Wednesday, 30 March 2011

TUSC launches election campaign

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition only campaign calling for no cuts

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) launched its campaign for the Welsh Assembly elections in Cardiff today.The Socialist Party joined TUSC when it was formed to provide a united campaign of socialists and trade unionists for the 2010 general election. Among prominent supporters are Bob Crow and Alex Gordon general secretary and president of the RMT rail and maritime union, Janice Godrich president of PCS the civil servants union and Dave Nellist socialist councillor in Coventry.

TUSC is standing 24 candidates in two regions putting forward a fighting alternative to the man parties in the assembly elections. The main policies it is putting put forward are:

  • No cuts in public services in Wales. The Assembly should agree a budget that meets the needs of the people of Wales and launch a mass campaign to return the rest from Westminster.
  • Support for a 24-hour public sector general strike to force the government to retreat from cuts, job losses and pension cutbacks
  • A campaign for renationalisation of the railways and utilities
  • A regulation from the Assembly to prevent Labour councils like Rhondda Cynon Taff and Neath Port Talbot threatening to sack their workforce if they refuse to accept lower wages
Alec Thraves, a TUSC candidate in South Wales West said: “Thousands of trade unionists travelled to London on Saturday to demonstrate against cuts but none of the main parties are representing them. The demonstration was one of the biggest in British history and shows the depth of opposition that exists. Most supported the call for a 24 hour general strike. We need Assembly Members who will support workers taking action against the cuts. All four main parties accept some form of cuts to pay for a crisis created by the greed of the very rich”.

Adding that TUSC representatives in the Assembly would spearhead the fight against the government and local council cuts Ross Saunders, a candidate in South Wales Central said: “We absolutely condemn the disgraceful behaviour of Labour councils in Rhondda Cynon Taff and Neath Port Talbot threatening their workforce with the sack if they did not agree to cuts in their pay packets of as much as 40%. TUSC will campaign for the Assembly to step in to prevent any Welsh councils doing the same again.

“We do not agree with Labour and Plaid in the Assembly in cutting spending on the already-stretched National Health Service. Nor do we accept that hundreds of jobs should be under threat in the re-organisation of higher education.

“Our representatives will not passively pass on these vicious cuts to the most vulnerable in society as Labour and Plaid councillors in Wales are doing.

“We believe the Assembly should refuse to pass on the cuts and instead demand that a Westminster Government fund a budget which meets the needs of people in Wales and this alternative can be funded by reclaiming £123 billion unpaid tax, reclaiming the hundreds of billions in bail-outs to the banks and cancelling Trident.

“The £1.8 billion of cuts to the Welsh assembly’s budget could be wiped out by bankers’ bonuses at state-owned RBS in 2009 and if Barclays Bank paid full tax on its profits in 2009”.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Socialists in the News

There is a new article of the WalesOnline website about the recent election campaign launch of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. The coalition is fighting the election on the basis of opposition to all public sector cuts, and the Socialist Party is participating in the coalition.

You can read the article here

Keep you eyes out for more updates about the election campaign, and if you are interested in helping out with the election campaign in anyway then just let us know.

Monday, 28 March 2011

The Lessons of a general strike

RCT Socialist Update no. 8


After this Saturday's fantastic demonstration where over 500,000 thousand people marched through Central London against the cuts of the government, including many people on their first ever demonstration. We will be discussing the way forward at this weeks meeting, along with a report from the demonstration itself where Socialist Party members gave out tens of thousands of leaflets calling for a public sector general strike, we will be discussing the lessons from the last general strike in Britain (1926) and drawing the very important lessons for today and how we can play a part in moving things forward. There is a great video from the demonstration which you can see here



You can also read about the 1926 general strike here  http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/2283

As well as this we will also be discussing and arranging our local campaigning activity including the upcoming Welsh Assembly election campaign where we will be particiating in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition which will be standing in South Wales Central.

Finally we will be arranging the topics for discussion at the weekly branch meetings for the month of April, so if there is anything in particular you would like to hear a discussion on, then just let us know.

Come along to the meeting Wednesday 7.15pm Otley Arms, Treforest

Friday, 25 March 2011

Libya: no to western military intervention

The following is the editorial from the socialist issue 663

 

Build an independent movement of workers and youth!

 

The UN Security Council's majority decision to impose a 'no-fly zone', while greeted with joy on the streets of Benghazi and Tobruk, was in no way intended to defend the Libyan revolution. As Robert Bechert, from the Committee for a Workers' International, writes, the air strikes' growing civilian toll is leading to increasing questioning of these attacks.
The longer this situation continues, the more questioning and opposition will develop. Already many are disgusted by the hypocrisy of governments proclaiming their willingness to defend Libyans while doing nothing when civilians are shot down in Yemen or attacked in Gaza.

The western powers' silence on Saudi Arabian backing for the Bahraini elite's repression confirms, in many people's eyes, that what they wish for in Libya is for that oil rich country to also become a client state.

Revolutionaries in Libya may think that this UN decision will help them, but they are mistaken. It is not a lifeline that could 'save' the revolution against Gaddafi. The major imperialist powers decided that they wanted to exploit the revolution, gain control over its leadership and thus try to replace Gaddafi with a more reliable (for them and their interests) regime. And they hoped that this demonstration of their military power would warn the Arab masses not to go 'too far' in their revolutions.

But it has already become clear that the imperialist powers' hope of a quick victory is disappearing. On the one hand, the forces around Gaddafi, for the moment, appear to be holding firm, while the rebel forces seem unable to advance around the Gulf of Sirte, let alone towards Tripoli.

