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Saturday, 16 April 2016

Election address for Paul Ward

Your communist candidate says "I will fight for the vulnerable in Tameside and continue to campaign against the cuts imposed by a cruel, uncaring Tory government.

I will oppose privatisation, the imposition of academy status on schools and colleges and the so called Northern Powerhouse.

I will fight for a programme of affordable council homes, work with other local progressive members of the community, including other Labour councillors where appropriate, and campaign for fully funded public services by engaging with people to fight back against austerity.

As a Communist Party candidate, I will also fight to restore local democracy and to stand up for trade union rights"

For more information on the Communist Party, click on the following link here

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Communist candidate to stand in East Manchester

The Communist Party in Greater Manchester will contest the Audenshaw Ward in Tameside Council local elections on the 5th May. Our candidate will be Paul Ward, a Stockport NHS senior registered nurse and local resident. Paul is an active labour movement campaigner opposed to cuts and the privatisation of services, in particular the NHS. We will be posting up further details of his address in due course.

We will be leafleting in the Tameside area in the next few weeks - dates can be found on the events section of this website. If you would like to help in our campaign, you can contact Paul on 07758 0008237, or email us at manchestercommunistbranchsec@gmail.com

Monday, 29 February 2016

Britain and the EU

As the dust settles on the Prime Minister’s much-vaunted “renegotiation” of the terms on which he hopes Britain will remain a member of the European Union, the media have quickly moved on to the soap opera of which leading Tories will end up on which side. Pundits can hardly be blamed for not focusing on the detail of the supposed concessions David Cameron has snatched from Brussels.

The “emergency brake” on in-work benefits for migrants who are working and paying tax in Britain is not only a demonstration of the Nasty Party’s nastiness, but is also of a piece with the Tory war on all workers, whether born here or abroad: the Institute for Fiscal Studies says 2.6 million families will be an average £1,600 worse off each year as they are moved from tax credits to universal credit.

As for the celebrated treaty amendment, stating that the commitment to “ever closer union” does not apply to Britain, this certainly does not mean Britain “can never be forced into political integration.”

Provisions in the Stability and Growth Pact preventing governments from borrowing to invest in their country’s economic future, clauses in the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties prohibiting state aid for industry and demanding the privatisation of public monopolies — such rules have political repercussions.

Membership of the EU severely curtails the choices available to the electorates of individual countries. Socialism and even Keynesian social democracy cease to be options available to voters, either because the levers of economic control have been handed to unaccountable institutions such as the European Commission and European Central Bank or because socialist measures themselves such as renationalising industries or intervening directly in the economy are illegal.

Support for the European Union on the left has taken a battering in recent years. The brutal and pitiless immiseration of Greece at the hands of the EU-dominated “troika” exposed the bloc’s free-market fanaticism and contempt for democracy. So too does its enthusiastic, if secretive, pursuit of the TTIP trade deal with the United States, over the heads of national governments and in the face of massive public opposition.

When challenged by War on Want director John Hilary, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem did not even make a pretence of caring. “I do not take my mandate from the European people,” she sneered. But many on the left continue to defend membership.

Some argue that, rather than leave, we should campaign for a better EU — a more democratic union which protects working people’s rights rather than corporate profits. This is the position of Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, and apparently also of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. They must be challenged on how they intend to achieve this. The EU’s anti-democratic structures and legal commitments to neoliberalism are embedded in a succession of binding treaties which cannot be changed without the consent of every single member state. This makes reforming the bloc virtually impossible.

Others point to particular provisions of EU law which protect maternity rights or holiday pay, and argue that the Conservatives would try to unpick these if we left. Of course they would. But it is not just the Conservatives who have it in for workers’ rights. The EU itself has demanded an end to collective bargaining agreements, the imposition of “flexible” contracts and the deregulation of entire industries.

Staying in is no guarantee that our rights will be protected, especially once treaties like TTIP further subordinate governments to transnational corporations. The labour movement must regain the confidence to fight for a better future, rather than trusting in an anti-democratic institution to shield it from the government’s blows.

Still others claim that since the loudest voices calling for an exit are on the political right, we have to vote to remain to avoid associating with them.
But the big guns of the In campaign — the Prime Minister, Sir Stuart Rose, Goldman Sachs, the US government — are not exactly friends of the labour movement.

