St Athan: the farce is over

After years of hype and a huge dose of public money spent simply developing and promoting the idea, the St Athan military super-academy has finally been ditched. This will come as little surprise to those who have followed the progress of the project. It was not only pacifists and anti-imperialists who opposed the £14bn PFI monster, but a host of voices within the military and defence industry. The mad scramble for profit consequent on the privatisation of defence training had come into contradiction with military objectives, the need to keep key MOD personnel happy, and the Tories’ desire to slash public spending.

Nothing has exposed the hypocricy of Wales’s professional politicians like St Athan. The false promise of thousands of local jobs and other supposed knock-on advantages persuaded Labour, Tories, Lib Dems and Plaid alike to get on the bandwagon. Rhodri Morgan notoriously popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate Welsh workers supposedly winning out over their English rivals. Of the Plaid left, only Jill Evans openly opposed the project: the “national party of Wales” could only preserve its unity by failing to take a position on what would have been the largest publicly funded undertaking in Wales’s history.

The campaign against the project had, in truth, withered as a decision on the proposed academy was repeatedly delayed. Nevertheless, at its height it gained the support of the Stop The War Coalition, and its 2008 demo in Cardiff sufficiently rattled the vested interests behind St Athan that the police refused to let demonstrators march through the city centre and threatened organisers with arrest should there be the slightest disorder: a far more draconian attitude than that shown towards the hooligans of the WDL recently.

Supporters of the Cardiff Radical Socialist Forum are proud of our role in opposing St Athan. This site contains an archive of articles on the subject which hopefully visitors will now read afresh.

Advertisements
Posted in class struggle, Metrix, militarism, politics, Qinetiq, Raytheon, socialism, St Athan, Wales, war | Tagged , | Leave a comment

South Wales to Gaza convoy – help needed

BOOKS NOT BOMBS: BOOKSALE FOR GAZA

Saturday 28 Aug – 11:00am – 5:00pm, 143 Ninian Park Road, Riverside, Cardiff.

Help Dr Conker’s Bookshop raise money for the South Wales to Gaza convoy. 1000s of books in all categories. 50% of all book sales made on the day will be donated to the convoy.

SOUTH WALES TO GAZA URGENTLY NEEDS DONATIONS

Donate online: http://southwales2gaza.blogspot.com/2010/08/donate-to-south-wales-to-gaza.html

Cheques can be made payable to Palestine Solidarity Campaign Wales can be sent to Gaza Convoy c/o PSC, 19 Heol Dowlais, Efail Isaf, RCT, CF38 1BB

or paid direct to:

Account Name: Palestine Solidarity Campaign Wales
The Co-operative Bank
Sort Code: 089003
Account no.: 5005402200

Posted in anti-racism, anti-zionism, Palestine, politics, Wales, war | Tagged , | Leave a comment

On Armed Forces Day, remember two million marched against war!

Armed Forces Day was first mooted in 2008. Army bigwigs and Brown’s government were concerned with the growing unpopularity of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the problem of recruiting new servicemen and women.

At that time 91 members of the UK armed forces had died in Afghanistan. Now the figure is over 300 and rising fast. No wonder the warmongers felt the need to shore up public opinion.

The war in Afghanistan was started by the hawks around George Bush on the entirely bogus grounds that it would prevent another 9-11. In reality the US wanted to strengthen their hold over the Middle East; now they are propping up a corrupt government in Kabul and waging an increasingly unpopular and unwinnable war at the cost of tens of thousands of Afghan lives.

The UK and other armed forces are pawns in this game. Since Thatcher sent the Task Force to the South Atlantic, however, politicians have been fully aware that patriotism and war are powerful weapons in keeping workers just where they want them – hating an obscure foreign enemy, rather than turning on the bankers and bosses who are our real enemies, and who will happily use the armed forces against us when we rebel.

This Saturday the military extravaganza comes to Cardiff. Devolution has made our rulers nervous: they’re particularly concerned to make sure Wales and Scotland stay loyal to the British state. But Cardiff staged its biggest protest in decades when the Iraq war was first threatened, and no matter how many flag-wavers the parade organisers may persuade onto the streets, the uncomfortable truths about these totally unnecessary and counterproductive wars will not go away. Anyone who wants to see an end to the deaths in Afghanistan, and more wars to come, should boycott this event, support the anti-war movement, and turn their attention to the real enemy: the class enemy.

