The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 11th July, 2008
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G8 FEASTS WHILE MILLIONS STARVE
by Daphne Liddle
THE LEADERS of the G8 nations met in Hokkaido, Japan, last week
with global rising food and fuel prices at the top of their agenda.
Yet they began their deliberations with a lavish six-course lunch,
followed a few hours later with an even more lavish eighteen-course
In their first session they expressed “deep concern” over rising food
prices and the need to reduce “unnecessary demand” for food. Prime
Minister Gordon Brown had only just lectured the British public about
Hours later the leaders of world economic imperialism were being served
24 different lavish dishes during their first day at the conference.
Meanwhile the leaders of several African nations, including the heads
of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Senegal – where food shortages are now
causing starvation – were excluded from the banquets organised by the
Japanese hosts. And this G8 summit comes three years after the
Gleneagles G8 summit where these great leaders pledged to help the
world’s poor and hungry.
This time the G8 leaders could not come up with anything better than
the usual offer of a package of aid – with strings.
The G8 leaders say they will support improvements in agricultural
infrastructure including irrigation, transportation, storage,
distribution, and quality control while assisting in the development of
food security early warning systems.
But these offers come after People’s China has been doing trade deals
with many African nations, which do not have the imperialist strings
that demand the privatisation of everything and the opening up of
vulnerable economies to the full force of the global market.
Ironically China, now a major world economic force, was not invited to
the G8 as a full member, nor was India. These countries did come along
with the leaders of South Africa, Brazil and Mexico for an outreach
session of G8, where Chinese President Hu Jintao met Indian Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh for bilateral talks on global issues. As major
developing countries, China and India bear the common tasks of
developing economy, improving people’s livelihood, safeguarding world
peace, and promoting common development, Hu said.
The two nations are also faced with common challenges such as climate
change, energy and food security, and the Doha round of the World Trade
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was also excluded from the G8 summit,
proving that the great imperialist powers no longer consider Russia as
the safe puppet it was in the Yeltsin days.
If the trend continues it will not be long before the greatest economic
powers on the planet are all excluded from the G8. Its power is already
in sharp decline as it made an appeal for United Nations sanctions
against Zimbabwe, knowing that Russia and China will certainly veto it.
The G8 leaders also made much of their agreement at last on a common
commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent – only it
was not really a commitment; it had a get-out clause; it only applied
if countries like China, India and the starving countries of Africa
also promised to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by the same
Of course their leaders are having none of it. They squarely blame the
existing industrialised economies for having caused the problem in the
first place and will not sign up to any commitment that will prevent
them developing the levels of production that will feed, clothe, and
house their hungry populations.
So this G8 summit’s main achievement is to expose just how much of an
irrelevance it is becoming.
It cannot solve any global problems; food and fuel prices will continue
to rise – driven as much by profiteering speculators as by genuine
It failed to address the large expanses of agricultural land now being
given over to bio fuels, even though a confidential World Bank report
has estimated that the change to growing biofuels has pushed up global
food prices by 75 per cent.
And the G8 summit can do nothing to halt or temper the coming economic
It certainly will do nothing for the people of Britain where the
British Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly report found that our economy
is facing a real recession and that the credit crunch has dented all
sectors of the economy.
House-builders and banks are already laying off workers by the thousand.
But outside Britain the ray of hope is the coming together of China,
India, Russia and all those Third World nations excluded from the G8
for their own, less formal but more real economic deliberations.
Facing the Abyss
GORDON BROWN says that
there’ll be no return to 1970s-style industrial relations. He tells
union leaders: “…there will be no return to the 1970s, the 1980s or
even the 1990s when it comes to union rights, no retreat from continued
modernisation and there can be no question of any re-introduction of
secondary picketing rights”.
These are the people who mobilised organised workers to put Labour in
government three times in a row. These are the people who pay 90 per
cent of Labour’s bills. But they’ll have to make do with
Brown’s “family-friendly agenda” that consists of little more
than the promise of free school dinners and unwelcome advice to
supermarkets to stop cut-price food deals that he claims encourage
waste. Well they won’t if they’ve got any sense.
Labour’s popularity is now at an all-time low and the standing of the
Prime Minister is even lower. Brown has two years to turn things round
if Labour is to have a hope of staving off the Tories. Moves are afoot
to force Brown out if Labour loses their once-safe Glasgow East to the
Scottish National Party on 24th July. The way Brown’s going he might
just as well throw in the towel now.
But replacing the Prime Minister with the likes of a Miliband, Straw or
even a Harriet Harman will do nothing for Labour’s fortunes unless it
is accompanied by a whole raft of progressive demands in a manifesto
that can win back the millions of working people who expected so much
from Labour when it returned to power in 1997.
The Labour Party was established to represent the unions and press for
progressive reforms for the benefit of working people throughout the
country. Though its first two administrations in the 1920s achieved
next-to-nothing, the post-war Attlee government provided free
education; established the National Health Service and created a
vibrant public sector that underpinned the prosperity in the 1950s and
Far from being some sort of dark age, the Wilson and Callaghan
governments pioneered more reforms for organised labour, and working
people enjoyed unparalleled prosperity despite high inflation during
The leaders of the affiliated unions must make it clear to Brown and
the rest of the Labour leadership that they’ll settle for nothing less
than a clear commitment to sweep away the reactionary Tory laws that
obstruct free collective bargaining; the scrapping of the pay freeze in
the public sector and a pledge to revitalise the ailing health service
with funds raised by increasing income tax on those who can well afford
it. The pensions link must be restored and all the troops brought back
from Iraq and Afghanistan.
At the grass-roots workers must be mobilised to ensure that their
leaders do not settle for another third-rate “Warwick” agreement to
bail Labour out of its financial woes with little or nothing in
On the revisionist and social-democratic left the usual suspects are
divided between those wringing their hands in despair and those chasing
the mirage of yet another social-democratic electoral “alternative” to
Our task is to fight for a democratic Labour Party that carries out the
demands of its affiliates; support the Labour Representation
Committee’s efforts to rebuild Labour’s rank-and-file base and argue
for the socialist alternative by building the communist movement up and
down the country.
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