Housing: foreign investors head to Birmingham

seven capital birmingham

An abandoned old tesco at ground and derelict offices above are transformed into “Birmingham’s hottest property” by SevenCapital

A report in The Times on July 8 described the rush of foreign capital into Birmingham’s housing market. With cheap, cramped and ugly apartments flying up across the city, it is clear that there is money to be made.

Birmingham reportedly has the youngest population of any city in Europe, is now the most popular destination for those escaping from London and stands to benefit from even better rail links to the Capital once HS2 is completed (journey times of 1hr 15mins are already available on some services). Furthermore, with house prices a fraction of those in London it is easy to understand why workers from the south are looking to cash in and buy in Birmingham, and other poorer workers merely escape to cheaper rents in the West Midlands.

“While London and Manchester were previously the prime targets for foreign investors there has been a surge in interest in Birmingham, with overseas buyers snapping up as many as 100 flats each in new developments.

As well as the promise of huge yields renting to young people, investors are being lured by glossy brochures boasting that Birmingham is “one of the greenest [cities] in the UK” has “more miles of canals than Venice” and is home to the “iconic” Bullring. Another developer, whose conversion of a factory in the trendy Digbeth area is being marketed in Hong Kong, promises almost guaranteed rental income.

Seven Capital, which is behind numerous developments in the city, is telling investors that demand from tenants is so high that some properties are being let on the same day they are purchased.”[i]

The Times, which is not well known for being concerned with the prospects of ordinary working-class people reported that,

“Chloe Thorn, 26, has been saving for a deposit to buy a flat in Birmingham since she was 16. But when she began putting offers in she found that minimum deposits were either out of reach or flats were marked as investment-only. “It’s like being priced out of the city I’ve grown up in,” she added. “I remember when I first started looking in 2017 and seeing all these new buildings being built and thinking I may stand a chance of buying somewhere in the city once they are done. But once they went online to buy it was all investors-only on the majority.””

Capitalism only builds for profit

What Chloe failed to realise is that houses are not built so that working people can have a nice place to live, to bring up children and start a family. Under capitalism flats and houses are built so that they can be sold for a profit. Under capitalism, commodities (houses, cars, food, video games) are produced so that they can be sold on the market, they are not sold at their value, they will be sold for as much as the seller can persuade somebody to part with. Capitalism does not work for ordinary working people.

Housing under capitalism has become a vehicle for the wealthy to invest money in. The influx of foreign capital into housing in Birmingham is a consequence of the lack of better (more lucrative) schemes for the wealthy to invest in, and despite the claims of estate agents in Hong Kong and elsewhere, it is far from certain that investment like this can return the rents which these landlords hope for. Birmingham is a working-class city, more than 100,000 children live in poverty and one in five workers earn less than the Living Wage (£8.25p/h), recent accounts from the city council show that many workers cannot afford to pay their council tax with Birmingham owing £115m in outstanding arrears – not a cast-iron guarantee for great rental incomes.[ii]

Whilst estate agents will say anything to shift overpriced, poor quality housing, it is surprising that there are so many gullible enough to fall for it. Even in London the property bubble is due to pop, and there are already signs that in the highest end of the market the glory days are already over,

“Viewed from Bangalore, the purchase of a newly built three-bedroom apartment in London for more than £1.4m seemed like a safe investment bet. The top-floor three-bedroom home under construction in Keybridge House south of the Thames boasted views of the City of London and the Shard skyscraper. As Shonu Bhandari considered the purchase two years ago, agents told him he could expect the value to rise 15 per cent before the property had even been finished. The Indian entrepreneur, who runs a medical products company, happily signed up to buy. But his purchase soured quickly. When Bhandari approached a mortgage lender, it valued the property not at 15 per cent more than he had agreed to pay — but at 20 per cent less. With completion of the building looming, he signed over the property to a new buyer in March this year for £1.2m, losing more than £200,000 of his deposit.

…One new-build brochure from the estate agent Savills in 2016 said price growth in prime central London was expected to average 21.5 per cent by the end of 2020. Prices have so far fallen 10.4 per cent since that date, according to LonRes, a data provider.

“Global capital entering local real estate markets is not particularly new, but what was new was the intensity with which it entered places like Vancouver, New York, London, Melbourne and Sydney,” says Andy Yan, a planner and academic in Vancouver.”

