Saturday, April 21, 2018

Banks reap more profits

Trump  promised voters that their fiscal plan was a "middle-class tax relief." Most Americans are seeing little benefit, while the big banks are raking in record profits.
According to new analysis by the Associated Press, six big Wall Street banks made an additional $3.59 billion dollars so far this year thanks to the tax law.
Financial Analyst James Shanahan told the AP:“If there was one significant factor quarter for the big banks that I follow, it was taxes."
The tax law was designed mainly to slash taxes for business, dropping the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. The bill also cut individual tax rates, but those changes benefit the rich the most the poorest the least. Meanwhile, health insurance costs continue to rise, which can easily wipe out the meager wage increases middle- and low-income people may get from the tax law.
https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/big-banks-are-raking-record-profits-thanks-trumps-supposedly-middle-class-tax-cuts

The quacks expose again

Homeopaths claim that “like cures like”. Remedies are prepared by dissolving a substance believed to cause a given affliction in water, then diluting it many times past the point at which any molecules remain in the solution. A droplet of this water is then applied to plain tablets before they are packaged. GP surgeries that recommend homeopathic remedies are more likely to be rated poorly for their prescribing in general, and to prescribe at greater cost to the NHS and potentially less safely, researchers say.


Scientists collected data from NHS Digital, via the Open Prescribing project, to discover which of 7,618 primary care practices in England prescribed homeopathy between December 2016 and May 2017. In total 644 practices, or 8.5 per cent of the total, prescribed the remedies.
 An average rating for each practice was then generated using 36 measures of prescription performance overall, which the researchers said had been “developed [by Open Prescribing] to address issues of cost, safety or efficacy by doctors and pharmacists”.
The authors wrote, “Even infrequent homeopathy prescribing is strongly associated with poor performance on a range of prescribing quality measures, but not with overall patient recommendation or quality outcomes framework score.”
Surgeries, where homeopathy was prescribed, were found to be more likely to prescribe more expensive and more addictive drugs, and fall foul of national guidelines. Dr Goldacre said the group found “higher use of needlessly expensive drugs, higher prescribing of opioids, breaching British National Formulary guidance on safe prescribing of [the arthritis drug] methotrexate etc”.
In 2010, a Commons science and technology committee report found homeopathic remedies performed no better than placebo, and that the principle they were based on was “scientifically implausible”. “People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness,” Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council said in 2015 after reviewing 225 studies of the remedies. There was “no good quality evidence to support the claim that homeopathy is effective in treating health conditions”, the body concluded

Protect our health, stop harassing migrants

Treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted or infectious diseases is provided by the NHS regardless of residency status and clinics. Often run by charities they are still seen as safe spaces by patients.
But even people who have legal residency are aware their status can change and on the heels of the hostile environment a health tourism crackdown means a visit to hospital now requires foreign nationals to undergo residency checks which can result in a hefty bill for those ineligible for care.
This can result in secondary illnesses, such as cancer or respiratory diseases, which are more common in people with HIV, only coming to the NHS when they are already an emergency – at much greater cost to the NHS.
The government’s immigration strategy is a risk to public health as the "hostile environment" it has created makes migrants less likely to get treatment for infectious diseases, experts have warned.
Migrants living here legally are also affected by a raft of policies which work to deter them from seeking early testing or care for complications, the National Aids Trust (NAT) has told The Independent.
“Migration is the major issue for anyone working on HIV and sexual health,” the charity's director of strategy, Yusef Azad said“One cannot underestimate the degree to which the hostile environment creates an atmosphere of fear and suspicion and distance for many migrant communities from health care.” The result of these barriers “is that we fail to diagnose people with infectious diseases early and it spreads to the general population”, he said, adding that with HIV "the key problem is getting people diagnosed". 
In a deal with the Home Office, the NHS has also agreed to hand over patient names and addresses to immigration officials looking to trace immigration offenders – a move charities have warned has already led to the death of one woman too afraid to seek prompt medical help. Stricter requirements on GP surgeries to seek proof of UK residency from new patients have created another barrier to early testing and detection. People diagnosed late are 10 times more likely to die within a year of diagnosis, but late diagnosis also means more chance of other people being infected and their care is far more costly to the NHS. While 42 per cent of all HIV cases are diagnosed late, typically meaning they have already had the disease for three or four years, the NAT said that among heterosexual migrants late diagnoses account for 53 per cent of cases. “Late diagnosis means greater morbidity, greater mortality, further onward transmission and extra costs to the NHS,” Mr Yusef said. “Far from a deterrent policy the government need to have a proactive engagement policy with these groups, not just to improve migrant health but also public health in general. Pushing back on the hostile environment, and promoting good health in these communities in the face of it, becomes even more difficult when the services to do so are being cut."
Dr Richard Ma, a GP in Islington and a research fellow at Imperial College, London, who specialises in sexual health, told The Independent,I agree there is a very pervasive air around migrants, and it’s very disruptive. I think it really can deter people from accessing care and divulging some bits of their history which may be very relevant to their care."

