Bring it on

Having jumped the gun last week and been recalled to the starting line, Angela Eagle finally left the starting blocks today in her bid today to oust Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Leader. If the intention of those behind the unrest in the Parliamentary Labour Party really is to replace Jeremy with someone more “electable”, they could hardly have found anyone less suitable. Their real motive is, of course, money. The plotters fear that Corbyn won’t deliver the needs of Big Business, on whom the careerists in the Labour Party depend and whose interests they represent. If Corbyn cannot be kept off the ballot paper (an issue that may be resolved by the NEC tomorrow) and the ballot cannot be rigged, their Plan B will be to form an SDP Mark 2 comprising Labour MPs, managed by the existing Labour office staff and funded by Big Business. This new party will, however, require a more “electable” leader than the hapless Angela.  Whatever the outcome, her leading role is likely to be very temporary.

The outcome of the EU referendum came as a surprise to many commentators and has been blamed by the plotters on Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to join Project Fear, the Tory led attempt to frighten electors into voting to stay in the EU. The conspicuous absence of a similar strategy to block Theresa May from becoming Tory Leader and, by default, Prime Minister, on similar grounds is significant. The difference between Mrs May and Jeremy Corbyn is that the former will act in the best interests of Big Business and the latter cannot be relied on to do so.

What the referendum vote to leave the EU actually reflected was the growing gulf between the middle classes and the working class. This gulf has been growing apace under ‘austerity’, the policy pursued by the Tories and, until Corbyn was elected leader, by Labour. Under austerity social spending benefitting the working class and the taxes paid by Big Business are both cut. That this is the explanation for the significant working class vote for exit has escaped much of the liberal intelligentsia. Their spokespersons – the likes of Will Self and the hacks at the Guardian – have not blamed Corbyn  – instead they  have turned on the working class itself, attributing their support for Exit on endemic racism.

What the liberal intelligentsia overlook is that it is easy to be liberal about the free movement of labour when you gain from the arrangement. For the middle classes it provides lots of well paid jobs for UK graduates and professionals across the EU. Together with a rather woolly feel-good attitude about European togetherness, the EU also provides them with cheap building labour, cheap, unchavvy nannies and cheap fruit picked in the UK by sweated labour. If, on the other hand, you are not a member of the middle class and are denied access to further education, or can acquire it only at the cost of incurring crippling debt, the glittering job opportunities in Europe are irrelevant. The attractions of cheap, unskilled labour are also diminished when it’s you who have to compete for the zero hours jobs on offer. If you are in a trade union, the EU’s failure to recognise and respect collective bargaining and its opposition to trade union solidarity is also a major concern. To be told by those who are unaffected by these issues that you are racist is insulting. There is nothing inherently anti-racist or honourable in supporting the free movement of labour when you happen, personally, to gain from it at the expense of your fellow citizens; and there is nothing inherently racist or dishonourable in opposing the free movement of labour when it damages the collective interests of your class. The liberal intelligentsia need to wake up to these facts and, like the Communist Party, show the working class some respect.

The liberal intelligentsia could also usefully follow the Communist Party in rallying to the defence of Corbyn. This does not mean that the CP is going to indulge in mass entryism which, according to the Guardian today, Labour HQ claim to fear. This is simply scare tactics on their part. Had Labour HQ ever read the Communist Manifesto, they would know that communists “disdain to conceal their aims and views”. What was true in 1848 is true today: communists don’t do entryism. We will, however, openly and defiantly campaign, shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in the trade union movement, including those represented by Croydon TUC, with ordinary Labour Party members and in the pages of our newspaper, the Morning Star, to see Jeremy Corbyn re-elected. Bring it on.

 

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LABOUR TAX SHOCK: WHO ARE THEY KIDDING?

The Croydon Guardian appears to have splashed over its entire front page this week the shock-horror headline “Labour Spending Plans = 27% Council Tax Rise”, followed by an article explaining that this estimate is arrived at by costing up all the proposals in Labour’s Croydon Manifesto. Only in very small letters on the front page does the word “advertisement” appear, and nowhere on this page can one find who the advertiser is. Only on closer examination is it apparent that the Tories have paid for an entire four page, full colour wrapper.

This raises an interesting question. It is not whether Labour’s manifesto, on the whole a mild and timid document that does not seek to reverse, or even halt, the savage cuts in services, would really result in a Council Tax rise of 27%. If the estimate of the tax rise necessary to fund Labour’s plans were accurate and reliable, it would say more about the extent to which cuts have undermined Croydon Council’s services than about the profligacy of Labour.

The interesting question is how can the Tories afford to pay for such publicity.

