in the average rate of profit (ARP), as stated by Marx. The worker is the result of ARP and rate of wages. The most efficient Neoliberalists often replace people with machinery.
If the quantity of money is increased this does not add more ‘real’ value. If this money is borrowed then all that is created is debt. Borrowing merely postpones the crisis, ultimately the crisis cannot be resolved until capital is destroyed. (Does this mean debt jubilees every 50 years?) Potentially this postponement is getting shorter with technological changes? Any government cuts merely decrease losses rather than increase ARP. The ‘golden age’ in the USA might not be due to Keynes but rather the pent up purchasing power from the war period.
Capitalism only ‘prospers’ if profitability does. Wage rise then profitability is destroyed by inflation IE gain in 1 sector is negated by loss in another. Demand may be increased but profitability is lowered. While this is called ‘equilibirum’ by economists, in reality the system always veers towards crisis. In any crisis as weaker capitalists go bankrupt overall production decreases. This can lead to ever bigger international corporations. Older capitalism should exhibit ever larger companies.
If the state sector takes a larger share then inevitably it starts acting like a ‘capitalist’. He argued you would need a ‘class consciousness’ before the state would act fairer. This would also be a requirement for any ‘debt jubilee’. While state can redistribute money it cannot end ‘boom and bust’ economy. Quantitative Easing is slow to have an effect, this lag is because ‘growth’ conditions are not present.
(very little discussion about tax!)
The left in Germany
You may have heard of ‘Die linke’ in Germany.
2011 3% economic growth
2012 1% economic growth
Germany is often held up as a successful economy yet actually it hasn’t been very dynamic in recent years. The biggest changes have occurred between boss and worker. Unemployment fell to 7.1% unemployment in Germany but 50% youth unemployed. If you include those on state ‘top ups’/benefits then could be 63% or 70%.
Real wages fell by 2.4% in 2007 and no National Minimum Wage (NMW), for examples wages can be £5 an hour in affluent areas. Over 1 million people are topped up by state. Benefits have been reduced to force people back into work. 80% of new jobs are within low wage sector. Trade unions made mistakes by accepting ‘competitive’ argument and allowing wages to devalued. The workforce is also becoming increasingly divided with with reduced wage working alongside full wage!
They have been trying to build a currency hegemony since 1870!, after WWII they decided that “if you can’t beat them you should join them”. After re-unification they were considered ‘sick man’ of Europe in the 1990s. Yet the people now think the opposite. In the past other countries could devalue their currency to defend against German exports but not once in the strict Euro. The fall of unemployment in Germany is mirrored by rise in other countries, also huge trade surplus. German exports broke €1000 billion but have fallen by 3% since 2007. German upper class are biggest benefactor of Eurozone. They want confident markets and corporations. Scared of defaults and debt. They assume:
1)Economy continue to grow.
2)That ‘ruling classes’ in eg. Greece and Spain will win.
3)That countries agree with Germany.
Germany is still trying to sell ‘austerity’ to other countries. Trade unions are undermined by decisions in recent years eg. accepting ‘your jobs will go abroad’ argument. Germany’s industry is also tied up with education, does this squash independent thinking?
Die Linke & Left
2005+2006 – reforms led to formation of Die Linke from all the splinters!
2009 – 11.4% vote in Parliament, biggest ever, but against a liberal-tory government.
But recently have been losing votes as Social Democrats adopted some of Die Linke policies. Reduced vote brought divisions and recently almost split Die Linke. Die Linke rely on ‘non-voters’. They have a membership of 8000 but rely on their 1500 activists but as soon as they got elected suddenly 400 activists were lost due to been voted in. In certain areas they tried joining SPD but then lost their anti-establishment votes! This lead to internal fighting between left and right of Die Linke. Finally they became too fixated on parliamentary elections and not critical enough of unions.
They are now left of SD: left Keynesian, NMW, nationalisation of banks, organiser of social forces. SPD/SD vote for every rescue package but not Die Linke. Looking forward to 2o23 elections.
Similar pattern seems to be happening in Netherlands BUT recently they fell out over budget.
Background of usual ‘New Labour’ vs Tory story. Greens got 24% after Fukushima but then went down to 12%. Pirate party ripped into Die linke in Berlin. Latest poll puts Die Linke and Pirate Party on same amount. Pirate party is definitely ‘anti-establishment’ but anyone can join pirate party.
