Tag Archive: worker


Workers Power Conference 2012: Divisions, Expulsions, & Appeals – The VOAG Investigates. 

Workers Power, a small communist group had its conference over the weekend. The conference was dominated be factionalism and division. Two people were expelled, and although as yet there have been no formal splits, resignations from the National and Political Committees surely herald one in the coming days.

The conference began on Saturday 24th, March with two members formally appealing against their expulsions. In true Weekly Worker style, the VOAG (Voice Of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford) publishes the first of the two expulsion appeals – Delivered to the conference as a speech.    

Bureaucrat Expulsion
I went to two meetings in Manchester where I met with half a dozen people from the RSO, Socialist Fight and others. There were two subsequent meetings in Manchester, but neither I nor Cde B. attended them.

Like all members of Workers Power, I attend meetings organised by a number of different groups. I didn’t consider my attendance at this meeting any different than attending an SWP or SP meeting or indeed holding discussions with local Anarchists or anti-cuts campaigners.

There was a variety of attitudes regarding what might be achieved by the discussions. Opinions ranged from formalising a new group to continued informal discussions. I made it clear that my interest in the meetings was from within the framework of an Anti-Capitalist project

I recall prior to joining Workers Power, speaking to the 2009 Anti-Capitalist event. I told the conference:”What we really want is local groups, we have to come together at a local level because we don’t believe that political groups are capable of achieving a meaningful unity on a National basis”. “An Anti-Capitalist Party must be built from below, as an umbrella organisation connecting local Anti-Capitalist groups with the flexibility and freedom to react and adapt to local conditions”.

“However “, I added: “The Anti-Capitalist Party was not a replacement for existing groups, but a way for existing groups – along with non-aligned activists and anti-cuts campaigners – to work together” It was the feeling of the Surrey United Anti-Capitalists, “that a federal approach to a new Anti-Capitalist Party may provide the break-through to a successful ‘unity project”. This continues to be my belief. It is surely imperative to maintain ideological coherence by struggling for a clear programme via democratic centralism, a paper and our identity.

Late in the evening before the NC meeting in January, I received a phone call from Cde B. He told me he had received an email from the NC regarding the meetings inManchester. He forwarded an email to me, which had been sent from Simon Hardy to the members of the NC. The email contained correspondence between Cde B. and Gerry Downing. The emails addressed issues that arose out of the Manchester meetings and included a discussion about what kind of an organisation, if any, might arise out of them.

I too have had similar discussions. If the Anti-Capitalist Party is to be a Party of the working class, it must encourage the entire labour movement to sign up- and be a forum where theories and practices are put to the test. As Richard Brenner asked rhetorically in Workers Power 341, (Winter 2009): “Do we say that we want it to be a pluralist party? We want a democratic party in which everyone can say what they think. But another feature is that we want to win the argument in the party for revolution”.

It should be obvious that winning the argument for revolution requires a functioning group, faction or caucus to consistently argue for revolutionary Trotskyist politics inside the Anti-Capitalist project. Only Trotskyism has the programme that can defeat and replace the existing leadership of the working class by the method of the transitional programme. Bringing down the government and leading the working class to a socialist future.

I was aware that discussions were continuing between the participants of the Manchester meetings. Naturally, I too discussed these meetings. However, neither I nor Cde B. participated in the e-group where the emails Simon presented to the NC originated. Indeed, I didn’t know of the existence of the e-group.

Simon Hardy was leading the proposal for my expulsion. No accusations regarding a breach of discipline were leveled against me. Simon’s sole charge was that I “attended a meeting of a group hostile to Workers Power and the Anti-Capitalist project”.

My answer to Simon was, and still is: “that we all attend meetings with groups hostile to Workers Power. However, I didn’t discuss or impart any privileged information regarding Workers Power and I don’t believe Cde B. did either”.

I must add to this now, that Simon is wrong regarding the caucus’ hostility to “Anti Capitalism”. It is my understanding that Socialist Fight, and the other participants in Manchester, with the exception of the RSO, were in favour of joining an Anti-Capitalist project.

Cde B. may have made references to divisions in Workers Power, but I do not believe any details beyond what was in the public domain, were ever discussed. I do not accept Cde B. or I broke discipline or any democratic-centralist principle.