“…In London, research by Savills shows construction continues to be out of step with demand. The London market over the next five years will need 42,500 new homes a year for sale or rent at cheaper than market rates, the property agency found — but only about 3,500 a year will be built.

Demand also far exceeds supply in the “lower” and “mid” markets, up to £700 per square foot. But above that, planned supply starts to exceed demand. In the £700 to £1,000 a sq ft category, annual demand for 7,000 homes a year will be catered for by almost 10,500.  Prices at the top end are falling, but the median London house price remains more than 12 times average earnings. “What we don’t need in London are more £1m-plus apartments with swimming pools, spas, cinema suites and service charges of £7 or £8 a sq ft [per year]. Those are not for normal Londoners,””[iii]

Socialism the only answer

Houses should be homes for people, shelter and a secure family life is a right for every worker. Houses should not, as they are under capitalism, be commodities, sold only to those who can afford to buy or rent them, rather than provided for those who need them. By its utter inability to solve the housing question and meet this basic need of working people, the capitalist system is providing yet more proof that it is well past its use-by date and due for demolition.

The Eighth Congress of the Communist Party (CPGB-ML), held in September 2018, passed a resolution on housing which put forward the basic demands of the Communist Party on the housing question. These demands form the basis of the party work on housing, and should be taken up by all advanced workers:

  1. Scrap the 2016-17 housing bill:the immediate scrapping of the 2016-17 housing bill, which threatens hundreds of thousands with poverty and homelessness.
  2. Build council houses not ‘affordable homes’:the provision of at least 300,000 new council houses per year to end the crisis.
  3. Guarantee secure social housing:guaranteed, secure and well-maintained social housing for all who want it, close to people’s work and families, and the abolition of divisive allocation criteria.
  4. Council ownership not ALMOs:the return of housing association and ‘non-profit’ properties to council ownership.
  5. Abolish housing charities:the abolition of housing charities and the reintroduction of the legal right to decent, secure housing for all; slums, overcrowding and homelessness are an indictment on capitalism and a crime against humanity.
  6. Set a rent cap: the introduction of a rent cap at 20 percent of minimum wage for all privately rented accommodation, and the scrapping of housing benefit (a subsidy to landlords that has helped to fuel rent rises).
  7. Protect existing council housing:the scrapping of all schemes that fuel prices, create shortages and offer subsidies to landlords and developers.
  8. Use existing surplus housing stock:the confiscation of all surplus homes and unfinished developments and their transformation into council housing.
  9. Provide decent homes for all:the establishment of residents’ management committees to oversee planning and maintenance and ensure that all workers have access to adequate space, necessary amenities and decent facilities, including having usable and pleasant outdoor spaces and community halls.

 

Some links

[i] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/birmingham-housing-foreign-buy-to-let-investors-pricing-out-locals-bkdfb2ws5

[ii] https://birminghamworker.org/2019/06/13/birmingham-council-cash-reserves-increase-by-736/ & https://birminghamworker.org/2019/07/03/thousands-of-birmingham-workers-too-poor-to-pay-their-council-tax/

[iii] https://www.ft.com/content/ea9c9abc-943d-11e9-aea1-2b1d33ac3271

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.

 

British workers demand Brexit!

BW Brexit

This weekend saw the UKIP conference in Birmingham. For every Neil Hamilton on the platform there were dozens of saner Brexiteers from amongst the various strata of  British society in the audience. Most are members of UKIP for one very simple reason; its continued opposition to membership of the EU. The ‘left’ in Birmingham like other towns, is made up of self-righteous, unthinking puppets. Rather than talk to delegates the Birmingham ‘left’ made a small demonstration outside the conference and claimed it was all part of fighting racism. The usual individuals turned up – that is the very same people who are rabidly hostile to Russia, invite known Mi5 operatives onto anti-war platforms in the town, and back the imperialist Labour party the hilt. The trotskyite delusion is a permanent revulsion. Needless to say, CPGB-ML had nothing to do with the ludicrous protest. We spent time during the conference talking to delegates, trying to gauge their attitudes on a range of subjects, sold lots of socialist literature to them and attempted to put some of our opinions on Brexit to them. Except for a tiny minority, we found that  most were willing to listen to our point of view whilst the only attempt at intimidation came from the local police.