This is the background to the growing tensions between the attacking powers, especially the arguments over who is controlling the operation, whether or not Nato should be involved and over what their overall aim should be. Some fear that they may get involved in a ground war, or that the country could break up.

Movement stalled

 

The stalling of the revolution is symbolised by the weakness of the self-appointed leadership of the Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC) which is dominated by recent defectors from Gaddafi and pro-capitalist elements. This body seems incapable of appealing to the masses in western Libya and is increasingly relying on the imperialist powers for aid.

While the intervention in Libya initially beat back an attack on Benghazi, it is clear that the attacking powers, with their growing calls for Gaddafi's removal, are already starting to try to shape the character of any post-Gaddafi Libya.

The regime was able to mount a counter-attack because the uprising's initial drive towards the west, where two-thirds of Libyans live, was not based on a clear revolutionary appeal. Despite popular support in the east, there was no organised mass movement, built upon popular, democratic committees that could offer a clear programme to win support from the mass of the western population and rank and file soldiers while waging a revolutionary war. This gave Gaddafi an opportunity to regroup.

The growth in support for a no-fly zone was a reversal of the sentiment expressed in the English language posters put up in Benghazi in February declaring "No to Foreign Intervention - Libyans can do it by themselves!". This followed the wonderful examples of Tunisia and Egypt where sustained mass action completely undermined totalitarian regimes.

The Libyan opposition masses were confident that their momentum would secure victory. But, at least partly due to the character of the opposition's leadership, Gaddafi was able to retain a grip in Tripoli, the largest city, of nearly 1.8 million.

Gaddafi's counter-offensive led to a change in attitude among the opposition towards foreign intervention. That allowed the largely pro-Western ITNC to overcome youth opposition to asking the West for aid.

Now, if a stalemate develops and Gaddafi remains in power in Tripoli, it could mean a de facto breakup that goes back to the separate entities that existed before Italy first created Libya after 1912 and Britain recreated it in the late 1940s.

But, whatever effect this no-fly zone and military intervention have, any trust placed in either the UN or the imperialist powers threatens to undermine all the genuine hopes and aspirations of the revolution that began in February.

Until recently these Western powers were quite happy to deal with, and pander to, the murderous Gaddafi clique in order to maintain a partnership, especially in oil and gas. The day after the UN took its decision, the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal lamented that: "the close partnership between the Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's intelligence service and the CIA has been severed" (18/3/2011).

Now imperialism is trying to refurbish its 'democratic' image while working to help install a more 'reliable' regime in Libya, or at least a part of Libya. Libya, with its huge oil reserves, is a special prize as its small population and its geography make it easier to exploit.

Role of the working class 

 

Gaddafi's first reaction to this year's dramatic revolutionary events was to side with the dictatorial, corrupt autocrats. Just after Ben Ali fled from Tunisia, Gaddafi told Tunisians that they had "suffered a great loss" because "there is none better than Ben Ali to govern". Perhaps revealing how he viewed his own future, Gaddafi added that he had hoped that Ben Ali would rule "for life".

Nevertheless, it cannot be ignored that, since 1969, on the basis of a large oil income and a small population, there has been a big improvement in most Libyans' lives, especially in education and health. This is something which at least partly explains why Gaddafi still has some basis of support amongst the population.

Unlike Egypt and Tunisia the working class in Libya has not, so far, begun to play an independent role in the revolution. Furthermore many workers in Libya are migrants who have fled the country in recent weeks.

The absence of a national focal point which, for example, the Tunisian UGTT trade union federation provided (despite its pro-Ben Ali national leadership), complicated the situation in Libya. The huge revolutionary enthusiasm of the population has not, so far, been given an independent organised expression.

Now, in addition to anti-imperialist rhetoric, Gaddafi has made concessions to maintain support. Each family has been given the equivalent of $450. Some public sector workers have been given 150% wage increases and taxes and customs duties on food have been abolished.

But these steps do not wipe away all that has happened over the past years. Furthermore they do not answer the demands for real democratic rights or an end to the growing frustration of Libya's youthful population (average age of 24) against the regime's corruption and suffocating grip.

Gaddafi's use of the threat of imperialist intervention to divide the country did gather some support. Now it may gain more if the country does actually become divided, especially if the air attacks continue and widen out to civilian targets, as happened in Serbia in 1999.

Gaddafi's promise that, "If needs be, we will open all the arsenals", indicates that he can attempt to rest on anti-colonial feelings or simply try to threaten imperialism that it's 'me or chaos'. Gaddafi will try to make sure he or his family keeps hold of the reins of power, but impending defeat could persuade more of his top officials to jump ship and join the INTC. Internationally millions, who have watched and supported the revolutions across the Middle East, will ask: 'what can be done to genuinely help the Libyan revolution internationally?' Firstly, there can be no support for the no-fly zone and military intervention. It is not in the interests of Libyan people.

On its own the no-fly zone will not automatically lead to the overthrow of Gaddafi. In fact, like Saddam Hussein, he could entrench his position for a time in those parts of the country that his regime controls, so long as the intervention did not go onto the offensive.

However, the growing unofficial calls for 'regime change' show that sections of the imperialist powers are looking to use their intervention to create a client regime that will, they hope, extinguish the fires of revolution, at least in Libya.

Those on the left who argue that 'there is no realistic alternative' to stop Gaddafi's attacks are precisely ignoring what happened in Tunisia and Egypt, namely that a determined mass movement of the working masses and youth can overthrow a dictatorship. A broad mobilisation of Benghazi's one million plus population could have blocked Gaddafi's small forces.

Active opposition to this imperialist attack and solidarity with the Libyan workers and youth needs to be organised. Trade unions internationally need to block the export of Libyan oil and gas. Bank workers should organise the freezing of all the Gaddafi regime's financial assets.

