New Communist Party of Britain
THE SIXTEENTH CONGRESS of the New Communist Party of Britain (NCP) meets at the end of a year when Britain has suffered it’s worst recession in 60 years and manufacturing, the source of new wealth, is in it’s fifth recession since 1997.
The ruling class gives a whole range of excuses as to why these crises keep recurring. In the 1980s it was Japanese productivity rates; in the 1990s it was European productivity rates or that British workers don’t work fast or hard enough. In 2001 it was the destruction of the World Trade Centre; in 2002 and 2003 the high−profile corruption scandals in the US. In 2005 it was the high price of oil and the low wages paid to Indian and Chinese workers. In 2007 and 2008 it was the Chinese, for buying too much food and oil, or US workers wanting somewhere secure to live. In 2008 and 2009 it was rogue bankers not operating in a financially disciplined way. Always they blame the workers, claiming that their wages and pensions are too high, their retirements too early, their productivity too low, their jobs too secure, their working hours too short and they go sick too often.
What they never do is blame the capitalist system itself — it’s always the workers’ fault or some exceptional event, some corrupt practice or act of god. Well, now the ruling class have nowhere to hide, it is clear for all to see that the fault lies completely with them — their system — the capitalist system is the problem.
Capitalists and their governments only look for solutions that protect their own self−interest and that are paid for by the working class. Their solutions include general attacks on the working class where workers are forced, through threat of unemployment or loss of jobs, to work harder and faster and for lower wages.
Cutting workers’ wages and jobs is always a “double−edged” sword in that it is only workers with wages to spend who can buy the goods being produced. This contradiction is now exposed for all to see, the “highly productive” factories have produced too much for the market to absorb; workers are sacked who then cut back on consumption, exacerbating the problem even further.
The ruling class could reduce the worst effects of recessions by substantially increasing wages reducing taxation of the poor and increasing taxation of the rich. They resist doing this because implementing it would reduce their profits.
The ruling class can only be forced into giving these concessions by a strong trade union, labour and communist movement, which recognises the unity that can be achieved by demanding flat−rate monetary increases. A struggle to increase wages will be intense, as the fight is over a relative declining “pot”. But it is a necessary fight as otherwise it could mean the destitution of the working class. This is only a short term solution. There are no long−term solutions to the contradictions of capitalism except its overthrow, with workers capturing state control.
It is workers and their dependants who buy the bulk of the food and consumer goods produced or imported into Britain; it is they who buy houses and use financial services, whether they be banks or insurance companies. Also it is these workers who make the goods or provide these services that they ultimately purchase. However, in this process some of the value that is added to these goods and services is syphoned off to shareholders and speculators. In manufacturing Gross Value Added (GVA) per worker is £55,000, having increased from £22,000 since 1977. This is the source of the massive profits that were obtained by banks, car manufacturers , pharmaceutical companies and retail sector. Because workers get paid less than the goods they produce they cannot afford to buy back all the goods that are produced. One of the ways that capitalism tries to get round this conundrum is by encouraging credit−driven consumer spending.
In the most recent credit−driven consumer boom, personal debt in Britain rose to over £1,457 billion or £30,450 for every adult, having increased from £17,000 in 2000. The average family’s total debt accounted for 170 per cent of their annual income, the highest figure in the capitalist world, and the highest figure in Britain’s history. In 1997, the figure stood at 105 per cent. The annual interest repayments on this personal debt was £76 billion and even before the recession took hold, in 2008, £24 billion of this debt had been sold to debt collection agencies, because workers could no longer afford to keep up the interest payments let alone pay off the capital.
Though this delayed the crisis, there is always a limit to the amount of debt that workers can take on and it’s a limit that cannot be predicted. When the limit is reached workers stop spending but capitalists still continue to produce goods to sell, this results in a rapid rise in unsold goods. This is termed a crisis of over−production and can only result in recession.
Crises of over−production are now occurring more frequently. In the past manufacturers reacted in the first instance by reducing inventories and cutting overtime and then only as a last resort sacked workers. Now, with just−in−time methodss, smaller manufacturing inventories, a service industry and a finance sector with no inventories at all, any over−production quickly causes a loss of jobs. This loss of jobs brings about a cut−back in spending and further reduces demand in the economy; so the tendency of a just−in−time and a service/finance oriented economy has been to increase the volatility and frequency of repeating recessions.
This debt burden is also a big factor in Britain’s long−hours culture, as workers where possible, work more hours to service these debts. But as the recession started to bite fear of defaulting, especially on mortgages where there is a risk of becoming homeless, forced more than five million workers to work an average of seven hours and six minutes unpaid overtime every week in the hope they could curry favour with their bosses and secure their employment. This saved employers £27 billion a year in unpaid wages but further reduced the ability of workers to buy back the foods that were being produced. These debts also discouraged workers from taking industrial action to increase pay, which would have narrowed the gap between what workers produced and what they could buy.
In 2006 prices and interest rates started to rise because of the activities of currency and commodity speculators. This combined, with rising unemployment and reduced incomes, forced a reduction in the quantity of goods being bought by workers. In January 2006 the year−on−year growth rate in retail sales fell from 4.3 per cent to just 1.2 per cent.
By 2008 workers were no longer able to voluntarily or otherwise absorb any more debt, and were finding it increasingly difficult to service existing debt. This led to a rapid decline in spending which quickly, despite just−in−time, led to a rapid build up of inventories, especially in the motor industry. Manufacturers and constructors reacted quickly by cutting jobs and wages, which further compounded the lack of spending. The crisis then spiralled into the mega recession of 2008/2009 and this before the economy had recovered from previous recessions.
Disregarding the hype surrounding the importance of finance and business services, exports of manufactured goods still contribute 50 per cent more to GDP than does the export of services. But because of the run down of manufacturing, Britain imports more goods than it exports resulting in a negative trade balance with the rest of the world. This rose to £46 billion in 2008, up from £34 billion in 2002 and is running at its highest levels, as a percentage of GDP, since the end of the 1980s. Having once been the workshop of the world Britain exports less than the Russian Federation, Belgium, Italy, France, Netherlands, United States, China, Japan and Germany and just slightly more than Canada.
By the end of 2008 manufacturing employment had declined to 2.83 million — a drop of 1.3 million since 1998. Manufacturing doesn’t exist in isolation it needs banking facilities, insurance and uses business advisers. In Britain today, the Government seems to be believe that the finance and business advisers are all−important. This is not the case: out of a workforce of 31 million more than 17 million work in jobs that depend on manufacturing, extraction or construction including 5.5 million who work in the rural economy.
Six million work in finance and business services. But if nothing is made, what can the finance industry finance or business advisers advise? Therefore a large proportion of workers in this sector must be providing finance, business advice to the manufacturing, extraction and construction sectors.
A further eight million work in education, health and public administration. Again these must also be, on the whole, servicing the manufacturing, extraction and construction sectors .
By the end of 2007 corporate profits were at an historic 40−year high, mainly due to technological advances, reducing the workforce and the then falling energy prices. To generate more profits capitalists expanded production.
Manufacturing was investing heavily especially in car production. Nissan introduced a third production shift at its Sunderland factory. Honda increased its production capacity at its Swindon factory to 240,000 cars a year, whilst at BMW’s Hams Hall plant production of engines increased by 70 per cent in 2007. Rolls Royce built a new production line, increasing the manufacture of luxury cars by 250 per cent.
Then in April 2008 Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, issued his siren call that the economy needed to slow to the point where there was spare capacity in order to bring inflation under control. He went onto say that he wanted to create just enough job losses to lower inflation to the two per cent target rate.
Well they have certainly achieved that objective, as inflation was reduced to 2.3 per cent by May 2009 but at the cost of record numbers of unemployed.
By February 2009 car production had dropped by 59 per cent compared with the same month in 2008 and production of commercial vehicles had dropped by more than 70 per cent during the same period. There were hundreds of thousands of cars unsold and in storage around Britain, including 105,000 imported cars at the port of Avonmouth near Bristol. The car industry acted in traditional fashion — Nissan, in January 2009, announced it would axe 1,200 jobs at it’s Sunderland plant — about a quarter of the workforce. In Swindon, Honda closed their factory for four months from the end of January 2009, with over 1,300, 25 per cent of the work force losing their jobs permanently.
In retail during the later part of 2008, retailers desperate to offload stock slashed prices and then slashed tens of thousands of jobs when Woolworth, MFI and Zavvi (formally Virgin MegaStore) went bankrupt and closed. It’s not only the workers directly employed who loose their jobs; it’s also the workers who make the goods that are sold, and the transport workers who deliver these manufactured goods.
Traditional manufacturing areas that bore the brunt of previous recessions are again suffering disproportionately worse from unemployment than other areas during the current recession. In figures produced in April 2009 the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that since October 2006, 576,000 jobs were lost in manufacturing and related industries, 176,000 in finance and business services and 70,000 in education, health and public administration. Unemployment rose 486,000 in the year to February 2009 to 2.1 million, the highest level since 1997, and is predicted to reach 3.2 million by the end of 2010 which would take the number of unemployed back to 1993 levels.
Young people are being hit particularly hard, with the number of 18 to 24−year−olds without work rising to more than 631,000. For the under 35s more than 500,000 are officially too sick to work and claiming incapacity benefits and of those more than 300,000 are suffering from mental and behavioural problems. One in five young people who found work under New Deal held a job for less than 13 weeks and more than 100,000 have been unemployed for more than 12 months. With the emphasis now on the knowledge economy and customer−facing service work, they are being forced into the latter type jobs and are unlikely ever to find stable employment. The customer−facing service sector is more vulnerable to the fluctuating spending power of its customers and has bosses who force the workplace to be run at a faster pace and employ on temporary short−term contracts — all of which makes work for most people more stressful and less secure.
Workers have started to take a more militant response to the threat of jobs losses by taking direct action; when Visteon sacked it’s workforce with only a moment’s notice and denying them redundancy pay and their pensions, the workers occupied the factories. Though they didn’t save their jobs or pensions, they did force the company to back down and pay enhanced redundancy payments. More could have been achieved if workers unrelated to Visteon could have been drawn into the struggle; for this to happen all anti−trade union legislation must be withdrawn. The Visteon workers have shown that bosses can be forced to back down by direct action and solidarity action
It’s not only workers who increased their debt; capitalists have also increased their level of debt, though they call this leverage. They do so to increase profits whilst reducing investment. The driving force behind this is not satisfaction of personal needs but a necessary condition of the capitalist system itself, namely competition and to attempt to reverse the declining rate of profit. Failure to do so would reduce a capitalist’s competitive strength in relation to other capitalists, resulting in their eventual elimination and their capital being absorbed or destroyed by their rivals.
So when interest rates, energy and raw material prices started to rise rapidly during 2007/2008, they found it increasing difficult to service their debts. Then when the banks hit their own crisis, and needed to rebuild their balance sheets, the banks either refused to renew overdraft facilities or called upon these indebted companies to repay in full any outstanding loans. This led to a total meltdown of the British manufacturing sector.
With the capitalists’ ceaseless quest for easy profits, capital has increasingly gravitated out of manufacturing to services, speculation and currency gambling. This is one of the reasons why the present Labour government is encouraged, by the ruling class, to continue with the previous Tory policies of deregulation of the finance industry and privatisation, especially in the health and education sectors and plans to sell of Royal Mail.
In recent times the ruling class’s preferred mechanism of privatisation has been the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and private sector delivery of public services, which has resulted in an increased burden on local government and NHS resources. Though this form of privatisation is proving more difficult in the recession, as seen by the cancellation of the £711 million project for University Hospital Leicester and the £600 million scheme for Leeds Teaching Hospitals. In total £2.5 billion of hospital PFIs have been abandoned. However, under the guise of “Keynesian” policies, the Government is stepping in to provide the finance upfront by creating an "infrastructure bank" that will lend directly to companies and take stakes in PFI projects. This is effectively workers giving monies to the capitalists so they can make large profits from exploiting the services that should be used to keep workers in good health.
Capitalism is portrayed to be all about risk taking and whoever takes the risk should be rewarded appropriately. But who takes the risk? Not the directors with their large salaries, share option schemes and other perks. The risks have been transferred away from the boardrooms to the small shareholders, pension scheme members and, above all, workers. On the basis of this “success” directors received very substantial increases in real pay during 2007/2008. Average earnings for FTSE 100 chief executives in 2007/08 reached a record high of £3.5 million, up £365,000 on the previous year. The more lowly paid mid−250 chief executives saw a measly average increase of £150,000 to £1.4 million. The 2000−plus directors in the top 350 companies received an income equivalent to the combined wages of more than 133,000 workers on the median wage. Traders and bankers in the City of London shared £6.2 billion in bonuses during 2008, which is equivalent to the wages of 300,000 women workers on the median wage.
The New Communist Party (NCP) demands that the burden of taxation should be shifted away from workers and onto the wealthy. The new 50 per cent income tax rate, though welcome, is not high enough; prior to 1979 the highest rate of income tax was 97 per cent — this should be restored.
Although PFI, private sector delivery and FTSE directorships have proved quite lucrative for the capitalist class, these pale into insignificance compared with the privatisation of Qinetiq, the former Government department Defence Research Agency (DRA). The DRA was partly sold to the US finance company Carlyle for £42 million and renamed QinetiQ. When sold on in 2007, Carlyle made a £300 million profit, furthermore the top 10 managers at QinetiQ made £107 million profit from an initial investment of just £500,000 — a 20,000 per cent rate of return in just three years.
The NCP will campaign for those companies privatised since 1979 and for those services that have been subject to PFI or private sector delivery to be restored to the public sector.
During the same period incomes of workers barely kept up with inflation and they are now having their wages cut. It is not only that directors’ “earned” income is too high, it is that workers’ wages are too low.
Home ownership is proving to be a chain around the necks of the working class. The ruling class built the lie that when the value of houses increased year−on−year that society would become wealthier. On the basis of this lie the ruling class not only encouraged the purchase of houses through mortgages but also encouraged those with existing mortgages to increase them as a form of a cash loan. Either way it increased the indebtedness of workers. The truth is that when house prices increase, no extra goods are created, no extra services are provided and the overall wealth of society doesn’t increase by a single pound. Home ownership is a source of consumption, a house needs repairs, furnishing, maintenance, heating and the mortgage interest and debt needs to be repaid. By May 2007 the affordability of mortgages had fallen to its lowest level since 1992, with interest payments accounting for 18.7 per cent of gross income, having risen 22 per cent in the previous nine months. And with the increase in house prices during the same period the cost of buying a first home rose by more than 33 per cent in the year to May 2007.
Home ownership is not an investment, it is a scam which transfers wealth from the poor to the rich; the only people who gained anything were the ruling class. This is another reason why the profile of the financial service sector increased in the British economy, at the expense of manufacturing, by encouraging the take on of debt and then profiting from the servicing of the debt repayments. The servicing of debt repayments effectively reduced the overall wealth of Britain as it absorbed wealth with no tangible product being produced in the process.
Since 1995 the capitalist economies have experienced a roller−coaster ride. During the stocks and shares boom of 1995−2000, the FTSE 100 Index reached 6,950 in December 1999. Governments and treasuries, fearing an overheating economy, attempted to slow speculation and growth by raising interest rates to make the use of borrowed money expensive relative to the rate of return on capital. This slowed growth, increased unemployment and made conditions more difficult to fight for increased wages; in effect it passed the burden of the slowdown onto the working class.
By 2001 the United States, Britain and the euro−zone changed tack and started to substantially reduce interest rates, then reversed the trend in the autumn of 2003 such that the Bank of England base rate rose to 5.75 per cent by the summer of 2007. When the 2008/2009 recessions started to bite interest rates fell to 0.5 per cent by April 2009.
Manufacturing capitalists depend on stable interest rates to make investment decisions.
In contrast wildly fluctuating interest rates benefited finance capital as they could speculate and gamble on whether interest rates rose or fell. In doing so they found new ways to exploit this volatility by creating financial derivatives.