Cde B. has consistently been one of the most active members of Workers Power inLondon. He is well known and respected for his work within the GRL. He has been involved in numerous campaigns, the electricians and bus drivers’ disputes being recent examples. Billy is also the most consistent recruiter. There are people in this conference today that Billy either recruited or introduced to Workers Power. Indeed, I believe it would be foolish for any rump that may continue after this conference not to actively recruit Billy to it.

No, I think it is obvious to us all that the real splitters are those who have finally broken cover at this conference to propose liquidation. It is they who have been undermining Workers Power, and as we shall see – in their rush to promote their vision of an Anti-Capitalist formation – have already broken from democratic centralist methodology. Far from seeking to split Workers Power, Cde B. was looking for ways to save its politics and programme, the very reason Cde B. and I joined the group in the first place.

Libya
The first major retreat from the programme was over Libya. Unlike the majority of Workers Power, I saw no basis to believe that a popular or progressive uprising was unfolding. Indeed, behind the headlines there was plenty of reason to assume the opposite. Whilst Workers Power rapped their support for the NTC in the flag of Permanent Revolution, I felt those same arguments correctly applied to the forces supporting Gadaffi.

The most disturbing aspect of Workers Power’s support for the NTC was that the NTC was openly courting the patronage of the imperialist powers. It even promised western companies “preferential treatment” in what amounted to another arms for oil deal.

Leon Trotsky, “On the Sino-Japanese War”, wrote: “The Trotskyists, they say, ‘want to serve Chiang Kai-shek in action and the proletariat in words’. To participate actively and consciously in the war does not mean ‘to serve Chiang Kai-shek’ but to serve the independence of a colonial country in spite of Chiang Kai-shek. And the words directed against the Kuomintang are the means of educating the masses for the overthrow of Chiang Kai-shek”. “You cannot advance Imperialism’s victory and the victory of the working class at the same time”.

The leadership’s justification for their Libyan position was in the name of democracy and abstract liberal freedoms. In the early days of the conflict, I questioned the leadership about the lack of reliable evidence substantiating claims that it was a genuine popular uprising. Where was the general strike? Where were the mass demonstrations? In terms of numbers, it appeared that the rallies in support of Gadaffi were always larger than NTC organised events. Indeed, apart from a couple of small demonstrations, the only forces that the NTC commanded were rag-tag militias backed up by a few tribes and foreign interventionists”.

I find it Ironic that I’m appealing my expulsion, when those that are most keen on it are seeking to dissolve Workers Power anyway. It appears I am accused of breaking democratic centralism. However, it is my feeling that democratic centralist discipline broke down in WP some months ago.

The paper has ceased to be a coherent representation of the group. Under Simon Hardy’s editorship the paper has become the arena for internal differences between an old guard, and a middle class clique, running to the right and away from the working class. Their duplicity and dishonesty is exposed by their inconsistent and ever rightward stances in the paper.

Occupy – The 99%
With regards to the Occupy movement: Sceptical comments such as “the 1% as they have been called by the occupiers”. Criticisms such as “[occupy’s] limitation of always talking about “the people”. And calls for “discussions as to who constitutes the main agency of change”. (November’s issue of WP) have disappeared from the pages of WP.

Such comments and criticisms have been gradually replaced by a populist, un-critical support for the Occupy movement. And has led to a banner reading “We are the 99%” on the top of the South London Anti- Capitalist Network blog.

In contrast, on the WP blog last week, Dave Stockton, referring to ‘Occupy’ notes the: “necessity of working class direct action –that is, strikes – seemed to escape the more doctrinaire horizontals”…”In fact horizontalism- is an expression of layers and classes whose position in capitalist society gives them no natural unity: the lower middle classes, students, long term unemployed and intellectuals, who seek to escape cut-throat capitalist competition but at the same time feel collectivity, especially discipline imposed by a majority, an intolerable violation of their freedom”.

Compare that to March’s Workers Power, ‘Next steps for the Occupy movement’ in which Anton Solka writes “We are the 99% has brought the issue of class to the fore, there really is an us and them.”