British workers must not allow the referendum result to be overturned. Theresa May’s strategy and favoured proposals differ according to which day of the week it is, and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party has never held a clear and consistent position. The furore that continues amongst the ruling class is never-ending and the liberal media continue to propagandise for the overturning of Brexit.

Attacks on the Brexiteers & attempts to overturn the referendum

Divisions among the ruling class over Brexit continue to be clear for all to see: the liberal bourgeoisie continues to pursue its anti-people, anti-Brexit agenda and remains committed to overturning the referendum result. This has been particularly evident in newspapers such as the Guardian and Observer, which have been desperately pursuing every possible avenue for overturning the vote.

A recent line of attack has been to jump on what is essentially a student petition: “Predicting a young people’s revolt over the coming months, student unions – representing 980,000 students at 60 of the country’s leading universities and colleges – are writing to MPs… calling on them to back a ‘people’s vote’ before a final Brexit deal can be implemented.”

If a second vote on the referendum takes place and Britain does vote on the final deal, it is worth remembering that university students are not the only young people who were too young to vote in the referendum. For every student there are many more disenfranchised working-class teenagers. If these young people could be mobilised to defend their class interests, the pro-Brexit vote would only grow.

Government and opposition chaos

The divisions within the Conservative Party (and, therefore, the government) are mirrored by those in Labour. Both parties continue to tear themselves apart over Brexit, and this chaos of the bourgeoisie can only be welcomed by class-conscious workers.

The government finds itself at a roadblock. The sheer impossibility of the situation should long ago have led to the downfall of the government. The problem is that most bourgeois opinion is terrified of a Corbyn-led Labour government, as there is no guarantee that it can be dissuaded from implementing at least some measures inimical to imperialist interests, even though it is a better bet than the Tories for finding a means of escaping the Brexit vote.

The chaos looks set to continue, and will only be made worse by the deepening economic crisis, which is bound to take a further lurch downwards before long.

Foreigners are constantly blamed for the lack of jobs, low wages and poor social provision that are caused by capitalism, and workers are urged by bourgeois politicians and media alike to swallow the lie that if it wasn’t for ‘all the immigrants’ there would be jobs available at high wages for all native-born Britons, along with readily available housing at affordable rents and a decent level of social provision.

Free market economics is bad for Britain

The truth, however, is that capitalism, in its desperate drive to push down production costs, must inevitably try to push down wages and social provision, too – not only to maximise profits, but also to survive the competition from its rivals and to win the struggle over markets.

If immigration were stopped tomorrow and average wages rose, it would not be long before enterprises presently relying on cheap labour closed down altogether, with their capitalist owners either being driven out of business and/or deciding that their money was better invested abroad and/or investing in new machinery that would lessen the need to hire workers.

That is why, despite the constant increase in productivity (which ought to lead to a shorter working day and higher living standards for all of us), living standards for workers continue to be pushed relentlessly downwards all over the world.

According to Oxfam: “In 2015, just 62 individuals had the same wealth as 3.6 billion people – the bottom half of humanity. The figure is down from 388 individuals as recently as 2010. Since the turn of the century, the poorest half of the world’s population has received just 1 percent of the total increase in global wealth, while half of that increase has gone to the top 1 percent.”

Foreign and native-born workers alike suffer as a result of this downward pressure on wages and benefits, whatever country’s labour force they happen to belong to. Our only possible defence is our ability to fight back – an ability that is lost if the working class is divided against itself, whether on xenophobic lines or any other basis.

Far from exciting hatred, working-class immigrants to this country should be treated with sympathy, since it is clear that the overwhelming majority who leave their countries of origin only do so because they feel they must in order to escape poverty, starvation, persecution or war.

Just like us, they love their families and are simply doing whatever they can to take care of them and secure their futures.

So long as capitalism exists, so long will workers have to fight every inch of the way to maintain reasonable living standards for themselves and their families – and will periodically suffer real deprivation as a result of battles being lost.

So long as capitalism exists, there will always be a reserve army of unemployed – both of local people and of people abroad – who are desperate for work. Competition among workers for jobs is built into the capitalist system, and so the proletariat must not allow itself to be tricked into believing that it is other workers who are the enemy.