The “inventiveness” of the finance capital and the increased complexity of these derivatives has now completely outstripped the ability of central banks to supervise or to assess the total financial exposure within the system; they can now only act as a safety net or a siren call. At the end of 2005 the Bank of England warned that the continued “search for yield” could be leading some investors to underestimate risk, and that they might harbour overly optimistic views about the capability of policy makers to offset shocks to the macro−economy. Generally the scale of the problem only gets discovered when a company or bank goes into administration or has to report huge losses.
When Richard Nixon, in 1971, severed the link between the dollar and gold by withdrawing the US from the Bretton Woods International Monetary System, he opened a Pandora’s box where money became independent of commodity prices and gave bankers the unfettered freedom to create money without any relation to the overall wealth of society.
Despite there having been 100 significant banking crises since 1971, with the authorities having to rescue important parts of the US financial system four times, the ruling class, in 2006, they thought they had built a financially stable capitalist system, which they dubbed the Anglo−American model. Ruling class class pundits even described the economy as the “Goldilocks Economy” which was sustaining moderate economic growth with low inflation. Gordon Brown even proclaimed the end of boom and slump. However for the majority of the working class reality was fundamentally different, household incomes were falling whilst the costs of housing, food and energy were increasing — the only way workers could resolve their immediate predicament was by spending savings and then borrowing against future earnings so as to provide, in the present, a warm home and food for themselves and families.
The “Goldilocks Economy” with it’s moderate growth and low interest rates also had a low rate of return on capital, which was unsatisfactory to the capitalist class in their quest to increase profits. To increase the rate of return — profits — on capital, the industrial, merchant and finance capitalists went on a spending and borrowing spree. Industrial capitalists borrowed from the banks so as to increase the speed and quantity in which manufactured of goods could be produced so as to gross more profit. Merchant capitalists borrowed from the banks to gamble on the price of essential goods like food, housing and fuel. The banking section of the finance capitalists not only lent vast sums to the Industrial and Merchant members of their class but also bought equity in them themselves. They sold mortgages to customers who were buying houses from the companies they had bought into. The banks packaged these debts as credit derivatives or mortgage−linked bonds, and sold them directly to hedge funds, insurance companies and other financial institutes. The banks saw this as diversifying risk and held the belief that any collapse of part of the system could easily be absorbed by the financial institutes that remained, thus protecting the system as a whole and their “investments” in particular. The hedge funds and financial institutions even borrowed money from the banks to buy the packages that the banks were selling them, which generated even more packages for the banks to sell! In 2005 the market for derivatives was $500 trillion rising to, according to some estimates, $1,144 trillion by December 2007, or about 22 times world GDP.
Encouraged by this ever increasing demand for these packages, the rating agencies who were supposed to provide an independent risk evaluation accelerated the boom by giving them high credit scores, as by doing so they could acquire higher fees. By the first quarter of 2006 these packages contributed more than 45 per cent of their revenue. With money no longer based on commodity values and these packages not being traded in the market place, but bought and sold on a take−it−or−leave it basis, they were priced according to complex mathematical models. So to increase profits the banks had a vested interest in ensuring that the computer models over−estimated the price..
Towards the end of 2006, with the banks seemingly awash with money, ruling class pundits predicted massive consolidation in banking and insurance. The opening salvo was the €71 billion (£49 billion) battle for ABN Amro, the Dutch banking group. ABN Amro was that year bought by Royal Bank of Scotland.
By 2008 British banks had increased their debt from twice gross domestic product (GDP) in 2001 to 4.5 times GDP, with their debt ranging from 18 to 60 times their total assets. By increasing the ratio of debt to total assets they could, during the boom, maximise their rate of return.
By early 2007 Northern Rock declared that it could extend three times more loans, per unit of capital than five years earlier. Banks certainly weren’t conservative in that they had no concerns in lending to other financial institutes whose liabilities were 60 times their net assets. The banks were expected to be totally focused on generating huge profits for their owners and to stave off the prospect of being taken over by another bank. In the process they truly thought that they had realised the alchemists’ dream of turning lead into gold.
Unfortunately their euphoria had caused them to loose sight of the fact that they’d already ditched the link between money and gold in 1971. The corollary of increasing the rate of return through increasing the debt ratio to assets during the good times is that during the bad times, with little working capital, insolvency is just round the corner. Northern Rock, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Scotland have been rudely reminded of the dangers of minimalising working capital.
By the summer of 2007 the “Goldilocks economy” started to turn sour. The losses started to mount; the accountants demanded that the hedge funds and banks raise their working capital levels. This they could only do by selling assets. However, since the problem assets were hard to trade, they sold equities that were generally regarded as low−risk. This resulted in the problem assets appearing to perform better than the safer ones, which turned the world on its head, in that the riskier assets became less risky and the safest assets became less safe.
The financial sector was a big user of computer technology, having quickly recognised that trading by computer was cheaper and faster than using workers and could be quickly expanded in scale. As the fallout worked it’s way through the system it became clear that the crisis was being exacerbated by the computer models. These models had only been built on the basis of a growing market so when the data from a falling market entered the system they gave results that were counter−intuitive. One analyst reported that they were recording a one−in−every−100,000−year event on a daily basis.
As all the companies were using similar models, based on an inadequate theory, the problems were compounded by computer "herding" further distorting the market. This gives the lie to the fact that the higher ranks of finance capital are staffed by highly skilled and trained expert executives who need to be coveted by governments.
The credit rating agencies then entered the fray by downgrading billions of dollars of supposedly “ultra−safe” debt — causing prices to tumble even further. Everyone stopped buying the “packages” from the banks. Effectively the music had stopped and the banks were left holding a huge parcel of debt with very little equity to fall back on. So the banks cut lending, called in debts, refused to roll over overdrafts and in some cases demanded full repayment of loans early. So for all their financial innovation, for all their diversification, they weren’t protected at all. In the end the alternative was either bankruptcy or demand that the Government use the ultimate luxury of money, unfettered by commodity prices, by printing it.
In any recession there are always winners and losers, the advantage now seems to have swung back to industrial monopolists who, having pushed wages down, have managed to establish large cash hoards and are now on the lookout for increasing their monopoly positions. By April 2009 Oracle, the IT company, had bought Sun Microsystems for $7 billion and Petro−Canada had acquired Suncor Energy; Pfizer had bought Wyeth, a rival pharmaceutical company, for $68 billion and PepsiCo announced on that it was to buy its two largest bottlers for $6 billion.
The losers in this recession were the bankers whose predictions during the euphoria of 2006 has come back to haunt them. The consolidation has happened — Lloyds, TSB, Halifax and Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland and Northern Rock are now under the umbrella of the state and being run for the benefit of the capitalists. However once their balance sheets have been replenished by monies stolen from the working class they will be returned to private ownership, maybe as one consolidated mega bank. All means to an end!!
One of the most notable signs of the potential for chaos and disorder can be seen in the challenge that exists to capitalist state power by the monopoly capitalists. This is another example of the contradictions in monopoly capitalism; the state and the big economic monopolies are essential to each other, yet also challenge each other. The harnessing of these monopolies to a new system of discipline is a chief pre−occupation of capitalist states whilst the monopolies seek to limit the powers of the state.
Globalisation, the internationalism of the division of labour, has continued apace since the turn of the millennium; it is a product of science, technology and the development of the productive forces and should be at the service of humankind with the right of every human being to develop and practice their talent, skills and knowledge. However globalisation when put to work by monopoly capitalism is nothing else but raw imperialism. The end result is the worst world capitalist recession in 60 years, a festering morass of exploitation (of workers and the environment), racial and communal strife, and rapid growth in crime, drug trafficking, violence and conflict from local to international levels. The potential for major military conflicts is now greater than at any time since the 1930s.
Imperialism, represented by the leaders of the developed countries, has striven through the World Trade Organisation (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to tighten its grip on the economies of all countries, in particular those of the developing world. The US specifically is trying to establish the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which would enable US agriculture and industry to swamp the markets of the Central and South American nations, effectively destroying local production and converting them into mere outstations of the US economy.
The view of the imperialist nations is that the raison d’étre of these organisations is to remove any restrictions imposed by host countries; to ensure that member countries deregulate their markets in trade and services, drop any restrictions on incoming international capital and remove export subsidies and import tariffs that protect home grown industries and agriculture — in other words give maximum freedom to the monopoly capitalists. They confirmed this in the communiqué issued after the 2008 G20 summit in Washington: "We underscore the critical importance of rejecting protectionism ... We will refrain from raising new barriers to investment or to trade in goods and services." And then they went on to instruct their trade ministers to conclude the Doha trade talks by the end of 2008.
By the time of the London G20 summit in 2009, the Doha round was still not concluded. The US and the EU are still insisting that developing countries should agree to open their manufacturing and service sectors if the EU reduces its agricultural tariffs. The EU strategy is about domination of the developing world. Most of the developing countries would be in no position to bargain or compete with the imperialists. The strategy is based on the assumption that poor countries should satisfy themselves with being agricultural suppliers to rich nations and should forgo attempts to promote their own manufacturing and service sector industries.
In the Doha trade talks, the WTO is becoming the focus of the struggle, by the developing nations against the developed, for more equitable rules and practices in world trade than the current rules, which are seen as being heavily weighted in favour of the monopoly capitalists.
When economic bullying fails, imperialism, led by the US and Britain, actively engages in war or the threat of war to dominate the Middle East, eastern Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. But wherever there is oppression there is resistance. The Iraqi people have defied the might of imperialism for almost 20 years and continue to do so even though the US and British imperialism occupy their countries. The Palestinians demand the restoration of their national rights and continue to resist the US proxy — Israel. The peoples of Latin America are electing governments prepared to defy the US and its proxy trade and banking organisations.
Socialism remains the system upheld and developed in People’s China, Democratic Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba. They continue to advance along the revolutionary path charted by their communist parties in applying the principles of Marxism−Leninism to the concrete conditions that exist in their own countries. All have developed closer economic ties and are seeing positive levels of growth.
In developing their economies through equitable trade, many countries in Latin America and Africa are finding that they can also maintain above average growth levels by trading with the socialist countries. Examples are Brazil, which is selling iron ore to China, Venezuela selling oil to Cuba, Chile and Peru selling copper and farmers in general across Latin America selling soy beans to China. In exchange, throughout Latin America and Africa, Chinese experts are building roads, renovating mines, refineries and sharing agricultural skills and technology and Cuba is supplying teachers, health workers and healthcare to Latin America and Africa.
With the left gaining ground in Latin America, US imperialism in the region is being challenged. With the establishment of a regional currency for mutual settlement by the members of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) — comprising Honduras, Nicaragua, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, Dominica, and Ecuador as an associate member — the hegemony of the US dollar will end. It is planned that the currency would start out as a virtual compensation system and only later become a hard currency. In challenging the US, ALBA has set member countries the task to construct their own solutions to the world financial, food, and ecological crises independent of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and less susceptible to the effects of the world financial crisis.
The NCP supports those countries who are opposing the monopoly capitalist agenda, whether they be working within the World Trade Organisation such as China, India, Brazil, and South Africa, or within regional blocs such as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA). The NCP also supports the efforts of the world Social Forums, which, while far from taking a communist perspective, have done much good work in organising opposition to monopoly capitalism.
Eurostat estimates that in March 2009 there were over 20 million unemployed in the European Union (EU), including 14 million in the euro zone. The highest rates were in Spain (17.4 per cent), Latvia (16.1 per cent) and Lithuania (15.5 per cent). Those figures didn’t include those on short time, where as many as two million workers were working shorter hours as the crisis of overproduction hit manufacturing firms such as Renault, Honda, Fiat, Nissan, Bosch and BASF.
For all their bragging that the EU, by its unified set of rules and regulations, minimum regulatory interference unfettered by specific state control, has allowed capital to be used more efficiently within its member states, this has proved to be a lie. Much capital within Europe is idle, as witnessed by the 20 million unemployed and those factories that are either on short time, temporarily or permanently closed.
The European ruling class needed the EU to strengthen European monopoly capitalism vis−a−vis the US whereas certain elements of the British ruling class wanted the EU’s rules and regulations to be designed to make European capitalism as “competitive” as that of Britain and the US. Both arguments have won out but at what cost — massive and increasing unemployment in the US, Britain and Europe with the working class bearing the brunt of the economic crisis. If the “good” times ever return workers will only get the crumbs left over from the capitalist feeding frenzy.
EU states are powerless to find solutions to this high unemployment; national governments have reduced benefits and passed legislation to force workers into low−paid jobs. The issue that these governments can’t address is that even the low paid jobs are not there. All the governments in the euro−zone are struggling with the one−size−fits−all monetary policy that inflicts an excessive real interest rate on their stagnant economies and forces them to cut budgets at a time when government expenditure should have increased to alleviate the suffering caused by the slowdown in their economies.
Sarkozy, the French President, announced in 2007 that he was determined to end negotiated agreements on pensions and retirement for 500,000 workers in state enterprises on the basis that privileges that were granted to compensate for the rigours of manual labour can no longer be justified.
Clearly there is a lesson here for British trade unionists who have in the past argued that one of the benefits of euro membership is increased trade union rights and job security. The reaction of the EU to the current crisis shows that trade union rights and jobs are not their first priority. Wages and jobs can only be protected where trade unions are strong and defend and advance the interests of the working class.
The NCP opposes entry to the euro and calls for unconditional withdrawal from the EU. British entry to the euro−zone would strengthen European monopoly capitalism as the experience of the British ruling class will be used to invoke more sophisticated attacks on the European working class, as capitalism tries to alleviate the current capitalist wide crisis at the expense of workers. It is only by cutting pay, social welfare, trade union rights and increasing hours and job insecurity, that monopoly capitalism can build a zone to serve capitalism, imperialism and globalisation. This must not be allowed to happen.
In the US workers are paying a huge price for their ruling classes’ attempt to save capitalism.
Our last Congress in 2006 reported the productivity gains being made in the US, which allowed capitalists to force workers to work harder for lower pay, resulted in corporate profits rising by 78 per cent in the five years to 2006. This was even when 30 per cent of the US industrial base remained idle with it’s motor industry in deep crisis. It was also noted that foreign capital was being used to fuel speculation in the money markets, rather than to cover the replacement of its worn−out capital stock. That speculation resulted in profits in the financial sector rising from less than five per cent of total corporate profits in 1982 to 41 per cent by 2007 but their share of gross value added only rose from eight to 16 per cent.
That Congress in 2006 posed the question: “How long will this ‘miracle’ last?” And gave the answer “Not long”. It predicted that the productivity miracle would become a poisoned chalice, as it is those US workers, displaced by productivity, who were supposed to buy the goods and services that were being produced so efficiently!
Workers are the most important element of the US economy as they account for about 70 per cent of total spending, With workers struggling with falling wages, tightening credit conditions, higher energy and food costs, and job insecurity, the US is heading in a downward spiral.
This downward spiral is most illustrated by the car industry with bankrupt Delphi, the GM parts supplier, leading the way by closing or selling 23 of its 37 US factories and sacking 28,000 workers and slashing wages of skilled workers from $27 an hour to a maximum of $18.50. The three leading US car−makers have followed.
Having profiteered in the past without any view to the future, GM declared itself bankrupt, in June 2009. Government money was given but only on the basis that jobs were cut and wage costs reduced to those of non−union foreign car−makers.
Although GM and Toyota workers earn similar wages of about $29 an hour, GM provided better healthcare insurance and pensions and had a workforce both in work and retired that reflected the demographics of US society as a whole, whilst Toyota has a younger workforce and a fraction of the number of retirees.
Under intense pressure from GM and government to save jobs, the US union the United Automobile Workers (UAW), agreed to a two−tier wage structure under which new assembly−line workers would be paid about $14.20 an hour, compared with the $29 for existing workers and the UAW would take responsibility for workers’ healthcare in a union−managed trust.
This follows similar schemes at Delphi, Goodyear and Dana, a bankrupt Ohio parts manufacturer. At Ford a similar deal was approved by a mere 51−49 per cent margin.
It is little wonder that increasing numbers of American workers are seeing the inequalities of capitalism. In 1988, 25 per cent of them said that the US was split between haves and have−nots with 40 per cent regarding themselves as have−nots; by 2007 nearly 50 per cent thought that the US was split with 55 per cent regarding themselves as have−nots.
