Archive for the ‘The Left’ Category

Fight the Cuts on Wednesday

September 27, 2010

The above poster is taken from this month’s Union Post.

ICTU Campaign against cuts launched

September 10, 2010

MAJOR NEW PAMPHLET – “CUTS MYTHS DEBUNKED”

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions launched its campaign to prevent the UK government’s planned cuts in public spending which will devastate the private and public sectors in Northern Ireland. The first of a series of pamphlets, leaflets and reports outlining the threat of these unnecessary cuts and the need for an alternative strategy was launched this morning in Belfast.

The Northern Ireland Committee of the ICTU are publishing 30,000 copies of a major new publication entitled “Cuts Myths Debunked.” This will be distributed by the 36 trade unions affiliated to the ICTU, as well as by Trades Councils, community organisations and by street stalls.

“Cuts Myths Debunked” can be downloaded from the new ICTU campaigning website: http://www.ictupeoplejobsandservices.org

The comprehensively researched and easily readable report tackles the various myths about the necessity to tackle the deficit in the lifetime of this parliament. The report clearly argues that:

Government debt (70%) is not at record levels – it was 250% when they built the NHS
The debt is manageable – the UK has 12 years to pay off its debts, longer than most advanced states, including the US
UK’s debt is lower than the Eurozone, Germany, Japan and the US
Public spending is lower than comparable EU states
State economy is not same as household budgets
UK Public sector not big compared with OECD states
Health costs are half those of the US
Huge growth in inequalities since 1980.
Top 10% have 100 times the spending power of bottom 10%
Public sector is not too big, private sector is too small
Private sector wages are low, not public sector too high
Public spending maintains demand
There are real alternatives to cuts.
Fairer taxes, all collected, not evaded or avoided
Green New Deal and other investments

The 20-page booklet is the first of a series of publications the trade unions are putting out over the next few weeks, ahead of the ETUC Day of Action across the EU on September 29th and the Belfast rally we are also organising on October 23rd (three days after the Comprehensive Spending Review).

Speaking at the Launch, ICTU Assistant General Secretary Peter Bunting said: ““The strategy being pursued by the UK government will certainly make things worse. They will wreak havoc across Northern Ireland. The private sector is especially vulnerable. Our analysis shows that cuts in government expenditure – both day-to-day and capital investment in roads and schools – will result in thousands of lost jobs from private firms which provide goods and services to Stormont and local councils.

“It is also clear that, even after all the years of planned pain, once these services and jobs are removed, they will never come back. This strategy is about the permanent removal of essential jobs and services. It is about the dismantling of the welfare state, the NHS and other quality services and assets. It is about shifting the burden of the economic crisis from the wealthiest onto all workers and the poorest in our society.

“In this light, Congress views with concern, the infighting within various sectors, as to who deserves cuts and who is undeserving. This illustrates our analysis that such a strategy will lead to the complete breakdown of social cohesion and solidarity.

“We really are all in this together, and if we stand together, we can turn this immoral strategy on its head.

ENDS

This event is part of a major campaign which is committed to building mass public support for an alternative to the unnecessary cuts being planned by the UK government.

Specifically, the NIC-ICTU is preparing for rallies on:

· Belfast & L’Derry, Wednesday 29th September (part of the ETUC’s day of action across the EU)
· Belfast, Saturday 23rd October (part of a series of UK events, three days after the UK government’s Comprehensive Spending Review announcement on 20th October)

Peter Bunting added: “An alternative strategy to the current economic difficulties is essential and the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is presently engaged in consultations across all sectors of our society and economy and NIC-ICTU will be announcing details of it’s alternatives to these unnecessary cuts shortly.”

Cuba Si!

July 26, 2010

Getting to Leningrad’s VE Day Celebrations in a New-Old Style

May 9, 2010

I can’t see Citybus adopting this as its next design.

And today, like every day, it is worth recalling the sacrifices of all those who gave their lives and their efforts in the struggle to defeat the Nazis.

