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Volume 50 Number 31, August 15, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

The Unaccountable Cartel Party System of Government:

Restructuring the State to Serve Narrow Private Interests

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The Unaccountable Cartel Party System of Government:
Restructuring the State to Serve Narrow Private Interests

The Right to Education for All Must Be Guaranteed!
Callous and Dangerous Stand of the Government Is Unacceptable and Indefensible

First Online Meeting of Newcastle Stop the War:
NATO, War and the "Special Relationship"

The Unaccountable Cartel Party System of Government:

Restructuring the State to Serve Narrow Private Interests

There is widespread frustration and opposition to the decrees coming from the government in the situation of the Covid-19 pandemic. People are not only distrustful, but are in many cases extremely angry that the government is not listening to them, is incoherent and is putting the needs of "the economy", by which is meant the concerns of private interests, above the health of the people, their claims on society, and the genuine concerns that are being voiced by the workers and their unions and broad sections of society.

In this context, the government, and in particular the inner circle around Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his Special Adviser Dominic Cummings, and Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove, have been pushing ahead with changing the arrangements of the executive power of the state and its bureaucracy. In the name of "efficiency", they have been restructuring the state in the service of private interests, while concentrating power in the hands of the executive. This is in line with the character of an electoral system based on disenfranchising the electorate.

Under the cartel party system, the big political parties no longer operate as the mechanism by which people participate in politics, linking them to the state power. Instead, the electors have no control over those whom they elect to represent them. The cartel parties treat the electorate merely as voting cattle, and systematically wreck public opinion through manipulation, confidence trickery and disinformation to secure enough of a vote in order to come to power through electoral coups d'etat.

On August 8, thousands of health and care workers in over 30 cities and towns held physically-distanced marches to defend their dignity and to speak out loud and clear that public sector pay inequality is not acceptable. Rally following the march in London.

As a system, this began during the Thatcher era and was fully perfected by the New Labour project under Blair. In the present, it has degenerated into a disarray of warring factions and an inoperative and dysfunctional parliament. 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 such a coup within the Conservative Party last year, beginning with 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 rid the party of dissenting voices, its old guard. Johnson's faction finally gained overall power in an electoral coup at the end of the year.

These restructured mechanisms are meant to ensure that the electorate leaves politics to the politicians. Indeed, the Johnson/Cummings axis goes so far as to claim that it is they rather than Parliament which represents the people. The electorate is not accepting this assertion, and people are instead looking to an alternative 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 private interests that the existing authority represents are in increasing contradiction with the ever-more highly socialised society and economy. Their drive to do anything to make big scores, in fierce mutual competition, is creating chaos. The answer to the chaos is being sought in the police powers, making the issues that the people are fighting on criminal matters. In opposition, the people are clamouring for a say over the matters that affect their lives.

The existing authority in fact increasingly lacks legitimacy. The alternative is expressing itself in the resistance, through which people are speaking in their own name and rejecting the existing authority. This striving for the alternative is pointing to the need for instruments of government whose principles are based on the vesting of decision-making power in the people themselves. In this spirit, in the upsurge against racism, in the upsurge of the nurses who are rising to safeguard the future of health and social care, or of the teachers and other education workers in the schools, can be seen the people speaking in their own name. People have been joining in the building of forums which make speaking in their own name possible, and this must be built on and strengthened, not jettisoned in the interests of "business as usual".

Rather than simply describing the problem and continuing to seek authority elsewhere, what is being revealed as people speak out in their own name is that there is a necessity for change, including the need to give resistance an organisational and political direction. The work to build a mechanism in which those who present themselves for election are accountable to the electors is crucial in this context. Therein lies the path for renewal of the political process and for society's progress.

Nurses and health workers marches and rallies on August 8.
Top: London and Birmingahm. Bottom: Newcastle.

