Fidel Castro, an Inspiration to Revolutionary Movements Worldwide

We might ask why the US hated Fidel Castro so much, given Cuba is a little island, made poor by years of blockade. The truth is that Castro’s Cuba provided inspiration for revolutionaries across the world, both in its defiance in the face of attacks and the US inspired blockade and for its achievements in providing its citizens with excellent welfare and social equality.

Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez brought together South American and Caribbean countries in ALBA, an intergovernmental organisation designed to set socialist principles and mutual economic support against the neoliberalism of the USA and West. Cuba has spread both its message and practical aid to developing countries across the world.

In his later years Castro played a significant role in peace negotiations, most notably in Colombia between the government and the rebel FARC organisation, but also in trying to bring about a better relationship between Cuba and the US.

He passed the baton to us all this year at a Congress of the Cuban Communist Party:

‘I am nearing 90. I will soon pass away like everyone else. The time will come for all of us, but the ideas of Cuban communists are an evidence that, in case if we work with pathos and dignity, we can produce material and cultural values people need.’

New Teaching Union Opens Up Possibilities

The merger between NUT and ATL is to be welcomed. It comes after years of hard work by campaigners in both unions, especially Hank Roberts who has worked tirelessly for the cause for decades. A united teaching force of nearly half a million teachers, support staff and lecturers is the last thing the government wants. Hopefully it will engender more confidence in teachers to speak out, especially in academies, where there can be major obstacles put in the way of unions and many teachers have become scared to speak out.

It is to be regretted that the NAS/UWT leadership does not yet subscribe to the view that they should do this for the greater good of the profession, given that now around 60% of their members support such a move. In the meantime the NUT and ATL must try to remain focused on the battle for education while working out the finer points of the merger.

There are many such battles ahead, apart from the introduction of selection, meaning a secondary modern system which the government will have to push through in the teeth of huge opposition from just about everybody, including many Tory MPs.

Funding is becoming a huge issue. It’s estimated that schools are facing the worst funding cuts since the 1970s – an average of 8% per pupil according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies. This can mean budget cuts of tens of thousands of pound in some schools. The National Association of Head Teachers has written to chancellor Phillip Hammond, ahead of the Autumn Statement, calling for more money after a poll found that 69 per cent of school leaders believe their deficits will be untenable by 2020.

There is a major recruitment crisis. For example there is an estimated shortage of 10,000 teachers in the nursery sector. There are many reasons for this, including cuts in funding, which are also hitting teaching assistant numbers. Excessive workload and salary rises held down for so long have led to teachers leaving the profession. Government attacks on teacher training have diluted its quality and fewer teachers have been recruited to courses.

With all this going on it will be important to be focused about which battles to fight. At the same time, the merger process could be used as an opportunity to re-energise organisation at a school and local branch level.

The unions should take the best of their policies and manifestos to make demands of government – it would be excellent if the first major document to emerge from the new union was a vision for education.

Quick Brexit to save the NHS

According to the King’s Fund the Brexit vote could have implications for health and social care in Britain. They pointed to: staffing, access to treatment when abroad, certain areas of EU regulation, (for instance the working time directive, procurement and competition law, regulations of medicines and medical devices and professional standards), cross border co-operation in public health and funding and finance of health care.

With regard to the foreign workers working for the NHS and social services, the document indicates that 135,000 workers of EU origin make up 5% of the 2.6 million working in the health and social care sector.  However the NHS has a 25% yearly staffing turnover; better terms and conditions of service should reduce this, as could a properly funded training system.

The trade union perspective on Brexit is that workers should not lose out which implies that the working time regulations should stay in place. Long before the 1973 accession to the Common Market, British trade unionists fought hard for a shorter working week and day, for breaks and longer holidays. These rights existed in agreements and were also enshrined in law. Also in place were the regulation of medicines, medical devices and healthcare professions. These aspects existed before Britain was part of the EU and can continue after we leave. Reciprocal arrangements can be made with other countries over the health care of our citizens abroad and of course countries can co-operate on issues of public health.

