Croydon’s Communist Party Reacts to Scandal of Empty Homes in the Borough

Press Release

Croydon Council has reported that it knows of 1,044 homes which have been empty for more than six months as of March 31 2014, compared to 1,000 in September last year. Meanwhile, more than 2,000 families have been put in temporary accommodation.

Ben Stevenson, Communist Party local election candidate for Bensham Manor, said, “I think this is a scandal given the extent of the housing shortage in Croydon and is symptomatic of the council’s refusal to tackle Croydon’s housing crisis. Britain has the seventh largest economy in the world. We should be building decent homes for all who need them. Instead, we are failing those least able to defend themselves, forcing them to squeeze in to B&Bs. Not only are the conditions often cramped and squalid, but children suffer as they have no place to play or do their homework. These are modern day slums; and this is a massive waste of taxpayers’ money.”

House prices in London are continuing to spiral out of control. Prices have risen overall by around 18% over the last year, as a shortage of housing in the capital, the activities of ‘buy to let’ landlords and the Government’s fundamentally misconceived Funding for Lending scheme fuels another speculative bubble. In Croydon itself, prices have risen by 14% over the last year, with reports of local buyers paying up to £50,000 above asking prices.

To make matters worse, house prices in London are now less affordable, compared to earnings, than ever before. It’s usually considered that a reasonable level for house prices is about three times that of earnings. But, for the first time, we are seeing average London house price which are eight times the average first-time buyer’s salary. People are being forced to take on absurd levels of debt to buy a home.

Mr Stevenson said, “Clearly, this isn’t sustainable. At some point the bubble will burst. Local politicians are failing to meet the housing needs of those least able to defend themselves: the poor, the vulnerable and the socially excluded. Meanwhile the number of new houses being built is falling to an all-time low. The only significant building projects that get the green light are those that promise yet more luxury apartments in an attempt to lure high earners away from Central London. The supply of social housing in Croydon is of course, woefully inadequate. Years of neglect by the local Tory council, along with central New Labour and Tory Government housing policies, has left Croydon with a smaller housing stock then almost any other London boroughs. Even the Council’s own Housing Strategy admits that Croydon is ill-equipped to meet housing need. An entire generation of people in Croydon are being systematically denied their right to decent affordable housing. We need, as a matter of urgency, to campaign for a significant council house building programme, an end to the bedroom tax, an end to council house sales, compulsory requisitioning of long term empty properties and rent controls in the private sector. Only the Communist Party offers these and other progressive policies which matter to ordinary working people.”

Communists in Croydon recently published a pamphlet on the growing housing crisis in the borough, Decent Homes For All: End Croydon’s Housing Crisis Now! This publication seeks to explain the why and how of Croydon’s housing crisis. Copies are available on the website or by contacting us direct.

Notes to editors:
1. For enquiries phone 0208 686 1659 or e-mail croydon@communist-party.org.uk
2. Ben Stevenson is 29 years old and National Secretary of the Communist Party. Since moving to Croydon from his native Birmingham in 2005, he has been heavily involved in local labour movement politics through the Croydon Save Our Schools Campaign, the campaign against the Beddington Lane Incinerator and the Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee. He stood as a Communist Party candidate in the 2012 Croydon North by-election.
3. John Eden is the Communist Party local election candidate for Selhurst. He is 64 years old and a carpenter and joiner. He is a member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee and has lived in Selhurst for 27 years.
4. Dr Peter Latham is the Communist Party local election candidate for Broad Green. A former lecturer, he has lived in the area for many years. He is the author of ‘The State and Local Government: Towards a new basis for local democracy and the defeat of big business control’ and a longstanding member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee.
5. The Communist Party was founded in 1920 and is part of an international movement involving millions of people in more than 100 countries across the globe.

Croydon Communists’ Rallying Cry for the Local Elections: Let’s Fight for a People’s Britain Not a Bankers’ Britain!

Press Release

Croydon Communists stepped up their campaign in the May 2014 local elections. Members were out yesterday leafleting in the three wards where we are standing candidates in the May 2014 local elections: Bensham Manor, Selhurst and Broad Green.

Ben Stevenson, Croydon Communist candidate for Bensham Manor, said, “This is the real start of our campaign. We will be using all available media channels as well as traditional campaigning methods to get out message across to local residents that we offer a genuine alternative to the relentless austerity, public service cuts and total lack of accountability offered by the Tories. They also need more than the vague platitudes presented by Labour about more transparency and cleaning up dog mess! We all deserve better than this government or the lacklustre ‘Tory-lite’ response being offered by the Milliband-Balls ‘purple’ Labour plan of exactly the same policies dragged out over a couple of years.”