Quote from the Stuttgart International Congress of 1907:

“Wars between capitalist states are usually the result of their competition on the world market, since each state strives not only to assure itself of a sphere of export, but also to conquer new regions, and the principal part in this is played by the enslavement of other peoples and countries. These wars then arise from the continuous armaments produced by militarism, which is the principal implement of class domination of the bourgeoisie and of the political subjugation of the working class.

“A favourable soil for wars are, nationalist prejudices, which are systematically cultivated in the civilised countries in the interests of the ruling classes, with the object of diverting the proletarian masses from their own class objectives arid making them forget the duty of international class solidarity.

“Thus wars are rooted in the very essence of capitalism; they will end only when the capitalist system ceases to exist, or when the immensity of human and financial sacrifice caused by the development of military technique, and the indignation which armaments arouse in the people, lead to the elimination of the system.”

Other left comment:
Organized Rage

Anti-militarist comment:
Unarmed Forces Day

Debate (mainly insults, some illumination):
Indymedia Scotland

Posted in anti-racism, class struggle, militarism, politics, socialism, Uncategorized, Wales, war | Tagged , ,

EDL flop again in Wales

Small group of confused people

Comment from a Cardiff anti-racist:

It was third time unlucky for the EDL in Wales on June 5 as they followed up a weak showing in Swansea and a total no-show in Newport with a poorly attended demo in Cardiff, hidden away down a side street and massively outnumbered by the anti-racist counter demo.

EDL racists need to be advised of certain realities. A match day in Cardiff is not the best time to go around brandishing St George crosses, even if you have found a few Welsh friends willing to stand next to you with a Welsh flag. Nor is Wales’s capital city fertile ground for Islamophobia. Cardiff was built on immigration and has some of the oldest and most settled multicultural communities in the UK. The Cardiff City fans who caused the EDL/WDL such consternation by attacking their woeful gathering are evidence of this.

The huge contradictions within the EDL/WDL were evident from their own accounts of the event: if you try to rouse people on the basis of the most basic tribalism, it is hardly surprising when regional, local and national conflicts spring up within your ranks. The EDL is a movement devoid of a programme, attempting to fuse firms with a long history of mutual hatred, seig-heiling fascists and pro-Zionists, out-and-out racists with confused people who believe it is ok to solely hate Muslims. For all the EDL’s talk of non-violence, all that unites this movement is the desire to bully a minority, and every demo declines into racist abuse and attacks, Saturday’s being no exception. Had the small ranks of the EDL/WDL broken through the massive police guard and attempted to rampage into Riverside, Grangetown or Butetown, however, they would have found local inhabitants more than willing to defend themselves.

The EDL’s failure in Cardiff is no room for complacency however. Their numbers have grown markedly in other areas because their gatherings have been largely unchallenged by the counter demos. Anti-racists could do worse than study Leon Trotsky’s Fascism: what is is and how to fight it. Just as in the 30s, we need a militant movement rooted in the working class, uninhibited by the desire to keep vicars and reformist MPs on board.

Happily, the EDL/WDL had an uncomfortable day in Cardiff, but we need to plan much worse days for them to ensure they fade into the obscurity they deserve.

Posted in anti-racism, class struggle, politics, socialism, Trotsky, Trotskyism, UAF, Wales | Tagged , , ,

All out to stop EDL racists, June 5!

From Cardiff STW:

On Saturday 5th June, the Welsh & English Defence Leagues – a band of racist thugs and hooligans with links to the Nazi BNP – will be attempting to stage an anti-Muslim hate protest in Cardiff. When they attempted to protest in Swansea last year hundreds of anti-racists – who outnumbered them to 5 to 1 – prevented them entering Castle Square and they were reduced to making Nazi sieg heil salutes behind lines of riot police in the gutter where they belonged (see report).