The sole and only cause of this desperate situation is the continued survival of the capitalist system, which stands convicted of an utter inability to cater to the even the most basic needs of the overwhelming majority of humanity.

If capitalism was overthrown and replaced by a planned, socialist economy, in which all society’s resources were used to provide for the needs of the working people and their families, there would be no such thing as unemployment and no such thing as competition for jobs.

Every person would be found something essential to do, and all labour would enrich the whole of society. Under socialism we shall apply the fair, basic economic law of socialism: he who does not work, neither shall he eat.

 

Poverty on the rise as Birmingham’s Labour council freezes burial fees!

Poverty on the rise as Birmingham’s Labour council freezes burial fees!

An article carried in the Independent newspaper says the “Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF)[i] found that Britain’s record on tackling poverty had reached a turning point and was at risk of unravelling, with nearly 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners living in poverty than five years ago. Their report showed a total of 14 million people in the UK currently live in poverty – more than one in five of the population.

Now the latest figures, collated by the End Child Poverty coalition through analysis of tax credit data and national trends in worklessness, estimate that child poverty in Manchester and Birmingham stands at 44 per cent and 43 per cent respectively. In the London borough of Tower Hamlets this reaches 53 per cent.

When broken down into constituencies, the figures indicate that Bethnal Green and Bow in London has the highest child poverty rate at 54 per cent, while in Ladywood in Birmingham 53 per cent are living in poverty. Among the 20 parliamentary constituencies with the highest levels of childhood poverty, seven are located in London, three in Birmingham and three in Manchester.[ii]

Our Labour councillors last year wasted more than £6million of tax payer’s money attempting to attack the wages of local bin men, £6m that could have been spent on child services, looking after our elderly and preventing the worst effects of poverty in Birmingham. Now they announce plans to cut a further £53m off the budget despite hiking up the Council tax this year.

The Birmingham Post reported Council Leader Ian Ward saying “We have listened and, even at a time of continuing government cuts, we are investing in the services that matter most to the people of Birmingham.”

According to the Post “Labour bosses said they had listened on several key issues, including reducing the tax hike, freezing burial and cremation fees and not introducing charges for library book reservations.”[iii]

It will be little comfort for our poor and needy to know that what wasn’t spent keeping them alive has been kept back for their everlasting interment.

What you can do

If you want to fight for a better Birmingham, and a better world, join the campaign to elect Birmingham Worker candidates to the city council:

[i] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/poverty-britain-joseph-rowntree-foundation-report-theresa-may-social-mobility-commission-million-a8089491.html

[ii] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/child-poverty-uk-cities-london-birmingham-manchester-welfare-cuts-benefits-food-parents-households-a8174436.html

[iii] https://www.birminghampost.co.uk/news/regional-affairs/birmingham-council-storing-up-tax-14280869

Promoted on behalf of SammI Ibrahem, Reuben Lawrence & Katherine Cremer by Birmingham Worker 274 B12 0BS

VOTE FOR SAMMI IBRAHEM VOTE BIRMINGHAM WORKER IN BALSALL HEATH

IMG-20170811-WA0016 (1)

Sammi Ibrahem gives his support to striking workers last summer

BIN COLLECTIONS AND VERMIN

Our bin collections must remain weekly and there should be no cuts to our waste services. Our streets are filthy; the attacks on bin workers last year only benefitted local rats. For a saving of £300,000 a year the Labour Party spent £6million in an attack on poorly paid bin workers making private haulage firms from Telford veritable overnight millionaires.

STOP THE LABOUR PARTY WASTING PUBLIC MONEY

No more attacks on the terms and conditions of Council workers. Millions in taxes has been wasted in senseless attacks on bin men, care workers and others who provide essential services for the city whilst earning less than £20,000 p/a. If any wages are to be cut, it must be the wages of the top Council executives. The Labour led council currently pays:

Chief Executive £180,000

Change and Support Services Strategic Director £135,000

Finance and Legal Strategic Director £135,000

Legal and Democratic Services Director is on £100,000

Customer Services Asst Director £100,000

Corporate Strategy Asst Dir £90,000

HOUSING

Our city needs decent, cheap, secure public housing, and not the allocation of more city land to private developers building expensive flats for the purpose of ripping-off students. Restrict the growth of “houses of multiple occupancy” and help families into affordable homes.

