the people’s assembly: the fight-back begins?

24 06 2013

The gathering of over 4,000 people at the People’s Assembly Against Austerity in London on Saturday 22nd June was truly inspirational. To be together with so many who regard profit as a dirty word & who want a world based upon more humane values, such as equality, solidarity & dignity, it’s hard not to believe that there will be a fight-back. But as useful as it is to raise spirits, John Keeley attempts a more objective analysis of what the People’s Assembly potentially offers.

People's Assembly Photo

Will the People’s Assembly stop austerity? To do this it would need to bring down the Con-Dem coalition & reclaim the Labour Party as a party fighting for the class interest of the workers. The first part is relatively easy compared to the second. Indeed, the fact that Labour haven’t stood up for the workers is the main reason why the coalition has had a relatively easy time of it to date. Although there are still many good people in Labour, the leadership & the vast majority of MP’s care first & foremost about their careers. They want power & from their rationale this means not upsetting corporate interests. Hence on the same day as the People’s Assembly, Miliband gives a speech saying he won’t reverse the cuts. How much more evidence do you need of the pro-business nature of the Labour Party?

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what can the people’s assembly do for the people?

20 06 2013

This Saturday more than 3,000 people are expected to attend the People’s Assembly Against Austerity in London. John Keeley examines what it offers the people.

Launched in February 2013 with a letter to The Guardian signed by Tony Benn, President of the Coalition of Resistance (CoR), & many trade union leaders, it stated its aim as being to “bring together campaigns against cuts and privatisation with trade unionists in a movement for social justice”.

People's Assembly

The CoR is largely a Counterfire (John Ress, Lindsey German, Chris Nineham) initiative. As such it conforms to the united-front tactic of enabling revolutionaries to engage & shape things working alongside non-revolutionary workers. By bringing together those who are essentially social democrats, wanting to defend the welfare state but not challenge capitalism, with trade unionists who have the power to lead strike action, & those who are already clear that capitalism is the problem, there is the possibility of reforms that benefit the working class leading to demands for more reforms & the eventual overthrow of capitalism.

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why capitalism cannot be reformed

7 06 2013

By John Keeley

There are many people who regard themselves as left-wing who do not want to get rid of capitalism. Not only Ed Miliband & the Green Party in Brighton, but also some who consider themselves to the left of Labour in the new Left Unity grouping. They believe capitalism can be made more equal through government action & that the post-war period demonstrates this. In my opinion, they fail to appreciate the material conditions.

Ed Miliband

The post-war prosperity & the increasingly equality, exemplified in more equal access to health care & education, was possible due to a genuinely high rate of profit consequent upon the huge capital devaluation of the depression of the 1930’s, the capital destruction of WWII & huge increases in productivity thanks to the application of oil & gas. Unfortunately, to really grasp this point requires an understanding of how capitalism works & why it is prone to crisis. This isn’t an easy subject, but it’s worth the effort.

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Owen Jones, cringing in the shadow of Margaret Thatcher

26 10 2012

Barry Biddulph says the political  pessimism of Owen Jones has resurfaced again, in the Independent, There out to get Cameron, but lets not laugh to Soon (20/10/12) focused on his fear of Boris Johnson. The political knives are out for Cameron in the conservative party, but for Owen, he is a lesser evil. Boris might seem to be a joke, but he is a natural right wing popular leader and “the best salesman for right wing populism that Britain has” Mass working class activity outside safe parliamentary channels is a particular worry for Owen. Any working class hatred and class war is likely to provoke a right wing populism, which is likely to repeat the defeats inflicted on the working class by Margaret Thatcher. But more to the constitutional point, if Boris became Conservative leader the “polls point to Boris providing a Tory boost, which at the very least, could deprive labour of a majority at the next election”