Croydon Communists see the election as a real opportunity to take the fight to the Con-Dem Government and explain to local people that there is a future worth fighting for based on a genuine socialist political and economic strategy. The Government continues to try to con people into thinking that they offer the only way out of the economic crisis. But ordinary people know when they are being sold a pup. Real wages remain significantly lower than they were before the recession hit; pensioners and benefit claimants have seen a significant reduction in disposable income; and the NHS, education, social housing and other public services are under a sustained assault by a government determined to turn the clock back to the social conditions of the 19th Century. It’s time we put people before profit – and fought for a people’s Britain rather than a bankers’ Britain.

Dr Peter Latham, Croydon Communist candidate for Broad Green, said, “Labour’s talk of ‘difficult choices’ and providing public services ‘differently’ utterly misses the point. The experience in Lambeth and other councils are well known – residents are faced with an impossible choice. Either support the provision of vital local services staffed by volunteers, with all the impact that has on the quality of service delivery and the jobs of the staff themselves, or see them disappear. This is no choice at all!”

Croydon’s communists support more democracy at street and community level, with real involvement by residents in local projects. Communist policies for Croydon are based on a realistic and objective assessment of what’s deliverable at local level in current political circumstances and include:

• More affordable public sector housing and a cap on private housing at affordable rents
• Compulsory take-over of empty office space
• Defend the freedom pass and fight for more investment inpublic transport
• Council-led drive for investment in clean technology and an increase in recycling
• Higher council tax rates for top-band properties
• A council-led drive for jobs and facilities for disabled workers
• No more outsourcing or privatisation of council services
• A tight cap on councillors’ allowances and expenses.

John Eden, Croydon Communist candidate for Selhurst, said, “I’m standing up for ordinary people in the ward. Croydon Labour Party’s manifesto for the May 2014 elections provides a clear illustration of their failure to offer a vision for Croydon which presents a genuine alternative. Our community faces job losses, inadequate housing and all-out assault on local services. I look forward to the challenge presented by this election, taking the fight to the Tories and explaining to local people that there’s a future worth fighting for based on a socialist vision that empowers them and offers hope of a better future.”

Notes to editors:
1. For enquiries phone 0208 686 1659 or e-mail croydon@communist-party.org.uk
2. Ben Stevenson is 29 years old and National Secretary of the Communist Party. Since moving to Croydon from his native Birmingham in 2005, he has been heavily involved in local labour movement politics through the Croydon Save Our Schools Campaign, the campaign against the Beddington Lane Incinerator and the Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee. He stood as a Communist Party candidate in the 2012 Croydon North by-election.
3. John Eden is the Communist Party candidate for Selhurst. He is 64 years old and a carpenter and joiner. He is a member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee and has lived in Selhurst for 27 years.
4. Dr Peter Latham is the Communist Party candidate for Broad Green. A former lecturer, he has lived in the area for many years. He is the author of ‘The State and Local Government: Towards a new basis for local democracy and the defeat of big business control’ and a longstanding member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee.
5. Croydon Communists recently published a well-received pamphlet on housing issues in the borough, ‘Decent Homes for All – End Croydon’s Housing Crisis Now’, which is available on the website or by contacting us direct.
6. The Communist Party was founded in 1920 and is part of an international movement involving millions of people in more than 100 countries across the globe.

Lib Dem candidate’s ‘lunatic fringe’ comment politically illiterate

Posted by John Eden
From: Dr. Peter Latham

Sent: Monday, April 07, 2014 5:12 AM

To: newsdesk@croydonadvertiser.co.uk

Subject: Lib Dem candidate’s ‘lunatic fringe’ comment politically illiterate

Dear Editor,

Please consider my letter below for publication in next Friday’s issue of the paper.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Latham

Lib Dem candidate’s ‘lunatic fringe’ comment politically illiterate

Lib Dem local election candidate John Jenkins, according to your report on 4 April, was furious that he would be speaking at Croydon Radio’s hustings programme on 6 April alongside Communist and National Front candidates he describes as the “lunatic fringe”.

