‘Why I joined Red Youth’

Red Youth banner

Red Youth banner

The following letter to our blog was written by a young comrade from the Midlands who recently left the YCL to join Red Youth. His reflections are those born from the frustrations of working in a party castrated by revisionism. We will stress now, before you read his observations, that Red Youth certainly doesn’t have all the answers and we’re up against it trying to build a revolutionary youth organisation in a country where no revolutionary mood prevails amongst the masses, for the time being. These are the same objective conditions which both the YCL and CPB have to contend with. Our strength (and their weakness) lies in our correct analysis of these conditions; a thorough and rigorous critique of social democracy, its root causes and it’s influence on the British labour movement. We are pleased with the enthusiasm with which this comrade joins us in our work, but we must emphasise that ours is a long, arduous struggle which requires much patience as well as persistence. For this reason it is absolutely critical that Red Youth comrades make every effort to study Marxist-Leninist theory, to develop their political understanding and be able to take part in the work to build up the revolutionary class conscious. That struggle is a marathon, there are no quick fixes, easy avenues or cheats. Its long, hard struggle, and we welcome all those who are prepared to make that journey.

That said, despite a thoroughly positive and glowing appraisal of our party’s work to date (!) the letter highlights some of the aspects of our culture and work which set us apart, stemming from our analysis of present and past. We do not shy away from openly admitting the need for revolution and actively work towards it. Our correct understanding of the specific historical conditions that led to the ‘golden’ post-WW2 boom – as a result of the devastation of the war and continued imperialist exploitation of the Third World means that we do not shed a tear for the death of social democracy. We recognise that no amount of tinkering and reform can put an and to capitalist crisis and the drive towards imperialist wars. We recognise the inalienable right of people to fight imperialism and we stand firmly with them and openly call for the defeat of our “own” government in these wars of aggression and plunder. Capitalism cannot provide a decent and secure life to the masses of working people, it can only offer temporary concessions to a few. This is where we differ from the CPB and YCL, who have all but abandoned any talk of revolution and dream of a return to the heyday of social democracy. We agree with and participate as far as we are able in the fight for reforms and concessions under the present conditions – but we will not lose sight of our end goal, the socialist revolution. – RY


“Almost nine months ago, I joined the Communist Party of Britain in Shropshire – three weeks ago I left for the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist).

I’d describe my former self as the kind of communist that clung to the insole of the labour party. But why did I change my mind? What went ‘wrong’ along the way? Keen to serve a movement I was then happy and honoured to be a part of, enthused to draft new ways to create a big communist student movement in my local area; I was elevated quickly. First, to Young Communist League organiser for Shropshire, then the West Midlands, then the whole Midlands – all this over the course of 3 months, partly because I was the only YCL secretary in the Midlands. It was this elevation, that made me realise how useless and inactive the party was. Later, the real CPB would be revealed to me as the badly organised, anti-youth, anti-DPRK, anti-communist organisation it is.

The organisational inactivity of the CPB
Two months after becoming Shropshire students organiser I drew up a small plan and discussed it with my branch secretary, who seemed as usual relatively pleased to accept my ideas. We had 3 comrades of eligible age for the YCL in Shropshire; a 12 year old school girl who was the daughter of a branch member, a 22 year old man, and myself. I outlined the following items:

  1. The convening of our three young communists in a place suitable for students to hold a meeting, to debate what we stood for and what we want to achieve
  2. The leafleting of the sixth-form college in town about the event
  3. The setting up of a YCL Shropshire Facebook page
  4. The ordering of copies of challenge and other youth campaigning materials to support setting up a communist youth movement in Shropshire

This was in September 2013. In February, almost five months later (and a month and a half before I joined CPGB-ML), I was still waiting for support in terms of literature, party education materials, help to find a meeting place. Until December I was still expecting this fictitious support.

But it was my promotion to Midlands district officer that was the real turning point for me. I was charged with creating the Midlands district of the YCL, organising a regional movement of youth in their late teens and early 20s for the mobilisation of Marxism-Leninism within the labour movement. This is a big task to give an enthusiastic 16 year old campaigner – nevertheless, as I put it at the time to queries of “was I sure”, I was well up for it.

I knew that we only had 175 active and non-active members in the whole of the Midlands, so I was trying to be realistic, not stretching too far to branches that may lack any bulk in membership under 30. The plan was to get together three people (aged between 11 and 29 as is within the party rulings regarding age), in each the Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Shropshire branches together, and encourage them to have bi-monthly branch meetings and a monthly study group. If this proved successful over a year we would collectivise everyone within the age bracket across the Midlands and hold a YCL district launch in Birmingham. Another part of the planned strategy was to leaflet colleges in order to create education branches.