Of the have−nots, according to US government data, in January 2008, 28 million Americans received food stamps, the highest number since the programme began in the 1960s, with a further 18 million entitled but not claiming. For the 13 million not entitled to food stamps there is a network of 30,000 churches and soup kitchens that distribute food from 200 regional food banks. These food banks received a significant quantity of food from the government who used to buy surplus farm commodities to support market prices; this support is dwindling away as food commodity prices have risen.
The Group of Eight, G8, has until 2010 to deliver on the promises made at Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005, to increase aid by $25 billion (€19 billion, £13 billion) a year in real terms. To give their promises a kick start, the G8 countries resorted to an accounting exercise by cancelling the debts owed by some “friendly” African countries. This exercise was relatively cheap as the actual value of the debt to the G8 was worthless because few, if any, debt repayments were being made and it also made little difference to the income of poor countries as they weren’t paying off the debt. Even with this kick start, by 2008 OECD member countries were giving on average 0.3 per cent of their national income, well below the 0.7 per cent target set by the United Nations. And this only brings aid levels back to those prior to the recession of the early 1990s. This aid is tiny when compared to the trillions of dollars used to bail out the banking sectors in Britain, US and Europe.
Even the giving of this low amount of aid is uncoordinated with multiple donors duplicating administration and setting priorities for funding themselves rather than taking their lead from the recipient. In Rwanda, for example, the government set seven objectives for health spending but more than three−quarters of aid went to just one, HIV−Aids, which has a high profile amongst G8 politicians. Aid has a distorting effect on economic management in that spending money on capital projects like building hospitals and schools also requires a revenue stream to maintain them. Many aid projects have been abandoned —a modern clinic that cannot be properly staffed, an irrigation scheme that falls into disuse because there is no money to pay for fuel or maintenance.
Aid is still tied to a neo−liberal agenda; prior to the 1970s state marketing boards provided a market place to which farmers sold their produce; these state marketing boards also provided transportation, fertiliser and seed subsidies, strategic reserves of grain in case of food crisis and maintained target prices by official intervention. During the 1970s aid became tied to the dismantling of these state marketing boards; the vacuum left by the wholesale withdrawal of the state resulted in farmers becoming disconnected from domestic and international markets; now aid is being tied to the G8s interpretation of political and further economic reform.
In the three years to the end of 2007, for 13 non−oil−producing African countries, including South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Senegal, the cost of oil bought was $10.6 billion: equal to three per cent of their gross domestic product. This was more than the sum of debt relief and aid received over the same three years. BP global profits during the first half of 2008 were $13.44 billion. With a limited electricity grid, diesel−powered generators are an important but expensive source of electricity supply. Also the need to transport food over long distances in trucks means that expensive oil also pushes up the cost of food. More than 30 of the countries defined as low−income net food importers by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation also import all or almost all their fuel — so the high food and oil prices have been very difficult. Is it surprising that the increase in food and fuel prices was met with riots in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea and Mozambique?
In an attempt to avoid missing their target the G8 countries, at their 2008 summit in Japan, tried to drop the explicit target made at Gleneagles. This produced a world outcry which forced them to abandon their plan. No doubt there will be more attempts to renege on the G8 promises.
The NCP will continue to campaign to ensure that the G8 honour it’s commitments made at Gleneagles, in 2005, and that the aid be given unconditionally.
Wages, the length of the working day, pensions, retirement age and job security are all elements of the social wage which have been won by workers engaged in class struggle against the ruling class and its representatives.
In April 2008 the Government’s Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), reported that the median weekly pay, excluding overtime, for all full−time workers in Britain was £479, an increase of £48 since 2005. The pay gap widened between male and female workers; for female workers the median was £412, an increase of £40 whilst for male workers it was £521, an increase of £50 since April 2005. The pay gap also widened between rich and poor, with the top 10 per cent of male earners earning more than £1,054 per week, an increase of £114 since 2005, while those female workers in the lowest 10 per cent earned less than £240, an increase of just £23 per week or about 50p per hour.
Most people’s incomes over the last three years have failed to keep up with inflation and they have seen their disposable incomes significantly diminish. Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, stated in June 2008 that British households must learn to live with higher prices and without increased wages. Since then the number of jobs and wages has shrunk but inflation has continued its inexorable rise, with retail price inflation increasing by more than 2.3 per cent in the year ending May 2009.
Almost two−thirds of the British population have incomes below the national average, as income distribution is skewed by a relatively small number of people on high incomes. In 2008, after housing costs are taken into account, there were 13.2 million people living in poverty — about one in five of the population. Of these over two million are thought to be in extreme poverty, living on just 40 per cent of the average income.
Pensions, deferred wages, are an important element of working class income. Workers are paying a high price for the private provision of pensions, irrespective of whether it is through an occupational scheme with their employer or in a private scheme with a financial institute. The capitalists are closing down, or have closed, occupational defined benefit schemes in favour of defined contribution schemes, where pensions are determined by investments in the money markets as opposed to a percentage of a final salary.
Those workers who are still in defined benefit schemes are seeing the prospect of their future pensions being considerably reduced as capitalists exclude pay increases from pensionable final salary, or are lengthening the period over which it is calculated from, say, the last year to the last five years. Some companies have even moved to career averages, reducing pensions even more.
Those workers who rely on the money markets, defined contribution schemes, to generate a fund with which to buy a pension annuity on retirement have, seen the value of their pension pots shrink by a half in the 18 months to the end of February 2009 as stock markets tumbled. Then to make matters even worse the Bank of England, at the beginning of 2009, started intervening in the money markets, through quantitative easing, resulting in potential future pensions being reduced even further.
To compound the problems faced by workers and pensioners, the Government in 2005 halved the maximum level of inflation−proofing that retired pension scheme members could enjoy from five per cent to 2.5 per cent. Employers, not unexpectedly, welcomed this as a sensible first step, saving them £250 million−£400 million a year.
The Trades Union Congress said the move was "a pretty cynical calculation that widespread ignorance of how pensions work will protect the Government against what should be an angry backlash". Whilst the Government said it wanted to help employers cut pension costs while ensuring employees still got "a good enough deal". It has been calculated that someone in their mid−40s who switched employers or lost their job, would get a pension some 25 per cent lower than under the previous rules by the time they were 65.
Wage growth is being suppressed through a variety of mechanisms, such as forcing the most vulnerable, single parents, into low−wage jobs and once there ensuring that they stay there, through the shift from out−of−work to in−work benefits such as the working family tax credit and the child tax credit. This subsidy to capitalism, paid for by workers, is a mechanism to allow capitalists to pay workers wages which are so low that the net effect is that they are excluded and marginalised from participating in activities, which should be considered the norm for all workers in society, such as visits to friends and family, the cinema, theatre and other cultural, social and political activities. This deepening of the poverty trap and social exclusion brings about a reluctance amongst workers to fight for wage rises because this leads to cuts in benefits.
In the past the boom and bust cycles, brought about by the incessant competition of capitals, have to a certain extent been smoothed by the relative strength of the labour movement. Organised workers have the potential to resist wage cuts during slumps and demand higher wages during the booms. The automatic stabilisers, notably social insurance payments and progressive income tax that go towards funding state welfare, also tend to dampen down cyclical fluctuations. The attack on trade union rights since the mid 1970s, resulting in a weakening of the trade union movement, is one of the reasons why the recession is deeper in Britain and the US. None of these stabilisers was yielded out of the wisdom of the capitalists, but rather as reluctant concessions to the organised strength and struggles of workers in trade unions and other anti−monopoly forces.
The wages struggle is central to the improvement of living standards and ensuring that workers have the money to buy back the goods and services that they produce and provide. Engaging in the wages struggle teaches that gains under capitalism are only temporary and can be taken back in a variety of different ways. either by stealth such as increases in the cost of living, or by brute force by the state increasing the retirement age.
These policies that the ruling class use to defend their self interest ensure that for most the crises occur more frequently and are more severe. It is this contradiction that is the heart of the contradictions facing capitalism and must be exposed during the fight to defend wages, pensions, work−life balance and jobs.
Complete social justice can never be possible under capitalism, not even by getting a so−called stake in the capitalist economy. The “stakeholder” share will be nothing more than a crumb from the capitalist table. The working class must always fight for increases in wages,and pensions, to defend work−life balance and jobs. But in the long term the only way to ensure that these are maintained and improved, and will not have to be defended time and time again, is by fighting for working class state power: the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Until such time as socialism replaces capitalism there needs to be a continuous political struggle to defend and improve social services and benefits and industrial struggle for better wages and working conditions. In respect of the latter the New Communist Party’s proposals are that wage claims should be:
On an industrial basis negotiated by the trade unions nationally. In this way the maximum number of workers can be mobilised in support of the claim. Local bargaining has a role as a secondary role to national bargaining, to improve on what has been achieved nationally and in catering for specific local conditions.
For a flat−rate monetary increase. This upholds the principle of stable wage differentials to reward workers for their skills. Percentage increases widen differentials at the expense of the lower−paid and divide the work force.
Based on the national rate for the job assessed by the unions and not on the “minimum wage” or regional rates set by the employers — and paid to all workers doing said job at the agreed rate regardless of age, gender or place of origin. Where new job patterns are established, rates should be agreed by comparing existing jobs with similar skills.
The New Communist Party is opposed to —
The introduction and operation of bonus or piece−working schemes. Where they do exist, workers, using their trade union organisations, must be involved in negotiating the way they operate. But at all times we must campaign to get the bonus element scrapped and the payment incorporated into the basic hourly rate.
All forms of bonuses and Performance Related Pay (PRP), which seeks to perpetuate low pay. PRP schemes are discriminatory towards the most vulnerable sections of society whether they be disabled, part−time or ethnic−minority workers. Trade unions must seek to minimise the extreme differentials within PRP, but continue to campaign for its complete abolition.
The fight for higher wages should be linked to:
The minimum demand to restore workers’ rights by rescinding all legislation enacted since 1979 that works against the interests of the working class and the trade union movement. This is essential to ensure that organised labour can compete with monopoly capitalism without legal constraint. We must expose the limitations of working−time legislation and campaign for the closing of opt−out clauses.
Increasing the social wage. The extra money made available to the health service and education has in part been used to “feather the nest” of the private sector and this, with the decline in social services and public transport, has brought about an erosion of overall living standards. This must be reversed, not by putting ever increasing pressure on workers in these industries, or by phoney performance target setting, but by ensuring adequate levels of resourcing and pay.
The shift from out−of−work to in−work benefits should be reversed.
Means testing for all benefits should be abolished. All benefits should be increased in line with wages. The linking of benefits to prices has so eroded them that, since 1997, people on them are 20 per cent worse off than they would have been if benefits had been linked to wages.
The fight for a reduction in weekly hours. We should aim to unite the labour movement around a demand for a maximum working week of 35 hours with no loss of pay.
The state pension should be raised to two thirds of the median weekly wage excluding overtime. This could easily be funded by making the tax system more progressive and abolishing the tax relief and National Insurance rebates for pension scheme contributions — over half of which goes to top−rate taxpayers. With an increased pension, winter fuel allowances, free television licences and other universal pensioner give−aways would be unnecessary.
The fight for higher wages and pensions is ham−strung by current anti−trade union laws.
In 2008 the unions attempted to persuade Gordon Brown to fight the next election on a more left−wing platform, with workers’ rights central to the campaign. The unions demanded that the Labour Party election manifesto should include the abolition of anti−trade union laws, though the demand was qualified by the inclusion of a call to simplify strike ballots by allowing union members to vote by phone or e−mail.
The response of the Labour Party leadership was given by Cabinet member, John Hutton, who said that the Government had "successfully completed" its mission to update workplace law. Most of the anti−trade union laws that were introduced by the Tories during the 1980s and 1990s remain intact.
The NCP will campaign, irrespective of any general election campaign, for all anti−trade union laws to be repealed, allowing trade unionists the right to decide the most appropriate method of tackling ruthless employers.
Despite the anti−trade union legislation, strikes rose from 157,400 days in 2005 to 754,500 in 2006 and increased again to one million days in 2007. To a certain extent this understates the resolve of workers in that in 2007, of the 767 ballots that took place under the anti−trade union laws calling for strike action, 637 voted in favour of a stoppage but only 142 strikes took place, indicating that bosses can be forced to the negotiating table under the threat of strike action.
Workers have used other methods to defend their rights. The number of grievance claims lodged with employment tribunals has shown a marked increase over the last few years though, whilst indicating on the one hand a more ruthless attitude by the bosses, it does show an increased willingness amongst workers to challenge them. The number of claims accepted rose from 86,000 in 2004/05 to 115,039 in 2005/2006 and 132,577 in 2006/2007. The Employment Tribunals Service has not published figures since.
The New Communist Party notes with alarm proposals in the latest Green Paper on welfare benefits, Shaping the Future of Care, a proposal to stop Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance, which are paid by the Department of Work and Pensions to disabled people — both in work and out of work — in recognition of the higher costs of living that disability causes. The Green Paper proposes moving the funding from the DWP to local authorities to be awarded by local social service departments after they have assessed the needs of the claimants.
Almost certainly the benefits will be cut in the process; much will be lost in the extra costs of administration and criteria of eligibility and rates of benefit will vary from borough to borough. Claiming will become more bureaucratic and difficult than it already is.
Furthermore certain sections in the Tory party have proposed doing this with all welfare benefits in order to reduce the DWP budget.
These changes are not likely to happen overnight but they are clearly part of the ruling class agenda to dismantle state welfare and return us to the Victorian days where paupers — the unemployed, elderly, sick, long−term disabled and unsupported single parents — were forced to claim benefit from their local parish or borough. The criteria for eligibility varied from one locality to another but boroughs were anxious not to be seen as generous because this would attract paupers from outside the area and create an extra burden on the rates. Claimants were often refused benefits if they tried to claim outside the parish or borough where they were born as local authorities tried to shift responsibilities from one to another.
The NCP must oppose any return to this system. The Party must raise awareness of the threat and work with disability and pensioner organisations like the Disability Benefits Consortium and the National Pensioners’ Convention to campaign to defend existing welfare benefit rights and to extend them to provide decent living standards for all those who have to claim benefits.
For over 30 years under the Conservatives and under Labour, public spending has been cut. Vital services like the National Health Service, public transport, education and local amenities have all become seriously under−funded.
Taxation is the way essential services, such as education, the health service and pensions, should be funded. Of the £451 billion of Government revenue, in 2007/2008, income tax was £147 billion, national insurance £100 billion, value added tax (VAT) and other excise duties and levies raised £154 billion and council tax raised a further £23 billion. Taxes on business amounted to only £50 billion.Almost a third of the Britain’s 700 biggest businesses paid no corporation tax in the 2005−06 financial year. J Sainsbury, the supermarket group, in 2005−06, received a tax credit of £3 million and in 2006−07 a further £9 million. It is these businesses and those fat cats that enjoy the profits of control; who have benefited most from an educated and healthy workforce, who pay the very least towards the education and the health services.
For years both Tory and Labour governments have clamoured for lower income tax. In 1979 there were nine higher rate bands, ranging from 40 per cent to 83 per cent with an extra 15 per cent for those with very high investment income; by 1989 the Tories had reduced this to just one rate of 40 per cent.
Although VAT was cut from 17.5 to 15 per cent in November 2008 it is still a severely regressive tax. In fact the cut in VAT was a reduction in taxation for the rich. The bulk of expenditure by workers on low incomes is on food, electricity, gas, insurance and children’s clothing, which are all either VAT exempt or already on a reduced rate. It is these costs that bear more heavily on ordinary workers and who therefore benefited the least from the cut in VAT.
The NCP maintains that the burden of taxation should be shifted away from workers and onto the wealthy. The Party is opposed to all indirect and regressive taxes.
To ensure an increase in the disposable income of the working class — to provide free education for all, a health service free at the point of delivery and a pension at two thirds median wage — a fundamental change in taxation is required. That change is:
PAYE personal allowances to be increased substantially. This would exempt a greater number of lower−paid from paying any income tax.
The employees’ upper earnings limit for National Insurance (NI) should be abolished. Employers’ NI should be raised from 12.8 per cent to 20 per cent. The contracting out of NI should be abolished.