Revolutionary programme

 

The fate of the revolution will be decided inside Libya. Its victory requires a programme that can cut across tribal and regional divisions and unite the mass of the population against the Gaddafi clique and in the struggle for a better future.

There can be no support for the imperialist intervention, despite its UN colouring. The Libyan working masses and youth should show no trust whatsoever in the so-called democratic Western powers.
A programme for the Libyan revolution that will genuinely benefit the mass of the population would be based on winning and defending real democratic rights, an end to corruption and privilege, the safeguarding and further development of the social gains made since the discovery of oil, opposition to any form of re-colonisation and for a democratically controlled, publicly owned economy planned to use the country's resources for the future.

The creation of an independent movement of Libyan workers, poor and youth that could implement such a real revolutionary transformation of the country is the only way to thwart the imperialists' plans, end dictatorship and transform the lives of the mass of the people.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Determined UCU picket line

This morning saw strike action up and down the country in Universities and colleges by members of UCU - University and College Union, the trade union which represents academic staff. The strike was officially called over pensions, and the current attack on them by the employers who are attempted to smash the current pension agreements.

Members of Rhondda Cynon Taff Socialist Party who are either students or non-academic staff at the University of Glamorgan joined with UCU members on the picket lines to show our support to the strike.

It was clear from the outset that whilst the strike was called over pensions and UCU members were rightfully angry about the attacks to their pension rights, they saw this strike in more generalised terms of the attacks on education, but also in the broader attacks on all the gains of the welfare state which are being handed out by this current government.

The support of students, who attending the picket lines were warmly received by over 30 pickets in total across all campus'  many of them stated they would be attending the demonstration this Saturday organised by the TUC, the march for the alternative, and would march alongside the students from the university who are also attending.

A member of Socialist Students was able to interview a member of UCU about the current dispute which you can view below.




This strike had a lot of significance, this was the first national strike action by any trade union since the announcement of the governments proposals to slash public sector pensions, at lets hope this is the first of many strikes. This government have made it perfectly clear that they do not care about ordinary people and will not willingly listen, but we can make them listen, by action such as this but on a much larger scale.

For  co-ordinated action to defend public services and use March 26th as a step towards building a 24 hour public sector general strike.

Why we are going to the March 26th demo

Members of Rhondda Cynon Taff Socialist Party explain why they will be attending the TUC organised demonstration on March 26th.


Explained in the video is the need to fight back and organise on the 26th and beyond, for ourselves and for future generations, to unite workers, students the unempluyed and young people to fight for a socialist future.



Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Civil service union ballots members for action to improve services to the unemployed

PCS balloting Jobcentreplus Contact Centre workers

PCS is balloting members for strike action across all the contact centres in Jobcentreplus in the UK including 5 offices in Wales. Our members gave solid support for 2 days strike action in January in 7 of these offices, including Newport, which have been changed from benefit processing centres into contact centres. This has already showed the determination of our members to fight for better working conditions and crucially the ability to provide good quality services to the public. However management have failed to take notice of this strength of feeling about the need to improve the way that we deliver services. So we have had to escalate the dispute to the whole contact centre network.

PCS members are angry that management believe that the only way to ensure we do our job is by monitoring us for every minute of the day. We are threatened with disciplinary action if we consistently spend over the strictly limited target time on calls. This is despite the fact that we are speaking to individuals who are very worried and stressed and need support. Our members worked flat out during the recession to deliver services to the soaring levels of unemployed because we are committed to providing good quality services.

We did this without needing constant monitoring. The way the job is designed in Jobcentreplus contact centres is extremely frustrating and soul destroying for our members. This contributes along with the heavy handed management style to the highest levels of sickness absence in the Department for Work and Pensions.

Jobcentreplus has the largest contact centre network in Europe so we should be leading the way in contact centre job design and services - especially as we are not selling products but are delivering vital services to some of the most vulnerable people in society. Instead our management are trailing behind with their archaic obsession with targets and pressurising our members. They just look at quantitative targets on numbers of calls answered and the length of time we spend on each call, which is constantly being reduced to impossible levels. Our members recognise clearly that the public, when they get through to us on the phone, want their query dealt with. People do not want to be fobbed off nor have to wait up to 3 hours for one of our hard-pressed benefit processing colleagues to ring them back.

We know that the benefit system is difficult to navigate and we want to make sure that advice and guidance is as simple to access as possible. In many instances it would take us less time to resolve the problem with a benefit claim than having to write an explanation in an email referral for yet another Jobcentreplus member of staff to deal with.

The PCS DWP Wales Secretary Katrine Williams says “Unemployment is now at the highest level since 1994 against a background of an already difficult economic climate in Wales. So it is even more important to PCS than ever that the public get the quality services they deserve and management allow us to use our judgement and skills to help the public access Jobcentreplus services”.

By Socialist Party Wales

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Outrage at the council revelations

SP member of the ponty anti-cuts demo
On March 17th an article appeared on the WalesOnline website explaining that far from being in huge debts Rhondda Cynon Taff council actually had a £2 million surplus. This is the same council who only weeks ago, threatened the entire workforce with dismissal unless the excepted worse pay and conditions, the council claimed they had no other choice but to do this in order to balance the budget and many workers have signed the new contracts through fear of loosing their jobs.

The fact that this Labour council has forced through these savage cuts to the pay and employment conditions of its 10,000 strong work force whilst maintaining a surplus of £2 million shows exactly how sincere the Labour Party is to opposing cut backs!