Gaza Killings Still Continue

The United Nations envoy to the Middle East peace process sent an unusually passionate message to Israel on Friday after a 15-year-old boy was killed by Israeli fire during clashes along the Gaza border. 

"It is OUTRAGEOUS to shoot at children! How does the killing of a child in Gaza today help peace? It doesn’t! It fuels anger and breeds more killing," UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov wrote on Twitter. "Children must be protected from violence, not exposed to it, not killed! This tragic incident must be investigated," he added.

Four Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on Friday, bringing the total over four weeks of protests to 38 while at least 150 wounded by live fire.

Protecting Pensions in Nicaragua

The Daniel Ortega government of Nicaragua introduced new legislation that increased worker pension contributions and reduced overall pension payments by 5% supposedly for medical care. Employees will now have to contribute 7 percent of their salary to social security, up from a current 6.25 percent.

The vice-president Rosario Murillo, wife of Ortega, had the audacity to call protestors against this austerity new pension law "vampires demanding blood".  Protestors complained in various cities that riot police attacked the demonstrators,  firing tear gas and rubber bullets and that the government had been sending in its supporter groups known as "colectivos" to beat them up. Two protestors were shot dead. Protesters held signs saying: “no more repression” and “we are not scared.”

Former leftist guerrilla leader has been president since 2007 and critics accuse him of trying to set up a dynastic dictatorship embracing the free market and privatisation.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said, “These thuggish attacks on people who were demonstrating peacefully and journalists who were covering the protest left at least one person in hospital and several others badly injured. This represents a blatant and disturbing attempt to curtail their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. The Nicaraguan authorities must guarantee that people are able to freely express themselves without fear of repression. The State must put an immediate end to all acts of aggression against the public and the press and launch a timely, impartial and independent investigation to bring to justice all of those responsible for these sinister attacks.”

Friday, April 20, 2018

The future is going backwards

The World Bank is proposing lower minimum wages and greater hiring and firing powers for employers as part of a wide-ranging deregulation of labour markets deemed necessary to prepare countries for the changing nature of work.
A working draft of the bank’s flagship World Development Report – which will urge policy action from governments when it comes out in the autumn – says less “burdensome” regulations are needed so that firms can hire workers at lower cost. The WDR draft says: “High minimum wages, undue restrictions on hiring and firing, strict contract forms, all make workers more expensive vis-à-vis technology.”  The draft for the 2019 WDR says that if workers are expensive to dismiss, fewer will be hired. “Burdensome regulations also make it more expensive for firms to rearrange their workforce to accommodate changing technologies.” The draft says “Rapid changes to the nature of work put a premium on flexibility for firms to adjust their workforce, but also for those workers who benefit from more dynamic labor markets” .
Peter Bakvis, Washington representative for the International Trade Union Confederation, said the proposals were harmful, retrograde and out of synch with the shared-prosperity agenda put forward by the bank’s president Jim Yong Kim. Bakvis said the draft “puts forward a policy programme of extensive labour market deregulation, including lower minimum wages, flexible dismissal procedures and UK-style zero-hours contracts. The resulting decline of workers’ incomes would be compensated in part by a basic level of social insurance to be financed largely by regressive consumption taxes.”
He added that the WDR’s vision of the future world of work would see firms relieved of the burden of contributing to social security, have the flexibility to pay wages as low as they wanted, and to fire at will. Unions would have a diminished role in new arrangements for “expanding workers’ voices”. The paper “almost completely ignores workers’ rights, asymmetric power in the labour market and phenomena such as declining labour share in national income,” Bakvis said.
The International Labour Organisation has also expressed alarm at the proposals, which include the right for employers to opt out of paying minimum wages if they introduce profit-sharing schemes for their workers.
The paper says that labour regulations “protect the few who hold formal jobs while leaving out most workers” and the sort of social protection schemes that began with the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck in the late 19th century were not appropriate because they covered only a third of developing country populations.
Bakvis said the draft did not “examine options for incentivising the formalisation of work, despite the considerable efforts the ILO has made toward that goal and the real progress that has taken place in some developing countries to deliver the benefits of formalisation: legal protection of workers’ rights, including their right to safe workplaces, and access to social security.
“Instead, the WDR takes informality as an inevitable state and, worse, implies that it should even be promoted. Nor does it examine how the undermining of labour market institutions through deliberate corporate strategies such as outsourcing and disguised working relations [for example, classifying Uber drivers as independent contractors] can be countered by providing legal protections for these categories of workers.
“Workers in the platform economy who have engaged in campaigns for recognition of their rights have encountered fierce resistance from their companies.”
Bakvis added that the report insinuated support for companies such as Uber by agreeing that their workers were not employees but were “emerging as a separate labour category”.