Things were looking good at first – we had in the Shropshire branch 3 eligible YCL members. In Birmingham we had one young contact who was caught up in border disputes with other branches and consequently not doing anything, and someone who was nearly 25 – this was fine at first.

In Wolverhampton there was nothing: not only was I to find at the 15th February district congress that they were one of the most inactive branches as part of our deflated Black Country initiative, but I found out a week before hand they had no members under 30.

Four months before that fateful meeting, I received a 15 year old contact in Nottingham. I thought this was excellent at the time, I thought if he could work with the largely mature Nottingham branch on youth for me I could then focus more on the further West Midlands stuff. However, I was to find that due to disorganisation this was apparently impossible. I found that the Nottingham branch, another gem of inactivity, was made up of two men in their 60s and one in their 50s, who were all apparently “to afraid to talk to him” and that the only one in four months who had made any effort to contact him other than a couple of times electronically was me.

And then they had the gall to ask me to help build the YCL in Wales from Shropshire. I was furious with the total lack of anything, but particularly after this erroneous request. I was just about ready to explode because of all this – but then there were the ideological holes to boot.

The ideological hollowness of the CPB
My ideological suspicions began around December but they had nothing to do with the labour party at first. It started with the pro-capitalist coverage of the DPRK. Nothing in the Morning Star is ever really pro-capitalist no matter how wrong or counter-revolutionary, but this really was. It quoted UN statistics without checking the sources and alleged that the north ‘wasn’t socialism’ and highly ‘undemocratic’. It even contradicted their position on the country in Britain’s Road to Socialism, going far enough to publish headlines like “UN pledges to bring North Korean leaders to justice”. I thought in Britain’s Road to Socialism our message on the DPRK was quite clear, that we supported its ‘right to popular sovereignty’, that we supported it against American imperialism!

When I was approached over twitter about the contradiction between my open support for the DPRK and the Morning Star’s stance, I explained that the Morning Star was the paper of the movement. As such it couldn’t marginalise itself down to pure communist viewpoints and had to please a great deal of it’s bulked readership; including CND, Stop the War and the TUC. For a CPB member this was an adequate, well thought-out answer, but I was to find out that even this was wrong.

I e-mailed Zoe Hennessy, the YCL’s general secretary; I felt that the recent anti-DPRK bombardment in all media left or right wing was demoralising our member’s in their support for the country (particularly our young members), so I offered to write an article in support of it to put people’s minds at rest. It was the reply that was to enrage me almost as much as the organisational problems I had encountered: The Communist Party of Britain dose not endorse the DPRK. It never has done and it never will. Apparently the Morning Star is the embodiment of the CPB’s collective views on North Korea and many other things which I thought was merely content added for “the movement”.

While all this was happening an article was published around Christmas on comrade Mao Zedong to celebrate his birthday. It described someone who would “probably have been remembered as a great revolutionary if he’d died in 1952” but who’s final two political campaigns were “an utter failure”, later accusing him of harbouring a personality cult and being an unstable leader. Very celebratory…

Incidentally the paper also refused to publish anything celebrating the birthday of comrade Stalin, utterly spitting in the eye of one of the greatest contributors to Marxist theory aside from Engels or Lenin.

Conclusion
So what did I decide to do next? Well I saw a rather impressive group of communists in late September at the Tory party conference demo, who seemed to sidle up to the communist party red block, and chant with us. The two groups looked fabulous together, 60 or 70 red flags were made 90 or more in a block. I saw they had a paper called Proletarian. I wanted work experience in political journalism – so I contacted the editor’s e-mail.

I secured a meeting at the office of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) in Birmingham. I wasn’t wooed at first by their opposition to the people’s assembly or the Labour Party in any measure, as things were still working for me at the point I had this meeting in October, but I saw something in them then that brought me back, and made them indelibly my new and fine comrades, people who I am proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with.

From about the February 15th district meeting, when I began to see just how pointless it was, I started looking for a new party either similar to my own thoughts or robust enough to accept my robust opinions.

I trawled through things like the Socialist Labour Party, the Socialist Party of Great Britain, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and the Marxist Student Federation – all of these organisations to me either appeared totally revisionist or ineffective in political strategy to the point of laughability. It was then I realised the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) was the only effective left party in Britain; the only one still growing and equipped with practical, applicable campaigning methods for the 21st century.