The revelation of this surplus highlights the betrayal of the Labour councillors, who shed crocodile tears over the cuts they voted for whilst all along leaving the council with an incredible surplus. In reality it just confirms what we already knew - Labour don't represent us anymore!

It is true that whilst there is a surplus currently of £2m but cuts in wages have 'saved' the council £5.6m leaving an obvious gap of £3.6m. This does not mean that cuts have to be made, rather on the contrary this presents a real alternative to fight and defeat the austerity measures driven by central government.

The council could use the current surplus as a temporary measure in order to avoid the cuts for now. This would make the council extremely popular amongst the workers and the community in general. (A far cry from the harsh reality of the feelings towards the council at the moment) The council could then use this popularity to build a mass campaign throughout the county to defend the council against any attack from the Assembly or Westminster and to demand the money necessary for all the jobs and services needed within the area.

If the council was willing to set a 'needs budget' - a budget based on the needs of the area, rather than based on the forced cuts budgets of central government, then they would easily gain mass support - and rightfully so from whole sections of working class people in the area. This is exactly what happened when the Liverpool council did this in the 1980s. If the council was to do this then the Socialist Party would through it full weight behind the councillors to defend them and the budget from attack.

Unfortunately, we feel that this scenario is extremely unlikely. We saw 13 years of a Labour government committed cuts and privatisation of public services and where they are still in power, in the Assembly and in councils they are willingly carrying out cuts today. In Cumbria the Labour councillors are even in a formal coalition with the tories! If that doesn't demonstrate whose side they are really on then nothing will. The Labour Party has shown itself to be a party fully committed to rolling back the welfare state.

This is why the Socialist Party will be standing in the Welsh Assembly elections and next years council elections as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, standing on a platform of opposition to ALL cuts and for a united fight back to defeat this government. If you are interested in getting involved with the election campaign in RCT then you can contact us here.

by Glyn Matthews

Why Capitalism doesn't work

RCT Socialist Update no. 7


This week we will be discussing 'Why capitalism doesn't work, an introduction to marxist economics
' The discussion will explain how the current crisis was inevitable on the basis of capitalism and was predicted by the Socialist Party in the pages on Socialism Today as far back as 2004. We will explain the inherent contradictions in the profit system and how a socialist sysem would be able to produce for need not profit.You can read a very good and short introudction to the subject here http://marxism.org.uk/pack/economics.html

We will also be discussing our campaigning work for the next week including our final preparations ahead onf TUC demo in London next Saturday against the governments speinding cuts. If you haven't already got a place booked then get in touch as we will try and get a place for you.


Come along to the meeting
Wendesday 7pm, Otley Arms Treforest

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Building the battle against the cuts - now and beyond 26 March

The following is the editorial from the socialist issue 662.

This government has started a war on behalf of the capitalist class against the working class and public services. If they get away with it, this - combined with the continued economic crisis - will mean devastating cuts in living standards. 

Even Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, has admitted that "the price of this financial crisis is being borne by people who absolutely did not cause it." Such crocodile tears will not prevent more misery being heaped on workers' heads in the Budget of 23 March. Vince Cable has already proudly declared that one of 'his ideas' will be in the budget - the ripping up of employment rights for workers in small companies! 

King went on to say that "I'm surprised that the degree of public anger has not been greater than it has." In the next months he will get to see public anger on a scale even bigger than he expected. If such anger is organised around a cohesive strategy there is no question - cuts can be stopped. 

There are now more than 600 coaches booked for the TUC demonstration against cuts on 26 March. Many thousands more people are planning to make their way to the demonstration by public transport or car. It is now a commonplace for anti-cuts campaign stalls around the country to be approached by members of the public declaring that they will be marching on 26 March. 
There is no doubt that this demonstration will be massive. It will act to gel all the individual workers who already oppose cuts into one, potentially very powerful, whole. Opposition to cuts in Britain is becoming overwhelming; with the latest polls showing only 34% of people thinking that the government needs to cut. However, the demonstration also has the potential to raise the confidence of those workers who are not certain it is possible to stop cuts, and to draw them into action to defend our jobs, pay, pensions and public services. 

For the demonstration to be effective it needs to be more than a parade, a 'grand day out'. It has to be a launch pad for escalating the action to stop the cuts. The cuts are multi-faceted and so will the campaign against them be. On the demonstration will be local residents fighting to stop the closure of their swimming pool, libraries and other services. For many of them escalation will mean occupation
.

Strikes and elections

 

Another important aspect of the struggle against cuts will be standing anti-cuts candidates in the May elections. For the hundreds of thousands of trade unionists who will march, however, it is strike action that will be posed as the next step. 

"Million to strike over pensions" was the front page headline of the Guardian following Hutton's pension report and there is no doubt that pensions are an over-arching issue around which unions can coordinate strike action. The change from Retail Price Index (RPI) to Consumer Price Index (CPI, which doesn't include housing costs) alone will mean pensions being cut by up to 25% over time. Alongside an increase in the retirement age and an increase in contributions, public sector pensions are being decimated. This deliberate cheapening of the cost of public sector workers is partly in order to prepare for mass privatisation of public services. 

The civil servants' union, PCS, is discussing balloting for action on pensions to take place in May or June. The NUT and UCU teaching unions are also discussing action before the summer. To have these three unions - one million workers - strike together over pensions would be an important step forward. 

Unfortunately, however, the biggest public sector unions have not yet made any proposals to ballot on pensions. Some of them, at least, are arguing that no strike action should be organised before September when the government finalises its attacks on pensions. But we should not wait - serious attacks on pensions are already being proposed - and we need action as soon as possible after 26 March. Whenever the first public sector union takes national strike action there should be a national mid-week demonstration against cuts and attacks on pensions - so that workers from across the public sector can show their support for strike action and to increase the pressure on other public sector unions to build for a one-day public sector strike. 