New PAYE Tax bands, starting at £50,000 and in £10,000 increments to be introduced at 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 per cent and for those with incomes over £100,000 a 98 per cent tax rate. If allowances were doubled someone with an income of £110,000 would still get, after tax and NI, at least £47,000 whereas someone with an income of £30,000 would see their take−home pay increase by more than £1,600.
The removal of all tax relief on pension fund contributions.
The removal of all tax on domestic fuel.
The abolition of VAT on all goods and services.
Taxes on insurance to be withdrawn.
Council tax should be reduced to its 2001, level pending its further reduction at a later date. In compensation the central government grant to local authorities should be substantially increased.
The Corporation Tax allowance for the main rate be reduced to £1 million, (currently £1.5 million). This will bring in more companies into this tax band.
The Main Rate of Corporation Tax should be increased from 30 per cent to 60 per cent. New Corporation Tax bands, of £500,000 increments from the proposed main rate tax band of 60 per cent, to be introduced at 70, 80, 90 and 98 per cent.
A tax exemption threshold of £500 per annum of interest from savings received from bank, building society, share dividends and credit.
The tax exemption limit for capital gains tax should be abolished and capital gains should be treated as unearned income.
The rich have plenty. They must pay. The working class can be mobilised to fight for the restoration of state welfare to at least the levels that existed in 1979. Even though the Labour government, by increasing the top rate of tax to 50 per cent, has moved in the right direction it is still not enough. Our demands for a progressive tax system can be achieved as workers in increasing numbers want it to be done. The TUC has called for increased taxation for those earning more than £100,000 and an FT/Harris poll in May 2008 found that 74 per cent thought that those on low incomes should be taxed less and another poll a year earlier found that nearly 60 per cent of those polled thought corporate directors should be taxed more. Making the rich disgorge a fraction of the wealth they extort from the working class every year will go some way to reverse the destruction of social provision that has taken place since 1979.
However, the ruling class won’t give up their wealth voluntarily and they will seek ways to reverse any tax increases, or at least offset them. So the only guarantee that workers have to ensure that all the wealth generated by workers is used for the benefit of workers is to overthrow the ruling class and take control of the state.
The New Communist Party was founded in 1977 to build the communist movement around the revolutionary principles of Marxism−Leninism. Since then we have campaigned for the maximum working class unity against the ruling class, while campaigning to build the revolutionary party.
Working people can never achieve state power through bourgeois elections. Bourgeois elections are democratic only for the ruling class and their instruments, a tool to mask their real dictatorship. All bourgeois elections are the manipulation of the largest number of votes by the smallest number of people.
We reject the “parliamentary road” and electoral politics. The old Communist Party of Great Britain abandoned the revolutionary road when it adopted the British Road to Socialism. Its successors in the Communist Party of Britain and the Communist Party of Scotland continue this essentially social−democratic and revisionist policy today. The Socialist Labour Party, Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), Respect and No2EU all express essentially the same theory.
The paltry gains of all these parties reflect the futility of trying to compete with the Labour Party in bourgeois elections. Respect has one MP, entirely due to the standing of George Galloway within the anti−war movement and the Muslim community in Britain. These gains are more than matched by the non−socialist Greens which shows the futility of programmes that argue the only way to defeat social democracy is in fact to imitate it.
They call for social−democratic reforms while campaigning against the only mass force capable of implementing reform, the Labour Party itself. They foster the illusion that there is a left electoral alternative to Labour when the reality is that the only alternative — in the current situation — to a Labour government is a Tory or a Liberal Democrat government.
All of them end up attacking the Labour Party rather than the ruling class as the main enemy of the working class. Objectively they end up in the camp of the class enemy.
But the masses are often much wiser than those who claim to lead them and this is why these parties remain isolated amongst the working class, despite all their pretensions. The Labour Party is not the enemy of the working class nor is it a barrier to communist advance.
The NCP’s electoral policy is to vote Labour in all elections apart from the bogus European parliamentary polls, which we boycott. This is not because we support the venal right−wing policies of “New Labour”, Gordon Brown, or because we think a Labour government can solve the problems of working people. That isn’t possible in a capitalist “democracy”. It is simply the best possible outcome in the current circumstances.
A Labour government, with the yet unbroken links with the Labour Party, the trade unions and the co−operative movement, offers the best option for the working class in the era of bourgeois parliamentary democracy. Our strategy is for working class unity and our campaigns are focused on defeating the right−wing within the movement and strengthening the left and progressive forces within the Labour Party and the unions.
Day−to−day demands for reform, progressive taxation, state welfare and a public sector dedicated to meet the people’s needs are winnable under capitalism, particularly in a rich country like Britain today.
We support these demands, support the modest progressive reforms Labour has introduced and back the demands of those within the Labour Party and the trade union movement who are campaigning for greater social justice.
We support those in the Labour Party fighting for left social−democratic policies. We backed those, like Ken Livingstone, who defied the Labour leadership, with rank−and−file Labour Party and union support to win the London Mayoralty and returned to Labour Party membership with his position vindicated.
Our Party supports left social−democratic Labour activists who have mass support, even when they come into electoral conflict with the Labour leadership. It is part of our struggle for a democratic Labour Party.
Though the Labour Party is dominated by the class−collaborating right wing in the parliamentary party and the trade union movement, the possibility of their defeat exists as long as Labour retains its organisational links with the trade unions that fund it. The defeat of right−wing union blocs in most of the major unions over the past five years demonstrates this possibility.
We support the affiliation of unions to the Labour Party. We must fight for affiliation in those unions that are not affiliates and we must demand that the Labour Party reflect the wishes of the millions of its affiliated union members, expressed through the unions’ democratic procedures.
The fight for a democratic Labour Party is linked to the fight for a democratic trade union movement. In the unions we must struggle to elect genuine working class leaderships, who are prepared to represent and fight for the membership against the employers and against the right−wing within the movement and to campaign for the removal of all anti−trade union legislation.
The Party must campaign for a democratic Labour Party controlled by its affiliates: a Labour Party whose policies reflected those of a democratic union movement would become a powerful instrument for progressive reforms that would strengthen organised labour and benefit the working class.
We welcomed the creation of the new Labour Representation Committee (LRC) that was restored by a number of left Labour MPs and trade unions in 2004 to secure political representation for the labour movement and promote a series of progressive policies for a future Labour government.
In February 2005 the NCP affiliated to the Labour Representation Committee, which was only possible under the LRC’s rules because the NCP does not run candidates against Labour in the elections. Marxist−Leninists, for the first time since the 1920s, can now make the case for communism within a part of the Labour Party itself.
At the same time we must build the revolutionary party and campaign for revolutionary change. Social democracy remains social democracy whatever trend is dominant within it. It has never led to socialism. Revisionism, which poses as communism, has only led to the destruction of the Soviet Union and the people’s governments of eastern Europe and the destruction of some mass communist parties millions strong.
Our Party’s strategy is the only way to fight for the communist alternative within the working class of England, Scotland and Wales. We want day−to−day reforms and they can only be achieved by the main reformist, social democratic party in Britain, the Labour Party. We want revolution and that can only be achieved through the leadership of the communist party.
The current economic crisis is having a disproportionately adverse effect on women, mainly because of their lower average income.
Low incomes render most women dependent, either on a share of their partner’s income, or on state benefits and this dependency curtails their freedoms, their personal relationships and every choice they may make in their everyday lives. These economic restrictions are more potent than any discriminatory laws, culture or religion.
These restrictions are further exacerbated by women still being expected to undertake the lion’s share of caring for children, the elderly and the sick and taking care of the domestic environment.
Modern domestic technology has not liberated women from these burdens, simply made is just about possible for them to work full−time as well being unpaid carers and home−makers but at great cost in terms of lost leisure, rest and relaxation and ultimately health.
Working class women, like working class men, go to work primarily to earn wages to pay for their living, pay off debts and so on. But the working environment outside the home is a social one. Humans are by nature social creatures and need a social environment.
The role of modern working class women is exhausting and seriously under−rewarded but the answer is not to send women back into the home to do nothing but take care of others. Women need and deserve their place in the sun and their economic freedom.
But to enjoy this on an equal basis with men the two main keys to women’s liberation remain:
equal pay and opportunity;
and high quality, affordable state−provided childcare — and proper social care for the elderly and long−term sick.
The most recent Government figures for the gender pay gap, (as measured by the median hourly pay, excluding overtime, of full−time employees) widened between 2007 and 2008. The gap between women’s median hourly pay and men’s was 12.8 per cent, compared with a gap of 12.5 per cent recorded in April 2007, when it was at its lowest since records began.
The median hourly rate for men went up 4.4 per cent to £12.50, while the rate for women increased by 4.1 per cent to £10.91. The increase in the gender pay gap can be explained by a significant number of women moving into full−time jobs with low rates of hourly pay. This has the impact of reducing the overall growth in earnings of full−time female employees.
Median weekly earnings of full−time employees in 2008 for women (£412) were 21 per cent less than those for men (£521), unchanged from 2007. Women’s weekly earnings, including overtime, were lower than men’s, partly because they worked fewer paid hours per week. Source: Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE).
The compulsory pay audits that trade unions were demanding at the time of our last Congress have only just been included in a parliamentary Bill — and that after a struggle against the employers’ lobby — and are not yet law.
There has been no advance on state provision for childcare. Even with small state subsidies paid to parents to buy private sector childcare, it still costs almost as much if not more than a women can expect to earn in a low−paid job. Most working class women have to make arrangements with their partners, grandparents or neighbours, fitting their working hours around the availability of informal childcare.
This excludes many women from higher paid employment and keeps them in part−time, low−skill, low−pay jobs where their intellectual and vocational potential are wasted.
And, like their male colleagues, women workers are victims of the “voluntary” unpaid overtime culture as mentioned elsewhere in this document.
Single mothers continue to be vilified in the media and used as scapegoats for the failure of social support for them and their children.
Women are increasingly starting families later in life. Some choose to but many are forced into this situation due to financial reasons, including expensive or inadequate living accommodation, or fear that their careers could be jeopardised due to management discrimination. Late pregnancies come with added health risks to both mother and child and a shortage of midwives has increased that risk.
All women should have the choice of if and when they start a family; have good nursing care, readily available fertility treatment on the NHS and including abortion on demand.
The Government has given its backing to paternity leave, but this is unpaid and not compulsory on the employer. It only benefits those in a strong financial situation and who have a cooperative employer. Maternity and paid paternity leave must be extended and available to all, on a non−means tested basis. All parents should have reasonable time to spend with their children and this means curtailing working hours without reduction of income. Parental leave should be available to either parent when a child is sick.
Domestic violence, in all its forms, results from the isolated, unnatural nature of the bourgeois nuclear family and the economic and social tensions and alienation exerted on that structure by bourgeois society. The movement must recognise the occurrence of forced marriage in some communities and campaign against this abuse of women’s rights. Where violence has occurred, society must extend full necessary protection to its victims.
The real, economic freedom to leave a bad family situation before it deteriorates into violence is vital and divorce must be available on demand. No one should be forced to remain in a bad situation for fear of homelessness or penury.
The NCP calls for the decriminalisation of people trafficked, forced or otherwise coerced into the sex industry.
Many of the issues affecting women also impact on men and the fight for equality for women is a crucial part of the class struggle.
The New Communist Party continues to warn of the dangers of advancing fascism.
Fascism is the direct rule of the most reactionary and ruthless section of the ruling class. It opposes all forms of democracy and eschews all human rights and denigrates bourgeois liberal ideas. It is afraid of communism, socialism and the organised working class and seeks to suppress all working class organisations.
Since 1688 Britain has been ruled by a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie through an elected Parliament with a constitutional monarchy. This regime has been an alliance of landowners and capitalists who have found this form of state the best to allow British capitalism to flourish at home and abroad.
In 1688 the state consisted largely of the standing armed forces under the control of the crown, the judiciary also under the crown and Parliament, the legislative part of the state. The crown was subservient to the will of Parliament; the higher echelons of the armed forces were and still are dominated by landowning families and the right to vote was conditional on landownership.
Since then, in the 19th and 20th centuries there have been added to the state machine a massive civil service, elected local authorities, state−controlled education and health services and other state welfare bodies and a civilian police force.
Frederick Engels also noted that in the later part of the 19th century Britain acquired a large military−industrial complex, which would make impossible a parliamentary road to socialism here, since Parliament has ceased to be — if it ever was — master of the state.
Conflicts of interest between the bourgeois parliamentary government and the landowner−dominated armed forces are very rare. But in 1916 Lenin pointed out — after the Curragh mutiny in Ireland where senior army officers refused to carry out Government orders to stop the Carson rising of Ulster Loyalists against the Home Rule Act — that the elected Parliament had no control over the landowner−dominated army.
Since the mid 1970s there has been a creeping change towards fascism, beginning with internment without trial in the occupied north of Ireland, followed by the Diplock Courts and the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
In the 1980s Prime Minister Thatcher began a process of gathering more and more power to the office of the Prime Minister at the expense of parliamentary democracy. This process has continued under the Major and Blair governments.
There has been a procession of Police and Crime Acts, Immigration and Asylum Acts and anti−terror legislation. And since the 11th September 2001 attacks on the United States, there has been an avalanche of very repressive anti−terror measures, including detaining suspects indefinitely without charge or trial, the introduction of control orders — amounting to house arrest — and Anti−Social Behaviour Orders (Asbos).
These orders are imposed in respect of behaviour which is not necessarily criminal and require a low standard of proof. Breaching them can result in imprisonment without further recourse to courts, leading to people, often young or vulnerable, being liable to imprisonment without proper legal process. Such orders have been imposed on people suffering from autism and other mental disorders who could find themselves in prison simply because of their illness.
Existing anti−terror legislation has already been used against people who are plainly not terrorists — usually peace protesters. They include Walter Wolfgang, a peace activist in his 80s, who was barred under anti−terror legislation after he was forcibly removed from the 2005 Labour Party conference for heckling the Foreign Secretary.
Further draconian measures are planned, including the outlawing of the “glorification of terrorism”, which could be interpreted very widely; the compiling of a massive database of personal information, including biometrics, on every resident in Britain, to support a national identity card scheme. The scheme is intended to become compulsory in a few years. The Brown government also wishes to extend to 90 days the period in which a suspect can be held without charge or trial. This compares to the South African apartheid regime’s notorious 90−day law, under which opponents of the regime were often held for 90 days, released for half an hour and then re−arrested. It was primarily a weapon of political repression.
In the streets now CCTV monitoring schemes can recognise individual faces and track car number plates, while various public transport travel passes leave an electronic trail wherever the user goes.
The Home Office, at the behest of the secret security services, is seeking to create a new database with records of all telephone, email and other forms of electronic communication.
Much of these new aspects of state control and monitoring of individuals is made possible by advancing technology and much of the administration of this is done by private enterprise.
Giant privately−run computers now administer the Passport Service, the Immigration Service, the Inland Revenue, the National Insurance database, our education and health services, our agriculture and food control and many other Government departments.
The involvement of the private sector in the administration of the state is such that we are heading towards the monetarist ideal state — in which the elected legislative at national and local levels, meets once a year to hand out contracts — or rather to rubber−stamp recommendations prepared by private firms of consultants, as already occurs in parts of the US.
In this way the giant capitalist monopolies are, effectively, more and more administering the bourgeois state directly without recourse to democratic procedures. They are able not only to monitor the population closely but also seek to micromanage our behaviour. They want to control us both politically and economically — to guide our behaviour in order to exploit us to the maximum. The national identity database is the ultimate dream of every marketing manager.
The accelerating advance towards fascism is not a response to any current threat from the organised working class, though it may to some extent be in anticipation that such a threat might arise in the future.
It is happening against a background of advancing fascism internationally as the most reactionary, brutal and greedy elements of the global ruling class seek to gain hegemony over the whole world, especially its fuel resources.
This section of the international ruling class has suffered two major setbacks since our last congress: military defeat in Iraq and a major global economic crisis. The most extreme United States neo−cons have been removed from power and replaced by the Obama regime. This appears to be more liberal and pro−democratic. But in the background, global imperialist relations are basically unchanged and in Britain the advance to greater state control, administered by the private sector, continues.