Until 1970s there was 1.5% unemployment for 3 decades. Was the 1980s a crisis of Fordism?
1986 > polarised workforce between flexible and inflexible.
1990s > concept of ‘precarious’ or ‘insecure’ appears according to OECD research.
Labour no longer in a fixed location, which led some to call it ‘turbo capitalism’. Bonds between boss and labour are weaker. Public perception of no ‘jobs for life’ yet the amount of workers in job longer than 10 years has increased. Temporary agency work only make ups 1% of jobs. Employers prefer existing workers. So why has the idea become more prevalent? He argued that the idea of ‘precarity’ is a form of social control, IE a empty threat. Idea of a ‘precarious’ class is nonsense. Playing on people need for emotional ‘security’ eg. fixed retirement age.
In the UK house price collapse not as big as elsewhere eg. 53% drop in Ireland. The US ‘crisis’ wiped out £7 trillion of equity, reckon will take 30 years to sell all excess housing! In Ireland expect more than 40+ years to clear stock!
Debt passed onto public sector and so leads to austerity. The 2010 shock different to 1980s as no ‘family silver’ left to sell. Crisis is not just unemployment as this is lower than in 1980/90s. There is now a market in everything eg welfare, fees, education, benefits. Quantity rather than quality? You can’t cut health/education in same way as coal/gas, it is now completely political decision. .
Young people are disproportionately affected. ‘precarity’ is a form of social control, IE a empty threat. Idea of a ‘precarious’ class is nonsense. The crisis generalises across society. He argued “there is no separate salaried bourgeois”
(as you can imagine this generated a lot of questions, here are some of the answers)
There is stories of zero-hour contracts but “precarity is a symptom of capitalism but it has not increased recently”. The turnover of staff may be increasing but so is the turnover of employed and unemployed. In USA from 1983-2010 the average job tenure increased by 25% over 3 decades. To be flexible with labour it has to be guaranteed labour. There has been increased long term employment, particularly amongst women. No growth in agency jobs. We are falsely told we are in competition. Unions sometimes make things worse eg. In USA a union campaigned against outsourcing when not the issue! There are fewer young people in trade unions?
The oil road: Baku to London (book launch)
Book: ‘The Oil Road: Travels from the Caspian to the City’ (to be published late august 2012) also see Since the 1870s oil has been exported from Baku on a large scale. There has been British investment in area since 1890s. The Nobels and Rothshilds involved in 19th Century. This led to radical papers spreading via new tankers + rail. Eventually working conditions led to strikes and led to some victories.
There have been various protests against modern oil pipelines running from Baku towards the Mediterranean eg. Local Kurdish fishermen suffered. By buying oil BP is actively underwriting Azerbajahn regime. Oil companies ensure near political immunity along their pipelines. I one example they were keen to avoid resettlement so put pipe beneath two communities. Locals had little choice and would have preferred resettlement. RBS is a big sponsor and their NGO projects in area are mostly useless. BP sponsors the Olympics, various London institutes, Tate and UK military!! BP owns 40 tankers named after birds or trees!, a blatant example of green washing. BP but mostly hires tankers. They Get navy protection when passing through Aden. They pay for an officer in a London based command sector who is seconded to MOD! The connections between the MOD and UK oil companies is disturbing. Subsidies to oil industry could be around £3.2bn once factor in MOD etc? Only 2% of the Tate gallery is sponsored by BP yet logos make up a large % and the rest of Tate is government funded.
In Ireland there has been a similar fight against the pipeline against a West Coast pipeline. The land beneath the pipe was sold for a pittance. In Canada the Tory government is increasing the amount oil tar sands exploitation. To get 1 barrel of crude oil takes 3 barrels of water. The process releases climate changing gas and destroys wetland carbon sink
Yet many green alternatives to oil use Rare earths and which are mined in terrible conditions.
The ‘invisibility of oil’ is astounding, you only see it when something has gone wrong! This is the complete opposite to many other commodities. Does this give them power?
Is Labour finished?
65000 people have joined so far in 2012 but electoral turnout is low. In May 2012 less than 1 in 3 voted. They insisted on cuts, condemned the strikes and have recently made right wing statement on immigration. Labour intiated NHS privatisation and was one of reasons unions didn’t campaign around it. Labour are like the ‘unruly relative’.
Trade unions are reformist not revolutionary. From 1924-29 there was the first labour government. They ended up similar to the Liberal party by been for trade union laws and against general strike. In the 1930s they even had a coalition with the Tories. From 1945-51 the left had a potential to take to gain control, they created theNHS and welfare but arguably Tories would have done same thing as people were unhappy and potentially revolutionary. However…
1947 crisis > made strikes illegal and can order in troops, initiated nuclear weapons and created prescription charges.
Yet Ralph Milliband argued against reformism and for revolution!
2012 Galloway won as he ‘looked like a winner’
Recently GMB was highly critical of Labour. PCS will now support any candidates in election against any party : )
Are the technocrats now in control? Part of the ‘insideous’ ideology of capitalism is to reduce solidarity and common interests.
The vote: how is was won and undermined
He is scared of ‘left pessimism’, people need and should have confidence. He argued for ‘more democracy in industry and trade unions’ and “do it ourselves; or not at all”. He believes that politicians facilitate change but it is the public who decide
He then reiterated his famous quote:
“what power do you have; where did you get it; in whose interests do you exercise it; to whom are you accountable; and, how can we get rid of you? Anyone who cannot answer the last of those questions does not live in a democratic system”
First they call you ‘mad’, then ‘dangerous’ and finally put you in ‘prison’ before then claiming it was their idea!
BRICS and South Africa
China’s economy will be bigger than USA by 2016. Then India will take over by 2043. Economists still look at ‘linear growth’ IE eternal growth!
Average size economies based on 2011 IMF/WD/CIA data
But how well is USA holding on? China is growing by 8% per year but that is now decreasing. BRICS are increasingly becoming foreign investors and now have large holdings. Similar to Asian tigers in 1950s, eg South Korea?
In 2010 China had 10.4% of exports… US = 8.4%….Japan = 5.1% and Russia 2.6%
Cure the crisis?
If you don’t include China than the BRICs show no increase in output (See indispensable economy) in recent years. BRICs are just as dependent on the world economy and therefore a limit to how much they can ‘save’ capitalism. Investment is simply displaced from one place to another and ecological crisis is made worse. The most polluted cities are in China. In COP 2009 Obama told countries to ‘take it or leave it’. China, India, USA and S.Africa formed a mini cartel. This was as much a cartel as part of geopolitics. For example there are Chinese ports around India. India was non aligned but has now signed nuclear deal with USA. Vietnam may have nuclear deal with China. Siberia is churning out gas yet 30% of Siberian households are without gas! China and USA are posturing in the Pacific. USA has 12 of the world’s 15 aircraft carriers!!
The recent Rio conference appeared to be about commodifying nataure
Rather than new ‘growth’ many would argue it is simply ‘catch up’ growth. Eventually this they will reach equilibrium or decline. Containerisation was important in this process but China only gets a relatively small % (lower ‘surplus value’) due to long chain of production. China is now been forced to invest more in development and research. US has focused on high end design + computers. Yet Chinese research institutes predict by 2015 a car will be cheaper to produce in the USA than China!
Politics of Autonomism
Examples income NGOs, direct local action, alternative lifestyles, co-ops. Anti-authoritarian and “reject reformist parties”. Argued that refusing to negotiate with capital is not the solution as causes division. Also may lead to emphasis on technology over people. Possibly if co-ops become too big the ‘ruling class’ will take action.
Can small groups have impact or as Tony Negri says lead to the ‘multitude.
Speaker also argued that socialists share ideas but don’t reject ideas, elections or revolution.
I have to say I found this talk poor and the questions were highly critical. They knocked the ‘occupy movement’, yet if it was so poor why are they still talking about it? I would argue that many small groups are willing to work with others and activists once they have taken that leap will often remain activists.
I was initially wary of going to a SWP event but didn’t get into too many arguments! I appreciated that they had set up different areas of the university grounds for different regions, all though arguably this may encourage division (!). The bars on campus were expensive but you could buy food/drink in local shops and sit in the university grounds. The ‘crash space’ was several Kurdish community centres out in North London. The Kurdish centres were involved with Stalinist Kurds and so support Marxism in any form. The nightclub hired on the final night was a bit expensive but I suppose it is London.
It appeared than 50% of attendees were SWP members. These could be broadly divided again into ‘hardline’ and non-hardline. The ‘hardline’ refused to consider anything outside of the SWP and were very sectarian (SWP front = ‘right to work’ etc). The others would talk about other groups. Someone spotted that amongst the DVDs of last years one of her friends has been removed because he was no longer a member. Another issue is who runs the SWP? while claiming no leader there central committee seems shady. However I enjoyed the conference and may attend again. And I appreciate the SWP campaigns against fascism.
I wonder if perhaps we should have a northern or at least midland left wing conference, inviting all of the groups in the top image of this page and any other similar ones. Ensuring that all speakers do not stray into party policy and strict rules on political stalls/hustings.
I recently attended a talk by John Lister. John Lister has been campaigning for a fair, transparent public NHS since the 1980s through his work with London Health Emergency.
There will be £23bn cuts to the NHS this year, of which 43% will be taken from the payroll (of which a large amount is due to pay freezes). As people leave, these posts are often not filled which puts increasing pressure on remaining staff. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) states that 60000 jobs will be lost in nursing between now and 2014. These cuts are part of a ‘shock doctrine’: create a crisisand then ‘solve’ according to your own (right wing) ideology. For instance, the recent £140bn quantitative easing went straight to banks rather than local councils or NHS. Also are they using this crisis to smash the public sector? Lister then went on to talk about examples from the 80/90s when one private cleaning firm calculated that it took 29 seconds to clean a bath! Indeed hospital cleanliness has been a big issue over the past 20 years.
Many of the hospitals are in financial debt due to PFI and several hospitals in London have already paid the equivalent of double the cost of the hospital with many years of PFI payments to go! This along with the cuts means that many Health authorities do not meet the strict financial requirements of “foundation trusts”. Will they drop the financial criteria? or stick with it until these resources go to the wall? Lansley recently threw £1.4m at PFI projects to help prop them up. He outlined that several hospitals will (and have) gone to the wall; there are dozens more in a similar situation. MPs cannot be against hospital closures yet still support the health and social bill!!
He gave the example of Mid-Staffordshire NHS which tried to impose £10m of cuts in 1 year; these cuts have led to extra deaths.
150 Primary Care Trusts (PCT) will become 212 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), yet Lansley claimed to reduce bureaucracy! Lister is not a fan of PCTs put they look positively brilliant compared to the untested, unresolved CCGs! PCTs will be scrapped next April but where will their 140 statutory duties go? CCGs cover areas of 90-700000 people and have little communication with neighbouring CCGs. Lister stated that many of the current boards are open to the public or minutes are published online, this will no longer be true under new legislation. The strategic health authority is to be scrapped. This is important as it 1)organises all medical training and 2)Is responsible ensuring PCT plans work together and do not conflict with one another (as opposed to planned CCGs).
The new “regulator” has the completely contradictory responsibility to encourage competition and promote integrity. Do they promote one in the morning and the other in the afternoon?
Lister stated that community services are very important. Labour began converting these into “Social Enterprises” (SE) which is a stepping stone to privatisation. Recently Virgin & Serco have bought these social enterprises. In both conversion to SE and privatisation, staff are often bullied into these changes. Lister stated that mental health has a low profile in many countries, it begs belief how people can make money out of such services.
Foundation Trusts: The bill allows Foundation Trusts to accept up to 49% of their income from private patients. This will lead to a two tier NHS in which paying customers will get priority
Health & Wellbeing boards: Local councillors will be involved in these boards and we should aim to make them as open as possible. It looks like they will be very underfunded.
USA currently spend 18% of GDP on health and rising fast and UK currently spends 9% of GDP on health.
A successful campaign in Stroud forced the NHS to look at NHS choices rather than just Social Enterprises or private firms. As a concession to win GPs over in early 2012, Andrew Lansley said that they do not have to use ‘Any Qualified Provider’. We should try to persuade GPs to choose NHS services and slow down the bill. By April 2012 all of the structures will be set up. We have 9 months to fight against privatisation using any lever we can. We must fight against the free marketeers and the privatisation of OUR health service.
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