Labour’s toxic housing policy

frfi liverpool

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 257 May/June 2017 Election Special

On 9 May, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pledged to put housing at the forefront of his party’s general election campaign, guaranteeing to build a million homes, with half of them council houses. But in the Labour manifesto this radical promise has been watered down to ‘at least 100,000 council and housing association homes a year’ – by the end of the parliamentary term – ‘for genuinely affordable rent or sale’. Corbyn has embraced Labour’s new definition of ‘council’ housing, which can be any kind of tenure and where the idea of a regulated council rent is a thing of the past, with ‘affordable’ meaning anything up to 80% of market rent. There is no mention of social rent.

The last government’s Housing and Planning Act ushered in a massive fire-sale of public land and housing stock, fuelled by the City of London, giant construction companies, international developers and estate agents eager to profit from soaring land prices. But far from challenging this sustained attack on working class housing, Labour councils have leapt onto the gravy train.

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Don’t vote - Fight for socialism

Homes for Londoners

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 257 May/June 2017 Election Special

Don’t vote - Fight for socialism

In the run-up to the general election on 8 June, socialists will have to decide whether to support the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party, or to oppose it because it remains a racist, imperialist and warmongering party. The Revolutionary Communist Group is clear: we are facing a global crisis of the capitalist system that threatens humanity with war and destruction. This means that there is only one choice: we have to build a working class movement that can challenge the ruthless, predatory British ruling class. We have to fight for socialism. Corbyn and his supporters are actively preventing this development. They and the trade unions have blocked the emergence of any resistance to austerity while spreading the illusion that, in the midst of a deepening economic crisis, a future Labour government can ‘deliver a fairer, more prosperous society for the many, not just the few’. The reality is that it cannot and it will not.

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General election: Don’t vote – fight for socialism!

Parliamentary road to socialism

In the run-up to the general election on 8 June, socialists will have to decide either to campaign in support of the Corbyn-led Labour Party, or to oppose it because it remains a racist, imperialist and war-mongering party. The Revolutionary Communist Group is clear: we are facing a global crisis of the capitalist system that is threatening humanity with war and destruction. It means that there is only one choice: we have to build a working class movement that can challenge the ruthless, predatory British ruling class. We have to fight for socialism. Corbyn and his supporters are actively preventing this development. They spread the illusion that a Labour government can make radical and progressive changes while in practice they divert or block resistance where it emerges.

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Copeland and Stoke by-elections: another nail in Labour’s coffin

The results of the Copeland and Stoke by-elections which took place on 23 February mark a further step in the steady break-up of the Labour Party as a significant electoral force, with opposing wings of the Party trading excuses for the poor results. Although Labour retained Stoke by 7,853 votes to UKIP’s 5,233, it was a result that should never have been in doubt: UKIP leader Paul Nuttall was exposed time and again as a liar. To lose Copeland on a 6.7% swing to the Tories after seven years of austerity and with NHS services under threat from the local Sustainability and Transformation Plan is even worse: the result shows how little the working class believes Labour is committed to representing its interests.

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Opposing austerity, challenging racism and fighting for socialism means destroying the Labour Party

The central question we face is how can we build a movement to turn back the tide of reaction epitomised by the victory of a populist and nationalist Brexit campaign, the election of Trump as US President, and the possibility that the racist populist Marine le Pen wins the French presidential election in May? Such a movement has to challenge imperialism, and make both the possibility and the necessity of socialism central to its political message. It must break with, and oppose, the forces of opportunism whose purpose is to isolate and destroy any independent movement of the working class. In Britain that means a relentless struggle against the Labour Party and its apologists on the left. The election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour’s leader led some to argue that the Party could now become a progressive force and lead the fight against austerity. The evidence shows the opposite: Corbyn is absolutely determined to maintain the unity of the Labour Party and make any concession necessary to that end. Robert Clough reports.

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Sacked for fighting poverty pay

In FRFI 137, NIGEL COOK described the barbaric conditions of employment and slave wages forced upon him and other workers at M&S Packaging in Blackburn, who package CDs for PolyGram, through the implementation of the Jobseeker's Allowance. In this issue, he reports on developments in the campaign against poverty pay.

