The Price of Aid
The UK’s colonial past and moral compass should prick people’s consciences and ensure that we take our global responsibilities more seriously. If we take the examples of China and Cuba, they have put capitalist nations to shame in the way they have supported nations in national emergencies with no strings attached. Recently, Russia provided urgent medical supplies to Italy at the height of their Covid infections and Cuba supplied medical staff. The EU was conspicuous by its absence.
When the Blair Government established the Department for International Development (DFID) in 1997 it was a response to mounting pressure from the public, International development charities and in the International community. There was a growing demand for Britain to be more precise and generous in its distribution of funding support and goodwill in a world where 85% of the wealth is owned by 10% of the population.
David Cameron set the coalition government’s Development Aid budget at 0.7% of the UK’s GDP in a huge fanfare, but many argue that this is a woefully inadequate gesture from one of the world’s wealthiest nations. More recently, in spite of recent claims to be the victim of racism when growing up, Priti Patel, when she was the International Development Secretary, led a failed attempt to link international Trade and Development with Aid, skewing the moral imperative further towards a capitalist agenda and behaviours.
Transnational Corporations rarely demonstrate conscience and frequently ride roughshod over their declared corporate social responsibilities through tokenistic lip service and gestures, putting profit ahead of all else. This means they shirk their environmental, welfare and tax responsibilities in a race to the bottom for the working class, especially in countries where lives seem disposable and anonymous shareholder greed is the priority. Sweatshops are abhorrent whether they are in a developing country or in the backstreets of Leicester.
So as we go through the Covid-19 pandemic it came as no surprise when the Prime Minister announced this week that he had decided to merge the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with DFID, burying the news deep in the Covid crisis.
Glib adherence to minimalist safety standards and the welfare of staff who are precariously employed undermines all that is good in the movement and creates a wider gulf between the haves and have nots. The impact of Coronavirus will hit us hard as we are very reliant on the Service and Finance sectors and have a narrow manufacturing base to fall back on. When this country leaves the EU on 31st January 2021, we should be looking for a better future and the ability to trade with a clear conscience.
Recent calls for us to make it and buy it in Britain are starting to gain traction. Regardless of the largesse of a nation able to distribute its economic surpluses and goodwill around the world, it needs to grow from a new found confidence and strengthened economy where we build sectors such as green technology, engineering and pharmaceuticals, alongside an expanded capability to grow our own foodstuff.
For the working class all our lives matter. Equality underpins life and the Westminster elite need to realise that their precarious existence is only as robust as delivering on their promises.
Let us re-double our efforts to ensure that Transnational Corporations are limited in their scope and influence by laws we pass in our country; that they pay a realistic level of taxes in keeping with the vast profits they make. Our class has an obligation to do everything possible to leave a sustainable future for the next generation.
Humans vs Markets
Workers' Party of Britain Statement
An unbalanced economy such as ours, a slave to myths of the market, was always going to be at a massive disadvantage when trying to cope with the reality of Covid 19. The government can be blamed for not doing enough and fast enough. It has been chaotic and slow with the manufacture and delivery of ventilators, the procurement of PPE for medical and care staff, and the provision of vital testing. However, when our nation is under such a devastating attack any division in our class is unacceptable.
A government bailout of £400 billion overturns decades of neo-liberal economic orthodoxy. Government had no choice. We now have a new era of “whatever it takes” and government is forced to act “in the greater public interest.” The overblown finance sector always operating in its own self-interest is seen for what it is, irrelevant to the needs of human life; it has to change.
As a nation there is no alternative to investing in our people; previous administrations over the last 30 years thought there was. The real economy is created by our labour, not the finance houses. Governments in Britain and Europe promoted the lie that ‘austerity’ is a necessity to reduce national debt, when the reality is that national debt has little to do with economic success. With ultra-low interest rates government can borrow cheaply. National debt must be left to rise.
So far government has acted correctly, more or less, in supporting jobs, even though many are furloughed. When this existential threat has been contained it provides us with the opportunity to reset our economy on socially responsible principles which serve our people. Never has there been a greater need for industry, particularly hi-tech, to manufacture for our needs at this critical time. Capital expenditure should go to manufacturing, scientific research and development, food production and public services; anything else is peripheral.
Too much of the finance sector has a parasitic relationship with workers, be they private banks, mortgage companies or money-lending outfits. The private sector devours itself, ably assisted by private equity firms and other organisations making billions at the expense of workers. Private and corporate debt has ballooned far more than public debt. Capitalism thrives on private debt with disastrous consequences. Banks received many billions of public funds in the 2008/9 crash. This time banks must capitalise our recovery.
In the future our economy has to be resilient through proper investment, not reliant on domestic and foreign privateers. There is no room for division in the fight to destroy this virus, just as there is no room for division in creating an economy that works for us.
The Fight Against Covid-19
Workers' Party of Britain Statement
We are living in difficult times, in which we are being encouraged to socially distance ourselves. Now more than ever, it is essential that our union organisation remains intact. Indeed, in this environment our collective organisations are not only needed but should be made to thrive.
Following the financial crisis of 2008 many countries used a third of their GDP to bail out banks and prop up finance capital; the very institutions that created the crisis. The outcome was the socialisation of debt and so-called austerity for the many, while gain and financial support was privatised to the benefit of the billionaires.
In the current crisis we see a Tory prime minister introducing what might be argued are collectivist support measures, such as co-opting private health companies into the NHS, supposedly on a non-profit making basis, and providing additional payments for working people unable to work because of self-isolation and social distancing.
It seems that this time round collectivist, altruistic thought and action are a force to be reckoned with. Government planners are sitting down with the TUC to listen to views on how best the crisis can be survived. Supermarkets are acting to prevent the emergence of black-markets and have introduced rationing, allowing only a few of any one item. Of course, they are also acting to protect their own position in the long term.
A few weeks ago, we saw hysterical comments in the press against China, for measures now advocated here. The arguments and misinformation were everywhere that the Chinese are authoritarian, and they hide the truth, so they must have shot Covid-19 sufferers in order to bring down the infection levels. But the world and Britain too, have had to learn from the still highly socialised Chinese society and its nation's health service. We owe them a debt.
In Britain, the government was far too slow to react; it decided not to follow WHO guidelines, on testing, self-isolation or lock-down. It also delayed co-opting private hospitals into the NHS, and has yet to move industry on to a crisis footing, where any productive capacity that can be, is co-opted to the production of necessary food, PPEs, ventilators, etc.
The medical research establishment and pharmaceutical industry, where possible, must be tasked with developing and producing test kits, vaccines and anti-virals. In such a crisis intellectual property and patents cannot be privately owned and used to make profits. Britain must source and share medicines from around the world, and not just US and EU.
China, Russia and Cuba among other countries are developing the medical technology needed to detect, prevent and treat Covid-19 and internationalism has been shown by the Chinese in sending supplies and medicines to other countries, such as Italy and Spain. In other acts of solidarity, we have seen the arrival of medical, nursing and technical personnel from China, Cuba and other countries.
Trump, the leader of US imperialism, initially denied the threat faced by the Covid disease. But later, when pressed to take national steps to declare a state of emergency, he undermined the science behind its investigation and treatment. Now, he is seen standing beside an embarrassed senior medical official, spouting on about some snake oil remedy and suggesting that America will be back to normal in a couple of weeks.
Economically speaking, we would expect food prices to go up; this is because the overall social cost of production is higher for food, since the social wage has necessarily gone up. Millions of workers are not working and yet, strangely under capitalism, they are to be paid, albeit less than previously. We must ensure that food producers, distributors and retailers do not profit from this crisis. The same should be said for producers of health care equipment. We are not about to sell the myth that profit comes from adding a premium to the cost of production.
In medicine, as in engineering or chemical production, science is crucial. In medicine, it is science and the ingenuity of workers that will improve our world, not adherence to myth, anecdote or wishful thinking. And the same is true of social and political science.
Workers' Party of Britain Statement
No one remotely requires a devastating new virus to change things for the better, but the reality is that it is generating a new consciousness which is rejecting the madness of the last forty years. International co-operation is replacing globalisation; science is valued above wishful thinking; government action is overriding the market; national self reliance is being asserted above subservience to the EU, IMF, WTO and the like.
What is evident to eveyone is that the public sphere is obviously better than the private and community care is better than individualism.
January 31st - Independence Day
Workers' Party of Britain Statement
There is nothing more politically precious than self-determination. National independence is the key to democratic and economic progress.
The banks and large corporations have created a new world order of international free trade agreements, highly mobile capital flows and supranational bodies like the IMF, WTO, and EU.
To free themselves to plunder, they had to break down national democratic parliaments and over rule the sovereign laws and protections of individual countries.
The EU, aided by both the Tories and then New Labour, conducted a slow motion coup d’etat against Britain. First, our material sources of independence in agriculture, engineering and energy supply were pulled apart. Then, our public services and utilities were hollowed out and put under foreign ownership. As part of the attack, the global reach of the City of London and its speculators was given free reign as our own people started to starve and rely on food banks.
Those manufacturers and service providers that remained were forced to compete for public contracts under the procurement rules in an unfair, rigged single EU market. Petty divisions within Britain were stoked by the EU under the illusion that if Scotland and Wales broke away they would be rewarded with a form of ‘independence’ that made them entirely subservient to the EU.
Labour Movement Abandoned Sovereignty
The Trade Union Movement and the Labour Party abandoned Britain’s sovereignty and in a complete rejection of our democratic history, they believed that the unelected in Brussels and the European Court of Justice would save us. As a result, the vast majority of the working class abandoned them. Today there are six million workers in the trade unions but twenty six million unorganised. Worse still, in 1980 trade unions had collective bargaining rights for more than 80% of workers. Today, it is less than 20%.
The majority of people do not want to be part of a movement that has nothing to offer them and that has no confidence that our collective struggle and not the EU is the key to all progressive change.
In the absence of trade union or Labour Party commitment to Britain, workers supported latecomers to the field of anti-EU work like UKIP and the Brexit Party and, ultimately, had to force their arch opponents, the Tory Party, to get the country out.
After Brexit the Tories are Redundant
The Tories have one mandate, to get us out of the EU. After that is done they are redundant. They will be propped up by the Fixed Term Parliament Act and a Labour Party yet again trying to get its own house in order for five years to be ready for next time. Labour will turn against the rise of extra Parliamentary activity needed to assert our interests as it has always done.
We cannot wait however, the fruits of national independence must benefit workers now. A new deal for workers is needed. We are the nation. We must prosper. The better we do, the more we inspire others to do so, that is real internationalism.
No one can rule over us. We want neither NATO, nor a special relationship with the United States, nor vast swathes of our economy in foreign owned hands. Our fishing grounds, our agriculture, rebuilt manufacturing and high tech industrial sectors and rebooted, genuinely public, services, nationally owned utilities and transport systems must thrive in a new way.
We must settle the democratic deficit in the country and create a new constitutional settlement for the people.
Unelected, overseas control of our parliament and laws is over, now elected, accountable domestic control over our whole economy must begin.
Britain and the World
Socialism is a recent, infant development in the whole, long history of the human species, yet its seeds and embryos have grown within each previous social formation worldwide.
Its essence in collective labour, sharing, solidarity, mutual support and human empathy has been evident in every human society. What has been unnatural and inhuman has been the theft of the collective production of people and the private ownership of land. This has occurred in relatively recent, class divided history since the first City states in Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago. It was this division into various forms of haves and have nots over the centuries that gave rise to new ideas of socialism which aspire to and predict a future without class division, the oppression of women, or ethnic groups.
Yet the full realisation of these socialist, human qualities comes about only when the material conditions for securing equality and a better life for all have been sufficiently developed. Socialism requires plenty, not penury. It requires a high level of education and awareness to sustain active democracy and an educated, conscious working class.
In 2018 humanity’s general capacity to control the natural, social and physical environments is advanced enough to eradicate starvation, poverty, unemployment, many more diseases and to repair the very climate damage its own activities of industrialisation have caused and prevent more damage in the future.
Each country has the wherewithal to provide free housing, education, healthcare, leisure and work for everyone, and to control prices on essentials in food, energy, housing and transport, medicines and so on.
What prevents the fulfilment of this aspiration is the private ownership of the productive forces. These should be at society’s collective disposal through democratic government.