A party that stood for all the right things – defending the democratic legitimacy of Zimbabwe and it’s legitimate popular leader Robert Mugabe, telling the truth about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, true anti-imperialism; rather than just what seems to be more acceptable to public opinion. They don’t allow their ideological strength to make them dogmatic.

Under the CPB I was given no equipment, no literature and no support. I join the CPGB-ML and almost immediately I’m given seven newspapers, a wad of our youth programme and a wad of leaflets. I am also sold books at £2 a throw – unlike the ones the CPB sold at their district committees for between £5-£20, which were all far out of my price range on top of train fairs. I have a permanent link to my nearest branch organiser, I’m told if there’s anything I need in terms of equipment or help it’s mine providing I’ve got a good reason, we’ve already got Shropshire based members and supporters around too – so we’re all set.

Coupled with this we have a stunning two-part programme, including the mind blowing Red Youth programme “we want freedom” – which envisions a diplomatically non-volatile Great Britain, universally free education and the deployment of capital allocated to youth by youth and for youth. That’s a revolutionary youth programme, not BRS’s “lowering the voting age to 16 would be reflective of how some people think but let’s make everything else up along the way while also making nothing up and doing nothing”.

I can see the ship sinking for the “Communist Party” already. CPB membership isn’t just under 1,000 as it claims – it’s 700. They did an internal survey recently that said 200 of their members had either died or gone missing. The CPGB-ML in Birmingham alone gets several requests for membership a month. The CPB’s complete refusal of self criticism, unwillingness to reform outdated party structures, the anti-youth mentality all leads one way – decay. The CPB is dying. Every general election it loses members on the same programme, every time labour or whoever else they support are elected they fail to do anything of meaning. My old party only misleads a few students here and there (most notably in the North West where they’ve recruited about 20ish white university students) – but it’s propaganda and negation on the radical student movement reaches far further than even it knows.

For instance everything it says about almost everything apart from capitalism as a system and the British bourgeoisie back up the imperialist argument unwittingly. A British democrat, and I’ve met a few, may say that you have to vote your way out of trouble, that if you don’t like a government you have to vote for the opposition to oust them, namely; the Labour Party. According to British social democracy this is the only way to achieve change. The CPB will say that you have to vote labour to get the Tories or the Lib-Dems out and you can’t have a revolution because a) it will “alienate” people and b) we live in a western “democracy”. So revolution is an absolute last resort and therefore not appropriate or possible unless people all over the country starve on the streets and worker’s have lost all their gains.

I spent 8 months in the labour movement, trying to attract young people with the time to join the labour movement’s communist youth section – but everyone who wanted to do that just did the natural thing and joined the largely middle-class led Labour Students long before I was on the streets. We have the advantage in that all the true communist students are with Red Youth. We’re better organised, ideologically stronger, growing at a much faster rate and regularly active. My message to all in the labour movement who consider themselves Marxists, is to join our party – the true party of Lenin.”

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No Justice – No Peace!

The British State Murders with impunity: ‘to Protect and Serve’ the Capitalist Class. Not only the Met, but the whole capitalist system is inherently racist and anti-working class, and needs to be dismantled. This is the core truth that underlies Police Injustice.

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RACISM

For much of Britain’s working class, long shackled by unemployment, debt and neglect, and particularly for black and immigrant workers, who are also subject to ingrained institutional persecution, incessant harassment and arbitrary arrest, the oppressive character of the British state requires no elucidation. A host of recent events make it clear that institutional racism remains rampant in Britain today.

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This is but one example of many. We could just as easily look at housing, education, income or unemployment statistics.

When we look at our brothers and sisters across the sea, in the USA, we can see just how deep is the irony that that they call themselves “the land of the free and the home of the Brave.” There have been a host  of racist police assaults and murders in the US, from Rodney King to Michael Brown, sparking the Fergusson conflict between the civilian population and a police force so heavily armed they may as well be invading another country.

But the fact that Black and immigrant workers live under a double oppression, is also meant to distract and appease white workers – dividing us from our common interests as workers, and distracting us from the fact that our enemy is the employing class, the capital owning class. White workers are encouraged to see immigration, instead of rich capitalists stealing wealth produced, by the working class as a whole – as ‘the main problem’. We must not be misled by the anti-immigrant, racist ranting of the Daily mail, UKIP, Labour or the Tory party.

