Monday, April 30, 2007

Edinburgh and Glasgow May Day Rallies

The 2007 Edinburgh May Day march and rally will be on Saturday May 5th . Assemble East Market Street 11.30 am . Rally in Princes Street Gardens (West End) 1 pm .

On Sunday May 6th , in Glasgow , the traditional May Day Rally will take place . Participants should assemble in George Square at 11am. The rally will leave for the City Halls and Old Fruitmarket at 11.30am for speeches at 1.15pm .

The Socialist Party will be in attendance at both events , busily handing out leaflets and distributing free copies of the May issue Socialist Standard and we will also have a literature stall , stocked with books and pamphlets .

Seek us out . We are always happy to discuss the Party's case for Socialism .

May Day

The First of May is the day when the workers’ movement celebrates its internationalism, and affirms the unity of their class across all borders .

In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions passed a resolution stating that eight hours would constitute a legal day's work from and after May 1, 1886. The resolution called for a general strike to achieve the goal, since legislative methods had already failed. With workers being forced to work ten, twelve, and fourteen hours a day, rank-and-file support for the eight-hour movement grew rapidly, despite the indifference and hostility of many union leaders. By April 1886, 250,000 workers were involved in the May Day movement.

By May 1st, the movement had already won gains for many Chicago clothing cutters, shoemakers, and packing-house workers. But on May 3, 1886, police fired into a crowd of strikers at the McCormick Reaper Works Factory, killing four and wounding many. Anarchists called for a mass meeting the next day in Haymarket Square to protest the brutality.The meeting proceeded without incident, and by the time the last speaker was on the platform, the rainy gathering was already breaking up, with only a few hundred people remaining. It was then that 180 cops marched into the square and ordered the meeting to disperse. As the speakers climbed down from the platform, a bomb was thrown at the police, killing one and injuring seventy. Police responded by firing into the crowd, killing one worker and injuring many others.
Although it was never determined who threw the bomb, the incident was used as an excuse to attack the entire Left and labor movement. Police ransacked the homes and offices of suspected radicals, and hundreds were arrested without charge. Anarchists in particular were harassed, and eight of Chicago's most active were charged with conspiracy to murder in connection with the Haymarket bombing. A kangaroo court found all eight guilty, despite a lack of evidence connecting any of them to the bomb-thrower (only one was even present at the meeting, and he was on the speakers' platform), and they were sentenced to die. Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolf Fischer, and George Engel were hanged on November 11, 1887. Louis Lingg committed suicide in prison, The remaining three were finally pardoned in 1893.

In 1889 , the first congress of the Second International called for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests. These were so successful that May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the International's second congress in 1891.
In 1904 , the International Socialist Conference called on "all Social-Democratic Party organizations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on May the First for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.

May Day has come again. Let it be an occasion of fresh resolve. There are many who are with us but not of us. The struggle for Socialism is a long and arduous one, needing the help of every class-conscious man and woman. On this day, then, we urge the need to work for Socialism ...
...May Day is workers' day, the day of our class. However hollow the cries and futile the demonstrations, it remains the anniversary of protest, a continual reminder of exploitation and, subjection. “Class” is the reason and the theme of May Day – class in its fullest, truest sense. The working class is not the labourers or the artisans or the machine-minders: it is all people to whom wages are life. The working class is international: so is its cause. Among the cries and chants and slogans of May Day, only one has meaning:
“Workers of all countries unite!”

Our first Billionaire, doesn’t that make you feel good?

Here in Scotland just before the election there is a lot of effort being spent on telling us “we” should be better off if “we” were Independent , the opponents say no “we” should be better off remaining within the union i.e. Britain.
It’s a businessman’s war and you are expected to pick a side in a battle that would leave you where you are now, at the mercies of a capitalist society. However, you must rejoice that Sir Tom Hunter has become a billionaire because he is a philanthropist. Are they not the kind people who give away money? and he’s Scottish.

A comrade has already posted an article on this blog re the rich list , the figures irrefutably confirm that the capitalist class are becoming increasingly richer and the working class are growing poorer and poorer.

SIR Tom Hunter has joined the league of the super-rich by becoming Scotland's first home-grown billionaire, according to an article in Scotland on Sunday.

The 45-year-old entrepreneur from Ayrshire made his first serious money in 1998 from the sale of Sports Division to JJB Sports for £290m.
A spokesman for the Hunter Foundation said Hunter was as stunned as anyone by the news: He said: "We have never added up Tom's wealth. I think he is pretty stunned. It's a huge privilege but a huge challenge to use the money in a responsible way."

You will notice the use of the “we” word it’s important because that’s the people who look after his business.

"He didn't know what to do with his money and then he stumbled upon philanthropy. His new billionaire status means hundreds of thousands more pounds will flow into Scottish education and poverty alleviation in Africa."
Along with his wife Marion, the tycoon established The Hunter Foundation in 1998, which has donated millions to supporting educational and entrepreneurial projects in Scotland and the developing world.

The Hunter Foundation will use this store of wealth to set up profit making businesses and so alleviating the poverty situation a little for those fortunate enough to be employed, of course if there is no chance of a profit, the workers must get by as best they can because the money will not be just handed out.

Again this philanthropy is directed towards educating workers in entrepreneurial skills, which will no doubt require others to inform him of his stunning successes.


