Marching for decent housing for all

On Sunday 13 March, the RCG joined the national demonstration in central London against the Housing and Planning Bill.

The Bill, currently going through Parliament, is the latest assault by successive governments on the very concept of social housing (see this article in FRFI 248). Under its provisions, Right-to-Buy will be extended to the tenants of housing associations, with massive discounts. These discounts will, in a double whammy, be funded by forcing local councils to sell off their highest value properties. The Bill will also introduce a ‘pay to stay’ rule for council housing, where households earning above £30,000 ((£40,000 in London) will be forced to pay anything up to full market rent. It will strip away security of tenure in council housing, and even the limited definition of ‘affordable’ housing will be transformed to mean homes for sale – the government’s vaunted ‘starter’ homes that ‘start’ at £450,000. In addition, the ‘Planning’ aspect of the Bill will force councils to identify and make available public land for private development.

The RCG held our customary ‘open mic’, with an impromptu speakout on Waterloo Bridge after Class War and others broke through police cordons to protest against a car from the yuppie estate agent Foxtons. From then on the march spilled out over the whole road, temporarily bringing traffic to a halt. 

There was a justifiable anger against the vicious, greedy conservative government over the Bill amongst all those on the march – many of them social housing tenants drawn into political action for the first time. However, as the speakers from the RCG, and from Architects for Social Housing pointed out at the opening rally, the Housing and Planning Bill is just one part of the sustained assault on social housing.  As those of us who have been involved in campaigns over housing in Labour boroughs such as Newham, Southwark and Lambeth know to our cost, much of the destruction of working class estates is already being carried out under Labour council ‘regeneration’ plans.  That is why the RCG carried a placard denouncing Labour’s social cleansing in London, and why Class War handed out posters of the many many Labour councils involved in social cleansing in London. 

So we have to ask: will the Labour supporters who carried banners on the march and the Labour MPs such as Diane Abbott and John McDonnell who spoke at the rally at the end actually stand up for social housing and against the sell-off of working class estates? Will they call for non-implementation of all aspects of the Bill? And will they support the local campaigns from Focus E15 in Newham to Save Cressingham Gardens in Lambeth in their stance against their own local councils? The fight against the Housing and Planning Bill is a vital one, but it is just one battle in the war to defend secure, affordable and decent housing for all.

Video of RCG speaker Nicki Jameson at the opening rally: 

https://www.facebook.com/rcgfrfi/videos/694945170648363/

 

Stop Turkey's war on the Kurds demo - 6 March

On Sunday 6 March branches of the Revolutionary Communist Group supported the 'Stop Turkey’s War on the Kurds' national demo, a march from the BBC headquarters to Trafalgar Square that aimed to 'break the silence' of the British state and media with regards to recent Turkish state atrocities committed against the Kurdish people.

The estimated 10,000 people marching, made up predominantly of the Kurdish community residing in Britain, were anything but silent. The Kurds demanded freedom for their people and nation, and carried placards carrying the powerful slogan 'ISIS: made in Turkey'. Indeed, the most recent atrocities committed by the Turkish state came as a punitive reaction to the PKK’s brave defeats of ISIS on Turkish territory. Demands to unban the PKK – shamefully listed as a terrorist group by Britain – were also heard.

As the march progressed, the bemusement of shoppers and passers-by underscored the silence of the British state and media. President Erdogan has himself boasted of emulating Adolf Hitler’s ‘style of government’, and yet much of the British public is totally oblivious to Turkey’s fascistic turn. This when we were told just a few months ago by Labour’s Hilary Benn in parliament that 'fascism must be defeated' when Parliament voted for airstrikes on Syria under the pretence of bombing ISIS.

The RCG ran an open ‘people’s’ microphone throughout the march, taking the opportunity to state that this was not just Turkey’s war on the Kurds, but imperialism’s. Britain – which makes hundreds of millions of pounds selling Turkey the weapons with which it kills Kurdish civilians – is silent on the crimes of the Turkish state because Turkey defends British imperialist interests in the Middle East. Britain is silent because speaking out would be to confess to its own crimes. RCG speakers highlighted the importance for the British working class to support the Kurdish people’s right to self-determination, and put out the call to build the anti-imperialist movement in this country necessary to create effective, concrete solidarity with the Kurds and other oppressed peoples around the world.