THE BRITISH STATE

Institutions of the British state do not serve the people, and practices such as cover-ups and corruption are part of the very logic of their operations, rather than the results of ‘extraordinary’ actions by a few ‘bad apples’.

ECONOMIC VIOLENCE

The violence of the state must be seen in the context of the economic violence of a system that sabotages and destroys the lives of billions world-wide, and millions in Britain, in order to concentrate the entire wealth of humanity in a tiny number of people’s hands. The 65 richest multi-billionaires today, control as much wealth as HALF THE WORLD’S POPULATION! Between 20 and 25 percent of all 16-24 year olds across the UK are unemployed. As an index of discrimination, it merits attention that a staggering 60 percent of young black men are jobless. As a result of endemic unemployment and under- employment, declining and often derisory wages, 3.6 million British children are growing up in poverty (between a quarter and a third of all children in the UK), and that this figure is set to rise. A recent report indicates that 1,000,000 children go hungry in Britain every day. How long will British workers accept this meekly? Our ruling class are already preparing for the violence they think will arise from this unjust and appalling inequality.

They know that they would not stand for it – so why should we?

STEPHEN LAWRENCE – CORRUPTION AND RACISM IN THE MET

On 18 March 2014, it was revealed that the Metropolitan Police in 2003 destroyed a vast cache of documents connected to an ongoing corruption investigation, including documents relating to a detective involved in the investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993.

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In an interview in the Guardian on 28 January 2012, Doreen Lawrence underlined that the police failed to find her son’s murderers, but stopped his brother 20 times as a criminal suspect! She herself was stopped a year after the murder, ‘suspected of driving a stolen car’.

MARK DUGGAN

This disclosure came just weeks after a coroner’s inquest ruled that the murder of Mark Duggan in August 2011 was ‘lawful’, despite the jury agreeing that Duggan was unarmed at the time. The two-and-a-half years following his murder have not only seen the usual attempts at cover-up and the giving of false evidence by the officers involved, but also a sustained media smear campaign against Mr Duggan and his family.

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These are just some of the most high-profile cases, which need to be understood in the context of the daily discrimination and harassment suffered by black and Asian communities at the hands of the British police.

STOP AND SEARCH

One of the most striking examples of this is the disproportionate use of ‘stop and search’ powers. These attacks on the black community have been ongoing since the notorious ‘sus’ (Suspicion) powers police used to target them since the 1970s.

Brixton-Riots2 SUS

Despite black people being around half as likely to be using drugs as other members of the public, in 2009-10 black people in England and Wales were more than six times more likely to be stopped and searched for drugs possession.

In addition to this, they are treated far more harshly by the ‘justice’ system after arrest, and are much more likely to be charged for minor offences (as opposed to being merely cautioned).

[See ‘The numbers in black and white: ethnic disparities in the policing and prosecution of drug offences in England and  Wales’, release.org.uk, 2013]

DEATHS IN POLICE CUSTODY

Brutefocus

The numbers relating to deaths in custody also display the same disturbing features at a national level. Since 1990, there have been 82 deaths of members of an ethnic minority at the hands of the Metropolitan Police. None of these have to date resulted in a conviction. There have been a further 63 in other forces in the rest of England and Wales.

While many of the black and ethnic-minority deaths have been concentrated in the Metropolitan Police area, the number of deaths in custody generally have been quite consistently higher

for ethnic minorities than for white Britons across the country. (See ‘Datablog: deaths after police contact or in police custody’, guardian.co.uk, 19 July 2012)

KILLING THE VULNERABLE

Particularly shocking is the number of black people suffering from mental-health problems who have died in police custody, often after having suffered disproportionate violence.

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Typical of this racially aggravated assault and police murder are the cases of Roger Sylvester (who died after being ‘restrained’ and asphyxiated by 11 police officers in 1999, while trying to gain access to his own home), and Rocky Bennett  (who expressed his desire to leave voluntary psychiatric treatment, was promptly sectioned, then ‘restrained’ and asphyxiated by a gang of police who effectively murdered him in 1998).

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BRIXTON, BROADWATER FARM, & the 2011 Youth Uprisings

Add this systematic mistreatment and harassment to the wider economic inequalities that exist along ethnic lines and it is quite understandable how even a single incident can spark a drastic reaction; be it the police killings that sparked the Brixton and Broadwater Farm uprisings in 1981 and 1985 or the shooting of Mark Duggan that sparked the youth uprising of 2011.