So Boris might play the fool, but he might wipe the smile off our faces and follow Thatcher’s footsteps as the hammer on the working class.  The shadow of Margaret Thatcher haunts Owen Jones; he  respects and fears Thatcher. In his article, Not all socialists want to Dance on Margaret Thatcher’s Grave ( Independent 16/09/12)  he warns against the mass expression of class hate for Thatcher by football fans and a face book campaigns. He will not be in the party mood when Thatcher dies. He cautions that Thatchers death will be a “nightmarish blend of the hysteria that followed princess Diana’s tragic accident and a month long political broadcast for the Conservative Party” Owen’s overestimation of the influence of Thatcher is clear in this comparison with Diana who was seen as a vulnerable person mistreated by the Royal Family and the state who died in tragic circumstances. He is even scared of Conservative political broadcasts.   Read the rest of this entry »

Nostalgia for old Labour

2 02 2012

Barry Biddulph reviews , Owen Jones, Chavs : The Demonization of the Working Class, (Verso 14.99) 

Owen Jones describes how hatred of the working class finds expression in  negative images and gross exaggerations and distortions of working class experience in the media. It’s the myth that we are all middle class except the chavs. Owen explains how the mockery of the working class demonstrates their social inferiority for their tormentors and superiors. It’s a culture which blames the victims rather than social injustice or structured social inequality in capitalism. It’s the way the “working class rump” lives that’s seen as the problem. But what is Owen’s alternative?
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opposition and the cuts

10 10 2011

The Commune’s editorial

BBC presenters sat mouths-gaping on 26th September as City trader Alessio Rastani proudly boasted on live TV of the financial sector’s power and its disdain for the victims of the recession. He proclaimed that a crisis was a great opportunity to make a fast buck and that he dreamt of the next such meltdown. Reeking of arrogant class prejudice, here was the true face behind our rulers’ democratic and liberal mask.

That same week, Ed Miliband spoke to Labour conference, calling for a ‘new morality’ rewarding the ‘hard-working’. Yet asked by a member of the public whether he would endeavour to protect workers’ pensions, ‘Red Ed’ said he could promise nothing, since workers getting older is no longer ‘affordable’. Not only did he drive a wedge between the employed and the ‘undeserving poor’, championing harsh penalties for rioters and ‘scroungers’: he disavowed strike action as a means of standing up for workers’ living standards. Read the rest of this entry »

Awkward Miliband’s irrelevant “new economy”

21 09 2011

Barry Biddulph argues that Labour will never be on our side 

Striking is irrelevant for Ed Miliband. He had an awkward lesson for September’s TUC conference: trade unions should offer better relations with their employers. What Labour needed was a continuation of the partnership between business and the unions. The way forward was not negative strikes, but a positive “new economy” built on the Labourite value of cooperation, not conflict in the workplace.


Ed Miliband


But this  desire for social peace is traditional Labour politics. The Labour Representation Committee originally founded Labour on the basis of  Keir Hardy’s resolution rejecting class war in favour of parliamentary representation, and constitutionalism. Ramsay Macdonald, the leader of the first Labour government in 1924 advocated and acted on the commitment to growing  capitalist society, not a working class alternative. Read the rest of this entry »

no support for labour: no support for the lrc

30 12 2010

At a Communist Students’ Exec meeting on the 13th of December, a decision was made to affiliate to the Labour Representation Committee (LRC). This statement was issued by members opposed to this decision, and we republish it here in the interests of debate.

The driving force behind this was Ben Lewis of the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB, which has recently adopted a set of theses on the Labour Party.[1] Some points of which would get support within the ranks of the LRC, for example the democratisation of the Labour Party.[2] Crucially important though for the issue at hand is the dangerous conception of a permanent united front between Communists and the Labour Party contained within the theses. Where the CPGB’s contradictory perspective of simultaneously organising a political force independent of social democracy and at the same time trying to transform the Labour Party into a “real party of labour” and putting the Labour Party into office in order to expose its leadership, is made. Read the rest of this entry »

Miliband is no Militant

26 09 2010

by David Broder

Yesterday afternoon Ed Miliband loomed large on a TV screen near where I was sitting. The sound was turned off, so there were only subtitles. “Whatever your view on the Iraq war it led to an appalling loss of…” A few seconds before the next word flicked up on the screen. ‘Life’, right? No. “Whatever your view on the Iraq war it led to an appalling loss of trust for us”.