On some of the recent changes in arrangements and related issues, see:
Need for Democratic Renewal: Corruption and Destruction of the Polity Is Now the Name of the Game, Workers' Weekly, Number 29, August 1, 2020
Gove's Lecture on "The privilege of public service", Workers' Weekly, Number 29, August 1, 2020
Reorganising the Arrangements of Government: Cummings and Gove Push Ahead with their Overhaul of Whitehall and the Civil Service, Workers' Weekly, Number 28, July 25, 2020
Conflict Between Government and Civil Service: Head of the Civil Service and National Security Adviser Steps Down, Workers' Weekly, Number 26, July 11, 2020
Changing Arrangements at Number 10, Workers' Weekly, Number 26, July 11, 2020
Parliamentary Constituencies Bill: Necessity for a Renewal of the Political Processes and Institutions so that the People Are Empowered, Workers' Weekly, Number 24, June 27, 2020
Major Review of Electoral Law Announced: Necessity to Overcome Anachronism of Political Process and Institutions, Workers' Weekly, Number 23, June 20, 2020
The Farce and the Tragedy of Government's Handling of Covid-19 Pandemic: How Should Democracy Be Organised?, Workers' Weekly, Number 21, June 6, 2020
The Queen's Speech, Workers' Weekly, Number 13, April 11, 2020

Article Index

The Right to Education for All Must Be Guaranteed!

Callous and Dangerous Stand of the Government Is Unacceptable and Indefensible

The start of the new school year is rapidly approaching, with the expectation being that all children must return to school from September 1, as the government has decreed. At the same time, teachers, parents, schools and the education unions have made it clear that all the problems which are arising must be provided with solutions by placing the well-being of the people in the first place. The express aim must be to guarantee the right to education for all within the conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first key demand is that the well-being of the people must be guaranteed under the conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic by ensuring that the guidelines against contagion are put in place. It is of the utmost importance to take account of the health and safety of all, including that of teaching staff and support teachers, students and school workers, including cleaners, cafeteria staff and site officers, as well as all other workers working within and for schools, together with parents, families and communities. This is necessary for schools of all kinds, from kindergartens, nurseries and pre-schools, through to primary and secondary schools, and indeed is also required in the universities and colleges.

Second, there is no reason why the right to education cannot be enforced and provided for all under these exceptional circumstances. The experience of the peoples of the world over the last 200 years or so shows that even in conditions of war, where bombs were dropping, including during the Blitz in London and elsewhere in Britain during the Second World War, possibilities were created for the children to continue their education.

The stand being taken by the government is extremely dangerous and can only be described as callous and deeply cynical. Their decision-making is grounded in nothing but the demands of the most narrow private interests in order to benefit from the economic and financial crisis which the prior schemes to pay the rich have created for the economies of England, Wales, Scotland and the north of Ireland. The government's thesis is that there is a "balance" to be struck between the health and safety of staff and students alike with the demands of the economy, and that a certain amount of "collateral damage", including a certain amount of death and social upheaval, simply must be borne.

It is important to debunk this corrupt and self-serving thesis and to reject the measures being imposed, which take no account of the well-being of anybody. Indeed, the arbitrary pronouncements and decisions the government has made throughout this whole Covid-19 crisis have seemed calculated to stifle those very voices fighting to guarantee the well-being and the right to education for all, and who are playing a role in providing the very solutions necessary to solve the problems as they emerge.

It could be said that what has been exposed is a crisis of authority. Throughout, the government acted in an authoritarian way, claiming the authority to make decisions on behalf of the polity, including announcing arbitrary dates for schools to return, the creation of class "bubbles" of up to 300 children in a year group, and the constantly changing rules of social distancing, whilst refusing to consult with teachers, parents, schools and the education unions, and acting in a callous and cynical way, frequently flying in the face of their oft-quoted "science", the most recent announcement being that all schools will open to all pupils from September 1. This is despite the numbers of Covid-19 related deaths still being alarmingly high and real fears of second wave of the virus come the winter.

By contrast, the education unions, in consultation with their members, schools, parents and the wider community, have acted responsibly and with genuine authority. Their interest is in guaranteeing the well-being of everyone in society. Their authority lies in their determination to speak in their own name as part of fighting in defence of the rights of all. They seek to guarantee an education as a right for all, which they are working to bring into being, no matter what the conditions, for the whole of society.

Article Index

First Online Meeting of Newcastle Stop the War

NATO, War and the "Special Relationship"

On Thursday, August 13, Newcastle Stop the War organised its first online meeting, mainly inviting activists and friends in restarting its discussions. The meeting was chaired by Pam Wortley, who introduced two local speakers: Alex Snowdon, who gave a general overview of the current warmongering actions of the US alongside Britain in the world; and Roger Nettleship, who updated everyone on Britain's current activities and war preparations in NATO alongside the US. The talks were followed by discussion. At the end, after announcements, the chair and speakers encouraged people to join Stop the War and further engage in its discussions and activities. Click on the audio files to hear the speakers:

Alex Snowdon []

Roger Nettleship []

Article Index

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