Working and in debt

NHS staff, council officials and gig economy workers are among the most regular applicants for payday loans, which charge interest of up to 1,325% per year, industry data has revealed.


In Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, city council workers were among the most frequent applicants for the ultra-high interest debt last month, according to figures from a loan comparison website.
In Leicester, workers for the courier company DPD applied for the most loans after people in the NHS. The most common reason given for requesting the loans was “to pay bills”. 
Around 300,000 people a month take out the high-cost short-term credit. At the end of 2016, 1.6 million people had payday loan debt, with the average loan just over £300. Around one in eight of the debtors was in arrears, according to the Financial Conduct Authority.
After NHS staff, supermarket workers for Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s applied for the most loans in March, followed by staff at McDonalds, the supermarket Morrisons and Royal Mail. Next came the British Army – which has already banned payday loan adverts from military bases and publications – Amazon and workers for the outsourcing giant Capita.
NHS workers’ representatives said it showed “a terrible state of affairs”.
“No one should be so desperate for money that they have no option but to go cap in hand to unscrupulous lenders,” said Unison head of health, Sara Gorton. “It shows how much harm years of government pay restraint has caused.”
Sarah-Jayne Clifton, director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, said the figures showed how “austerity, low wages, and insecure work are driving people to take on high cost debt from rip-off lenders just to put food on the table”

The Misery of the UK Poor

Hundreds of thousands of the poorest families in Britain are going without basic necessities, according to two separate surveys.
Citizens Advice said as many as 140,000 households are going without power, as they cannot afford to top up their prepayment meters.
And the Living Wage Foundation - which campaigns for fair pay - said many of the poorest parents are skipping meals.
The survey conducted by Citizens Advice suggests that most households which cannot afford to put money in the meter contain either children or someone with a long-term health condition. Some people are left in cold houses, or without hot water.
"It is unacceptable that so many vulnerable households are being left without heat and light," said Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice.
A separate survey for the Living Wage Foundation suggests a third of working parents on low incomes have regularly gone without meals, because of a lack of money. Around a half of those families have also fallen behind with household bills.
"These findings reveal the desperate choices low paid families have to make, and show why it's so important that more employers take a stand by paying the real Living Wage, based on what they need to live, not just the government minimum," said Tess Lanning, director of the Living Wage Foundation.

Capitalists expect to be centeniarians

UBS wealth management polled 5,000 high-net worth individuals (HNWIs), defined as having at least $1m in investable assets, across 10 countries including Germany, the UK, US and Taiwan, and found that 53% expect to live to the age of 100. 

The UBS report, entitled The Century Club, concluded: “The idea of living a century was once confined to science fiction. But no longer. For the world’s wealthy, living a 100-year life is not an outcome they consider a mere possibility. It’s one they expect.”

Numerous studies have provided evidence that wealth inequality is linked to health inequality. Last year, data compiled by the Department of Health showed that in the UK the gap between rich and poor in relation to “healthy life expectancy” – defined as a life free of disease or disability – had widened to almost 20 years.
A University of Washington study in the US in 2017 came to a similar conclusionon a “life expectancy gap” between affluent and poorer areas of at least 20 years.
 Three-quarters of Germany’s wealthy elite anticipate reaching 100 while less than a third of HNWIs in the US believe they will live that long. In Switzerland, Mexico and Italy the figure is more than two-thirds. In the UK, nearly a third (32%) expect to reach the age of 100.



