Monday, 19 October 2009

Communist University programme published

The programme for this years Communist University has been published. All communists, socialists and progressives are encouraged to attend this important annual event that is growing both in importance within the Labour movement and in terms of popularity. Those attending this year's event will enjoy speeches, rallies and music with everyone from the old veterans, who remember the battle of Cable street, to young communists, who will be full of tales from this year's legendary YCL summer camp in Derbyshire. This is an event that is not to be missed for any young budding revolutionary or old experienced battle axes. The weekend of 6-8th November is Communist University of Britain weekend. So join us in Croydon for a Friday internationalist rally and on Saturday and Sunday take part in discussion and dialogue and the development of ideas which can shape the future of our working class and Britain.


Friday Evening
Rally 7.30-9.15 pm Organised by the Coordinating Committee of Communist Parties in Britain


Speakers include: Luis Marron (Cuban embassy political counsellor), Maya Llamazares (Young Communist League), Alvaro Sanchez (Venezuelan embassy political counsellor), Azar Sepehr (Tudeh Party of Iran); Chair: Anita Halpin (Communist Party of Britain)

Plenary 1 10.30-11.45 am

Speakers include: Matthew Collins (Hate Not Hope organiser), Anita Wright (Lambeth Trades Council chair), Harsev Bains (Indian Workers Association general secretary), Marc Livingstone (YCL), Chair: Pauline Fraser (CPB anti-racism anti-fascism advisory committee)

Workshops 12.00-1.00 pm
1A What Do the BNP Really Want? Matthew Collins
1B The Response of the Indian Workers Association Harsev Bains
1C Combating Youth Unemployment, Fighting for Decent Work Steven Martin (YCL)

Briefing 1.15 pm
2 Capitalist Crisis and Climate Change Derek Wall (Green Party green left)

Plenary 2 2.00-3.45 pm

Speakers: Davy Hopper (NUM North East Area secretary), Ann Field (former SOGAT national officer), Charlie May (Young Communist League), Andrew Murray (former Morning Star correspondent); Chair: John Haylett (Morning Star political editor)

Briefings 4.00 pm
2A Afghanistan—War Without End? Andrew Murray (Stop the War Coalition chair)
2B What's Happening Inside Iran? Mohammed Omidvar (Tudeh Party)

Plenary 2 4.45-6.15 pm

Speakers: Mary Davis (TUC women's committee), John Hendy QC (labour movement lawyer), Robert Griffiths (CPB general secretary), Joanne Stevenson (YCL general secretary); Chair: Anita Halpin (CPB)

Film 6.20-7.30 pm
THE PEOPLE'S FLAG: The Enemy Within 1979-87
Introduced by Chris Reeves (Platform Films producer)

Manifesto Press Book Launch & Reception 8.00 pm
with authors Theodore MacDonald, Andrew Murray and Robert Griffiths

Film 8.50-10.00 pm
THE PEOPLE'S FLAG: From Victory to Consensus 1945-64

Plenary 3 10-11.15 am

Speakers include: Jerry Jones (Morning Star economics correspondent), Megan Dobney (South East Region TUC secretary), John Foster (CPB international secretary); Chair: Christiane Ohsan (University & Colleges Union national officer, personal capacity)

Workshops 11.30-12.30 pm
4A Leninism and Democracy Martin Levy (Communist Review editor)
4B The Chartists and Class Struggle Marj Mayo (CPB political education secretary)
4C The Stonewall Uprising and LGBT Rights Peter Purton (TUC Disability & LGBT Rights policy officer)

Briefings 1.10-1.55 pm
3 Capitalist Crisis and China Jenny Clegg (author and peace activist)
4. The Charter for Women Sharon Allen (Charter for Women steering group secretary)

Question Time 2.00-3.30 pm

Speakers include: Len McCluskey (Unite assistant general secretary), Ruth Winters (Fire Brigades Union past president, speaking in personal capacity), Carolyn Jones (CPB trade union coordinator), Bob Crow (Rail, Maritime and Transport union general secretary); Chair: Bill Greenshields (National Union of Teachers past president)

As well as numerous workshops and briefings, Commie Chef Restaurant, stalls, book launches, film showings, cultural events & more

Full Weekend waged £20 Unwaged £10
Saturday/Sunday only waged £12 Unwaged £6

Interview with CP general-secretary about this years Communist University

When we caught up to interview Robert Griffiths, he was right in the middle of helping to organise the Communist University to be held in early November. Rob's answers were open and wide-ranging and give a taste of what can be expected from platform speakers and in the plenaries.

Q. The main theme of this years CU is 'Humanity's Future is Socialism!' Why was this theme chosen?
A. To paraphrase the late South African Communist Party leader Joe Slovo, the Communists may have failed the people of Russia - but capitalism has failed the whole of humanity. The only rational, realistic alternative to capitalist exploitation, war and the destruction of our planet is socialism. Only a society based on common social ownership of large-scale industry, commerce and the earth's natural resources, planning their use for society's common good, acting to eliminate all forms of oppression, can secure the future of humanity.

Q. Ideas and theory are so important to successful labour movements - what kind of audience comes to mind when you are thinking of organising a CU?

A. Everyone who wants to think, discuss and debate how we can achieve extensive reforms and revolutionary change in society is welcome - communists, socialists, democrats, anti-war campaigners, environmentalists, people of all political parties and none. Obviously, workers, trade unionists and young people have a special role and particular responsibilities in the struggle for a better future, so we take steps to ensure that the Communist University appeals to them. We invite speakers who know how to interest and inspire intelligent workers and young people who don't have a postgraduate degree in political philosophy.

Q. There have been other CU's held in the last year - very successful ones in Scotland, the North of England, the Midlands and Wales. In what way is CU 2009 different?

