The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 2nd March 2007

Slavery and Freedom by Prof Mohammed Arif

Welcome To Our Weekly Digest Edition

Please feel free to use this material provided the New Worker is informed and credited.



by Daphne Liddle

getting very messy at the top of the Labour Party as Blair’s premiership winds down, long past its natural end, and lacking any leadership it is falling apart.

 A YouGov poll last week put Tory leader David Cameron 13 percentage points ahead of Gordon Brown when people were asked who would make the best prime minister.

 Brown’s succession is becoming less and less a foregone conclusion as he faces challenges from the right and left.

 Ultra-Blairites Alan Milburn and Charles Clarke are calling for a full debate over the future leadership of the Labour Party. They claim they are doing this for the health of the party but neither has said they will not run for the top job themselves.

 Meanwhile on the left most trade union and organised support is coming together behind backbench MP John McDonnell, leader of the Labour Representation Committee, who is standing for a return to a socialist Labour Party.

 But veteran MP Michael Meacher is now putting himself forward also as a challenger from the left and claiming to be “more credible” than McDonnell. Meacher has attended many LRC events but has not committed himself to join. He has recently attacked the growing wealth gap and the obscenity of the money that the fat cats of finance and industry are paying themselves.

 But he has weaknesses, especially for his own private wealth. The press has wasted no time in pointing out the hypocrisy of his remarks since he owns 11 separate properties, which provide him with a substantial rental income.

 There is a real danger that he could split the left-wing within the Labour Party and make it easier for Brown to win.

 The essential thing is that Brown should be challenged. If McDonnell gets the signatures of 45 fellow Labour MPs this will force a contest in which the whole Labour Party membership gets to vote, including members of affiliated unions. When that happens, Brown’s succession is very far from certain.
union rights

McDonnell and the LRC are currently campaigning for support for the Trade Union Freedom Bill, introduced by McDonnell, to restore union rights to workers in Britain that were abolished by the Tories in the 1980s – and which Blair has failed to restore.

 McDonnell is also speaking at a rally in Friends House, 173, Euston Road, London, next Tuesday 6th March at 7pm on “The Case for a Socialist Labour Government”.

 The Transport and General Workers’ Union Broad Left has unanimously endorsed the John4Leader campaign. They join national unions: ASLEF, the RMT and FBU; union broad lefts: Amicus Unity Gazette, CWU Broad Left and Unison United Left.

 McDonnell also has the support of activists’ organisations: Welsh Labour Grassroots, Scottish Campaign for Socialism, Socialist Youth Network, CLPD, and the LRC – all of whom have backed the campaign unanimously or overwhelmingly.

 There is another great battle going forward for the position of deputy leader, to replace John Prescott who will resign at the same time as Blair, with Peter Hain trying to pretend to be left wing again. The only candidate with any shred of integrity seems to be Dagenham MP John Cruddas, who has a very creditable record of doing grass roots work and fighting the fascist British National Party.

 There have been open arguments between Cabinet members over policy on families and Home Secretary John Reid has been scrapping with MI6 over whether or not the military intelligence agency – known as the armed wing of the Confederation of British Industry – should be merged into his new “Security Department” when, as Reid hopes, the Home Office is divided in two.

 They are all trying to cap each other in dreaming up new draconian measures to be imposed on “threats” from single mothers to al Qaeda terrorists.

 Brown has announced that immigrants should be compelled to perform voluntary work in order to integrate them into the community. Since they are not allowed to receive any benefits when they first arrive, how they are expected to pay the rent and feed themselves while they are doing this “voluntary” work is a mystery. Many have pointed out that forced unpaid “voluntary” work is slavery.

 Meanwhile Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett is proving she does have a sense of humour after all by claiming with a straight face that there is no link between the planned withdrawal of 1,600 troops from Iraq and the posting of 1,400 to Afghanistan.

 Blair is saying that at least 4,000 British troops will stay in Iraq for five years.

 The best we can hope for is a McDonnell victory – and it is a real possibility. It will not bring what we mean by socialism but it will be a retreat from the anti-working class New Labour policies.


A plague of locusts

THE GMB union last Tuesday staged a demonstration in Ludwig-Erhard Anlarge, Frankfurt in Germany outside an international conference held by the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association. The venture capitalists are threatening to leave Europe if they are forced to pay taxes; the union banners told them to “slam the door shut as you leave and good riddance”.

 Venture capitalism came to the headlines under the Thatcher government of the 1980s, when a group of “corporate raiders” led by Sir James Goldsmith and his Mayfair chums made fortunes for themselves by pooling their funds, buying up working capitalist enterprises through hostile bids. Once they had taken over a company they would sell off capital assets like land and buildings – sometimes renting them back. They would use the company’s financial standing to borrow huge sums; pay themselves a fortune in salaries and bonuses and then abandon it, now stripped of assets and loaded with debts, to its fate.

 This was the age when the Government decreed that “greed was good” and the process was healthy for capitalism because it weeded out lame ducks – all part of the survival of the fittest philosophy. Venture capitalists also avoid paying taxes by running their investments technically at a loss.

 Shareholders were happy to sell out to the venture capitalists at a tidy profit. The real victims were the workers employed by these companies that were sucked dry and spat out as jobs were cut by the thousand. The process culminated in the scandal of Enron, which rocked America.

 Now the venture capitalists are back. The GMB first raised the alarm a couple of years when the private equity group Permira took over the Automobile Association. Its first action was to derecognise the union, then sack 3,500 workers, who are represented by the GMB. The remaining workers were bullied into doing increasing overtime; AA patrols now work an average 11.75 hours a day and cannot give a decent service. The company is rapidly losing customers but Permira have loaded the AA with debts of £1.9 billion, equivalent to six years of subscription income.

 Now Permira has bought Birds Eye in Hull from Unilever. The local MP, Cabinet Minister Alan Johnson, was assured the jobs were protected under Tupe arrangements. Six months later the workers are being sacked. Another private equity group, 3i, took over National Car Parks. It fixes daily targets for parking fines and bullies and harasses staff to penalise London motorists to meet these targets. 3i’s website claims a “strong sense of values” and “close partnerships” with the companies it “invests” in. But it doesn’t want to know about its workers who are getting beaten up on the streets. If they don’t return to work at once they are threatened with dismissal. 3i is now selling it on to an Australian bank after having made a fortune from it.

 Venture capitalism is an extreme form of capitalism, one that preys on other capitalists, a parasite on the back of other parasites. But it is also an inevitable development of capitalism.  The GMB is fighting mainly to defend union recognition and save jobs. But a capitalist government has no answers. It cannot legislate to stop capitalists behaving like capitalists, even though this behaviour is like a virus that will ultimately destroy the whole system.

 Last weekend a new sinister development emerged: venture capitalists have been making big donations to the Labour Party. They may well be after the value tied up in Labour halls and offices up and down the country but it is more likely they are set to destroy the link between Labour and the unions. They know their real enemy is the organised working class.

 We must support the union campaigns against venture capitalism but at the same time point out that only socialism can put a stop to it.

 Back to index

To the New Communist Party Page