Personally, I consider myself to be working class and not one of the 99%. My interests run contrary to many of the 99%. – And I would expect Workers Power to argue for class politics; warn of the dangers and Stalinist origin of popular frontism, and expose the contradictions within the 99% movement.

As with Libya, elements of Workers Power, with scant sources of information provided by the bourgeois media, has jumped on to the populist bandwagon of democracy and freedom. Support for the autonomist, environmentalist and horizontalist forces – those that are described by the clique struggling to break up our group as ‘New Left’ – may have temporarily grown, but there is nothing qualitatively new in Occupy. This ideology and methodology has been part of the political scenery for decades. The leaders of London’s Occupy are not just of the same milieu, but in many cases are the very same people that were on the peace camps and convoys of the eighties, on the road protests of the 90’s, and on the occupations and climate camps of the naughties.

Anti-Capitalism
As far as the Anti-Capitalist project goes; the Workers Power paper rarely repeats the same line twice. In February’s Workers Power article, “Labour in the Unions” Dave Stockton appeals to the unions to “put their money behind building a new fighting, Socialist Party”…”It must be a party whose aim is not to court the selfish individualism of the middle classes, but to lead the working class in a struggle for power”.

Simon Hardy writes in February’s paper “It is the battle to unite the anti–cuts movement, to create a new sense of energy and activism that UKUncut and Occupy exemplified. Although in the Editorial of the same month he writes: “In Britain, too, after an initial breakthrough, Occupy has reached a dead end”. Such is the retreat to the right, that even the name Anti-Capitalist is too radical for some in Workers Power. The group set up in Brighton is called the New Left Initiative.

In Conclusion
In conclusion, there are several common threads running through Workers Power at present.
In Libya WP elevated bourgeois democratic demands over the economic needs of the working class. With little information to support the position, WP opportunistically rode the wave of populism and supported the NTC. Its position sacrificed the security of the Libyan people, its welfare state, and its resources for democratic freedoms that will never be achieved and for the illusion of parliamentarianism.    

Again in the paper’s coverage of the Occupy movement and its 99% slogan, a faction of WP showed itself to be impressionistic. With little first-hand experience of the occupations, WP used second hand reports to analyse occupy. Here again elements in WP bent to populist sentiment and degenerated into uncritical support for the occupy movement. They sacrificed class analysis for democratic demands, popular frontism and horizontalism. As Dave Stockton said above: “These are the politics of the petit-bourgeois”.

It seems to me that the reason for the inconsistencies in the paper of late is not just the result of arguments on the PC, largely hidden from the membership. It is the result of a middle class clique in Workers Power looking for a way out and using Anti-Capitalism as their vehicle. Why else are they suddenly so enthusiastic about a project that’s been talked about for years. Why else would they be rushing headlong in to forming Anti-Capitalist groups before WP has decided the nature of this Anti-Capitalist project?

The rub, the elephant in the room, is finally exposed on paragraphs 20 and 21 of the draft proposal to the NC (included in the pre-conference IB.). Regarding Anti-Capitalism it says: “We will not declare a formal tendency or platform” – [But somehow] “will remain members of the League”. I don’t really think these people have thought this thing through. Does this clique really expect to reconcile plurality and democratic centralism within the same organisation? Or indeed, expect to remain members of the League, whose rules of affiliation insist on a regular paper. Read the rules of the League! You’re so gone. It’s these inconsistencies, and there are many, many, more, that make me realise the clique’s sudden enthusiasm for Anti-Capitalism is an unprincipled retreat into petite-bourgeois acceptability. We’re lefties, but harmless, and oh so intellectual they tell their peers. After-all, they’re reaching that age.

A post-script: Today – 9th April
It’s just two weeks after the above speech was delivered to the WP Annual Conference. News is reaching the VOAG that Workers Power is splitting. The VOAG believes that it totally vindicates everything that the two comrades who were expelled told the conference.  It follows a complete breakdown in the democratic centralist principles professed by Workers Power, mentioned above. Those of the ‘central tendency’ who claim to remain Leninists, saying they want to continue to build WP as a tendency in the worker’s movement, could have and should have put a stop to the machinations of the right-wing splitters long ago. Their refusal to do so shows their opportunism, and has led to this unnecessary impasse.  The right-wing, liquidationist splitters should have been expelled long ago for breaches of discipline and democratic centralism. The fact that they were not proves the degeneration and right-wing,
petite-bourgeois
trajectory of the entire group.    

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Banks to knock £19 billion off their tax bill despite taxpayer bail out

Despite being rescued by taxpayers during the crash, UK banks will avoid paying £19 billion of tax on future profits by offsetting their losses during the financial crisis against their tax bills. This is equivalent to more than £1,100 for every family in the UK, a TUC report says today (Monday).

The TUC report – The Corporate Tax Gap – says that as well as benefitting from an £850 billion bailout from taxpayers and the Bank of England during the recession, banks are able to offset their £19 billion of tax losses between 2007 and 2009 against paying tax on future profits.

The report, authored by tax specialist Richard Murphy, has calculated this double subsidy from the accounts of five UK high street banks – HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Lloyds TSB and HBOS (later Lloyds Banking Group) – and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) data.

The Corporate Tax Gap warns that banks could soon be paying a lower rate of tax than small businesses. The corporate tax gap – the difference between the rate of tax set by the Government and the actual rate companies pay – has grown by an average of 0.5 per cent a year over the last decade. Between 2000 and 2009, the effective corporation tax rate fell from 28 per cent to 21 per cent, much deeper than the headline rate cut from 30 per cent to 28 per cent, says the report.

With the Government planning to reduce corporation tax to 24 per cent, the UK’s largest companies, including banks, will soon be paying an effective tax rate of 17 per cent – three per cent lower than small businesses, who are less able to exploit loopholes and therefore pay a headline rate of 20 per cent. As a result, the UK will soon have a regressive corporation tax regime, says the report.

The TUC has calculated that the banks’ £19 billion double subsidy could pay for the following cuts between now and 2015:
*Switching the indexation of benefits from RPI to CPI (£5.84 billion)
*Housing benefit (£1.77 billion)
*Tax credits (£3.22 billion)
*Child benefit for higher rate taxpayers (£3 billion)
*Estimated cuts to the science research budget (£3 billion)
*Estimated cuts in HMRC resources to tackle tax avoidance (£2.1 billion).

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “Banks caused the global financial crash and triggered the recession that produced the deficit. Yet not only did they take almost a trillion pounds from taxpayers to bail them out, they are now using the losses caused by their irresponsibility to cut their tax bills for years to come”.

 The Government’s bank levy is small change compared to this huge loss as the business-as-usual bonus levels show. It’s double bubble for the banks, but huge cuts, job losses and VAT increases for ordinary families. Small firms have every right to be angry too. Not only are they finding it hard to get credit from the banks, soon they will be paying more tax on their profits than the banks and other big companies.
Botom-Of-Post - Protest

STOP THE WAR COALITION
NEWSLETTER No. 1144
04 March 2010

IN THIS NEWSLETTER:
1) WHAT GORDON BROWN COULD HAVE DONE WITH £8.5BN
2) INTERNATIONAL PROTESTS IN SUPPORT OF JOE GLENTON
3) BRITISH SOLDIERS GONE AWOL 17,000 TIMES SINCE 2003
4) MICHAEL FOOT 23 JULY 1913 – 3 MARCH 2010

1) WHAT GORDON BROWN COULD HAVE DONE WITH £8.5BN
Gordon Brown happily signed the cheques for the Iraq war. In 2005 he said, “I would have behaved exactly like Tony over the war.” This is why Stop the War will be protesting outside the Iraq Inquiry on Friday 5 March, when protestors will try to deliver Brown a giant cheque for £8.5 billion, the total spent by Britain on the illegal war in Iraq. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Brown was the paymaster general for the Iraq war. Instead of spending £8.5 billion on mass slaughter of Iraqis, Brown could have funded:
* The recruitment and retention of over 25,000 new teachers for ten years.
* All NHS maternity care for four years.
* All NHS Accident and Emergency provision for four and a half years.
* All government spending on the railways for five years. http://bit.ly/avwT4v
But not content with this astronomical waste, Brown is now spending sums on the war in Afghanistan which at £12 billion and rising fast, dwarf his Iraq spending. (SEE http://bit.ly/4bRSM)
PROTEST FRIDAY 5 MARCH: BLOOD ON GORDON BROWN’S HANDS
@ THE IRAQ INQUIRY. ASSEMBLE 8.30AM, 
QUEEN ELIZABETH CONFERENCE CENTRE, BROAD SANCTUARY , WESTMINSTER SW1
(Nearest tubes St James’s Park or Westminster)