Details of anti-racist/anti-fascist counter-demonstration:

ASSEMBLES: 11 am, Oval Basin/Roald Dahl Plass (Outside WALES MILLENIUM CENTRE), Butetown/Cardiff Bay to march to rally at 1 pm CITY HALL where many more will be gathering.

Called by Unite against Fascism (Cardiff Branch & Wales region), supporters of this demonstration include Stop the War Coalition in Wales & Wales regions of Unite, PCS, CWU, NASUWT, Community and RMT trade unions + over 30 local community groups.

Event page here:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=112056302152781

STOP ISLAMOPHOBIA CONFERENCE

On the same day as this march in Cardiff, Stop the War Coalition is hosting a major conference to launch a national initiative against Islamophobia. We hope to roll out a similar initiative in Wales.

More details here: http://www.facebook.com/l/91e53;stopwar.org.uk/content/view/1860/1/

Posted in anti-racism, politics, UAF | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

After the election, get ready for war

Comment from the Permanent Revolution website:

David Cameron has yet to get his hands on the keys to No 10. Despite a deeply unpopular Labour government the Tories could not persuade enough voters to give his Eton-led party an outright majority.

Now the horse-trading and back room deals will decide what the ballot box could not – who will govern Britain?

As soon as the very first results were announced Labour’s big guns went on air to woo the Lib Dems with talk of a coalition government. Gordon Brown, prevented by Blair for so long from becoming prime minister, is desperate to cling onto the post, despite Labour barely getting 28% of the vote, not much above its historic low of 1983.

The coming days will be dominated by wrangling over constitutional arguments about Labour’s right to try and stitch together a government, despite not being the largest party. But the real issue is not the arithmetic of power, but what the incoming government, whoever forms it, intends to do with this power – launch a massive attack on the public sector.

Timings and targets may vary but the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats all agree that the working class must pay for the financial vandalism inflicted on the country and the world by the bankers, bloated by bonuses and addled by arrogance.

According to Robert Chote of the Institute of Fiscal Studies:

“Over the four years starting next year, Labour and the Liberal Democrats would need to deliver the deepest sustained cuts to spending on public services since the late 1970s. While, starting this year, the Conservatives would need to deliver cuts to spending on public services that have not been delivered over any five-year period since the Second World War.”

While the rate of deficit reduction varies little between the three parties there are important differences how they plan to undertake that reduction.

The Tory-led government will cut more and tax less – or at least tax the rich less. A Lib-Lab government would raise taxes more, including VAT, which hits the poorest hardest. But all the parties are determined to make the working class pay for the mistakes of the banks, banks that were bailed out with public money and are now turning a tidy profit while restricting lending to those who need it.

Workers need to fight to force the incoming government into the simple alternative to public sector cuts: cancel all the debts without compensation. Why on earth should we pay back the architects of the banking crisis for the collapse of their edifice? As Philip Beresford the compiler of the Sunday Times Rich List put it:

“The rich have come through the recession with flying colours. The stock market is up, the hedge funds are coining it. The rich are doing very nicely… The rest of the country is going to have to face public spending cuts, but it has little effect on the rich because they don’t consume public services.


They say cut back, we say fight back!

Whoever gets to deliver the Queen’s Speech to parliament later this month the main purpose of it will be to appease the banks and ratings agencies, to prevent the bond markets from “doing a Greece” on the UK. The main thrust of the new parliament’s timetable will be a budget that slash and burns its way through spending, pensions, and public sector pay. The fight has to start now to stop them implementing it.

The ability of the unions to stop government cuts packages is much reduced since the heavy defeats of the 1980s. Union density across the workforce as a whole is approximately half (54% back then, 28%now) what it was at the start of Thatcher’s first term in 1979. The miners can no longer paralyse British-based industries and no section of workers has filled the strategic vacuum left by their defeat.

New Labour has left largely intact the most restrictive framework of anti-union laws in Europe with employers obtaining more than 13 injunctions against strike action after “yes” votes in a postal ballot in the past year including the notorious decision issued in December 2009 against Unite members at British Airways.

