I include below the contents of a newsletter I wrote in March, mobilising for mass strikes, demonstrations and civil disobedience to bring down the ConDem government in Britain. The newsletter also contains items on the bedroom tax, new poll tax (the poorest having to pay up to 30% council tax), tax avoidance by the rich and international revolution to stop fascism.
Revolutionary Platform News
Number 4b, 30th March 2013
Newsletter of the Revolutionary Platforms of Labour, TUSC, Respect, the Scottish Socialist Party and Solidarity
Editor’s welcome: My name is Steve Wallis. This is an amended version of newsletter 4 (specific to the UK) of the Revolutionary Platform Network, which now has a forum (page) on Facebook at the address above. Visit the website (on which you can also find this newsletter in a variety of formats) or the Facebook page for information about the Network. This newsletter was written by me but feedback on it and future articles are welcome there or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organise mass strikes, demonstrations and civil disobedience to bring down the Con-Dems!
Millions in the UK can’t afford to wait until 2015!
Millions of people in the UK are so badly affected by the cuts in services and benefits which many of us rely on, the pay freeze and attacks on pensions in the public sector (pay more for longer and receive less, encouraging private sector companies like Tesco to also attack pension rights), that they cannot afford to wait for another general election, which the Con-Dem (Tory/Lib Dem coalition) government plans to hold in 2015.
At last year’s Trades Union Congress (TUC), a motion to consider the practicalities of organising a general strike was overwhelmingly passed. At the North West TUC AGM on 9 March 2013, a motion calling for a general strike was passed unanimously. We should put as much pressure on the TUC leadership as possible to finally name the date for a 24-hour general strike, as a springboard to a mass movement to bring the government down. If the TUC refuses to act, unions with left-wing leaderships should do so instead. The current campaign for leader of Unite, Britain’s biggest union, between Len McCluskey (one of the most vocal figures calling for a general strike but who has done little to make it happen) and Jerry Hicks (who would live on a worker’s wage and ensure that all officials are elected) could make a big difference – making it a more radical and effective union if Jerry is elected, and in radicalising the membership during the campaign itself irrespective of who wins.
Activists in local anti-cuts groups and national campaigns (including the National Shop Stewards Network, the Coalition of Resistance and Unite the Resistance) should mobilise for action (considering unofficial walkouts in those unions whose leaders refuse to fight). The above-mentioned NW TUC AGM motion also calls on each affiliated union to sponsor a NW TUC leaflet to distribute to branches and workplaces, explaining the impact of the cuts and the need for the whole working class to unite in strike action. A combination of action from below and an effective leadership from above can bring the government down!
Join the group www.facebook.com/groups/BringDownCameron.
Axe the bedroom tax and the new poll tax!
The “spare room subsidy” as the Con-Dems have called the “bedroom tax”, to be introduced in April, would plunge many of the poorest people in the UK into even greater poverty. One spare room means housing benefit is reduced by 14%, two or more means 25%. There simply aren’t enough one-bedroom flats for those who would choose to move. Most households affected have at least one person in work. Children whose parents have split up or who want to occasionally visit a grandparent will be hit. Disabled people are disproportionately attacked (and face additional attacks on benefits as well). The government has already backtracked a bit – we can force them to axe to tax completely with protests against it.
The bedroom tax has received quite a lot of publicity in the media, compared to the brutal attacks on council tax benefits (the “new poll tax”) – which mean that nearly everyone would have to pay towards their council tax, except where councils absorb reductions in money from central government, by decimating services.
The attacks on benefits are mainly ideological; they would save very little compared to the size of the budget deficit (the bedroom tax could cost more to implement than the £4-500 million a year it is estimated to save).
£13 trillion hidden by world’s super-rich in tax havens – end all tax loopholes and havens (including the UK)
At least £13,000,000,000,000 is hidden by the ultra-rich around the world in tax havens, as revealed in an Observer article (read the description of www.facebook.com/groups/taxavoidance).
Even Tory chancellor George Osborne was forced to say “aggressive tax avoidance” (not just tax evasion that is illegal) is “morally repugnant” in his 2012 budget speech, and David Cameron has suggested he will raise the issue of tax havens at the 2013 G8 summit on in Northern Ireland, but they are hypocrites since the UK is itself a tax haven! Quite well known is the “non-domicile” loophole where somebody living overseas for part of the year is allowed to avoid all tax on overseas earnings (though long-term non-doms need to pay a token fee for making use of the tax haven that is the UK), but the Con-Dems actually made the situation far worse from the start of 2013 by allowing UK-based multinationals to pay just 5.75% tax on their overseas earnings! [See the Facebook group description above.]
Tax avoidance and evasion has been put on the agenda by ordinary activists, particularly organised on the internet through UK Uncut. Any concessions we win will largely be due to such direct action (successfully having an impact on Starbucks’ profits that they were forced to decide to “voluntarily” pay some corporation tax over the next two years after paying just £8.6m of UK tax in 14 years by paying royalties to subsidiaries elsewhere in Europe).
Join the struggle for international revolution to end austerity and the threat of fascism
Across Europe, there were significant votes last year (in the spring of 2012) against austerity. In some of those elections, mainstream social democratic parties (Labour in Britain and the Parti Socialiste in France), arguing for growth as well as cutbacks have benefited. In Greece and France, parties and coalitions of the far left and far right, arguing for a radical break from the policies of the mainstream parties that advocate reforms or counter-reforms to the capitalist economic system, have done very well. This occurred a bit with the far left party Respect in Britain (with a big parliamentary by-election victory by George Galloway in Bradford followed up with that party winning five seats there in the local elections), despite the non-proportional electoral system, but consistent campaigning by anti-fascists wiped out the far right British National Party.
It is clear that austerity isn’t working. Making cuts to vital services and increasing tax for ordinary working and lower middle class people at the very time that most of Europe is in recession makes yet more people unemployed, and therefore receiving benefits and not paying tax.
However, the half-hearted attacks on big business proposed by the leaders of the social democratic parties will not work either – borrowing more when there is a crisis of high public sector deficits (caused, of course, by the banking bailout in the credit crunch).
In some countries in the eurozone, specifically Greece and the other PIIGS countries (Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Spain), the economic crises are particularly severe. Capitalists, of the mainstream and fascist varieties, must not be allowed to play off the perceived “national interests” of one country against another. We must point out the real enemy (those capitalists) and unite with the masses across Europe and the rest of the world. One way this can be done is by putting pressure on trade union leaders to call a Europe-wide general strike against austerity, and the Revolutionary Platform Network has put the call out worldwide (with newsletter 4). Just as millions can’t afford to wait for a general election in Britain, uprisings are needed across the world, and sudden thorough change rather than gradual reforms, are needed to achieve socialism.
For discussion of these issues, go to www.facebook.com/groups/internationalrevolution.
Why “Revolutionary” Platforms? There isn’t a mass revolutionary consciousness in Britain, with millions of people believing the government needs to be overthrown and replaced by a socialist society, yet, but if nobody argues openly for revolution there probably never will be. The economic crisis in the eurozone could well lead to a second banking crisis around the world and we need to be prepared this time.
Visit the Revolutionary Platform Network page at www.facebook.com/RevolutionaryPlatformNetwork.