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Victory against victimisation of union organiser by Deliveroo

Following a publicity campaign by the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB), Deliveroo have dropped their investigation against IWGB union organiser and FRFI supporter Ben, and have invited him back to work. On Monday 11 December, the IWGB Couriers and Logistics Branch made public the fact that Ben, a key organiser of the ongoing struggle for improvements in pay and conditions, had been told that he was under investigation for the crime of ‘riding a cargo bike’ and would not be able to work whilst this was carried out. Alongside this, the IWGB revealed a leaked image of Ben’s employment profile from the Deliveroo internal system, making clear that his employment was ‘terminated’ and that before speaking to him, any members of staff should contact Sebastian Gilbert, the Head of Driver Operations in Britain and Ireland. On the same day the Financial TimesAlphaville blog included a comment piece by Ben, exposing this to a wider audience and making clear that  Deliveroo workers would not be intimidated by such clear political victimisation. This campaign has forced Deliveroo to back down. Ben has now received an email from Deliveroo's Director of Operations, David Scott stating:

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Deliveroo drivers fighting back against exploitation

Deliveroo drivers across London have united – with the help of the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union – to organise in the ‘unorganisable’ gig economy. The aim? To achieve union recognition for the drivers in Camden and to change employment status for Deliveroo riders nationally. Deliveroo riders are currently classified as ‘self-employed independent contractors’, meaning they are not entitled to basic workers’ rights. Deliveroo riders are seeking to change their employment status to ‘worker’ – a form of self employment which grants rights such as the national minimum wage, the right to paid holiday and the right to protection against discrimination; none of which drivers currently have.

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Bourgeois Labour Party – no change with Corbyn at the top

corbyn israel palestine 1
Jeremy Corbyn at the Labour Friends of Israel event

A year ago, in the summer of 2015, the Labour Party was in complete disarray and facing a deep crisis. It had lost two successive general elections in 2010 and 2015. Its defeat in 2015 was especially abject: after five years of punishing austerity for the working class at the hands of the ConDem coalition, Labour failed to prevent a Tory victory, was wiped out in Scotland and lost 24 seats overall. There had to be the semblance of change if the Party was to avoid disintegration. Corbyn’s victories in the subsequent leadership elections have enabled the social democratic left to begin a new project; sowing expectations that the Labour Party under Corbyn’s leadership can now fight austerity and transform itself into a socialist party capable of winning working class votes. Robert Clough argues that this is an illusion.

Corbyn’s success, announced on 24 September, came with a substantial margin over his challenger, Owen Smith, to the delight of his supporters. Overall, Corbyn won 61.8% of 506,000 votes cast, compared to 59.5% of 422,664 votes cast in 2015. While support from trade union voters increased slightly, from 57.6% in 2015 to 60.2%, votes from Party members increased substantially (49.6% to 59%). Corbyn’s second victory was never in real doubt: his ability to attract thousands to his rallies contrasted with the efforts of Smith, whose meetings sometimes struggled to get into double figures. The Labour Party machine tried its best to exclude Corbyn supporters both by preventing those who had joined the party after February 2016 from voting in the election, and by disqualifying large numbers of registered supporters, those who had paid £25 to vote in the election. Given that Labour Party figures showed that 180,000 supporters had signed up in the two-day period for registration over 19-20 July, and that 121,517 actually voted, claims that 40,000 Corbyn supporters had been prevented from voting seem justified.

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Deliveroo drivers lead the way in fighting casualisation and low pay

Deliveroo

Deliveroo food delivery drivers in London are showing the way in the fight against increasingly casualised working conditions and pay cuts. On 16 August, after a week of spontaneous strikes and protests, Deliveroo management backed down from its plans to force drivers onto a new contract that would mean a huge pay cut for many. The workers’ action, carried out by predominantly migrant labourers, organised with the International Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) radical trade union and supported by the RCG, attracted huge public and media attention to the casualised labour conditions in the food delivery industry.

The British food delivery industry is valued at £9bn. Smartphone app-based companies such as tech start-ups Deliveroo and UberEATS are dominating the market through the raw exploitation of their workforces. 2016 has been a lucrative year for Deliveroo, with projected revenues of £130m on top of £200m investment from venture capital funds, including Index Ventures, Bridgepoint Capital, Accel and DST Global – a firm headed by Time magazine’s ‘Titan list’ billionaire Yuri Milner. This most recent round of funding brings Deliveroo’s total investment to $472.7m (£355m). Deliveroo has now made it onto the ‘Unicorn list’ of start-ups valued at over $1bn. UberEATS – launched in London in June this year – is a delivery start-up owned by multinational transport firm Uber; a company with a total valuation of $66bn (£49.6bn).