Such a strike should also appeal to those in the private sector, who will be affected by the switch to CPI, to join. Around five million private sector workers are members of defined benefit pension schemes. Unite is already threatening to ballot 11,000 Ford workers over the issue. 

While pensions are the one unifying issue that affects the whole public sector in pretty much the same way, coordinated action can also take place over other cuts. After all, if different groups of workers are planning to strike against cuts in their workplace or sector, there is no objective reason that their trade unions should not plan to strike on the same day as workers striking over pensions; even within the straitjacket of the anti-trade union laws. 

The trade union movement needs to be prepared for the possibility that the courts would be used to sabotage such a strike by finding, for example, something spurious with one or more unions' democratic ballot in order to try and stop everyone striking on the same day. The government is terrified of the prospect of coordinated strike action over pensions, and it is preparing for battle - even setting up a 'war quango' to combat strike action. 

The answer, of course, is not to fly the white flag before battle is even engaged, but to try to build a movement so powerful that they think twice about using the anti-union laws. And if they do, the movement is strong enough to sweep them aside. 

We are not in favour of taking unnecessary risks with the trade unions' resources and funds. However, such is the severity of the cuts that action is essential. The growing opposition to the cuts, as the reality of them bites, means that any strike against cuts could win enormous support from workers and young people. In reality, if several public sector unions defied the anti-trade union laws, in the context of a public sector general strike, and with the other unions promising solidarity action in the case of any legal threats against them, the government would be powerless to stop them and, in the process, the anti-trade union laws would be broken asunder.

This is a very weak government which can be defeated. Most people who voted Lib Dem in the general election consider themselves left of centre, yet the right wing neoliberal leadership of the Lib Dems have signed up to every aspect of the government's onslaught on public services, even the plans to destroy the NHS. 

The latter, however, was a step too far for the Lib Dem conference, which has demanded that changes are made to the health bill. Tory health minister, Andrew Lansley, may make some minor concessions in order to try to help the leadership of the Lib Dems, but this is an indication of the enormous pressure that the coalition will come under as struggles develop. 

 

Retreat possible

 

In the local elections on 5 May the Lib Dems will be severely punished by the electorate for their role in the coalition. If they also lose the AV referendum - which takes place on the same day, it is not excluded that a large section of Lib Dem MPs could demand their party's withdrawal from the coalition, leading to its collapse. On the other hand the 'glue of power' could keep the coalition on the road. What is certain, however, is that in the face of a determined mass movement the government could be forced to retreat. 

In the short term New Labour will be the main electoral beneficiaries of anger with the government, in the hope that they will at least implement the cuts more slowly than the current government. That much be might be true - but no more. It is only necessary to look at New Labour's record in government for 13 years to understand that they also support 'the logic of the market' - that is the logic of attacking public services and workers' rights. 

Even in opposition New Labour abstained on the Welfare Reform Bill - which will drive millions of benefit claimants into unbearable poverty. New Labour was not prepared to support the student movement, not surprising as it introduced fees in the first place. Miliband's first speech as leader declared that New Labour would not support "a wave of irresponsible strikes" - a clear indication that it would not support strike action against cuts. 

John Hutton, the architect of the attack on pensions, was a New Labour minister, commissioned to attack pensions by the last government! At local level New Labour councils, just like Liberal and Tory councils, are carrying out huge cuts. 

An essential part of the movement against cuts needs to be the struggle for an independent voice for working class people. Ed Miliband is speaking on the 26 March demo, and several trade union leaders will call for a Labour vote in the May elections. For the hundreds of thousands of workers whose jobs are being cut by Labour councils this will not be met with enthusiasm. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition - involving militant trade unionists from the RMT, PCS and other unions - will be standing as many Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts candidates as possible in the May elections. 

This needs to be a step towards building a mass party of the working class which offers a socialist alternative to the axe men and women from all three major capitalist parties.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Yahya Al Faifi wins asylum battle

The great news was recieved today, that Yahya Al Faifi has been granted the right to stay after a seven year long battle. Many members of RCT Socialist Party have been heavily involved in the campaign to defend Yahya as an exiled trade unionist from Saudia Arabia (where trade unions are illegal) for this reason we have reproduced below a short article first published on the website of Socialist Party Wales.

Saudi trade unionist taking refuge in South Wales wins right to remain

Yahya Al Faifi, exiled Saudi trade unionist and a member of Socialist Party Wales, and his family have won the right to indefinite leave to remain in Britain.

Yahya's victory has followed a seven year campaign to win refugee status from the British government that has won the support of thousands of trade unionists across the country, but especially in Wales.

He has lived in Wales for over six years during which he has become a part of the struggles of Welsh workers as well as championing the cause of Saudi workers. He first lived in Swansea where his campaign was taken up by Swansea Trades Council and the local CWU branch. At a later stage when he was moved to Cardiff by the Home Office his case was championed by Cardiff Trades Union Council.

Yahya had been forced to flee Saudi Arabia with his family in 2004 following death threats from the Saudi secret police when he publicly campaigned for trade union rights in Saudi Arabia. But flying in the face of overwhelming evidence of Yahya's danger from one of the most repressive regimes in the world, the Home Office denied that his life was under threat and have been attempting to deport Yahya and his family back to Saudi Arabia to face imprisonment, torture or even worse.