The Tory party can afford to spend huge sums on electioneering because it is essentially a conspiracy against the people. It receives vast sums of money from big business and wealthy individuals and rewards them with the laws, regulations and tax breaks they require to make more money and give further donations. That’s where the money to fight the forthcoming local government elections and, on a much, much bigger scale, the general election next year comes from. Furthermore, with breath-taking guile, they have even managed to seduce the hapless Lib-Dems into their conspiracy, getting the Lib Dems to prop them up in parliament for five full years in return for a few meagre ministerial posts, which have been filled ineffectually, and the promise of a referendum on proportional representation (which they lost).

Such is the success of the Tory election-money machine that Labour essentially adopted the same strategy –Tory-lite or, as they called themselves, New Labour. The best argument for voting Labour in the forthcoming elections is not the hope that Miliband will reverse the New Labour sell out, it is the same old argument we have heard for years: vote for us, we are not as bad as the Tories. For how much longer Labour can get away with this dispiriting argument remains to be seen.

In parliamentary democracy, with its two, or two and a half, party system, there is no real choice. Vote for Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dee. Even then, unless you happen to live in a marginal constituency, most votes don’t count. There is no way of fixing this with PR. Even if the ultimate winner receives the most votes, or is, say, the least unacceptable candidate, the system is run by career politicians on behalf of big business and the wealthy. The mass media is, in consequence, controlled by these same interests and ensures that left wing alternatives, particularly the Communist Party, are shut out. Communists, however, aspire to something better. A society run to benefit ordinary working people, employing direct democracy so that they, not career politicians, have responsibility for decisions and where the mass media is owned by the readers and viewers, not a few media moguls with their own agendas. Meanwhile, however, and despite our lack of funds, Communists do stand in elections if only to give a few voters in a few constituencies and wards a real choice; and we do, where possible, enter electoral alliances such as No2EU – yes to workers’ rights. But never be fooled into thinking that this is democracy. That must await a communist future.

Tax Reform

Chris Guiton

With the budget looming, bourgeois commentators are getting excited about the apparent spat developing between the Tories and the LibDems over the prospect of a mansion tax or a ‘tycoon’ tax, and a trade-off between the introduction of one of these options and the removal of the 50% tax rate on income above £150,000. Both mansion and tycoon tax proposals are fundamentally flawed and limited in scope, and the suggestion that tax be reduced for the wealthiest is an insult. And all this while the banks continue to pay out unfeasibly large bonuses, Barclays being only the latest, benefits are slashed and real wages continue to fall.

It’s abundantly clear that the Government will do their utmost to avoid upsetting their friends in the City. Treasury steps to close one or two limited tax loopholes will have been choreographed with the banks and are, anyway, no substitute for robust action on a broad front, such as a general tax anti-avoidance rule. In the meantime, wealthy individuals and big business will continue to pay tax on a largely voluntary basis, while people on PAYE have no option but to pay tax, VAT is inescapable and low-hanging fruit such as small businesses will continue to be targeted by HMRC .

With the Labour leadership clearly signed up to the neo-liberal agenda, social democracy in Britain is a busted flush. But it would be interesting to see whether a broad coalition of forces on the left could be developed in support of the establishment of a ‘Fair Tax Commission’ to examine the legitimacy of a more progressive tax system which shifts the focus to taxation of wealth, land and the grossly over-inflated incomes which have become the hallmark of 21st-century capitalism. And which considers serious steps to tackle the tax avoidance and evasion which is estimated to cost the exchequer more than £100bn every year.

Richard Murphy, a tax expert, is doing some quite interesting work in this area. It’s worth checking out his blog: http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/

Croydon and beyond

by John Eden

People of Croydon face the same problems confronting others in Britain and others though less acute than those worldwide, rising unemployment,particularly among the youth and young adults, rising food prices though not on the scale as in some countries where prices have tripled leading to great social unrest as in Middle -East. The websites of the two main legal communist parties in Syria dated April and May 2011 put the initial unrest in the southern town of Derra at the ending of food subsides,the privatisation programme of the government in electrical supply and telecommunications, and rising unemployment. Tensions increased with the heavy-handed response of the security services using state of emergency laws which have been in place for almost fifty years,the lifting of these laws was also a demand of the two parties,what started as peaceful demonstrations though illegal under the above mentioned laws, as become an armed struggle as old suppressed tensions have been unleashed, and what was an oppressed class struggle, could become a sectarian conflict, as regional forces and world powers fight out their own contradictions with each other through the crisis in Syria.

Just as regimes in the middle-east have resorted to cuts to resolve  the world capitalist crisis and how it affects them,so  have the main political parties in Britain, and Labour say they will not reverse any of  the cuts if elected at a general election, in this scenario there is no political party in parliament,where the working people can fundamentally change things for the better.

The Labour leadership has fully endorsed capitalism and come to its rescue, and exposed the working class to savage cuts in living standards, at local level Labour councillors when in power have impose cuts (Lambeth)  and condemned trade unionists who oppose them,where not in power opposed cuts, (Croydon) and invite trade unionists to support their position. Can the working class win back the labour party? Myself I am convinced we can’t but of course we must work with those who think they can.