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The issue being discussed in the working class and trade union movement following the massive demonstration for A Future That Works is how resistance and organisation can be developed in the fight for an alternative to the governments austerity programme. This also includes discussion of what mechanisms the working class has at its disposal.
For example, what did trade unions and delegates at the TUC Congress take up this year? They focused on the campaign for an alternative to austerity, an alternative to realise that future beginning right now. This campaign which the trade unions have taken up involves a fight to realise now jobs, homes and a decent standard of living for working people. It involves a fight to preserve the welfare state, investments in infrastructure and affordable social housing. It is expressed as an active industrial policy that makes strategic use of government procurement and helps to develop a greener and more stable economy. And looking at the mechanisms at the disposal of the trade unions, the resolve was that there needs to be a strong voice from all the TUC unions to protect public and private sector workers. The trade union movement as represented in the TUC is united that co-ordinated actions are required, with far reaching campaigns including consideration of the practicalities of a general strike, as the delegates to the 2012 Congress resolved.
In other words, what the movement is gravitating towards is that the focus is not just about opposition to austerity but to turning things around from the old direction of society to fight for and realise a new direction for society. This experience shows that what is required is not some policy objective for the next Westminster government but to organise to take care of the future political direction in the here and now.
At this time, the programme which expresses this future in the present and unites the whole working class movement is the programme to stop paying the rich; and, increase investments in social programmes. It is a fighting programme to expand investment in social programmes, the social and public sector of the economy and a programme that demands more wealth is put back into the economy and preventing the added value produced by the working class being taken out of the economy by the financial oligarchy. It is a programme that reflects the struggle between the old direction represented by paying the rich and imposing austerity and the new direction of putting more into the economy than is taken out and organising a society for the benefit of its members and that guarantees their rights to a livelihood, to health care, housing and the rights of all. It also upholds the vital question of what is needed for an alternative to the wars and occupations pursued by successive British governments. It is a programme that there is an alternative to war and that taking a stand for this now is the precondition for bringing about a future without war.
Such a programme requires building on the success following the massive demonstrations the March for the Alternative in 2011 and the March For A Future That Works on October 20. As the workers organised into their trade unions have been summing up, it is to build on this resistance and take it forward. The spontaneous consciousness is growing that new forms are required for organising and consolidating the resistance. What is clear is that with the crisis of political representation of the working class, with the need for the democratic renewal of society, the working class and people require a new political direction.To turn the situation around, the working class and trade union movement must go all out to mobilise for the next step in its fight for the alternative. It is in this context that the working class needs its own worker politicians and to ensure that all participate in analysing what programme, resistance and organisation are needed, combining this with action to work for a new future.
Workers must increasingly get together in this way to develop their own thinking as to how society is organised so that public right prevails over monopoly right, so that the majority prevail over big party government and so that the working class can take its place as the leader of a new society in Britain. The working class needs that power to implement its agenda. This is the future! The working class has the mission to bring that future about, and must seriously consider the strategy and tactics required to make its power count. This is the lesson on how to launch the next stage of the line of march of the campaign of A Future That Works!
RCPB(ML) film production
The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, recently announced that the government has published what it refers to as the Iraq Network Strategic Review, in short its new strategy for Iraq, following the criminal Anglo-American-led invasion of that country in 2003 and then the withdrawal of the remnants of the occupation forces last year.
The full details of the review have not yet been made available but the general orientation of the government’s strategy are clear from the comments made to Parliament by the Foreign Secretary and other government ministers. The Foreign Secretary’s assertion is that Iraq is “gradually becoming more stable” with a “democratically-elected government” but such phrases cannot hide the facts that even the British government accepts, that there are major economic problems, including unemployment affecting at least a third of the population, as well as great political instability, wide-scale corruption and human rights abuses. There is the likelihood that political instability and violence will increase both as a result of internal problems caused by the legacy of the Anglo-American-led invasion and by the destabilisation of neighbouring Syria as a consequence of the activities of Britain and the other big powers in collaboration with their regional allies.
It is in the face of such instability that the British government is attempting to secure an advantage in its contention with the other global and regional powers in an area that the Foreign Secretary claims “is vital to UK security and prosperity”. Earlier this month the Iraqi government signed a £2.6 billion deal to purchase arms from Russia, yet another sign that despite its leading role in the invasion the British government and the big monopolies and institutions it represents are in rivalry with others. Indeed, in 2010 it was reported that Britain was only the ninth largest investor in Iraq, lagging way behind countries such as France, which did not take part in the illegal invasion.
It is partly to address this situation that the government is now acting and the need to strengthen economic ties was a major focus of William Hague’s comments to Parliament. The Iraq Network Strategic Review therefore sets out measures to ensure closer political and economic ties between the two countries and to make it easy for British monopolies to penetrate the Iraqi economy, particular in those areas where it might gain or maintain an advantage. It is evident that the government has a particular focus on semi-autonomous Kurdistan both for economic as well as strategic reasons. Major monopolies such as HSBC, Costain and Balfour Beatty are already active in the region where some commercial agreements have been signed without authority from the central government in Baghdad. While the exploitation of Iraq’s largest oilfield, Rumaila, reputed to be the second largest in the world, is jointly in the hands of BP and its partner China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). Only last year there were allegations that BP has secured “a stranglehold” over Iraq, since Rumaila accounts for 95% of Iraq’s foreign earnings. BP’s foothold in Iraq, said to be worth several hundred million pounds a year, it is reported, was assisted by the lobbying of its “special advisor”, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, formerly Britain’s Ambassador to the UN and Edward Chaplin, Britain’s Ambassador to Iraq at the time of the Anglo-American military occupation.
It is evident that the present government’s strategy in regard to Iraq is in no way differs from that of its predecessors. It remains intent on securing economic advantages not for the people of Iraq, nor in order to “support a stable, democratic and prosperous Iraq”, but rather solely in the interests of the big monopolies and financial institutions who are plundering the country of its precious resources. At the same time, the government has made clear that its aim is to content with its allies and rivals to attempt to develop Iraq as a state that is compliant with these aims and which can be utilised to further the government’s geo-political interests throughout the region. The Strategic Review is therefore a means to establish a state that is by no means independent but rather increasingly tied to the aims of the ruling class in Britain.
The Labour government of Blair justified the invasion of Iraq and destruction of Iraq, the subsequent regime change and the loss of thousands of lives with lies and deceit in a vain attempt to establish a smoke screen to mask its war crimes. The present government has the opportunity to make reparation for these crimes but wishes to add to them in the interests of the rich in regard to both Iraq and other countries. It must become the mission of the workers and all democratic people in Britain to end such crimes, to establish an anti-war government, bring all the war criminals and profiteers to book and make appropriate reparation.
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