WOMEN AND CHILDREN

High-quality, safe, pre-school childcare and education, and the protection of ALL the Children’s Centres at risk from Labour party cuts. Oppose all attempts being made by the Labour party to encroach on provisions made for women and children in Birmingham.

LOOK AFTER OUR ELDERLY RESIDENTS

Bring to an end the conversion of large domestic houses into private care homes where the elderly are left in squalid conditions by capitalists who profit from not looking after our elderly. The city council must protect existing services, AND fund more services to look after our elderly. This money can easily be raised from small taxes – thousands of businesses pay no rates at all in Birmingham due to the system of “small business rates relief”, a system which is being abused by hundreds. Everybody should pay their way to look after our children and the elderly folk.

FREE BUS TRAVEL FOR PARENTS & CHILDREN, THE UNEMPLOYED & LOW-WAGED

Access to a free, fully integrated public transport system. Children up to the age of 10 are allowed to travel FREE by bus and tube in London, why not in Birmingham?! We demand the same, and why shouldn’t we get it when the Director of NX Buses took home £309,000 in 2016! This bus company makes millions from Birmingham workers, if it can’t give anything back to our women, children, unemployed and low-wages, we can find a bus company who will – or take the Company into public ownership and run it on a not-for-profit basis.

To support our campaign, get in touch:

“new” bin deal – what they give with one hand they will take with the other

The Labour party today brought it’s “new” proposals to the city cabinet for resolution of the Birmingham bin strike. The “new” report was kept secret and not even the councillors favourite journalists were allowed sight until this morning when Kathryn Stanczyszyn of the BBC began to tweet photographs of text that appeared to propose many of the basic features of the original deal conducted by Clancy and which the cabinet subsequently reneged upon.

But what they give with one hand they take with the other.

What has been released today is not the whole story. What we learn today is that the Council will change the name of the Grade 3 job. That sounds like a victory for bin men. But to make it a victory for Labour Councillors they have added in a whole new job role. It will not merely be a rebranding – it will involve a longer week for no more pay
as there are attempts to claw back the rest day (compressed working week) and put everyone into a five day week.

Screenshot_20171124-141319

The BBC journalist noted the reference to the words “retain a GR3 role” and the bizarre explanations emanating from the mouth of Lisa Trickett (Labour Cabinet member for bins):

Screenshot_20171124-141238

Trickett may hope the general public is as gullible as her local CLP (who just reselected her for 2018) but it was not lost on anybody that having wasted more than £6.6 million in taxpayers money the “new” proposals could hardly claim to have been “cost neutral”! The most vital thing to take from Cllr Trickett’s remarks is that this isn’t the keeping of the Grade 3 role – it is a new role. It is walking up the road with a ludicrous tablet in your hand, ticking boxes and making notes whilst trying to collect bins and not get run over.

The next step is for the bin men to discuss the proposals at tomorrow’s mass meeting. No doubt there will be questions over the following:

What happens to suspended trade union rep brother Rickett’s?

Brother Ricketts, trade union rep from Tyseley was suspended on spurious grounds at the start of the dispute, clearly in an attempt by bullying managers at that depot to undemrine the strike. Unite announced early on that his reinstatement was a red line. As it happened, Tyseley rose to the challenge of losing an experienced comrade and those who took over from brother Rickett’s represented the workers admirably. All bin men will want to know when he will be reinstated.

New WRCO job – how many extra days, how many extra hours?

The ludicrously titled Waste Reduction and Collection Officer, i.e., a bin man, is the attempt to mask over the failure of the Council to beat the bin men into submission, whilst trying to find another way of cobbling together the savings they insist they must make. No mention was made today in public of how much more work will be put onto the job, nor how many more days they will be expected to work, for the same pay. The compressed week is a target, and bin men will have even more work heaped upon them.

It is clear that having failed to take from the bin men their grade 3 wages the Council intends to take extra labour for free. Having undertook militant strike action that proved in practice the bin men can beat these Labour wretches, why should any worker accept that to retain their current pay they must accept a increase in their working day, epecially when they already undertake an incredibly taxing job?

Victory to the Birmingham bin men.

