Saturday, 29 October 2011

Revealed - the 147 companies that run the world

Please see this article from New Scientist that has worked out that 1318 "transnational" corporations own and control 60% of the world's wealth, and 40% of the number by 147 "super-entities". In other words, it really is 1%! That is why the Socialist Party calls 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. A democratic socialist plan of production would ensure that all the wealth and potential of the world really can go to the 99% of people in the world while safeguarding the environment.

"AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters' worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy....

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Libya: Gaddafi Dead - What now?

By Robert Bechert, CWI,

Independent action by Libyan workers, youth and poor vital to prevent revolution’s derailment

While the defeat of the last major forces defending Gaddafi’s dictatorial and increasingly megalomaniac regime was widely welcomed, the way in which it fell means that clouds now hang over the future of the Libyan revolution. There are now both opportunities and dangers facing the working masses and the youth in Libya. The combination of the absence of an independent workers’ movement, the bitterness resulting from an increasingly brutal civil war and particularly NATO’s intervention, have combined with Libya’s own history and characteristics to produce a complicated political and social situation.
In August we wrote, just after Tripoli’s fall, that it “was greeted with rejoicing by large numbers of, but by no means all, Libyans. Another autocratic ruler, surrounded by his privileged family and cronies, has been overthrown. If this had been purely the result of struggle by the Libyan working masses it would have been widely acclaimed but the direct involvement of imperialism casts a dark shadow over the revolution’s future ...
“While many Libyans are celebrating, socialists have to be clear that, unlike the ousting of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt, the way in which Gaddafi has been removed means that a victory for the Libyan people was also a success for imperialism. Without NATO acting as the rebels’ air force or the soldiers, weapons, organisation and training that NATO and some other countries like the feudal Qatar autocracy supplied, Tripoli would not have fallen to the rebels in the way that it has.” (‘Gaddafi regime crumbles’, 26 August, 2011)
Read the full article here:

Europe: New laws institutionalise austerity across the EU

Below we publish videos of two speechs given by Paul Murphy MEP in the European Parliament earlier in October on what have been called the ‘six pack’ rules. These new rules give even more power to the un-elected commission and will in effect institutionalise austerity.
This legislation barely got a mention in the media even though it is extremely important and will have a huge affect on the lives of people across Europe. The media was so quiet that President Barrosso referred to the passing of the legislation as a ‘silent revolution’.
These new rules will see the creation of what amounts to a budgetary policeman, who will monitor the national budgets of countries to make sure that they are implementing the austerity which the Commission is demanding. If the national parliament’s budget does not meet the Commission’s targets they can impose heavy sanctions on that country. This will further strengthen the hand of the Commission as it sets the targets. It is the working class, the unemployed and young people who will pay the price for this policy.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Understanding the Great Recession part 1

Here is the first part in what will be a series of long extracts from the works of Marxism that can help us understand the capitalist crisis that is now engulfing the world. We start with Marx and his introduction of the concepts of 'primitive accumulation' and 'fictitious capital' - both being intimitaely linked to finance capitalism, or what Engels called 'coupon clippers'. Although Marx wrote long before the invention of 'Collateralised Debt Obligations' or 'Credit Default Swaps', these insights show the insoluble contradiction in the polarised and unproductive nature of 'money' accumulation. Quotations are from Capital Volume I and Capital Volume III. They are of course taken from much larger discussions and should be read in the full context.

Capital Volume 1 - Chapter 25: The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation - Section 2