In fact Ben Stevenson, Croydon Communist candidate for Bensham Manor ward, dropped out of the show immediately we learnt that a National Front candidate would be appearing. This follows our ‘no platform to racists or fascists’ policy, which is a matter of principle held not only by communists but also by trade unions and vast sections of the labour and progressive movement. We therefore applaud the decision by Andrew Pelling – who is also a Labour local election candidate – to resign from Croydon Radio because the NF were given a platform at the station’s hustings programme on 6 April.

John Jenkins is also politically illiterate when he equates communists with fascists because fascism is the last resort of a capitalist state in crisis. Moreover, the very first people Hitler sent to the gas chambers were the German communists as shown by Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous poem: ‘First they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist… Then they came for the Socialists…the trade unionists…the Jews… Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me’.

Capitalism is again in crisis today and this is why the Communist Party of Britain is part of the No2EU alliance (set up by the late Bob Crow) whose manifesto will go to all households urging voters on 22 May to support a non-racist socialist exit from the European Union with its austerity policies.

Similarly, Ben Stevenson, John Eden in Selhurst and Peter Latham in Broad Green are standing as Communist candidates in the local elections to show that there is an alternative to the austerity policies of the three main parties both nationally and locally. For, as noted in my forthcoming book on The imminent demise of local government, all of the cuts in welfare, health, education, housing and local authority services can be reversed and services massively increased by:

· a two per cent wealth tax on the richest 10 per cent of households who own an estimated 44 per cent of Britain’s wealth (revenue £90 billion a year)

· a 10 per cent ‘Robin Hood’ tax on City transac­tions (revenue £112 billion a year)

· ending tax dodging by the super-rich and big business (revenue £70 billion a year).

(Dr.) Peter Latham, Flat 8 Scoresdale, 13 Beulah Hill, London SE19 3LH

May 2014 Local Elections – No Platform for Racists and Fascists

Press Release

There have been reports that Ben Stevenson, Croydon Communist candidate for Bensham Manor in the May 2014 local elections would be appearing on today’s Croydon Radio ‘In The Loop’ Election Special.

We were pleased to accept the original invitation but dropped out of the show immediately we learnt that a National Front (NF) candidate would be appearing. This follows our ‘no platform to racists or fascists’ policy, which is a matter of principle held not only by communists but also by trade unions and vast sections of the labour and progressive movement. In Croydon and the rest of the country we have and will continue to work with legitimate political parties, groups and individuals on any issue of common concern – including anti-racist work- but groups like the NF, BNP, the EDL and other offshoots have nothing to offer the people of Croydon other than hatred, vitriol and bile. Their goal is to divide people and communities to such an extent that they can incite a race war.

Mr Stevenson said, “Providing a platform for racists and fascists does nothing but further legitimise them. You can’t drown them in the oxygen of publicity. The only reason why these groups have not been consigned to the dustbin of history, where they belong, is the daily dose of anti-immigration hysteria presented in right wing tabloid newspaper and tacitly encouraged by mainstream political parties as an easy vote winner in the short term.”

We understand the NF was subsequently removed from the show but received confirmation of the position too late to change our decision.

Croydon Communists continue to look forward to the election campaign, where we are fielding three candidates. Mr Stevenson said, “Croydon residents need a genuine alternative to the relentless austerity, public service cuts and total lack of accountability offered by the Tories. They also need more than the platitudes presented by Labour about more transparency in council meetings, more effective working with the voluntary sector and cleaner streets in Croydon. This election is an opportunity to take the fight to the Tories and explain to local people that there is a future worth fighting for based on a socialist political and economic strategy.”

Notes to editors:
1. For enquiries phone 0208 686 1659 or e-mail croydon@communist-party.org.uk
2. Ben Stevenson is 29 years old and National Secretary of the Communist Party. Since moving to Croydon from his native Birmingham in 2005, he has been heavily involved in local labour movement politics through the Croydon Save Our Schools Campaign, the campaign against the Beddington Lane Incinerator and the Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee. He stood as a Communist Party candidate in the 2012 Croydon North by-election.
3. John Eden is the Communist Party candidate for Selhurst. He is 64 years old and a carpenter and joiner. He is a member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee and has lived in Selhurst for 27 years.
4. Dr Peter Latham is the Communist Party candidate for Broad Green. A former lecturer, he has lived in the area for many years. He is the author of ‘The State and Local Government: Towards a new basis for local democracy and the defeat of big business control’ and a longstanding member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee.
5. The Communist Party’s longstanding No Platform policy asserts that no person or organisation holding racist or fascist beliefs should be given a platform to speak at a party-organised event, nor should an officer of the party share a platform with them. Reflecting the development of web-based communications and social media and the significant shift in the way information is promoted or made accessible, No Platform also means that we deny fascists and racists the freedom to spread their poison within communities unchallenged.
6. Croydon Communists recently published a well-received pamphlet on housing issues in the borough, ‘Decent Homes for All – End Croydon’s Housing Crisis Now’, which is available on the website or by contacting us direct.
7. The Communist Party was founded in 1920 and is part of an international movement involving millions of people in more than 100 countries across the globe.

Croydon Communist Party Launches Campaign for May 2014 Local Elections

Media Release

Croydon’s Communist Party announced today that it will be fielding three candidates in the May 2014 local elections.

Launching the campaign, Ben Stevenson, Communist Party National Secretary and prospective local election candidate for Bensham Manor, said, “Croydon residents need a genuine alternative to the relentless austerity, public service cuts and total lack of accountability offered by the Tories. They also need more than the platitudes presented by Labour about more transparency in council meetings, more effective working with the voluntary sector and cleaner streets in Croydon. Frankly, the blather expressed recently by Tony Newman about these issues is a smokescreen. Of course, we support giving back as much influence as possible to local people and communities. But Labour in Croydon are offering the same cuts in services as the Tories, with a bit of window dressing to obscure their impact. For a start, if they were serious about restoring democracy in Croydon Council they would abolish cabinet government, which is anything but democratic, and re-empower councillors. And they would fight for properly funded public services provided directly by the council.”

Labour’s talk of ‘difficult choices’, ‘priorities’ and providing public services ‘differently’ misses the point. The dangers of going down the ‘cooperative council’ route pursued by Lambeth and other councils are well known. Residents are faced with an impossible choice. Either support the provision of vital local services such as children’s and youth facilities and libraries by volunteers, with all the impact that has on the quality of service delivery and the jobs of the staff themselves, or see them disappear.

Ben Stevenson said, “Croydon clearly needs decent local services which reflect local needs. We mustn’t fall into the trap of thinking we need offer a balanced budget within centrally determined funding constraints. The Con-Dem Government has made a political decision to use a crisis of capitalism as cover for permanent austerity and a wide-range assault on the welfare state and all the social gains made since 1945. Local government as we know it is set to disappear as totally unnecessary funding cuts result in the termination of discretionary services and even statutory services face a ‘death of the thousand cuts’. Why not consider the positive role of a ‘needs budget’ to resist Tory austerity politics. And simply say ‘no’ to the forced implementation of the cuts?”

John Eden, prospective local election candidate for Selhurst said, “Croydon Labour Party’s manifesto for the May 2014 elections provides a clear illustration of their failure to offer a vision for Croydon which presents a genuine alternative to endless austerity. Our community faces job losses, inadequate housing and all-out assault on local services. I look forward to the challenge presented by this election, taking the fight to the Tories and explaining to local people that there’s a future worth fighting for based on a socialist political and economic strategy.”

Notes to editors:
1. For enquiries phone 0208 686 1659 or e-mail croydon@communist-party.org.uk
2. Ben Stevenson is 29 years old and National Secretary of the Communist Party. Since moving to Croydon from his native Birmingham in 2005, he has been heavily involved in local labour movement politics through the Croydon Save Our Schools Campaign, the campaign against the Beddington Lane Incinerator and the Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee. He stood as a Communist Party candidate in the 2012 Croydon North by-election.
3. John Eden is 64 years old and a carpenter and joiner. He is a member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee and has lived in Selhurst for 27 years.
4. Dr Peter Latham is the prospective candidate for Broad Green. A former lecturer, he has lived in the area for many years. He is the author of ‘The State and Local Government: Towards a new basis for local democracy and the defeat of big business control’ and a longstanding member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee.
5. Croydon Communists recently published a well-received pamphlet on housing issues in the borough, ‘Decent Homes for All – End Croydon’s Housing Crisis Now’, which is available on the website or by contacting us direct.
6. The Communist Party was founded in 1920 and is part of an international movement involving millions of people in more than 100 countries across the globe.

My recent blog on 1934 book by Joseph Stalin and his tribute to Trotsky.

Feb 13th 2014

By John Eden.

         Two days ago I blogged an extract of the first edition of Joseph Stalin’s 1934 book called “The October Revolution” on page 30 there is tribute to Leon Trotsky by Stalin on the first anniversary of the  “Russian Revolution” recognising Trotsky’s role as the main figure in the actual military preparations for the overthrow of the capitalist provisional government led by Kerensky.

         Note there is no mention by Stalin of Trotsky’s so call “Menshevism”, or his under estimation of the role of the “peasantry” or his role at “Brest-Litovsk” because these were not issues in the party, they only arose in the latter part of 1923, and they were the result of conflicts over the direction of the Soviet economy, and at this point a subject far to big to cover in a blog.

         But some who have some history of the struggle between Trotsky and Stalin might wonder why Stalin allowed his comments of sixteen years previously to appear in a book in 1934. Here I have to make certain assumptions and hypothesis  based on the reading I have done, and I shall have to go back to. If I recall 1934 was a year when Stalin grip on the party was under serious challenge from sections of the party because of the state of the economy, in fact he was considering resigning as General Secretary in 1932. It maybe in these circumstances those who compiled the book felt Stalins weakness and felt able to include his speech on Trotsky of 1918.

         All this was to change with the murder of Kirov, leader of the party in Leningrad on the 1st December 1934, Kirov and the Leningrad party was seen as a major opposition centre to Stalins rule and leadership. It as been stated that Kirov got more votes than Stalin at the party congress that year. Some say Stalin was involved in Kirov’s murder. Two of Lenin’s close collaboraters were acused of the crime Kamenev and Zinoviev they were jailed, some time later they were executed, but after Kirov’s murder a reign of terror began and Stalin’s dictatorship ensued, but of course he represented not just himself.

      I will have to go back to this, I have now a Croydon Trades Union Council meeting in five minutes, and correct any spelling tomorrow.

Croydon’s Communist Party Publishes New Pamphlet to Highlight the Growing Housing Crisis in the Borough

Press Release

Communists in Croydon have published today a pamphlet on the growing housing crisis in the borough, Decent Homes For All: End Croydon’s Housing Crisis Now!

Ben Stevenson, Croydon-based National Secretary of the Communist Party, said, “Local politicians are clearly failing to meet the housing needs of those least able to defend themselves: the poor, the vulnerable and the socially excluded. Meanwhile the number of new houses being built is falling to an all-time low. The only significant building projects that get the green light are those that promise yet more luxury apartments in an attempt to lure high earners away from Central London. An entire generation of people in Croydon are being systematically denied their right to decent affordable housing.”

“This new publication seeks to explain the why and how of Croydon’s housing crisis. Private rents continue to spiral out of control, well above the rate of inflation, while the Tory-led Government’s cuts to Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance for tenants in the social and private rented sectors, allied to high unemployment, is creating significant homelessness in Croydon. This publication is just the first step in raising awareness of the issues, starting a genuine debate involving all sections of the local community and mobilising support for local action.”

The supply of social housing in Croydon is woefully inadequate. Years of neglect by the local Tory council, along with central New Labour and Tory Government housing policies, has left Croydon with a smaller housing stock then almost any other London boroughs. Even the Council’s own Housing Strategy admits that Croydon is ill-equipped to meet housing need.

Instead of trying to solve these problems, Croydon council have been spending more and more money providing ‘temporary’ accommodation in B&Bs. Not only are the conditions often cramped and squalid, but children suffer as they have no place to play or do their homework. This is a massive waste of taxpayers’ money.

Mr Stevenson said, “I think this is a shocking indictment of a supposedly civilised society. Britain has the seventh largest economy in the world. We can clearly afford to build decent homes for all who need them. Instead, we are failing those least able to defend themselves. We should be building homes for people. Not forcing them to squeeze in to modern day slums for months at a time.”

The Communist Party invites all local campaigning organisations and housing advocacy groups to take part in a joint campaign to develop a better understanding of the problems faced by Croydon residents, raise awareness of the issues and help develop a local action plan to improve housing provision in the borough.

Mr Stevenson concluded, “Croydon is facing a real housing crisis. Statements by Tory Councillors indicate they neither understand the depth of the problem nor care about the impact on local people. Poor housing is linked to child poverty, family breakdown and mental illness. We need, as a matter of urgency, to campaign for a significant council house building programme, an end to the bedroom tax, an end to council house sales, compulsory requisitioning of long term empty properties and rent controls in the private sector. Only the Communist Party offers these and other progressive policies which matter to ordinary working people.”

Notes to editors:
1. Copies of the pamphlet, Decent Homes For All: End Croydon’s Housing Crisis Now!, can be downloaded here: Croydon Communists – Housing Crisis or obtained by phoning 0208 686 1659 or e-mailing croydon@communist-party.org.uk
2. Ben Stevenson is 29 years old and National Secretary of the Communist Party. Since moving to Croydon from his native Birmingham in 2005, he has been heavily involved in local labour movement politics through the Croydon Save Our Schools Campaign, the campaign against the Beddington Lane Incinerator and the Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee. He stood as a Communist Party candidate in the 2012 Croydon North by-election.
3. The Communist Party was founded in 1920 and is part of an international movement involving millions of people in more than 100 countries across the globe.

“The October Revolution” author Joseph Stalin printed 1934 Moscow

John Eden. 11th February
It is a long time since I have posted on the blog, recently I have been helping out at the Marx Memorial library in Clerkenwell Green London, home to an extensive collection of books on the labour movement including many Marxist publications. I knew there had been a book by Joseph Stalin called “The October Revolution” published in 1934, this I knew from reading Issac Deutscher’s books either the one he did on Stalin in 1947 or the later three volumes on the life of Leon Trotsky.
It was important to get this first edition of Stalin’s book, which I found, because it contained Stalin’s tribute to Leon Trotsky’s leading role in the tactical organisation of the October revolution in the Russian empire in 1917.
Here is the quote,
“From the beginning to end the insurrection was inspired by the Central Committee of the party, with Comrade Lenin at it’s head. Lenin at the time lived on the Vyborg side in a secret apartment. On October 24 in the evening, he was called out to the Smolny to assume the general charge of the movement. All practical work in connection in the organisation of the uprising was done under the immediate direction of Comrade Trotsky, the president of the Petrograd Soviet. It can be stated with certainty that the party is indebted primarily and principally to Comrade Trotsky for the rapid going over of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the efficient manner in which the work of the Military-Revolutionary Committee was organised. The principal assistants of Comrade Trotksy were Comrades Antonov and Podvoisky.” Speech made by Stalin on the first anniversary of the revolution reported in Prava no241 Nov 6th 1918. I shall blog more on about Comrade Antonov full name Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko and his subsequent fate at hands of Stalin and the regime in the latter 1930’s.
12th feb,
I just found this on the Russia Today website, it’s historical research on the history of the Red Army, and an event that I have never before come across, that the foundation date of the Red Army 23rd February 1918 marks it’s first victory of the over the occupying German Army. I have never read any accounts of this, and as the artical quotes, it is doubted by most historians.

RT.com / RT projects / Russiapedia / Of Russian origin / Red Army

Of Russian origin: Red Army

Historical background

The Red Army (Krasnaya Armiya) was a common name for the Russian National Military Forces from 1918 to 1946, which was also known by the abbreviation RKKA (Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army). The name refers to the color red. In the workers’ movement red symbolized the blood shed in the struggle against oppression.

The Red Army was founded immediately after the 1917 Russian Revolution when the Bolshevik Party came to power. But the official day of its creation is considered February 23, 1918. This was when the Soviet Republic announced the first victory of the Red Army over the Germans on the very last days of Russia’ s World War I campaign.

Two weeks later the Bolsheviks signed a peaceful agreement with Germany, as it was difficult to fund the army, which was short of everything including guns, ammunition and human resources. Some historians argue that the victory never happened. However, February 23 is still today celebrated in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus as Defender of the Motherland

Within two months Civil War broke out between the Bolsheviks and the remnants of the Old Russian Army. These two opposing forces were also called The Red Guard and The White Guard. The latter was heavily supported by the English and the Americans as well as by regiments from other countries that sought to intervene against the Bolsheviks in 1918.

As a result, the Republic of the Soviets found itself within a ring of opposing forces – with Cossacks on the South, Kolchak and Czech battalions in Siberia and British and American Corps in the North of Russia. It was quite a challenge for the newly born Red Army.

After several defeats in 1918 the Red Army managed to turn the situation around. One of the masterminds of this comeback was Leon Trotsky, a close ally of Lenin, who was later forced to leave the country by Joseph Stalin and then assassinated in Mexico. He managed to garner resources for a counterattack.

In 1919 the Red Army repulsed General Kolchak’s Army in Siberia and then launched a huge assault against General Denikin in the center of Russia. One of the most threatening forces at that time was the First Cavalry led by Semyon Budenny, who later became the Defense Minister of the USSR.

By 1920 the Red Army had succeeded in crushing all resistance in the European part of Russia and then moved on to fight in the Far East where battles lasted until 1922. In 1920-1921 the Red Army went to war with Poland but after a successful offensive the exhausted Soviets troops had to retreat.

The events of the Russian Civil War are a point of heated discussion among historians. Many novels and films have appeared about White Guard Personalities like General Kolchak and officers on the southern front in 1920. But no one denies that the Red Army managed to take over thanks to the following factors:

– intense propaganda to persuade workers and peasants to fight on their side. One of the most popular songs at that time stated:“from he Taiga in Siberia to the British Seas the Red Army is the strongest of all”;

– well-structured military training that promoted the craft of war among the masses;

– persistent work to make White Guard officers change sides and turn to the Red Army as there was a huge deficit of well-trained officers to lead troops.
Written by Oleg Dmitriev, Russia Today

Problems at HMRC

The Public Accounts Committee’s report on the failings of HMRC begs the question whether, as currently constituted, it is actually fit for purpose. The payment of tax in Britain by the super-rich and transnational corporations is now largely voluntary, and TNCs like Google and Starbucks comply with our tax rules only when it suits them. The revolving door between HMRC and the ‘big four’ accountancy firms, who recruit former tax inspectors to secure their expertise and regularly advise HMRC on the formulation of tax policy, leaches privileged knowledge and undermines effective tax collection. As soon as one abusive tax avoidance scheme is closed by HMRC, then another emerges. Up to 40% of the annual UK finance bill deals with such schemes, a huge waste of public resources.

The tax avoidance problem has been compounded in recent years by a significant re-structuring programme at HMRC. This switched its focus from tax collection to ‘customer relationship management’, particularly for the bigger corporations. This fundamental operational change lies behind the recent ‘sweetheart deals’ with major transnational corporations which have saved them billions in unpaid taxes and short-changed the Exchequer. To do its job effectively, HMRC needs to be effectively tasked and properly resourced. It makes no sense to cut the part of government that brings money in. Increasing resources would clearly deliver significant results: HMRC professionals bring-in as much as twenty times their employment cost.

Allied with the introduction of a robust General Anti-Avoidance Rule, as proposed recently by Michael Meacher, and radical steps to close tax havens, this would give HMRC a fighting chance. Tax evasion and avoidance in the UK is a serious problem, which requires a serious solution. As the late Ken Gill said, “You pay tax and you buy civilisation.”

IFS Report on Growing Inequality Highlights Nature of the Con-Dem Project

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has just published a report which concludes that the days when each generation could expect to be better off than their predecessors is ending, as living standards decline for those born after 1960. This will come as no surprise to those struggling with real-term pay cuts, benefit reductions and above-inflation increases in food, rent, travel costs and utility bills. But the publication of the report comes at a difficult time for the Government given the palpable growth of inequality in today’s Britain.

The significant decline in the proportion of national income going to wages since the 1970s as capital rakes-in an ever larger slice of GDP; the explosion in house prices since the 1980s, following the deregulation of the banking sector and the easy availability of credit, leading to speculation and a growing disconnect between house prices and average wages; and the steady erosion of pensions as employers shift the risk from themselves to workers and the government refuses to support a decent state pension all indicate the depth of the problem.

In his magisterial history ‘The Age of Revolution’, Eric Hobsbawm referred to the French liberal economist Henri Baudrillart, who described the formal recognition of inequality as one of the three pillars of human society – the others were property and inheritance. The Conservative-led Government clearly shares this perspective and would dearly love to return us to Victorian levels of inequality. As the next election approaches, there’s an increasingly shrill note to its efforts to destroy the welfare state, undermine trade unions and demonise the poor. But we still have 17 months to go till we reach the election. They can do a lot of damage in that time as they pursue a ‘slash and burn’ approach to the many political and social gains made by the working class since 1945.

Socialists understand the true nature of the Tory project and the dangers inherent in the current crisis of political representation, where Labour are content to offer little more than an ‘austerity-lite’ version of Con-Dem policies. But there’s hard work to be done to raise awareness of the issues across broader society. Let’s be in no doubt: Britain needs a genuine socialist alternative to this venal, parasitic ruling class!

Chris Guiton