The revolutionary movements across the Middle East have undoubtedly had a huge effect in reversing the Home Office's decision. Yahya's return and imprisonment would have embarassed both governments in a time of enormous instability.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Review of Black Sabbath - Master of Reality. The working class Heavy Metal band

As any educated person will know (someone familiar with Rock and Traditional Heavy Metal Music) it is a predominantly working class form of music, not that middle and upper class people can't be a part. If you look at Traditional Heavy Metal - Black Sabbath is a prime example, it is working class. This genre of music, influenced by Rock 'N' Roll and The Blues came from working class areas - a lot of them from areas such as Birmingham and the Midlands in general. We know music can be a release, but is also a good way of getting our feelings and points across and make some money on the side. But one thing that is clear with traditional Metal bands like Black Sabbath is, you WORK hard to become successful, you are not born into wealth or you don't know or own a record company so, you had to work on getting a recording contract - hard work is key to success, something the working class have always done - you have to ignore the propaganda that comes from capitalist media and politicians. The benefit if this ideology means, you can be proud of where you have come from but at the same time, you know you have worked hard to get to where you have, and you have not cheated like those that are born into wealth.

It is in this context that Keiron Hopkins has reviewed the Black Sabbath album 'Master of Reality' reproduced below.


When you think of Black Sabbath, you usually think of Paranoid. As great an album as is Paranoid, you also have to consider other albums. Everyone has their own opinion. Firstly, I must add that, my favourite Ozzy era album is Black Sabbath's first album - Black Sabbath. But for this particular review, I will be reviewing Master of Reality. I will also review each track too.
Master of Realiy  continues with a winning formula for the original incarnation of Sabbath. The Cover s pretty simple compared to the previous two records.
The overall sound of Master of Reality continues with the Heavy/Blues formula but, explores slightly different territoy with songs like embryo.

First off, Sweet Leaf an odd yet typical title of early 70's Rock songs. The Song itself starts out with a cough and then the typical Sabbath heavy riff kicks in, and you can see why a lot of Doom/Black Metal bands are influenced by Sabbath's sound and lyrics. After Forever kicks in with a different intro than usual, but the sound though still with the heavier formula has a more upbeat (Beatles-like) tone to it.Embryo has a more classical sound to it, something that sounds liek Dio would do, but really does suit the album, at 00.28 seconds it is short of a Black Sabbath song but, fits nicely when going into Children of the Grave, which has a really great, but kind of creepy sounding intro to it. It should also be noted this, was also featured on the Brutal Legend game, sutis the whole aura of what the game was about but really fits into the album - also, fits into the entire Black Sabbath repetoire as being one of their best songs.

Next up is Orchid, mostly acoustic but then kicks into a soft, again, (Beatles-like) sound, classical influence and although may not fit into Sabbath's overall sound, it does fit nicely into this album and would be a great song to have on after a hard days work - especially if it was longer than 1:31. Lord of this World continues with the winning Black Sabbath formula, it has a catchy beat to it and heavy bass line something that will go down well with any new and perspective Metal or Rock fan. Into the Void, another cracking song on this album, an album that I am sure that if you picked it up, bought it to see what Sabbath are all about then, you would know, and be a fan for life. The initial riff starts out the usual slow paced Hard Rocked-ness, then kicks in with a fantastic Bass line from Geezer, and Ozzy's piercing vocals. It is also a great song to close the album, an album that works well for Rock and Metal fans on all levels.

Overall, I really like this album, I know that a lot of people are more familiar with Paranoid, and that's fine, but if you want to get into Black Sabbath, all albums upto Sabotage are a good place to go of course, if you want to hear Sabbath's rebirth and a slightly different direction, then start with Heaven & Hell featuring Ronnie James Dio on Vocals and Vinny Appice on drums then, like Master of Reality, you have a good base to work from.

Line Up; Ozzy Osbourne: Vocals, Tony Iommi: Guitar, Geezer Butler: Bass, Bill Ward: Drums.

Personal Note; It would be a great Idea for the original line-up to reunite at some point. I, like many are not sure whether a new record would be any good, musically it would be great but, whether Ozzy's vocals are really up to it is another thing.

By Keiron Hopkins

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Why we have launched this blog

As the economic crisis continues for millions of ordinary people around the country and internationally,  the rich get richer and ordinary working class people are made to pay the price shown by the obscene profits and bonuses paid to bankers and other corporations.

The media, government and all the major political parties are constantly telling us about Tina - There is no alternative.We are told that this was all unavoidable, that it was the international markets and governments who had no control over this. We are told that this could not have been predicted, but these are all the lies which are constantly fed to us..

None of this was inevitable, Karl Marx pointed out over 150 years ago the inherent contradictions of capitalism, the constant and unavoidable cycle of boom and bust. It was not just the capitalist markets which caused this either. The deregulation of the banking sector around the world by governments, in the case of Britain by the Thatcher government, and maintained by New Labour over their 13 years in office made it possible for the 'elastic' to be stretched further to create an ever growing credit bubble. As with an elastic band the more it is stretched the harder it will snap and this has all been made worse by the de-industrialisation of Britain, the loss of manufacturing jobs and the replacement by service sector jobs has meant the British economy is extremely dependant on the finance sector which has plunged us further into crisis.

When they tell us there is no alternative this is just a big con trick. Whilst £billions have been given to the banks in a bailout, huge bonuses have been paid out, huge profits have been made and ordinary people like us have been forced to pay the price with job cuts, wage cuts and freezes, cuts in pensions, higher tuition fees and cuts in pretty much all public services and benefits. On top of this council tax is set to rise as is the cost of living.

With high levels of unemployment there are nearly 1 million unemployed young people who are also having the door to higher education closed in their face.

We should not have to and we will not accept this. The banks should be fully nationalised and run democratically in a way where the profits can go into funding the NHS, education and other public services and not the other way around as the government is currently doing. We could scrap the war in Afghanistan, the replacement of the trident nuclear weapons systems and end the financial scam of Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) which allows private companies to make huge amounts of money out of providing public services  at a lower standard.

