Saturday 26 April 2008

Turning on a 10p?

It really must be the political "silly season", when the leader of the Tories is urging low-paid working people to punish the Labour government by voting Tory (BBC News: Tories keep heat on 10p tax row). This comes hot on the heels of the comment, also from Dave Cameron, that Gordon Brown was "weak".

Yes, Mr Brown's government's actions were weak. Instead of scrapping the hated 200% tax hike on the lowest paid workers, we only hear vague promises of "looking into" compensation for the 'losers' in the autumn. This is too little too late, and will still leave millions of people skint for months - over the summer holiday season, to boot. Then, there is absolutely no guarantee that there won't still be losers.

Yet "weak" is a term which equally applies to Mr Cameron's criticism of this shabby affair. He made little reference to these issues, preferring to focus on a (verging on the ad hominem) attack on Mr Brown - so much so that I genuinely didn't know whether he was slagging off Mr Brown for not back-tracking enough, or slagging him off for back-tracking at all!

Perhaps as comic relief, the 10p tax affair has brought out not only the worst in the Establishment politicians, but also the biggest clangers. Chancellor Alistair Darling moaned that it would be "irresponsible" to reverse the 10p tax rate. Well, Mr Darling, I don't see what's so "responsible" about waging an illegal war in Iraq, squandering billions on nuclear weapons which could destroy the world and make humans extinct, while letting our public services and quality of life go down the toilet!!!

Then, a Blairite lord seemed to slide into a parallel universe where Gordon Brown 'reminded us of how good Tony Blair was' ?!? Sorry to be obtuse, and I'm not letting Brown off the hook, but I seem to remember that many of the most unpopular measures of this government - the Iraq war, PFI, raising the age to buy tobacco, and last but not least, the scrapping of the 10p tax rate - were initiated under Bliar's leadership!

But Cameron's suggestion that workers would be better under the Tories is equally laughable. I seem to remember, when the Tories were in power in the 80's and early 90's, they really pissed on workers' living standards and shifted the tax burden onto the lower paid. Not least by the hated Poll Tax, which took riots in London to get rid not only of the Poll Tax but also its creator, Margaret Thatcher.

There are far better ways to give New Labout the belting it so richly deserves. You can vote for numerous left-wing parties, such as the Socialist Party, the Green Party, the Socialist Labour Party, or (peg placed on nose) the breakaway Respect Renewal. Even the Liberal Democrats (peg placed over other nostril) would be a better protest vote than the Tories.

But to really teach Brown, Darling and his clique, a lesson they won't soon forget, vote Respect - standing in London as the Left List, and in several council elections throughout Britain, as the Left Party. See the Respect Coalition website for more info about Respect, where we are standing, and how you can help our election campaigns.

What the working class needs is a party which will not sell out to a right-wing agenda to gain middle class votes.

What the working class needs is a party which will not kow-tow to the bosses and the ruling class.

What the working class needs is a party which is run by and for the working class.

The Respect Coalition is that party !!!

Tuesday 22 April 2008

Oil support the refinery strike

Workers at the Grangemouth oil refinery are due to strike on Saturday and Sunday, over attempts by the company to raid the workers' pension fund (BBC News: Government warning over fuel row). I support the strike, even at risk of hardship to myself (being a 100-mile-a-day commuter), just as I support the teachers' strike and public sector workers' strike planned for Thursday 24th.

I am especially appalled by the actions of Grangemouth's owners, Ineos, which could condemn their workers to poverty in old age - remember Robert Maxwell! In any case, with petrol (and diesel) prices at £1.stupid per litre and skyrocketing, what possible excuse do they have for raiding their workers' pensions? It can't possibly be low profits !!!

Meanwhile, not only the UK government, but also the SNP-dominated Scottish Assembly, are whining about the workers striking because of the disruption it will cause, barely mentioning the despicable actions of the oil bosses. Well, personally, I think Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has the right idea:

Nationalise the oil industry now!!!

Sunday 6 April 2008

Low paid need Robin Hood not robbin' bleeders!

So Business Secretary John Hutton has ruled out a rethink on then government's decision to make low earners pay more tax, by scrapping the 10p tax band (BBC News: 'No rethink' on tax rate - Hutton). Well, it won't adversely affect him and his fat-cat cronies, who are on rather more than £18k per year, will it!

It will, however, further impoverish millions of low-paid people, including the 5 million poorest households. It will lay the belt into people who are already struggling with price hikes on energy, petrol and water. It can only add to the already scary number of people becoming insolvent every year :-( If anyone reading this still has any illusions that the New Labour party still gives a flying f**k about working class people, for f**k's sake WAKE UP !!!

People often ask, how can we afford to give more money to less well off people. Well, for starters, it is workers who actually create the wealth (both in the UK and throughout the world), which is siphoned off by the rich fat-cats who this government are currently in bed with.

But paying more money to low paid workers is not only important from a social justice angle. It would also benefit the economy hugely, as people on lower incomes tend to spend more of their money on goods and services - hence keeping more people in work - than the rich. Keynesian economics believes more spending is the best way to boost the economy, but has generally involved printing money and therefore increasing the rate of inflation (which is already way too high!) Taxing the rich to improve the income of poorer workers would remove this problem; the same amount of money would still be in the economy, it would just be distributed better.

If the government won't listen, it's time for us to act. We should support the underpaid public sector workers who are on strike on April 24th, and push for strikes in our own workplaces.

We should also look to replacing this penny-pinching, rich loving, backstabbing government with something better. To this end, I urge all readers to not only vote Respect in the GLA, London Mayor and local council elections; but also to join Respect, and help your local Respect candidate with electioneering. (More details of your local candidates will be posted on the Respect Coalition website). We should also continue to actively support Respect and its candidates between the elections.

Then, maybe when the next general election comes around, it will be the parliamentary majorities of Hutton, Brown, darling and there other right-wing supporters in the government, which will be robbed and left for dead in a dark alley!

Saturday 5 April 2008

Bullies, Nazis and Perverts

It's not every day the BNP has to remove someone from their election candidates list for being too extreme! Yet that is exactly what has happened to Nick Eriksen, the second on their list for the Greater London Assenbly elections. And boy, is he extreme!

Nick has implied that rape is not a serious crime, stating that 'rape is simply sex' (Searchlight's Stop The BNP article: Public perception was reason for sacking BNP ‘rape lie’ candidate). Rape is not simply sex, it is probably the worst form of sexual abuse. Sex should be consenting and enjoyable by both partners, not forced on one person by another.

Not that sexism is rare among the far right. Indeed, back in the 1930's, the German Nazis also had an appallingly sexist attitude towards women. One of the Nazis' slogans used about women was 'Kinder, Kuche, Kirk" (apologies if I've got the order wrong), which means Children, Cooking and Church. No wonder, then, modern day Nazis have a similar contempt for women's rights!

The BNP have not removed Nick because his comments were offensive, simply because they may have damaged the BNP's public image (as if it had one!) in the run up to the GLA and local council elections. As the Searchlight article states; "An official statement by the party avoided stating that Nick Eriksen’s comments about women in his own Sir John Bull blog were actually offensive and outrageous, but was concerned only about how they would have been perceived." Nick's comments also expose the hypocrisy of the BNP which, only a few years ago, was campaigning on the racist lie that Asian men in Bradford were pimping young white girls (oh, please!), and that Islam is allegedly spread by rape (give me a break!)

As for Nick's comment that calling rape a serious crime "is like suggesting that force feeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence"; well, force-feeding anyone anything is generally an act of abuse. A possible exception to this would be if the woman is having a severe hypo - and, when you consider that diabetic people were among the 'useless eaters' exterminated by the German Nazis in the 1930's, I don't think that was quite what he had in mind!

Sadly, sexism is not confined to Nazis, it is common among the right-wing capitalist Establishment. The epitome is when the Establishment, media and even judges imply that some women deserve to be raped because of their lifestyle and choice of clothing, but it also exists on a more 'background' level. Advertisers use sexism to sell products and newspapers, helping to promote an image of 'beauty' which is unrealistic and leads many young women to develop the potentially fatal anorexia and bulimia. There are frequent attacks on single parents, working women and the right to abortion. Women are expected to share the double-burden of working and bringing up children, and women's average earnings are still lower than those of men.

Yet, as Nick Eriksen's rantings prove, voting for the false alternative of the BNP will not address any of these issues. Only a socialist alternative can improve the rights and working conditions not only of women, but also of men.