|Volume 49 Number 11, June 4, 2019||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis
EU Elections 2019:
EU Elections and the Divisions in the Polity
Collapse of British Steel
Mass opposition to Trump's visit in July 2018
On June 4, as opposition builds on a mass scale to US President Donald Trump's state visit, a national protest is taking place, assembling at 11.00am in Trafalgar Square. Coaches are converging from all parts of the country. Numerous other protests to the state visit from June 3-5 are also planned, including when Trump, the Queen, Theresa May and leaders of other governments, particularly France, Canada and Australia, attend a mobilisation of the Armed Forces of the UK on June 5. So afraid are the Portsmouth and state authorities of what might happen there that they have, with more than a touch of irony, built a wall to keep the people away from those who do not represent them. Trump is also to travel to France on June 6 for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings.
The opposition extends to opposition from the House of Commons in the refusal to invite Trump to address Parliament, and Corbyn's refusal to attend the state banquet, as well as many other statements of opposition.
All this opposition is directed not only against the warmongering and anti-human behaviour synonymous with Trump's Presidency. It is also directed against the British government and the Queen as head of state, which have issued the invitation. It is this that people are declaring is Not In Our Name!
Speaking in Our Own Name! Stand Up to Trump!
It is the people's forces, the human power, which must and will hold the US imperialists and their cohorts in check. Not only this, but the people have their own agenda. Let us take a stand for those things which make for peace and against aggression. Let us together fight for an anti-war government with a democratic personality, consistent with the human factor. Let us organise to ensure an end to aggression and in its place establish relations of peace between peoples.
It is imperative for us to build and strengthen the movement against crimes against peace. This is especially acute, as the Trump presidency ramps up its aggressive build-up against Iran, as it attempts to bring about regime change in Venezuela, and as it imposes illegal sanctions against progressive regimes. Our stand for peace will prevail, as the people step up the fight for their own empowerment.
In this context, we also demand the removal of all US/NATO bases from Britain. The peoples of Britain cannot countenance such bases of aggression, imperialist domination and "hard power" on their soil. They fly in the face of the work for peace and for an end to the Anglo-US doctrine of creating chaos. We will ensure also that when the British government in December hosts the NATO 70th anniversary meeting, the masses of the people will take a stand against this warmongering institution, whose raison d'etre cannot be justified.
Just as in the United States, where the people's forces are taking a stand against the direction in which the US is headed, so too we in Britain are saying No to crimes against humanity. In particular we affirm that any "special relationship" with Trump's United States is not in our name.
We reject all attempts to blame sections of the people for what is the responsibility of those pursuing the global neo-liberal agenda and creating chaos. It is precisely this agenda and those responsible for implementing it that are generating anarchy and violence. In this respect, and in the context of defending the rights of all, we reject as not in our name the attacks on the rights of immigrant working people, refugees and those seeking asylum. It is clear that it is the global marauding of the ruling elites representing the oligopolies and their exploitation of the peoples and material resources globally, as well as "regime change" and their destructive activities against what they cannot control, that is and has been creating the crisis of displaced persons, human trafficking and an international reserve army of cheap labour.
As part of the opposition to Trump's state visit, the anti-war and people's movements are opposing unjust wars and big power intervention and interference. Fleeing from such nation-wrecking, people are seeking a better life, demanding asylum and attempting to find peace and security. Ultimately, the demand is that these very people, as an integral part of the international working class, be empowered to be able to control their own lives and find stability. The movement is very aware of the stands of working people in the US itself which will not countenance Trump's all-out attack on the rights of all.
Furthermore, we speak in favour of a bright future for the youth who are taking a stand in defence of the natural environment and for a social environment in which the people are empowered to collectively decide their own destiny.
No to Trump! No to the State Visit!
Develop the Movement against War and for an Anti-War Government!
Wall surrounding the commemoration of D-day at Portsmouth to protect Trump from those against the future wars the US is planning
The elections for MEPs to the European Parliament took place in Britain on May 23. They were billed as the elections no one wanted, since it is envisaged that elected MEPs will not take their seats before the revised deadline for Brexit, October 31. The main Westminster parties hardly have a coherent position as parties, and the Brexit Party itself was initially registered as a limited company, not a party with members.
At the same time, contradictions within the EU are sharpening, notably between France and Germany, who dominate the European project. They are increasingly at loggerheads, and internally increasingly in turmoil.
Thus the question cannot really be posed in terms of whether it is beneficial to Remain in or Leave the European Union, taking account of the nature of this "European project". The argument that Leave is the only option because of the neo-liberal nature of the EU and its concentration of power does not hold, because the working class and people of Britain cannot simply escape the neo-liberal agenda in this way. Similarly the argument to Remain on the basis that the EU will guarantee rights or is internationalist has the flaw that the EU is beset with these contradictions, and the vision of a "social Europe" which consistently favours the people and their rights continues to recede.
The point is that the people must oppose and fight against the injustices they face in their daily lives which are part and parcel of the so-called liberal democracy that characterises the political system that exists and is in such crisis here in Britain as well as in the European Union, without illusions or preconceptions. They must argue out their positions and see whether the conditions exist for what they aspire to. And they must cognise what is required to bring out the conditions for their rights and set this as their agenda. In other words, the people must resist the temptation to make Remainers or Leavers into things rather than human beings with their own rights and interests.
The issue at the core of considerations for the people is that Brexit or no Brexit, there is still the question of where political power lies. Whatever the relation between Britain and the EU, or Britain and the US, or the working class and peoples of this country and of Europe, or the state relationships within the "United Kingdom", there remains the requirement for the peoples to be empowered to control and make the decisions concerning their own political affairs, on which all else depends. Thus it can be affirmed that Brexit or no-Brexit is not a policy decision on which the polity must be split, siding with one or the other as though everything else depended on this policy decision. To view things in this way is to reduce the people to spectators, cheer-leaders or complainers.
For a Solution in which People Speak in their Own Name!
Workers in the steel industry are once again facing further wrecking of steel production. The latest placing of the British Steel in administration threatens the future of the Steel plants and the jobs of 5,000 workers producing construction steel, rails, wire rod, and other steel products at Scunthorpe, Rotherham, Teesside, Skinningrove, Alblasserdam (Netherlands), Hayange (France) and elsewhere. A further 20,000 jobs in the related supply chains are also reported to be under threat.
Reports said that the High Court ordered the compulsory liquidation of the company, although staff will remain employed for now as the liquidator oversees the operation. Greybull Capital, which paid former owners Tata Steel a nominal one pound for the company three years ago renamed it British Steel. The same report also said that Greybull Capital claimed it had tried to keep British Steel alive but the challenges of Britain's looming exit from the European Union proved insurmountable. British Steel had asked the government for a 75 million pound loan, later reducing its demand to 30 million pounds after Greybull agreed to put up more money, according to a source close to the negotiations. It had already secured a government loan of around 120 million pounds this month for its liabilities under the EU's Emissions Trading System rules which taxes carbon emissions.
The collapse of British Steel comes after Germany's Thyssenkrupp and India's Tata Steel ditched a plan this month to merge their European steel assets to create the EU's second largest steel-maker after ArcelorMittal. Reports claim that this failed merger left the wider EU steel sector fragmented and vulnerable to economic downturns. It also called into question the fate of Britain's largest steelworks in Port Talbot, Wales, owned by Tata Steel.
In his immediate reaction, the Business Minister Greg Clark said British Steel was open to new buyers, while the opposition Labour Party called on the government to bring it back into public ownership. This was dismissed by the Prime Minister Theresa May who said it would be "unlawful" to provide a guarantee or loan on the terms requested by the company. She said there were no job losses "at this time" with workers still being employed and paid.
The present crisis of Britain's steel industry today is the culmination of years of closing of plants and selling off the remaining assets of what was previously the state owned British Steel Corporation which was a state owned global monopoly made up of companies with some 200 factories. Since the 1980s, successive governments have continued to wash their hands of responsibility for the steel industry, have allowed the profiteering of the various private monopoly owners, sanctioning the closures and asset stripping, and leaving the steel industry to the profiteering of finance capital, consultancy firms, energy monopolies and so on. They have refused to make the investment required to maintain a modern steel industry on which the social economy relies.
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