The British Establishment is more or less united in its determination to stay in the EU. The status quo suits it down to the ground. But supporters of radical political change should vote to leave on June 23.

For the latest statements from the party please go to the party website/

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

An alternative, for radical change and power for the people

Chancellor George Osborne has welcomed the 0.7 per cent rise in GDP in the second quarter of 2015 as proof that Britain is “motoring ahead, with our economy producing as much per person as ever before.” And it’s true that GDP per head is almost back to where it was on the eve of the 2008 financial crash.

Yet it’s a strange boast that, seven years on, we are only just reaching that point. Between them, chancellors Alistair Darling and Osborne imposed public spending cuts which suppressed Britain’s economic recovery below the levels achieved in France, Germany, the US and even Japan in the two years after the end of the recession in 2009.

Indeed, their plans almost derailed the recovery altogether over the following period, as EU-imposed austerity programmes did in Spain and Italy. Initial cuts in public-sector investment and then far deeper ones to government spending on wages, pensions and benefits, together with the private-sector attack on wages and pensions, slashed demand in the British economy at the very time when sustained consumption and investment were required.

The TUC analysis published this week confirms that this has been the slowest and shallowest recovery of the eight biggest recessions in almost two centuries of British capitalism. In the five years since the depth of the most recent one, the British economy has grown by just 6.1 per cent — less than half the level (15.5 per cent) achieved after the recession of the early 1980s, barely half that (11.4 per cent) in the mid-1970s and less than one-third of post-Depression growth (21 per cent) in the 1930s.

No wonder Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, who sits on the Office for Budget Responsibility’s panel of economic experts, has been widely quoted as saying: “Anyone who continues to describe what is happening in the UK as a ‘strong recovery’ either has not bothered to look at the data, or is being deliberately deceptive.” Nonetheless, however unevenly between different sectors, regions and sections of the population, the British economy now appears to be growing more firmly than in some other major capitalist countries.

What are the prospects for this recovery to continue and its prosperity to trickle down and spread more evenly? The recent surge in corporate profits should offer some protection against involuntary cutbacks in production, investment and jobs. Yet, as Centrica is determined to demonstrate, the drive to maximise shareholder profit trumps all — especially when monopoly power has an entire population at its mercy.

Six thousand redundancies may lower service quality and security of supply, but the Big Six energy utilities which produce and distribute our gas and electricity can collude to charge whatever they like. They know that regulators and the government are on their side — and that, effectively, consumers have nowhere else to go. The ongoing tumble in world commodity prices over the past two years could make British exports more competitive and free up corporate funds for investment.

Certainly, Britain’s trading position with the rest of the world has been improving this year. Manufacturing investment has also risen, if sluggishly, although a slowdown is forecast by Lombard in its latest report for the EEF employers’ body. But there can be little confidence that falling commodity prices will counteract severe structural imbalances and weaknesses in the British economy. The City gamblers will still speculate the final prices to British industry upwards, while the big monopoly firms and financiers continue to direct much of their capital into property, services (including privatisation), bond and currency markets and overseas, rather than into domestic productive industry.

The priority given to City of London interests maintains the pound at a high exchange rate, to the disadvantage of export prices. There is no sign of this rate weakening against the euro, in Britain’s main export market, although it may not quite keep up with the dollar after a rise in US interest rates later this year. Further down the line, an increase in the Bank of England base rate will make it more expensive for industrial companies to borrow for investment. Quality based on more R&D and new technology is as important as price when it comes to exports — unless British capitalism intends to compete against Third World labour costs. It is also vital when it comes to productivity, the balance of payments, employment and rising living standards at home.

Yet British levels of business and scientific investment remain poor in relation to most other G7 and Brics economies, even after a prolonged period of low interest rates. A new Office for National Statistics survey confirms that Britain spends far less on investment (only 15 per cent of total annual spending) than any other G7 or leading Brics country, including Japan (21), France (20), the US (19), Germany (17), Russia (26), India (36) and China (49).

For at least the past four decades, fixed capital investment in Britain has languished at between two-thirds and three-quarters of the level in France, Germany, Japan and more recently the US. According to Eurostat, British industry consistently devotes less (around 18 per cent) of the new value it creates to investment than most other EU member states.