...But if a surplus labouring population is a necessary product of accumulation or of the development of wealth on a capitalist basis, this surplus population becomes, conversely, the lever of capitalistic accumulation, nay, a condition of existence of the capitalist mode of production. It forms a disposable industrial reserve army, that belongs to capital quite as absolutely as if the latter had bred it at its own cost. Independently of the limits of the actual increase of population, it creates, for the changing needs of the self-expansion of capital, a mass of human material always ready for exploitation. With accumulation, and the development of the productiveness of labour that accompanies it, the power of sudden expansion of capital grows also; it grows, not merely because the elasticity of the capital already functioning increases, not merely because the absolute wealth of society expands, of which capital only forms an elastic part, not merely because credit, under every special stimulus, at once places an unusual part of this wealth at the disposal of production in the form of additional capital; it grows, also, because the technical conditions of the process of production themselves — machinery, means of transport, &c. — now admit of the rapidest transformation of masses of surplus-product into additional means of production. The mass of social wealth, overflowing with the advance of accumulation, and transformable into additional capital, thrusts itself frantically into old branches of production, whose market suddenly expands, or into newly formed branches, such as railways, &c., the need for which grows out of the development of the old ones. In all such cases, there must be the possibility of throwing great masses of men suddenly on the decisive points without injury to the scale of production in other spheres. Overpopulation supplies these masses. The course characteristic of modern industry, viz., a decennial cycle (interrupted by smaller oscillations), of periods of average activity, production at high pressure, crisis and stagnation, depends on the constant formation, the greater or less absorption, and the re-formation of the industrial reserve army or surplus population. In their turn, the varying phases of the industrial cycle recruit the surplus population, and become one of the most energetic agents of its reproduction. This peculiar course of modern industry, which occurs in no earlier period of human history, was also impossible in the childhood of capitalist production. The composition of capital changed but very slowly. With its accumulation, therefore, there kept pace, on the whole, a corresponding growth in the demand for labour. Slow as was the advance of accumulation compared with that of more modern times, it found a check in the natural limits of the exploitable labouring population, limits which could only be got rid of by forcible means to be mentioned later. The expansion by fits and starts of the scale of production is the preliminary to its equally sudden contraction; the latter again evokes the former, but the former is impossible without disposable human material, without an increase, in the number of labourers independently of the absolute growth of the population. This increase is effected by the simple process that constantly “sets free” a part of the labourers; by methods which lessen the number of labourers employed in proportion to the increased production. The whole form of the movement of modern industry depends, therefore, upon the constant transformation of a part of the labouring population into unemployed or half-employed hands. The superficiality of Political Economy shows itself in the fact that it looks upon the expansion and contraction of credit, which is a mere symptom of the periodic changes of the industrial cycle, as their cause. As the heavenly bodies, once thrown into a certain definite motion, always repeat this, so is it with social production as soon as it is once thrown into this movement of alternate expansion and contraction. Effects, in their turn, become causes, and the varying accidents of the whole process, which always reproduces its own conditions, take on the form of periodicity. When this periodicity is once consolidated, even Political Economy then sees that the production of a relative surplus population — i.e., surplus with regard to the average needs of the self-expansion of capital — is a necessary condition of modern industry....

Capital Volume III - Chapter 29: Component Parts of Bank Capital

...All this paper actually represents nothing more than accumulated claims, or legal titles, to future production whose money or capital value represents either no capital at all, as in the case of state debts, or is regulated independently of the value of real capital which it represents.

In all countries based on capitalist production, there exists in this form an enormous quantity of so-called interest-bearing capital, or moneyed capital. And by accumulation of money-capital nothing more, in the main, is connoted than an accumulation of these claims on production, an accumulation of the market-price, the illusory capital-value of these claims.

A part of the banker's capital is now invested in this so-called interest-bearing paper. This is itself a portion of the reserve capital, which does not perform any function in the actual business of banking. The most important portion of this paper consists of bills of exchange, that is, promises to pay made by industrial capitalists or merchants. For the money-lender these bills of exchange are interest-bearing, in other words, when he buys them, he deducts interest for the time which they still have to run. This is called discounting. It depends on the prevailing rate of interest, how much of a deduction is made from the sum represented by the bill of exchange.

Finally, the last part of the capital of a banker consists of his money reserve in gold and notes. The deposits, unless tied up by agreement for a certain time, are always at the disposal of the depositors. They are in a state of continual fluctuation. But while one depositor draws on his account, another deposits, so that the general average sum total of deposits fluctuates little during periods of normal business.

The reserve funds of the banks, in countries with developed capitalist production, always express on the average the quantity of money existing in the form of a hoard, and a portion of this hoard in turn consists of paper, mere drafts upon gold, which have no value in themselves. The greater portion of banker's capital is, therefore, purely fictitious and consists of claims (bills of exchange), government securities (which represent spent capital), and stocks (drafts on future revenue). And it should not be forgotten that the money-value of the capital represented by this paper in the safes of the banker is itself fictitious, in so far as the paper consists of drafts on guaranteed revenue (e.g., government securities), or titles of ownership to real capital (e.g., stocks), and that this value is regulated differently from that of the real capital, which the paper represents at least in part; or, when it represents mere claims on revenue and no capital, the claim on the same revenue is expressed in continually changing fictitious money-capital. In addition to this, it must be noted that this fictitious banker's capital represents largely, not his own capital, but that of the public, which makes deposits with him, either interest-bearing or not.

Deposits are always made in money, in gold or notes, or in drafts upon these. With the exception of the reserve fund, which contracts or expands in accordance with the requirements of actual circulation, these deposits are in fact always in the hands of the industrial capitalists and merchants, on the one hand, whose bills of exchange are thereby discounted and who thus receive advances; on the other hand, they are in the hands of dealers in securities (exchange brokers), or in the hands of private parties who have sold their securities, or in the hands of the government (in the case of treasury notes and new loans). The deposits themselves play a double role. On the one hand, as we have just mentioned, they are loaned out as interest-bearing capital and are, therefore, not in the safes of the banks, but figure merely on their books as credits of the depositors. On the other hand, they function merely as such book entries, in so far as the mutual claims of the depositors are balanced by cheques on their deposits and can be written off against each other. In this connection, it is immaterial whether these deposits are entrusted to the same banker, who can thus balance the various accounts against each other, or whether this is done in different banks, which mutually exchange cheques and pay only the balances to one another.

With the development of interest-bearing capital and the credit system, all capital seems to double itself, and sometimes treble itself, by the various modes in which the same capital, or perhaps even the same claim on a debt, appears in different forms in different hands. The greater portion of this "money-capital" is purely fictitious. All the deposits, with the exception of the reserve fund, are merely claims on the banker, which, however, never exist as deposits. To the extent that they serve in clearing-house transactions, they perform the function of capital for the bankers — after the latter have loaned them out. They pay one another their mutual drafts upon the non-existing deposits by balancing their mutual accounts....

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Jarrow March 2011 Events - Marchers visiting Bristol this weekend

As has been covered on this blog, Youth Fight for Jobs have organised a recreation of the Jarrow Crusade of 75 years ago, marching from Tyneside to London to highlight the issues of youth unemployment and education cuts, including the removal of the EMA and the trebling of university tuition fees. This march has got a lot of national press coverage, including an endorsement from The Fonz on the One Show (available to watch here).
Jarrow marchers are visiting Bristol this weekend and there are several events organised while they are here. Please come along to show your support for an event that is making the ConDem government squirm by proving that youth unemployment cannot be ignored. We won't have a lost generation!
Fundraising Gig
Sunday 23rd Oct, 8pm. Grain Barge, Mardyke Wharf, Hotwells, BS8 4RU. Entry £5.
Public Meeting
Monday 24th October, 7pm. City of Bristol College (College Green campus), St George's Road, BS1 5UA
National Demonstration
The end of the Jarrow march will be marked by a national demonstration in London on Saturday 5th November. Coaches will be going from Bristol, leaving 8.30am from Anchor Road (opposite @Bristol). Contact Tom Baldwin on 07986951527 to book a place.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Urgent: Defend Vik Chechi - Unison branch secretary at Queen Mary University

Circulated by National Shop Stewards Network, please act on this if you can.

Vik Chechi, the Unison Branch Secretary of Queen Mary University in east London has this afternoon been suspended by his employer. We suspect that this is with a clear view to sack him because management wants to weaken the union and the anti-cuts campaign in the University which has united staff and students. They have been alarmed because Vik and other union activists have managed to reinvigorate the Unison branch. This is a classic attempt to smash a fighting union branch to allow management to drive through significant cuts including over 100 redundancies at the same as students face a tripling of tuition fees. By disarming the union, this would be just the start of the attacks on staff and students alike.
This is also an attack on Unison in particular and trade unions in general, just as we build up towards the massive pension strike on November 30th. Plymouth City Council has recently attempted to de-recognise Unison and many employers in both the public and private sector are looking to cut back on union facilities. Workers cannot afford to see their union strength weakened at this critical time when jobs, terms & conditions and pensions are on the line.
Please protest immediately to Vik's employers demanding his immediate reinstatement - Queen Mary University and 'Centre of the Cell' Send copies to

Sunday, 16 October 2011

CWI Leaflet: The day of inter-continental resistance

On 15 October, all around the globe, the “enraged”, the “indignad@s”, the “occupiers of Wall Street”, demonstrators all over Portugal, in Santiago Chile and in Cairo – and many, many more – will take the streets to challenge the power of big business. The magnificent movements of young people and workers in these struggles, with common causes, methods and demands, instinctively reach out to each other across borders and continents.
After more than three years of ongoing capitalist crisis, the capitalists and their politicians show their inability to offer any way out of ongoing misery for the vast majority, called the “99%” in the movement in the US. Instead, the ruling elites want to make workers and youth pay for the failure of their system, to continue to bail out bankers and millionaires. That’s what this rebellion is against and where the demand for fundamental change, the demand for “revolution” as the youth movement for example in Spain puts it, comes from.
The CWI fights for
· An end to the dictatorship of the markets; break the power of the tycoons! Massive taxation of the rich and their profits!
· Massive investment in jobs, free and decent education and public services! Stop the cuts and austerity!
· Nationalisation of the banks and the major companies that dominate the global economy; bring them under workers’ and public control; for a plan to use the resources in the interest of working people, not leave them under the rule of profit and big business!
· A joint fight back against national divisions, racism and sexism.

Report from London coming soon

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Hardest Hit Demo - Bristol Saturday 22nd October

22nd October 2011
March starts at College Green (Circular route) at 12pm
Rally starts at College Green at 1pm



Anti-Cuts Alliance:

From the website:

Disabled people in the South West, along with their families and friends, are taking to the streets in Bristol to protest against Government cuts to disability benefits and services. Join us and help to make sure all our voices are heard.