RCG speaker Trevor Rayne was well-received as one of the speakers at the endpoint of the protest in Trafalgar Square. His rousing speech listed the litany of brutal crimes the British state – under both Tory and Labour governments – has committed against the Kurdish people, starting with the carve up of Kurdistan through the Sykes-Picot treaty 100 years ago, and concluding: 'Enough is enough.'

Victory and self-determination to the Kurdish people! Unban the PKK! Britain out of the Middle East!

Join London RCG for more discussion of the importance of the Kurdish liberation struggle for people all over the world on 22 March:

'Kurdistan: war and liberation in the Middle East' - Tuesday 22 March, 7:30pm, The Apple Tree, Mount Pleasant, WC1X 0AE

Guest speaker - Erdelan Baran - Kurdistan National Congress (KNK)

RCG speaker - Trevor Rayne - FRFI editorial board

What is it? Corbynomics

corbinomic

What is it? Corbynomics – taking its name from the leader of the Labour Party - is the term being used to describe a range of proposed measures for dealing with Britain’s economic crisis and ending austerity. These include expanding state investment, promoting higher wages, regulating banks and other financial institutions and undertaking a programme of nationalisation. Its origins lie in the ‘alternative economic strategy’ put forward by the Labour left in the 1970s and 1980s.  It also harks back to the New Deal and the Keynesianism of post-second world war reconstruction. This programme is a far cry from socialism but even within its own progressive reformist terms currently stands no chance of being implemented by any British government because the conditions for class consensus – social democracy – no longer exist.

So why is this idea being dragged out of its coffin now at a time when capitalism is exposed as the rotten stagnating system it is?

  • There is a global crisis, with convulsions on the world’s stock exchanges, ‘emerging market’ debt reaching $24.4 trillion, and mergers and acquisitions at an all-time high of over $5 trillion in 2015.
  • The working class is under attack and is losing its housing, education, health and community infrastructure.
  • British imperialism - in the service of the arms trade and in defence of the multinational corporations and international profit - is waging war and devastation on millions of people all round the world.

Far from winning workers to opposition to British imperialism, the idea that a Corbynomic parliamentary programme can be successfully implemented ties them ideologically to the interests of British imperialism and promotes the idea that economic control can be gradually taken away from the capitalist class.  

The British ‘left’ correctly talks of greedy bankers, corrupt developers, mean landlords, racist immigration laws and illegal wars, but these are all just symptoms. The time has come to stand against the cause – the capitalist system. As Marx says in the Communist Manifesto, ‘Capital is not a personal, it is a social power’.

Don’t hollow out the anti-capitalist slogan
There can be no radical change without a challenge to the power of the capitalist state which operates to protect the rights of capital. This is well understood by those sections of the working class and oppressed people who are fighting for their rights. As soon as the struggle for social justice commences it meets the power of the state acting in defence of the capitalist class. Whether residents of the Heygate Estate or refugees from imperialist war zones, state power must be confronted and the working class must struggle for its own interests. The fight against war, racism and austerity must be a fight against capitalism.
A Corbynomics of the House of Commons, a Corbynomics that stands on a platform of reform and electioneering will achieve nothing, is nothing and will go nowhere.  

Organise, educate, agitate!
Build struggles from the grassroots.  Join in campaigns with the Revolutionary Communist Group – set up new campaigns - hold meetings – never be silent – don’t let the ruling class divide us – an injury to one is an injury to all.

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March against the Housing Bill, 30 Jan 2016

On 30 January 2016 London branches of the Revolutionary Communist Group joined the March Against the Housing Bill, which went from Kennington to Downing Street to protest the Housing and Planning Bill, the final straw that will break social housing’s back.

The controversial bill will lead to the loss of between 80,000 and 200,000 council houses, a disaster for the working class. With the extension of Right to Buy, the building of ‘starter’ and ‘affordable’ rather than social homes, and market rent being imposed for social tenants with household incomes of more than £30,000 (£40,000 in London), Britain is plunging further into an ever-deepening housing crisis.

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