We must resist this advancing fascism and prevent it becoming more established. The organised working class is our chief defence. The fascist state with its giant database and close monitoring and control of the population will be complex to administer and require an army of civil servants — who may be employed by the Government or by private agencies.
Currently trade union membership is highest within the public sector. Non−compliance by those members of the working class expected to administer the system — and by the population in general — will make it difficult if not impossible for the ruling elite to establish the level of control they seek.
But there will almost certainly be a huge struggle. We must be ready for this and not discouraged or panicked by a class enemy that is ruthless. We must remember that it is also desperate. The ruling class generally prefers to rule through a bourgeois democracy. Resorting to fascism is in itself evidence of desperation.
Many sections of the bourgeoisie will also be oppressed by this system and there will be scope for class alliances to oppose fascism, though we must remember in this context that the working class is strongest, most reliable and should lead the alliance.
Opposition to advancing state fascism is already growing through organisations like No2ID, which we should support.
The ruling class is not inherently racist but has always used racism to divide and weaken the working class. When any worker suffers abuse or discrimination because of their race, religion, gender, sexuality or for any other reason, the class as a whole is weakened and it is the responsibility of the whole class to combat racism and all other divisions of the class.
This is why the New Communist Party does not support separate organisation for workers of different colour, religion or gender. The class must stand united on the basis that an injury to one is an injury to all.
Currently the organised working class, the trade unions, are taking a lead in combating racism at work and in the community.
Broad anti−fascist and anti−racist organisations like Searchlight and Unite Against Fascism have demonstrated repeatedly that the most effective campaigning against neo−Nazi organisations like the British National Party is done at a local level, door−to−door. The BNP, in its election campaigns, tries to exploit issues that concern the local working class and to sow division by falsely claiming that black and immigrant communities receive favourable treatment from the state. Experience has shown that these tactics must be combated by anti−fascists and anti−racists taking up these lies and countering them with the truth at a local level.
All the major trade unions have become involved in this and have provided hundreds if not thousands of volunteers to do this door−to−door work.
This fills the gap left by the Labour Party, which in many areas has given up door−to−door canvassing.
New Communist Party members and cells should become involved in active local anti−fascist and anti−racist campaigning wherever they can and should support their trade unions in this.
The New Communist Party recognises the need for any sovereign state to set an immigration policy in accordance with its resources. But we firmly oppose any immigration policy that discriminates, either directly or indirectly, on the basis of race, creed, colour or gender.
Exactly the same labour laws that cover indigenous workers must protect immigrants into Britain and the Government must enforce these laws pro−actively to ensure that immigrants are not exploited or used as cheap labour. It must never be more profitable for a boss to employ one worker rather than another on the basis of where they were born.
We recognise that some trade unions are making efforts to recruit and inform immigrant workers of their rights and we support this work and call for it to be extended.
The use by some employers of bogus self−employed status to circumvent labour laws must be outlawed.
The use of European Union rules that allow contractors to import labour from one country to another to be employed under worse labour terms and conditions than those of the country where the work is done must be opposed.
Imported contract labour should be recruited on an equal basis to that of local labour, with local people entitled to apply for any new job. Wages and conditions should be equal for all and local and imported workers should be allowed to work side by side on equal terms and conditions with equal access to trade union representation.
We call for the repeal of the Immigration and Asylum Acts of the 1990s, passed by both Tory and Labour governments, which make it very difficult for many genuine asylum seekers to establish their claims.
Asylum seekers must be treated humanely and their claims dealt with swiftly. While this process takes place they must be given decent accommodation and welfare benefits to survive. No asylum seekers should be locked up unless there is good reason, with evidence, to believe they are criminals. No child asylum seeker should ever be locked up.
The main issue for the elderly is that of pensions. The state basic pension is £90.70. For those with no other income there is a guarantee credit giving a weekly income of £130.
Considering that the official poverty level is £151 per week, it is time for a change in the pensions systems.
The New Communist Party proposes that a state pension, payable to both men and women from age of 60, should be calculated on the basis of two thirds of the median weekly wage, excluding overtime.
The age of retirement, the pensionable age, must not be increased. To be able to retire from a life of work contributing to the wealth of the country and the profits of those who benefit most from their labour, the capitalist class, is a right which must not be denied. We are not opposed to the right to continue to work after retirement. But the choice must not be one of necessity, and should not affect the pension.
Wherever possible, elderly people should be assisted to remain in their homes, with modifications provided by social services such: as entrance ramps, hand rails, telephones, and emergency alarms. But if this is not practical for reasons of health, then adequate accommodation in residential care homes must be provided. On no account should it be suggested that couples be separated by this arrangement.
This raises the question of the availability of the Health Services. The "District Nurse" is invaluable in assisting health centre doctors in this respect. The reliance on untrained carers is not the answer. Hospitals must always have enough beds available for admission of emergency elderly cases.
One of the most important services needed by the elderly is that of the chiropodist. This is not generally available, and when it is, just for cutting toe−nails it can cost over £1 per toe. This must be an NHS service.
The maintenance of mental health is as important as physical health. It is important that the elderly have access to education and entertainment facilities. The day centres for the elderly, where meals are served, are important in this and must be maintained.
Whilst the long−awaited free bus pass for all elderly people is an advance, it does not completely answer the need. It is necessary to introduce a free universal travel pass covering bus, underground, and the railway. This should be financed by national government. There is also a need to consider the inadequate travel arrangements for the elderly in rural areas. A fully integrated publicly owned transport service is essential to achieve these demands.
Progress has continued in this area. Following on from the equalisation of the age of consent in 2000, Labour has made it illegal to discriminate against lesbians and gay men at work, and in the provision of goods and services — from NHS care to insurance, hotels and restaurants — after pressure from the gay lobby.
Civil Partnerships offer benefits for gay couples similar to those enjoyed by heterosexual married couples in terms of tax, immigration, next of kin and other legal rights. All this is to be applauded.
But while it is possible in Britain today for transgender people to obtain a passport or driving licence in their new identity it is not possible to change a birth certificate. British law still defines a person’s sex by biological factors at birth.
There is a logical contradiction here which needs rectifying. A person should be fully recognised as being a particular gender — not with some documents saying one thing and some documents another. The present situation has legal implications; for example it means that a female−to−male transsexual cannot marry a woman.
Things have improved considerably and the Labour Government must be given credit where it’s due, but there are still things to fight for. Homophobic attitudes are still common and attacks on gay people regularly occur. The law still needs strengthening against such hate attacks and more resources put into education to change attitudes.
The NHS has sustained further attack from the Brown government in the form of more privatisation. This takes the form of further breaking up the cohesion of provision of NHS healthcare by further major involvement of the private sector. This happens not only in the continuation of PFI in rebuilding old NHS hospitals, but in the formation of private foundation hospitals, which are taking profitable work from the NHS, for example hip replacement and so on. These foundation hospitals strike contracts with the Government to perform set numbers of operations. Once sealed, the agreed money goes to the foundation hospital, which per operation, is more than that which goes to NHS hospitals, even if the number of operations is completed. This has resulted in a sizeable number of bad operations, causing pain and stress and having to be performed again.
Taking these types of operations, for example hip replacements, cataracts and so on, away from NHS hospitals means that NHS doctors are losing out as well on experience and training in these areas.
Most, if not all, NHS Hospital Trusts and Primary Care Trusts are in financial crisis, bankrupt. But the Government has pledged not to bail them out, saying they have thrown millions of pounds at the NHS; that it is bad management that has caused the crisis. The outcome has been ward closures, cancelled operations, thousands of job losses, including specialist nurses and consultants, affecting recruitment of junior doctors and eventually the number of doctors being trained.
This is at a time when recent publicity has highlighted, yet again, the shortage of doctors and nurses in our NHS. These cuts will not only demoralise the staff but will cause hardship and worry to the patients, current and future, and their families.
Britain continues to have the highest level of MRSA superbug in our hospitals, and the number is rising.
A shortage of midwives has meant a failing service to expectant mothers and some fatalities have occurred.
The post code lottery continues with regard to receiving certain drugs, and there have been several cases brought by patients to the courts to try to overturn the decisions made by their Primary Care Trusts.
To cut costs and slash budgets, mental health services have suffered. Increased privatisation, poor financial management, constant re−organisation and so−called “service development” have been severely damaging for service users and mental health service provision.
Illnesses such as depression and anxiety are increasing to epidemic proportions in Britain today. They are often brought on by the working and living conditions of advanced and declining capitalism. Long working hours, unemployment or even the threat of unemployment, constant pressure, permanent debt, the promotion of individualism and compulsive consumerism, along with the decline in social cohesion and working class consciousness, are the causes of growing mental ill health.
Government policy with an emphasis on quality improvement has failed with a poor national standard of care being reported. Investment and modernisation of mental heath care should be a national priority rather than empty rhetoric.
Long−term psychological treatments provide an alternative and complementary treatment an alternative to medication. High rates of treatment resistance, unpleasant side effects, non compliance and persistent symptoms despite treatment emphasise the importance of establishing alternatives to medication.
Mental health policy needs to reduce rates of suicide, emotional distress, deliberate self−harm, self neglect and violence. Services need to be improved and high quality services developed with the objective of improving individual and care outcomes.
The NCP opposes the massive cutbacks in provision of care to the mentally ill, and their replacement by outsourcing to private agencies for profit. We oppose the closure of day centres and cuts in the provision of local care.
The New Communist Party supports the full integration of dental care services into the NHS as part of a holistic approach to public health free at the point of use. The destruction of local dental services must be reversed.
The NCP calls for well−funded, professional in−house care, with proper follow−up and co−ordination with other social providers for all people with mental health problems.
The New Communist Party supports a fully funded, well managed, National Health Service, there for all at the time of need, and continues to support all workers in the NHS.
As a short−term goal, the NCP seeks to re−establish the availability and breadth of NHS services provided before the Conservative government of 1979 started the long process of decline.
The NCP rejects the commodification of health services, and believes that the quality of medical care provided by the NHS should remove the market for private health provision. The standard of medical care must be the same for all.
The NCP notes with alarm the increasing privatisation of dentistry, ophthalmic services, and chiropody, and the unavailability of such care in many parts of the country.
We believe that health care is better provided at local hospitals and clinics where families and individuals can receive all necessary care in familiar surroundings. Maternity and nutrition clinics, district nurses, and regular health screenings at school and places of work are not nostalgic dreams of the past, but real options for the future in making health care available to people wherever they need it.
The conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan have, and are, inflicting enormous and complex injuries on service personnel, including severe depression, leading in some cases to crime and suicide. These patients are subsequently treated in NHS hospitals following their return to Britain. This is creating increased costs to the NHS with no provision of extra funding by the Government.
The New Communist Party opposes all privatisation of the service including foundation hospitals,a back−door method to privatisation. We are concerned that foundation hospitals are part of a process of marketisation in the NHS, involved in the reintroduction of competition and an increased role of private sector. We believe that it will undermine the public service, leading to a poorer, unequal service and and extension of charging.
Foundation hospitals will be able to raise income by charging for the treatment of private patients and many services will be subcontracted out. Congress calls on all Party members in the trade union and community to oppose and campaign against the establishment of foundation hospitals and all other privatisation, which has become parasitical. This is leading to the destruction of the NHS, which was fought for over many generations and we must campaign for an NHS which is free at the point of need.
The service and the morale of its workers must be restored to the full, to guarantee the sick, young and elderly receive the treatment and service needed, including dental services, fully supported by our tax system and at no extra cost to the patients and their families. It is the workers who create the wealth by their toil and provide the funding in the form of taxes, not the bourgeoisie, who have off−shore accounts and sit on the shoulders of the workers. We will continue the fight to save our services and, at a time when money is wasted on wars and armaments, it should be invested in the health service.
The purpose of the education system of this country has never been for the benefit of the working class. It has been developed to provide a workforce sufficiently educated, but no more than necessary, to work the tools and machinery of the day so that the ruling class could extract the maximum amount of profit. To ensure that education provided no less and more than was required has been the main reason why the ruling class has never relinquished control of the education system.
Now, under this government’s economic policy and consequent reduced manufacturing and industry, they are trying to alter the education system to suit basic service industry needs.
There should be statutory pre−school education across the board for all.
SATS tests on Primary School children should be abolished. And the unnecessary pressure on children and staff stopped. The curriculum should be returned to its broad educational approach.
We would see a return to comprehensive schools as originally envisaged and the development of a policy to solve the skills deficit that is facing our country.
We call for the abolition of all tuition fees and for education at all levels to be free. And any education at post age 16 to be supported by mandatory grants and not means tested. This financial support should apply equally to students on vocational as well as academic courses.
Education at adult education institutes (AEI) should also free, as should any supplementary classes for community groups like youth clubs and pensioners’ groups.
There is an urgent need to look at the syllabi of all levels of education from teacher training to primary school; from science teachers to youth workers.
Funding of education needs to be increased substantially and be controlled by the appropriate local council, enabling them to direct resources as needs dictate. Sponsorship of schools by “charity” organisations or companies should cease. If they have spare money to spend on education they can afford to be taxed more heavily so that democratically elected councillors have more money to promote all round education.
Since the 1980’s the facilities available to young people to participate in physical and cultural activities have either been closed or reduced significantly. Youth clubs have been closed; playing fields sold for high−priced housing; swimming pools sold and converted into up−market “fitness” clubs with exorbitant membership fees.
We would make it mandatory for local authorities to make facilities available for the youth in their areas to participate in both physical and cultural activities that are fully funded by taxation.
We would remove religion from the curriculum of any school. If religion is to be taught it should be in the local religious gathering place or at home. Religion is the parent’s responsibility not a state−funded responsibility.
The NCP opposes the existence of separate schools on the basis of wealth, social class, or religious faith. All such schools must be integrated into a single educational structure that meets the needs of all children, and seek to promote social equality and the highest standards of academic, practical and ethical formation for everyone.
Britain, along with most of the developed world, has to pay higher prices for oil and other petroleum products as demand exceeds supply on finite resources. This has meant, among other things, that consumers have seen their domestic energy bills soaring. It has brought hardship to the working class and the winter saw many elderly people on low incomes struggling — facing a choice between food and heating.
The extraction of Britain’s carbon energy reserves has reduced to such an extent that it is now dependent on imported oil, gas and coal [ despite having vast deposits of coal under the ground ] and it can no longer offset the price of the North Sea oil against the price of importing carbon energy from abroad.
The Brown government is following the policy set out by Blair, of opting for a new generation of nuclear power stations to resolve the problem. Britain’s current ageing nuclear power stations provide around 20 per cent of the country’s energy. But this will decline to nothing over the next decade as old power stations are decommissioned.
Plans now exist for building at least 11 nuclear power plants, largely near the sites of old plants around the coastline. These will be constructed and run by private firms. They, of course, are in the business of making profit and the enormous costs of decommissioning old plants and dealing with existing radioactive waste will fall on the shoulders of the working class. Indeed, the privatisation of all the utilities, including energy, is designed purely for the benefit of capitalism and is against the interests of the working class. Not only does it distance these vital services from democratic control — it hinders national planning of resources.
The New Communist Party has for two decades opposed the development of nuclear power and we remain opposed for several reasons:
The toxic plutonium waste generated presents a serious hazard for thousands of years to come and there is no safe way to dispose of it;
The plutonium produced can be used in nuclear weapons and it is probable that the Government favours nuclear power as a resource for a new generation of nuclear weapons;
When waste disposal is included in the costs of nuclear power, it becomes the most expensive form of energy available;
The dangers of nuclear accidents are enormous, for human beings and the environment;
Existing nuclear power stations and reprocessing facilities have led to a dangerous rise in radioactive pollution in their vicinity — with birds near Sellafield being so affected that their droppings are considered to be dangerous radioactive waste and practically the whole of the Irish Sea is suffering from increased radioactivity.
The New Communist Party supports an integrated energy policy, using a variety of energy sources including “green” sources such as solar power, wind, hydro, wave and geothermal energy. We call for an increase in the research and development of these sources combined with increased emphasis on energy efficiency.
If vast sums of money are spent on a nuclear power, the safer, renewable, sources of energy will be deprived of money and will be squeezed to the margin, when in fact they need to be supported and backed by Government policy.
We also call for the development of the clean uses of coal to generate power without polluting emissions.
Britain’s coalfields were closed down following a long political battle between the Government and the National Union of Mineworkers over several generations and in line with EU energy policies.
We call for a reversal of this policy and investment to redevelop Britain’s extensive coalfields and end Britain’s dependence on imported energy sources.
Britain has a housing crisis with 100,000 households in bed and breakfast accommodation and 1.7 million households or four million people on council waiting lists. The reason is that housing is now regarded as a source of profit by the ruling class. They have banned councils from taking out loans to build new houses; stopped meaningful action to return more than 700,000 empty homes to occupation and starved councils of cash to maintain the existing council housing stock. This manipulation of housing has pushed up rents and house prices, resulting in councils having to housepeople in unsuitable temporary accommodation. It also introduces fear of defaulting, especially on mortgages where there is a risk of becoming homeless, thus discouraging workers from taking industrial action. In effect the ruling class is using housing as a weapon in the class struggle.
Homeless people are not the only people who need council houses. There are plenty of young people still with their parents because they can’t afford their own home. The proportion of men aged 25−29 living with their parents has risen to 29 per cent from 19 per cent in 1991.
To satisfy this need councils should be allowed to build council houses. But the opposite is happening. The Government is forcing councils to spend a fortune on trying to convince their council tenants to vote to sell their roofs over their heads to housing associations and private landlords. This is nothing but the privatisation of social housing. The increase in private landlordism in the buy−to−let boom, of people seeking a way to invest money in the capitalist crisis. It has has led to fractured neighbourhoods due to the turnover of tenants for various reasons, and the neglect of properties which could well lead to the slums like those of the past.
With household growth at 223,000 a year, the Government has promised to raise new building by the private sector from 180,000 homes in 2006 to 200,000 by 2016. In 1951, the Tories took two years to increase housing by by 100,000 gross, in the 1960s. Labour’s aim in the 1960s of increasing housing by 500,000 houses a year gross was not achieved, but it did manage a peak of 425,000 new houses in 1968. The present Government has set itself a target of 10 years to raise home building by 20,000.. The Government review of housing supply in 2004 found that during the last 30 years of the 20th century, housebuilding rates halved while demand for new homes increased by a third.
Privatisation means higher rents and service charges, less security and unaccountable landlords. Council workers lose their jobs or are transferred to the private sector, consultants get fat bonuses, banks make big profits from the supply of funds to finance the transfer of houses from the council to the new private owners.
The three million council tenants and their families, the millions more living in temporary or overcrowded accommodation, and all those priced out of the private sector, would benefit from increased investment to improve existing and build new council housing.
The NCP calls for the −
end the sale of council housing;
councils to be allowed to build decent affordable, secure and accountable council housing, backed by Government borrowing;
councils to be given more rights to manage empty houses;
councils be allowed to use the surplus in their housing revenue accounts to enhance the management and maintenance of council housing;
Housing Association stock should be brought under council ownership;
Oppose the marketisation of all housing rents.
The private ownership of land and the exaction of rent for living, working or any other activity on land is an all−pervasive but often overlooked form of exploitation. It is a burden on all economic activity. The landowners levy this charge while making no contribution in return — they did not create the land. They sell access to the land — rural and urban — over and over again while still retaining full ownership as a never−ending drain on wealth created by the labour of others.
Two−thirds of all registered land in Britain, or 40 million acres, is owned by just 189,000 families, or 0.28 per cent of the population. A mere 2.5 per cent of this tiny minority, fewer than 5,000 landowners, own 27 per cent of all registered land.
However large tracts of land have never been officially registered. Somewhere between 30 and 50 per cent of land in England and Wales is not recorded in the Land Registry.
Of the total known registered land owned by the to 20 landowners, which includes the Government, utilities and transport, the church, the National Trust and pension funds, just over a quarter is owned by the royal family and 10 other families.
Britain’s largest estates are almost entirely owned by three groups: aristocrats, baronets and the residual landed gentry. For three centuries they have dominated Parliament, the church, the armed forces, the judiciary, commerce and banking. They are the backbone of the Conservative Party.
This class ensured that the Labour Party’s 1945 manifesto pledge for “a radical solution for the crippling problems of land acquisition and use in the service of a national plan” was never implemented. They have also ensured that much of their land is only recorded in feudal deeds rather than public records.
This situation is in stark contrast to the Republic of Ireland, where, as a result of sustained mass agitation between 1800 and 1998 the large estates — almost all English−owned — were redistributed, with compensation paid by British taxpayers. This almost entirely eliminated large landowners as a class in Ireland.
While Britain’s 189,000 large landowners pay council tax on their homes (an average of £550), they pay no taxation for owning their land. But they receive £2.3 billion in Government subsidies a year and £3.7 billion from the EU and other sources. Most of these subsidies simply support the landowners rather than productive agriculture.
Proper taxation of this class, ending subsidies and closing offshore tax havens, would generate greater revenue than the total amount produced by council tax, which is in reality an extremely regressive residence tax.
Landownership is the biggest factor in the cost of building housing or productive enterprises, accounting for 50 to 66 per cent of the total cost of any building project. In 2001 this ranged from £226,000−an−acre in north−eastern England to £1.53 million in inner London and to £33.5 million in Mayfair, the world’s most expensive land.
Hundreds of acres of land in central London are owned by just seven aristocratic families. The royal family’s 300−acre London estate, which is not the most valuable, was worth over £5 billion in 2000. But the landowning class also earns vast incomes from renting land for farming, industrial and commercial enterprises and for housing.
Private finance initiative projects, the enclosure of high streets into shopping malls, the privatisation of utilities and the sale and lease−back of Government buildings all continue to transfer thousands of acres of publicly−owned land into private ownership.
In 2001 the National Union of Farmers said the livelihoods of 61 per cent of farmers were threatened by the burden of rent. The number of tenant farmers is rapidly declining, and as the land they farmed hardly ever returns to agriculture, the large estates are actually increasing in size.
The market for land in Britain is effectively rigged; most land for new development is not recorded in the Land Registry and comes from subsidised rural estates. The high value of land results from the income that can be extracted from it and its apparent scarcity, in turn arising from the incomplete registration of landownership but really there is a huge surplus of land.
The New Communist Party regards this system of landownership as a bastion of anti−democratic forces in Britain, one of the main forms of exploitation of working people, including farmers, and an obstacle to the development of production, adequate housing and leisure for all.
The NCP calls for:
An end to the use of land to exploit the working class through rent. No human being created the land and all should have access to it to live and to work;
The nationalisation of all land, granting of leaseholds to those who legitimately live or work on it and the dispossession of all landowners, ensuring that the working class alone benefits from the exploitation of land;
The utilisation of land in Britain for the benefit of all its people, for agricultural and industrial production, utilities, transportation, retail, housing and leisure.
THE ECONOMIC and political crisis of capitalism once again proves the validity of the Marxist critique of capitalism. Those in the labour movement who contended that capitalism had found a way of becoming crisis−free and that boom−and−bust was a thing of the past have been proved wrong.
The present crisis may well prove to be the most profound in the history of the capitalist system. The capitalist media try to find a scapegoat to blame for this crisis. They point to greedy bankers and even Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been held responsible. But the real reason for the crisis is endemic to the capitalist system itself.
The crisis affects every capitalist country in the world,irrespective of whether they have capitalist or social democratic governments. The proof of this is the fast rising unemployment throughout the system with notable concerns going to the wall, giving rise to a further concentration of power to a shrinking elite.
We meet again at a time of sharpening contradictions — and the primary contradiction in the world today is between United States imperialism and the rest of the world it seeks to dominate. The Republican Party and most reactionary and aggressive sections of the American ruling class were defeated in the US presidential elections last November. The Democrat Obama administration has dropped talk of “globalisation” and the “New World Order”. But they still seek US world domination.
Ireland, Korea, Cyprus and Kashmir remain partitioned. The Palestinian Arabs remain under Zionist occupation and imperialist forces straddle the world with their arsenals and fleets. Democratic Korea is targeted with sanctions because it has developed its own nuclear deterrent, The Islamic Republic of Iran is threatened because it seeks to develop its own independent nuclear industry. Separatist movements in Tibet and Xinjiang are supported by imperialism to destabilise and undermine the People’s Republic of China.
In the past the imperialists justified their colonial wars by using the racist and imperialist theories of the “white man’s burden”, “the master race” or “manifest destiny”. The horrors of the two world wars of the last century killed most of that reactionary nonsense. So now they fly the false flag of “democracy”, “human rights” and “liberation” to justify their crimes.
We have seen their “liberation” in practice in Iraq; worthless puppets and crooks imported into the country to act as stooges; civilians bullied and gunned down by trigger−happy US Marines while their cities burn. Basic civil rights are denied while the country is flooded with drugs and criminal gangs roam under the eyes of the occupation forces.
But those in favour of imperialist aggression are the most aggressive and greedy sections of the capitalist and landowning class. They are the sort of people who robbed and looted Africa and Asia in the 19th century to build an Empire on which “the sun never set”, killing and enslaving millions on their way. They are the kind who lived the life of Roman Emperors in their grand houses while British workers slaved in their factories for pennies and died broken and destitute in the slums of our great cities. They are the people who sent millions to their deaths in the First World War to preserve and increase their fortunes.
They pull the strings. Now they show what a farce our so−called parliamentary democracy really is. Now they reveal the contempt they have for the people beneath them. Millions elected the Labour government. Millions are opposed to war. Their voice is ignored and dismissed and the only demand that Brown & Co listen to is that of the ruling class.
This has led to a crisis in the Labour Party that has now spread to the Government. There is anger at the spectacle of MPs from all the parliamentary parties lining their own pockets with fraudulent “expenses” claims. There is disgust at the sight of the British army in Afghanistan reduced to the role of hired hands of American imperialism, like the sepoys of the old East India Company.
But wherever there is oppression there is always resistance. The dreams of Anglo−American imperialism have turned to dust in the streets of Iraq. Imperialist plans to dominate the Caucasus were thwarted last year when the Russian government stepped in to protect the south Ossetian and Abkhazian communities from Georgian aggression. The Venezuelan peoples have mobilised to defend their freedom. The Nepalese people have ended the autocracy of a hated monarch and throughout Latin America democratic forces have come to power with mass support.
The bastions of socialism: People’s China, Democratic Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and Laos stand firm politically and economically while the capitalist world sinks into decadence and economic stagnation. And in the developed capitalist world — the imperialist heartlands of North America and Western Europe — millions of working people are now demanding change.
Peace remains the central issue. The labour and peace movement must maintain the fight to bring about the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all British troops from Ireland and Afghanistan. At the same time it must mobilise to stop the Government from spending more billions on the needless and useless replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system.
The tragedy of the Palestinian Arabs began when British imperialism first occupied their land in 1918 and encouraged Zionist immigration through the Balfour doctrine. British imperialism sought to create a community of Zionist settlers who would prolong their occupation of Palestine indefinitely. They helped British colonialism crush the Palestine Revolt in 1936. But in the immediate post−World War II situation the Zionists seized the opportunity to push for a separate state of their own. In 1948 the British colonial mandate ended and the State of Israel was proclaimed. On that day the first Arab−Israeli war began. It has never ended.
The first war led to the expulsion of a million Palestinian Arabs from their homes by the Zionist regime. Those refugees and their descendants have never given up their right to return to their land. And this is the heart of the crisis in the Middle East that has led to five full−scale wars and continuing simmering conflicts like the brutal invasion of the Gaza Strip in January.
Israel is economically and politically entirely dependent on American imperialism and successive Israeli governments have existed to serve the needs of American imperialism in the region. And those needs are to weaken and divide the Arabs to ensure that the big oil corporations can continue their exploitation and plunder of Arab oil until it eventually runs out.
Anglo−American imperialism is currently promoting a “two state” solution” which would leave Arab Jerusalem and large swathes of occupied Palestinian West Bank territory under Israeli occupation in exchange for largely underdeveloped land around the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian refugees are offered nothing beyond a reunification of families deal, that was first tabled by Israel in the 1950s, and would only apply to 100,000 Palestinians. At the same time Israel refuses to recognise the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, whose forces control the Gaza Strip or accept a fully independent Palestinian state
Israel still clings to the dream of dominating the Middle East and colonising Palestine. But its petty ambitions and dreams are not the driving force of Anglo−American imperialism.
The tail does not wag the dog and Israel and the American “Zionist lobby” do not dictate American foreign policy. They serve it. They provide Anglo−American imperialism with a convenient alibi to play the role of “honest broker” in the Middle East. They enable the feudal Arab oil princes, whose thrones are propped up by imperialist bayonets, to claim that the Arabs’ enemy is not imperialism as such but Israel and this supposedly all−powerful “Zionist lobby”, which pulls the strings in the United States.
In a slightly more sophisticated way, Israel’s ruling circles play the same game, claiming to serve a mythical Zionist ideal as a bulwark against persecution. In reality they simply provide imperialism with cannon fodder for the strategic aims of Anglo−American imperialism. Far from being a Zionist paradise, Israel today is one of the worst places for Jews to live, racked by continuing conflict with Palestinians and economic hardship due to its isolation and total dependency on the United States.
We call for the immediate and unconditional end to the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip and for a comprehensive peace treaty to end the conflict in the Middle East based on past United Nations resolutions.
The UN resolutions have provided the basis for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. First of all Israel must totally withdraw from all the occupied territories seized in 1967, including Arab East Jerusalem and Syria’s Golan Heights. The Palestinians must be allowed to establish a state of their own on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Palestinian refugees whose homes are now in Israel must be allowed to return or, if they so wish, be paid appropriate compensation in exchange. All states in the region, including Israel, should have internationally agreed and recognised frontiers guaranteed by all the Great Powers.
Anglo−American imperialism believes it can call all the shots in the Middle East today. The imperialists believe that all resistance can be crushed by brute force and they hope to find willing Arab tools to do their bidding, hoist up the white flag and sign a surrender peace.
In the Middle East imperialist violence always leads to an equally violent resistance. Imperialism’s refusal to recognise this has led to the spiral of violence and terror that began in 1948 as a regional war, to a conflict that now spans the whole world.
A lasting solution must be based on the right of return of refugees and an independent Palestinian state with Israel giving up all territories seized since 1967.
British troops have now withdrawn from Iraq and the new Obama administration in Washington is implementing a plan that will see the withdrawal of all US troops from Iraqi cities this year. But thousands of American troops will remain in bases throughout Iraq to prop up a puppet regime which lacks all authority in the country.
Iraq was invaded and occupied in 2003. By establishing direct control of the Iraqi oil fields, Anglo−American imperialism hopes to control the price and production of the global oil industry. This was what the war was all about. The issue is clear. This was an illegal and unjust war. The Iraqi people’s legitimate rights to independence and the control of their resources must be upheld. The Iraqis have taken up the gun in a new fight for independence. Their resistance must be supported.
In the beginning Anglo−American imperialism told the world that this war was over the weapons of mass destruction that Iraq allegedly still possessed. It was not the view of the UN weapons inspectors. The majority of the members of the United Nations opposed it. The other Great Powers including People’s China, France, Germany and Russia opposed it. And it has been exposed as a crude lie by recent events.
Though the war was allegedly fought to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, Iraq used none nor have the occupying forces found any. Though it was claimed that the war would bring “democracy”, popular leaders are being sidelined in favour of worthless and corrupt placemen, groomed for their role during their long years of exile in Britain and the United States.
The warmongers claimed the invasion was for the benefit of the Iraqi Kurdish minority. But the imperialists, who only seek to use them as auxiliaries in their campaign to take over the whole of Iraq, have categorically ruled out their hopes for full autonomy or independence.
We were told that the war is about bringing “democracy” to the Iraqi people. But this is the last thing on the imperialists’ minds at the moment. They hope to establish a series of weak puppet statelets based on ethnic and religious differences within Iraq — much like the French colonial plan for Syria in the 1920s — whose leaders will endorse the continuing occupation in another guise.
Very detailed plans to carve up the Iraqi oil fields and its nationalised oil industry were prepared long before the war. The immense task of reconstruction needed to get Iraqi oil pumping again for the benefit of imperialism has already been earmarked for chosen American corporations.
