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Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis
Durham Miners' Gala 2020:
The Necessity for Workers to Speak Out in Their Own Name for Their Rights and the Rights of All!
Conflict Between Government and Civil Service:
Head of the Civil Service and National Security Adviser Steps Down
For an End to the Falsification of History:
Onward with the Struggle for Justice, Democracy and the Rights of All!
Taking a Stand against British Imperialism:
Militant Protest against Britain's Criminal Role in Yemen
Chancellor Rishi Sunak's budget last week purported to deal with the economic crisis caused by the effects of measures taken to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. In reality, it does nothing to allay the concerns of working people for their own futures and meet their fears that the government is intent on brushing everything aside in order to favour vested private interests.
The key proposal was the so-called "job retention bonus". This is a hand-out to businesses of £1,000 per worker retained. It goes to businesses whether they had plans to create redundancies or not. Itself it is a very short-term measure, dealing with workers retained in employment as of January 31, 2021. Most importantly, it bears no relation to the reality that the pandemic has shown that the economy needs a new direction to thrive and serve the needs of the people. It is of course questionable whether the measure will have any effect on manufacturing and other big businesses that plan to sack workers after the period of furlough ends. Workers and their unions are expressing their opposition to this scheme pointing out that it will not guarantee workers employment, and underlines the government's thinking that the only issue is to get back to "business as usual".
The Chancellor's proposals do not even recognise the sectors of the economy which are essential. Commentators have pointed out that a way forward would have been to recognise the vulnerable, the lowest paid and working people who are facing financial hardship, nor has the government taken account of the vast numbers of the self-employed and temporary contractors who have not been able to access any government assistance. Nor is there recognition of the crucial role that the public sector plays in a modern economy.
It is also reported that the proposal, along with the half-price restaurant deal, dubbed a "Meal Deal not a New Deal", had had the opposition of HMRC and Treasury officials, but that Rishi Sunak directly over-ruled them. This itself is indicative of the trend to jettison the old arrangements of government and entrench the executive's use of emergency powers as normal.
The issue with the Chancellor's package is not so much that far more is needed, as that a new quality must be brought to bear on the economy. Even in terms of the old "business as usual" standards there is no semblance of dealing with the recovery of the economy, which will remain as crisis-ridden as before, and worse. The measures are aimed at paying the rich, and the context of the coronavirus crisis appears as mere window-dressing.
The working people are being faced with the increased scourge of unemployment on a massive scale. What is also staring people in the face and which they are up in arms about is the lack of investment in social programmes. The pandemic has brought this out in stark relief. And it is reported that where the government has placed contracts without the customary tendering process, they have been dubious, incoherent, incompetent, corrupt and directing Treasury funds to the vested narrow private interests those in power serve. Workers are taking a stand against the assault on their livelihoods and attempts to undermine their ability to fight for their rights and interests, whether it be in the health service, in education, in construction, in public services, the hospitality industry and so on, including those on zero-hours contracts.
Perhaps the most salient feature of all in the budget statement was that there is no recognition of the workers as the producers of social wealth, and the necessity for them to have the decisive say in setting the aim of the economy. What is happening is completely different and amounts to an all-out assault on the working class and people. The financial oligarchs are only too ready to buy government debt with the knowledge that the people are the ones who will pay for the debt servicing. To safeguard the future of the economy, a new direction is required. The economy being geared to paying the rich is unacceptable, and an economic programme that puts the needs of the people at the centre of considerations is what must be fought for. Now is the time to reject the Old.
What Trade Unions Have Said
TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said:
"Mass unemployment is now the biggest threat facing the UK, as shown by the thousands of job losses at British Airways, Airbus and elsewhere. The government must do far more to stem the rising tide of redundancies. We can't afford to lose any more good skilled jobs. The chancellor should have announced targeted support for the hardest-hit sectors like manufacturing and aviation. Struggling businesses will need more than a one-off job retention bonus to survive and save jobs in the long-term. [...] The government should have announced extra investment in jobs across all public services - starting with filling the 200,000 vacancies in the NHS and social care. And if the chancellor wants people to have the confidence to eat out, he should have announced a pay rise for hard-pressed key workers rather than dining out discounts for the well-off."