Iraqi CP May Day Message

May 1, 2010

May Day Greetings to the Workers of Iraq

and the World

Every year, for more than a century, workers in various parts of the world, of all races, nationalities and affiliations, have celebrated the 1st of May as an internationalist occasion for work and struggle, and a symbol of liberation from the yoke of exploitation and oppression and all forms of economic, political and social slavery that violate the most basic human rights of equality and justice.

The workers and toilers of the world have continued to look at May Day as an occasion for renewed determination to continue the glorious internationalist march for more political and economic gains and successes, and social guarantees for the poor, toilers and working people, leading to socialism. The glow of the 1st of May is associated with great mass events and celebrations, giving impetus to many political, economic, social and national battles and victories.

Iraqi workers and toilers are celebrating May Day this year, along with other progressive forces of our people, with mounting feelings of resentment and concern for the general situation in the country in the aftermath of recent elections. The dominant political forces and blocs have dashed their hopes once again. Instead of speeding up the formation of a broad coalition government that adopts a national democratic programme, rejecting sectarian quotas and monopoly of political power, ensuring security and stability, reviving national economy and providing services, as these blocs had promised during their election campaigns, they began to fight amongst themselves over sharing political power, driven by narrow political, partisan and sectarian ambitions and interests that have nothing to do with the people’s basic concerns.

The working masses have the right to ask bitterly what have the ongoing political deliberations and meetings, taking place between the winning blocs, got to do with their own legitimate demands for improving the difficult living conditions, raising wages, and the enactment of a new labour law that guarantees the freedom and independence of trade union work, and the freedom of legitimate trade union activity in state sector institutions similar to private sector institutions? While the country is enduring the consequences of the tedious process of setting up a new government, the masses of Iraqi men and women who braved terrorism and dangers when they went to the polls, want the top priority to be addressing the concerns of millions of the unemployed, mostly young people, the 7 million citizens who are living below the poverty line, the 5 million orphans and the hundreds of thousands of widows. They are also demanding that the dominant blocs disclose their plans for operating the idle factories and establishing new ones, legislating a new labour law and a comprehensive social security law, and dealing firmly with all forms of financial and administrative corruption.

The Iraqi Communist Party, while congratulating the working class on its international day, expresses its full solidarity with its demands and its General Federation of Iraqi Workers, especially its legitimate demands for the abolition of Law No. 150 (1987), that converted public sector workers to government employees, and for annulling Decree No. 8750 (2005), that froze the funds of trade unions and professional associations, and thus paralyzed their work and activity. Furthermore, the Party reiterates its strong backing and support for the national campaign recently launched by the General Federation of Iraqi Workers to legislate a new labour law.

In the present critical conditions, the Iraqi Communist Party shares with the masses of people their concern about the intensifying conflict among the dominant political forces that is taking place in an atmosphere of internal divisions and external interference, with possible grave consequences. The party calls upon all political forces to put the interests of the country above any other consideration and before any other interests. Reciprocated concessions should be made to speed up the formation of a national unity government, away from the sectarian and ethnic quota system, in order to end the anxious and confused situation that prevails in the country.

The First of May will remain a guiding beacon along the path to building a promising future for mankind.

Greetings to our workers and their heroic struggles on their International Day

The Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist Party

28 April 2010

* * * * * *

Iraqi CP Website: http://www.iraqicp.com/

The Workers’ Party and the 2010 General Election

April 7, 2010

The Workers’ Party has decided not to stand in the forthcoming general election, preferring instead to concentrate on next year’s Assembly and Council elections. I have discussed the issues more over at Cedar Lounge Revolution in the context of the NI left in general and this election.

Death of a Soviet Hero

February 19, 2010

Spotted this in the Guardian, the death of one of the three Soviet soldiers photopgraphed hanging the Red Flag over the Reichstag (the picture was of course posed as a replacement had to be put up after the original flag was shot down). Abdulkhakim Ismailov died aged 93 on Tuesday in his native village. After the war, he was in the Communist Party and was a chairman of a collective farm. As time moves on, and we are left with fewer and fewer of the survivors of the Great Patriotic War, it is always worth taking a moment to recall the enormous sacrifices required of the Soviet peoples and their allies in order to defeat fascism.