By establishing direct control of the Iraqi oil fields, Anglo−American imperialism hopes to control the price and production of the global oil industry. This was what the war was about and this is why France, Germany and Russia are so concerned.
The central issue is the right of the Iraqi people to independence, to choose their own government and social system and control their own resources. They certainly will not be able to do this under imperialist occupation, whatever form it takes
The Iraqis could easily establish a new independent government within weeks if freely allowed to do so.
We whole−heartedly support the Iraqi resistance in its struggle for freedom and we call for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all imperialist troops from Iraq.
Afghanistan was invaded and occupied by American−led forces in 2001. British troops are now stationed in Afghanistan to prop up a puppet regime installed at the behest of US imperialism. During the invasion hundreds of Afghans and Muslim fighters from other countries were taken prisoner and transported to a concentration camp on the US Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba. International pressure has led to the release of a handful but the majority remain held in inhuman, brutal isolation in these camps, in breach of international law and the Geneva Convention. They are denied prisoner−of−war status; nor are they treated as common criminals with the right to trial and defence.
We call for the closure of the Guantánamo Bay camp and the unconditional and immediate withdrawal of all British troops from Afghanistan.
Anglo−American imperialism stands totally isolated in the world even amongst the international institutions it once relied on to do its bidding and give it some international authority for its actions.
The United Nations has been marginalised. US imperialism only pays lip service to UN institutions when it suits its purposes. When the Americans can use it to rubber−stamp their plans, the world organisation is supported. When it is no longer of any further use to them, like now, it is ignored and discarded.
In the past British and American imperialism upheld the principle of the veto on the UN Security Council — a right the United States has exercised 82 times, mainly to protect Israel. But it was ignored when it appeared that France, Russia or People’s China were prepared to use it to block the Iraq invasion. Though the new Obama administration pays lip−service to international co−operation, it still ignores the world forum when it conflicts with the interests of American imperialism. The blockade of Cuba and Democratic Korea continues and efforts to achieve a just and comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian problem are blocked.
We call for democratic reform of the UN Security Council to ensure that it is representative of the vast majority of member states of the world forum.
The strategy of the British bourgeoisie since the establishment of the Common Market in 1957 had been that of straddling the Atlantic to play off Europe against America. But the development of the European super−state has sharpened divisions within the ruling class. These divisions became open during the Iraq war. Those who believe that British imperialism’s global interests can only be preserved by American might were dominant during the Blair premiership. Those in favour of greater European integration opposed them over the Iraq war. These include the elements of the ruling class who will profit from partnership inside the EU rather than with US imperialism. They believe British imperialist interests are best served in alliance with Franco−German imperialism within the European Union. They also want to revive proposals to adopt the single European currency to accelerate European integration.
The Blair leadership had aligned itself with the most reactionary and venal sections of the British ruling class — those who profit from British imperialism’s neo−colonial exploitation; those who know it can only be propped up by the guns of the American war machine. This war party includes most but not all of the Tory leaders. But it does not represent the views of that section of the ruling class that wants closer integration with the European Union. Nor does it represent the views of the mass of the Labour Party nor the mass of the working class.
The defeat of the neo−conservative war party in the United States in the presidential elections last November and the sub−prime crisis, which has plunged the capitalist world into the biggest slump since 1929, has weakened the war party. The Brown government has striven to restore the trans−Atlantic bridge, which they call the “special relationship” with the United States, while attempting to strengthen its position in the European Union.
The ruling classes of Europe are determined to put the entire burden of the slump on the backs of working people. They’re going to slash state welfare, pensions and social provision. They want to drive down wages through social dumping by closing down their operations in high−wage areas and setting them up in other parts of the European Union where labour is cheap or recruiting cheap labour from poorer regions of Europe to undercut existing rates for the job.
The development of the Common Market, and the EU that followed, was the choice of European imperialism and western European monopoly capital.
It promotes neo−liberal measures favouring the monopolies and the concentration and accumulation of capital. It cannot represent a genuine counterweight to the United States in favour of the people. With the Lisbon Treaty, new steps are being taken towards the configuration of the EU as an imperialist, economic, political and military bloc, contrary to the interests of the workers and the people.
The sovereignty and independence of peoples and countries are being further undermined. The attack on labour and trade union rights throughout the EU is escalating in the name of “modernisation”, “competitiveness” and “flexicurity” — and in order to ensure the profits of capital.
For years Labour and the majority of the leaders of our unions have elevated the EU as an instrument for social progress and economic advance. They say that the EU is becoming more representative through the authority of the European Parliament and establishment of regional autonomy. The social−democrats claim that the anti−working class “directives” and “rulings” can be reversed. The revisionist and left social−democratic circles that still pose as communists in some parts of Europe argue that the EU can be reformed to serve the interests of working people.
But the EU with its toothless parliament, ruritanian regional governments and farcical referendums that only count when the vote agrees with what has already been decided by the powers that be, hasn’t been reformed. Nor can it ever be under the Treaty of Rome.
The neanderthal section of the ruling class, who still dream of an independent role for British imperialism, is also opposed to the EU. That’s why some of their minions tried to divert the unofficial energy workers’ strike movement down nationalist and racist lines, to reduce it to the demand for “British jobs for British workers” that was shamefully resurrected by none other than Gordon Brown himself in September 2007.
These people, like the rest of the ruling class, have nothing in common with workers apart from the fact that they owe their entire parasitical existence to the labour of others. The real enemy of the working class is the employer, not the imported labour from abroad.
Now people see the European Union for what it is — an institution designed solely for the benefit of the oppressors and exploiters — and millions upon millions are seeing through the lies of the bourgeoisie. What few benefits the EU has brought, such as increased trade and open borders, could all have been achieved through separate agreements and treaties. The cost of the introduction of the Euro would be entirely borne by the working class and it must be opposed.
In fact the European Union is neither genuinely federal nor democratic and every stage of European integration has been financed by working people through higher indirect taxes, lost jobs and lost benefits. The European Union cannot be reformed. It must be dissolved and the Treaty of Rome, which established the Common Market in the first place, and all addenda repealed.
The impact of global warming is being felt throughout the world and the climate now hangs in the balance, as the Arctic ice is melting faster than before. Scientists monitoring global warming predict that higher temperatures could hasten melting in Antarctica, the world’s largest repository of fresh water. The result of this would be to raise sea levels by about 57 metres. This would affect some 146 million people living in low−lying coastal regions less than one metre above current sea levels.
The main cause of global warming is the burning of fossil fuels and last year the International Energy Agency (IEA), in its Global Energy Outlook , the most authoritative report on global energy, confirmed that every source of fossil fuel we rely on now will not be able to keep pace with the ever−increasing global demand
While there are still reserves of oil to be tapped those reserves are likely to come to market at ever higher cost. Oil locked in shale, sand or buried deep under the ocean costs far more to access, transport and refine than the traditional reserves that have kept industry going until now.
Over the past few years ethanol, which can be derived from various food and non−food plants grown in countries all over the world, is being increasingly used as an alternative fuel
In the USA, the country with the highest figure for CO2, biofuels production topped nine billion gallons, doubling output since 2005, most of which was made from corn, which is the only commercially viable feedstock in the US.
The new Barack Obama administration is aiming for the use of 36 billion gallons by the year 2022 to ensure that the USA is self−sufficient in energy.
Producers of the bioenergy, who are subsidised to the tune of $1.90 per gallon, claim that biofuels are “climate friendly” and that there are vast areas of land in many countries no longer needed for food production. This ignores the fact that yields per hectare for many food crops are actually falling.
There is no evidence that the main biofuel crops — palm oil, soya, sugar cane and jatropha — actually have lower life−cycle greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels.
Putting vast areas of land under monocultures of the ethanol producing plants needed to produce enough fuel for the numbers of cars, trucks, and planes needed to keep the present society going would be a disaster.
It would raise food prices and threaten the destruction of the rainforest, the breaking up of local communities, water supplies, biodiversity and the climate of the globe and could trigger a global catastrophe.
Leaders of the European countries recognise that that the rich countries must provide funds to the developing nations so that they can reduce greenhouse gases towards the climate plan based on their ability to pay, according to their level of responsibility in causing climate change. So far they have not put a single euro on the table.
In this country under the Climate Change Act which was passed in 2008 — which was led by Friends of the Earth through the Big Ask campaign — the British Government is legally required to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050.
The Committee on Climate Change has recommended that the Government should commit “unilaterally to reducing emissions of all greenhouse gases in this country”. Friends of the Earth are calling for Britain to commit itself to the 42per cent target now, because the latest science indicates that the industrialised world must cut its emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2020.
Catastrophic climate change is not inevitable. The technologies that could dramatically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels already exist and have been proven to work.
There is no shortage of energy in the world, more development of wind, hydropower, tidal and solar power could provide enough energy for global needs.
Now real action is needed to put more pressure on governments to provide more funds, and put in place meaningful policies to ensure that an environmental catastrophe does not happen.
British and United States imperialism poses the greatest danger to world peace. The National Missile Defence (NMD) system has triggered another global arms race. The tearing up of the Anti−Ballistic Missile [ABM] treaty has undermined every other international agreement on nuclear weapons.
Even so the imperialists are trying to use part of the non−proliferation agreement as an instrument to bully and threaten any country attempting to develop an independent nuclear industry. But given the fact that the non−proliferation treaty has still to be implemented by the imperialist camp, every sovereign state has the legitimate right to develop its nuclear industry.
This imperialist hostility is currently focused on Iran and the Democratic People`s Republic of Korea [DPRK].
The DPRK has had no choice but to develop its nuclear energy programme and its own independent nuclear deterrent. The DPRK threatens no one. It’s enemies are close by. United States nuclear−armed warships are stationed off the Korean coast and thousands of US troops are in the south of Korea as well as in Japan.
The US wants to perpetuate the division of Korea and ultimately to extinguish socialism in the Korean peninsular. Our Party stands by the DPRK and condemns the imperialist aims and threats.
The Big Five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council all possess nuclear weapons, along with India and Pakistan. The US has an immense arsenal, as does Britain. France also possesses substantial stocks of nuclear weapons and so does Russia, which inherited the systems of the former Soviet Union.
Britain is a major arms supplier and its troops are deployed in a growing number of war zones and areas made unstable as a result of imperialist intervention and aggression.
People`s China is the fifth permanent member of the Security Council, and the only socialist state with nuclear weapons and is the only one actively supporting proposals for multilateral nuclear disarmament.
China stands for the complete prohibition and total destruction of all nuclear weapons.
China, backed by many other countries, has challenged the West to implement the entire non−proliferation treaty, which was signed in 1968 to halt nuclear proliferation but also committed the signatories to work towards universal nuclear disarmament.
In the meantime China calls on all the major nuclear−weapon states to abandon their policy of nuclear deterrence.
States with huge nuclear arsenals should continue to reduce their nuclear stockpiles. At present the United States is in violation of the non−proliferation treaty.
China calls on all nuclear powers to pledge not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstance; to commit themselves unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non−nuclear weapons states or nuclear−weapon−free zones, and to conclude, at an early date, international legal agreements to such effect.
China calls on all states with nuclear weapons deployed outside their frontiers to withdraw these weapons to their home territory. All nuclear powers should pledge their support for the establishment of nuclear−weapon−free zones, respect their status as such and undertake corresponding obligations.
China calls for the banning of the development and deployment of space weapons systems or missile defence systems and calls for an international convention on the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, concluded through negotiations with the participation of all countries.
These long−standing demands must be projected throughout the peace movement in Britain. The NCP supports the efforts of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and other peace movements for unilateral British nuclear disarmament. We must campaign against any British participation in NMD and for Britain’s adherence to the non−proliferation treaty.
One immediate focus must be the demand to scrap the present Trident nuclear missile programme and to fight against the Government’s plan to spend further billions on upgrading and replacing the Trident system.
Trident is not an independent British nuclear−weapon−system, but a component of the United States’ global nuclear strategy. Its power is awesome, with the capability of bringing total destruction to humanity anywhere and everywhere in the world.
This relic of imperialism’s Cold War strategy has to go and the money spent on socially useful projects such as health care, eduation, affordable housing and decent state retirement pensions.
The British Government has for long willingly complied with the wishes of the United States in strategic military planning. Throughout the Cold War years the British ruling class embraced US−led Nato and remains willing to waste British lives and money in support of US political, economic and military agendas.
This was clearly the case when Britain joined in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, even though it meant the Blair leadership having to lie about the true purposes of the war — which were to control the flow and price of oil in the interests of Anglo−American imperialism.
British lives and money are also being squandered in the US−led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. And of course in both cases millions of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and injured, including those who suffered the effects of economic sanctions, in the countries under attack.
We call for the withdrawal of British troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan and an end to the occupation of all countries by the imperialist powers.
In the recent past the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip have been bombed and shelled by Israeli armed forces. The slaughter brought condemnation of Israel from around the world.
Successive US administrations, with which other western governments have complied, have postured as peace−brokers in the region. Yet it is the US which props up the state of Israel and is itself the major obstacle to peace.
We call for peace and for the acceptance of Palestinian Rights, for justice and an end to the oppression of the Palestinian people by the US−backed Zionist leadership of Israel — a cats−paw of the US in the Middle East.
After the Counter Revolution in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved. Nato, which always pretended to be a defensive organisation, continued.
It not only remained but it expanded. In 1999 Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic became full members of Nato. In 2004 the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania together with Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania joined the alliance too. In addition there are now US and Nato bases in the Balkans, the Middle East and central Asia.
This has brought Nato to the borders of Russia and that country is becoming encircled. The US regards Russia as a large, nuclear power that it cannot rely upon to dance to America’s tune, and which has a socialist past many regret losing.
Nato no longer pretends to be a “defensive organisation”. Its mission statement now speaks of out−of−area activities across the whole of Europe and it has a nuclear first−strike policy.
Our Party continues to strengthen its bilateral relations with communist and workers’ parties all over the world. The Party has developed its friendship and solidarity with the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Communist Party of China and the Communist Party of Cuba. The NCP has warm relations with virtually all the communist and workers’ parties in the world, built on exchanges of information, meetings and delegations, and common support for regional and international communist conferences.
We support the consistent efforts of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), which has played a key role in organising an annual international forum of communist and workers’ parties, as well as an Information Bulletin to develop communist ideas in the new situation and to foster international solidarity.
The Party supports moves for greater global exchanges of views on a bilateral and international basis. We were one of the initial signatories to the Pyongyang Declaration, Let us defend and advance the socialist cause, in 1992, now endorsed by over 240 parties and progressive movements around the world.
We believe that a coordinated communist response across the world is needed to rally working people against the imperialists and oppressors. But calls for the re−establishment of a formal Communist International are premature. The conditions that led to the establishment of the Comintern in 1919 do not exist today. The experience of world communist conferences sponsored by the revisionist leaderships in the CPSU after the death of Stalin has to be taken into account.
Our view, based on our own experience and that of the world movement as a whole, is that a new international must be based on these principles:
It must include and be supported by the ruling parties of China, Democratic Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba;
It must be based on the principle of equality between big and small parties and the independence of all parties;
It must recognise the principle of a collective secretariat or praesidium that reflects the views of the member parties and not of one big party;
It must recognise that in countries where there is more than one communist party, the case in most countries today, the differences between them are a matter for those parties alone to settle.
Ireland has suffered the consequences of English and British colonisation since feudal times, with periodic uprisings and rebellions by its people. Resistance to English occupation dates back to the 12th century; the modern struggle for national liberation began with the United Irish rebellion of 1798 and continued up until the IRA campaigns of 1969−1997, forming a continuous thread of struggle for national self−determination.
The New Communist Party believes it is the right of the Irish people to determine the nature of that struggle, including responding to colonial domination and violence with armed struggle.
The Adams−Hume peace process begun in 1988 resulted in two IRA ceasefires and, following Labour’s election victory in 1997, the parties in the north together with the British and Irish governments negotiated the historic Good Friday Agreement in 1998. This was overwhelmingly endorsed by the people of northern and southern Ireland in the 1999 referendum.
