The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 18th April 2008
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PLAN TO GRAB UNION FUNDS
by Daphne Liddle
JUSTICE SECRETARY Jack Straw last week outraged union leaders
by proposing that the political levy paid by members of unions
affiliated to the Labour Party should be paid directly to Labour
This is a move that could prevent unions from using their
political funds for other purposes, like campaigning against the
British National Party or defending Remploy, the NHS and so on.
Straw claims that the plan, which is supported by Gordon Brown,
will appease Tory claims that union leaderships have too much control
over Labour and that union donations should be capped in the same way
that donations from wealthy individuals are capped.
But many suspect that Straw’s proposal is so outrageous it is
really intended to provoke unions to cut their link with Labour and
disaffiliate. It has already spurred GMB general secretary Paul Kenny
to threaten to ballot members on disaffiliation if the plan goes
The Labour Party was created by the unions so that working people
could have a party to represent them in Parliament in contrast to the
existing Conservative and Liberal parties, which were funded and
controlled by big business – as they still are.
Naturally the ruling class – and the New Labour clique – would
like to see the Labour Party also brought completely under ruling class
control. Currently the party carries out ruling class policies but the
party’s current dependence on trade union funding still leaves a
possibility that the unions could force the party to follow more
working-class friendly policies.
Many on the left have despaired of Labour ever being reclaimed by
the working class and either stopped voting or given their support to
tiny, ineffectual and unstable social democrat parties.
But clearly the ruling class still has a real fear of the link
between Labour and the unions or they would not continually attack it
and try to undermine it.
Recent attacks date back to the “cash for honours” scandal when
proposals for controls and curbs on donations to political parties were
Blair’s government responded to this with a proposal for
Government funding for all the major political parties. This would
effectively extend state control over those parties. Party members
would have little or no say in policies and the leaders would not be
accountable to their members.
Furthermore it would be forcing taxpayers to fund political
parties whether they agreed with them or not. Talks on this between the
major political parties broke down last year after they failed to agree
on a final version of proposals put forward by former civil servant Sir
Tory spokesperson Francis Maude has indicated to Straw he would
accept the new proposals but would not accept this current situation.
The Tories would prefer a £50,000 cap on union donations.
Straw’s new proposals would increase labour funding from the
unions by about £750,000 a year – all the money that is spent on
other kinds of campaigning – but the unions would lose their democratic
control on how that funding is used.
Unions use their political funding in line with decisions made at
their annual conferences by democratically elected delegates. Since the
demise of internal democracy within the Labour Party itself, this is
the only way that ordinary workers can now have any influence on
Paul Kenny said: “The Government is going down the wrong road and
taking the wrong direction. There is no way we are going to concede the
right to allocate their cash to Gordon Brown and the party headquarters
when not all our members support everything the Government is doing.
“Not all our members support the Labour Party and they would not
stand for their money being used in this way. They would want us to
disaffiliate if the Government insists on doing this.”
Unison is also angry about Straw’s plans.
Labour MP John McDonnell, who heads the Labour Representation
Committee, founded four years ago to reclaim the party for the working
class, said: “This proposal will be opposed by MPs and rank-and-file
members across the Labour Party. It gives Labour Party headquarters the
right to take over control of all trade union money and is
Gerry Gable of the Searchlight anti-fascist organisation
expressed deep concern at the idea that unions would be prevented from
funding the Hope not Hate campaign against the BNP.
He told the New Worker: “When we go out on the streets we’re not
telling people to vote Labour, or for any particular party. We’re just
saying don’t vote for the BNP and be sure to vote. This is outrageous.
What is Straw thinking of?”
New dawn over the
COMMUNISTS throughout the
world will rejoice at the news of the overwhelming victory for the
Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist(CPN-M) in last weekend’s elections. The
CPN-M has grown from strength to strength following the ceasefire that
ended the civil war and brought the Maoists into an interim government
that held this poll to elect a constituent assembly to decide the
future of the mountain kingdom.
The CPN-M has won 111 seats out of the 201 contests declared for the
601-member assembly, well ahead of its closest rivals the Nepali
Congress with 32 seats and the reformist Communist Party of Nepal
(Unified Marxist- Leninist) with 28, while the small Nepal Workers’ and
Peasants Party (NWPP), a minor partner in the interim government, has
held its two seats in its traditional bastion of Bhaktapur.
Final results should be known by the end of this month when all the
seats chosen by proportional representation are tallied and preliminary
returns show that the Maoists will take the lion’s share there.
The overwhelming demand of the Nepalese people for a democratic federal
republic was reflected in the massive swing to the communists, who only
laid down their guns two years ago after massive street protests forced
the hated monarch to relinquish direct rule.
The Maoists will clearly be the leading force in drawing up the
constitution and the new government that will follow but they are
seeking coalition partners from other democratic parties to take Nepal
into the 21st century.
The first step must be to ratify the decision of the interim parliament
to abolish the monarchy and rid the country, once and for all, of its
worthless feudal king whose family has kept the Nepalese people in
bondage for decades. The next will be to end feudalism and meet the
basic demands of the masses for social justice. The communists have
already prepared a democratic programme of social and economic reform
aimed at raising the annual per capita income from $300 to $3,000 in 10
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and around 80 per
cent of the population work on the land. Most of the peasants work for
feudal landlords. Most earn less than a dollar a day and half the
population live below the poverty line. Half the population are
unemployed and many have been forced to emigrate to India for work.
Half the children are malnourished and underweight. Only 15 per cent of
the people have access to health services and most do not have access
to basic needs such as food, health and education.
The new Nepalese leadership will face the hostility of the imperialist
world whose “new world order” is crumbling day by day. The Americans,
who continue to class the CPN-M as a “terrorist” movement are already
bleating about “violence and intimidation” during the election
campaign, though even they concede that voting was peaceful in most
Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, formerly known as “Comrade
Prachandra”, says democracy is not “an alternative to armed struggle
but a logical conclusion” and throughout the world millions of
oppressed people are once again turning to communism as the only way
out of the capitalist crisis.
The Nepalese communist victory is a decisive blow to those who claimed
that armed struggle was futile and that the communist ideal was
irrelevant in today’s age. Their victory is our victory in the struggle
for a new world free from oppression and exploitation – a new and
better world — the world that Marx and Engels predicted and a world
that will surely come to pass in the 21st century.
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