2) INTERNATIONAL PROTESTS IN SUPPORT OF JOE GLENTON
On 4-5 March, there are international protests in eight countries- Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Russia, Turkey, USA and the UK are demanding that the Ministry of Defence drop the charges against Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, who refuses to return to fight in Afghanistan. (SEE http://bit.ly/bveMzx). If convicted, Joe could be jailed for two years. Stop the War has called a picket of the court in Colchester at which Joe is due to be sentenced on Friday 5 March. He faces up to two year imprisonment. If you would like to join the picket and want information about transport, please contact the national Stop the War office: Call 020 7801 2768. Email office@stopwar.org.uk

3) BRITISH SOLDIERS GONE AWOL 17,000 TIMES SINCE 2003
Joe Glenton is by no means alone. Official figures from the Ministry of Defence show that there were more than 2,000 cases of soldiers going absent without leave last year, with 17,470 incidents recorded since the Iraq invasion in 2003. (SEE http://bit.ly/dCNvRu )

4) MICHAEL FOOT 23 JULY 1913 – 3 MARCH 2010
Former Labour Party leader Michael Foot has died, aged 96. In February 2003, he threatened to lead a mass trespass of Hyde Park when Tony Blair’s government tried to ban its use for the Stop the War demonstration. The government capitulated and February 15 saw the biggest political demonstration in British history. Michael Foot was one of the speakers in the Hyde Park rally at the end of that memorable day, when two million people gathered on London’s streets to say “not in my name”.

This is the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts statement of intent, passed at the National Convention on 6th February.

Statement of Intent
Fees, debt and marketisation are increasingly turning education from a right for all into a privilege for the wealthy. The NCAFC opposes all proposed and existing fees, course cuts, staff redundancies or reductions in education spending. Cuts are compounding 30 years of neo-liberal reforms which are turning our universities and colleges into businesses organised to produce profit and a pliant workforce, not critically thinking people and a better society.
Education can and should be funded not by student fees and taxes on the poor, but by progressive taxation. It should be an emancipator right, free and available to all.

We will fight for:
– A halt to all education cuts, the abolition of all fees and a living grant for every student, in FE and HE. Tax the rich to fund education
– Education not profit: business out of our schools, colleges and universities.
– A mass movement of students, including occupations, direct action and walk-outs from FE and 6th form colleges and schools, against fees and cuts. Solidarity with our lecturers, teachers and workers.
– Fees, cuts and marketisation are affecting all areas of education; schools, FE colleges, adult and part-time education institutions are being hit and must work together in the response. Regional meetings much be concerned with issues affecting all students in different types of education.
– This campaign also recognises that oppressed groups are being scapegoated due to the crisis, and that cuts will affect them the most. This campaign therefore commits itself to opposing all forms of racism including Islamophobia
– We are committed to solidarity and co-operation with Liberation organisations that share these values (including, but not limited to, the autonomous NUS liberation campaigns, all of which have free education policy), and condemn all forms of discrimination. Black, Disabled, LGBT and women students are systematically disadvantaged and discriminated by society and are disproportionately affected by fees and cuts.
– We are an internationalist campaign. We are for solidarity with students and workers across the world in our common struggle against exploitation and oppression. We are opposed to the victimisation of students and education workers over immigration status, as well as all deportations and immigration controls. We are opposed to all imperialist wars, sanctions and occupations: UK troops out of Afghanistan now.
– We will compile a national education activists’ contact database for co-ordinating activites
– We agree to initiate a national boycott of the National Student Survery (NSS) to oppose marketisation of education
– To send representatives to the Bologna process counter-conference on March 11th
– To support the call for a national demonstration outside the Autumn conference of whichever party wins the General Election.
– To support the teach-in at King’s College London on 27th February called by KCL UCU, No Cuts @ King’s and the London Education Activist Network
– Where possible ‘cultural evenings’ will be put on in student unions nationwide with poetry, theatre, music exhibitions and other artictic forms, with guest speakers and performers invited, in opposition to fees and cuts.
– To convene a meeting dedicated to the discussion of a united left slate in the NUS elections. All groups, networks, student unions and individual activists should be able to attend and participate.
– To change our name to the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts
– That a national convener be elected from each region (North, South, London, East Anglia) to convene a regular open national steering committee with the regional conveners. This national organising meeting be open to all education activists.