 

 

Today marks 100 years since the Bolshevik Revolution

Birmingham CPGB-ML today adds its voice to the millions of others who mark 100 years since the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia. Below we reproduce the speech by Joti Brar, editor of Proletarian who spoke at Saturday’s well attended meeting in London.

October MELS set

“Why do we celebrate October?

Why does this centenary matter so much to us?

Quite simply, it is because if humanity has any future at all, it is undoubtedly a communist future.

At this meeting, we are honouring the brave men and women workers, soldiers and peasants who fought in the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917.

We are honouring the members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), who organised the masses to make their struggle effective, and most of all, we honour the leadership of that party, led by the great Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, whose profound theoretical insights enabled the oppressed masses of the Russian empire to clearly understand their enemies.

It was Comrade Lenin who created the template for a revolutionary party, working out in the furnace of intense class struggle the essential elements of communist organisation that enabled workers to make their fight effective.

All parties that are serious about overthrowing capitalism and building socialism still follow Lenin’s organisational tenets today.

Lenin was a master of strategy and tactics. He solved many important questions, such as the peasant question and the national question, by clearly and precisely explaining their relationship to the socialist revolution.

He demonstrated the need for the proletariat to maximise its forces by galvanising as many allies for each phase of the struggle as possible, and showed how it was both possible and necessary to take on the various enemies of socialism one at a time rather than all together.

Unlike Trotsky and his modern-day followers, Lenin did not play at revolution; he was not at all interested in heroic failures.

Comrade Lenin understood that what was at stake was nothing less than the future of humanity, and he taught the working class how to think and act so it could win.

Correct theoretical understanding was what enabled the Bolsheviks to see their way clearly and navigate the turbulent waters of the class struggle.

It was the combination of correct theory with disciplined organisational practice that created an unstoppable force for change in the Russian empire a century ago.

This is the true legacy of Comrade Lenin, and it is one which continues to reverberate throughout the world.

Our party’s interest in October is not merely academic or historical; we are not professors, fans or armchair ‘experts’ on October, but modern-day revolutionaries.

Like the Bolsheviks, we aim to apply Marxist-Leninist science to present-day problems of organisation, strategy and tactics in order that we might help the British working class to gather the forces it needs to emancipate itself from capitalist slavery.

If we want to repeat the their achievements, we must work hard to learn everything we can from their experiences.

The October Revolution marked the beginning of the era in which imperialism will be replaced by socialism; it shaped our world and put the ruling class on notice that capitalism’s days are numbered.

Lenin summed up the first mighty step that Russian workers had taken on behalf of workers everywhere in 1918, when the revolution was barely half a year old:

“We are entitled to be proud and to consider ourselves fortunate that it has come to our lot to be the first to fell in one part of the globe that wild beast, capitalism, which has drenched the earth in blood, which has reduced humanity to starvation and demoralisation, and which will assuredly perish soon, no matter how monstrous and savage its frenzy in the face of death.”

The Russian workers did indeed have every right to be proud of their earth-shaking achievements.

Those pioneers, who had set themselves free from the shackles of capitalist exploitation and servitude, lit a flame that still burns, continuing to light the way for workers and oppressed peoples everywhere and proving that capitalism’s blood-stained history can finally be ended.

With the unstoppable combination of Bolshevik organisation and Marxist-Leninist theory, the workers and peasants of Russia and the Russian empire were able to unite to effective action that defeated first tsarism and feudalism, then Russian capitalist imperialism, and finally the combined forces of European imperialist intervention.

Their heroic feats did not stop there. Under the scientific leadership of the Bolsheviks, the masses in the new Soviet republic were mobilised not only to destroy the old, capitalist forces of production and state control, but also to build the world’s first socialist state and planned economy – geared to meeting the needs of the working masses.

The colossal achievements of the Soviet Union during the period of socialist construction will be well known to people in this hall.

Workers not only in the Soviet Union but all over the world have felt the ramifications of those achievements every day since October 1917.

The genie is well and truly out of the bottle.

Capitalism might linger on, but it is living on borrowed time.

After October 1917, the imperialists lost the moral high ground.

When Soviet policy proved in practice the falsehoods of colonial justifications for racism and national oppression (that colonised peoples were unfit to rule themselves) and for sexism (that women were physically and mentally incapable of doing ‘men’s work’), the popular sentiment turned against imperialism for good.

