Monday, April 24, 2006

The May elections (I)

As mentioned, the Socialist Party of Great Britain will be standing in next month's local elections in England. One of our members brought the following curious incident to our attention.

As those who read the Socialist Standard will know, the Socialist Party is putting up some candidates in the local elections in Britain next month. One of these is in Kingston, to the south-west of London.

Last Friday all the parties standing candidates there were invited to put their case to ameeting of the Kingston Racial Equality Council and in particular to address the question "How will the needs of minority groups be met?" Naturally we were there and explained that we didn't accept the idea of "minority groups"with different needs, that there was only one "race" the human race, that the key division in society ran between those who own the means of production and the rest of us who didn't with people from "minority groups"on both sides, and that, in any event, the needs of "minority groups" within the majority class were no more able to be met under the profit system than those of the rest of the majority.

Another party invited was the so-called "Socialist Labour Party" (known to us as the "Scargill Labour Party" after its founder, former miners' leader Arthur Scargill, who set it up as a breakaway from the Labour Party but which in practice is more like the former Communist Party). They didn't attend but sent a written answer which was so bizarre as to be worth recording:

"SLP statement for the KREC pre-council elections meeting on 21st April 2006 How will the needs of minority groups be met? This means how will racism be eradicated in this Borough?New Conservative Party Leader David Cameron made a huge mistake recently by calling the UK Independence Party 'closet racist'. Who can claim to be free of any racism? The answer is in truth nobody. Even London Mayor Ken Livingstone who many may have regarded as an archetype of anti-racism has now displayed an apparent insensitivity towards the Jewish community in the capital.Those that do claim to be not racists are certainly racists.The main problem in this issue resides in the institutional racism in our society. In particular the press and other media who too often raise covertly race issues in their reporting. A murderer or other criminal should not be reported as black. Racism has sprung out of the hegemony of imperialist society in theTwentieth Century with its large migrations of workers to the metropolitan countries. A socialist immigration policy is required to break this cycle and one that mirrors socialist Cuba. In Cuba nobody is allowed in and nobody is allowed out. Socialist countries plan their economies to prevent unemployment. Capitalist societies on the other hand need a ready supply of cheap labour which can be attracted and repelled at will. John Hayball. 12th April 2006".

The only laugh our representative got was when, in repudiating the view that Cuba was a "socialist country", he quoted the SLP's endorsement of Cuba's immigration policy (and which they want to introduce in Britain) of "nobody is allowed in and nobody is allowed out".

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Nuclear and Gas

Jeremy Warner looks into the pressures that might make Nuclear Energy a security option for Britain in his business outlook

The issue was raised afresh this week when Gazprom, the state-controlled Russian gas producer, warned in terms worthy of the Cold War that any attempt to limit Gazprom's expansion ambitions in Europe "will not lead to good results".

A spokesman elaborated that if the European Union wanted Gazprom's gas, then it would have to consider Gazprom's interests. In Britain, many took this to be a reference to reports that the Department of Trade and Industry was looking for ways in which it could block any attempt by Gazprom to buy Centrica, the UK's leading gas retailer.

In fact, the spokesman later said, Gazprom's remarks were aimed at other European Union members, whose attempts to block cross border takeovers of key energy companies have been much more overt. Yet whatever Gazprom was referring to, its comments are plainly a quite alarming development. We'll turn off our gas as we did with Ukraine, the Russians seem to be saying, if we don't get our way. Energy supply, it appears, may be a more potent weapon than rockets ever were.

The Killing Contines in Darfur

The spreading ethnic conflict that, broadly speaking, pits black Africans against Arab fighters - has also raised fears of a broader war in an oil-rich region that could mirror the civil war in Democratic Republic of Congo where big powers were in the background on opposing sides.

In the case of Darfur, the lines are now drawn with China and Russia firmly on the side of Khartoum.

But even Britain and the US, which have consistently taken a hard line against the Sudanese government, are wary of destabilising a regime whose support is needed in the "war on terror". The fifth UN security council member, France, meanwhile, remains the power broker in Chad.

A Warm Welcome to....(II)

Slow ol' me has only just noticed the World in Common group has a blog up and running.

WiC was (slightly?) inspired by the late Frank Girard's "Discussion Bulletin", which acted as a way for a variety of non-leninist groups to exchange their views. WiC says it seeks to act as a conduit for a broad strand of non-state, non-market anarchist/socialist/communist individuals and groups to share and build on the politics they have in common and discuss their differences cordially.

From an SPGB perspective, there are a few ex-members who formed World in Common and some present members make contributions to their discussion forum and electronic journal "Common Voice".