The march will leave College Green at 12pm, although we expect people will begin to assemble from 11.30am. The march will return to College Green where a rally will start at 1.15pm. We plan to have a range of speakers who will keep us informed and entertained. Our rally compare Andy Rickell is Chief Executive of the Vassal Centre Trust. He will be joined on stage by MP for Bristol East Kerry McCarthy and Roger Berry the former MP for Kingswood who will share their views on the proposed changes. We will also be joined by a number of disabled people from across the South West who can speak from their own experiences about what the proposed cuts to benefits and services will mean to them as disabled people trying to live independent and fulfilling lives.

Please note that, whilst we have endeavoured to make the march route as accessible as we can, the centre of Bristol has a number of hills and some cobbled streets, which we are not able to avoid. People who don’t feel able to join the march are welcome to stay in the College Green area whilst the march is taking place.

General information about College Green can be found here

Information on blue badge parking is here which includes a searchable car park finder. A public transport map of Bristol can be downloaded – the buses shown linking Temple Meads train station and Park Street are the 20 and 904 click here.

There is also a free bus which runs from Station Approach – directly in front of Temple Meads train station. The nearest stop for College Green is on Colston Avenue, near the Jobcentre which is about 300m away but they tell us they may be able to drop people by Sainsbury’s, which is a bit closer. The service starts at 10am and runs till 6am. Buses leave Temple Meads on the hour and half hour. Buses back to Temple Meads leave Colston Avenue at 15 and 45 minutes past each hour. We hope to have volunteers at the station who will be able to meet people outside the station and assist people to the bus.

In addition to the free bus Unite are providing a mini bus to run people from Temple Meads to College Green and back again. The mini bus will be leaving Temple Meads around 11.30am. If you would like to use this service you need to email, telling us the time your train gets in and your mobile number (if you have one)

Details of coach pick up points can be found at the bottom of the page.

As new speakers and contributors are confirmed we will be adding them to this page, so do keep an eye out for any changes. Please also help us spread the word about Hardest Hit. Bristol is one of many cities across the South West that have been severely affected by budget cuts. Across the region people are seeing deep cuts in services such as social care and transport, which they rely on to remain independent. Please come along, and bring as many friends and family as you can. Help us to send a clear message to the Government: stop these cuts.

To register your interest in the march and rally or to volunteer to join our team of stewards please email: or call 020 8522 7433

We would like to say a big thank you to BES Systems for their support. They stepped in when we were struggling to find affordable staging, providing us with far more kit than we could ever have afforded.

Coach information
A coach will travel from Torquay toBristol, picking up en route as follows:-

Lymington Road, Torquay 8am
Exeterservices 8.45am
Honiton Motel 9.15am
Junction 25/M5 10am

Seats on the coach must be booked in advance and will be sold on a first come first served basis. To book a coach seat either email or call Jo on 01404 881109. Seats cost £10.50 per person, payable on the day.

Friday, 14 October 2011

#OccupySeattle takes Important Steps Forward — Student Strikes and Call for “The Night of 500 Tents”

By Jordan Martinez - Socialist Alternative (CWI US)

The #OccupySeattle movement took an important step forward on the 12th of October with student walkouts taking place around the city, including the University of Washington, Seattle Central Community College, Seattle University, Cornish College, as well as a number of high schools. Approximately 600 – 800 students joined the walkouts, called only one week earlier.

All around the country and the world students have faced tremendous attacks in the form of higher tuition and fees, ultimately for a lower quality of education. With chants like “Student Debt is Exploitation/Join Seattle's Occupation,” those concerns were connected today with the #Occupy movement that is beginning to span the globe.

Today marks one week since police last clamped down hard on #OccupySeattle - Wednesday, October 5th - dismantling tents, attacking protesters, and arresting 34 within minutes. The police seized the occupier’s tents, and then later “camping accessories.” Seattle Mayor McGinn has even extended a ban on umbrellas at Westlake park (the site of the Seattle occupation), unless one is standing up, after particularly inventive occupiers created crude structures. Imagine that - a ban on umbrellas in the heart of Seattle!

These developments have given rise to intense debate within the movement. Unfortunately, a section of the movement has retreated in the face of these attacks due to illusions that the Mayor, and even the police, are on our side.

Urgently and rapidly, rearming this movement with radical tactics and clear demands are needed - coupled with massive outreach. For this reason tonight’s General Assembly, with 200 people present, produced perhaps a turning point for the movement - the call for a “Night of 500 Tents”- a bold retaking of Westlake on Saturday October 15.

This call came out of the work of local Socialist Alternative organizers in linking up with other activists and correctly identifying the next steps for the movement- an analysis vindicated through the virtual consensus in support of indefinitely continuing to occupying Westlake and issue a call for a mass re-occupation of the park on Saturday with 500 tents.

Forward to the Night of 500 Tents!