That modern-day imperialists are forced to pay lip-service to ‘equality’ and ‘human rights’; that their colonial wars have to be fought under such slogans as ‘anti-terrorism’ or ‘pro-democracy’ are a telling legacy of October.

No longer will workers accept the openly-expressed imperial ambitions of the nineteenth century.

No longer will oppressed peoples suffer their fate in silence, accepting the propaganda that their European overlords are somehow ordained by God to rule over them.

The imperialists may continue to fight wars for domination and plunder, but they have to hide their real motivations for doing so, and they are almost never successful in the end.

Where in the world, since October, is the people who will accept colonial rule? From Korea to Palestine, from Vietnam to Angola and Syria, the history of the last century is littered with evidence of the determined resistance of oppressed peoples to imperialism’s best-laid plans.

As fighters for socialism, the most important legacy that the October revolution has left for us is Leninism, which was profoundly defined by Josef Stalin as “Marxism of the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution.

“To be more exact, Leninism is the theory and tactics of the proletarian revolution in general, the theory and tactics of the dictatorship of the proletariat in particular.”

It is no accident, of course, that I have chosen to quote Comrade Stalin.

stalin_1941 red army parade speech

J V Stalin

Our opponents’ favourite slur to hurl against us is the dreaded label, Stalinist, although in reality, there is no such thing as ‘Stalinism’. Stalin himself was a Marxist-Leninist, albeit an outstanding one.

Still, we wear this supposed insult as a badge of honour, for Josef Vissarionovich Stalin – known during his lifetime in Britain as Uncle Joe – was nothing more or less than Lenin’s most faithful pupil and truest successor.

Comrade Stalin was a master implementer of Marxist-Leninist science, an expert dialectician and tactician, an untiring fighter for the socialist cause, and, while he lived, a wise and beloved teacher and leader not only to the Soviet peoples but to all the workers and oppressed of the world.

As head of the Bolshevik party and leader of the USSR, Comrade Stalin presided over some of humanity’s greatest achievements to date.

Stalin_,moscow volga canal

building the Volga damn

And the Soviet peoples’ successes in industry, in agriculture, in science, in public service provision, in culture and in every other field, finally proved in practice the correctness of Marxism’s projections about what the working classes would be capable of once the capitalist ruling class and anarchic capitalist production had been removed from the scene.

While workers in the capitalist countries were enduring the misery of the terrible economic crisis of the 1920s and 30s, Soviet workers were enjoying the fruits that came to them as a result of the abolition of class exploitation and the construction of a planned socialist economy: the elimination of hunger, poverty and homelessness; the liberation of women; the end of national oppression and of wars for plunder.

Millions upon millions of previously downtrodden and destitute workers were actively engaged in the creation of a new socialist culture, as their creative power was unleashed and they found themselves the masters and makers of a new world.

When we put aside all the nonsensical prejudices with which we have been indoctrinated and evaluate sensibly the role played by Comrade Stalin’s leadership, and by the Bolshevik party during Stalin’s time at the helm, it becomes clear that his role was pivotal to the Soviet Union’s successes.

And when we understand all this, it becomes clear just why it is that workers all over the capitalist world are taught to revile the name of Josef Stalin; why so many historians, journalists and academics are paid such good wages for making up obscene and ridiculous lies about him and about the Soviet Union he led.

While Stalin lived, the world socialist movement had an undisputed leader, whom the mass of the oppressed could look to for guidance and assistance. Our movement was united and achieved victory after victory, putting the fear of god into capitalists and imperialists everywhere, and letting them know that their days were most definitely numbered.

The Soviet Union won the second world war, which had been forced upon it by the rapacious imperialists, and completely smashed the allegedly invincible Nazi war machine.

As the Red Army forced the fascists back towards Berlin, it freed country after country from occupation, and cleared the way for the forces of popular resistance to form socialist governments across liberated eastern Europe.

Despite suffering horrendous material losses during the war and sacrificing 27 million of their citizens in the fight against fascism – the flower of that first proud generation of Soviet men and women – the Soviet people rebuilt their devastated towns and cities at a pace that exceeded the earlier drives to industrialisation and collectivisation.

