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Friday, 6 January 2017

Class politics needed, say Communists

The left and labour movement in Britain are urgently in need of a return to 'class politics', according to Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths.

 He told the party's political committee on Wednesday evening that subjective and impressionistic views were in danger of misleading socialists and trade unionists to the benefit of big business and the far right.

In particular, he cited the warm response given in some quarters to a recent address delivered by Bank of England governor Mark Carney and the support of trade unions and Labour MPs to Britain's continued membership of the Single European Market. 'Mr Carney represents the interests of finance monopoly capital centred on the City of London, not those of workers whose real pay is lower that a decade ago', Mr Griffiths pointed out.

'He fully supports monetarist policies, including austerity cuts and bailouts for the bankers and speculators - but now he's worried that working class victims of capitalist globalisation and neoliberalism are turning against so-called free markets'.

Mr Griffiths pointed to the Long Term Asset Return Study published recently by the Deutsche Bank, which shows how workers in the advanced capitalist economies have been the biggest losers in the globalised labour market. The report also calls for greater political and economic integration in the EU.

'Everywhere, the ruling capitalist class is gearing up for a new, prolonged struggle to intensify the exploitation of flexible workers and defeat trade unions in order to seize the productivity gains', the CP leader argued.

Britain's communists called for a working class response including a coordinated wages offensive in both the private and public sectors. 'In particular, the labour movement should reject membership of - although not access to - the Single European Market which outlaws many of the policies necessary to plan the economy, regulate the labour market, rescue strategic industries and extend public ownership', Mr Griffiths insisted.

And he warned that by not taking class-based positions against pro-EU monopoly capital, questions of immigration and the EU would be used by the far right to weaken and split working class unity.

Reblogged via: Communist Party website

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Engels’ Beard sculpture to be unveiled next to flagship arts building

A colossal sculpture depicting Marxism co-founder Friedrich Engels will take centre stage outside a new £55m campus in Salford to inspire the next generation of artists, musicians and performers. Engels’ Beard – a five metre tall sculpture of the social philosopher – will also double up as a climbing wall for visitors when it is unveiled as part of the University of Salford’s futuristic New Adelphi creative arts building.

German radical Engels, who founded Marxism with Karl Marx, lived and worked in Salford in the 19th century, witnessing widespread poverty in the city’s slums.

His experience formed the basis of his famous work The Condition of The Working Class in England. Engels and Marx, who went on to write The Communist Party Manifesto, were also said to have regularly drunk together in the Crescent Pub in Salford, which is still open opposite the University.

The innovative sculpture shows the social scientist’s head and distinctive large bushy beard – also allowing people to climb to a viewing tower.


Saturday, 16 April 2016

Election address for Paul Ward

Your communist candidate says "I will fight for the vulnerable in Tameside and continue to campaign against the cuts imposed by a cruel, uncaring Tory government.

I will oppose privatisation, the imposition of academy status on schools and colleges and the so called Northern Powerhouse.

I will fight for a programme of affordable council homes, work with other local progressive members of the community, including other Labour councillors where appropriate, and campaign for fully funded public services by engaging with people to fight back against austerity.

As a Communist Party candidate, I will also fight to restore local democracy and to stand up for trade union rights"

For more information on the Communist Party, click on the following link here

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Communist candidate to stand in East Manchester

The Communist Party in Greater Manchester will contest the Audenshaw Ward in Tameside Council local elections on the 5th May. Our candidate will be Paul Ward, a Stockport NHS senior registered nurse and local resident. Paul is an active labour movement campaigner opposed to cuts and the privatisation of services, in particular the NHS. We will be posting up further details of his address in due course.

We will be leafleting in the Tameside area in the next few weeks - dates can be found on the events section of this website. If you would like to help in our campaign, you can contact Paul on 07758 0008237, or email us at manchestercommunistbranchsec@gmail.com

Monday, 29 February 2016

Britain and the EU

As the dust settles on the Prime Minister’s much-vaunted “renegotiation” of the terms on which he hopes Britain will remain a member of the European Union, the media have quickly moved on to the soap opera of which leading Tories will end up on which side. Pundits can hardly be blamed for not focusing on the detail of the supposed concessions David Cameron has snatched from Brussels.

The “emergency brake” on in-work benefits for migrants who are working and paying tax in Britain is not only a demonstration of the Nasty Party’s nastiness, but is also of a piece with the Tory war on all workers, whether born here or abroad: the Institute for Fiscal Studies says 2.6 million families will be an average £1,600 worse off each year as they are moved from tax credits to universal credit.

As for the celebrated treaty amendment, stating that the commitment to “ever closer union” does not apply to Britain, this certainly does not mean Britain “can never be forced into political integration.”

Provisions in the Stability and Growth Pact preventing governments from borrowing to invest in their country’s economic future, clauses in the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties prohibiting state aid for industry and demanding the privatisation of public monopolies — such rules have political repercussions.

Membership of the EU severely curtails the choices available to the electorates of individual countries. Socialism and even Keynesian social democracy cease to be options available to voters, either because the levers of economic control have been handed to unaccountable institutions such as the European Commission and European Central Bank or because socialist measures themselves such as renationalising industries or intervening directly in the economy are illegal.

Support for the European Union on the left has taken a battering in recent years. The brutal and pitiless immiseration of Greece at the hands of the EU-dominated “troika” exposed the bloc’s free-market fanaticism and contempt for democracy. So too does its enthusiastic, if secretive, pursuit of the TTIP trade deal with the United States, over the heads of national governments and in the face of massive public opposition.

When challenged by War on Want director John Hilary, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem did not even make a pretence of caring. “I do not take my mandate from the European people,” she sneered. But many on the left continue to defend membership.

Some argue that, rather than leave, we should campaign for a better EU — a more democratic union which protects working people’s rights rather than corporate profits. This is the position of Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, and apparently also of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. They must be challenged on how they intend to achieve this. The EU’s anti-democratic structures and legal commitments to neoliberalism are embedded in a succession of binding treaties which cannot be changed without the consent of every single member state. This makes reforming the bloc virtually impossible.

Others point to particular provisions of EU law which protect maternity rights or holiday pay, and argue that the Conservatives would try to unpick these if we left. Of course they would. But it is not just the Conservatives who have it in for workers’ rights. The EU itself has demanded an end to collective bargaining agreements, the imposition of “flexible” contracts and the deregulation of entire industries.

Staying in is no guarantee that our rights will be protected, especially once treaties like TTIP further subordinate governments to transnational corporations. The labour movement must regain the confidence to fight for a better future, rather than trusting in an anti-democratic institution to shield it from the government’s blows.

Still others claim that since the loudest voices calling for an exit are on the political right, we have to vote to remain to avoid associating with them.
But the big guns of the In campaign — the Prime Minister, Sir Stuart Rose, Goldman Sachs, the US government — are not exactly friends of the labour movement.

The British Establishment is more or less united in its determination to stay in the EU. The status quo suits it down to the ground. But supporters of radical political change should vote to leave on June 23.

For the latest statements from the party please go to the party website/

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

An alternative, for radical change and power for the people

Chancellor George Osborne has welcomed the 0.7 per cent rise in GDP in the second quarter of 2015 as proof that Britain is “motoring ahead, with our economy producing as much per person as ever before.” And it’s true that GDP per head is almost back to where it was on the eve of the 2008 financial crash.

Yet it’s a strange boast that, seven years on, we are only just reaching that point. Between them, chancellors Alistair Darling and Osborne imposed public spending cuts which suppressed Britain’s economic recovery below the levels achieved in France, Germany, the US and even Japan in the two years after the end of the recession in 2009.

Indeed, their plans almost derailed the recovery altogether over the following period, as EU-imposed austerity programmes did in Spain and Italy. Initial cuts in public-sector investment and then far deeper ones to government spending on wages, pensions and benefits, together with the private-sector attack on wages and pensions, slashed demand in the British economy at the very time when sustained consumption and investment were required.

The TUC analysis published this week confirms that this has been the slowest and shallowest recovery of the eight biggest recessions in almost two centuries of British capitalism. In the five years since the depth of the most recent one, the British economy has grown by just 6.1 per cent — less than half the level (15.5 per cent) achieved after the recession of the early 1980s, barely half that (11.4 per cent) in the mid-1970s and less than one-third of post-Depression growth (21 per cent) in the 1930s.

No wonder Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, who sits on the Office for Budget Responsibility’s panel of economic experts, has been widely quoted as saying: “Anyone who continues to describe what is happening in the UK as a ‘strong recovery’ either has not bothered to look at the data, or is being deliberately deceptive.” Nonetheless, however unevenly between different sectors, regions and sections of the population, the British economy now appears to be growing more firmly than in some other major capitalist countries.

What are the prospects for this recovery to continue and its prosperity to trickle down and spread more evenly? The recent surge in corporate profits should offer some protection against involuntary cutbacks in production, investment and jobs. Yet, as Centrica is determined to demonstrate, the drive to maximise shareholder profit trumps all — especially when monopoly power has an entire population at its mercy.

Six thousand redundancies may lower service quality and security of supply, but the Big Six energy utilities which produce and distribute our gas and electricity can collude to charge whatever they like. They know that regulators and the government are on their side — and that, effectively, consumers have nowhere else to go. The ongoing tumble in world commodity prices over the past two years could make British exports more competitive and free up corporate funds for investment.

Certainly, Britain’s trading position with the rest of the world has been improving this year. Manufacturing investment has also risen, if sluggishly, although a slowdown is forecast by Lombard in its latest report for the EEF employers’ body. But there can be little confidence that falling commodity prices will counteract severe structural imbalances and weaknesses in the British economy. The City gamblers will still speculate the final prices to British industry upwards, while the big monopoly firms and financiers continue to direct much of their capital into property, services (including privatisation), bond and currency markets and overseas, rather than into domestic productive industry.

The priority given to City of London interests maintains the pound at a high exchange rate, to the disadvantage of export prices. There is no sign of this rate weakening against the euro, in Britain’s main export market, although it may not quite keep up with the dollar after a rise in US interest rates later this year. Further down the line, an increase in the Bank of England base rate will make it more expensive for industrial companies to borrow for investment. Quality based on more R&D and new technology is as important as price when it comes to exports — unless British capitalism intends to compete against Third World labour costs. It is also vital when it comes to productivity, the balance of payments, employment and rising living standards at home.

Yet British levels of business and scientific investment remain poor in relation to most other G7 and Brics economies, even after a prolonged period of low interest rates. A new Office for National Statistics survey confirms that Britain spends far less on investment (only 15 per cent of total annual spending) than any other G7 or leading Brics country, including Japan (21), France (20), the US (19), Germany (17), Russia (26), India (36) and China (49).

For at least the past four decades, fixed capital investment in Britain has languished at between two-thirds and three-quarters of the level in France, Germany, Japan and more recently the US. According to Eurostat, British industry consistently devotes less (around 18 per cent) of the new value it creates to investment than most other EU member states.

Hampered by continuing low investment, labour productivity here has yet to return to its pre-recession level as, in particular, the US and France surge ahead. British ruling-class strategy to sustain investment and competitiveness is to rely on relatively low wages, kept down by unemployment and anti-union laws, together with inward investment and — funded from privatisation sales — slightly increased government infrastructure spending.
The CBI targets workplace pensions as a drag on internal company funds that could go to investment instead.

Public spending cuts, privatisation and lower corporation tax on company profits are also essential elements in a strategy which has its central goal the expansion of capital’s profit base — and the restoration of the rate of profit itself. This being capitalism, there are contradictions.
Austerity for the working class will reduce purchasing power, but the intention is for this to be counteracted by extra household and corporate (as well as government) borrowing — even though this is almost certain to create another financial crisis.

One basic problem for capitalism is that, in the drive to maximise profit, companies seek competitive advantage by reducing labour costs and increasing production and market share. Purchasing power is restricted at the same time as output expands until, at the peak of a boom, not everything produced can be sold a profit. Credit cannot postpone such a recession infinitely. Capital accumulates which has nowhere profitable to go, so its value has to be slashed as investment, production and employment spiral downwards.

Just such a cyclical crisis of over-production was already gathering in the major advanced economies on the eve of the 2008 financial crash, manifested in a glut and then fall in steel production. Moreover, in the perpetual drive to reduce costs by introducing labour-saving machinery and new technology, the proportion of new value being created by labour power falls as a share of output. Yet this surplus value, for which the capitalists are competing in any given sector and the economy generally, is the basis of capitalist profit as whole.

Marxist economist Michael Roberts has recalculated official figures recently to show how this tendency for the rate of profit to fall has occurred in the G20 countries collectively, since 1950. Post-war expansion ended in an international recession and a collapse in profit rates from 1974. The long decline since then has only been interrupted twice — by “New Right” policies during the 1980s and, until 2002, the post-Soviet neoliberal globalisation offensive.

Since then, the main capitalist classes have had to intensify their efforts to try to increase both the rate and mass of profit. This is the context in which to understand the renewed drive to maintain austerity, cut business taxes, restrict trade union rights, impose even greater labour flexibility, increase the state retirement age, cut pension rights, expand privatisation and increase the power of transnational corporations through international trade and investment agreements such as TTIP.

This is the strategy of British state-monopoly capitalism, the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF.

Rob Griffiths. General Secretary, Communist Party of Britain