Socialist Alternative (CWI US) -

Also follow events in New York -

TUC says: UK is in a state-sponsored unemployment crisis

See this report from the TUC, with comes with some shocking unemployment figures. As Brendan Barber says, the country needs a Plan B - but Socialists can't wait for either the Tories, Liberals or Labour to cut the country out of recession. Austerity, unemployment and poverty need to be fought by the Labour movement, with a Plan B that overthrows capitalism.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Come to Socialism 2011 - join the fightback

BBC Report: Unemployed march from Jarrow to London

Please see this excellent interview on the BBC yesterday

"Matt Whale from Hull explained the five demands of those taking part in a march to highlight unemployment, claiming "we have absolutely no future at the moment". He spoke to Jo Coburn from the protest - recreating the 1936 Jarrow March - which had reached the Rotherham area in South Yorkshire on the day UK unemployment rose by 114,000 between June and August to 2.57 million, a 17-year high, according to official figures."

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Tory MP claiming £145,387 expenses slanders the unemployed

Since the article was written, similar attacks have appeared in the Sun and the Indepdent, please sent letters of protest to the editors and post comments to help refute these Tory slanders.

Nasty party reveals true attitude to unemployed youth

Young people marching from Jarrow to London were amused by the pack of lies being printed in tomorrows telegraph, and surprised that the conservative partys publicity department would allow such a show of their true face.
Ben Robinson, marching from Jarrow to London said “Young people have long known that the priviledged elite ruling Britain today live on a completely different planet to them, and Robert Goodwill, MP for Scarborough has revealed how true that is today. His disgraceful comments implying that all young unemployed do is watch Jeremy Kyle is a real kick in the teeth for those who are day after day searching for jobs. There have been a number of tragic cases of suicides of those who after hundreds of job rejections, and Robert Goodwills comments reveal huge depths of cynicism that lie at the heart of the Westminster. Perhaps if he did not receive £145,387 in expenses in 2008 he would have more understanding of what the situation young people is.”
“Richard Alleyne, the author of the article, perhaps should start by fact checking, and speaking to those on the march. We had a demonstration in Jarrow on Saturday which was attended by around 500 people – however, it was always going to be the case that there was a far smaller number of core marchers, around 20-30. As a march of unemployed people, of course we are organising trips to sign on and for interviews; you would hope that the MPs would welcome this display of pro-active job seeking. However all have returned to the march and are determined to make it through to the end. We would like to invite all concerned with this article to join us on Wednesday 12 October, as the latest set of unemployment figures are published and we march from Barnsley into Nick Cleggs constituency in Sheffield, or if they are worried about how sore their feet would be perhaps they could take the short march through London when we arrive on 5 November, assembling 12 noon embankment. There will be many young people from all walks of life who will be more than happy to expain what life is like in the real world.”
The Jarrow march is sponsored by eight national trade unions, including RMT, PCS, CWU, FBU, Unite, UCU, TSSA, Bectu and has been joined by countless trade union activists, young people, students and more.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Guardian article on Jarrow March 2011

Jarrow's 2011 marchers take the long road to an uncertain future

75 years after the original crusade for jobs, young people are again taking their protest from the north-east to Westminster

Esther Addley on the A167,, Wednesday 5 October 2011 20.49 BST
Four days and barely 45 miles into the trek, Ben Robinson could already boast of having learned some new skills. Another marcher who was acting as the group's unofficial medic had had to duck out, "but thankfully she trained me up in foot doctoring before she left". He had already had to apply a butterfly ("where the blister is between the toes, and you have to cut the plaster") and an armadillo ("it's a way of applying the tape so you don't get more blisters – it's more technical than you think").

Most grateful for his skills was Bobbie Cranney, 26, from Newcastle, who had had to take the support minibus for a day or two, to her enormous frustration, so bad were her blisters. She was hoping to be back on the road when she could, she said, though she'd have to nip home in a day or two to sign on....

Also read the Jarrow march daily blog here:

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Protest at Tory conference

Tories gathering for conference faced large protest demonstration
By Alec Price, Chester & Wirral Socialist Party

35,000 people travelled to Manchester city centre on Sunday 2nd October to march against the anti-working class policies of the Conservative party.

The Tory conference usually attracts a protest - but not on this scale. Last year for example, 7,000 protested in Birmingham.

The reason for the dramatic increase in numbers is surely down to the increasing reaction to the £81 billioncuts package that the Con-Dem coalition is trying to push through, but also the decision of the Trades Union Congress to organise the march this year.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Excellent coverage of Jarrow March 2011 in Mirror

Jarrow March 2011: Kevin Maguire on the road for historic repeat

by Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror 3/10/2011
Read more:

THE 330-mile walk for work from Tyneside to London is history repeating itself for James Allison. The retired labourer was a young boy when he skipped alongside his dad, also called James, one of the marchers on the 1936 Jarrow Crusade. He was also there, 75 years on, to watch a group of young people leave town in the footsteps of the most famous protest trek of them all.

“I was going along, holding my dad’s hand,” he recalled. “And one of the others grumbled that I was putting them out of step.”