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Haringey care workers fight low pay and poor conditions

Seventeen support workers from the London Borough of Haringey have, with the support of their union Unison, launched a court case against several care agencies and Haringey Labour Council. The workers, mainly black women, were previously employed by the agency Sevacre but are now employed by smaller agencies who took over the council contract. They are employed on zero-hours contracts and complain that their travel time between visits goes unpaid, and that the block wage they are paid for 24-hour ‘live-in’ support in their clients’ homes works out at just £3.72 per hour spent in work – less than half the minimum wage.

Across the British care sector 82% of the workforce are women. Low pay across care services has long been justified by the idea that the joy of providing care is a reward in itself, and compensates for pitifully low wages. This is seen in recruitment adverts with the question ‘Do you care?’ Beyond the obvious sexism of such a theory, it goes completely against facts, which tell us that of those who leave care jobs, 56% do not get recruited into other care roles.

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Communists and the Trade Union Movement

workers demonstrating

Published in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 141 February/March 1998

The defeat of the Liverpool dockers and the isolation of the Hillingdon Hospital strikers point to two conclusions. The first is that the trade union leadership is actively preventing any struggle against the Labour government. The second is that the left is powerless to do anything about it. Yet almost all the left believe that unions will play a crucial role in organising working class resistance, and that it is the job of socialists to transform these organisations into ones which can fight for working class interests. They say that the central strategy for socialists is to build 'rank and file' movements as a means of organising trade union members against their bureaucratic leaderships and through this process capture the trade unions for working class struggle.

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Corbyn and the Labour Party: divisions deepen

Jeremy Corbyn

Events within the Labour Party are driving it towards a split. The attempt to depose Jeremy Corbyn as leader has pitted the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party against the majority of the Party’s membership. The vast majority of Labour MPs never supported Corbyn, and have wanted to get rid of him at the earliest opportunity. Following the defeat of the Remain campaign in the EU referendum, Shadow Cabinet members resigned en masse over the weekend of 25/26 June, and on 28 June Labour MPs voted no confidence in Corbyn by 172 votes to 40. A fresh leadership election is now underway with former Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith as Corbyn’s sole challenger. Robert Clough reports.

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Corbyn and the Labour Party: divisions deepen

Jeremy Corbyn

Events within the Labour Party are driving it towards a split. The attempt to depose Jeremy Corbyn as leader has pitted the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party against the majority of the Party’s membership. The vast majority of Labour MPs never supported Corbyn, and have wanted to get rid of him at the earliest opportunity. Following the defeat of the Remain campaign in the EU referendum, shadow cabinet members resigned en masse over the weekend of 25/26 June, and on 28 June Labour MPs voted no confidence in Corbyn by 172 votes to 40. A fresh leadership election has been called and two former shadow cabinet members have decided to challenge Corbyn: Angela Eagle and Owen Smith. Neither is likely to win unless further legal attempts to exclude Corbyn from the ballot are successful.

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Labour: ‘not racist enough’

Jon Cruddas' review of labour's performance at the 2015 election
Jon Cruddas' review of labour's performance at the 2015 election

In FRFI 250, we reported on attempts by Labour Party Zionists to organise a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. However, their calculation that Labour would perform disastrously in the local elections at the beginning of May proved incorrect. The results were sufficient to make Labour MPs opposed to Corbyn – the vast majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party – postpone attempts to depose him. Instead they will use the newly-published Cruddas report into Labour’s performance in the 2015 general election to force Corbyn to make substantial concessions over immigration and welfare to appeal to the most backward sections of the working class. Robert Clough reports.

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Labour left crumbles in the face of Zionist attacks

In the run-up to the May local and mayoral elections, right-wing pro-Zionist Labour MPs intensified their assault on Jeremy Corbyn’s position as Labour Party leader. They accused him of being too slow in dealing with what they claimed to be widespread anti-Semitism within the Party. They wanted to use a poor performance by Labour in the elections to unseat him. The fact that Labour did better than anticipated may stay their hand for the moment. However, these reactionaries will continue to cynically abuse the history of the Holocaust, and ruthlessly manipulate any pro-Palestine statement, tweet or Facebook posting by any Labour Party member to ‘prove’ the existence of a left-wing anti-Jewish hate campaign. That the key figures involved are, with few exceptions, members of the pro-Zionist Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) should be no surprise. The Zionists are arguing that any criticism of Israel is motivated by anti-Semitism and they are invoking the Holocaust in their support. Yet far from being a force fighting racism, Zionism was founded on the premise that anti-Semitism could never be defeated, and from its establishment counterposed an equally racist ideology. Robert Clough reports.

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