N.B. The grammar of the statement is not perfect, as it is based on the original script from the conference; this will be addressed at the next national meeting. Please send corrections to ucl.free.education@gmail.com or againstfeesandcuts@gmail.com

 Join the National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts F/b group: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=108319208229

 NCAFC London Area: http://ncafclondon.wordpress.com/ 

             Support Alberto Durango – Sacked for Organising A Union.

Alberto Durango came to London in ’95, running away from persecution as a result of his union activities with the banana workers in Colombia.  Since moving to London he has been working as a cleaner and has  repeatedly been victimised for his prominent role in union organising here.
The Voice of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford attended a  recent protest rally in support of Alberto.

Click the link below for background and our report.
Support Alberto Durango (Draft 2)

12th February 2010.
The Voice of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford went to a demonstration in support of victimised migrant worker and Trades Unionist Alberto Durango.  

Please hit the link below for our report. 
Support Alberto Durango

February Newsletter From Stop The War Coalition

Blog Statistics – The first two months
Well it’s already two months since we started our blog. 
Click on the link below to see how many visitors we’ve had. Find out what have been the top posts.

Blog Stats 19-12-09 

STOP THE WAR COALITION NEWSLETTER
No. 1128 30 November 2009
Email office@stopwar.org.uk

IN THIS NEWSLETTER
1) THE ONLY SERIOUS EXIT STRATEGY FOR AFGHANISTAN
2) THE IRAQ INQUIRY CATCH PHRASE: “NOT ME, GUV'”
3) VIVA PALESTINA CONVOY TO GAZA: 5 DECEMBER
4) SUPPORT GROWING FOR MILITARY FAMILIES PROTEST
5) DON’T FORGET JOE GLENTON

1) THE ONLY SERIOUS EXIT STRATEGY FOR AFGHANISTAN
Inevitably the news of yet another British soldier dying in Afghanistan coincided with Gordon Brown’s announcement that he is sending 500 more British troops to fight in a war which in the latest poll 71 per cent of the British public opposes.

We are witnessing a very dangerous escalation of the war. With Barack Obama likely to announce a surge of around 30,000 troops, and other Nato allies adding a further five thousand, the total number of foreign troops occupying Afghanistan will equal that deployed by the Soviet Union in the 1979-89 Afghan war, which ended in its catastrophic defeat.

Gordon Brown’s troop surge is a response to failure after eight years of war. All the various war aims have been shown
to be false. The war has not made Britain safer from terrorism, but has made it more dangerous. The war is not being fought for democracy, but to protect one of the most corrupt governments in the world. The troops are not engaged
in a humanitarian mission, but in a war of occupation opposed by the majority of Afghans.

Brown and Obama both claim that this dramatic increase in the number of troops is the  beginning of an exit strategy. It is nothing of the sort. It is the signal that the major powers are planning to continue a war ,which after Vietnam is the second longest in American history for years to come.

Just as in Vietnam the US claimed that sending more troops was the key to bringing peace, Obama and Brown are proposing more war as necessary for their “exit strategy”. There is only one serious exit strategy: that is to recognise that Britain and the other Nato powers have no right to be in Afghanistan, and far from escalating the numbers Gordon
Brown should be withdrawing all British troops now.

2) THE IRAQ INQUIRY CATCH PHRASE: “NOT ME, GUV'”
The evidence given to the Iraq Inquiry in its first week saw a
series of establishment figures trying to absolve themselves of any blame for their part in the build up to war, implying
all responsibility lay with Tony Blair.