The government could also start collecting the £120 billion tax per year which is avoided or evaded by the rich every year but instead the government is proposing to cut staffing numbers in HM revenues & customs making it almost impossible to close the tax gap. These are public sector workers who actually bring in revenue which shows that this is definitely an ideological attack on the public sector are the services working class people rely on.

Many people both in Britain and around the world are beginning to wake up to this reality and have begun to fightback in various ways, be it the recent student demonstrations and university occupations in Britain, the mass demonstrations and revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East or the mass movements developing in Wisconsin in the United States just to give a few examples. There are of course already some fantastic websites already covering these events which we fully support such as the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI - International organisation of which the Socialist Party is affiliated) website  and of course both the Socialist Party and the Socialist Party Wales websites.

We are also facing attacks on our communities. The Labour led Rhondda Cynon Taf council recently sent out section 188 notices to its 10,000 strong workforce, which threatened them with the sack if they did not sign new contracts which would ensure that the workers loose on average between £2,000-4,000 per year! On top of this the council has proposed a rise in council tax by nearly 3%!

The Labour council say they have no choice because their budget has been cut, but they do have a choice. The council should refuse to implement the cuts and instead set a needs budget (a budget which meets the real needs of people in the area) and follow the heroic example set by the Liverpool council in the 1980s. They could do this by using the council reserves for now, whilst building a mass campaign amongst trade unionists, community campaigners, students and young people to support the council and demand the necessary funding from central government. This is exactly what they did in Liverpool and they won! If every Labour council in the country did this then it would bring this ConDem government crashing down.

There is a real choice for the council, they can either implement the tory cuts or the can stand by working class people and refuse to make us pay for the crisis. If they did this then RCT Socialist Party would give our full support to the council. Unfortunately we think that this is unlikely to happen so we should stand anti-cuts candidates at next years council elections.

Since its inception Socialist Party members have participated in and helped to build RCT Against the Cuts and bring along to it a strategy to defeat the cuts and we will continue to do so. There is a real need for a political alternative to workers and youth, who will people in RCT vote for when the Welsh Assembly elections come around this May? The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are attacking us from Westminster and the Labour Party is attacking us from the council chambers. Plaid Cymru are attempting to present themselves as an alternative but where they are in power they are making huge cuts themselves, such as in Cardiff council.

We need a real alternative and that is why RCT Socialist Party will be standing in the forthcoming Welsh Assembly elections in the South Wales Central regional list as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), which is committed to opposing all cuts.

It is for all these reasons that we have made the decision to launch this blog. In order to comment and analyse events and to offer a strategy and tactics for the way forward for workers and youth in RCT. Look out for regular updates here. It doesn't stop there, we have also launched a facebook page RCT Socialists and you can follow us on twitter @RCTSocialists

Don't stop there join the Socialist Party and help us fight for our future.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Socialist Party meeting, hear about the recent success in Ireland

This Thursday RCT Socialist Party will be joining with other branches in the area to hear a report from our sister party in Ireland on the recent successful election campaign which saw two Socialist Party members elected to the Irish Parliament The discussion will cover the election campaign of the Socialist Party, the collapse of Fianna Fail, the traditional establishment party and the current political situation in Ireland in general.

The meeting will start at 7.30pm this Thursday in the Cardiff Bus and Social Club in Canton, just five minutes walk from Cardiff Central station.

About RCT Socialist Party

RCT Socialist Party is a branch of the Socialist Party of England and Wales. We hold weekly branch meetings, which you can see from the calender on the right and we are also involved in various campaigns. We hold several campaign stalls on a weekly basis as well as other campaigning activites. Our main campaign at the moment is against the cuts being made by RCT counil and we are heavily involved in RCT Against the Cuts. Our young members are involved in building Youth Fight for Jobs and our student members play a leading role in Socialist Students at the University of Glamorgan, we participate in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and electoral alliance of socialists and trade unionists

For more information or to join Click Here or you can contact Glyn at glyn.matthews.rct@gmail.com

We have a long and proud record of struggling with working-class people to defend our services, wages and the standard of living. We are involved in many campaigns throughout Wales.
We are completely opposed to the cuts in public services being passed onto working class people in Britain and the rest of Europe to pay for the current capitalist crisis caused by the greed of bankers and the super rich. We support a mass campaign to resist the cuts including workers in the public sector, service users, students and the whole of society affected by them.

We support the struggle of students to resist the increase in university tuition fees and cuts in education and for the restoration of the Education Maintenance Allowance across the whole of Britain.
We support workers in industrial disputes. Socialist Party Wales members have played leading roles in important disputes, such as the dispute at the Swansea Linamar car parts plant and in the civil service in Wales.

We fight against student tuition fees and against privatisation of our services. We campaign for better pay, to stop council house sell-offs and for free education.

We campaigned against the war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and fight for a socialist world free of war and terror.

We campaign to stop the destruction and pollution of our planet and its environment.

We campaigned in support of a "Yes" vote for greater powers for the Welsh Assembly to allow the working class of Wales to exert greater pressure to defend public services. But we also campaign for a new party of the working class that will offer a real alternative to the four pro-capitalist parties currently represented in the Welsh Assembly and will stand up to the attacks on services of all four main parties and point the way towards a socialist change in Wales, Britain and beyond.

That is why we participate in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) formed in 2010 with leading members of the RMT, POA and PCS trade unions to stand for public ownership, not cuts and privatisation; jobs, not handouts to the bankers; the repeal of the anti-trade union laws, protection of the environment, decent pensions, and democratic rights. TUSC calls for the troops to be brought back from Afghanistan immediately and for a democratic socialist society run in the interests of the people not the millionaires.