Mike Clancy, General Secretary of the Prospect union, said the Chancellor had "failed to acknowledge that there are some sectors that need extra support so they can retain viable jobs until they can reopen". He added: "The chancellor started his statement saying that 'nobody will be left without hope', but there was nothing in his new package for the millions of forgotten freelancers and others who have been left with no hope and no support for months."
Philippa Childs, head of Bectu, which represents workers in the broadcasting industry, said: "There were millions of forgotten freelancers and others across the country hanging on the chancellor's every word today, but once again the government has let them down and failed to recognise the plight of those who have fallen through the gaps."
Andy Chamberlain, of the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, added: "Although there were many positive measures to boost the economy in the chancellor's statement today, the self-employed were noticeable by their absence. While the chancellor has announced a measured and sensible end to the employee furlough scheme in October, freelancers are left to face a cliff-edge in August. Some freelancers relying on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) may benefit from the sectoral support announced today, but many more will not."
The government should build on the huge public support shown for the NHS during the pandemic by giving health workers across Britain an early pay rise, health unions stated.
The 14 unions  - representing more than 1.3 million nurses, cleaners, physiotherapists, healthcare assistants, dieticians, radiographers, porters, midwives, paramedics and other NHS employees - have written both to the Chancellor and the Prime Minister calling for pay talks to start soon so staff get a wage boost before the end of the year.
In the letters, the unions - including UNISON, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives, GMB, Unite and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy - say the pandemic has made the dedication and commitment of NHS staff plain for all to see.
Health workers are nearing the end of a three-year pay deal. Unions are urging the government to provide the funding for a fair and early pay rise for all NHS staff - including the many domestics, catering workers, security guards and other support staff working for private contractors.
UNISON head of health Sara Gorton, who also chairs the NHS group of unions, said: "The applause and kind words shown during the difficult days of the pandemic were a huge source of comfort to NHS staff. But now the government should show its appreciation in a different way."
Hannah Reed from the RCN, who is also acting secretary to the health unions' group, said: "Across the NHS, nursing and healthcare staff are still working harder than ever. These people are the country's greatest asset. When we celebrate that, politicians must think about how staff can be fairly paid and valued. They do not need more warm words and praise that, to many, is already beginning to feel hollow. An earlier pay rise will go some way to showing the government values all they do, not just this year but day in, day out. Proper recognition and pay to match it will go some way to addressing the number of unfilled jobs."
Executive director for external relations at the Royal College of Midwives Jon Skewes, who is also treasurer for the NHS group of unions, said: "Midwives and all NHS staff deserve a fair and decent pay rise. They did before this pandemic and they certainly do now. To truly value the contribution of NHS staff, their pay must be restored in real terms. Currently there are staff shortages right across the NHS and the government should be doing all it can to retain and attract new staff. This is not an ask for an additional 'pandemic payment', but rather a pay deal that will ensure our NHS is fit for the future. We hope by bringing this pay settlement forward this can be achieved."
1. The 14 NHS unions are: British Association of Occupational Therapists, British Dietetic Association, British Orthoptic Society, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, College of Podiatry, Federation of Clinical Scientists, GMB, Managers in Partnership, Prison Officers Association, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Nursing, Society of Radiographers, UNISON and Unite.
(TUC, The Independent, PA, Unison)
The Durham Miners' Gala and Big Meeting, which takes place on the second Saturday in July, was cancelled by the Durham Miners' Association (DMA) for 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Taking up their responsibility to the working class and people, the DMA decision was made early in March to relieve vital public services and organisers from planning for the Gala and the event itself so that these services and organisers could fully concentrate on keeping people safe during the crisis in the months leading up to this year's event. However, the DMA also declared that "the Gala will return, bigger and better than ever, in 2021 - its 150th anniversary year". The DMA is calling on people not to come to Durham this year in large numbers but to stay safe and instead access their online event. The Saturday, July 11 live event will begin at 1pm on Facebook  and YouTube .
