People’s Assembly and #LeftUnity conferences: debating the economy and European Union – be radical but strategic

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This blog entry (that I am also submitting as a letter to the Weekly Worker, which as usual will undoubtedly cut it significantly but without distorting my points) is about uniting much of the left in the new broad socialist party Left Unity – with the People’s Assembly Against Austerity which also held a conference recently going some way to uniting the left in a single anti-cuts organisation. I argue that we should not just put forward radical (and sometimes revolutionary) demands but consider the implications rather than dogmatically taking up positions which make a socialist revolution less likely.

In (“‘Moderate’ party takes shape”, 3 April), Peter Manson writes about the policy-making conference of Left Unity in Manchester on 29 March: “the obsession with political ‘broadness’, with anti-democratic constitutionalism, risks disabling the project from the start.” As CPGB members in the Weekly Worker have made clear many times, they are in favour of a solely Marxist party (which they sometimes call a “Communist Party”). Apart from the word “Communist” putting people horrified by the crimes of Stalinism (with “Marxist” having similar connotations to many), such a party could never gain mass support. When they actually put that theory into practice, uniting with the Democratic Socialist Alliance and the Critique journal, in setting up the Campaign for a Marxist Party, that campaign completely failed to take off.

I have argued for “a revolutionary platform” within Left Unity, and supported the Socialist Platform, but to make LU more revolutionary and unite together revolutionary socialists in preparation for a potential huge economic crisis (that could even be more severe than the 2007-8 credit crunch) rather than to totally take over LU, which is not practical anyway even if we tried to. I want a “broad socialist party” involving reformists as well as revolutionaries, with at least some members openly mentioning their revolutionary views. Apart from other significant political differences, including the emphasis on “the working class” suggesting that middle class people like Russell Brand (who incidentally plugged Left Unity via Twitter a Guardian article by Ken Loach on the eve of the Manchester conference contributing to the quick recruitment of 200 new members) should be disenfranchised, I wouldn’t be keen on joining the Communist Platform due to its name. Continue reading

#Budget2014 What Osborne didn’t tell Parliament: critique of new MoneyWeek End of Britain argument – need revolution!

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MoneyWeek, which claims to be “the UK’s best-selling financial magazine” has been predicting “The End of Britain” in a slick and heavily funded advertising campaign, with the main objective of getting new readers and encouraging them to put some of their money in overseas “bolt-holes” (arguably to encourage tax avoidance as well as to guard against loss of investors’ money due to the “inevitable economic and social chaos” they predict in the UK). I wrote a critique of that video/letter on this blog in October 2013 at Is MoneyWeek’s “End of Britain” just fearmongering? What about US debt default? Is socialist revolution on the cards? Their main argument is that government debt is increasing rapidly, despite the “austerity” agenda, even when the interest rates they pay for government bonds (gilts) are around 2%, and that Britain would be “broke” and unable to pay them back if they reached a more normal level of about 5%.

[Incidentally, although “End of Britain” does not refer to the potential break-up of the country if the Scottish people vote “Yes” in the referendum later this year, Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond has recently remade an argument he put in May 2013 that if an independent Scotland was not allowed to share the pound that it would not pay a share of the national debt. This situation itself could exacerbate the crisis of capitalism and is in my view a major reason why virtually the entire political establishment (apart from the SNP of course) is opposed to Scottish independence. Apart from lack of control over interest rates etc., with Scotland not being truly independent if the Bank of England has power over the currency, this is another reason for the Radical Independence Campaign (which is arguing for a “Yes” vote on a much more left-wing basis to strongly argue for an independent currency.]

This blog entry is about a new web page (letter) by MoneyWeek called What Osborne didn’t tell Parliament (its web address looks temporary so do a web search for those words if that link doesn’t work). “The End of Britain” has been widely criticised because it was produced by MoneyWeek’s advertising department, and has biased graphs not adjusted for inflation or GDP, but this new letter is professional, written by financial experts and designed for serious investors. Its points are less controversial and difficult to argue against (with the propaganda against the welfare state omitted for example) although for those who believe in gradual reforms to capitalism to end up with some sort of “socialist” society, with such people often arguing that we are “the seventh richest country in the world” and that austerity is unnecessary, it is a massive wake-up call!

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Austerity Kills – my song and video about how the cuts agenda of the ConDem government costs lives

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I wrote the following lyrics to an original Fruity Frank and the Frisky Freaks song called “Austerity Kills” in December 2013:

We need unity
Not austerity
No ifs, no buts
Stop all the cuts
Except Trident of course
And perhaps the armed forces

We can choose eating
Or we can choose heating
With high energy bills
Austerity kills

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Age discrimination in UK mortgage market due to prospect of rising inflation and housing bubble bursting

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[EDIT 11/11/13: As pointed out on the Money Saving Expert forum which I provided a link to at the end of this post, I got it wrong about interest rates offered by banks/building societies being based on inflation – there are a number of factors including the base rate set by the Bank of England (although this is partly based on government targets on inflation). The title wasn’t particularly good either in talking about “age discrimination” because it is only rational for lenders to discriminate against older people on the basis that they may die before they have repaid their mortgages. However, Watchdog reported that maximum age limits for mortgages to be repaid had been reduced by 10 years by many lenders after the credit crunch, irrespective of ability to pay back, but failed to explain why (which is what I gave an explanation of in this post). I have had very few views of this post in five days according to the blog statistics facility, despite it being the top item on the blog, possibly due to the bad headline. Laura Kuenssberg on ITV News at lunchtime today reported that 2,384 mortgages have been applied for using Help to Buy (there is a separate one for new build properties – search online if you want details) out of 60,000 in total – a drop in the ocean and certainly not worth risking the housing bubble which there is already evidence of.]

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Call for a Revolutionary Platform of Left Unity

NOTE THAT I HAVE EDITED THE CALL BELOW DUE TO GOOGLE SABOTAGING MY GMAIL ACCOUNT, PRESUMABLY TO TRY TO STOP US GETTING THE TEN MEMBERS REQUIRED TO BECOME AN OFFICIAL PLATFORM OF LEFT UNITY. I AM GETTING CONSIDERABLE SUPPORT ON FACEBOOK, PARTICULARLY SINCE I PUBLICISED A LOBBY OF TUC CONFERENCE NEXT WEEK, BUT STILL NEED A FEW MORE PEOPLE TO CONTACT ME IF THEY WANT TO JOIN, TO REACH THAT TARGET BEFORE THE CONFERENCE, AND PREFERABLY BEFORE THE MERSEYSIDE PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY ON THURSDAY EVENING. TO HELP MAKE UP YOUR MIND, YOU CAN GO TO THE PUBLIC DISCUSSION GROUP OF THE REVOLUTIONARY PLATFORM OF LEFT UNITY OR PHONE/TEXT ME ON 07725 735255. 

[EDIT 31/10/13: THIS WAS A TEMPORARY PROBLEM WITH GMAIL. ALTHOUGH I STILL THINK IT WAS DELIBERATE, MY GMAIL ACCOUNT IS WORKING FINE NOW AND EMAILING ME AT steve.wallis2460@gmail.com IS THE BEST WAY TO CONTACT ME, UNLESS YOU WANT TO RING MY MOBILE (CELLPHONE) NUMBER ABOVE (NOTE THAT IT IS +44 7725 735255 FROM OUTSIDE THE UK).

I have had an ongoing initiative to try to unite revolutionary socialists within broad socialist organisations since 2006, initially concentrating on the Scottish Socialist Party, but also with other organisations (including ones that are only vaguely socialist – Respect, Plaid Cymru and even Labour) via the Revolutionary Platform Network.

The initiative was mainly on cyberspace (there were two web-based forums, both of which became overrun by spam, and there is now a page on Facebook with over 170 likes at www.facebook.com/RevolutionaryPlatformNetwork) and I produced a newsletter (to which I invited contributions but until a co-written article in edition 5 they just contained my own views) to distribute in the real world. The time is ripe now for something more serious.

I have now come to the conclusion that Left Unity presents by far the best broad socialist organisation in Britain to unite revolutionary socialists in, and encourage others to sign socialist film director Ken Loach’s statement at http://leftunity.org (which over 9,000 have already done, more than the rest of the far left in Britain put together) and sign the Revolutionary Platform statement (by messaging me at Facebook or emailing me as specified below).

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CALL FOR A REVOLUTIONARY PLATFORM OF LEFT UNITY

I am putting out a draft statement of a proposed new platform of Left Unity, called the Revolutionary Platform (RP). The idea is to unite as many genuine revolutionary socialists as possible within LU in a single platform, to try to overcome the problem which occurred with other broad socialist organisations (including the Scottish Socialist Party) of rival revolutionary organisations competing with each other within it rather than cooperating around shared goals.

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Barclays’ problems, a second credit crunch, bank nationalisation, cancelling national debt

I posted this on a forum for Left Unity (the initiative for a new mass left-wing party launched by film director Ken Loach) 3 days ago:As many of you will have noticed in the news, Barclays is having to raise significant quantities of extra money from its shareholders. Its share price has fallen by 10% in two days. I include below the start of a special report from a firm called Galvan, provided for free by another free service for investors called Money Morning (I’ve never done any investing myself, and just check out their emails from time to time to help my revolutionary socialist analysis, but it was recommended by a friend of mine who is a full-time stock market investor and who has made a lot of money, although he’s been doing quite badly lately).

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