Macron's New France

Owen Jones writes in the Guardian that Macron is far more popular internationally than in France, where dissatisfaction with his presidency has surged to 58% less than a year after his election. French scepticism towards Macron contrasts sharply with his own lack of self-doubt. He refused to be questioned by journalists because his “complex thought processes” were ill-suited for such a setting.

Macron is a pound-shop Margaret Thatcher, redistributing wealth to those with too much of it, while assaulting workers’ rights and France’s hard-won social model. His tax changes have gifted the hundred wealthiest households more than half a million euros a year: the top 1% captured 44% of his new tax breaks. For the less affluent, it’s a different story. This former investment banker has slashed housing benefit, and hiked taxes on pensioners – in a country where the average monthly pension is just €1,300 (£1,100). His policies have shifted the workplace balance of power from workers to bosses. French students are staging occupations and protests against more selective entry requirements for universities, derided as an attack on free universal education and France’s social model.

Another pillar of his agenda is privatisation, including of France’s airports and part of the national energy utility. His confrontation with rail workers is seen as an attempt to lay the foundations for a catastrophic British-style privatisation of the railway industry. EU-mandated deregulation will mean foreign companies can soon compete with the state rail company SNCF, and Macron is transforming it from a state enterprise into a limited company; exactly what happened with the formerly state-owned France Télécom.

A man who courted left-leaning voters by promising a humane policy towards migrants and refugees now has them firmly in his sights. The number of days a person without papers can be imprisoned in a detention centre is to be doubled; the consideration time period for asylum has been halved, meaning fewer refugees will be accepted. Charities warn that refugees fleeing war will be deported. Macron’s interior minister, Gérard Collomb, claims that communities are “breaking up because they are overwhelmed by the inflow of asylum seekers”. No wonder the far-right Front National has described his policies as a “political victory”.

Macron is presented as an oasis of moderation, a bulwark against the extremes. But there is nothing moderate about slashing taxes on the wealthy, attacking workers’ rights or demonising refugees. He represents an essential ingredient in the revival of French fascism.

Hustings in Southwark

We have received one invitation to a hustings in Southwark and know of two others.


The invitation is from:


 The Southwark Pensioners Action Group from 10am to noon on Monday 23 April in the Crypt at St. Peter's Church, Liverpool Grove, Walworth, SE17 2HH.

The other two are:

Saturday 14 April 3pm to 5pm at Christ Church Peckham, 676-680 Old Kent Road, SE15 1JF on Planning & Regeneration, organised by Southwark Planning Network.

Wednesday 18 April 7pm to 9pm at Bells Gardens Community Centre, 19 Buller Close, SE15 6UJ on Housing, organised by the Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations.




European Figures for Refugees (graphs)



Thursday, April 19, 2018

The waste of waste

American households toss out 150,000 tons of food each day — roughly a pound of food per person per day.

The volume of discarded food wastes what is equivalent to the yearly use of 30 million acres of land, alongside the use of 780 million pounds of pesticide, and 4.2 trillion gallons of water. The rotting food also emits methane as it disintegrates in landfills, adding to the atmosphere’s stock of greenhouse gases.

Lisa Jahns, a nutritionist at the USDA, told the Guardian, “Consumers aren’t connecting the dots, they don’t see the cost when they throw food in the trash.”

Wishing to happy returns to Israel's 70th birthday

 Stalin was crucial to the establishment of the state of Israel. On Stalin's instructions, Czechoslovakia provided arms and training that enabled the fledgling Zionist armed forces in Palestine to win the war of independence in 1947-48. Stalin's motive was to undermine the position of Britain in the Middle East. For some years the Israeli government continued to rely on Soviet military and diplomatic support, while keeping silent about the persecution of Soviet Jews, then at its height. (For more on this episode, see Arnold Krammer, The Forgotten Friendship: Israel and the Soviet Bloc, 1947-53, University of Illinois, 1974.)
In 1953 the Israeli-Soviet alliance finally broke down. Israel switched to the other side of the Cold War, obtaining aid first from France and then from the US. Alliance with "the West" also entailed maintaining good relations with anti-semitic regimes, notably in Latin America. Consider Argentina: a disproportionate number of Jews were among those killed, imprisoned and tortured by the military junta that ruled the country from 1976 to 1983. Given the "anti-democratic, anti-semitic and Nazi tendencies" of the Argentine officer corps, we may assume that they were persecuted not merely as political opponents but also as Jews. Meanwhile a stream of Israeli generals passed through Buenos Aires, selling the junta arms. (See http://www.jcpa.org/jpsr/jpsr-mualem-s04.htm and http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Terrorism/Argentina_STATUS.html; also Jacobo Timmerman's book Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number.)
 Israel is now a powerful, militaristic capitalist state and a nuclear power. It might have been hoped that the Jews' terrible history would have encouraged them to something more hopeful.