The Durham Miners' Gala is one of most remarkable manifestations in the calendar of the working class movement in Britain that brings people out in their thousands for "our day in Durham", which is inexorably linked to the aims, struggles and sacrifices of the working class itself over 135 Gala days and Big Meetings. This defence of the unity of the working class and people's movements and their communities is reinforced as the Gala parade carries before it banners inscribed with the words and deeds of generations of miners and the working class to defend their rights, to uphold proletarian internationalism, and for the emancipation of labour and to build socialism.
On this day, the working class and people strive to reflect their own independent politics for a future of society where they end the ruling elite's present hallucinations of a Britain dominating the world with their blood-stained flag of "making Britain Great again" at the expense of the well-being and lives of the people at home and abroad.
Today, the issue facing the working class and people is how to bring their initiative into play when they are excluded from political decision-making. A different direction for the economy is required, for limiting the power of the monopolies to impose their will and their dictate. At this time, the need is to counter the anti-social control exercised by those who are using the coronavirus lockdown to justify massive redundancies and to try to pacify the workers and block their resistance.
The necessity is for workers to speak out in their own name for their rights and the rights of all. This is workers acting, organising and speaking out in this present crisis for their livelihoods, safety, health and life and an end to the ruling elite's racist colonial legacy that it uses in its attempt to divide them. The task is one of building a new independent workers' opposition for its own alternative political programme and for justice and peace at home and abroad.
Build the Workers' Opposition and Work for People's Empowerment!
Fight for an Anti-War Government!
 The Second Saturday in July: a Durham Miners' Gala
 Join us for an online celebration of the Durham Miners'
Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Sir Mark Sedwill, who is also the National Security Adviser to the Cabinet, announced that he will step down in September after tensions with Boris Johnson's inner circle, in particular his Special Adviser Dominic Cummings, and Home Secretary and Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove.
Sedwill has been seen as standing in the way of the changes being pushed by these personalities, with Cummings attempting to alter the nature of and the government's relations with Whitehall, and Gove restructuring the government departments. His departure is the removal of one more barrier to the reorganisation of the arrangements of state around the concentration of political power in the inner circle of the Prime Minister.
Tensions between government and the Civil Service have been growing, and the exit of Sedwill comes after a number of recent resignations of senior civil servants, such as those of Sir Philip Rutnam and Simon McDonald. Rutnam is suing the Home Office for unfair dismissal.
FDA is the trade union for UK senior and middle management civil servants and public service professionals . Its general secretary Dave Penman alleged that a campaign had been waged to undermine Sedwill:
"If Sir Mark no longer has the confidence of the Prime Minister, for whatever reason, that is one thing. It can be dealt with in a grown-up way, finding a solution that suits both parties, rather than excluding someone who has dedicated their life to public service and has excelled at every role they've been asked to fill.
"Instead, No.10 - or those around it - has sought to undermine Sir Mark and the leadership of the civil service, with a series of anonymous briefings against him over many months. Not only is it a self-defeating and corrosive tactic, it's also a cowardly one, safe in the knowledge that those who are briefed against are unable to publicly respond.
"How would any potential candidate for Cabinet Secretary judge their prospective employers, given how the current cadre of leaders has been treated by them?"
"Whatever emerges as fact from the series of briefings that have sought to undermine Sir Mark's position, this government will emerge weaker as a result," he said. The campaign of briefings "undermines the ability of government to deliver".
"If you're the successor to Sir Mark, are you going to want to work there? Are you going to say, 'that's the kind of viper's nest that I'm looking to go into the moment I might disagree with them?' It's really self-defeating."
It is further being pointed out that his position of National Security Adviser will be taken over by current European adviser David Frost and chief Brexit negotiator, in a move seen as significant in that it will politicise a role conventionally occupied by civil servants.
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds tabled an urgent question to the Home Secretary on the appointment of senior civil service positions, and that of Frost in particular.
In response, Gove said that the roles of National Security Adviser and Cabinet Secretary should be separately occupied, as "in previous administrations". He stated that the role could be "a political rather than necessarily civil service appointment" and it was for the Prime Minister to decide who fills it.
Thomas-Symonds questioned where this leaves the accountability of the National Security Adviser and stated his view that politicising a role that is to give "objective, and at times challenging, advice" was "dangerous territory".
Former Prime Minister Theresa May also stepped into the fray, labelling Frost "a political appointee with no proven experience in national security".
British representative democracy, where what is represented is the person of state that assumes the authority to act supposedly in the name of the people, arose out of the conditions of civil war in the 1600s. This was a war between the various competing interests of sections of the wealthy classes, and between those classes as a whole and the masses of the people who had their own opposing interests and demanded a role in decision-making.
In the present, the arrangements have descended into the cartel party system, where the parties have become part of the state apparatus itself, acting as the gatekeepers to power. This system is itself in crisis, having degenerated into factions jostling for position, while the clamour for a say over the matters that affect their lives is again rising from the people. The arrangements are breaking down, and civil war is now raising its head again as these contradictions sharpen.
In the current state of the system, not only do parties come to power in electoral coups, but political factions usurp power through coups within these parties. Boris Johnson and his circle came to power in a such a coup within the Conservative Party last year after the failure of Theresa May's attempt to either hold the party together or maintain control over Parliament.
Johnson's faction inherited power initially through the deliberate engineering of a constitutional crisis last autumn, a crisis created by the breaking of taboos such as the wielding of prerogative powers to get rid of dissenting voices, and the expulsion of much the party's old guard. Johnson's faction finally gained overall power in an electoral coup at the end of the year.
In these conditions, governance is no longer about upholding the rule of law, making reasonable accommodations, balancing interests, and linking the state and civil society. Talk of expressing and acting according to the popular will is pure pretence, increasingly seen through as people cry Not in Our Name! The balance has been completely tipped by powerful international oligarchies whose interests are what is really represented by the person of state. The public authority at every level is ever more the exercise of arbitrary power.
These are shifting conditions, and the factions of the ruling elite are constantly seeking new arrangements. The state is devouring itself as political factions and various parts of the existing arrangements contend for control. Meanwhile, no alternative is permitted. That is because the alternative is one in which the working people themselves are the new social force in control, who no longer look to some other force or figure for authority but themselves constitute the authority and decide matters directly.
The alternative means that those who currently deprive the people from power will themselves be deprived from power. The desperation to prevent this alternative from taking root is creating political chaos, for which the answer is being sought in the police powers and the rearrangement of the state around the wielding of those powers. This is the situation within which all must be united in fighting to defend the rights of all and bringing about the alternative that will guarantee those rights.
One set of arrangements that is being reorganised in the present conditions is that of the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister's private office and inner circle, and their relations to the Cabinet and government as a whole, including Parliament. An article by Harry Lambert for the New Statesman written in March describes how "parliament has been silenced and an inner circle of power-brokers are driving Downing Street's agenda" .
Tony Blair "started this business", Lambert quotes former Father of the House of Commons Ken Clarke as saying, "which we now govern the country on, of having all these apparatchiks in Number 10... And that is more important than the cabinet really", while former New Labour minister Lord Adonis claims that a "court has developed", which "has effectively created a government within a government". It is the case that, particularly since the time of Tony Blair, the trend has been for the Prime Minister to assume what has been called a "presidential style" - in other words, to assume absolute control, under which even the Cabinet is usurped by the Prime Minister and inner circle.
The Number 10 Policy Unit (set up by Harold Wilson in 1974, when the previous period of social democratic arrangements was going into crisis) is a team of usually around ten to fifteen advisers and civil servants that provides policy advice to the Prime Minister. Lambert explains that the unit "has traditionally been located on a long corridor on the second floor of Number 10, far away from the prime minister's office on the ground floor. In Johnson's Downing Street, advisers have been hot-desking in a bid to break down silos between staff, but the unit remains distant from the prime minister."
Lambert tells us that, three days after the Brexit referendum, an email from Cummings to Johnson and Gove spoke of the plan to "change the Number 10 and 11 system so it's essentially one team, not two rival power centres", linking the Prime Minister's office with the Treasury - the resignation of Sajid Javid might well be seen in this light. Now a new joint unit co-ordinating policy between Number 10 and the Treasury has been set up, directed by Liam Booth-Smith acting as proxy for Cummings, to whom Booth-Smith (lead adviser to Chancellor Rishi Sunak) reports.
Lambert says this of Booth-Smith, who was head of the "neo-localist" think tank Localis from 2016-18, and his new role:
"The most critical set of rules Booth-Smith will need to navigate are the Treasury's. Number 10 clashed with Javid over his fidelity to fiscal principles structured to limit borrowing. Booth-Smith has been outspoken about evading such restraints. In 2017 he even advocated tax rises, arguing that Theresa May was 'trapped by the 2015 Conservative manifesto' and should 'free up the government's revenue-raising capacity'. An important government figure tells me that levelling up is 'a Number 10/Treasury thing' and 'the levers are emphatically - if not wholly - economic ones'."
Lambert also hints at contradictions with the existing Number 10 Policy Unit: "But its power has yet to be defined and could easily wane. That is clear from the history of the Number 10 Policy Unit, now being run by Mirza."
Munira Mirza assumed directorship of the Number 10 Policy Unit in July 2019. Until two years earlier, Mirza had been employed by then Mayor of London Boris Johnson from 2008-16 in various roles, eventually as Deputy Mayor of London for Culture and Education from 2012. Before that, she was Development Director for the influential conservative Policy Exchange think tank. Policy Exchange, funded by Open Society Foundations, was jointly founded by Michael Gove in 2002 .
Mirza, who Lambert describes as "the third-most influential adviser in Downing Street", was appointed by Johnson in June to lead a new government commission on racial inequality. Her views on the subject are well known: "a lot of people in politics think it's a good idea to exaggerate the problem of racism", she said in 2017 of Labour MP David Lammy's review of racism in the criminal justice system, commissioned by David Cameron during his Prime Ministerial term.
The Institute of Race Relations said in response: "Any enquiry into inequality has to acknowledge structural and systemic factors. It is difficult to have any confidence in policy recommendations from someone who denies the existence of the very structures that produce the social inequalities experienced by black communities."
 Harry Lambert, "Who's in charge inside No 10: the
maverick advisers running Britain", The New Statesman, March 4,
Lambert lists the following "key influentials" in Johnson's government (Lambert's descriptions):
1. Dominic Cummings, 48. Johnson's chief adviser retains control of Number 10, despite persistent rumours of his impending demise. Many of Johnson's plans, from his "Australian-style" immigration system to investment in science, can be traced back to Cummings.
2. Edward Lister, 70. Lister is Johnson's most trusted aide. As Johnson's chief at staff at City Hall, he made the building run for five years. A former council leader with decades of operational experience in business, he is the counterweight to Cummings inside Number 10.
3. Munira Mirza, 42. Mirza, another stalwart from Johnson's time at City Hall, is an underappreciated star of the Johnson project. As head of the Policy Unit, she runs a team of around a dozen advisers, but her bond with Johnson is greater than her official role.
4. Liam Booth-Smith, 33. Booth-Smith was recently promoted to run the new Number 10/11 economic team, the latest leap in a rapid rise. Four years ago, the young aide was working in press for a public services consultancy, but he has impressed since Lister brought him into Number 10 in July.
5. Mark Sedwill, 55. Sedwill holds the dual role of Cabinet Secretary and National Security Adviser, giving him frequent access to Johnson across both domestic and foreign affairs. He is the first Cabinet Secretary to have risen through the Foreign Office. [Sedwill has now announced his departure. The role of National Security Adviser is to be filled by Brexit negotiator David Frost - WW.]
6. Michael Gove, 52. Gove is right at the centre of Johnson's government, despite their seismic falling-out in 2016. He is overseeing the delivery of Number 10's agenda across Whitehall, and his network of former advisers and allies extends across both Downing Street and the Cabinet.
7. Carrie Symonds, 31. "Carrie and Dom" are, says one Downing Street observer, the "most influential" people in Johnson's life. Symonds, now Johnson's fiancée and pregnant, was first revealed as his partner in September 2018. She spent her twenties working as a press adviser for the Tory party.
8. Lee Cain, 37. Johnson's director of communications is an unlikely press chief. He was working in PR for a law firm when he was made head of broadcast for Vote Leave in 2016. He later joined Johnson in the Foreign Office, and stuck with him on the back benches, earning the PM's trust.
9. Ben Gascoigne, 36. Gascoigne joined Johnson as a "bag-carrier" in 2009. He has, says a friend, "been unflinchingly loyal to Boris since then, and will be until he dies". A well-liked and unassuming aide, who grew up in Pendle, he was made political secretary after the election.
10. John Bew, 40. Bew, a New Statesman contributing writer, is in the Policy Unit, advising on foreign affairs and the Union. Described by Gove as "one of the outstanding historians of his generation", his biography of Clement Attlee won plaudits from across the aisle.
11. Andrew Gilligan, 51. Gilligan, the reporter who controversially claimed the Iraq War dossier was "sexed up", worked with Johnson at City Hall as his "cycling tzar". He is now advising on infrastructure and is one of six Policy Exchange veterans in Number 10.
12. Danny Kruger, 45. Kruger's maiden Commons speech, with its call to preserve a sense of place and local culture against the tide of capitalism, was widely shared by post-liberals. Kruger is one of several former Johnson aides now in parliament; he was his political secretary before the election.
13. Rachel Wolf, 34. Wolf co-wrote the Tory manifesto with Mirza. She first worked for Johnson as a 21-year old and went on to set up the New Schools Network in 2010 with the support of Gove, then education secretary. Her husband, James Frayne, was a close ally of Cummings for a decade.
 Zoe Williams, "Brains for hire: the
thinktank", The Guardian, October 27, 2010
Martin Stanley, Understanding the Civil Service website
The UK's (unwritten) constitution recognises three independent power bases within Central Government:
(The media and journalists are often referred to as the Fourth Estate. This is by reference to the three historic Estates: - the nobility, the clergy and "The Third Estate" - everyone else. Bishops and some hereditary nobility even now continue to sit in the House of Lords, The UK Parliament's second chamber.)
The Executive=Government Ministers and Civil Servants.
Judges, magistrates, and those employed by Parliament are thus not civil servants. Nor are the police, the armed forces, and those employed in the National Health Service and by Local Authorities.
In More Detail ...
Civil servants are those who are employed by "the Crown".
The "Crown" fulfils the same role at the national level that the "State" fulfils on the international plane. The Executive (the government of the day) represents the Crown/State. The Crown and State endure; governments come and go. "The Crown", for this purpose at least, does not include Her Majesty herself - so those employed by the Monarch are not civil servants.
Civil servants are usually - but not always - in practice employed by "Ministers of the Crown" - so most civil servants work in government departments and are therefore employed by Government Ministers.
Parliament is quite separate from the Crown so those who are employed by Parliament are also not civil servants.
And those employed by other public bodies - such as local authorities, the NHS, the police service, and the BBC - are also not civil servants. Indeed, only 1 in 12 UK public servants are classed as civil servants.
This note accordingly looks in some detail at the various types of public body and considers whether they employ civil servants. As you will see from the following notes, there are many different types of public body. It is easy to see why some fall into one category or another, but others could easily have been created, and so categorised, in a different way, and their status owes more to historical accident than clever design. [...]
Those Employed by Parliament
This first category of public body is comprised of Parliament itself, and the bodies which report direct to Parliament, including the National Audit Office, the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Electoral Commission. Constitutionally, employees of these bodies are not servants of the Crown and they are therefore not civil servants.
The second category of public body is comprised mainly of those who work for Government departments which report to Ministers (who are of course always Parliamentarians).
This website is written for and about those civil servants who work in such departments. A list of Ministerial Government Departments may be found on the Cabinet Office website, and a list (as at 2014) is at the end of this note.
As civil servants are employed by the Crown, and not by individual departments, they can be transferred between departments without formality and without losing employment rights. This not only facilitates the free flow of staff between departments, but also greatly facilitates reorganisations within central government. Indeed, it is quite common for large numbers of civil servants to find themselves working for an entirely different department at only a few hours' notice.
Special Advisers are political appointees who are employed by Ministerial government departments on special terms. They are, however, still civil servants. [...]
The recent unprecedented global upsurge against state racism, as well as racism and Eurocentrism in all its forms, has also led to a vehement rejection of the glorification and exaltation of slavery, genocide, racism and colonialism, and the institutions, traditions, social relations and accumulation of wealth based on them. This rejection is clearly unsettling to the powers-that-be, which are the greatest defenders of all that is backward and anachronistic. It is therefore not surprising that there should be attempts to resist such a broad and global movement, to try to turn truth on its head and even to try to present what is sweeping the world as something that only represents a small minority in Britain.
One such attempt was recently launched by a body which calls itself Policy Exchange and describes itself as "the UK's leading think tank", as well as "an educational charity", and claims that "there are numerous examples of where our policy ideas have been taken forward by government". Although it also claims to be "completely independent", Policy Exchange was established by Conservative Party MPs and was once chaired by Michael Gove. Its sources of funding are not disclosed but appear to be provided by various millionaires in Britain and the United States.
It's most recent initiative is what it refers to as the "History Matters Project", a panel of "historians, public figures and people interested in history" chaired by Trevor Phillips, recently suspended from the Labour Party and whose appointment to the recent government enquiry into the disproportionate deaths of people from minority communities from Covid-19 led to immediate and widespread opposition.
Policy Exchange claims that its Project "represents a first attempt at drawing together a range of recent developments, which all turn on the place of history in the public square - including the removal of certain statues on public display, the renaming of buildings and places, and changes to the way history is taught in university curriculums."
However, although Policy Exchange claims that it is simply "drawing together" information, it is clear from the polling that it has also commissioned that it is rather more concerned that "action is being taken widely and quickly in a way that does not reflect public opinion or growing concern over our treatment of the past". Phillips more openly claims that "history is being politicised, and sometimes distorted in the current moment". He adds that "what concerns me about the current moment is the rapid and unthinking way in which large swathes of our public heritage is being effectively re-written, or erased entirely - much of it seemingly without much proper debate or forethought. It all adds up to a major transformation in the way in which we deal with history in the public square."
It might be pointed out that the debate over what history should be taught in schools and universities has been ongoing for decades. It was particularly fierce during the time that Michael Gove was Minister of Education and attempting to "politicise" the history curriculum in schools, demanding that history should mainly focus on the white men of property and the glorification of their crimes. There has also been for even longer widespread opposition to the glorification of slavery, empire and racism and those institutions and social relations based on them.
What is perhaps new about the current global upsurge, including its manifestation in Britain, is its breadth and power, the fact that it has the power to make decisions that bring about change. It is clearly this ability to make decisions and effect change which so unsettles Mr Phillips and those he is connected with. What is more unsettling to most democratic people is the fact the glorification of mass murder and mass murderers has persisted for so long, as have the institutions based on such crimes, while attempts to effect change have been resisted so fiercely and for so long. History will no doubt investigate that phenomenon and those responsible and pass the appropriate judgement!
What must also be rejected is any attempt to present the demand to end to the glorification of oppression and the institutions and values based on it as somehow anti-British, or a negation of Britain's history. Quite the opposite is the case, since the enslavers, mass murderers and exploiters cannot be said to be representative of the people of Britain today or in the past. Even at the height of Britain's criminal involvement in the enslavement of Africans in the eighteenth century, the working people demonstrated in their millions against this crime and opposed it at the same time as they demanded their own rights and freedom. Today this entire framework is designed to head off the striving of the peoples for empowerment.
Racism is a component of the ideology of the ruling elites designed to attempt to block the movement of society forward to one where justice, democracy and the rights of all prevail. What is important about the current upsurge is not only the fact that people are demanding an end to the falsification of history and an end to the glorification of all that is backward, but also that people are demonstrating that they are the agents of change and the makers of history. These gains can and must be consolidated!
Below is a joint statement by the co-ordinators of History Matters and the Young Historians Project, July 6, 2020
The History Matters  initiative was formed in 2014 and included students, teachers and academics of African and Caribbean heritage, as well as organisations such as the Historical Association and Royal Africa Society. It highlighted the alarmingly low numbers of history students and teachers of African and Caribbean heritage in Britain and the fact that history is the third least popular subject amongst young Black undergraduates. History Matters called for action and convened the History Matters conference, held in April 2015 at the Institute of Historical Research, which brought together students, teachers, historians and many others.
As a result of the History Matters conference, the Young Historians Project (YHP)  was formed in May 2015 to encourage more young people of African and Caribbean heritage to engage with history. YHP continues to grow from strength to strength with its central mission being to provide young people of African and Caribbean heritage with the experiences and skillset needed to become historians, to create knowledge of under-represented Black British histories and to share this knowledge with other young people. YHP's approach is "each one, teach one".
We at History Matters and the Young Historians Project were alarmed to learn of the launching of a "project" by Policy Exchange, in our name - History Matters. This project, chaired by Trevor Phillips, whose recent appointment to a government enquiry into why African, Caribbean and Asian people were disproportionately affected by Covid-19 led to immediate demands for his removal, is allegedly designed to "document the re-writing of history as it happens, and explore modern Britain's treatment of its past". In fact, it appears to be mainly concerned with widespread opposition to offensive statues and monuments, the renaming of buildings which commemorated individuals who engaged in slavery and human trafficking and the colonial conquest of Africa.
This new "History Matters" project suggests that "action is being taken widely and quickly in a way that does not reflect public opinion or growing concern over our treatment of the past". Phillips' claim that "history is being politicised, and sometimes distorted, in the current moment", makes it clear what his project finds objectionable. He and his friends do not appear concerned about the Eurocentric distortion and falsification of history which is so prevalent in our society.
We demand that this group relinquishes its name "History Matters", which is so closely associated with our organisational work to improve the understanding of and access to the History of African and Caribbean people in Britain, and with removing those impediments which have led to such low numbers of Black students and teachers of history.
1. History Matters, The University of Chichester
2. The Young Historians Project
Lucy Nichols, Counterfire
Protests took place around the country to highlight and condemn the atrocities of the Yemen war, which has now been raging for five years. Hundreds of young people marched on July 5 through central London in solidarity with the millions of Yemenis suffering the evils of war, in addition to cholera, famine and Covid-19.
Starting outside the BBC on Portland Place, speakers made calls for the BBC to fairly report on the horrific war: the indubitable bias of the BBC towards the government was highlighted, and demonstrators demanded that the mainstream media report on Britain's heavy involvement in the battle between the Saudi-backed government and Houthi rebels.
As the demonstrators marched on, chants of "Free Yemen" and "Stop the War" were repeated down Oxford Circus and on to the Saudi Embassy. Here protesters stopped again for more speeches, along with a brief pause to allow for a few minutes of quiet reflection and prayer - despite the obvious peaceful nature of the protest, a heavy police presence was felt along the whole route.
This presence amped up as the protesters marched down Whitehall, and stopped across the road from Downing Street. Plenty of passing cars, buses and mopeds beeped their horns in solidarity with the protesters. Here, organisers spoke to emphasise the horrific violence of the Yemen war, and how these are affecting normal Yemenis. A minute's silence was held to remember the many victims and many on the march prayed for those who have lost their lives. Chants then continued in both English and Arabic, but included the now very popular "Boris is a wasteman", and "Boris Johnson's a racist".
From here, the plan was to march to Westminster Bridge, though after some deliberation, organisers decided to wait in Parliament Square for a group of Black Lives Matter protesters who had set off from Hyde Park earlier on.
While waiting, speakers began to highlight why it is crucial to support Black Lives Matter, and why solidarity is key in any struggle for liberty. This was met with enthusiastic applause from the demonstration. Links were made between the Yemen war and the racist, Islamophobic murder of Shukri Abdi a year ago. The energy was defiant as the Black Lives Matter protesters caught up with the rest of the protest.
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