It appears that Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General who
notoriously changed his advice about the legality of the war just days before the invasion, is getting his “not me, guv'”
in early even before he appears at the inquiry. The details of a letter he wrote to Blair eight months before the
invasion, in which he stated categorically that the war was illegal, were revealed over the weekend. You can read the
details here: http://bit.ly/6Tk6w7

Apparently Gordon Brown is worried that in the run up to the general election all these revelations about Iraq will remind people of why they opposed  the war in the first place. Stop the War is taking every opportunity to ensure that the issues remain in the public eye, not least the key question of holding the war criminals to account. Stop the War held a protest on the first day of the Chilcot inquiry, which received worldwide media coverage. (See http://bit.ly/5IYYCK). We will announce soon a major public meeting on the issue.
And we await with much anticipation the appearance of  Tony Blair before the Iraq Inquiry likely to be in January or
February, when we will organise a large scale protest to ensure he is warmly welcomed.

3) VIVA PALESTINA THIS WEEKEND
On 27 December, the anniversary of Israel’s barbaric invasion at the turn of 2009, convoys from Britain, the United States and Turkey, packed with aid donated by the people of those countries, will converge on Gaza to break the inhuman siege which prevents essential resources reaching Palestinians in the world’s most densely populated area.
The British convoy leaves London this weekend. Details of the departure place and time will be available shortly on the Viva Palestina website: http://www.vivapalestina.org/

4) SUPPORT GROWING FOR MILITARY FAMILIES PROTEST
Support is continuing to build for the Military Families Against the War protest at Downing Street at 5pm on Monday 21 December. As well as many families who have lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, or have relatives serving in the Afghan war, there will be a number of former soldiers joining the protest, when the Bring the Troops Home petition will be handed in to Downing Street. The military families also plan to demand to see Gordon Brown.

All the local Stop the War groups across the country have been asked to sponsor military families in their area to come down to the Downing Street protest and to send delegations in support. The families are asking for the widest support possible. Please help publicise the event as widely as you can. For further information: http://bit.ly/4Z3eCR

5) THURSDAY 28 JANUARY: DATE FOR YOUR DIARY
Gordon Brown has announced that he is organising an international conference on Afghanistan in London on Thursday 28 January 2010. As well as organising a protest at Brown’s conference, Stop the War will in response hold its own alternative meetings and conference. Please note the date now. We will publicise further details soon.

6) DON’T FORGET JOE GLENTON
Send messages of support to Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, in prison for speaking out against the Afghan war and facing
court martial for refusing to return to Afghanistan. Email messages of support to: defendjoeglenton@gmail.com
Write letters, cards to:
Lance Corporal Joe Glenton
Military Corrective Training Centre
Berechurch Hall Camp
Colchester CO2 9NU

7) XMAS PARTY: FROM BLIAR TO STOP BUSH
If you live in London, Stop the War’s Xmas party on Friday 11 December is not to be missed. As well as food, drinks and music, the party takes place surrounded by a showcase of Stop the War’s history, drawn from our archive which is now housed at the Bishopsgate Institute.

The displays will include many of the posters and placards going back to our earliest demonstrations, including the now iconic designs by artist David Gentleman, leaflets, pamphlets, press cutting, photographs etc. Admission is free.

 Spotlight On Committees Of Action

As Labour and the Tories compete over who will deliver the most savage cuts, and the bosses and bankers demand the working class pay for their financial crisis, we need to think strategically about how we can organise the fightback. Joy Macready explains Marxist tactics

The mainstream parties’ assessment of the extent of the pubic sector cutbacks needed – an estimated 10-20% cuts in the health sector, £2bn cuts in education, 10 per cent savings across government departments – is staggering. Their representatives and their loyal friends in the media, however, never mention that it is caused by the gaping hole left in the public purse from the £1.3 trillion bailout of the banks.

Meanwhile, private sector bosses are using the recession to relocate production, sack workers, cut their wages and steal from their pensions. Share prices and profit margins may be recovering, but this is not enough for the greedy capitalists; they want to inflict further damage on working class families and communities.