Now 84, Mr Allison went on: “It was terrible in the 1930s during the Depression. Everybody was out of work up here, you had no money and you were always hungry.

“I went to school in my bare feet and drank out of a jam jar – you couldn’t pour in hot water or it’d crack. If you had a chair, you had to sell it before you got help from the unemployment board.”

Nobody claims the jobless are as badly off today as the means-tested destitute of 1930s Depression Britain. Half of a poverty-stricken Jarrow was out of work and struggling to stave off malnutrition. Yet there are signs the great British public is stirring. As the procession makes its way round town, with a brass band near the front, shoppers applaud, bus drivers toot their horns and lunchtime drinkers spill out of the pub to watch. Ordinary people are increasingly resentful of the unjust austerity of Tory Cameronomics.

One in every 10 workers in North East England is dumped on the dole. Youth unemployment at just over one in five is at a record national high. The dreams of young people are destroyed by education cuts and £9,000 university fees. Insecurity is terrorising workers; plummeting living standards the curse of a growing number of families. Those in work, such as the cleaners on the minimum wage at Tyneside’s Metro, risk losing their paid meal breaks.

Yet at this week’s Tory conference in Manchester, our Government of millionaires will blame the jobless for their plight. A big stick will be waved at the jobless while big tax cuts are dangled before the wealthy. Lizi Gray, the great granddaughter of another of the original marchers, will walk parts of the route between studying at college. The 17-year-old, from nearby Gateshead, explained: “If you go to university you’ll be saddled with a huge debt that you might never be able to pay it off.

“Is that what we want? Britain’s getting unfairer, more unequal. It doesn’t have to be like that. This march is about an alternative.”

About 30 marchers will cover all or most of the miles, compared with the 200 three-quarters of a century ago. Unemployed chef Rhys Harris, from Pontypridd, South Wales, intends to take a few days off to watch Cardiff play Burnley in the fourth round of the Carling Cup.

I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen in 1936.

Trainers and blue T-shirts have replaced hobnail boots and oilskins. The elderly may also be amused to learn they will take five weeks compared with the four weeks of the originals. Indeed, I heard the first jokey, “Are we nearly there yet?” in the very first mile.

The route, however, is broadly similar to that followed in the year of Edward VIII’s abdication. Last night the marchers were due to reach Durham and then on to London by way of Harrogate, Sheffield, Leicester, Coventry, Northampton and Luton before a rally in Trafalgar Square on Saturday, November 5.

Youth Fight for Jobs, the group behind the trek, is an offshoot of the Socialist Party, formerly part of the Militant Tendency, which Neil Kinnock devoted much energy in the 1980s to expelling from the Labour Party. Half a dozen unions including the biggest, Unite, PCS civil servants and RMT rail workers back the march.

On Saturday, I addressed a rally alongside trade unionists to send the walkers on their way on Saturday. Dave Nellist, the ex-Labour MP kicked out over his Militant links, has lost none of his combative rhetoric. Now a Socialist Party councillor in Coventry, he warned that smashing windows and rioting will achieve nothing. Even Mr Cameron may agree with that sentiment – if not Mr Nellist’s call for revolutionary action to overthrow the Tories.

Having grown up on South Tyneside, I can attest to the hold the Jarrow Crusade has on the town. It’s as much a part of the North East’s identity as the soaring Angel of the North or the magnificent Tyne Bridge. Local lad Stephen Hepburn, Jarrow’s Labour MP, was inspired as a kid by tales of the marchers. In 2001, on the 65th anniversary of the Crusade, he unveiled “The Spirit of Jarrow” statue to honour the marchers.

It’s outside Morrisons – not a spot art snobs would pick. But it guarantees a daily audience for Hepburn’s predecessor “Red Ellen” Wilkinson, two banner-carrying marchers and a couple of kids running alongside.

“We’ve massive local pride in the Jarrow Crusade,” Hepburn told me. “But it’s more than a piece of history. It’s a warning about what the Tories will do, turning their backs on the unemployed. And a rallying cry to good people everywhere to stand up and be counted.”

History has repeated itself too for pensioner Emma Madsen. Back in 1936, when she was a jobless teenager, she stood near Jarrow Town Hall to cheer the leaving marchers.

Fast forward to 2011 and the former barmaid was in Jarrow Park, curious to see this group. “Everybody was much poorer than today,” she remembered. “But good luck to them. At least they’re having a go.”

Then, with a twinkle in her eyes, she showed Jarrow’s true grit. “I might have gone with them if I had the legs,” she said. “As it is, I’d have just slowed them up.”

I’m not so sure, although she is 94.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Jarrow March 2011 sets off!

Hundreds of people rallied and marched through Jarrow today ahead of setting off to London. Representatives from the PCS & RMT unions joined the marchers and spoke in support of the campaign against youth unemployment. Kevin Maguire of the Daily Mirror addressed the rally alongside Lizi Gray whose great-grandfather was on the original 1936 march. The march set off with the RMTs brass band and received fantastic support from local people as it passed.
A daily report and pictures to be posted here:

The march has received a huge amount of coverage in the national and local media.