Hampered by continuing low investment, labour productivity here has yet to return to its pre-recession level as, in particular, the US and France surge ahead. British ruling-class strategy to sustain investment and competitiveness is to rely on relatively low wages, kept down by unemployment and anti-union laws, together with inward investment and — funded from privatisation sales — slightly increased government infrastructure spending.
The CBI targets workplace pensions as a drag on internal company funds that could go to investment instead.

Public spending cuts, privatisation and lower corporation tax on company profits are also essential elements in a strategy which has its central goal the expansion of capital’s profit base — and the restoration of the rate of profit itself. This being capitalism, there are contradictions.
Austerity for the working class will reduce purchasing power, but the intention is for this to be counteracted by extra household and corporate (as well as government) borrowing — even though this is almost certain to create another financial crisis.

One basic problem for capitalism is that, in the drive to maximise profit, companies seek competitive advantage by reducing labour costs and increasing production and market share. Purchasing power is restricted at the same time as output expands until, at the peak of a boom, not everything produced can be sold a profit. Credit cannot postpone such a recession infinitely. Capital accumulates which has nowhere profitable to go, so its value has to be slashed as investment, production and employment spiral downwards.

Just such a cyclical crisis of over-production was already gathering in the major advanced economies on the eve of the 2008 financial crash, manifested in a glut and then fall in steel production. Moreover, in the perpetual drive to reduce costs by introducing labour-saving machinery and new technology, the proportion of new value being created by labour power falls as a share of output. Yet this surplus value, for which the capitalists are competing in any given sector and the economy generally, is the basis of capitalist profit as whole.

Marxist economist Michael Roberts has recalculated official figures recently to show how this tendency for the rate of profit to fall has occurred in the G20 countries collectively, since 1950. Post-war expansion ended in an international recession and a collapse in profit rates from 1974. The long decline since then has only been interrupted twice — by “New Right” policies during the 1980s and, until 2002, the post-Soviet neoliberal globalisation offensive.

Since then, the main capitalist classes have had to intensify their efforts to try to increase both the rate and mass of profit. This is the context in which to understand the renewed drive to maintain austerity, cut business taxes, restrict trade union rights, impose even greater labour flexibility, increase the state retirement age, cut pension rights, expand privatisation and increase the power of transnational corporations through international trade and investment agreements such as TTIP.

This is the strategy of British state-monopoly capitalism, the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF.

Rob Griffiths. General Secretary, Communist Party of Britain

Saturday, 9 May 2015

How the Tories won

The biggest factors in the Tory victory were political and ideological. Labour’s response to the Tory ideological offensive has been feeble, confused and contradictory and its refusal to campaign for public ownership of gas, electricity, water and the railways cost it potentially wide support beyond the party’s core base.

Why did the Tories win the general election, when their policies serve the interests of a wealthy and powerful minority rather than the mass of the people? First, it has to be remembered that Cameron & Co won only 37 per cent of the poll, 25 per cent of the electorate and little more than one in five of adults eligible to register and vote.

These figures should be of little comfort to Labour, whose percentages in each case are even lower.

Nonetheless, it is significant that the groups least likely to register to vote — tenants, especially in private rented accommodation, foreign-born residents and young people and students — are also among the least likely to vote Tory when they do register.

The failure to inspire these people to register and vote therefore helped the Tories to win a parliamentary majority.

So, too, did the first past the post electoral system, which awarded the Tories just over half of the Westminster seats with little more than one third of the votes.

But an effective and fairer system of proportional representation would still have given the Tories, Ukip and Ulster unionists around 50 per cent of the seats, with Labour, the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru having only 40 per cent.

With the assistance of the mass media, Cameron and Osborne were able to perpetuate the myths that a profligate Labour government had crashed the economy, that austerity is essential and that Britain’s recovery is the spectacularly successful result.

Labour’s response to this ideological offensive has been feeble, confused and contradictory, rendering it even more incapable of challenging media orthodoxy.

The Labour leadership failed to point out on every possible occasion that bankers and speculators — not spending on welfare and public services — had plunged the whole international financial system into chaos and crisis.

Eds Miliband and Balls could have reinforced this approach by arguing for the bailed-out banks to remain in public ownership and used to promote investment in productive industry, housing and green technology.

Instead, they went along with privatisation.