This blog notes another, Irvine Laidlaw, 63, the multi-millionaire businessman, philanthropist and the man who effectively finances the Scottish Conservatives, he also gives away his money in a responsible way i.e. ensuring the continuation of the capitalist system.
The skills the workers have for running their employers business can be used to provide the working class with know-how for the eradication of poverty, provided, “we” organise for Socialism. The common ownership of the means of production.

Many minorities 'live in poverty'


The BBC is carrying a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that found Some 40% of people from ethnic minority backgrounds are living in poverty. Almost half of all children from minority ethnic groups are in poverty.


For all ages, family types and family work statuses, people from minority ethnic groups are, on average, much more likely to be in income poverty than white British people.


The rate varies substantially between ethnic groups: Bangladeshis (65%), Pakistanis (55%) and black Africans (45%) have the highest rates; black Caribbeans (30%), Indians (25%), white Other (25%) and white British (20%) have the lowest rates.


The differences are particularly great for families where at least one adult is in paid work: in these families, around 60% of Bangladeshis, 40% of Pakistanis and 30% of black Africans are in income poverty. This is much higher than the 10-15% for white British, white Other, Indians and black Caribbeans.

Up to half of Bangladeshi workers, a third of Pakistanis and a quarter of black Africans were paid less than £6.50 per hour in 2006 compared with a fifth of the other ethnic groups.


15% of non-retired white British men aged 25 and over are not in paid work , by contrast, the equivalent proportions for Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, black Africans and black Caribbeans are 30-40%.Around 30% of non-retired white British women aged 25 and over are not in paid work but the vast majority – 80% – of Bangladeshi and Pakistani women are not in paid work.


Poverty was not confined to first generation immigrants, it concluded, with British born individuals from minority backgrounds less likely to be in work than their white equivalents.


A household is defined as in 'income poverty' if its income is less than 60% of the contemporary Great Britain median household income. In 2004/05, this was worth:
£100 per week for a single adult with no dependent children;
£183 per week for a couple with no dependent children;
£186 for a lone parent with two dependent children; and
£268 per week for a couple with two dependent children.
These sums are measured after deducting income tax, council tax and housing costs (including rents, mortgage interest, buildings insurance and water charges). The money left over is therefore what the household has available to spend on everything else it needs, from food and heating to travel and entertainment.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Blue-blooded Door-to-Door Salesman

The Royal Family - Capitalism personified .

The Independent on Sunday interviewed Prince Andrew , second son of the Queen or "Air Miles Andy" as he is sometimes known as . He is presently employed as a "roving ambassador" for UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the government quango that lobbies on behalf of British business overseas and tries to attract foreign investment to the UK. In November, the former CBI director-general Sir Digby Jones was appointed business adviser to the Duke.

Lord Levene, chairman of Lloyd's of London, wrote personally to the Duke to thank him for helping the reinsurance market in obtaining a licence to operate in China. The Duke had met the vice-mayor of Shanghai and raised the issue.

The Doncaster-based furniture maker BLP also credits him with having helped in the lifting of unexpected tax duties on the new £35m factory it had built in China.

He can be relied on to deliver the official line. Asked whether it was right for the Government to drop the investigation into British defence firm BAE Systems over alleged bribes to Saudi officials, he replies: "There was no case to answer for BAE."

Nevertheless his qualifications to promote British business interest is not based on any specific knowledge or acumen .

Talking about Barclays' proposed takeover of ABN Amro, he says: "It's quite complicated. I don't profess to understand [all of it]. That's something someone in the City understands and I don't."

He is simply the gloss and image salesman for British business that the government are willing to fund at £500,000 bill for his UKTI work this year

"In terms of the return on investment to the UK, bearing in mind I am part of a number of people, I would suggest that £500,000 is cheap at the price..." he says "I bring down a drawbridge if necessary and allow those [British] companies to be able to go through the window, go through the door or go over the drawbridge."

Indeed, the Blue-blooded door-to-door salesman for British Capitalism on the world market .

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Rich List and P*ssed

With the imminent publication of The Times 2007 Rich List , there will be many commentaries on it . The first i have read is from the BBC .

The fortunes of Britain's wealthiest 1,000 people grew 20% in a year .


The UK Office for National Statistics reported that average UK earnings including bonuses rose by 4.6 % in the year to February 2007 . Average earnings excluding bonuses on regular pay, rose by 3.6 % . The retail price index measure of inflation stands presently at 4.8%.

The £19 billion fortune of Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal ensured he kept his title as Britain's richest person. Mr Mittal's fortune grew more than £4 billion from from £14.8 billion in 2006 .
The Duke of Westminster fortune grew from £6.6 billion to £7 billion.


Once again , the figures irrefutably confirm that the capitalist class are becoming increasingly richer and the working class are growing poorer and poorer .

Buddy , can you spare a dime

From the Independent :-

To count as genuinely wealthy, according to a new survey, you need at least £6 million in the bank, as well as a £4 million London mansion and a holiday home worth at least £1 million. You'll also be wanting a retinue of staff costing £38,4000 a year, at least two cars worth upwards of £140,000, two luxury holidays a year and plenty of cash left over to send your children to private school.


That, at any rate, is the verdict of 200 British multimillionaires, who were interviewed .

Friday, April 27, 2007

Being poor adds years to you

A lifetime on a low wage physically ages a person eight years earlier than high earners, researchers found.

They followed more than 10,000 British civil servants aged 35 to 55, over a period of 20 years. The employees, working in 20 different departments and from all occupational grades, were surveyed five times between 1985 and 2004.

Physical health declined with age in all groups but most rapidly among those in the lowest occupational grades . For example, the average physical health of a 70-year-old high earner was similar to the physical health of a low earner around eight years younger. In mid-life, this gap was only 4.5 years. Among high earners, retirement appeared to improve their mental health and well-being. But no similar improvement was seen in the lower occupational groups.
A higher income might enable a pensioner to lead a more active social life and eat a healthier diet.

Kate Jopling of Help the Aged said: "This shows very clearly that health inequalities are not something that happen only early life or childhood...We need to improve older people's lives and make sure they have a good income in retirement..."

It is very doubtful whether capitalism will be able to achieve such aims . On the contrary , inequalities are expected to widen .

Two million pensioners (1 in every 5) are still living below the official poverty line.
Since 2002-03 the state pension has risen by 8.7%. But over the same period water charges have gone up by 12.6%, council tax by 23%, electricity by 32% and gas by 49%.
The issue of winter deaths is also still causing concern.
31 600 older people died last winter as a result of the cold. Government confirms that this is the highest figure for five years.
Over a million pensioner households are suffering fuel poverty, spending more than 10% of their income on energy bills.
A million pensioners (1 in 10) are malnourished.
3 million pensioners being unable to take part in leisure and social activities due to a lack of access to public transport.
[Figures according to The National Pensioners Convention]

NPC vice president Dot Gibson said: ‘Being older in modern Britain can mean that you feel trapped in your own home and don’t have enough money to eat or put the heating on.Even those living above the poverty line struggle to pay rising utility bills, meet the costs of care and getting out to enjoy life. The scale of inequality affects every older person in one way or another’

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Nats Whae Hae?

Nationalism is anathema to socialists. Wage and salary workers have no country. We have more in common with people like ourselves in other countries than with the privileged owning class of the country where we happen to live and work. The world-wide working class has a common interest, to end its exploitation and solve its problems, to join together to establish a world without frontiers in which the resources of the planet will have become the heritage of all, so that there can be production to meet needs and not for profit. One world, one people,where cultural differences will still be celebrated, but where we'll all be citizens of the world.

It is clear, then, why socialists don't take sides in the debate, aired in this month's elections to the Scottish Parliament, about whether it is better for workers there to be ruled from Edinburgh (as the SNP says) or from London with a little help from Edinburgh (as say the British Nationalists of the Labour, Liberal and Tory parties).

The SNP argues that the problems facing workers in Scotland are due to "Westminster rule". If only there was an independent Scotland, they say, separate from the rest of Britain, then there would be full employment, higher wages, job security, better state benefits, a healthy health service and all the other things politicians promise at election times. This view is echoed by the so-called Scottish"Socialist" Party and Tommy Sheridan's Solidarity (-with -Sheridan) party. But it is patently absurd.

This would be a purely political, not to say mere constitutional, change which would leave the basic economic structure of society unchanged. There would still be a privileged class owning and controlling the means of production with the rest having to work for them for a living. Just as now.

Maybe the pillar boxes would be painted tartan but that would be about all.

An independent Scottish government would still have to operate within the constraints of the world capitalist system. It would still have to ensure that goods produced in Scotland were competitive on world markets and that capitalists investing in Scotland were allowed to make the same level of profits as they could in other countries.

In other words, it would still be subject to the same economic pressures as the existing London-based government to promote profits and restrict wages and benefits. And as the government of Ireland,which broke away from the United Kingdom in 1922 and where things have never been any different. Not even the national state-capitalism proposed by the SSP and Sheridan would make any difference. As in Cuba, exports would still have to be competitive and popular consumption restricted to achieve this.

Since it is this class-divided, profit-motivated society that is thecause of the problems workers face in Scotland, as in England and in the rest of the world, so these problems will continue, regardless of whether Scotland separates from or remains part of the United Kingdom.

The SNP is promising a referendum in 2010. What an irrelevant waste of time and energy that would be, but it's their alibi. If they get to form the regional government of Scotland their excuse for not delivering (as capitalism won't let them) will be that their hands were tied and that their promises will only be able to be honoured after separation. Some of their naïve, lower-level members may believe thus, but we don't think too many other workers will be fooled. They will have switched their votes to them, not because they want a breakaway Scotland but as a protest against the Labour Party.

So, the SNP leaders will be the prisoner of their non-separatist voters and will have to settle down to life as regional politicians. Not that that will necessarily displease them if they get to be regional ministers. Which, as professional politicians, is probably their realistic aim anyway.

Our opposition to the SNP should not be interpreted as support for the Union or the Labour, Liberal or Tory parties that support it. We are just as opposed to them.

A plague on both their houses is what we say.

To adapt a slogan ,

Neither London nor Edinburgh, but World Socialism.

From May Socialist Standard

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Short Anti-miltarism Video

Follow this link and click on an imaginative 2 minute video , speculating on who are behind the current American war -fever . We would question if there is a distinct military-industry complex that operates independently and solely in its own interests .
We would counterpose that wars for raw materials and for control of trade routes is the natural state for the enormous economies of the USA ( and of the EU and all the other other capitalist countries ) .
But arms traders certainly fan the flames of conflict .

Monday, April 23, 2007

Government adds another 100,000 to poverty figures

From the BBC :-

The government has admitted that there were an extra 100,000 adults of working age living in both absolute and relative poverty in 2005/06. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has revised its statistics on poverty, first published in March.
It now estimates there were 7.2 million such adults in relative poverty that year, and 5 million working age adults in absolute poverty.

Relative poverty is calculated as the proportion and number of people living on less than 60% of the current median income. Absolute poverty describes those who are living below 60% of the median income from 1998-99.

Oh No...!!


OH NO, NOT ANOTHER ELECTION LEAFLET!
Yes, but hang on - this one's different.


THAT'S WHAT THEY ALL SAY!
They don't all mean it, though. And they don't all know what they're talking about!


HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT?
We're not promising you anything.


SO WHAT ARE YOU DOING THEN?
Asking you to think. Then vote for yourself. For a change

Sunday, April 22, 2007

THEY'RE ALL THIEVES.

Extracts from this article by Rupert Wingfield-Hayes BBC News, Moscow
Reinforce what the socialist party were saying when the so-called communist party was denying it all those years ago.
State Capitalism like any other form of Capitalism creates rich and poor, millionaires and paupers. If we are to believe this BBC correspondent he was invited to the home of a billionaire’s daughter.

“This week we learned that Mr Abramovich is one of a growing list of hyper-rich Russians.
According to Forbes magazine Russia now has 60 billionaires.
Unlike Mr Abramovich, most of them live in Moscow, which, if I'm not much mistaken, makes the Russian capital home to more billionaires than any other city in the world.” “It is quite a change for a place that 15 years ago had no millionaires, let alone billionaires." How exactly these people have got hold of such vast wealth in such a short time is a very good question, and one many ordinary Russians would like answered. It is one reason why Russia's richest people like to keep their identities and their lifestyles secret.”
There is talk of “the secret city were enormous green fences, at least 20 feet (6 metres) high, and topped off with closed circuit cameras.” A different world.
Suddenly we plunged out of the forest, and in to a different world. It was a little like a scene from Doctor Who. One minute we were in Russia, the next in Beverly Hills.
Svetlana's "cottage" was a spectacular 3,000 sq m Art Deco pile. How big is that? Big enough for an indoor swimming pool, a cinema, a bowling alley, a ballroom, and the piece de resistance, its own indoor ice rink!
"This is our newest house," Svetlana told me as we walked past a large bronze sphinx in the gardens. "My father's been building it for five years."
"So how many other houses do you have?" I asked.
"A couple in Moscow, two in the south of France, and one in Corsica," she said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. She shops in Paris and Milan, where she flies on one of her father's private jets.
Gilded cage. All these toys have not made Svetlana a happy girl. "I live in a gilded cage," she told me. "I have no friends and no freedom." I did feel sorry for her, but only a little.

A mile down the road, firmly back in Russia, I went to see Mrs Rima. The 75-year-old showed me around the one-room shack she built with her own hands. She survives on a pension of £60 a month. I asked her what she thinks of the rich people who live behind the high green walls.
"They're all thieves," she said. "All that money is stolen from the people." It's a view millions of Russians would agree with. Fifteen years ago everything in Russia was owned by the state. Today a quarter of Russia's economy is owned by 36 men.
We in the Socialist Party continue our policy of advocating common ownership of the means of production, i.e. Socialism. The World for the Workers.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The great bird flu swindle...

From a contributor to the WSM Forum :-

Bernard Matthews Ltd is to receive over £500,000 in compensation as a result of the culling of 160,000 of his turkeys during the recent H5N1breakout at one of their farms in Norfolk.

The reason (given in the BBC online news report) is that the 1981Animal Health Act provides for compensation to encourage the "early reporting of bird flu to minimise the spread of the disease".

So if I get this right, we are paying Bernard Matthews for NOT covering up a bird flu outbreak which could pose a risk to the millions of people?

Phew!! That's OK then…….

It's just that I thought for a minute we were handing out half a million pounds of taxpayers money to a £400 million a year, privately owned company for doing nothing more than we should reasonably expect any supplier of food products to consider a fundamental part of their of their moral obligation in the protection of the very people who have lined their pockets (despite the sometimes questionable nutritional value of some of their products) for the last 57 years.

Once again, the Government looks after the interests of Big Business at the expense of the working taxpayer. DEFRA seems to have totally missed that although no "specific proven source has been found" for the outbreak, the fact that it was completely localized within the Bernard Matthews farm suggests that there has clearly been SOME kind of catastrophic failure of their biosecurity measures. It's OK though,because they didn't try and cover it up.

What is even more laughable is that Ben Bradshaw; the New Labour Animal Health Minister has praised a "comprehensive" report on the matter by the National Emergency Epidemiology Group. This praise is despite the fact that the report, intended to determine the source of the outbreak, didn't in actual fact, determine the source of the outbreak.

So the Government gives the National Emergency Epidemiology Group a nice pat on the back for saying "We don't really know where it came from, it was probably Hungary", Bernard Matthews gets a congratulatory handshake and a £500,000 tip for his "community spirit" and the rest of us are still none the wiser as to where the outbreak came from or if it is likely to happen again!

Welcome to Britain under new Labour, the rich get richer and the poor get Turkey Twizzlers.

Bootiful.

Election Fever


With the elections approaching , the media are hyping it all up as if some sort of real change is about to be in the offing , and the political party apparatchiks are out and about trying to convince the cynical and sceptical public to vote for their same old tried and tired solutions and policies .
We in the Socialist Party offer something a lot different .


Extracts from previous election statements .


Capitalism is past its sell-by date .

The world can now easily produce wealth sufficient to adequately house , feed , care for and educate the global population . Instead we see hunger, disease and homelessness around the world despite the concerns of governments, charities and popstars. Closer to home, in a "developed" nation like the UK , we see child poverty and an increasing gulf between rich and poor . Rates of depression and anxiety are becoming epidemic .Capitalism is failing : it now acts as a barrier , preventing production being geared to human need . Rather than keep trying to tinker with this system we should start looking beyond it to an alternative : a wageless , moneyless , classless world community based on production for human need , not profit ...


...candidates contesting this election (whether openly pro-capitalist or avowedly socialist) are asking you to believe that they can run this society a little bit better . We’d argue that history shows that the money system actually ends up running them . Their pre-election promises usually amount to nothing .So don’t vote for them - it only encourages the idea that capitalism can be made better. A vote for the Socialist Party in contrast, is a statement that you don’t want to live this way and that you think another world is possible .If you have confidence that humans can live and work co-operatively without the pressure of the wages system, or the rationing system of money , then visit www.worldsocialism.org ...


...What is apparent so far in this election is the extent to which all the parties try and manage the agenda for the election. They all want to encourage the debate to be round the handful of high-profile “flagship” issues where they feel on strong ground.

But its always phrased along the lines of “knocking on doors, we keep hearing that XXX is the real issue of the day”. Funnily enough, we don’t hear the Lib Dems, for example, say “recent canvassing returns indicate that voters actually don’t give a damn about our policies one way or the other”.The assumption is that voters are stupid and can only remember 3 or 4 things at a time, so why give them more than that to consider.What it all means is that the campaign may centre around a handful of issues only. That may appear to appeal to the Socialist Party. After all we are the ultimate single issue party - Abolish Capitalism. But while this is a single issue no-one is pretending that it is a simple case. Sure its not complicated, the case for putting human need ahead of profit, but soundbites don’t do our case justice.

We are also handicapped in the eyes of the modern voter by the fact that we are not in a position to make promises, and what’s more, we aren’t going to “do anything” for anyone. The other parties are falling over each other to be seen to be offering some immediate palliative...


...PEOPLE OR PROFIT
That's the issue in this election, says THE SOCIALIST PARTY . You will have your occasional ration of democracy with the opportunity to vote for a member of Parliament. It's all very well having a vote-but are you normally given any real choice?

Let's face it, if it wasn't for the politician's head on the front of the election leaflet,could you tell which party was which?It's tempting, in the absence of any real alternative, to get drawn into the phoney war that is political debate today.

Whether Labour, Tory, SNP, Lib Dem orSSP they all spout the same promises.But it always amounts to the same thing-they offer no alternative to the present way of running society.

Do you really think who wins an election makes any difference to how you live?

And do politicians (whether left-wing,nationalist or right-wing) actually have much real power anyway?

OK, they get to open supermarkets and factories, but it's capitalism and the market system which closes them down...


...We have endless problems of poverty, poor services and all the issues politicians love to spend time telling you they can solve, if only given the chance.

We don't believe any politician can solve these problems, as long as the flawed basis of our society remains intact. In fact, we believe only you and your fellow workers can solve these problems.

We believe that it will take a revolution in how we organise our lives, a fundamental change. We want to see a society based on the fact that you know how to run your lives, know your needs and have the skills and capacity to organise with your fellows to satisfy them.

You know yourselves and your lives better than a handful of bosses ever can.

With democratic control of production we can ensure that looking after our communities becomes a priority, rather than something we do in our spare time.

We all share fundamental needs, for food, clothing, housing and culture, and we have the capacity to ensure access to these for all, without exception.

If you agree with this aim, then we ask you to get in touch with us, get involved and join in our campaign to bring about this change in society. Together, we have the capacity to run our world for ourselves. We need to build a movement to effect that change, by organising deliberately to take control of the political offices which rule our lives, and bring them into our collective democratic control.

Our candidate makes no promises, offers no pat solutions, only to be the means by which you can remake society for the common good...


...The crumbs or the bakery?
Politics today is a game of Ins and Outs in which gangs of professional politicians compete with each other to attract votes, the gang securing a majority of seats in parliament assuming responsibility for running the political side of the profit system.To win votes the politicians have to promise -- and be believed -- to improve things both for the population in general, as by managing the economy so as to avoid slumps and crises, and for particular groups within the population.

When the economy is expanding or even just ticking over the Ins have the advantage. They can claim that this is due to their wise statesmanship and prudent management. Such claims are false as the economy goes its own way -- expanding or contracting as the prospect of profits rises or falls -- irrespective of which gang of politicians is in office. But making such claims can backfire as, when the economy falters, the Outs can blame this on the incompetence and mismanagement on the Ins. But that's not true either since politicians don't control the way the economy works.


But throwing crumbs to the people (or to carefully targeted sections of the people whose votes could swing things) is not the main purpose of government. Marx once wrote that the government is "but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie". And it's still true. The function of any government is to manage the common affairs of the capitalist class as a whole. This involves a number of things. Sustaining a context in which profit-making can continue. Spending the money raised from taxes (that are ultimately a burden on the capitalist class) in a prudent way on things that will benefit the capitalist class as a whole, such as providing them with an educated, relatively healthy and so productive workforce. Maintaining -- and if need be using -- armed forces to protect sources of raw materials, trade routes, investment outlets and markets abroad. That's what most government spending goes on, and balancing this against income from taxes is what budgets are essentially about.It is only because wage and salary workers, active or retired, have the vote that, occasionally if there's a small margin of money spare, a few crumbs are offered to some section or other of the electorate. No doubt, the pensioners, the home buyers and the families offered a few hundred extra pounds a year will accept these crumbs cast before them by Gordon Brown in yesterday's pre-election budget. Hopefully, they won't accept them as bribes to vote for his particular gang of politicians, but simply because it would be stupid not to pick them up.

Nowadays most people have learned by experience and are, rightly, just as cynical about the politicians and their promises -- and crumbs -- as are politicians about how they get people to vote for them. But cynicism is not enough. This should be turned into rejection. The game of Ins and Outs, to decide which gang of professional politicians should manage the common affairs of the capitalist class, only continues because most of us agree to take part in it. But by voting for them we in effect give them the power to keep the capitalist system going. And that, not which particular gang of politicians happens to be in office, is the cause of today’s problems since built-in to capitalism is putting making profits before satisfying people’s needs.


Socialists are only too well aware that most people put up with capitalism, and go along with its political game of Ins and Outs in the hope of getting a few crumbs out of it, because they see no practicable alternative. But there is an alternative... Politics should be more than individuals deciding which politicians to trust to deliver some crumbs that they think will benefit them individually. It should be about collective action to change society.
About taking over the whole bakery.


from B Gardner and D Lambert previous election addresses

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Oh Lord

Acoording to the BBC:-

Lord Laidlaw of Rothiemay , a leading Conservative Party donor , is still a tax exile three years after agreeing to become a UK resident to gain a peerage . When Lord Laidlaw was proposed for a working peerage in 2004 he agreed to a Lords' Appointments Commission request to renounce his tax exile status.

Last year, he was named as Scotland's second richest person, with a fortune of £730 million from conference and media enterprises. Laidlaw loaned the Tory party £3.5 million.

The Lords' Appointments Commission will "name and shame" him in a forthcoming review, but has no formal power to revoke his peerage.

Socialist Courier happily adds his name to our list of social parasites .

More Oily Profits


Continuing the Socialist Courier saga of the riches to riches story of the fortunate few .


Executive directors at Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy reaped the rewards of the oil and gas industry and shared in a £25 million cash-and-shares boardroom bonanza .


The company's directors' pay bill more than doubled, with chief executive Sir Bill Gammell netting £5.5 million in pay, benefits and shares.
In 2006, Gammell's basic pay and benefits increased 37% to £986,716, including a bonus equivalent to 100% of his £480,000 salary, plus further benefits worth £26,716. His short-term earnings were dwarfed, however, by a gain of £4,496,549 from the vesting of shares awarded under a long-term incentive plan (LTIP).


Exploration director Mike Watts pocketed £4.3 million. Watts also had reason to celebrate Cairn's share-price success in a year when his basic pay package climbed 31% to £581,844. This included a £350,000 salary and £210,000 bonus. Watts chalked up a gain of £3,724,869 on vesting of LTIP shares.


Group general manager Malcolm Thoms netted an LTIP gain of £3,359,503 to add to a £504,435 pay package.


Jann Brown, who succeeded Kevin Hart as finance director, and Simon Thomson, legal and commercial director, joined Cairn's board last November. They each enjoyed an LTIP share gain of nearly £1.7 million , as did Phil Tracy, engineering director. Brown and Thomson also each pocketed a £200,000 bonus .


Hart, the previous finance director , meanwhile, was paid £660,430 in his final year as a director before stepping down on November 17. He made a further £3,359,503 under LTIP.


This followed a series of bumper discoveries in Rajasthan, India , which saw the share price, which stood at 370p in January 2004, reach £25 last May.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Vote Socialist Party

Laying it on the line , with no weasel words , no kissing of babies , no false promises , no political platitudes .

And here once again , a clear , concise challenge for the voters to think before they choose .
Where no SPGB candidate is standing , declare for "World Socialism" by writing it across your ballot paper .

Tesco check-out


Going shopping ?? Getting the groceries ??


The UK's biggest supermarket chain, Tesco, will smash its own national record this week when it unveils annual profits totalling more than £2.5bn, or close to £5,000 profit every minute.


Tesco business sales up from £39.4bn a year ago to an expected £42.7bn - more than the GDP of Peru.


Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy has been named the most influential unelected person in the UK by a Guardian Unlimited panel .

One of the panel, Isobel Larkin of the TUC , said, "His future influence and actions on the effects of climate change, globalisation of the UK workforce, ethical trading and suppliers who employ vulnerable workers will be critical in determining whether his nomination is as a force for good or ill."


A reminder that it is Capitalism and the capitalists need to accumulate and accumulate that is the driving force in to-day's society and the striving for profits that determine the nature and future of the world ... unless , of course , we change the system .

Sunday, April 15, 2007

ESCAPE 2

The previous item brings to mind the story that an old Glasgow speaker was fond of telling from the outdoor platform.
An Eastern potentate was visiting a Glasgow factory when the lunch-time hooter sounded and all the workers made a bee-line for the canteen. "Look out, sir. Your slaves are escaping." "Don't worry, Omar. Wait 40 minutes." Sure enough 40 minutes later the hooter sounded and the wage slaves streamed back into the factory. "Amazing", cried the eastern visitor. "I must buy some of these magic hooters." R.D.

ESCAPE 1

The Observer has a supplement each week called "Escape", containing articles about various holiday destinations, and, of course, many advertisements for holidays. Why do they call it "Escape"? It is targeted at all the people whose jobs are so boring or so stressful that they feel they can stand it only if they can get away for a short break in the summer. And the enormous size of the holiday industry shows that there are very many such people.

But how can such a holiday be called an "escape" when it is of strictly limited duration, and all the holidaymakers know they will have to go back afterwards to the very same conditions which made them long to "escape" in the first place? "Escape" is clearly the wrong word. Whoever heard of a daring escape from prison or a prisoner-of-war camp, when the successful escapee celebrated his release by going back in two weeks' time to the main gate and asking to be re-admitted? R.D.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Well Oiled

Next time you fill up your car at the petrol station think about B.P. retiring boss , Lord Browne .

Due to retire this coming July , it is estimated that his parting reward will be £5.3 million and a pension pot of £21.7 million which will provide him with a million a year . Add to that shares worth £14 million and performance-related shares that could be worth up to £30 milllion over the coming years. His accumulated wealth could potentially add up to £72 million .


LORD BROWNE'S PAYOFF
Leaving present
£5.3m
Pension pot
£21.7m
Accumulated shares
£14m
Share options
£1.4m
Performance shares
Up to £30m
Total
£72.5m

This , of course , when the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board criticised B.P. for cost-cutting orders from senior executives in BP's London headquarters that impaired safety at the Texas City refinery resulting in an explosion which killed 15 people and injured hundreds more and that those executives failed to provide effective safety leadership and failed to provide effective oversight.
The report accused BP's process safety management of being wracked with "material deficiencies", adding that the company’s failure to learn from mistakes at its Grangemouth refinery in Scotland contributed to the Texas incident citing a series of three serious incidents at the BP refinery in Grangemouth Scotland , in 2000 . BP officials wrote that meeting "cost targets" played a role in the Grangemouth incidents .

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

MOON PLOTS AND MOON PLOTTERS

Sir Patrick Moore, presenter of the Sky at Night programme, celebrated the programme’s 50th year by a skit involving him using a time machine to go back to his first programme on the BBC. It was all good fun, the moon and what it was made up with was guessed at in those days and some things he got correct.
Patrick then forwarded himself 50 years into the future and guesses were made at what could happen then, he spoke with Brian May who used to be the leading guitarist with the Queen and congratulated him on his Live Aid concert on the moon.

Live Aid on the moon? Fifty years from now! Now there is progress!

In a capitalist world the race to exploit resources can lead to war. The common ownership of planet earth remains the most important task the working class must achieve, this article demonstrates the futility of leaving the planet in the hands of people who believe the moon and the rest of the solar system is there for their benefit.

Who owns the moon? Some think it is an American, because he is selling plots and making a very good living apparently.
From his office in Nevada, entrepreneur Dennis Hope has spawned a multi-million-dollar property business selling plots of lunar real estate at $20 (£10) an acre.

If Patrick has guessed the future correctly we shall be listening to Live Aid urging us to contribute what little we have while capitalists plot over the plots on the moon.

The Moon, claims Prof Jerry Kulcinski of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, could become the Persian Gulf of the 21st Century.

‘If we had gold bricks stacked up on the surface of the Moon, we couldn't afford to bring them back. This material - at several billion dollars a ton - is what makes it all worthwhile.’

What’s it to be Live Aid or Socialism? I know my choice.

Wall St Wealth


Normally, Socialist Courier exposes the wealth of our local Scottish capitalists but on this occasion the Independent has revealed just how financially rewarding it is to be an American stock-market speculator and parasite .


Chief executive of Morgan Stanley bank , John Mack , took home $41.4m (£21m) last year but Trader Monthly , the journal of investment hedge fund managers , showed that even he would not have made their Top 100 List . The average take home pay of the 100 on the list was $241million and the total earnings for the list was $24.1billion.It is not a list of net worth and does not take into account stocks, options or anything other than cash made in the year .


T. BOONE PICKENS , oil trader , $1bn-$1.5bn


JOHN ARNOLD $1.5bn-$2bn , Mr Arnold's fund ended the year with a 317 per cent profit on its estimated $1bn of assets. About half of the fund is believed to be Mr Arnold's own money, cash he made at Enron


JAMES SIMONS , $1.5bn-$2bn , controls $24bn in assets and charges clients 5 per cent a year to look after their cash


EDDIE LAMPERT $1bn-$1.5bn , one of the doyennes of the buy-out industry, snapping up companies in the retail sector such as Kmart and Sears, and raking in cash through his $18bn (£9.1bn) ESL Investments fund.


STEVIE COHEN $1bn , whose hedge fund manages $5.5bn in assets and is one of the busiest trading businesses - made net returns of 30 per cent.


Socialists have always agreed with Sir Harvey Jones , a former chief executive of ICI commenting on modern capitalism - "Business is getting more corrupt...The stock market ... has purely become a gambling den..."

Monday, April 09, 2007

Who owns the Moon


In a previous blog we reported on the possible future exploitation of the Arctic regions . Here we pass on a BBC report on how The Moon is now up for grabs .


Nevada, entrepreneur Dennis Hope has taken advantage of a loophole in the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty and he has been claiming ownership of the Earth's Moon - and seven planets and their moons - for more than 20 years. Hope says he has so far sold more than 400 million acres (1.6m sq km) , that has already made him $9 million (£4.5 million).


But the real development that is about to take place is that, within a matter of decades, the Moon will be much more than a scientific outpost; it could become a vital commercial frontier.


President George Bush in January 2004 committed the US to returning to the Moon by as early as 2017. He said the US aimed to establish a long term lunar base by around 2020.


China - which has already successfully launched two manned space missions - has announced a similar timetable.


Russia, for nearly 50 years one of the world's leading space powers, may not be far behind.


Europe, Japan and India have also expressed an interest.


Large private companies and rich entrepreneurs have also seen a new business opportunity.
One of the biggest is US space contractor Lockheed Martin, which is currently developing technologies that will enable future lunar residents to exploit the lunar surface.
In particular it is working on a process which will convert moon dust into oxygen and water. It may even be able to turn it into rocket fuel.


But this is peanuts compared to what scientists believe is the real prize lying in the moon rocks.


Data collected from the Apollo Moon landings have indicated that large deposits of an extremely rare gas called helium 3 are trapped in the lunar soil. Plans are already afoot in the US and Russia to strip-mine lunar helium 3 and transport it the 240,000 miles (385,000km) back to Earth.


The Moon, claims Prof Jerry Kulcinski of the University of Wisconsin-Madison , could become the Persian Gulf of the 21st Century.


Rich Ba**ards


450 skilled staff at engineering company Weir Group at Cathcart were recently given notice of impending redundancy , whereas , the Herald reports that the company's chief executive Mark Selway banked £999,737 in 2006, £94,000 more than in the previous year and more than twice the £484,000 he was paid in 2004. In addition to a basic wage of £531,940, Selway received a bonus of £448,800 and other benefits worth £18,997. Selway's maximum bonus has been increased from 85% of salary to 125%, putting him on course to pocket nearly £700,000 in annual bonus alone from 2007.

Weir's company secretary Alan Mitchelson, 57, was paid just under £500,000 - £60,000 more than in 2005 and almost double his total remuneration two years previously. Mitchelson's package comprised basic pay of £283,350, a bonus of £200,250 and other benefits worth £14,615. For Mitchelson, the maximum potential bonus has risen from 75% of salary last year to 100%.


Weir's non-executive directors shared £363,258 in 2006, 12% more than the previous year, and will get more in 2007. Chairman Sir Robert Smith, who received £147,000 last year, had his remuneration increased to £175,000 on April 1. The basic fee for non-executives rose from £35,000 to £40,000 on the same date.


Commenting, Kenny Jordan, regional officer at trade union Amicus, said:-


"Our members' reward for those profits has been a below-average pay offer and uncertainty about the future of their jobs..."


I have news for union official Jordan - Capitalism doesn't exist to reward workers and it's from exploiting workers through the wages system that those profits arise in the first place .


Meanwhile , elsewhere , Keith Cochrane, former chief executive of transport giant Stagecoach, was paid £321,050 for six months work following his appointment as group finance director in July 2006. This included a bonus of £129,375 and the maximum potential bonus has risen from 75% of salary last year to 100% meaning bigger potential bonus next year .

Some have it very good , eh ?


It is the same , same old story which the Socialist Party is determined to work to end for once and for all .

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Fat Cat Capitalism


Continuing our exposure of those over-paid lackeys of capitalism as reported by The Herald.

Scottish Widows chief Archie Kane's pay package has soared by nearly 50% in just two years - Lloyds' annual report shows that Kane earned £1,252,000 last year, a 36% increase on the £919,000 he banked in the previous 12 months and 46% more than in 2004. Last year's package included a basic salary of £500,000 and a performance bonus of £715,000, together with other benefits worth £37,000.


Kane also saw his pension boosted by £715,000 in 2006. This gives him a personal retirement pot of £4.4million and entitles him to an annual pension of £265,000, up from £240,000 in 2005.


Lloyds TSB's annual report also reveals that basic pay rates and potential bonuses for the bank's executive directors were greatly increased from January 1 this year. Kane got a 10% rise in his basic salary, to £550,000, and his potential bonus was increased from 150% of salary to 200%. Kane could earn £1.1m in bonus alone in 2007.

The maximum potential bonus has been increased for all Lloyds executive directors from 150% to 200% - with the exception of chief executive Eric Daniels, for whom it has risen from 175% to 225%. Last weekend it was disclosed that Daniels received a 27% jump in his total pay last year to £2.4million .

Although Socialist Courier directs browsers attention to these income inequities , we do so , not out of shallow envy . We do not advocate increased equalisation of income . We simply wish to point out that these privileges and disparities are built into the capitalist system and that the whole edifice has to be abolished , not just the unpalatable parts .

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