The Guardian:

BBC report here:

The BBC have even been encourage to look back at the historic Jarrow March, here:

Despair and fury: Interview with Greek socialist

As the ‘troika’ – the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – arrive in Athens, this week, to review the Greek government’s “progress” in its vicious austerity cuts in return for the latest tranche of bailout funds, the people of Greece are suffering beyond endurance.

Over the last four years, the income of the average Greek household has fallen by a staggering 50%, in what is described as as a “death spiral” by the New York Times.

Massive job losses, tax increases and rising inflation are ruining the lives of working people. Athens, which is home to one third of Greece’s 11 million people, is hit by “soaring crime and lawlessness”, according to the British Guardian newspaper (24/09/11). There has been a sharp rise in homelessness and the number of drug addicts. “Psychiatric patients are being ejected from institutions that can no longer offer them a place”, reports the paper. Many shop owners have been forced to close. People are reduced to having to “forage through municipal rubbish bins at night” and pensioners have to survive on “rejects at fruit and vegetable markets”. Suicide rates are up sharply. In desperation, larger numbers of Greeks are either returning to their “rural roots” or emigrating in the biggest exodus in over 40 years.

These sort of desperate conditions are usually associated with crisis ridden parts of the neo-colonial world or with the collapse of the former Soviet Union. But this situation is unfolding in the heart of what until recently was supposed to be the European capitalists ’success story’ of the ‘euro-project’.

Last week’s announcment by George Papandreou’s Greek PASOK government of further masses of job losses, tax hikes and pension cuts led to huge anger and frustration and a new surge of industrial action. Students are already occupying colleges over new fees and privatisation plans. But after several general strikes in recent months and big occupations of city squares, how can Greek workers and youth now halt the cuts tsunami?

Below, we carry an interview with Nikos Anastasiades, Xekinima (CWI Greece), from this week’s Socialist (newspaper of the Socialist Party - CWI England & Wales).

Could you explain, briefly, what the austerity measures will mean to the majority of Greek people?

The government recently announced some new austerity measures. “New” has become a standing joke in Greece as the government announces new measures every week!

After the destruction of living standards caused by previous attacks, the government has now announced measures that will lead to more attacks on the working class. These attacks include: the layoffs of public sector workers – they plan to sack 200,000 out of a total of 750,000 public sector workers in the next few years. This plan will start this week by putting some thousands of workers on ‘suspension’. Public sector pay will also be slashed by an average of 50%.

The government is planning to tax those workers on the lowest incomes, combined with the introduction of an annual ‘household tax’ - a poll tax. The Papandreou government intends to double the price of fuel for household use.

In addition, there are attacks on education funding, and the implementation of university tuition fees.

Before the current economic and financial crisis Greece was one of the poorest countries in the European Union. These cuts will plunge society into absolute poverty and create a ‘lost generation’ of unemployed people.

Last week official figures showed that the number of suicides due to economic reasons doubled in the last year....

Read the rest of the interview here:

USA: Police crackdown fails to crush Wall Street Occupation - Report from a participant

By Jesse Lessinger, Socialist Alternative (CWI USA)

On Saturday, September 24, the “Occupy Wall Street” struggle set out on a march. This was the eighth day that young people, workers and activists have been occupying a plaza in Manhattan's financial district two blocks away from Wall Street. It started as a routine march. The usual slogans were chanted: “Banks got bailed out! We got sold out!” “Whose streets? Our streets!” “Tell me what democracy looks like? This is what democracy looks like!”
It was spirited and energetic from the start. This ongoing occupation has drawn national and international attention, seen as attempt to stand up to corporate greed and challenge the domination of the big banks over our economy, our government and our lives. It's drawn inspiration from the mass youth occupations in Spain and Greece, as well as the revolutionary upheavals in Tunisia, Egypt and across North Africa and the Middle East.
Many are long-time activists that have been organizing for years. Others are completely new to organizing and protesting, participating for the first time in their lives in a social struggle. While many are inexperienced, they've shown a tremendous persistence and fighting spirit. They chant: “All day. All week. Occupy Wall Street!”
As we began to march north up Broadway, our numbers gradually grew and the march started to move into the streets, blocking traffic. With no predetermined march route or official city permit, the police struggled to keep up, trying in vain to direct and control the march and push it back to the sidewalks.

