Archive | March 20th, 2015

End benefit sanctions … sack Maximus; sack capitalism!

NOVANEWS

Donetsk and Soviet flags adorn a self-defence force armoured vehicle

www.cpgb-ml.org/

US private healthcare company Maximus has been hired to follow in the footsteps of the now infamous French firm Atos after being contracted by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to carry out Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) on people receiving sickness and disability benefits. ‘Assessments’ consist of an interview with one of the firm’s employees (no medical training required) and a quick computerised test. On the basis of such ‘evidence’, thousands of sick and disabled people have been ruled ‘fit to work’ in the last two years, and have had their benefits substantially reduced or stripped away entirely.

Pre-assessment questionnaires are tailored towards physical disability, so people with ‘invisible’ illnesses and severe mentalhealth issues have also been found ‘fit for work’. Interview questions like “How did you get here today?” have been used to tip the scales. Apparently, “By bus” is the wrong answer for a person on disability benefit! Bleeding the sick and disabled Atos’s poisonous legacy includes leaving some of the most vulnerable members of our society with no means of support at all. Having been ruled fit and transferred onto the minimal flat-rate ‘jobseekers allowance’, many have had their benefits stopped altogether after being unable to attend Jobcentre appointments. There have also been many cases of Atos ruling people with terminal cancer, advanced cases of Parkinson’s disease or severe MS as ‘fit to work’. Unsurprisingly, charities and healthcare workers report that a growing number of suicides are resulting from this inhuman treatment and the financial desperation it so often leads to.

Many more victims of this pernicious system have been forced to turn to food banks to get a meal. These are largely church and/ or community-based projects (often cynically ‘supported’ by supermarket giants in a bid to sell an extra food item per customer while proving how ‘philanthropic’ they are), and the general rule is that a person can only use them 2-3 times in a 12-month period. Clearly, they are for the most desperate and short-term cases only – they can offer no long-term solution to the absolute penury into which people are being pushed. Comfortably living down to this bloodsucking example, Maximus already has its teeth into the NHS, running the privatised Fit for Work occupational health service, designed to bully those on sick leave back to work. In some parts of Britain, it also runs the ‘work programme’ into which those found ‘fit for work’ will find themselves pushed. Maximus is notorious in the US for violating wage law, for racist discrimination, and for fraud, dodgy expenses claims, workers failing drug and alcohol tests, etc. Its executives have stated that they will not respond to protests, and they are renowned for paying hefty lobbying sums to US politicians.

After all, what do the sick matter when compared to the goal of ‘maximus’-ing profits? Fighting back Across Britain, a determined campaign has been waged against WCAs by groups such as Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC). These admirable activists have put constant pressure on the government, raised public awareness and given help and advice to those who have been affected by unfounded Atos rulings. It is widely believed that these campaigns were a large factor in Atos’s decision to withdraw from their WCA contract three months ahead of schedule. Meanwhile, although it is popular to blame the ConDems for every evil suffered by the working class in Britain today, we need to understand that Labour are not about to ride in on a white steed and save us. After all, it was Labour which in 2007 brought in the Welfare Reform Act, replacing Incapacity Benefit with Employment Support Allowance and Personal Capability Assessments with the Work Capability Assessments, all in order to make the tests more stringent and force the sick into (non-existent) work or lower benefits – to the detriment of their physical and mental health and wellbeing. Moreover, Labour has promised to retain the illegal workfare system, which forces the unemployed to work for their benefit cheque (a payment far lower than 40 hours of the minimum wage).

Labour supported the introduction and implementation of the bedroom tax (its belated about-face is purely cosmetic), and Labour brought us PFI – the cunning system of bankrupting public services through building contracts. Meanwhile, its latest minimum wage proposal is for a derisory £8 by 2020! No further proof is needed that Labour’s allegiance is to the capitalist ruling class and not to workers. We have to face facts: the capitalist system has never offered and never will offer a way out of the problems that face our class. Reforms gained through parliament have been shown time and again to bring a temporary respite at best – designed merely to pacify people who are beginning to fight back. But what has been given with one hand can be taken away with the other, and we are back where we started, with it all to do again.

In their fight to defend their wealth and privileges, our rulers gain much by creating the stigma that presently attaches to people on benefits. Such stigma provides convenient scapegoats and creates division between workers. But the unemployed, the sick and disabled, immigrants … these are not our enemies. Our enemies are the handful of ruthless exploiters who steal our wealth, and who force the burden of their constant wars and economic crises onto our backs. A ruling class that sits by and watches as its poorest people are ejected from their homes and slowly starved, while keeping in its own hands the ill-gotten gains plundered from half the world, is not fit to rule. A system that creates so much and yet cannot provide a secure and decent standard of living to all is – like a Tesco sandwich at a food bank – long past its sell-by date.

We need a new social order, which will allow workers to use our resources and labouring power to solve our own problems. But this new order will not fall from the sky. We need organisation. We must support every grassroots campaign that is fighting today to protect the interests of workers, and we must work to link all these little rivulets together into a mighty and unstoppable tide. All the apparently separate issues: benefit sanctioning, universal credit, food banks, the bedroom tax, homelessness, privatisation of health and education services, racist scapegoating, war … are part of the same fight; the fight against our common enemy – the capitalist imperialist system itself. The CPGB-ML stands in solidarity with all those resisting Maximus and resisting benefit sanctions. We are opposed to the degradation and dehumanisation of the sick, disabled and unemployed. We demand secure, well-paid jobs for the healthy and decent support for all those unable to work. If the system cannot provide these things, the system will have to go. Join us! 19 Ma

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Communists attacked at StW Bloomsbury meeting: Trotskyite ‘Left Unity’ in action!

NOVANEWS

nato ukraine copy

Suppression of information; why do they fear the truth?

Stop the War’s trotskyite ‘leaders’ attempted to prevent the audience at their public meeting from reading the CPGB-ML’s latest leaflet last night, with what can only be described as a crass and cowardly act of base thuggery. It marks, even for them, a new low in their attempts to destroy any semblance of a broad and unified anti-imperialist, anti-war movement in Britain.

Apparently threatened by the distribution of the CPGB-ML’s latest leaflet on the Ukraine, “Britain out of Nato; Nato out of the Donbass”,  and no doubt aware of our party’sexcellent anti-imperialist analysis and staunch defence of the progressive anti-fascist forces defending the people’s republics of Eastern Ukraine, a Stop the War ‘steward’ was sent to eject a communist activist distributing leaflets at StW’s public meeting yesterday evening, at Bloomsbury Baptist Central Church, in Shaftsbury Avenue, Central London.

It is possible that they were still Irked by our systematic and thorough exposure of the trotskyite and revisionist’s disgraceful dereliction of duty and failure to defend the people of Libya and Syria from the imperial jackboot and their fundamentalist proxies, which led to the leadership faction of StW refusing to renew the affiliation of the CPGB-ML by a cowardly bureaucratic manoeuvre in 2011.

In any event, the CPGB-ML comrade in question was doing no more than quietly handing bundles of leaflets to people sitting by the aisles, who were then passing them down the rows, taking one each and reading them.

This apparently harmless activity, entirely supportive of the stated cause of StW’s meeting – which after all was called, however belatedly, to discuss “Nato and the crisis in the Ulkraine” – was treated by the dwindling band of counterfire ‘leaders’ as a veritable act of War. One they were also powerless to stop, however.

As Jonathan Steele, a Guardian journalist, who was billed as the warm up act for a familiar line up of trotskyites, revisionists and social democrats – the CND’s Kate Hudson, CPB’s Andrew Murray and RMT’s Alex Gordon – ponderously made his opening remarks, the leaflets were received as a welcome relief by the assembled audience, much to the ire of the ageing band of trotskyite (we think counterfire, but really, who can say for sure these days?) luminaries, who wished to enforce their ideological ownership of the event.

This heavy mob of political sergeant-majors then mobilised the sad spectacle of a young ginger-bearded private in his 30s to confront the ‘sectarian disruptor.’ Failing to give any reason for demanding that the leaflet-wielder leave the meeting, he initially looked fairly non-plussed, before beginning to raise his voice and disrupt the meeting he was supposed to be stewarding. “Get out”, he demanded. Why? the leafleteer whispered. “You’re causing a disturbance!”, shouted the Ginger Steward. “Please be quiet, I’m trying to listen” said the purveyor of the offensive literature. “Get out you’re not welcome, this is our meeting” [Ginger Steward].

At this point the steward ripped the leaflets from the hands of the distributor, screwed them up and attempted to drag the CPGB-ML activist physically from the main hall – which he found a challenge as he was somewhat smaller, although the more sectarian, un-reasonable and aggressive, and the clear initiator of physical violence.

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The CPGB-ML activist remained remarkably disciplined, and un-phased in the face of this provocation, but followed in order to reclaim his literature and protest the steward’s actions, whereupon he was met with a committee of 8 – 10 ageing trotskyites headed by one Lindsay German, in what was clearly an orchestrated manoeuvre:

German: Get out of our meeting you’re not welcome

CPGB-ML: It’s a public meeting called by StW of which I am a member – its as much my meeting as it is yours.

German: You’re not a member.

CPGB-ML: I am. I booked a ticket at this public meeting and you have no reason or right to eject me.

German: I don’t know you. I’ve never seen you before.

CPGB-ML: That is beside the point. I’m the public. You know – the ‘little people’ that attend public meetings when they are called.

German: This is my meeting. I am the elected convenor of StW and you are not. You are causing a disturbance and I want you to leave.

CPGB-ML: Your steward attacked me and has stolen my leaflets which I want returned. The disturbance was caused by him and you, not by me. It is shameful behaviour against which I will defend myself.

German: You’re causing a disturbance now by raising your voice [apparently without irony].

CPGB-ML: And this is how you build an anti-war movement? No wonder there’s no-one left in it.

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The Steward was terrified he might have his photo taken, as you can see from these photos – which we take as a tacit admission of his awareness of his transgression – and the door-keepers looked on appalled at the childish and brutish behaviour of their great leaders and event managers:

IMG_1890

Political differences underlying the Sectarian attack: 

There is nothing obviously wrong with the introductory blurb that StW put out to promote the meeting: “NATO has created and is exploiting the crisis in Ukraine in order to extend its military and geopolitical reach to the very borders of Russia. Instead of authentically supporting the cessation of hostilities and the peaceful resolution of the conflict, Western powers are pouring fuel on the flames of a brutal civil war in Ukraine and lurching towards a new, increasingly intense Cold War with Russia.”

But as the catholic church has been known to affirm: there are sins of commission, and sins of omission. The StW, and their revisionist and trotskyite ‘leadership’ faction, have failed singularly to explain the reasons that British Imperialism is compelled to fight these brutal wars, raise any movement to seriously defend Libya, Syria or the Ukrainian anti-fascist forces from the predatory onslaught of the US/UK/EU NATO warmongers.

Rather they have squandered and destroyed the momentum of the movement, at the head of which they serendipitously found themselves in 2003, by dwelling on their political differences with all the anti-imperialist forces who were actually confronting imperialism, and spending much time and effort describing the counter revolutionary jihadists, butchers and fascists as “genuine anti-authoritarian revolutionaries.” [sic!]

To this group, nothing is more important than the interests of the Labour Party, and they have insisted on creating not a vehicle to oppose imperialist war, which could serve the real needs of workers of all countries, including our own, but a vehicle to promote the interests of the imperialist labour party – and wittingly, or not, thereby suborned the movement to the needs of the warmongers themselves.

that is why these final paragraphs of our excellent leaflet sting them into exposing themselves so blatantly:

Support the resistance

When ‘protesting’ against Britain’s other wars of national oppression, neither the trade unions nor the anti-war movement have yet been prepared to advance beyond timid demands to ‘bring the troops home’, and for ‘welfare not warfare’.

Most of the cowardly ‘leaders’ of our working-class movement have never dared to raise the essential point that British workers have a duty to give active solidarity to those who are standing up against the violence being exported by British imperialism.

These leaders have refused to give full support to the forces of resistance, and refused to organise the workforce to disrupt and sabotage the war machine at home. But when we neglect these duties towards our brothers and sisters abroad, we are also weakening our own ability to fight back against capitalist austerity at home.

So it felt like a breath of fresh air when the RMT union put up a resolution in support of the anti-fascist resistance in the Donbass and got it passed at last year’s TUC conference – thus making it official TUC policy. Demonstrations and meetings in solidarity with the Donbass resistance immediately sprang up in London, Bristol and elsewhere.

For the moment, these healthy developments remain on a small scale and mostly symbolic, but they are a tiny chink in the carefully-constructed separation wall that divides workers in the imperialist homeland from their oppressed brethren abroad.

Let the unions now turn that TUC policy from a pious hope into a concrete reality by organising a campaign of total non-cooperation with the war that anglo-american imperialism is courting with Russia.

Let media workers refuse to go on churning out the endless vilification of the anti-fascist resistance and of Russia. Let workers in the armed forces refuse to go to Ukraine in support of a neo-Nazi junta. Let armaments and transport workers black all war materiel destined for the Ukraine.

In short, let workers remember the power they have, and learn to use it! The lesson is urgent.

A post-script on Trotskyism:

We cannot fail to note the counter-revolutionary role played by Trotskyism in our movement, that stems from its fundamental, entrenched and perpetuated political errors that have long since caused it to cease being a trend within the working-class movement. Rather, it plays its part as an increasingly obvious tool of the imperialists themselves, employed simply to disorganise the working class movement.

The sooner we expel these fraudulent posers from our movement entirely, the better for the cause of workers in Britain and the world over.

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