Labour’s refusal to campaign for public ownership of gas, electricity, water and the railways cost it potentially wide support beyond the party’s core base. Instead, Miliband opted for an energy price freeze which sent big business and the right-wing press into a frenzy, with little to make the fight worthwhile for Labour. Indeed, the Labour leadership utterly failed to make City of London fraud, tax-dodging and overseas tax havens a major election issue, having previously supported lower taxes for super-rich “non-domiciled” residents. Nor was enough said about rebalancing the British economy away from financial services towards manufacturing and R&D. Rather than oppose more “quantitative easing” cash for the banks, Miliband and Balls spent too much time apologising for Labour’s financial record in office and promising to be better behaved in future. In this they were not helped by the puerile “no more money” note bequeathed by arch-Blairite Liam Byrne to his Treasury successors.

The Labour leaders also failed to point out incessantly that Osborne’s shock treatment from 2010 stifled an economic recovery already begun under Labour, preferring to predict a “double dip” recession that never quite arrived. Their difficulty, of course, was that the Tory Chancellor was deepening the cuts previously planned and being rolled out by Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Which brings us to the biggest factor favouring a Tory victory — Cameron and Osborne winning the battle of ideas over austerity, although it was more of a walkover despite the efforts of the Green, SNP and Plaid Cymru leaders.

Miliband and Balls could have spent the past five years exposing the fraud that is austerity, privatisation and the Tories’ trite “long-term economic plan.” Instead, they carped but capitulated, playing into the hands of the SNP and — in England — the hysteria whipped up against the prospect of a minority Labour administration dependent on SNP support.

Had Labour been campaigning against austerity all along, it could have made clear its willingness to co-operate with all anti-austerity MPs at Westminster, instead of appearing shifty and insincere when rejecting it. The party might even have won an outright majority. A genuine commitment to building a federal Britain, combined with anti-austerity measures to redistribute wealth from the super-rich to all its regions and nations, might have shored up Labour support in Scotland.

Support for an EU referendum and a more critical attitude towards EU anti-democratic institutions and neo-liberal policies might have stopped at least some working-class voters defecting to Ukip. Labour’s enthusiastic support for more nuclear weapons in Britain did not only haemorrhage votes in Scotland, it might have led to crucial votes going to the Greens in quite a few marginal seats.

These are the kinds of policies Labour must now consider if it is to recover many of the four million Labour votes lost since 1997 — an election won on a social democratic manifesto, not a Blairite New Labour one. This is what the trade unions should demand, together with a fresh Labour Party leadership that will carry them out.

Otherwise, the party is heading for oblivion as the parliamentary voice of organised labour and as a vehicle for far-reaching progressive change. Immediately, the workers and peoples of Britain face an escalation of Tory attacks on public services, the welfare state, democratic local government and trade union rights. The Tories will fan the flames of English nationalism and drive Scotland closer to independence. And, with the support of far too many Labour MPs, Cameron’s government will dance to the Nato war drums and commission a new generation of nuclear weapons. We will need our trade unions, the People’s Assembly, CND and the Communist Party as much as we ever have before.

Robert Griffiths is general secretary of the Communist Party

Reblogged via: 21st Century Manifesto

Monday, 30 March 2015

Communist Party of Britain to contest Tamesides` Audendshaw Ward in May Elections

Stockport Senior Registered Nurse, Paul Ward, will contest the Audenshaw Ward for the Communist Party of Britain in this May's local elections.

Paul will call upon Audenshaw and Tameside voters to demand that Droylesden candidate, Council Leader Keiran Quinn & Tamesides` ruling Labour Group immediately withdraw all support for `DevoManc`, Chancellor George Osbornes' backroom deal with Greater Manchester Combined Authority for a Greater Manchester `City Region` with an appointed US style Mayor.

Instead, Paul will call upon Tameside`s Labour Group to demand & fight for a Peoples Devolution to ;-

- Devolve tax & spend and investment powers away from the Whitehall/Bank of England/ `City of London` big money axis, to democratic English Regional Assemblies & development bodies.

- For investment in sustainable manufacturing growth technologies & services

- an end to the low pay, zero hours, casualised economy.

- for big investment in public housing, providing affordable homes for all and the regulation of private renting.

- for a fully funded, high quality NHS with a Local Authoity integrated health & social care system.

- for an inclusive, non-selective, equally funded, Local Authority controlled education, delivered by professionally qualified teachers.

- for the elimination of poverty.

For further information contact us at manchester@northwestcommunists.org.uk