All our public representatives like MPs and councillors will only accept the average workers' wage and
donate the rest of the bloated wages and expenses back to the workers and socialist movement. .

In the 1980s and 90s we were known as the Militant Tendency when we campaigned for the Labour Party to return to its socialist roots and we opposed the formation of New Labour. We led Liverpool City council's battle for decent housing, jobs and services, and later defeated Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's poll tax which forced her to resign.

The Socialist Party is affiliated to the Committee for a Workers' International in places such as Australia, Ireland, Germany, Sri Lanka and Sweden also have elected councillors. Joe Higgins and Clare Daly are Socialist Party MPs in Ireland, where they are known as the only honest people in the Irish parliament!

Both Joe and Clare have only ever taken the wages of the average skilled worker in his constituency, donating the rest to fund the struggles of the working class. The CWI's German section has six councillors, while Lucy Redler has gained national prominence by helping lead a struggle against cuts in Berlin. The CWI's Swedish party has eight councillors.

The Socialist Party has more than twenty members elected onto the major trade union national executives.

What We Stand For

Fight the cuts


  • No to ALL cuts in jobs and services.
  • For a mass campaign of strike action and civil disobedience against the ConDem cutbacks. Set up local anti cuts committees.
  • For a union leadership that will fight the cuts.
  • For the Welsh Assembly and councils to refuse to carry out ConDem cuts and mobilise a mass campaign of defiance to the ConDem government to defend public services. Demand the return of the £300 million under-funding of Wales.
  • Tax the super rich. Claw back the £123 billion a year lost through tax evasion and avoidance.
  • Stop subsidising the banks and bankers' bonuses. Nationalise the banks and finance houses.


Work & Income



  • Trade union struggle to increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour without exemptions as an immediate step towards £10 an hour. For an annual increase in the minimum wage linked to average earnings.
  • All workers, including part-timers, temps, casual and migrant workers to have trade union rates of pay, employment protection, and sickness and holiday rights from day one of employment.
  • An immediate 50% increase in the state retirement pension, as a step towards a living pension. Reinstate the link with average earnings or inflation whichever is higher.
  • Oppose benefit cuts. For the right to decent benefits, education, training, or a job, without compulsion.
  • Scrap the anti-trade union laws. For fighting trade unions, democratically controlled by their members. Full-time union officials to be regularly elected and receive no more than a worker's wage.
  • For the Welsh assembly to have the power to nationalise firms threatening redundancies with no compensation except for proven need.
  • A maximum 35-hour week with no loss of pay.
  • Nationalise the giant agribusinesses and large landowners. For tenant farmers to be given long term security. Nationalisation of retail giants to ensure farmers receive a fair price for their produce and interest-free loans.


Public services



  • No to privatisation and the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Renationalise all privatised utilities and services, with compensation paid only on the basis of proven need.
  • Fully fund all services and run them under accountable, democratic committees that include representatives of service workers and users.
  • A socialist NHS to provide for everyone's health needs - free at the point of use and under democratic control. Kick out private contractors.
  • Keep council housing publicly-owned. For a massive building programme of publicly-owned housing, on an environmentally sustainable basis, to provide good quality homes with affordable rents.


Education



  • Free, publicly-run, good quality education, available to all at any age. Abolish university tuition fees now and introduce a living grant.
  • The right of all pupils to be able to opt for Welsh or English medium education at an accessible school with class sizes of no more than 20.
  • Oppose the Assembly's school closures programme and job losses - use lower pupil numbers to reduce class sizes.
  • No school to close without the agreement of local communities.
  • Build new Welsh-medium schools when needed, no closure of community schools. For local, community-based schools run by elected school boards.


Environment



  • Major research and investment into replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy and into ending the problems of early obsolescence and unrecycled waste.
  • Public ownership of the energy generating industries. No to nuclear power. No to Trident.
  • Major investment in a cheap, accessible, integrated and environmentally friendly publicly owned transport system.


Rights



  • Oppose discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, disability, sexuality, age, and all other forms of prejudice.
  • Repeal all laws that trample over civil liberties. For the right to protest. End police harassment.
  • Defend abortion rights. For a woman's right to choose when and whether to have children.
  • For the right to asylum. No to racist immigration laws.


Language



  • The Welsh and English languages to have equal legal rights. All major companies which provide services to the public to provide choice of use of Welsh language.
  • No discrimination against workers who initially can only speak English. Learning to speak the basic Welsh needed in relation to their job should be seen as part of their training and paid for in company time.
  • Defend majority Welsh-speaking communities in rural areas through a council house building programme and job creation to allow people to remain living in their local communities if they wish.


Towards a Socialist Wales



  • For a new mass party of the working class.
  • For a "Yes" vote in the referendum on Assembly powers on March 3rd. The Welsh Assembly to be given full legislative and financial powers, including powers to take over firms threatening redundancy.
  • Take into public ownership the top companies that control the Welsh economy, under democratic workers control and management. Compensation only on the basis of proven need.
  • Tax the super-rich. For a socialist government to take into public ownership the top 150 companies and banks that dominate the British economy, and run them under democratic working-class control and management. Compensation to be paid only on the basis of proven need.
  • For a socialist Wales as part of a socialist alliance of Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland.
  • No to imperialist wars and occupations. Withdraw the troops immediately from Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • A democratic socialist plan of production based on the interests of the overwhelming majority of people, and in a way that safeguards the environment.
  • No to the bosses' neo-liberal European Union. For a socialist Europe and a socialist world.