Last year marked the 70th anniversary of the fall of the Spanish Republic, and next year marks the 75th anniversary of the start of the Spanish Civil War. Already, commemorative events are being organised by left groups in Ireland, such as the Charlie Donnelly commemoration and The Workers’ Party is organising a trip for next year as well. The Spanish Civil War of course remains a matter of great debate and not a little bitterness on the left. No need to go into the arguments now, but there is no doubt that that war proved the vicious and brutal nature of fascism – the last ditch defence of capitalism – and was a warning that too many people ignored, especially in the west.

2011 also sees the 70th anniversary of the Nazi assault on the Soviet Union – Hitler’s attempt to kick in the front door of Soviet socialism in the fundamentally mistaken belief that what he called the whole rotten structure would collapse with it. Instead the peoples of the Soviet Union rallied in defence of Socialism and against the fascist barbarians who were slaughtering their comrades in the occupied territories, with the all too enthusiastic support of local ultra-nationalists, anti-semites and fascists. It took an unpredecented effort to halt the Nazi advance and then drive them back to Berlin, the Red Army crushing their resistance the only way possible – ruthlessly. With the death of Abdulkhakim Ismailov, another link to that past is broken. But their sacrifice, their bravery and their heroism will never be forgotten. The smears of the enemies of the Soviet Union, then and now, can never tarnish the glory of the soliders of the Red Army.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Republican, Socialist, Leader, Comrade

February 4, 2010

From The Workers’ Party:

Tomás Mac Giolla (1924 – 2010)

The death has occurred early this afternoon of Tomás Mac Giolla, former President of the Workers Party, TD for Dublin West (1982-1992) and Lord Mayor of Dublin (1993/94). He was 86 and is survived by his wife May (née McLoughlin) and his sister Evelyn and his nephews and nieces.

Mr. MacGiolla passed away in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin early this afternoon. He had been ill for some time and had been in hospital for the last week.

Tomás Mac Giolla was born in to a farming family at Nenagh, Co. Tipperary on January 25th, 1924. He was a nephew of the Irish Parliamentary Party MP, T.P. Gill. He was educated at St. Flannan’s College, Ennis, Co. Clare and in University College Dublin where he completed a degree in Commerce. He subsequently worked as an accountant with the ESB from 1947 until he became a full time public representative for the Workers Party in the late 1970s.

Mr. Mac Giolla joined Sinn Féin around 1950 and stood unsuccessfully for his first election for Sinn Féin in North Tipperary in the 1961 general election. He was elected President of Sinn Féin in 1962 which was the same year in which the late Cathal Goulding became Chief of Staff of the IRA. Together they played a pivotal role in transforming the republican movement away from nationalist armed struggle towards socialism and into what would eventually become the Workers’ Party.

He was elected to Dublin City Council in 1979 and was Workers Party TD for Dublin West from 1982 to 1992. In 1993 Tomás Mac Giolla became Lord Mayor of Dublin. He remained active in politics after his retirement and was a member of the Ard Comhairle of the Workers Party until his death.

Paying tribute to Mr. Mac Giolla this afternoon, the current Workers Party President Michael Finnegan, who is Mr. Mac Giolla’s former director of elections in Dublin West, said that Tomás Mac Giolla was a greatly underestimated figure in Irish politics who played a major role in the struggle for civil rights and democracy in Northern Ireland and for people’s rights throughout Ireland and internationally.

Issued 4th February 2010

Tomás MacGiolla was, in every sense, a giant of a man. As anyone who met him knew, he was a man with a tremendous passion and zest for life, something he shared with May, his wife of so many years. They also shared a deep and strong commitment to the politics of Tone and Connolly, and were bound together by life-long activism. Tomás’ love for an teanga dúchais helped shape his life almost as much as his commitment to republicanism. Tomás was a man of tremendous vision. His was a pivotal role in the transformation of the Republican Movement in the course of the 1960s and 1970s that culminated in the adoption of the simple title of The Workers’ Party in 1982. Together with Cathal Goulding, he led the move away from sterile and narrow militarism towards a party of and for the working class. His was a strong and insistent voice that Republicans must make themselves and their struggle relevant to the people of Ireland. His was a powerful voice against sectarianism. He saw that the real enemy of the plain people of Ireland was not just partition but the rotten and oppressive political and economic system north and south that gave free rein to corruption and bigotry, that destroyed communities in cities as well as the countryside, that exiled the young, and that divided the people of Ireland. Without an end to economic exploitation, he told Republicans, there can be no freedom. To quote from his speech to the Ard Fheis of January 1970

