Council tax becoming the new Poll Tax claims IPPR

21st century socialism

The first premise of all human existence is … that man must be in a position to live in order to make history. But life involves before anything else eating and drinking, a habitation, clothing and many other things” (K Marx and F Engels, The German Ideology (1846), International Publishers, New York, 1947, p.16).

A short column in the FT on Saturday 18th May notes the publication of a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) into council tax inequality. The report, focused on London but taking into account some statistical evidence for the whole of Britain concludes that council tax is beginning to look a lot like the ill-fated Poll Tax which caused Margaret Thatcher so many problems thirty years ago.

The UK is ranked by the OECD as having, after France, the greatest reliance on property taxation of all OECD country respondents as a proportion of GDP. For 2017, property taxes accounted for around 4.2 per cent of GDP, more than twice the OECD average.

The IPPR report states that today’s system of council tax leaves those living in the lowest-value homes paying a higher proportion of council tax with regard to property value, than those living in the highest value homes. This is particularly acute in London where property investment has taken house price prices to ludicrous levels. The study found that a household in a Band A property in London would on average pay nearly five times what a Band H household would pay as a proportion of property value. The poorest Londoners pay 8.1% of household income in council tax, whilst those in the top income decile contribute just 1.3% of their declared earnings.

“Those in the lowest-value homes in London are paying a higher proportion of council tax with regard to property value than those in higher-value homes… To the extent that the distribution of property values is a proxy for wealth, this is not fair… The regressive nature of the present council tax system is embedded in its design… The highest-value property in Band H will attract a maximum of three times the tax on the lowest-value homes, even though (based on the current banding system) the high-value home is worth at least eight times the low-value one in 1991 property prices. As a proportion of property value, lower-value properties pay a larger proportion than higher-value properties.”

Arrears

“Across England”, according to the report, “officially recognised annual total council tax arrears increased from £836 million in 2013/14 to £944 million in 2017/18. Moreover, the total arrears outstanding in 2017/18 were £3 billion, up from £2.5 billion in 2013/14. Research by the anti-poverty charity Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (Z2K) has also found that a number of councils are using bailiffs, and claimants are being charged court costs on top of their arrears… At the most extreme, 305 people were given custodial prison sentences for non-payment of council tax between 2013/14 and 2017/18, with another 6,278 receiving suspended sentences…”

Council tax

No tinkering with the present system of taxation will be enough to stop the steady slide of hundreds of thousands of workers and middle classes into absolute destitution and misery. The crisis of overproduction, its consequent lay-offs and redundancies destroy the purchasing power of the masses who are also crushed under the weight of rising prices and taxation which they can no longer afford. Millions of workers today are a pay cheque away from ruination. Raising taxation of empty homes in London does nothing to undermine the financial power of the landlord and capitalist class, it does nothing to alleviate the underlying cause of the people’s misery – capitalism. Only under socialism, where the private ownership of the land by a tiny few is replaced with a socialist system of land ownership and taxation, where the recurrent crisis of capitalism is done away with and replaced by planned production can the working man and woman finally find themselves liberated.

Note

The IPPR is from a social democratic think-tank with a long history of providing Labour IPPR logoparty class collaborators with policy proposals designed to paper over the cracks of an increasingly divided and unequal society, its chair of trustees is Lord Adonis and in 2016 it appointed Tom Kibasi its Director. Mr Kibasi has worked for the Rockerfeller Foundation and the Bill Gates Foundation.

Statement on Twitter suspension by the Embassy of Venezuela


Embassy of Venezuela

Statement about the suspension of Twitter account / New account

On 1st May, Twitter temporarily suspended the account of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the United Kingdom, alleging “infractions” on the conditions of this social network.

This first suspension occurred one day after the attempted coup in Venezuela, and in parallel to the suspension of numerous Twitter accounts of the Bolivarian Government.

After the immediate appeal made by the Embassy, Twitter replied two days later informing that the suspension was permanent, and that there is no possibility of another appeal.

The permanent suspension of the official Twitter of the Embassy will not silence the voice of the Bolivarian Revolution in the United Kingdom. We have a new Twitter account, @EmbaVenezUk ; please socialize the account among your contacts, so we can multiply information about Venezuela as swiftly as possible. Venceremos!

Rocío Maneiro

Ambassador

A vote for the Brexit party is a vote for Brexit

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The following excerpt is taken from a longer article published by the CPGB-ML, link below.

Brexit betrayed

Our party pointed out in our most recent free newspaper sheet – distributed to, and read with interest by, tens of thousands of workers – that British workers had demanded Brexit, and that the failure to deliver it was demonstrating to the mass of British workers the fraud of their so-called parliamentary democracy.

The opportunity for workers to gain an increased understanding of the true nature of Britain’s parliament, which in reality is a hollow talking-shop concealing the iron fist of the state apparatus and the dictatorial rule of the wealthy ruling-class elite, is clear.
So much so, that the issue of Brexit – despite the triumphalist broadcasting of large anti-Brexit marches and online petitions – far from going quietly away, looks set to upset the applecart of bourgeois politics in a fairly extreme way.

Supporters of Labour party social democracy are up in arms. But this is not new for them. They have always issued hollow slogans to the workers of Britain along the lines of “Vote Labour to keep the fascists / BNP / Ukip / Tories out”. Their politics consist of calling for votes for Labour as an answer to all questions.

British workers are realising intuitively and by experience, however, that Labour is another capitalist party, just like all the others, even though most of these workers may not yet define themselves as anti-capitalist.

The days after the collapse of the banks in 2008, when everyone was demanding action against the bankers, have long been transformed by politicians and media into ‘the people’ apparently demanding action against immigration. In that fraud of protecting the rich and victimising the poor, all the capitalist parties have played their part, Labour first among them.

But that is not what is at issue here and now. The fact is that workers are realising that Labour is as much and more the agent of their misery as any other representative of the ruling class.

The meaning of Brexit

Choosing to ‘stand with’ the EU imperialists (imperialist ‘internationalism’) or to ‘stand with’ the British imperialists (imperialist ‘nationalism’): is that the essence of Brexit?
No. Brexit, as the CPGB-ML has emphasised since the beginning of the debate leading up to the referendum (in which 17.4 million voted to leave the EU, as opposed to 16.1 million who voted to remain), hurts European, British and US imperialism alike.

The harder the Brexit, the more the imperialists will be set back. Yes, some privileged workers will find that their privileges come under threat from this outcome, but that’s the way the winds of capitalist economic crisis are blowing in any case.

Vote for the Brexit party in the upcoming EU elections 2019

ReAD THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: https://www.cpgb-ml.org/2019/05/07/news/galloway-farage-brexit-party-eu-election/ 

 

Happy 1st May – International Workers Day

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The Birmingham Branch of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) sends its warm regards and revolutionary greetings to comrades and friends all over the world on 1 May 2019.

In every part of the country where we are active our comrades are working hard to bring our revolutionary message to workers on the streets, in their workplaces and homes. At this moment of great political turmoil in our country, our Party is undertaking a mass campaign of political propaganda in defence of the interests of the working class; not least the exposure of the sham of British democracy and our defence of the Brexit referendum result.

Taking up the political tasks outlined at our 8th Congress in 2018 our comrades are well on the way to meeting our organisational goal of distributing more than 100,000 copies of our Proletarian front sheet, and on May 1st in Birmingham we will add to the work achieved so far with a leafleting campaign and social celebration to mark International Workers Day.

Celebrate the 1st of May!

Since 1889 the international working class has chosen this day, the first of May, to mark the mutual solidarity of all workers, in our struggle for work, for rest and recreation; for the equality of all nations and peoples, women and men. For decent pay and conditions within the old capitalistic order of exploitation, within which we remain imprisoned by our wage-slavery – and renew our struggle to build a better world, in which we move forward to a higher, fairer, more decent order of society, and relations between nations; our struggle for socialism!

Today we reaffirm our resolute intention to cast off this parasitic and decadent capitalist system, and with it the exploitation of one human being by another and one nation by another.

Can capitalism be reformed?

We must never forget that no matter how well our trade unions battle for higher wages and better pay, they are fighting against the effects, and not the causes of our exploitation.

As long as we receive wages for our labour, rather than taking ownership of the very means of producing – the land, the housing stock, the factories, mines, retail stores, distribution and communications networks, banks and industries, media and government – we will remain the pawns of our exploiters; powerless to effect change in our interests. Beggars at the feast.

We do not need ‘fairer’ wages alone; we need to end this capitalist system of exploitation and robbery in its entirety.

And we must record, in passing, the fact that since the heroic miners’ strike of 1984/5, which ended in the defeat of the once mighty National Union of Mineworkers, for the most part, our unions have failed even to engage in everyday skirmishes effectively; they have failed even to resist the constant tendency of the capitalists to force our wages to rock bottom.

The pitiful wages of the McDonalds strikers, or of our hospital cleaners; the totally inadequate levels of ‘minimum wage’ and ‘living wage’, and the legions of ‘illegal’ workers who do not even scrape these meagre sums, are all testament to this sad fact. As is the inability of even better-off workers to afford decent homes.

Our ministers and parliamentarians have no answers to our most pressing problems.

Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!
You have nothing to lose but your chains; you have a world to win!

Birmingham demands Brexit! @BrumLeave meeting this Friday

Parliament has shown itself to be in direct opposition to the will of the people it theoretically represents. Brexit-related campaigning starts with a meeting of Brexit supporters this FRIDAY.

Brexit meeting_apr 2019

The ability of the illusory British bourgeois democracy to dupe the workers of this country is fast eroding.

Nearly three years after voting to the leave the European Union, workers still have no idea when, how or even if that promised exit will actually take place.

Despite 17.4 million people delivering a direct democratic mandate for leave in June 2016, the overwhelming majority of British parliamentarians are committed remainers. As a result, ‘Brexit day’ has passed with Britain still a member of the EU.

According to the law passed two years ago, 29 March was supposed to be the day Britain left the European bosses’ club; prime minister Theresa May promised on more than 80 occasions that the people’s vote would be honoured and the country would leave the union on schedule.

Instead, she has seen her withdrawal deal (which is really a treaty) rejected three times by Parliament; and rejected by leavers and remainers alike. In an attempt to satisfy everyone, she has satisfied no-one. For remainers, any deal to leave the EU was too much, and for leavers, her deal was ‘Brexit’ in name only.

The council bosses paid more than £100,000 who try to charge £50m for four street bollards

These are the faces of some of Birmingham city council’s best paid employees.  Jonathon Chew (Assistant Chief Exec), Jacqui Kennedy (Director of Neighbourhoods) and Dawn Baxendale the present Chief Exec.

It was revealed in The Times this week that Birmingham has 28 employees earning more than £100,000 a year, and a significant number who are on more than the Prime Minister.

The Taxpayers Alliance found that more than 600 council workers across the country are on such sums, with the highest paid Chief Exec in the country on £595,077! They have compiled a Town Hall Rich List, and Birmingham sits in 4th place! The Alliance says,

“…the town hall rich list also showcases the executives who have overseen failing departments or received bumper pay-offs after poor performance in the job.”

Thats a fitting description of many of those paid off by Labour-run Birmingham city council. Jacqui Kennedy, one of those on the gross (in every sense of the word) salaries earns in excess of £100,000 a year and will be remembered for her sterling efforts in wasting £6 million of taxpayers money during the bin strike in 2017, whilst Dawn Baxendale was at the same trick again this year, wasting a similar amount on another war on council workers, waged in tandem with the local Labour party who are ideologically hell bent on displaying their anti-worker credentials to the banks, tories and corporate media in the hope they can win the next general election (despite betraying Brexit)!

 

John O’Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers Alliance, said: “The average council tax bill has gone up by more than £900 over the last 20 years and spending has gone through the roof.

“Disappointingly, many local authorities are now responding to financial reality through further tax rises and reducing services rather than scaling back top pay.

“There are talented people in the public sector who are trying to deliver more for less but the sheer scale of these packages raise serious questions about efficiency and priorities.”

The Local Government Association said: “Senior pay is always decided by democratically elected councillors in an open and transparent way.”

Fall out amongst thieves

Having privatised all that they can get their hands on (nearly), Birmingham city council has been trying to charge private contractors Amey (who they appointed to maintain the roads) the best part of £50 million for a few road bollards.

The £50m bollards

Neil Jonston reported “The city council has been accused of holding “its own road network hostage” after apparently charging Amey, a highways company, £58,000 a day for a delay in repairing two sets of bollards designed to prevent drivers from swerving around speed bumps.

The council said that the contractor had put road users in danger by taking months to carry out the repairs on a quiet residential street. Amey has not been paid by the council since 2017, when officials withheld monthly payments for work after issuing fines running into millions for delays in repairing bollards, lamp posts and potholes.

The bill for the delay on the bollards in a parking strip on Westwood Road, Witton, has reached £48.5 million according to Amey, after the contractor took a year to carry out the first repair and seven months to fix the second set. The initial penalty was £250 but because the council said the repair should be treated as a category one defect, meaning it was an emergency and posed danger, it doubled every hour.

The council is also said to have billed Amey £12 million for a pothole and £14 million for adding cable ties to three lamp posts, which the council called unnecessary “cosmetics”.”

Only under capitalism could such madness prevail and yet we are led to believe by all the main political voices that such idiocy drives the economy, creates growth and is the sign of a functioning, competitive society. Such drivel could only fool the deaf, dumb, blind and wilfully ignorant.

Only a planned economy, a socialist system, can get rid of the burden upon the poor of such ludicrous and wasteful excesses as inflated salaries for failing bureaucrats and multi million pound potholes.

Get in touch to put an end to the madness:

MP’s to enjoy 2.7% pay rise from today

MP pay rise

MP’s vote themselves another pay rise

The British government and the pen pushers sat in parliament claim to represent us, but are little more than the executive committee of the ruling classes (bourgeoisie). Once again they have again shown the people of Britain utter contempt by awarding themselves another pay rise at a time of austerity!

Whilst working men and women queue at food banks up and down the length of our country, nearly four million children are at risk of malnutrition and 8 million households are food insecure (meaning they cannot afford decent and healthy foods) these piglets at the trough act as though they can go on feasting on the blood, sweat and tears of our country.

Pay for MP’s up 2.7%!

The new pay rise announced brings the total wage package for MP’s from £77,379 to a whopping £79,468, a 2.7%. there has been an increase almost every year from 2010 to 2019, this increase is said to account for inflation and brings the total increase in the last 9 years to £13,730 (IPSA, 2019), whilst on the other hand public sector workers have had nearly a decade of pay freeze, with at best a total 2.2% wage increase this year (Ons.gov.uk, 2019), which is below the inflation rate. This means wages have been falling for hundreds of thousands of workers, so why is there a pay rise for MP’s? As ever we the British people must tighten our belts and soldier on with a stiff upper lip, toe the line and not complain whilst British children suffer malnutrition and we see a return of Victorian era diseases such as rickets, leading to bone deformities.

Could one argue that surely our leaders deserve a good wage for a job well done considering the great strides they’re taking to deliver on the mandate of the British people and implement a full brexit?! Perhaps the management of the NHS, our wonderful health service?! Well, how about the affordable council housing being built, wait… not at all! Those who are are njoyting the high life are the MP’s and the thousands of landlords and privateers benefitting from spiralling rents, inflated house prices, speculation on the markets and privatisation in health, education and utilities. It’s high time we followed in the footsteps of the French people and not only tell Parliament enough (!), but show them just what that means.

If you’re fed up with the state of things and want a better life and future for your children and loved ones, as all fair minded working people do, then contact the Birmingham Worker and demand a dignified life, safety for our children, respect for those who work hard and nothing for the parasites who make our lives miserable.

 

Sources

Foodfoundation.org.uk. (2019). Children’s Future Food Inquiry – Food Foundation. [online] Available at: https://foodfoundation.org.uk/childrens-future-food-inquiry/ [Accessed 11 Mar. 2019].

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salaries_of_Members_of_the_United_Kingdom_Parliament

IPSA. (2019). MPs’ Pay and Pensions – IPSA. [online] Available at: http://www.theipsa.org.uk/mp-costs/mps-pay-and-pensions/ [Accessed 11 Mar. 2019].

Savage, M. and Lee, D. (2019). ‘I regularly see rickets’: diseases of Victorian-era poverty return to UK. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/23/poorer-children-disproportionately-need-hospital-treatment [Accessed 11 Mar. 2019].

Ons.gov.uk. (2019). Understanding average earnings for the continuously employed – Office for National Statistics. [online] Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/articles/understandingaverageearningsforthecontinuouslyemployed/2015-05-18#introduction [Accessed 11 Mar. 2019].

JLR job cuts, the car industry, robots and future prospects for jobs

jlr job losses_brexit

Job cuts ruin lives

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), 186,000 workers are directly engaged in manufacturing jobs in the British car industry, with 856,000 workers to be found in the wider industry, from sales executives to garage mechanics. It’s an industry worth a whopping £82bn (turnover), but the global crisis of overproduction means that there are many more cars sitting on forecourts than can be sold, and fewer workers with the cash to buy them.

Automation

In a research paper entitled the ‘Digitalisation of the automotive industry’ in 2016, KPMG and the SMMT outlined that “By fully embracing digitalisation, the automotive sector stands to gain £6.9bn every year by 2035. The cumulative total benefit to the economy could be £74bn by 2035. This is a significant prize…”

This future world has a sensor on every box to inform another sensor (hundreds of miles away) that it needs to start 3D printing a few more plastic plugs. Other sensors will note when the new plugs are ready and a photo electric sensor somewhere in Slovakia will then despatch a robot-controlled Google-driven lorry to bring those parts ‘just in time’. Sensors on robots, and no doubt sensors on people, will be able to ensure that profits are maximised and with all these sensors organising production and many robots actually undertaking the production process itself, there won’t be much room left for working men and women. With more workers forced out of work, there will be less money coming in to buy the things the sensors are churning out. The prisons will be bursting and, in the words of Lord Byron, workers will be

nefariously guilty of lawfully begetting children whom, thanks to the times, they are unable to maintain’.”

`Time to face it, capitalism must go

The drive for profit is leading to the wholesale impoverishment of the human race. In its drive for maximum profits, mankind is overproducing all the things it does not need. Rather than plan production in a rational way so as to ensure a constantly rising standard of material and cultural existence, the chaos of private production threatens the survival of our species and the planet. The struggle against capitalism is a struggle between the working classes and the capitalist class. This struggle has now raged for more than two hundred years.

In the 18th century British workers were faced with a similar threat from technology. Our recent ancestors were thrown out of work, out of factories and mills with the introduction of new technology and their response was to attack this technology, to smash it up and destroy it. These workers were known as Luddites and they led a fierce and heroic battle with the police, army, manufacturers and government. In Nottinghamshire weavers who made frames for the manufacture of trousers (stockings) faced death for struggling to protect their livelihoods. The struggle led the great poet Byron to write,

Men are more easily made than machinery –

Stockings fetch better prices than lives –

Gibbets on Sherwood will heighten the scenery,

Showing how Commerce, how Liberty thrives!

 

For all the heroism of our ancestors, they were ultimately unsuccessful in that struggle. History teaches us that to protect jobs and for dignity of labour we must direct our blows towards the capitalist class and not just its property. This class of parasites do not work but collect through dividends, shares and taxes the wealth produced by the working class.

Our working class should draw inspiration from the workers of France who have so militantly expressed their outrage these last few months with the protests of the yellow vests. Occupations, strikes, blockades, disruption of the capitalist system of profit making is the only way to extract concessions from the ruling class. In tandem with this rebellion must be the building up of the forces of the communists, the advanced section of the workers which understands that it is necessary to turn the economic crisis into an all-out political rebellion. The aim of the communists must be the armed insurrection of the working people, for the seizure of state power. Britain today is sleepy and the British working class is idle and silent in the face of the abuses it is suffering; but if Donald Trump can appreciate that the fierce competition between the capitalists themselves creates the conditions for the national security of the US imperialists to be threatened, then we can take some consolation from their discomfort.

Its time to fight for a different future, get in touch with us to lend your support:

Meeting this Friday: Socialism in China, report from CPGB-ML delegation

China report back_mar 2019In February a three person delegation from the CPGB-ML travelled to China to participate in the 27th Wanshou Forum. Whilst in China our delegates had lengthy discussions with the Communist Party of China and visited workplaces and historic sites associated with the communist revolution. We also took the opportunity to meet up with the Honorary President of the CPGB-ML, comrade Isabel Crook.

Isabel Crook

CPGB-ML delegates with Party President Isabel Crook

One speech by a CPGB-ML delegate is already online and can be read here: https://www.cpgb-ml.org/2019/03/05/news/theory/chinese-forum-discusses-humanitys-shared-future/ . This meeting is an opportunity to hear first hand from one of the delegates, Ed Renyard, National Organiser of the CPGB-ML.