A.It's bigger and can feature a wider range of topics, speakers and events. The CPB centrally can put greater resources into organising every aspect of the Communist University of Britain. We are also increasingly using the CUB to launch new initiatives. Last year, speakers such as left-wing Labour MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn, and RMT railway workers leader Bob Crow, joined us in the call for a People's Charter, which has since come to fruition. This year, the university will host the launch of a new left-wing publishing house, the Manifesto Press. Three books on anti-imperialism, working class history and Cuba will make an appearance along with their authors.

Q. For the next twelve months, politics will inevitably focus on the forthcoming general election - and there are sessions on anti fascism, The People's Charter, the Charter for Women and 'The Crisis of Working Class Representation'. Who will lead these sessions?

A.Among the speakers confirmed so far are RMT general secretary Bob Crow and Hope Not hate anti-fascist organiser Matthew Collins, alongside South-East Region TUC secretary Megan Dobney, People's Charter joint convenor John Hendy, Charter for Women leader Mary Davis, Green Party socialist Derek Wall, Indian Worker's Association general secretary Harsev Bains, Communist Party trade union co-ordinator Carolyn Jones and many others.

Q. What factors do you apply when you are working out if CP universities have been a success?

A. Well, we don't want to lose money! But more important is the quality of the contribution that Communist Universities make to political education and discussion. They energise many of those who attend, or at least recharge batteries for the work and challenges ahead. Increasingly, too, they act as a force and focus for better mutual understanding and greater unity in action on the left. If the Communist universities don't help equip communists, socialists and progressive campaigners with ideas and arguments to take out into workplaces and local communities, they have failed.

Time to resist ruling-class offensive

A brand new website accompanies a fresh focus for britain's communists. "Whichever government is elected at the next general election, the ruling class offensive will continue to unfold," Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths told a special meeting of the party's executive at the weekend.

"Big business and its politicians are determined to maximise monopoly profit, cut and privatise public services, undermine trade unionism and further restrict democratic rights to make workers and their families pay for getting Britain out of capitalism's crisis," he pointed out.

"But a Tory victory would deepen demoralisation within the working class and a Cameron government would go even further than new Labour in its reactionary policies," Mr Griffiths argued.

"A Labour victory, on the other hand, might produce a government more amenable to mass pressure for policies such as those in the People's Charter, enabling the labour movement to go on the offensive instead," he said.

The Communist Party executive called for the formation of local grass-roots campaigns for the charter and its policies for public ownership, wealth redistribution, a greener economy and full employment, urging a big turnout for the People's Charter conference in London on November 21.

"It is not too late to compel the Labour government to change course, ditch neoliberal policies and challenge big business profiteering in the interests of the mass of ordinary people," Mr Griffiths insisted.

The special meeting also decided, with only one vote against, to pursue further discussions with a range of left and labour movement organisations to establish a general election coalition to fight leading new Labourites and the fascists, as well as the Tories.

"The struggle against reactionary ideas and policies in the labour movement, including in the Labour Party, needs to be sharpened, not compromised or avoided," the CPB executive committee declared.

Britain's communists will also stand independent Communist Party candidates and take part in the Unity for Peace and Socialism alliance with domiciled communist and workers' parties from overseas.

The special executive also urged active solidarity with the postal workers due to take national strike action on Thursday and Friday.

It also called for protest letters and actions against the BBC for inviting BNP fascist leader Nick Griffin to appear on Question Time later this week.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

One from the plough

In many ways the plough is an icon for ordinary working people thoughout history. The original symbol for the Soviet Union was a hammer crossed over with a plough. In our own Labour movement in Britain, those early pioneers, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, would have worked the plough in the fields of Dorset.

The inspiration for the name of this blog came from a great man, George Mitchell, who was a leader of Agricultural workers during the Nineteenth century near Yeovil, Somerset. Our shared first name, George, is derived from the Greek 'Georgos' meaning worker of the earth. So when searching for a name for my blog I thought that nothing sounded quite as apt as George Mitchell's nickname-"one from the plough"

The Bloodstains splashed on MI5

Whole article on Morning Star site:(

Binyam Mohamed, the British resident tortured with the alleged complicity of the CIA and MI5, won a High Court victory on Friday which would force the British government to publish details of his abuse.

David Miliband is claiming that it is in our national interest not to publish these details. Perhaps David is concerned that the more the public witnesses the horrendous crimes we have committed in our pursuit of the "democratic imperative", the less likely it is that the public will give its consent to future imperialistic projects.

Since the implementing the supposed war on terror we have used our security forces (equipted with the very latest weapons of mass destruction)to systematically beat, torture and murder innocent men, women and children. For what reason?

In Iraq and Afganistan, we have left corrupt, unprincipled governments in charge of unstable, broken countries. Why?

Was this commitment to carnage really in line with a moral commitment to the global dissemination of the principles of democratic government? Truely today no one but the most blindfolded, ideological warrior can construct an argument around this fairy tale.

Leaving aside the contention that the whole principle of 'liberal interventionism' lacks any serious basis if one considers the trail of bodies that we have left behind in Iraq and Afganistan.

It is no longer, and has not been for some time, a looney-fringe concept that this whole war on terror is part of a wider imperialist project. This taken into account, it seems obvious why David Miliband wants to censor the real story of our 'war on terror'.

Now, perhaps more than ever, it is essential for a huge turnout next weekend for the Stop The War Coaltion's National demonstration to bring the troops home. If you are reading this and have not done already, vist Stop the War Coalition's website and book a place on your nearest coach. (

In the words of Peter Brierley, whose son was killed in Iraq, and famously refused to shake Tony Blair's hand, "I believe marching makes a difference. By being on the streets we get closer to the point of bringing the troops home. Everyone should bring one or two other people – people who have never been on a demonstration before."