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While all this is deeply troubling, it is unfortunately not surprising. Marxists have long understood that imperialism survives by creating division among workers at home as well as abroad – the partition of the world and exploitation of its masses goes hand in hand with racism and oppression of workers in the centres of imperialism itself

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As the old trade-union adage goes, “United we stand, divided we fall”. Or as Karl Marx and Frederick Engels so succinctly put it in the Communist Manifesto, “Workers of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains!”

POLICE VIOLENCE AGAINST PROTESTORS

The police and Army in Britain have a long history of violence against the organized working class movement, from the Llanelli railway strikers in 1911, to the British General Strike of 1926, the battle of Cable Street in 1936, the Miners Strike of 1984 – 1985, or the more recent anti G11 , Anti-NATO, or student demonstrations against sky-rocketing tuition Fees and the abolition of the EMA, that effectively barred access of the working class to further and higher education.

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In December 2011, responding to increased public unrest and clearly anticipating more, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) published a report highlighting the existing legal power of police to shoot ‘arsonists’ if they are deemed to be ‘endangering life’. Whilst lip-service was paid to this tactic being a ‘last resort’, its inclusion within the report, and its subsequent promotion in the bourgeois press, is a thinly- veiled endorsement of the use of live ammunition by police against protestors who are deemed threatening to the British state.

It is a blueprint that authorises the murder of those who deviate from the usual routine and futile avenues of protest, and it must be made clear to workers that, as seductive as the rhetoric on ‘protection of the public’ is, it is a fig-leaf intended to disarm us.

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The police were not concerned about the protection of Mark Duggan as they publicly executed him, or of so many of our loved ones who have died at their hands, or languish unjustly in their jails. Claims that he was armed and dangerous have been shown up as false, since the gun it was said he was carrying about his person had no trace of his DNA on it.

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The police shot to kill in order to intimidate that section of the local population who are inclined to rebellion, no longer meekly swallowing the bourgeois propaganda and lies that generally serve to hold the working-class population in check.

The police are equally unconcerned about the dozens of people who have died in their custody or in immigration detention camps.

IRELAND

The British state has a long history of violence, oppression, rape and robbery in its colonial possessions, from India and China, to the Americas and Africa. Ireland is its oldest colony, and it still occupies and polices the northern part of that nation.

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The British army had no compunction about freely murdering the participants of national liberation struggles in all its colonies over hundreds of years. Just as little were the British military concerned about the protection of the 14 civil rights potestors civilians they murdered in Derry in 1972, or the many others killed and wounded by them over the years of occupation, in Ireland and in Britain. The briefest of inquiry would reveal that their loyal concern lies with the protection of British capitalists’ interests and above all their private property and the perpetuation of the system of class exploitation itself.

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The treatment of Harry Stanley, shot dead by police officers in 1999, for having an ‘Irish accent’ (he was Scottish), and reported carrying a shotgun (in fact a wooden table-leg, which he was carrying home in a plastic bag) is instructive in this regard, as was the police execution of Diarmuid O’Neill in 1996.

THE SOLUTION?

As ever, for workers, our only option is to Struggle. But we must realize who are our enemies and who can be won to our cause. British youth need a Marxist-Leninist education that will enable us to adopt leadership positions in our communities, break down the walls of suspicion between workers of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, unite with other communities in common struggle against our oppressors, and advance the struggle against capitalist imperialism.

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The CPGB-ML stands in solidarity with all those who are fighting for justice against the tyranny, and murderous oppression of the British State. But also issues a word of caution. The imperialist leopard cannot change his spots. ‘Financial compensation’ is an insult. Police ‘apologies’ are rare, admissions of guilt or reprimand of the officers concerned almost never happen. Why? Because the capitalist’s need the strong arm of the law firmly held to our throats. In the last analysis, the only redress that can be won for the British workers, is the overthrow of the decadent, rotten, corrupt and moribund system of exploitation of one man by another and one nation by another that has landed humanity in this Sorry state of affairs.

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Only the working class in power can solve these issues for themselves. We will guarantee that our society is built upon humane and just lines, that allow the development and flourishing of all individuals within our rich and diverse country and usher in an era that is truly peaceful and prosperous.

Red Youth on the 2011 Riots:

Understanding the State:

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CPGB-ML debate with CPB’s Jim Whyte

Originally posted on Red Youth:

Harpal Brar debates the British Road to Socialism and other issues with CPB social democrat Jim Whyte at a Stalin Society meeting held in Glasgow.

You can listen to more social democratic drivel from the CPB here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DzrKtBZHPk

View original

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Thousands of NHS workers out on strike

Red Youth was pleased to support a handful of the many hundreds of picket lines organised across the country today in defense of the NHS. Thousands of workers staged a 4 hour stoppage in protest against a provocative 1% pay rise (in effect a serious pay cut).

In July 2010, barely two months after a general election campaign in which the Tories promised “no more top-down reorganisations of the NHS”, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced the new government’s plans for the biggest restructuring of the NHS since its foundation in 1948.

Yet such bare-faced contempt for the British public profoundly misjudged the fact that these days, with disillusionment with mainstream politics at record levels, only the pathologically naïve would fail to see the Health and Social Care Bill 2011 for what it really is: the final outright privatisation of the NHS.

There has been a huge upsurge of popular opposition to the proposals, with inspired campaign groups like 38 Degrees and Keep Our NHS Public spearheading the fight alongside NHS workers themselves. As usual the do-nothing tactics of the Labour party and TUC have been put thoroughly to shame by the dedication, courage, and ingenuity of these activists.

Yet all too often even the likes of 38 Degrees leave themselves exposed by a superficial analysis that, for example, sees the HASC Bill as the personal project of Lansley himself – a problem that could perhaps be removed if only Lansley could be removed, if only the government could somehow be persuaded to ‘see sense’.

Always in the background there lurks the dangerous illusion that every British worker should by now know to avoid like the plague: that if only a Labour government were in office, all would be well.

Meanwhile, Lansley has given way to Jeremy Hunt, and the privatisation drive is intensifying rather than abating. The latest proposals, if they pass into law, will make it compulsory for GPs to open up all areas of health provision to private companies – something that Lansley stated emphatically last year would definitely not happen!

Privatisation and profiteering

Those who attempt to defend the last Labour government’s record on the NHS typically point to the increase in funding from 1999. But while some of that money did go to frontline care, this actually occurred only as an accidental and temporary trickle-down side effect of the real policies driving increased spending at that time: the likes of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) that sought easy profit opportunities for big business by mortgaging NHS assets to private banking consortia.

While the huge increase in public funding for the NHS (from £49bn in 1999/2000 to £119bn in 2009/10) that this covert privatisation process entailed was temporarily sustainable during the last decade’s cheap credit boom, the capitalist economy’s catastrophic tailspin into global recession means this is quite clearly no longer the case.

This is the rationale behind the ongoing so-called ‘Nicholson Challenge’ for the NHS to make £20bn-worth of cuts in ‘efficiency savings’ by 2015. And let us remember that this target of £20bn was announced to leading NHS doctors before the ConDem government was elected – ie, by the last Labour government.

If decency and common sense governed political decisions in Britain, these savings and more could easily be made by targeting the obvious source of the gross inefficiency that has caused NHS spending to spiral out of control in the first place: ie, by cancelling PFI debt and removing all private-sector involvement in the running of the NHS.

But capitalism does not quite work that way; and so wards and whole hospitals are closed and clinical staff thrown out of work so that corporate interests can continue to profit out of the NHS.

The media spin that persists in its weasel attempts to invert this reality, blaming spiralling NHS spending on an ageing population, or rising patient expectations, or the mythical ‘inherent inefficiency of the public sector’ should fool no-one. The US healthcare system is entirely privately-owned, and is the most expensive and inefficient in the developed world, costing $6,719 per person per year while leaving 50+ million Americans uninsured and millions more seriously underinsured.

The socialist alternative

In stark contrast, socialist Cuba’s health system, entirely publicly-owned, is able to provide free comprehensive health care for all at a cost of only $362 per person per year, achieving population health statistics rivalling and even surpassing those of developed countries.

The difference? At no point in the Cuban system is there anybody who is driving up costs by making a profit. Moreover, the fact that the state is the sole provider of health care avoids the obscenely wasteful duplication, cherry-picking, and poor coordination of services that inevitably arise when multiple inter-competing private providers are involved.

Though Cuba’s healthcare achievements are relatively well-known these days, it is less widely recognised that the inspiration for the Cuban system was that of the Soviet Union; still less that the Soviet system – as the world’s first free universal healthcare system – also served as the model for Britain’s NHS itself.

Though Labour are invariably credited as the benefactors of the NHS, the fact is that the NHS was effectively a concession made by British capitalism due to the relative strength of the working class in the aftermath of the triumph of Soviet socialism in the second world war.