But never fear, Ed, there are many on the left who opposed the war but are now pushing the anti-cuts movement towards Labour. Not just saying we need to pull Labour voters into our struggles, but focussing on the structures of the party and making plaintive appeals for Labour leaders to fight the cuts and fulfil their promises to the Trades Union Congress. Read the rest of this entry »

what use an abbott in a ‘broad church’?

11 06 2010

As Diane Abbott wins sufficient nominations to stand for Labour Party leader, Taimour Lay looks at her and her party’s credentials.

What use is a ”broad church” when the pews are empty, the foundations are subsiding and the high priests at altar turn their backs on any shout of dissent? The Labour leadership election, far from being ”saved” by the  inclusion of Diane Abbott, has merely continued to go to form – token ‘left’ candidate takes on four former cabinet ministers of varying degrees of conservatism, ”enlivens” the hustings with some maverick, contrarian and media-populist rhetoric before the vote concludes with a Miliband, Balls or Burnham promising to lead Labour back to ”electability”.

Abbott’s candidacy is theatre designed by the New Labour establishment to present a democratic, inclusive party. For misguided Bennites, it’s also part of their message: come home to Labour, disillusioned socialists, in opposition we will rebuild and steer the party left. Read the rest of this entry »

the left and new labour in opposition

9 06 2010

by Dave Spencer

After a recent “public consultation” meeting of our local NHS I was approached by an old right-wing Labour councillor.  “Have you considered re-joining the Labour Party?” he asked. “We need people like you to re-build the Party, get us back to our roots.”  He went on about the ‘good old days’ – the 1980s – when we had “great discussions” and we could get 150 delegates to a District Labour Party meeting.  Now they cannot get a quorum for meetings and the new members are just careerists.

I was a bit taken aback.  I didn’t like to remind him that I had been expelled along with 125 others in 1992 for objecting to the rigging of ballots for the shortlist for MP, or that I and others had been told on a number of occasions that we had no chance of promotion or another job working for Coventry City Council if we continued as left activists.  I remember seeing good comrades turn round and leave a meeting when they saw Bob Ainsworth (later Labour MP for Coventry North East and Minister for War) sitting in the corner with his tape recorder and note pad ready to get evidence – for what purpose one can only imagine.  That is how it works in the Labour Party – threats or bribery to gain power or keep power. I remember one leading councillor telling me that everyone has their price and that I was pitching mine too high. He said, “It’s amazing what you can get people to vote for if you just offer them a couple of tickets to the Queen’s garden party!” Read the rest of this entry »

no choice on may 6th

3 05 2010

by Danny Ryan-Smith

With an election with less choice than ever shambling across the horizon, most of our time not spent working seems to be dominated by the question of elections, or specifically- who should we vote for?

With even capitalist media and the introduction of presidential style debates unable to drum up excitement among the general public for a contest that most of us see as largely a race between three identical parties, the time has come that we face the reality that nobody can be a substitute to represent our own needs and interests but ourselves. Read the rest of this entry »

3rd may london forum: should we vote?

25 04 2010

Our next London public forum will see a debate on whether we should support candidates for Parliament. The meeting takes place three days before the general election, from 7pm on Monday 3rd May at the Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, near Old Street.

Many on the revolutionary left and labour movement are advocating the re-election of the Labour government. So should we tag along with Gordon Brown, vote for ‘socialist’ candidates, or have nothing to do with electoral politics? Join the debate. The discussion will be led off by Danny Ryan-Smith (The Commune) and Andrew Fisher (LRC). Read the rest of this entry »

a future fair for all: ‘blair plus’ for five more years

13 04 2010

by David Broder

“Five more years”, the Brown loyalists chanted yesterday as the outgoing Prime Minister launched the Labour Party’s election manifesto. But what would Labour do if re-elected? A future fair for all is supposed to have the answers.

Asked whether the 78-page manifesto was ‘Blairite’, Peter Mandelson told the BBC that the document was in fact ‘Blair-plus’. So what in this document justifies the view common to much of the left that voting for this programme is a “class vote” against the Tories? Read the rest of this entry »


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