Bedroom tax eviction reprieve, comparison with millionaire Tory Maria Miller, and opposing austerity/cuts that kill

 

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As reported in an article in the Salford Star, an eviction partly due to the bedroom tax was given a four-week reprieve in court today, shortly before bailiffs were due to arrive to evict a Salford woman called Vicky from her home. This was the first attempted eviction that the Greater Manchester Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation was aware of within the area. Two Left Unity members, including myself, attended a 60-strong protest outside her home. I have previously posted some Non-payment advice – also about “the new poll tax”, council tax payments of up to 30%, depending on council area, demanded from people on benefits (that have had far less publicity), to help people who want to go down the road of non-payment or have no choice due to poverty. I have written a song called The New Poll Tax (which briefly mentions the bedroom tax too).

If we compare the situation of Vicky, whose rent arrears were far smaller than the £5,800 disgraced Tory minister Maria Miller was forced to pay back, to say nothing of the £45,000 that she allegedly should have repaid (but was overruled by a committee of MPs) – see the Guardian article Public disgust at MPs’ expenses is the only thing that brought down Maria Miller which counters arguments that Miller was forced to quit due to some sort of media conspiracy – or the opposite view in Paul Demarty’s Weekly Worker article Rightwing press rocks the boat for more radical analysis with a lot of details, slightly spoilt by that paper’s pessimistic (as usual) viewpoint at the end, saying that the influence of the right-wing press is “another index of how rapidly British society is moving to the right”. Anger at expenses-fiddling by mainstream parties presents great opportunities for Left Unity, and indeed the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

As reported in a news release from Left Unity, “Without getting carried away, Left Unity played its part in her downfall. Labour’s Ed Miliband, ridiculously, refused to call for Maria Miller to quit – while Left Unity called a protest at Downing Street, as covered on LBC Radio and Huffington Post. Miller resigned that morning, before the protest, but our call for her to face criminal investigation still made it into the TelegraphExpress and Herald“.

It has been a socialist tradition, to try to prevent politicians from selling out, that MPs (and MSPs, MEPs, etc.) only receive a worker’s wage (generally the average wage of a skilled worker), which was adhered to by members of the Militant Tendency who became Labour MPs and all six Scottish Socialist Party MSPs. Politicians should be allowed to claim reasonable expenses, but certainly not mortgage payments on second homes, which was used by Miller for example, and changing to rent is definitely a step forward. However, David Cameron has not kept his promise to make politicians who have been convicted of corruption subject to recall by their constituents, meaning that they would have to stand for re-election to keep their seats, and many socialists argue that even if they have not been convicted of anything, all MPs should face potential recall as well (perhaps if a petition signed by some proportion of the electorate in a constituency call for one). For example, Labour’s Hazel Blears faced a Hazel Must Go! campaign that achieved considerable support due to Blears’ expenses fiddling as reported on Wikipedia. However, when it came to the 2010 general election, and the choice was seen as being between Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat candidates, she won the newly created Salford and Eccles seat.

One of the problems of so-called “democracy” as it operates under capitalism is that waiting until politicians call a general election lets them off the hook if there is a massive mood for change in the meantime. This is not just an issue as far as individual MPs’ expenses is concerned, but bringing down massively unpopular governments – which tend to be particularly unpopular due to them breaking manifesto commitments, like “No top-down reorganisation of the NHS” (Tories) or “No increase in student tuition fees” (Lib Dems). Unpopularity often arises too from austerity measures (cuts and/or tax rises), which actually leads to people dying as my Austerity Kills song states. Although I am not in favour of a socialist society run solely in the interests of the working class, or controlled just by workers, but with a government elected by proportional representation in addition to some degree of workers’ control and direct democracy (for reasons stated in the About Steve Wallis page on this blog), I recognise the importance of workers in changing society, or in bringing a government down to force new elections which may lead to a socialist society, by withdrawing their labour – particularly in a “mass strike” from below or a “general strike” from above. I proposed an amendment to the Left Party Platform’s statement of aims at Left Unity’s founding conference, that got passed, on adding this to the party’s statement of aims (which would otherwise have been too electoral for my liking). Continue reading

29 March #LeftUnity conference: The ongoing struggle between revolutionaries and reformists

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Me at founding conference in November

As some of you will know, I was unable to attend the Left Unity (LU) policy-making conference in Manchester on 29 March. I did attend and speak at the founding conference in London on 30 November 2013, getting one of my amendments passed making LU much more revolutionary on trade unions, as described in my blog entry Compromise between the Left Party Platform and Socialist Platform: Justification for my amendments to LPP. However, after the Manchester conference, it is even more clear that there is an ongoing struggle between those who advocate a more revolutionary approach and those who want LU to limit itself to reformist demands (even though some of the latter are actually revolutionaries or are in organisations that claim to be).

There is a concerted effort by many within LU (as well as those outside like the SWP) to portray the party as “reformist” or “left reformist”. Indeed, in opening the discussion on the economics commission document, Pete Green said that the programme in the document is reformist. This is despite the fact that when I went to the meeting to discuss the document in London, it was described as “a transitional programme” (I can’t remember whether Pete himself used that term but he certainly didn’t object).

There is a big difference between putting forward a set of demands, many of which cannot be implemented under capitalism, that is the transitional approach of the Socialist Party (formerly Militant, that I was in from 1990-98), and simply presenting a set of moderate reforms (the approach of other “left unity” approaches including the Socialist Alliance, before its abolition largely by the SWP in favour of Respect, and Respect itself as an even more moderate party that generally avoids even mentioning socialism at all). In truth, the demands on tax in the document are indeed left reformist but some demands in other sections can more accurately be described as transitional and amendments passed at the conference make LU’s economic policy even more so.

To be charitable towards Pete, part of the point of “transitional demands” is to appear reformist even if you aren’t! If you actually argue publicly (in front of those in the room and on the live stream if it was working at the time, but wasn’t, and later appearing on YouTube) that the point of those demands is to bring capitalism down, then that undermines the point of being “transitional”! Arguably a reason why LU has got much more publicity in the mainstream media than the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is that we come across as more moderate.

As far as I’m concerned, we are a broad socialist party rather than a reformist party, which is very important because gradual reforms cannot bring capitalism down, and ending capitalism (which was explicitly added to the Left Party Platform statement of aims by a Camden amendment, and accepted by the founding conference) is vital since reforms in the interest of the masses that can be afforded during booms cannot when there is a recession or slump.

It is good that both amendments I put forward (via Manchester) to make our policy on the economy more radical were accepted. Continue reading

#Budget2014: Alan Turing Institute for big data & algorithm research, towards fascism forever (Turing stopped in WW2)

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The announcement in the 2014 Budget by UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne of an institute for big data and algorithm research named after Alan Turing is outrageous. He did more than anybody else to defeat the Nazis and the possibility of world fascism forever, and his name is being associated with an institute which could (collaborating with PRISM used by the National Security Agency in the USA) actually bring about world fascism forever – with computers, mobile phones, CCTV cameras, etc., taking the role of human spies as used by the Nazis.

[For quite a lot of useful information on avoiding being spied upon/listened to, including via a mobile phone (cellphone) that is switched off (make sure you buy one with a removable battery, which are less common these days partly to boost phone companies’ profits, and remove it at important times), go to this entry on Washington’s Blog (quoting ABC News from 2006 and commenting on Edward Snowden’s revelations): The SINGLE Most Important Step to Protect Yourself from Government Spying.]

The idea is to gather huge amounts of information about us and try to use computer software (algorithms) to analyse it, in order to model organisations and individuals in the world, predict what we are going to do (particularly if it involves trying to change society) and interact in various ways to bring about some sort of police state so that socialist change is impossible. Algorithms would virtually remove the need for human intervention, so there wouldn’t be whistleblowers like Edward Snowden.

I am an artificial intelligence expert who was the main designer and sole implementer of an AI/simulation language called SDML, so know this in theory is possible (although my language did it on a small scale, some of the ideas and code could be used in a serious attempt to maintain capitalism or indeed conspire to ensure socialist change is brought about – perhaps the latter is the meaning of the dialectics.org website drawing on ideas described in the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, which I will review in the near future).

Check out my blog entry #copsoffcampus demos against police clampdown on student protests – infiltration, PRISM & possible UK police state for more information about moves towards a police state in the UK, PRISM, AI algorithms capable of analysing big data and infiltration of the left – another major method of trying to stop socialist revolution, about which home secretary Theresa May has been forced to launch a public inquiry (also about friends and family of racist murder victim Stephen Lawrence).

Incidentally, the position taken by Trotskyists about the second world war being between rival imperialisms was wrong, due to the threat of world fascism mentioned above (unlike the first world war for which that analysis was correct – see The Big Questions: Is war ever just? Stop glorification of First World War by Michael Gove: Keep showing Blackadder Goes Forth in schools! #bbctbq).

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

Continue reading

The Big Questions: Is war ever just? Stop glorification of First World War by Michael Gove: Keep showing Blackadder Goes Forth in schools! #bbctbq

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I was in the audience for the BBC TV programme The Big Questions (produced by the private company Mentorn Scotland), that has debates from a moral/religious viewpoint, often but not always on political issues, last Sunday in Salford for a pre-recorded special on the subject of “Is war ever just?”

It will be shown tomorrow (Sunday 26 January at 10am) – probably on BBC1 (possibly switched to BBC2). Nicky Campbell didn’t select me from the audience to make a point (or ask a question to the panel on the front row who dominated the show) but I’m writing this blog post to make some points I could have raised (and I will tweet links to this blog entry when the programme is aired).

My newly founded party, Left Unity (which I admitted to being a member of when asked by a woman who rang me before inviting me onto the show, perhaps influencing me not being picked to speak), has a position of opposition to glorification of war (throughout 2014 which is the 100th anniversary, i.e. centenary, of the start of what was then called “The Great War” and “The war to end all wars”, and is now known as “The First World War” or “World War I”).

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Doesn’t Gove look a nasty piece of work?

The extremely annoying and incompetent Tory toff and ConDem Education Secretary Michael Gove has argued against teachers in school showing “Oh! What a Lovely War”, “The Monocled Mutineer” and “Blackadder Goes Forth” because they put across left-wing viewpoints, in an article in the Daily Mail. That “newspaper” (very right-wing rag) incidentally supported the fascist Blackshirts in Britain and the Nazis in Germany before the World War II – see my blog post Ed & Ralph Miliband v Daily Mail (who said “Hurrah for Blackshirts”) – David Cameron’s father Ian was a tax dodger!

Continue reading

#copsoffcampus demos against police clampdown on student protests – infiltration, PRISM & possible UK police state

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In an event on Facebook, entitled #copsoffcampus: NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION (mobilising students and their supporters for protests across Britain today, Wednesday 11 December 2013), the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts points out:

In the past month universities across the country have been subject to unprecedented levels of violence from the police, targeting a resurgent wave of activism against the privatisation of the university system.

Across the country, students are initiating a vibrant, popular, winnable fight for democratic and public universities, free from exploitation and repression. We cannot be beaten if we stand together.

In the past week, police have violently evicted, beaten, and arrested students from peaceful occupations in London and sent undercover police officers to spy on students, arresting 3/4s of the union sabbatical team. They have attempted to recruit students to act as informers against fellow student activists in Cambridge, and attacked protests against outsourcing in Sussex. Across the country, managements are using injunctions and violence to suppress dissent; at Birmingham, students were threatened with
£25,000 court costs.

This attack on students is part of a concerted attempt by the British state – partly the police (including the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) within Special Branch that has taken over from the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) in infiltrating mainly left-wing organisations) but also MI5 and MI6 (otherwise known as the Special Intelligence Service (SIS)) and the government’s spy centre known as GCHQ – to clamp down on protests by spying, infiltrating, collecting massive amounts of data at GCHQ, and analysing that data.

For information about infiltration by the SDS/NPOIU, see my blog post  My role (perhaps) in alleged rapist Martin Smith’s resignation from the SWP or Infiltration of the left, attempts to smear Stephen Lawrence family and call for a public inquiry. [My knowledge of this is partly based on a Guardian/Channel 4 Dispatches investigation out of which came a book by two Guardian journalists, Paul Lewis and Rob Evans, called “Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police”.]

As whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed (amongst many details of encroaching surveillance states around the world), the US National Security Agency (NSA) is using PRISM (a clandestine mass electronic surveillance data mining programme) to collect a huge amount of data (including emails, Facebook posts, web searches and phone call information) and analyse it, partly by computer software but with many human operators too.

Continue reading

The purpose of PRISM – stopping worldwide socialist revolution forever with Orwellian 1984-style society

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The revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden of the (previously) top secret PRISM programme, run by the National Security Agency in the USA, gathering and analysing massive amounts of data gathered about everyone on the planet (except for US citizens) including the contents of phone calls, emails, Facebook activities, web searches (using all the major search engines including Google, Microsoft Bing and Yahoo!), and their collaboration with “national security” centres like GCHQ in Britain is unsurprisingly causing a huge storm amongst people concerned about civil liberties.

[And yes, the companies involved have denied knowledge of PRISM, saying they only cooperate with law enforcement/security services when there are court orders, so I perhaps should qualify the above with “allegedly”, but there has been a lot of circumstantial evidence in my life that a high level of surveillance (to model the world to a high degree of accuracy, predict what is likely to happen, and interfere in subtle and not so subtle ways to try to ensure events go their way) has been going on for over a decade, and that the PRISM software is far more sophisticated than checking for keywords but uses artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to understand our communications. And I’m an AI expert by profession, who has developed an AI/simulation language called SDML capable in a much more limited way of doing the same sort of modelling, so I should know roughly what’s possible.]

The usual excuse is that if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to fear. The capitalist ruling class tries to justify programmes like PRISM as the most effective way of stopping terrorism (but of course attacks on civil liberties like PRISM and Guantánamo Bay are a cause of anger amongst potential terrorists).

So what should we be worried about? Unfortunately, most commentators on civil liberties make general points without mentioning the fact that programmes like PRISM can be used to try to stop a genuine democratic socialist society (probably in one country at first, quickly spreading around the world, rather than simultaneously) from taking place. This is not wild speculation – PRISM (and possibly less sophisticated predecessors) has been used to try to thwart me in my revolutionary activities.

Continue reading