Poor Education

The gap between disadvantaged pupils in England – children eligible for free school meals – and their peers is equivalent to one whole maths GCSE grade.


England would have to double the number of disadvantaged pupils achieving top GCSE grades in maths to match some of the best countries in the world, a new report has found.  The country is in the bottom half of developed nations for the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers in maths, analysis from thinktank Education Policy Institute (EPI)and UCL Institute of Education (IOE) academics has revealed.
Just one in 10 disadvantaged pupils in England achieve the top GCSE grades in maths, while nearly twice as many disadvantaged pupils in Singapore achieve these top grades. 
The report concludes that the countries that achieve both high academic performance and equity between pupils from different backgrounds tend to avoid selection by ability, streaming and setting – and they have a significant focus on attracting and retaining high-quality teachers.
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “This report confirms that the government’s education reform programme has failed some of our most disadvantaged learners. This should be a national scandal and education ministers should be ashamed of their record." She added: “The government’s inability to confront the harmful practice of ability grouping, coupled with its desire to further expand selective schools, will exacerbate the challenges highlighted in this report and further entrench educational disadvantage.”
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “We have to improve outcomes for disadvantaged students, and the greatest barrier in doing so is teacher shortages, which are particularly acute in schools with high levels of disadvantage because these schools often face the greatest recruitment challenges. It cannot be a coincidence that maths outcomes for disadvantaged pupils are the most concerning finding in this report given that teacher shortages are very severe in this subject.” He added: “The government must do more to ensure they have the vital resources of teachers and funding – both of which are in desperately short supply.”

America's Terrorist Crisis

Three members of a right-wing militia known as the Kansas Security Force and the Crusaders, with a hatred of Muslim immigrants have been found guilty of plotting to blow up a mosque and apartment complex that housed Somali refugees. They schemed to destroy t to slaughter every man, woman, and child in the building.  Agents found bomb-making materials, guns and “close to a metric ton of ammunition”.

The only fucking way this country’s ever going to get turned around is it will be a bloodbath” and “The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim”.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/apr/18/kansas-terror-plot-kill-muslims-conviction

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Disasters doesn't make equality

After wildfire and mudslides ravaged Californian towns had at least one consolation: the trauma united the community. Everyone had suffered in some way. Flames scorched the hillsides last December in the biggest wildfire in California’s modern history. Weeks later torrential rain unleashed huge mudflows. The grief and devastation prompted an outpouring of solidarity.

“We’re going to come together and do what great Americans do all the time. We’re going to help each other,” said Oprah Winfrey, one of many celebrity residents.
Now, three months after the mudslides, normality is returning. Roads and businesses have reopened. Insurance companies have started paying some of the claims totalling $421m. Tourists are back. One segment of the population, however, is struggling to recover: the largely Latino service workers – maids, nannies, gardeners, caregivers, cooks, waiters, busboys – who earn near minimum wages and live in the shadows, paycheck to paycheck. Many recently returned to work after enforced layoffs and discovered they would not be paid for any lost time.
“Not a cent,” said Zita Nevarez, 38, a barista and single mother who lost six weeks of work. She was unable to pay rent or her daughter’s school fees.
“I had hoped for some compensation from my employer, some help, but nothing,” said Serafin Torres, 45, a maintenance worker who lost seven weeks.
Angelica Garcia, 30, a florist and single mother, could not pay utilities after losing three weeks’ salary, resulting in her gas and electricity being cut off. “I have three children. It was very difficult,” she said, tears welling.
Few such workers have spoken out publicly, to avoid antagonising their employers. However, a handful spoke to the Guardian on condition the employers not be identified. Another reason some are unwilling to speak out: they are undocumented and fear deportation. Lacking legal status also bars them from seeking emergency relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema).
Those with US-citizen children are eligible for federal help but have hesitated to apply lest their details be passed on to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice), said Frank Rodriguez, of Cause, a grassroots advocacy group for California’s central coastal region. “In this political climate, people don’t want to take the risk.”
The solidarity is no myth, though. Some businesses have paid full or partial salaries for lost weeks. Employers who received business interruption insurance payments had a moral but not legal obligation to help cash-strapped employees. “That’s if you want to show you care about them.” Residents have also helped workers, who tend to live out of town, by establishing a fund gifting individuals up to $600. It has raised tens of thousands of dollars. Such efforts are welcome but do not offset systemic forces that marginalise service and agricultural workers, forces amplified by the natural disasters, said Rodriguez, of Cause. “There is a huge class divide. The gardeners and maids and others who make this city thrive are still struggling. We feel there hasn’t been enough support.”
Ben Romo, a community recovery and engagement coordinator with Santa Barbara county’s emergency management office, said,  “This disaster has really brought this community together in remarkable ways. People are stepping up.” However, the fire and mudslides had greatly strained poor families who were struggling even before the disasters, Romo said. “Their needs have far exceeded our resources for many years.” The inability of undocumented people to access some government assistance posed further challenges, he said.
"Service workers, however, were muffling any grievances. “If they speak too loudly, they become more visible and they don’t want Ice raiding any of their employers.”

Hurting the Disabled

Disabled people are being forced to skip meals and sit in cold homes in a climate of benefit and social care cuts, according to new research on behalf of the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity.
Almost a quarter of disabled adults aged 18-65 in the UK missed at least one meal in the last year, while a fifth said they were not able to keep their home warm. The Leonard Cheshire research into the human cost of cuts to services and financial support for disabled people paints a bleak picture of families struggling to cope. More than one in four (27%) working age disabled adults reported having less than £50 to spend each week after deducting income tax, council tax and housing costs.
The financial situation is compounded by a growing social care crisis, with more than half (55%) of disabled people of working age saying they did not receive the vital support they needed in 2017. This suggests deteriorating social care for disabled people, with comparable research released by the charity in 2016 finding 48% of respondents were without social care.
Leonard Cheshire said their latest research shows the impact has been “catastrophic” with essential heating, food or travel often becoming unaffordable.
Neil Heslop, the CEO of Leonard Cheshire, said: “Our research lays bare the appalling situation many disabled individuals and families find themselves in. Every day, thousands of people are teetering on the financial brink, unsupported and isolated..."
Previous studies of disabled people by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the charity Scope show a considerably higher rate of deprivation than in the general population; in 2017, less than 8% of non-disabled people were in food poverty while those without disabilities have to spend half as much on energy bills as people with health conditions.
 A recent report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found disabled people had disproportionately borne the brunt of tax and welfare changes since 2010, with disabled families facing an annual income loss of up to £10,000.

Who We Are and What We Do


Logo Template - Logo_63m
The class struggle is a political struggle. It cannot be fought successfully by the workers unless they have a political weapon, which means, their own political party. The capitalist class has its own political parties and interest groups and sees to it that they remain committed to its basic interests, the maintenance of the capitalist system. The capitalists see to it that they remain under their control. They provide them with media exposure, provides them with funds, running into millions each year. In some places, the capitalists are in direct control of these parties, in others, its allies are in control.
Although as a political party committed to using elections to capture political power the Socialist Party surprisingly does not regard vote-getting as of supreme importance. We do not present a programme of attractive promises as a lure for votes. We seek only an actual vote for socialism and our manifestoes do not flatter the electorate but simply endeavours to convince them of the case for socialism. We make it clear that the Socialist Party wants the votes only of those who want socialism and disparages vote-seeking for the sake of votes and we hold in contempt those political opportunists seeking election for the sake of office or personal advancement. The Socialist Party stands squarely upon its principles. The Socialist party buys no votes with false pledges.
The ballot expresses the people’s will. The ballot means that the worker is no longer dumb, that at last has a voice, that it may be heard and if used in unison must be heeded. The appeal of the Socialist Party is to the exploited class, the workers in all trades and professions, from the most menial to the highest skill, to rally together and put an end to the last of the barbarous class struggles by conquering the capitalist government, taking possession of the means of production and making them the common property of all, abolishing wage-slavery and establishing the co-operative commonwealth. As individuals we are helpless, but united we represent an irresistible power.
The Socialist Party will not unite with any other party that does not stand for the democratic overthrow of capitalism and if it were ever to compromise and make such a concession, it will have ceased to be a socialist party. We are not here to play the filthy game of capitalist politics. the Socialist Party condemns the capitalist system. In the name of freedom, it condemns wage-slavery. In the name of modern technology, it condemns scarcity and poverty. In the name of peace, it condemns war. In the name of humanity, it condemns the murder of little children. In the name of enlightenment, it condemns superstition. The battles of the workers, wherever and however fought, are always and everywhere the battles of the Socialist Party. The education, organisation, and co-operation of the workers is the conscious aim and the self-imposed task of the Socialist Party. There is no party leader or bureaucracy within the Socialist Party boss and there never can be unless the party deserts its principles and ceases to be a socialist party. Each member has not only an equal voice but is urged to take an active part in all the party’s administration. Each local branch is an educational centre. The party relies wholly upon the power of education, knowledge, and mutual understanding.
The Socialist Party proposes to use all the legislative and administrative machinery within the state and which the working class endeavour to take into its possession as the method of emancipation. We accept the vote and parliamentary action as revolutionary. The value of political action to the Socialist movement is called in question by anarchists who suggest what they consider to be more speedy means or more effective methods to be adopted. They expect nothing and never expected anything from parliamentary action. They maintain that participation in parliamentary action is a waste of time and effort, and they relish the disappointing and the poor results parliamentary action has so far has achieved for the Socialist Party. We cannot expect results unless voters themselves get the understanding and the spirit of organization, which has yet to develop. Where people cannot imagine a way out of intolerable conditions there cannot be a great political movement and no amount of political propaganda can produce a movement.
Our primary function, however, is to organise as a political party, independent, class-conscious, and democratic. The function of anarcho-syndicalists lies with the unions. These two functions are not absolutely distinct and separate, they are co-ordinate, and to some extent interdependent. Yet they are not identical. The trade unions can help us, we can help them. Socialists should be the subordinate partner in the matter of supporting industrial disputes. The Socialist Party declines to dictate the policy of the trade union in conducting the strike, nor do we expect the trade unions to abandon the immediate objects and demands in order to make the socialist revolution.

ISLINGTON JUNCTION:
Bill Martin

RICHMOND BARNES:
Adam Buick

SOUTHWARK BOROUGH AND BANKSIDE:
Kevin Parkin

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Australia Opts for Fossil Fuels

Australia is currently aggressively developing its natural gas resource. By the end of 2018, it is likely to overtake Qatar as the world’s largest liquified natural gas (LNG) exporter.

Under new rules, fracking would be able to take place in 51 per cent of the Northern Territory's 1.4 million sq km (540,000 sq miles.

Meanwhile, Western Australia is leading the way on developing gas. The scale of the developments in WA is enormous: a recent report states that the total global emissions from all of WA’s gas reserves (conventional and unconventional) is equivalent to 36.4bn tonnes of C02, that is eight times more than the planned Adani coal mine would produce in its lifetime. The domestic carbon footprint from exploiting WA’s unconventional gas reserves, currently subject to a fracking inquiry, would be three times the amount Australia could emit if it were to comply with the Paris Agreement. Chevron’s Wheatstone project, one of four LNG facilities currently operating in WA’s northwest, is set to release 10.4m tonnes of CO2 annually, a staggering 12% of the state’s total emissions. Yet currently there is no requirement for the company to offset these emissions.

Gas has been promoted as a “bridging” fuel in the transition to a zero-carbon economy, due to its greater flexibility and lower emissions when compared to coal. However, it is still a fossil fuel with significant greenhouse gas emissions on combustion. Furthermore, any advantage it has over coal is lost with even small rates of leakage, as methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. There are limits to gas use if we are to keep to a global carbon budget that restricts warming to less than 2°C as agreed to in Paris.

With the current 1°C of warming above pre-industrial levels Australia is already experiencing severe climatic impacts. Increasing heat and rainfall extremes, bushfires and storms have already directly affected the health of many Australians both physically and psychologically. Those most vulnerable in our communities – children, older Australians and the economically disadvantaged – are already disproportionately affected.In the longer term are the agricultural and socioeconomic consequences of reduced rainfall and droughts on food production and changing patterns of infectious diseases such as dengue and Ross River virus. Further warming will undermine many of the global health gains secured over the last century. The impacts of climate change will unfairly affect people in developing nations, the poorest in those countries, those least able to cope and those least responsible for the problem.