“Whose Streets? Our Streets!”
Unlike most demonstrations in New York City, we were not penned in like animals, forced to one side of the street, isolated and marginalized from the rest of the city. Bystanders watched and waved and some joined in. We marched through Washington Square Park, where more young people joined. Our numbers were well over 1,000 marching freely through the streets of Manhattan, our voices heard loud and clear.
Since moving to New York about four years ago now and attending countless demonstrations, protests, marches, actions and speak outs, I had never been on an action that was able to freely march through the streets. We covered about 2.5 miles, arriving eventually at Union Square. We were not suffocated by the pens or sidelined by a motorcade of police bikes. For the first time in a long time people in New York were able to practice their right to free assembly without infringement or restriction.
It was a tiny victory for the working people and youth of this city, a victory that the police and city government were eager to snuff out. This occupation, now lasting over a week, is not simply a nuisance. The ruling establishment is actually very afraid that this could spread and grow and threaten “order” in the city, an order where the rich get richer and the rest of us are left behind, where the super-elite, the “top 1%,” run society while “the 99%” have no voice. This is why Occupy Wall Street has raised the slogan “We are the 99%!” in an attempt to fight back and be heard.
After rallying very briefly at Union Square, the march turned around to head back “home” to the encampment at the newly renamed Liberty Plaza. The police had amassed a bigger force behind us and unfurled large orange nets. At first it seemed like they only intended to channel the march, split us up and disrupt the action. But we quickly learned these were giant fish nets cast widely to catch as many people as possible.

The Cops Get Violent
The police turned aggressive, violently pushing protesters, grabbing them, throwing people to the ground and arresting them. We ran but they kenneled in dozens at a time, pinning them between nets and buildings. I narrowly escaped a net and we chanted on the opposite side calling for the release of our brothers and sisters.
We were peaceful. They were violent. We were exercising our freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and they brutally violated these rights. A small group of young women, who were trapped in a net, standing perfectly peacefully, were suddenly pepper-sprayed for no reason. The video of this incident has gone viral, prompting international news coverage. Around 100 were arrested, including several bystanders who were not part of the protest, held in buses and jail cells for hours, and only released at 5 a.m. the next morning.
The police had one aim: intimidation. This outrageous behavior on their part was intended to strike fear into the youth and break our spirit. Police violence may indeed make some people more fearful of protesting, but it also inspires wider outrage and solidarity. Overwhelmingly the core of the movement has stayed strong and continued the occupation.
This exposes the completely hypocritical role of the police force and the state. They brutally suppress any attempt to peacefully speak out against corporate domination. Meanwhile, the real criminals and crooks on Wall Street walk freely, making billions off our backs, demanding we pay for their economic crisis while they are protected by an oppressive regime that uses the laws when convenient and force when they choose.
Most of us made it back to the plaza exhausted but excited, shaken but angry and determined. I found out back at the plaza that one of our comrades had been arrested. Later, he compiled this video of the march, including footage from his own arrest. We were all concerned for the welfare of our brothers and sisters who had been assaulted and taken away.

Expanding the Struggle But I also began to think about where this movement was headed. The movement has captured the imagination of hundreds of people and captured the attention of perhaps hundreds of thousands around the world. There is constant discussion and debate about how it can become bigger. Many of the new people excited by the energy and strong sense of community within the occupation ask: “Why are there not more people here?”
There is no simple answer, but one thing is for sure. There are thousands out there who are very sympathetic to this movement, many of whom would like to participate but may not be able to. They have work and families and can't afford to occupy Wall Street indefinitely. They are either not able or maybe not yet prepared to make big sacrifices, but they want to support this action. The question is not simply how can we get more people to the occupation but how can we get more people involved in the movement in general.
With the attention that Occupy Wall Street is receiving and the army of full-time activists, Liberty Plaza could become a hub for organizing a wider struggle. As a next step we could call another mass demonstration on Saturday with some basic demands like: Make Wall Street Pay for the Crisis; Tax the Super-Rich; Jobs Not Cuts; Education and Health Care, Not War and Bank Bailouts; Stop Police Brutality and Defend Our Democratic Rights. This way, thousands of people could participate and help grow the movement. Occupy Wall Street should publicly call upon all progressive organizations, especially the unions, with their thousands of members and resources, to participate and mobilize for mass demonstrations.
There is also talk of spreading occupations to other cities. Already in the works is an occupation of Washington, D.C., on Oct. 6 ( Something is changing in this country. Working people and youth are becoming more politicized and radicalized. There is deep anger that is growing daily in U.S. society, and it is bubbling just below the surface. It cannot be contained forever. It will explode at a certain stage.
Occupy Wall Street reflects some of this anger and radicalization that is developing. From Wisconsin to New York City we're experiencing the aftershocks of social earthquakes now rocking the planet caused by the deep subterranean tensions of an enduring global economic crisis. The epicenters of these quakes have so far been seen across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of the globe. But it may not be too long before the tremors in the U.S. become full-blown social convulsions.

Can Labour be reclaimed?

As public sector workers prepare for the planned 30 November one-day strike, the question of a political voice of opposition to cuts, along with their strength in the union, is posed.
Here we reflect some of the debates that take place by reproducing correspondence between a reader of the Socialist, Tim Hayward, and Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary. Read the exchange here: