Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 45 Number 23, August 8, 2015 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Jeremy Corbyn's Bid for the Labour Party Leadership

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :

Jeremy Corbyn's Bid for the Labour Party Leadership

Whipping Up Hysteria over Migrants for Self-Serving Ends

Britain Must End All Interference in Ukraine and Withdraw from NATO

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Jeremy Corbyn's Bid for the Labour Party Leadership

The fact that Jeremy Corbyn is standing in the election for the post of leader of the Labour Party has captured the imagination. This is because he clearly stands for an anti-austerity programme, which the Labour Party as a whole in the May general election signally failed to do.

In the context of the space for change broadening to accommodate the movement to oppose the austerity agenda and to fight for the alternative, this represents an opportunity for the workers' and people's movements to make advances. The issue is to build the movement to oppose the neo-liberal austerity agenda of Cameron acting on behalf of monopoly capital, an agenda which is wrecking society and the economy, and to advance the movement for the empowerment of the working class and people.

The demonstrations on June 20 to put an end to austerity, coming soon after the general election, showed the mood of the people to oppose the neo-liberal agenda and put an end to the status quo.

They showed that the working class and people's movements were ready to take up the challenges to bring an end to austerity, bring about a new direction for society, effect democratic renewal and empower the people. Working people, especially the youth, were disgusted that the Conservatives had managed to stage an electoral coup and achieve a majority government. It was in this context that for Jeremy Corbyn to take a stand on a platform of anti-austerity, anti-war, pro-worker and in defence of rights and the vulnerable has garnered so much support. He has not assumed the role of a condescending saviour but has represented an opportunity for people to rally around the flag of opposing austerity and neo-liberalism.

That his leadership bid has received so much opprobrium, not least from those in the Labour Party that are in love with neo-liberalism and fear the organised working class which gave rise to their party, is not so much the issue. It is a fact that the cartel party system does not represent a way out of the crisis, but serves to consolidate it by negating the popular will, attempting to de-politicise the electorate and ensure they are marginalised from decision-making. The necessity for democratic renewal is the burning issue.

But the opposition to what Jeremy Corbyn is presenting to the electorate is aimed at stifling the initiative of the people in finding their bearings and making advances. It is an attempt to prevent discussion on the problems facing the people and society, and embargo envisioning that there is an alternative to the anti-social, anti-worker, pro-war agenda of the ruling elite. It is an attempt to deny the reality of the nature of the capitalist economy which is serving the rich and decimating social programmes.

One method used to stifle discussion is to label everything in terms of left and right, especially in terms of “hard left” and “extreme right”. If “left” means progressive and pro-people, and “right” means reactionary and anti-people, then one cannot quarrel with the fact that Corbyn is on the left. But the working class movement is getting wise to the labelling's being used to prevent apprehension of the reality. The ruling elite has been misjudging the stage of the people's movement when assessing that Jeremy Corbyn would find only support from the so-called “hard left”, and that people are content with neo-liberalism,
Jeremy Corbyn with Sinn Fein leaders at Westminster
which they call the “centre ground”. The fact is that the people do not accept the anti-social offensive and warmongering, and are searching for a pro-social alternative and an anti-war government.

At the very least, Corbyn's candidacy has challenged the complacency and authoritarianism of the Westminster consensus. It has shown that the working class and people will support the position of putting the well-being of the people and the advance of society in the first place, and not be taken in by the mantra that “tough decisions” need to be taken to reduce the deficit, pay the rich, submit to monopoly dictate and so forth.

The issue is for the people to prepare to defeat the austerity agenda of the Cameron government by building the movement, and crucially to engage in discussion and take action in order to further the concerns of the people and to develop the people's involvement in political affairs. Ultimately, the goal is to empower the people to be the decision-makers at every level in society, have a real say in governance and determine the direction of the economy so that it serves the public good.

For a solution to the crisis of working class representation!
All power to Jeremy Corbyn's campaign!

Article Index


Fighting For the Rights Of All

Whipping Up Hysteria over Migrants for Self-Serving Ends

In recent weeks the mass media has been dominated by reports of thousands of “migrants” in Calais attempting to enter Britain. In response the Prime Minister, David Cameron, even spoke of “swarms” of people trying to enter Britain, in what can only be seen as an attempt to use the same kind of inflammatory language as Margaret Thatcher, when she spoke of people’s alleged fears of Britain being “swamped” by people with a “different culture”. This hysteria is all-too reminiscent of the Hitlerite programme carried out to annihilate those people who were allegedly alien and enemies of German values and culture.

In the wake of the media frenzy the government has also announced plans to increase security measures around the Channel Tunnel and new legislation to force landlords to evict those whose applications for asylum have been unsuccessful. Landlords will also be expected to check the immigration status of any potential tenants. But the most likely impact of such a proposal appears to be to create mistrust between landlords and tenants and to give the impression that the government is taking a tough stance on an issue whipped up by the media.

The mass media, the government and other commentators seem to be going out of their way to create confusion and alarm about what is clearly a tragic situation. Only this week it was reported that another death had occurred while one desperate man was trying to enter Britain from France. Another nine people have been killed in the Channel Tunnel since June. Already this year over 2,000 people have been killed trying to cross the Mediterranean and this week an as yet unknown number of migrants have been killed when another boat carrying hundreds of desperate people sank off the coast of Libya. There is currently a global refugee crisis caused in some part by the military and other forms of intervention carried out by Britain and its allies in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq Somalia and Libya, as well as by the political and economic problems that exist in many African countries from Eritrea to Nigeria.

There is every attempt to create confusion about the nature of the problem, which is not about so-called “illegal” migrants, but rather about those who are refugees and potential asylum seekers. In addition there is the added confusion about the decision to force HGVs to park on the M20, one of the main motorways to the port of Dover, under “Operation Stack”. This is a measure that has been used for very limited periods for many years but has now been in operation for several weeks. The authorities have now suggested moving the HGVs off-road to disused parts of Manston Airport but the reasons for such measures are obscure. It must be recalled that “Operation Stack” was initiated because of industrial action in France, not because of the presence of refugees in Calais.

There is no doubt that the numbers of refugees seeking to enter Britain has risen in recent times, just as numbers have risen across Europe. There are estimated to be around 3,000 refugees at the present time in Calais, a very small fraction of the number of those who applied for asylum in Britain last year. A few hundred of those based in Calais have made attempts to reach Britain. UNHCR figures from 2014 show 31,300 asylum applications were made to the British government, much lower than the 173,100 made in Germany, 75,100 in Sweden and 63,700 in Italy. The refugees in Calais are a very small fraction of a much bigger and wider migrant problem in Europe. But according to the UNHCR very few of those who manage to cross the Mediterranean end up in Calais or in Britain. By the end of last year, refugees, pending asylum cases and stateless persons made up just 0.24% of Britain’s population.

The presence of refugees and other displaced people in Calais is not a new phenomenon and is evidently now part of a much wider global problem, a consequence of military conflicts and unstable economic and political conditions throughout the world. The British government has played a major role in creating such instability and, as is well known, has engaged in military intervention with disastrous consequences in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and many other countries. It cannot now wash its hands of the consequences and human cost of its crimes, nor should the monopoly media be permitted to create confusion about such issues and dehumanise those who are vulnerable. The workers and all democratic people must make their voices heard in these circumstances and take a stand against confusion-mongering, racism and xenophobia They must demand that British governments cease all foreign intervention, make reparation for the problems that Britain and the other big powers have created and organise to create the conditions for an anti-war government that defends the rights of all.

Article Index


No to Imperialist War!

Britain Must End All Interference in Ukraine and Withdraw from NATO

Protest at NATO policy meeting in Munich, February 7, 2015.
Banner reads: "Stop NATO! No War Against Russia."
In the latter part of last month, NATO forces launched massive troop exercises involving over 2,000 troops from 18 countries in Ukraine. The provocative sabre-rattling has been condemned by the Russian Foreign Minister. A statement described NATO’s actions as “fuelling revanchist moods among the party of war in Kiev and will jeopardise the outlined progress in the peaceful settlement of a deep internal crisis in Ukraine”.

The latest provocation is occurring just weeks after the recent NATO meeting in Brussels, where the Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, announced that the government will step up its programme of training for the Ukrainian armed forces. Fallon also announced that a UK-led NATO Trust Fund, co-chaired with Canada and Germany will provide millions of pounds to allow the Ukrainian armed forces improved communications capability and the ability to develop a Regional Airspace Security Programme.

Those announcements come just days after he outlined plans for the UK to contribute a minimum of 1,000 troops to NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) every year into the next decade. The VJTF was launched at NATO Summit Newport last year and is envisaged as a “spearhead force” aimed specifically against Russia but also deployable elsewhere. From 2017, when Britain will lead the VJTF, it will contribute some 3,000 troops from all sectors of the armed forces. These will be deployed at two regional headquarters in Poland and Romania and to units in the three Baltic States, as well as Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. Fallon also committed Royal Air Force Typhoon jets to “Baltic Air Policing” next year for the third year running. According to Fallon such measures “will mean more Ukrainian soldiers receiving vital training that will help them resist Russian aggression”. He added that the government’s commitment to the warmongering NATO alliance “shows that Britain stands at the heart of NATO and continues to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity”.

Since the Newport Summit in Wales during September last year, NATO has increased its warmongering activities in Eastern Europe, both to strengthen the military capacity of Ukraine, and other countries in the region, and as part of its efforts to encircle and threaten Russia. In early June, Britain and 17 other countries staged provocative military exercises in the Baltic region just a hundred miles from Russia's borders and the strategic naval base at Kaliningad, involving thousands of troops accompanied by naval and air support. These were reported to be the largest military exercises in the region for a quarter of a century and are presented as a deterrent to alleged future “aggression” by Russia. However, NATO's sabre-rattling in the region has occurred on almost a continual basis for many months. In June, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that NATO forces in Eastern Europe would could soon be tripled from its current strength of 13,000 to close to 40,000 troops. Initially it was announced that the VJTF would consist of only 4,000 troops. Recently both Poland and Lithuania have called for US weapons to be stationed on their soil and this week the US government announced that it would be sending tanks, artillery and other weapons to all three Baltic states as well as to Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

And ambassadors from all 28 NATO states met in Brussels on July 28 at Turkey's request in the context of the air-strikes carried out by Turkey, a NATO member, on Isis, the so-called Islamic State, and PKK, the Kurdistan Workers' Party. This presages a further escalation of conflict and aggression in the region, and comes after David Cameron admitted that British pilots have been flying and will continue to fly US fighter jets to bomb targets in Syria against the express decision of the House of Commons.

As regards the warmongering posturing by NATO amounting to the encirclement of Russia, not surprisingly this has contributed to greater instability in the region and an increasingly belligerent war of words between NATO and Russia. For its part the Russian government has also mounted military exercises and spoken of strengthening its nuclear capability, which NATO has then presented as signs of “Russian aggression”. Russian president Vladimir Putin was reported to have recently remarked, “If someone threatens our territories, it means that we will have to aim our armed forces accordingly at the territories from where the threat is coming. How else could it be? It is NATO that's approaching our borders, it’s not like we are moving anywhere.”

The British government and its NATO allies present the situation as one of “Russian aggression” in Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea. They claim that Russia is providing military support for its “proxies” in Ukraine and is solely responsible for the bloodshed and instability throughout the region. This “aggression” it is claimed must be met by the resolve of NATO, which it is alleged is the defender of the “rules-based international system”. If unchecked, the British government and its allies claim that “Russian aggression” will threaten neighbouring states in the Baltic as well as Poland and others. The fact is that Ukraine is a country that NATO and the EU wish to incorporate within their economic and military orbit. Britain, the EU and IMF have already taken financial measures to secure economic incorporation. This has been accompanied with the political intervention that culminated in the ousting of the former president and the promotion of openly fascist organisations and elements that have links to, or are part of the Ukrainian government and state apparatus. The British government and its NATO allies are continuing to support the fascists and to militarise Ukraine not just for economic purposes but as part of their efforts militarise Eastern Europe in order to encircle and weaken Russia.

The sabre-rattling by NATO, deployment of increasing numbers of troops and weapons in Eastern Europe and continual militarisation of Ukraine is creating an extremely unstable and dangerous situation, as well as considerable loss of life. There is also much talk of a renewed Cold War and even discussion about the deployment of nuclear weapons, most significantly at the recent Brussels Summit. There can be little doubt that contention between Russia and NATO is intensifying, with NATO using any Russian responses to its provocations as an excuse for even greater sabre-rattling.

In these circumstances all peace-loving people must be extremely vigilant and step up the preparations to stay the hands of the warmongers and create the conditions for Britain's withdrawal from NATO and ushering in an anti-war government.

Article Index


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