Two areas pointed to by the King’s Fund that we can readily dispense with, are those of procurement and competition rules, and of rules on finance and funding of Health Services. While a member of the EU, new projects in healthcare, whether buildings or services, have had to be put out to tender. Since the 1980s this has led to wave after wave of privatisation to the benefit of private multi-nationals.

First in the mid 80s, there was an assault on ancillary services such as cleaning, catering, partnering etc, and since the nineties clinical services been fair game too. In 1989 GP surgeries and some specialist mental health services were almost alone in being in private hands yet paid for by the NHS. Now GP out of hours and walk in services, minor injuries and A&E units and even whole hospitals are privately run; ambulance, mental health and prison health, diagnostic and pathology services and a whole host of community services have been given over to a small number of multi-national corporations.

For example Virgin Care gains profit from various community services in the Southeast and Southwest, elderly care in East Staffordshire and a number of smaller contracts around England. SERCO is one of the world’s largest privatisers in health care and its out of hour contract in Cornwall ran into problems when it replaced clinicians with call handlers, leading to a massive increase in ambulance call outs. The company was also found to have falsified records. Care UK was exposed in 2015 for making use of tax havens along with nine other companies including Virgin Care.

A review of TED (Tenders Electronic Daily) will show the continued haemorrhaging of health and social care jobs and services bleeding into the private sector. Delays in leaving the EU are jeopardising our publically provided NHS. By being out of the EU we no longer have to follow competition rules or restrict public spending in line with Stability Pacts: our services no longer have to be privatised, health services can have a policy of buying from British companies and hospitals no longer have to be built with private finance.

US Votes For Jobs And Peace

Trump’s victory is a massive defeat for the forces of neoliberalism in the US and abroad. It is particularly significant in relation to our recent victory against neoliberalism in Britain. This could be one more nail in the EU’s coffin.

Professional pundits in the US, Britain and elsewhere, have spoken and written endlessly about the result. Many refuse to understand or accept exactly why the working class voted for Trump. Workers wanted real productive jobs, serious investment in manufacturing, and capital spending on infrastructure, such as housing, schools, hospitals and roads.

Their real concerns have been trivialised by dismissive terms such as ‘populism’, not used in its real sense, but as a criticism of the working class per se. We are ignorant and stupid, incapable of serious thought. Many commentators accuse those who voted to leave or for Trump, as being racist, which exemplifies their lazy thinking and patronising attitude towards our class. Race is the excuse given to deny the fact that there is an uprising against the political establishment, not just in Britain and America but in Europe and elsewhere.

Naomi Wolf, a feminist, said the election wasn’t so much about Trump’s well publicised misogyny and racism; it was more about giving the neoliberal elite, of which Hillary Clinton is a good example, a good kicking. While Trump has an unsavoury personality and reputation the voters only had the Clinton as an alternative. Many democrats could not vote for Clinton after the manipulation of the process to become the presidential candidate, which prevented Bernie Sanders, the more popular choice, from being chosen.

Corruption follows her political career. She has had an unacceptably close relationship with Wall Street, particularly Goldman Sachs, with corrupt payments to the Clinton Foundation by lobbyists from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Clinton’s arrogance leads her to act with impunity. She was instrumental in coordinating the US and EU’s attack on Libya, destroying the country. If elected she would have bombed Syria. She is an enthusiastic cold war warrior and played a leading role in the coup in Ukraine. Her hatred of Putin and Russia would have endangered world peace.

Contrast this with Trump’s claim that he desires peaceful and good relations with most countries. He has little time for the EU and seeks to renegotiate trade deals such as NAFTA. TTIP could finally be binned. No wonder the EU is worried. His attitude towards Israel and Iran is very disturbing, but it is not so different from Clinton’s hawkish views on both countries. Trump is sceptical of NATO, which will force all other 27 member states to take stock of their position, as he will not want America to continue to sustain 75% of its cost.

Can there be any more proof needed that Britain, America and the EU are entering a different era, where what they thought were certainties are now open to question? Here in Britain we need to re-evaluate how we rule ourselves. Terms such as ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ are increasingly meaningless. The only thing we need to concern ourselves with, is what is right for our class.

Leaving the EU can help us to fight privatisation

Barts Health NHS Trust which is already £135 million in debt (the biggest in NHS history) has just contracted out its hospital facilities to Serco in a £600 deal. The Trust runs 5 sites across London.

Serco already has a shocking reputation due to a series of scandals, including its inability to manage an NHS out-of-hours primary care service in Cornwall. The Unite Union has expressed concern and called for staff to be paid at least the London living wage.

Now we have voted to get out of Europe, fights against this sort of outsourcing and privatisation should be made easier. Once out we will no longer have to abide by EU policies. The privatisation of public services and assets has been enforced by the European Commission and European Central Bank, especially on those countries which have faced crises, such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. There has been a great ‘fire sale’ of public services and assets across Europe, coupled with deregulation and austerity measures. This has resulted in job cuts, lower wages and conditions, and massive bills for taxpayers, as huge loans for private finance initiatives have to be paid back at high rates of interest.

It is time for those who voted to remain in the EU to understand how leaving takes away policies that our politicians can use as excuses for issues such as privatisation. That won’t stop it happening, unless we take action, but it is a first, vital step forward.

The attack on education is political

The latest government Green Paper continues the attack on education, started many decades ago and yet to be halted by a united opposition.

If passed into law the Green Paper will allow for selection, faith schools to select up to 100% of pupils based on their faith, independent schools to ‘support’ state schools and universities to commit to sponsoring or setting up schools in return for the freedom to charge higher fees.

The key element is to reintroduce the secondary modern system as it should be called, as that is what it will be for up to 80% of children in areas where there is a grammar school. This is a political, not educational move and a clear indication that the right cares nothing for equality. They should beware – hatred of selection helped to bring them down in 1964.

The attack has always been political. It has involved the centralisation of education, the attack on the role of local councils to plan and support schools and the promotion of academies and free schools. The aim of this is to put schools in the hands of chains run in many cases by businesses – in other words the increasing privatisation of provision.

As a recent Dispatches revealed, plenty of money is being made by these chains to pay their top people and friends and relations who they employ to run services or do ‘consultancy’. The role of local authorities is to be reduced still further and councils have been cutting support services such as music centres, outdoor education, youth services and child protection, as a response to cuts in government grants.

The ultimate aim of successive governments has been to break down the unity of pay and conditions for teachers and with that the power of the teaching unions, long hated by the right. This will make schools more attractive to potential academy chains and subsequent privatisation. This is a similar tactic to the attacks on other public services including the NHS; make a system unworkable and privatise.

The onslaught has several facets. One is the old-fashioned way – making cuts. With schools currently facing 8% cuts to funding per pupil in real terms by 2020 the impact on staffing (including Teaching Assistants), resources, buildings and training will mean a substandard education for children. Funding for the 16 to 19 sector has already been massively slashed with real term cuts estimated at 14% and 1 in 3 colleges now believing they won’t be a going concern by 2020.

Another attack is on the training of teachers. The Conservative loathing of the so-called lefties in Universities has led to more and more school based training, such as School Direct, which in many cases is inferior, denigrates theory and puts a strain on staff who have to mentor students. Some schools have used students to cover timetable gaps. There has been a failure to recruit sufficient trainees, and this will lead to staff shortages for years to come. ‘The Department for Education,’ reported the Public Accounts Committee, ‘does not understand and shows little curiosity about the size and extent of teacher shortages … shows no sense of leadership or urgency’ and ‘is reactive and lacks coherence’.

At the same time we are losing teachers. In July 2016, the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) told the Government that an increase in teachers’ pay ‘significantly higher than 1%’ is required in order to recruit and retain enough teachers over the coming years. Despite this, the increase to the pay ranges for 2016-17 will remain capped at 1%. A survey published in October 2015 by the NUT and YouGov found that over half of all teachers were thinking of leaving teaching in the next two years citing ‘volume of workload’ (61%) and ‘seeking better work/life balance’ (57%) as the two top issues causing them to consider this.

Now we have plans to reintroduce the secondary modern system as it should be called, as that is what it will be for up to 80% of children in areas where there is a grammar school. This is a political, not educational move and a clear indication that the right cares nothing for equality. They should beware – hatred of selection helped to bring them down in 1964. Teachers will not want to work in secondary modern schools, or schools without sixth forms.

Unions, parents and governors have not yet been able to mount a sufficient and unified response to this attack. The unions have been hampered by their divisions, more at the top than in schools, where reps often work together. At last we have seen some progress as the NUT and ATL members discuss a merger this autumn. It will be important that this complex process does not impede urgent action to defend education.

Opposition can work, especially when it is partly from potential Tory voters. It is interesting that Justine Greening, the new Secretary of State for Education has had to back down on plans to remove parent governors from governing bodies of academies. The Tories know where trouble can lie – they don’t want parents to be privy to the discussions of academy heads and chains. Governance in academies is already less democratic than in state schools, but this was a step too far.

Unfortunately the culture of competition has led to a reluctance of heads to speak out for fear of damaging their reputation. A recent article in the Guardian on the cut to grants for free school meals described how one head was raising money by doing a bike ride and another was making her teachers and TAs supervise lunch, a battle once won and now to be fought again. This is doing the government’s work for them.

Parents and governors need to work with teachers and heads against this Tory agenda. The grammar school issue will cause plenty of opposition. The NUT has produced a list of demands that all education campaigners can work around in their document Stand Up For Education – A Manifesto. This needs to be used as a campaigning tool. However, it is necessary to see the wider political reasons for the attack on education in schools to devise an effective strategy against it.


Stand Up For Education

After The Leave Vote All Is Possible

History does not repeat itself, but some periods have similarities to the present. The period in Britain just before WW2, through the war itself shows how workers can take advantage of great changes.

When the British elite’s appeasement policy failed, Hitler attacked Britain’s Western European allies instead of the Soviet Union, as had been hoped. He quickly defeated the allies and the threat of an imminent invasion by the Nazis was all too real.

Toovercome this great danger all the people had to be mobilized and reliance on the trusted elites and social structures was no longer an option. Trades Union leaders were called upon to lead ministries such as energy which then relied on coal mining.

Women entered the workforce and factories and the land were transformed to speed production and become self reliant in food. In science and engineering there was a boom in innovation and experimentation. The different social classes mixed and worked together, as ability not class background became the criterion for leadership.

Ideas changed radically as the whole population experienced these changes and made huge sacrifices. The expectation of a new society for the period after the war was no longer a hope but a demand. The defeat of the Tories and Churchill at the elections just after the war was followed by the creation of the NHS, the welfare state, the nationalisation of key industries, the building of millions of council houses and thousands of schools and with the great public investment came nearly full employment. Much more was possible but a huge step forward was made.

Now, though to a lesser extent, the ‘Brexit’ vote has created a huge opportunity for change throughout society. This time though workers have been at war with the forces of capitalism across Europe. They have said, ‘Enough!’ While some Remainers moan and plot how to undo or dilute the people’s verdict, workers must take the lead, embrace change and shape Britain in their interests and the requirements of a changed world.

Unite and Rebuild

British workers have rejected the EU. We must now seize the opportunity to make another Britain and another Europe. We must channel the rejection of the EU into a rejection of austerity and our appalling government and push for our own alternative vision of what we want for our country.

We have given heart to those in other countries who wish to leave – those whose rights were increasingly under attack. The question of what the EU was doing in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and now France was overlooked in the referendum, because it inconveniently exposed the real nature of the EU.

Out of the EU we can get on with rebuilding our manufacturing, nationalising our railways, postal services etc, and reinvesting in the public sector. We can protect our country from TTIP. Over the years the EU became more remote, more centralised, more in the pocket of the banks and corporations, and less democratic. But we have to take control of the leave agenda. This is only the beginning. Putting a vote on a piece of paper is not enough.

We can expect a massive fightback from the forces of capital. Everything will be blamed on those who voted leave. The banks, and the speculators, who are gambling with our money right now, will put up obstacles.

But we have a lot of potential power – we just need to find it again in the unions and our other organisations. We must reject the right wing Leave politicians, who are also anti-workers. We must take advantage of the disarray in the Tory party.

We have a proud history of organisation and fought hard for our rights in times past. We have to rebuild our union movement to do this again. We need to unite, not spend our time in recriminations. The British people are not ignorant racists, who all support Farage and Johnson. We need to harness their anger at what has been done to us over the years. We have given a major signal that neoliberalism can be defeated – now we need to act.

The Workers Take Control – Now We Must Move Forward

Britain has voted to leave. We have stepped forward towards sovereignty and independence, although there will be battles with the EU in order to get them to accept the will of the people. We can now save billions from not having to contribute to the EU; more importantly we can have national control over how our those billions are spent. British governments will no longer have to follow the EU competition law which dictates the privatisation of services or the stability pact restrictions on public spending.

As a result of leaving, Britain will not be part of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP); the country can be free to trade with who ever it pleases and will not have multinational private corporations suing the government. Because we will no longer be in the EU, we will not have to accept the European Court of Justice decisions and British courts following British laws will be supreme in legal terms.

We have got rid of Cameron but not yet Osborne We will still have to fight against austerity, whether imposed by Brussels, Westminster, or Holyrood. We will no longer have the privatisation of services forced upon us by the EU, but we must stop our own British government from pursuing these thefts of national assets. British workers must fight against the wealthy 1% who run the global economy: against the Brussels bureaucrats, city slickers and wannabe lairds.

Francis Grady of the TUC says that now the priority is to defend industry and protect jobs, which means defending the pound and stimulating the economy. She goes on to say working people must not pay the price of leaving the EU.

There were a lot of reasons behind this vote. While some espoused a putrid racism, most did not. There was a discontent with the political elite in general and the present government in particular; but also a wish to regain control over our national finances and laws, our industry and borders. This wish to regain control is an expression of the wish for national sovereignty; it must become a demand and struggle for real democratic control by the working people over the economy, government and national life.




The Workers’ Party Twitter Feed

Ukrainian ambassador to Germany whitewashes Bandera's crimes & ignores his collaboration with the Nazis. In Britain much of the media & most parliamentary politicians also revise history to their ends. Many who stigmatised Corbyn remain silent on Nazis in Ukraine.

Communist Party ☭@CPBritain

WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN - Ukrainian ambassador to Germany speaks on the pro-Nazi butcher Bandera.

US is a country where violence in is endemic. It has unleashed wars against countries throughout the world, its culture glorifies killing, whether by serial killers, police or security operatives. Children learn games where the aim is to kill or maim.

Keir Starmer has worked out that if Labour goes on about getting back in the EU, single market or customs union, Labour will lose badly; he'll be out of a job. Yet there are still those in Labour whose first loyalty is to Brussels.

With friends like these you get whole package: Brussels bureaucracy, "shared" i.e. ever decreasing sovereignty, NATO aggressive involvement, Banderist Nazi-Fascism which is whitewashed, history of genocide rewritten, "ethnic cleansing" of Russo-phone Ukrainians & unwinnable war.

Ursula von der Leyen@vonderleyen

Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective.

We want them to live with us the European dream.

A Series of Seminars: Economic Policy and the Role of Trade Unions is being run by the @GFTU1. An excellent set of informative discussion groups.

Load More...

All text on this site is copyright The Workers' Party of Britain. Established 2006