Our objective is the re-conquest of Ireland from the Ground Landlords, the river barons, the speculators, the cartels and the monopolies and the struggle against them will now be intensified. If needs be, we must be prepared to win back our country farm by farm, river by river, mine by mine, shop by shop, and factory by factory.

Tomás was a tireless and fearless fighter for the Irish working class, no more so than in Dáil Éireann. It was Mac Giolla’s interventions in the Dáil that initiated the process that brought the coruption of the political elite into the light of day. But parliamentary politics was only ever one small part of his activism, only ever one front in his struggle for socialism. This is not the time for a full account of his career. But to me Tomás Mac Giolla was to me an inspiration. To hear Mac Giolla take hold of the microphone and talk about the unity of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter was to hear the authentic voice of republicanism. When he spoke about Iraq or Serbia, you understood clearly what internationalism meant. And when he spoke about the oppression inherent in the capitalist system, you were reminded of Swift’s saevo indignatio or Guerva’s statement that the revolutionary was motivated by the love of mankind. It brought back memories of why you became a socialist in the first place. Vivacious, passionate, human. This is the Tomás Mac Giolla I will remember. A visionary, a socialist, a Republican: a true leader and a giant of the Irish Left. This is what he was.

A Perverse Budget from a Government with No Shame – WP

December 10, 2009

The Workers’ Party have described today’s budget as diabolical and utterly perverse, saying it targets working class people and only working class people with a vicious round of cutbacks in their incomes and in public services.

Minister dancing to IBEC’s tune

Workers’ Party Councillor Ted Tynan said that Minister Brian Lenihan’s budget was drafted to an agenda set down by IBEC and big business and that the minister had bent over backwards to grant their demands while tightening the thumbscrews on working people, the poor and their families.

Cllr. Tynan said “The reduction in excise duty on alcohol and the car scrappage deal is an affront to society. This budget will force some people to cut back on food and home heating. It is a perverse government indeed which can cut child allowance but give an effective subsidy to the drinks industry and the motor trade”.

“Nowhere in this budget do we see any effort to seriously tax the ostentatious wealth that is still being flashed around by the moneyed elite in this society, the one percent who hold one-fifth of this country’s wealth. Nor has any effort been made to reform the banks as part of the NAMA process. Having gambled away billions they have been given a massive top-up which has been raised by bleeding workers dry and throwing the most vulnerable people to the wolves”, said Cllr. Tynan.

Slash and Burn economics

“This is a budget which makes historic figures like Richie Ryan and Margaret Thatcher seem benevolent. It is a slash-and-burn budget which has reduced the most marginalised people in society, not just to poverty, but to abject poverty. The decision to slash Jobseekers payments for young people and cut it for everyone else, in addition to the cut in child benefit is an outright attack on the poor. Not one single job will be created as a result of this budget, but still we have handouts to businesses in the name of so-called competition”.

“A government with no morals no mandate and no shame”

“In short Minister Lenihan’s budget is an abomination. It is the product of a government which has been bought by big business but paid dearly for by ordinary workers and their families. It is a government with no morals, no mandate and no shame”, said Councillor Tynan.

Issued Wednesday, 9th December 2009

Iraqi CP Opposes Anti-Democratic Changes

November 12, 2009

The following statement from the Iraqi CP is well worth reading. And disturbing, if not that great a shock.

Iraqi Communist Party: Unjust amendments to the election law
are real threat to democracy

The Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist Party issued a statement on 10th November 2009, exposing the unjust amendments to the election law that the Iraqi Parliament had passed a day earlier. The endorsement of the election law “and the grave measures it includes, constitute a fundamental retreat from democracy in our country and a real threat to its future,” the statement said. The party called on the Presidency of the Republic, which is in charge of ensuring adherence to the Constitution, to overturn articles 1 and 3 of the election law that was approved on 9th November 2009, and send them back to the Parliament to be amended so that the law is truly democratic.

The amendments to the law, passed by the Parliament after weeks of bickering among influential and dominant blocs, may have averted the consequences of postponing the elections (originally scheduled for 16th January 2010), and endorsed the “open list” system. But the party statement warned against the grave consequences of these totally undemocratic amendments and the gross violation of the rights of the Iraqi electorate.

“It seems as if the noisy verbal battles that accompanied the haggling during the past few weeks about linking the issue of Kirkuk to the election law were fabricated to cover up passing the above-mentioned measures with the votes of the MPs of dominant blocs, who were mobilized for the vote in an unprecedented manner.”

“The Parliament, in the first article of the law, cut down the number of compensatory seats, originally allocated to the lists that do not meet the electoral threshold at the provincial level but achieve it at the national level, from 45 in the original law to about 15 seats! And when we know that part of these seats will be allocated to quotas for some of the ethnic and religious minorities (8 seats), and for the deputies who would be elected by Iraqis living abroad who constitute more than 10 percent of Iraq’s population, we can see how this reduction is arbitrary and irresponsible. The seven or eight remaining seats will not be enough to cover even the votes abroad.”
“On the other hand, this reduction (of the number of compensatory seats) effectively usurps the right of the lists that achieve the national electoral threshold to gain representation in Parliament. This reveals the selfishness of most of the dominant blocs and their disregard of plurality and diversity in the Parliament, their quest to extend full control over Parliament and the whole of political power, monopolizing and carving it up among themselves, in contravention of democratic norms.”

“In Article 3 of the law, the big parliamentary blocs went much further in violating democracy and displaying blatant disregard for the voters. They have imposed, once again, giving the vacant seats to the top winning lists, rather than putting them – as obligated by democracy, logic and justice – at the disposal of the lists that attain the highest remaining votes. They have thus opened the door again to a repetition of the infamous experience in the provincial elections earlier this year, when the big blocs stole the votes of more than two and a quarter million people who had given their votes to other lists. This was used by those big blocs to grab additional seats in the provincial councils.”

“What arouses astonishment and indignation is that the dominant blocs are repeating the same behaviour (as in the provincial elections), despite all the manifestations of popular rejection, protests and condemnation, which such anti-democratic practice had met at the time. It is clear that they are doing the same thing today despite being fully aware that it contradicts the principles of the Constitution as well. They also do so in a predetermined manner and in defiance of the voters and their will, and of their constitutional right to choose whom they want to represent them in Parliament and other elected bodies.”

“The measures taken by the big blocs yesterday (9th November 2009) is a very serious phenomenon in the political and constitutional experience in our country, a heavy blow to the fledgling democracy, and an outright retreat from its course.

“This development runs against the expectation of national public opinion, which had been looking forward to a serious and positive move to rectify the deficiencies in the electoral law that had been in force until yesterday, in order to make it a democratic law that ensures wider participation of our people, especially the youth, a better embodiment of the principle of citizenship and the consolidation of national unity.

“It is our duty to warn against the immediate consequences of all this for the upcoming elections. It is well-known that the credibility of these elections could face a severe challenge due to the reluctance of a large proportion of voters, who are frustrated as a result of the policies of powerful blocs themselves, to go the ballot box. This probability is increasing today because the new law stipulates giving the vacant seats to the winning lists. The supporters of the other lists are wondering, and they are right to do so, what would be the point of their participation in the elections as long as their votes will go in the end, against their will, to the winning lists that they reject and do not want in any way to endorse.”

“For this reason too, as well as the points mentioned earlier, we call on the Presidency of the Republic, which is in charge of ensuring adherence to the Constitution, to overturn articles 1 and 3 of the election law that was approved yesterday, and to send them back to the Parliament in order to reconsider them and ensure they are grounded in a proper democratic context.”

“We also call upon the masses of our people and public opinion, civil society organizations and all those concerned for democracy and its future in Iraq, to reject the afore-mentioned articles and press for amending them so that law will be truly democratic, ensuring political pluralism and proper representation of all the Iraqi people.”