Many things have changed since then. The collapse of the USSR has meant that British capitalism no longer feels compelled to make such concessions to workers to deter them from revolution. Moreover, the profits from reconstruction of industry that fuelled the post-war boom have long since dried up, with capitalists increasingly turning to the option of easy taxpayer-funded bonanzas arising from the privatisation of public services: utilities, railways, education … and the NHS.

Since the end of the post-war boom, Labour governments have been just as complicit as the Tories in the slow liquidation of the NHS. It was the Callaghan administration of 1976-79 that began the process of hospital closures, while the Blair government not only kept the Tories’ internal market but further accelerated NHS privatisation by transforming NHS Trusts into ‘Foundation’ Trusts – embryonic private hospitals.

The lesson of history is clear: the problem is not merely the HASC Bill and subsequent regulations, to be resolved simply by getting rid of Lansley, Hunt or Cameron, or – God forbid – by voting Labour at the next election, but the whole rotten capitalist system, which, in its insatiable desire for profit, will continue its merciless attack on the living standards of working-class people until it itself is overthrown.

Join us now and help us make it happen!

 

Some photos from the picket lines:

NHS workers’ Strike, Monday 13 October, pickets at City Hospital Birmingham

NHS workers’ Strike, Monday 13 October, pickets at City Hospital Birmingham

NHS workers’ Strike, Monday 13 October, pickets at City Hospital Birmingham

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“Demonstration” at the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham

This warm, sunny Sunday in late September saw an event that usually unites various left elements in the country: the demonstration at the Tory party conference. Only that this year it was not planned as a protest but as a ‘festival’! Are we celebrating the British state’s attack on the working class and the non-existent resistance now?! Even though it might not have been that much more impressive on the day, at least two years ago, when it was also held in Birmingham, it was still billed as a ‘march and rally for the alternative’

© Stalingrad O'Neill

Even as a street festival, the event organised by the TUC this Sunday can only be described as an underwhelming experience, lasting hardly any longer than 4 hours, including a short 20 minute stroll through the city centre of Birmingham. The festival was set up on Victoria Square in front of the Council House, which would have been a decent enough location, had the conference not been held half a mile away, out of sight and hearing range. The march through the centre merely moved further away and made full use of empty backstreets, so as not to disturb the shopping public.

At least the CPGB-ML and Red Youth put on a good display under the circumstances, with one of the nicer stalls, shining in full crimson and displaying not only party literature but also a selection of Marxist classics that put others to shame.

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In the process we chatted to many interested members of the public, some disillusioned with other left groups and also one self-proclaimed ‘anarcho-capitalist’, who somehow found his way from the internet into the real world. The latter provided us with the invaluable information that the European Union is in fact a communist institution, as it supposedly redistributes wealth to the poorer countries at the expense of the successful ones. Comrades, we can pack up, we have already achieved power across Europe!

In all seriousness, individuals like this, providing they are not purely interested in having an argument, should look into who really benefits from the European single market – big banks, industrialists and financiers. Even more importantly is understanding the definition of communism and socialism and not equating it with a ‘big state that hates the market’.

In any case, we made a number of new contacts, including a number of young comrades from China who showed interest in working with us, reinforcing the image that many the more serious revolutionaries in this country tend to be from an international background, like the author of this blog piece!

Signed, an Austrian living in Birmingham!

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CPGB-ML South Wales Update

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It has been a busy few months for CPGB-ML comrades in South Wales as they continue to step up activity in the region. Comrades have attended Bedroom Tax and NHS events and there has been activity in both Merthyr Tydfil and Abergavenny. The latest Gaza leaflets were distributed in Cardiff City Centre and there was a high level of interest in them. The CPGB-ML were also once again present at the 1911 Railway Strike commemoration in Llanelli as they have been since its centenary in 2011.

The Party has long been instrumental in highlighting and raising awareness about Nato’s murderous warmongering and this was reflected in a good contingent at the ‘No to Nato’ protest in Newport where comrades from Newport, Merthyr Tydfil and Swansea were joined by party members from Runcorn, Hereford, Bristol and London. The demo was large and lively and we were able to set up a gazebo both at the start of the march and the town centre rally afterwards. Comrades marched proudly with the CPGB-ML banner and flags as well as the Palestinian flag, and over 700 of our Nato leaflets were distributed. There was a lot of interest in our latest Ukraine leaflets too and it was refreshing to note that people are not buying in to the Russia as warmonger mythology.

Comrade Giles was able to take our message to a wider audience in an interview for Bangladeshi TV and footage of the CPGB-ML featured on the RT coverage of the event. Despite the usual lack of accurate reporting from the BBC which aimed to make the week of protest look smaller than it actually was in a vain attempt to diminish its impact, the Activists were out in full force. All this despite the intimidation of a heavy police and military presence, the kettling of protesters and access to both Newport and Cardiff having been made as difficult as physically possible.

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With the streets of Newport being tarted up for the visit of the ‘World Leaders’ the public showed what they really thought and surrounded Cardiff Castle as the leaders were treated to a slap up feast! While the eyes of the world are riveted to footage of atrocity after atrocity in Syria and Iraq and bombs rain down on Palestinian schoolchildren Obama took time out to visit a local school. The irony of this was lost on him…

As the US and its Imperialist chums turn their attentions back to Syria there is an air of disbelief emanating from the masses, an anger building. A gentleman who was reading our leaflets talked about the convenience of the BBC coverage concerning ISIS and Iraq to divert attention away from Gaza and the outpouring of solidarity across the world with the Palestinian people.Indeed, it is getting harder and harder to keep up lately. Who is on the target list today: DPRK? Syria? Iraq? Iran? Venezuela?

The people of South Wales have always been immensely proud of their heritage and justifiably so. Although the scarred hillsides serve as a constant reminder of the loss of industry in the area it is the actions of the Chartists, the Miners and the working people that remains in our hearts and our minds and serves as an example to us. South Wales has a staunch and admirable Socialist past and the region and indeed Wales as a whole must continue to stand with the workers of Britain and continue to fight for the cause of Internationalism in the same spirit as the Welsh volunteers of the International Brigades. In 1831 during the Merthyr Uprising the red flag of revolution was raised for the very first time and the CPGB-ML are proud to march beneath this international symbol of the working classes – join us!

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“Remember the procession of the old-young men
From dole queue to corner and back again,
From the pinched, packed streets to the peak of slag
In the bite of the winters with shovel and bag,
With a drooping fag and a turned up collar,
Stamping for the cold at the ill lit corner
Dragging through the squalor with their hearts like lead
Staring at the hunger and the shut pit-head
Nothing in their pockets, nothing home to eat.
Lagging from the slag heap to the pinched, packed street.
Remember the procession of the old-young men,
It shall never happen again.”
-Dylan Thomas

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CPGB-ML at lobby of Labour Party Conference

CPGB-ML comrades attended the lobby of the Labour Party Conference in Manchester on Sunday, 21st September 2014. Protesters pushed to the brink by continuing war and austerity gathered to express their anger outside the conference centre while Labour bigwigs soaked up the luxury and opulence of the Midland Hotel opposite. The lobby was attended by various campaign groups such as KONP (Keep Our NHS Public) and there was a vocal and spirited stand against G4S and its human rights abuses in Palestine.

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The lobby also coincided with one of the national climate marches where anti-fracking protesters were out in force. CPGB-ML comrades showed solidarity against ALL capitalist cuts and our message was simple but clear: Socialism is the ONLY alternative to the corruption and oppression of all working people under the current system.

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Our contingent had a visible presence with banner and flags, and were able to secure a good spot at the conference entrance to set up a stall where copies of Proletarian and Lalkar were purchased along with a number of party publications (‘Nato’s Predatory War against Yugoslavia’ proved to be popular!).

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CPGB-ML members also handed out leaflets on issues ranging from Palestine and Nato to the NHS and Austerity with a good response from the public, protesters and even one or two conference delegates! Our stall was popular with a number of Trade Unionists coming from the conference to speak to us about their disillusionment with the Labour Party. And despite an intimidating police presence (also armed forces and helicopters) which almost outnumbered the protesters, a few members of the police force chatted to us about how they don’t receive over time for events such as these as they are salaried workers. Of course refusal to attend would result in their being disciplined!

Despite the enthusiasm of protesters it was a noticeably small gathering. Many protesters shouted slogans such as ‘Don’t be a Tory all your life!’ and urging Labour not to sell off our NHS, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Labour have been instrumental in its creeping privatisation. Labour brought us PFI, and Labour brought us Atos and its heinous fit for work assessments. Labour have also refused to ban fracking and have now put forward the earth shattering proposal of raising the minimum wage to £8 per hour… in 2020!

We all have to stand together and realise that Labour are every bit as dangerous as the Tories. They do not represent working people. Capitalism Must Go! Labour, Tory? Same Old Story! Join the CPGB-ML.

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