8

NHS in Crisis

Newspaper Headlines tell there are thousands of job vacancies in the NHS.

We urgently need 12,000 more doctors and about 50,000 nurses and midwives.

The government is proud of its track record of its investment in the NHS. They insist that been pouring money into it and of course Covid was the problem.

But, the health service has been drained of resources for decades. It has been cut down to its bare bones. Staff numbers have been cut, beds have been cut and pay has been cut in real terms. It is no wonder that nurses have been turning to food banks for support. 

So much of the service has been privatised that staff are exhausted from over work. Intolerable stress levels are convincing experienced staff that the only option is to leave. These are the same staff that the country applauded while they gave all throughout the pandemic. Some staff even gave their lives tio keep hospitals running.

 

 

 

 

The government offers platitudes about the need to train and recruit more staff. But who is going to be attracted into the service given the state of its infrastructure. Crumbling hospitals held up by scaffolding poles need urgent attention.

The number of beds must be protected and increased. Johnson must be promised to build 40 new hospitals. He was allowed to get away with that lie. He and his successor must be held accountable.

The UK spends far less per capita on health than any other country in Europe. Working people organised to create our National Health Service. We must organise to save it. The socialist principles in its origins must be preserved

7

Another Tory Coup?

The Westminster bubble and the euphoria of the trivial media when there is a kerfuffle about a Prime Minister inflate themselves, but almost universally misread the messages.

Actually, the Tory Party doesn’t do personality or identity politics. That’s one of the reasons it is the most successful bourgeois party in the world; it clings on through thick and thin because it makes a virtue out of pragmatism and abandons every principle except the defence of capital.

They won the last election because they had the bottle to reflect the democratic will of the people in the referendum. Get Brexit Done was a representative, popular and necessary slogan.

They then had to deal with an attempted coup against the referendum result by Parliament itself, aided and abetted by the Supreme Court.

They then had to get a deal with the EU.

Following success on these fronts their mandate was over.

When Covid came along the neoliberal, market driven system could not cope, so the government had to resurrect state intervention and put money into science and public services.

Capitalism was so unable to cope that the government had to pay the wages of workers in 1.9 million enterprises which would have gone bust otherwise. If ever you needed an example of the fragility of capitalism that was it.

Government debt consequently soared through the roof and the state became even more indebted to the banks and the City of London.

A section of the Tory Party recognised that additional state-led planning and public expenditure were needed to deal with reconstruction following the pandemic and the newly found independence of the country.

The capitalists keen to exploit a national crisis pocketed millions of punds out of many dodgy government deals during Covid.

They then decided to help themselves to more profits by increasing essential prices as we emerged from the worst. This naturally started to generate inflation which became increasingly lucrative for them and increasingly desperate for us.

Time to Fight Back

The unions started to say enough was enough and the mood changed. There was a recognition that we had to fight for pay again and also for a new economic and social settlement.

A bumbling Prime Minister could no longer be trusted to take on this new mood and social movement. Fortunately he made some unseemly errors of judgment that enabled the hard liners to pounce.

And now they are pouncing. The main contenders for the role are seeking to breathe new life into the failed neoliberal project and take on the rising discontent of the country.

Never rejoice at Tory coups like this one, they always have more vicious rabbits up their sleeves.

6

May Day Greetings

Our international aspiration for socialism must be urgently reasserted.

Socialism entails the reduction and control of essential costs of living -  food, housing, energy, transport and completely free education and health care.

The current deliberate rising of prices on essentials has everything to do with keeping profits high and very little to do with the war in the Ukraine.

We aspire to socialism too because imperialism demands war. Socialism is based on the respect for the self-determination and peaceful co-existence of nations.

Britain reasserted its sense of self determination by voting in a referendum to leave the European Union.

If Britain is now to be fully independent, it must leave NATO and end its slavish 'special relationship' with the United States.

The US remains the biggest single military threat to workers through the world. It's provocation against Russia caused the war.

NATO's huge arsenals surrounding Russia and China directly and indirectly through proxy states and NATO forces are a threat to world peace.

Britain should distance itself completely from the drive to war.

When basic living in imperialist nations becomes unaffordable real warfare has followed close behind.

It is frightening to see how easily imperialist forces can whip up confusion and support for the bad guys.

They did it in the wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Palestine, Kurdistan, and now Russia.

On this May Day there is clearly no international appetite to support more US belligerence, except in places like Britain where a government that was elected on the slogan of taking back control from the EU is prepared to risk our independence and peace by continuing to follow the Pentagon's posse and lynch mob.

The international responsibility of British workers this May Day is to begin a new campaign in earnest to leave NATO.

5

US Cold War and China's Response

US alliances, QUAD and AUKUS, involve Australia, Britain, India and Japan; the US also continues its military occupation of South Korea. Now it plans to extend war in Ukraine, aiming to bring about the economic collapse of Russia and regime change; thus completing the encirclement of China. The US and Australia have talked of selling arms to Taiwan and encouraging its secession. Australia has agreed to build several nuclear submarines, with the help of Britain and US.

On the other hand, China has stressed the need for peace and development in the world, and their foreign relations principles of respect, equality and mutual benefit. But the US has declared China and Russia to be autocracies and strategic competitors, and prepares lethal responses to those who challenge their dominance.

In the of recent video link between President Xi Jinping and Biden, the U.S. leader attempted to threaten China into siding with U.S. war aims against Russia, and spoke of consequences if China is seen to support Russia. China called for the two countries to get their relationship on the right track, they should shoulder their international responsibilities and work for peace. None the less China was clear that it was not about to accept agreements that went against their interests or their foreign policy principles.

It seems however that the U.S. has overreached itself in showing aggression, with respect to provoking the conflict in Ukraine.

The USA has a past littered with extreme brutality in wars and bombing campaigns. It has acted as world cowboys, instigating coups, sabotaging and sanctioning at least 30 countries. In the global South, countries are well aware of U.S. intimidation and unpredictability.

The USA has been weakened by its defeat in Afghanistan, by China's economic strength and by the development of a multi-polar world.

India is continuing to buy Russian oil, and Saudi Arabia are preparing to sell oil to China, using Yuan, rather than dollars.

In the UN vote on Ukraine, 5 countries voted against and 35 abstained including India, China, and South Africa.

 

4

Statement on Russia and Ukraine Conflict

NATO, the US and Ukraine

The military action of Russia in Ukraine is the result and consequence of NATO’s aggressive expansion towards Russia’s border under US leadership and pressure; in particular the refusal of NATO and the Ukrainian leadership to accept neutral non-military status, to avoid being a threat to Russian security.

Given that missiles near the border with Russia can be changed from defensive to offensive mode in two minutes and reach Moscow in five minutes, the threat to Russia is real and existential.

The build-up of weaponry in Ukraine by the West since the 2014 coup by fascist forces is notable and makes the threat more critical.  Russia’s concerns on this issue were arrogantly dismissed by NATO. 

The leadership of Ukraine, which is the result of the 2014 coup against the elected government, is fanatically anti-Russian.  This left Russia with only one alternative, either live under constant threat and pressure by NATO or take military action to disarm and de-Nazify Ukraine.

Ukraine already has associate status with the EU. This allows it to trade without tariffs. Actual membership or the EU would therefore be a disadvantage to Ukraine as it would cause a haemorrhage of labour under the ‘Free movement’ regime.

The trigger for Russia’s action was the imminent threat to the Russian speaking Ukrainians from the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. They had been under constant artillery attack for the last eight years and thousands had been killed.

Such attacks were not of course commented on in our media. The Minsk Protocol which has France and Germany as guarantors, required the Ukraine government to engage in negotiations with the leadership of Donetsk and Lugansk. It was ignored by the Ukrainian leadership, who were not pressed by France or Germany to act.

With the immediate prospect of a massive military attack on Donetsk and Lugansk Russia had to act.  The action to de-militarise and de-Nazify Ukraine by Russia is needed for long term peace. This aspiration must be supported.

The most aggressive nation on earth, the US, has surrounded Russia and China with huge arsenals.

In recent times it has led wars on four continents against any country seeking independence from its version of the world order.

Its violent role in violent coups against elected governments and punitive sanctions against progressive countries, are well documented.

Britain should withdraw from NATO and end its ‘special’ relationship with US imperialism.

3

Federalism = Fragmentation and Loss of Sovereignty. 

In a post-Brexit Britain workers can think of Rebuilding our country, making use of restored control over resources, laws and our relations with the rest of the world; this is no easy task but it is a path which our class and organisations need to take to improve our circumstances and ensure gains made are not snatched away.

The Cubans say “Patria o Muerte”, Venezuelans stand up to US in protection of their national sovereignty, the Vietnamese fought a long war of National Liberation and defeated US Imperialism. Round the world people are willing to fight and die for national sovereignty and integrity. Yet here some organisations and people are proposing federalism as a solution. But federalism in the case of Britain is likely to cause division of a united country and lead to loss of sovereignty.

The history of federalism in the UK started in the middle of the 19th century, when it was seen as a way of preventing secession from the empire; hence Canada in 1867 and Australia in 1900 gained Federal constitutions. Indeed in 1912, the Churchill proposed a Federal UK as a way of stalling Irish independence.

Before and at the start of the Second World War, the Federal Union founded in1938, gathered together establishment intellectuals,

 politicians and businessmen proposing a federation of nations in the UK, but also federation with other countries.

They spoke of national sovereignty as a nuisance and were critical of individual countries having their own foreign policy and armed forces.  This was at a time when people under Nazi occupation were in armed resistance and people were dying for their countries in the fight against fascism. 

Following the defeat of axis countries the British Federal Union joined with Jean Monet the founder of the European project, forming Britain in Europe and gaining establishment support for joining the EEC.

Before the Euro referendum of June 2016 the Federal Union was busy pushing for a transfer of more competencies to the EU, a fiscal and banking union and an EU foreign policy and defence force. It may seem ironic that the federalists who had previously insisted on centralism within the the EU, now propose decentralisation within Britain. 

The ideas of the Federal Union hold sway for leftists and avowedly neo-liberal free marketeers. Proposals for federalism go hand in hand with reform of the House of Lords/Upper House as a  Federal Senate and

a Bill of Rights to go with a written constitution outlining respective powers of  levels of government under the new arrangements.

Under such a system, Westminster is considered to have too much power and further devolution is proposed, a supposed more local democracy would prevail  in the nations and regions, which would go along with local control of resources and tax-raising powers.

Whether in the guise of Labour's Constitutional Convention, particularly if the Radical Federalism Collective win out, or the position of the pro-Brexit, Tory, Grass-roots Britain, or of the free market Institute of Economic Affairs, they all see a federal state as likely to make Britain more outward looking/global. 

However, Federalism if acted on will weaken Britain, and make it prey to the large multi-national corporations. Some Remainers have argued that the constituents of a Federal Britain would be free to form their own links with the EU; Tory Federalists would have the UK play a role within free trade agreements. Thus a federal state in Britain would erode national sovereignty making it easier for shadowy, disputes resolution courts to override the decisions of fragmented national democratic parliaments.

2

The State and the National Health Service

The creation of the National Health Service was a magnificent achievement. Previously health care was unaffordable for most working people. A visit to a doctor could cost as much as half a weekly wage. Consequently many illnesses remained untreated and either improved over time or deteriorated. Finance was provided by insurance companies for those who could afford them, local councils and some charities.

 

The Beginning

Aneurin Bevan was born in 1897, the son of a coal miner. He was one of nine siblings only three of whom survived. He left school at the age of thirteen and followed his father into the mine. It was during this time that his socialist aspirations developed and he became immersed in trade unionism. He became leader of the South Wales Miners and was involved in the General Strike of 1926. In 1929 he was elected as Labour MP for Ebbw Vale.

Beveridge Report

William Beveridge, concerned to improve the general health and wellbeing of the nation due to the austerity and decimation of the war produced his report in 1942. The Beveridge Report advocated that all working people should contribute to a state fund to be used to provide health and social care for all.

The Labour Party won a landslide victory in the 1945 General Election. Their manifesto promised universal health care influenced by the Beveridge report.

Clement Attlee became Prime Minister and Aneurin Bevan Minister of Health and Housing, who was to create the National Health Service.

The idea of State control was accepted by the majority partly due to the fact that under rationing during the war the health of the nation had improved.

There was however some resistance to the scheme mostly from the Conservatives but also from the British Medical Association who were keen to keep their private practices.

There was also some division within the Labour Party itself. Bevan eventually won the support of the medical profession by allowing the consultants to work both inside and outside the NHS, and treat their lucrative private patients at the same time. GP practices remained as private businesses but contracted to provide health care.

NHS Finally Born

The new Labour Government however was determined to establish a Welfare State, ‘Homes For All’, new towns and even some prefabricated housing to help with the housing crisis. Many of these were still standing decades after the war and were dilapidated but still used for homeless families. The Nationalisation of industries was thought to improve working conditions in key areas. However, an organised workforce leads to strength in Trade Unions which later Thatcher sought to destroy.

Nonetheless, despite some resistance, The National Health Service was finally born on July 5th 1948, health care available for all. It was not popular in some quarters and also with some doctors because of the enormous cost and soaring demand. So it has never been fully funded but even so it was a pioneer of its time for health care.

Creation of NHS

1

New Pamphlet - Britain, Our Nation

On May Day we think of workers like ourselves in all countries and wish them well.

Every worker should be active in their trade union; we represent the oldest, most democratic, most progressive organised forces in society.

Our new challenges are severe.

Capitalist exploitation of the environment for profit will lead to more pandemics. All the environmental scientists know this. Our efforts to create a greener world and stop the destruction of species and habitats must accelerate.

This terrible pandemic has been dealt with best where science and a disciplined set of public protections based on public service delivery have been supported.

In Vietnam out of a population of 90 million there have been only 35 deaths. Cuba has sent doctors all over the world to help other countries, despite the blockade.

In India where, ironically, many vaccines are made, both a science-based approach and public service support in dealing with the pandemic, have been ignored or rejected, with terrible results. Same in Brazil. A reckless neoliberal government has preferred to see its people die than be social.

The scale of pandemic-related deaths in the world’s biggest economy, the US, is incredible, testament to their almost entirely marketised health service. Despite this, the British government is keen to give more of our NHS contracts to US companies. Our health is not for sale.

On May Day we think of our common humanity. We reject racism, we reject religious sectarianism, we assert the strength and unity and creativity of all workers.

 

 

 

Our work makes the whole world go round. It is only the virus of profit and exploitation, and wars between nations that hold us back.

The world, as the first socialists in Britain in the 17th century said, is a common treasury for all to share. Private ownership of energy, health services, land, and pharmaceuticals is obscene.

Above all, the private ownership of the wealth we create by the banks who gamble it on the international money markets must be stopped.

We never supported the globalisation of production. It endangers the planet and it oppresses nations. It puts power and control in the hands of the financiers.

Instead of globalisation of capital, on May Day we say internationalism, solidarity throughout the world, we want nations living in peace and co-operation with each other.

If we believe this then nothing can stop us. Yesterday there was Trump, today someone less orange.

The CIA invented someone to try and take over Venezuela. Today, Maduro is still there, despite every dirty trick in the book being played to stop the people of Bolivia moving forward. Today, there is another progressive government there.

Not long ago, Britain was under the grip of the neoliberal undemocratic EU; now we are free of it.

We renew our call also for the release of Abdullah Ocalan a significant figure for peace in the Middle East still locked up in brutal conditions by the Turkish state.

On May 1st 2021, when workers across the world were celebrating, we launched our new pamphlet, Britain, Our nation.

Britain, Our Nation Cover