Solidarity
But already we see the signs of a militant fightback. Occupations are leading the way: Visteon, Two Sisters, Prisme, Waterford, and Vestas, to name a few. Parents and teachers in Glasgow and Lewisham occupied their schools to prevent closure. Postal workers are balloting for a national strike against redundancies and reductions in hours and wages. Tower Hamlets College lecturers took all-out indefinite action for four weeks, while Leeds bin workers are still all out.

The list of struggles shows that it is not just the public sector that is under attack, but also the private sector; it is not just workers fighting back against service cuts, but the users of worsening services. Although the public sector is in the direct firing line of the government, all workers will be affected by cuts in housing, healthcare or education.

As Marxists, we do not just live in the realm of ideas and theory, but we put our theory into practice. The challenge is to find a way to link these struggles together, overcoming the division between public and private, between providers and users, and between the various unions. Those struggles listed above are inspiring but all are isolated to a degree.

Within the different struggles, Workers Power has argued for local committees of action to unite activists at a community level. The Vestas solidarity committees, which attracted workers from many different unions, community and green activists, and socialist organisations, were an encouraging step in this direction. But we need a more permanent form of organisation that goes beyond the limited scope of one struggle, one strike or one issue – committees of action that can be mobilised to fight on a number of fronts at the same time.

Such committees can react quickly to events, overcome divisions between workers in different unions, and also bring into struggle the unemployed who have been thrown out of work. They should also include users of public services; as the government and bosses try to lay the blame for deteriorating services at the feet of public sector workers, pubic opinion must be won to the struggle of these workers for quality services.

Unity from below
Britain has developed organs of class struggle like this in the past. During the 1926 General Strike, councils of action were built by the trades councils in each town and city – all working class political, industrial, co-operative and unemployed organisations were represented, and, importantly, women were also heavily involved. They counteracted the “poisonous and pernicious propaganda” of the government and the employers’ organisations and even took control of food supplies, organised defence corps against scabs and the police and army, and directly controlled the strike locally.

In 1984, during the Great Miners’ Strike, a network of Miners’ Support Committees criss-crossed the country, providing vital solidarity like food supplies, Christmas presents for the miners’ children, speakers to factories to explain why the miners’ needed support, campaigning against police harassment of strikers and mobilising support for the picket lines.

But, say the sceptics, Britain today is not at that level of class struggle – the working class does not have the “confidence” or the fighting spirit to create committees of action. This is a self-defeating argument. In every area where there is struggle, strikers can put out the call for committees of action and rally support from others. The committees will in turn help to boost confidence and raise fighting spirit.

Take the Vestas struggle, for example, where workers occupied a plant that made blades for wind power when bosses announced its closure. It was the solidarity movement – the climate camp and Campaign Against Climate Change – that encouraged the workers to occupy the plant. If solidarity committees could be built for Vestas, then why not for other struggles? By building committees of action in every town and city, more workers will feel able to take militant action and the general level of the class struggle will rise. But to do this, they must do more than simply raise donations, hold meetings and stand on picket lines, crucial though these acts are. They can start to become an alternative centre of power in society.

Alternative power
What do we mean by “an alternative centre of power”? Three things.

First, we know from bitter experience that the trade union leaders often sabotage our struggles, selling them short, calling off action, disuniting strikes. Committees of action can help thwart such treachery by building unity from below.

Second, committees of action can also lay the basis for a political alternative to Labour – a basis from which to build a new anti-capitalist party in Britain, one that will fight for the interests of the working class.

Committing to a new party is not a precondition to joining the local committees of action – many workers who still look to Labour or who are against all parties can be rallied to them. But, because these will be engaged in the local struggles, because they will be coming up against the government’s cuts and attacks, many will begin to realise that only a working class political party can secure general, society-wide victories for our class through fighting for the overthrow of the capitalist system and the formation of a workers’ government.

Finally, a government of the workers would be based not on an unelected civil service bureaucracy, unelected generals, unelected millionaires in the boardrooms, and 600-odd MPs who are elected every five years but are free to break their promises itself. It could be based on democratic organisations of working class delegates from below, workers’ councils with all delegates recallable by the workers who voted for them. The formation of committees for action is a step in that direction – a step towards an alternative centre of power for the whole of society.