With the partial exceptions of the PCS’s Mark Serwotka and the RMT’s Bob Crow, the hopes invested in the so-called awkward squad of trade union tops have proved illusory. Though strike figures have risen since plunging to historic lows in the last decade – not least because of national strike action at Royal Mail in autumn 2009 – the number of days lost through action to employers remains a tiny fraction of the figures for the late 1970s/early 1980s. In February 2010 there were 3,000 days lost compared to February 1974 when there were 4,084,000: a difference of over 1,350 fold.

Behind the figures there are three key factors working against us as we prepare to face the hordes of Mordor as they lay siege to every citadel the working class has won and managed to preserve.

The organised networks of militants that play a key role in sustaining action, mobilising solidarity and organising independently of the hesitant and cautious officials are nothing like on the scale that existed in the 1970s. They barely exist.

There is no substantial left inside the Labour Party capable of mounting an effective challenge to the New Labour leadership, no equivalent of the Bennite movement that was able to challenge the right wing and almost defeat it in the early 1980s. This means that New Labour will be under much less pressure from within its own ranks to adopt a change of course. It is more likely to listen to the bargaining gambits of Nick Clegg than those of John McDonnell.

Socialism and class consciousness were part of the furniture in the 1970s. Never mind the hair cuts and flares – people cared about the public sector and fought to defend it because they believed it was part of the struggle for socialism. Not only Thatcher’s victories against the working class but also the decay of the left – Trotskyist, Stalinist and Anarchist – and the collapse of the Soviet Union have all pushed socialist ideology to the margins of society.

These three factors, combined with the organisational and numerical shrinkage of the unions mean that whatever the final shape of the government negotiated over the coming days and weeks, the working class is not well equipped to stop the carnage.

There are two ways of dealing with this. Either you reconcile yourself to a long period of defeat and reaction and roll up your map of socialism or you recognise that one struggle can turn everything around in a short space of time and the tasks of decades get crammed into days.

We know what we prefer. Rank and file networks, a left political movement and a rebirth of socialist ideology can be discussed in small rooms by a dedicated by quite small and quite old clientele or they can be built by socialists burying their archaic differences, raising the banner of resistance to the oncoming assault and putting every single bit of effort into speaking Greek: taking and stopping the capitalist axe-men.

One decisive struggle in defence of one key service, by the workers who provide it, the community who use it, the socialists who believe in it and the children to whom it should belong in the future: all of these people coming together to fight, to say no to the Old Etonian, the Radio Face and the would be King Maker and their mantra of “we must cut” can turn the tide of resistance. We can rebuild in months what it took years for them destroy. And we can achieve through weeks of struggle what years of negotiations could never deliver – victory.

All the talk of the election has been of hung parliaments, of personalities, of gaffes and of TV debates. All the talk after the election has to be of the battles we need to wage, the war we are about to face and the victories that we can win.

Of course we don’t want a Tory government. Of course we say that Labour should not do any dirty deals with the Liberal Democrats. Of course we say that the Labour affiliated unions must call the party to account and demand it acts in their interests.

But more important than any of that is our call to the working people of Britain to get to the parapets now and defeat the armies of darkness that are gathering at the gates of every publicly owned building in the country. Get ready for war.

Posted in election, politics, socialism, war | 1 Comment

Israeli ambassador not wanted in Cardiff 14th April!

Ron Prosor, ambassador and arch-apologist for the crimes of the Israeli state, has been invited to take part in a ‘debate’ by Cardiff University Debating Society next Wednesday – no such invitation has been extended to any representative of the Palestinian people.

Prosor has visited Cardiff before, at the invitation of Plaid AM Mohammed Asghar. The report of the demo against this visit, and the arrest of protesters, can be found here. Since this visit Israel has provocatively stepped up its programme of illegal settlements, and Mohammed Asghar has joined the Tories.

Cardiff University Debating Society have indefensibly presented a PR opportunity to an unapologetic defender of a racist regime. We cannot allow this to pass without protest. Demonstrate from 5.30 pm, Wednesday 14 April, outside Main Building, Cardiff University, Park Place.

To join the facebook group against the event, and for more arguments on the Palestinian issue, go here.

A detailed analysis of the conflict can also be found here.

Posted in anti-zionism, civil liberties, Palestine, politics | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments