The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 11th July, 2008




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Lead 

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 dinner.

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 wasting food.

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 Organisation talks.

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 percentage.

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 shortages.

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 crisis.

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.

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Editorial

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 60s.

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 1970s.

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 exchange.

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 Labour.

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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