The NCP believes that the leading role in the peace process was played by Sinn Fein and that the 1998 agreement was only possible under a Labour government.
Only now are the conditions being created to redress the injustices of British rule, sectarianism and partition, and 11 years after the Good Friday Agreement major advances have been made in community relations, policing and north−south economic co−operation.
But the agreement has still not been fully implemented and policing and justice have still not been devolved from Westminster to the Northern Ireland Executive.
Nevertheless the benefits of the peace process have transformed the situation throughout Ireland. We believe that the full implementation of the agreement will bring about an important change in relations between the north and the south of Ireland and between Ireland and Britain.
The NCP regards Sinn Fein as the vanguard in the struggle for Irish national liberation and the driving force behind the peace process in Ireland.
However Ireland’s national liberation struggle will not be complete until the ending of partition and Ireland is a united sovereign state, free from any interference or influence from Britain. Britain can no longer regard Ireland as a “sphere of influence”.
The NCP call for:
The implementation of the Good Friday Agreement in its entirety;
The total dismantling of any British presence on Irish soil, including the withdrawal of all British military, police and intelligence personnel and an end to all British involvement and interference in Irish affairs;
Concrete moves to prepare for an end to the partition of Ireland at the earliest practical opportunity.
The NCP will continue to work with the Wolfe Tone Society, the Connolly Association and the Troops Out Movement and within the trade union and labour movements in Britain, in support of a united and sovereign Ireland.
Capitalism is in deep crisis. It cannot solve the problems of the millions of working people whose labour it exploits but it always seeks to divert the masses to perpetuate its rule. Throughout Europe we are witnessing the “creeping fascism” of the bourgeoisie, who couple their attacks on working class rights and living standards with tactics that seek to scapegoat asylum−seekers, religious and ethnic minorities and immigrants to divide and weaken the working class. Civil liberties and rights that had been taken for granted for decades are being stripped away, as the forces of repression are granted more and more powers of arrest and detention. At the same time they encourage the bogus theories of personal freedom, bourgeois democracy and the illusions of social democracy as an alternative to scientific socialism. In the 1970s it was called Euro−communism. In the 1990s it was the “Third Way”. Now it is the “European Left Party”.
The “European Left Party” is a bloc of revisionists, left social−democrats and Trotskyists who specifically reject Marxism−Leninism, which it calls “Stalinism”, while claiming to be the heirs of the European communist movement. What they are the heirs to are the revisionist ideas that destroyed the mass parties of Italy and France and provided the ideological cover for the traitors who brought down the Soviet Union and the European socialist camp. They elevate parliamentarianism and bourgeois democracy. But bourgeois democracy is democracy for the exploiters and dictatorship in all but a formal sense for the exploited. Bourgeois elections, when they are held, are used so that the smallest number of people can manipulate the maximum number of votes. We welcome the decision of the Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party to leave the ELP and we urge all the other communist parties still associated with the European Left Party to follow suite.
Since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly by the Labour Government in 1999, these institutions have played an important part in their respective countries. Both institutions had, under Labour leadership, used some of their powers to pass modest reforms beneficial to the working class. Labour is now the opposition in the Scottish Parliament and in Wales shares power with the nationalists.
The degree of local autonomy won by the Scots and the Welsh is, in itself, no guarantee that the national traditions and culture of the Scottish and Welsh people will be developed, nor will it automatically lead to the strengthening of working class power. But the creation of national institutions in Scotland and Wales had some positive developments. The Scottish and Welsh Labour parties have developed policies, under pressure from the labour movement, that reflect more the demands of the working class for social justice and have a positive message for the workers in England.
The New Communist Party has long recognised the rights of the Scottish and Welsh nations to full national self−determination. We support Scottish and Welsh demands for the right to preserve and develop their culture and national identity. We support their right to posses and control all the physical and other resources present on their land and territorial waters. We support the demand for genuine self−governing powers for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.
The New Communist Party supports the demand for the encouragement of the Welsh language, which should be raised, in practice as well as in theory, to equal standing with English throughout Wales. We likewise support demands for the encouragement of Scottish Gaelic in traditional Gaelic areas.
London is one of the world’s great cities and is a hub of international capitalism, generating vast wealth. It is also a city of poverty, crumbling infrastructure and disjointed local authorities.
Local government is fragmented into 32 boroughs and the historic City of London. Each of these bodies has individual responsibility for housing and education and all the other services associated with a modern city. The lack of coordination with neighbouring boroughs means contradictory policies, services that vary wildly from borough to borough, duplication of work and an almost total lack of London−wide planning.
The infrastructure of London is in very poor shape. Londoners have got used to filthy, unstaffed, ramshackle railway stations, potholed streets and neighbourhoods of shabby, derelict buildings covered in litter and graffiti. London is a place of private wealth and public squalor and this cannot continue. There is a vast amount of work to be done.
The 1997 Labour government introduced the Greater London Assembly in a positive step towards effective regional government. Unfortunately the new GLA has very few of the powers and responsibilities of the old Greater London Council. Apart from a central role in transport planning in which it has achieved some success and the establishment of a weak Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), the role of the GLA is very limited.
The MPA should have direct control over the police in London, answerable to the elected GLA rather than to the Home Secretary as at present;
The NCP supports an increase in the powers and scope of the GLA;
Council tax should be abolished and replaced with local rates, including an element to support the GLA;
Housing and education services should be transferred to the GLA from borough councils. This will provide flexibility and mobility in the provision of housing and guarantee that education is of a uniform standard throughout London; specialist educational services for children with special educational needs could me made available to and acceptable level for all who need them;
In addition to a large−scale programme of council house building, the GLA should bring the many empty and unused properties in London into public ownership, renovate them and make them available as social housing to rent;
The increased provision of publicly−owned housing and the ending of the right−to−buy programme will also dramatically bring down house prices for those who wish to buy;
The ongoing programme of replacement of London’s sewers and water pipes needs to be greatly expanded and the maintenance of streets and main roads should be a priority. Many are in a very poor state of repair and attending to these infrastructure problems would provide employment for many thousands of people;
With transport, the NCP aims for an integrated, publicly−owned, planned and funded service throughout London. The absurd fragmentation resulting from a large number of private bus companies and the endless disputes about funding and ownership of the London Underground have to be brought to an end;
Transport fares should be kept to a minimum with subsidies from central government as necessary. These subsidies would also reflect that many passengers who use public transport every day live outside the Greater London area, as well as a substantial number from overseas;
Buses and underground trains will be designed to maximise safety, comfort and capacity for all users. Adequate staffing is essential to speed up the service and particular importance should be given to the provision of conductors on all bus routes;
Congestion charging, by which all private vehicles entering central London have to pay a toll has made some difference. Further congestion charge zones may be necessary in other parts of the city.
A welcome result of these policies would be to greatly reduce private commuter traffic by car during the week.
The NCP was founded in 1977 on the principles of Marxism−Leninism and the rejection of revisionist and social democratic trends within the defunct Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). The NCP continues to combat revisionist and social democratic thinking as part of its campaign to build the NCP and uphold the revolutionary path.
Though the CPGB has dissolved, the left social−democratic and revisionist ideas of the CPGB’s British Road to Socialism live on in its direct heirs, the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and the Communist Party of Scotland (CPS).
Nevertheless the NCP has long recognised that there is the possibility of working together on certain issues, such as peace, anti−racism or the wages struggle with these parties and others that have sprung from the British communist movement.
In recent years the NCP has developed friendly relations with the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist−Leninist). This includes regular bilateral exchanges of views, joint activities and work for peace and proletarian internationalism. This work can only strengthen the British communist movement in the effort to build communist unity in theory and practice.
The NCP supported a CPB initiative for a round−table conference of communist parties in Britain that took place in 1995. The NCP has since called for further meetings on the same basis along terms of reference endorsed at our 12th Congress.
Our proposals — for a communist liaison committee that would allow for the regular exchange of information and views between the various British communist parties at a leadership level — were rejected by the CPB in 1998. They remain on the table.
The NCP supports the Morning Star, which is an asset of the working class built up over generations. It is a newspaper of the broad left and the trade union movement while the New Worker is the Marxist−Leninist paper of the NCP.
The Marx Memorial Library is another important asset of the working class and the British communist movement. The New Worker is an affiliate and comrades actively participate in the Library’s work. We call on all comrades to campaign for union affiliation to the Library as well as joining on an individual basis.
The New Worker is our weekly communist voice. It is widely read in Britain and the world. An email edition goes all round the world and reports and features are permanently preserved on the Internet by our national, London and central websites. It has recently gone full colour. Articles and features are translated and reprinted by progressive and communist journals in Britain and across the globe.
We must fight to win more readers and supporters of the paper to guarantee its future. We must campaign to develop and expand New Worker Supporters’ Groups. Building the sales of the New Worker and raising money for the fighting fund to maintain and expand our communist press is one of the crucial tasks of the NCP today. Our paper represents the voice of struggle in all its forms. It gives a clear communist line on the issues of the day, a Marxist−Leninist analysis of the problems facing the working class and it provides a window to the world communist movement and the national liberation movement. The bigger the readership, the greater our influence. This is our paramount task.
The communist party is the monolithic party of the proletariat and not a party of a bloc of elements of different classes. It is based on democratic centralism. Every member must observe unified discipline. The individual is subordinate to the organisation, the minority is subordinate to the majority, the lower level is subordinate to the higher level, and the entire Party is subordinate to the Central Committee. The highest leading body of the Party is the national Party Congress, and, when it is not in session, the Central Committee elected by it.
The Party must be a fighting party, based on the tried and tested principles of democratic centralism, regular self−sacrificing work and an unyielding hatred of the capitalist system.
We must be in the forefront of every−day struggle, fighting for the maximum unity amongst the class to achieve winnable economic gains and political objectives. We must always present the case for revolutionary change and communism to end the whole system of exploitation in Britain.
Only a revolutionary party can make a revolution. Without a revolutionary party there can be no revolutionary movement. Only a revolutionary party can lead the class to overthrow the bourgeoisie. It cannot be done through elections or syndicalism alone. Only mass revolutionary action by a militant working class led by a revolutionary communist party can bring about revolutionary change.
A revolutionary party can only be built through iron discipline, hardship and sacrifice. Every comrade must work to build the party and take part in the daily struggles of the people at work and in their locality. Class−consciousness is at its sharpest at the point of production and we must focus on industry. We must build the Party in every factory and office, in every industry, trade and housing estate.
Our Party is based upon the revolutionary principles of Marxism−Leninism. Our purpose is to equip the working class so that it can establish working class state power and then build a socialist society. Our Party is made up of people who have come to the conclusion that the present political and economic system does not satisfy the needs of the majority of the population of this country, or for that matter of most countries in the world today.
Bourgeois democracy is democracy for the exploiters and dictatorship for the exploited. Bourgeois elections, when they are held, are used so that the smallest number of people can manipulate the maximum number of votes. Parliament no more makes the real decisions for the country than do the councils in the localities.
All the major political parties in Britain seek to perpetuate capitalism. Our Party believes that socialism is essential to eliminate exploitation, unemployment, poverty, economic crisis and war.
Many come to this conclusion without any knowledge of revolutionary theory and little understanding of the type of organisation needed to lead the struggle for working class unity, revolution and socialism. They come to us voluntarily and expect help and guidance in how to play a part in the struggle to achieve socialism.
The history of humanity is a history of exploitation and class struggle. For century after century working people, the slaves, the peasants, the artisans, fought for justice and equality. Only in the modern era with the rise of the working class and the development of scientific socialism has it been possible not only to dream of a better world but also concretely to build it.
The Paris Communards fired the first shots and paved the way to progress. The Great October Revolution in 1917 lit the torch of revolution, which burns on in Asia and the Caribbean. The great revolutionary teachers of humanity, Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, were shaped from the epic struggles of the last two centuries.
Communists proceed from the principles of proletarian internationalism, peace and friendship among the peoples. The Communist Parties of Europe and Asia were the centre of the resistance to fascism during the Second World War and the Soviet Union led by Stalin played the decisive role in the defeat of Hitler and Hirohito. The international communist movement led by Lenin and Stalin lit the flames of revolution in Africa, Asia and Latin America and inspired the independence movements that broke the chains of colonial slavery.
The great revolutionary leaders of the struggling masses, Mao Zedong, Kim Il Sung, Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh inspired generations to sacrifice and struggle for the bright, red future. That is a world with no classes and no exploitation; a world in which the will of the masses, the workers, the toilers, the people who work in the factories and farms, is carried out. It is a world in which those who produce the entire wealth of the globe get the fruits of their labour.
We believe that while calls for the re−establishment of a formal Communist International are premature, a coordinated international communist response is needed to rally working people against the imperialists and oppressors. We must work to restore the momentum for revolutionary change; strengthen co−operation and united action with communist and workers parties around the world; build solidarity with the global anti−war movement and forces for liberation in the Third World to unite the class and march towards a new tomorrow — the world Marx and Engels predicted and a world that will surely come to pass.
By their hard work and ingenuity, workers have made new and great progress in the productive forces, science and technology and other fields, but they receive little reward for their efforts. Indeed if it wasn’t for the economic and political suppression of workers by capitalism even more could be achieved. It is this suppression of workers that led directly to the economic crisis of 2008/2009. It was not a crisis caused by one particular country or lack of regulation; it was a crisis of the economic system itself. Capitalism can only solve its problems temporarily and even then only at the expense of the majority in favour of the few. The short−termism of these solutions will only continue to aggravate the causes of crisis.
In the longer term, whilst it is impossible, at this stage, to foresee how long capitalism’s general crisis will take to mature, it is certain that the contradictions within the system will ensure that at some stage in the future the capitalists will find it very difficult to resolve the contradictions within the capitalist system. For these reasons capitalism will not, and in any case can never meet the needs of humanity as a whole — only socialism can do that. Capitalism will not collapse of it’s own volition — it must be pushed by the efforts of the working class operating in the specific conditions of their own countries. The exact scenario as to how exactly this will happen cannot be predicted. What is certain though, is that communist parties are essential to the process of preparing workers to carry out fundamental social change and to ensure the advance to socialism.
What does socialism mean? First of all it means that the ownership of the means of production — the factories, mines, the transport industry, the land and the machinery to till it — are taken from the hands of the capitalists into state and collective ownership on behalf of the working class. A dictatorship of the working class will be established that will suppress the capitalists economically and politically through the workers’ government, trade unions and councils and in the sphere of ideology and culture generally. The energy, vitality and creative power of the working class will be unleashed, providing a freer and fuller life for everyone. The people will own the banks, insurance companies and finance houses. The age of classes and exploitation will be over. The greed, speculation and corruption of the bourgeoisie will end when the workers’ government is established and a new era will dawn.
Eventually, under communism, the economic slumps which are part and parcel of capitalism will disappear. There will be no more unemployment and no more war.
Homelessness and the squalor of the slums will end. Housing will be good, free and available to all. The environment will be protected for the benefit of the countless generations to come. Everyone will enjoy free education and a free health service.
Everyone who is able will work — not like today for the boss and breadline wages — but for the collective in the factory, office or farm. And work will become a pleasure. Every job will have value and importance from the essential services to the highest scientific research and it will be all for the common benefit of the people.
People will have more leisure time: time to think; time to grow and appreciate life; time to participate and discuss; time to play or travel; time to reflect and create.
There will be no classes, sects or racial discrimination. Unemployment, poverty, racism, discrimination and bigotry will vanish. Women will finally be fully emancipated and play a full role in the society of the future.
Elderly people will be provided with a living income to enjoy the fruits of their past labour. And they will continue to play a role in a society which treasures their experience and knowledge.
Culture, sport, arts and entertainment will be made by the masses for the masses. The old culture of selfishness and competition, which pits worker against worker, will go. The old distinctions between skilled and unskilled, white−collar, and blue−collar workers will end, together with the dead−end jobs and the sterile intellectualism of today. People will live in dignity and hope, building communism in Britain and throughout the world.
To this end our Congress calls on:
Communists, socialists and all class−conscious workers to close ranks, organise and rally workers in the bitter struggle ahead;
the working class and labour movement to play a greater role in the struggle for peace;
all Communists to build a vanguard party of and for the working class.
We have a world to win!