Both before and after the war, the USSR gave unstinting support to national-liberation movements in the superexploited colonial and semi-colonial countries.

While Stalin lived, and while the Soviet Union was guided by such a leader, and by a party founded on Marxist-Leninist science, there was nothing the workers of the USSR could not achieve and no force on earth that could defeat them.

Workers everywhere had a motherland and the world revolution had a base from which it could take confidence and support.

No wonder the bourgeoisie hated Stalin then, and no wonder they hate him still.

No wonder his legacy leaves them incandescent with rage.

No wonder they are so desperate to inculcate revulsion at the very sound of his name amongst workers.

J V Stalin represents everything our rulers fear most: the death of their power and privilege; the end of their dominion over the people and resources of this earth.

He represents the bright future of humanity – and the certainty that there is no place for rich exploiters in that future.

Josef Stalin, more than any other individual, was and remains the capitalist class’s harbinger of doom.

That is why true Marxists continue to laud the leadership of both Lenin and Stalin, as well as the party they led, and to hold up the phenomenal achievements of the Soviet people as the inspiration for our own struggle.

Together, they have given us something that can never be taken away: they have shown us the strength of workers’ power and given us incontrovertible proof of our ability to do without rulers.

They have given us incontrovertible proof that socialism truly is the next step on mankind’s long progress from primitive to higher communism.

The USSR was living proof that all the apparently insoluble problems of our world – poverty, hunger, homelessness, disease, racism, war, inequality, impending ecological catastrophe and more – can in fact be solved by means of the simple application of technology, resources, manpower and planning, if only we are prepared to do what is necessary to free our world from the control of commodity production and everything that goes with it: the insanity of capitalist market forces and the unquenchable thirst of the capitalist ruling class for ever-greater profit.

The experience of those pioneers of socialist revolution and construction, summed up for us in the works of Comrades Lenin and Stalin, and in a plethora of Soviet textbooks, novels and eye-witness accounts, is a precious legacy that our party works hard to preserve and to bring to the attention of class-conscious workers, sure in the knowledge that an understanding of what they are capable of is key to raising the confidence of the British proletariat after decades of the decline and demoralisation of the working-class movement.

Today in Britain, the deepest-ever crisis of overproduction is creating splits and schisms amongst our rulers, as they argue over the best way to keep their failing system alive.

Should they be following policies of market protectionism or of unfettered free trade? Should austerity be intensified or somewhat ameliorated? (All, of course, agree that austerity is needed if British capitalism is to be saved.)

Is there really a need for all these wars, or could the same regime-change objectives be met using other means? (Again, the objectives themselves are not really in dispute.)

The constant infighting and mud-slinging between the representatives of the various bourgeois factions as they jostle for control is resulting in a chain of extremely educative exposures about the workings of the state machine: the workings of the judiciary, for example, or the activities of the secret services, or just the fact that the real running of the bourgeois state is carried on by unelected elites behind doors that are firmly closed to the working class.

In their haste to throw mud at one another, the capitalists are being unusually careless in what they let slip to the rest of us, and many topics that are usually passed over in silence by the capitalist media are now being openly discussed.

In such an atmosphere, workers cannot but start to lose their respect for the hitherto sanctified organs of bourgeois power, and no amount of forced teaching of ‘British democratic values’ in our schools will be able to reverse this trend.

Practice is teaching us the truth of Lenin’s observation: “Democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich – that is the democracy of capitalist society.”

The British working class today is demoralised and disunited. The communist forces in Britain are small and weak. That can and must be remedied.

In their own battle against apparently invincible capital, the weapon of choice of the Bolsheviks was Marxism Leninism – scientific socialism for this era of decaying imperialism and proletarian revolution.

Our job is to pick up this powerful weapon and learn to use it.

The work must be done to reinvigorate our movement and build a force that is capable of harnessing the collective power of the working class.

This work must be done by those who understand that it is needed, and the number of those who understand this must be constantly increased.

The socialist revolution is the first step workers must take if humanity is to have a chance of dedicating the necessary time and resources to solving such pressing problems as hunger, poverty, inequality and war, and of ameliorating the worst effects of climate change.

We communists understand that this is no game.

It is our firm intention to become a force fit for the crucial battles to come.

Comrades, let us work together, let us work like Bolsheviks, to bring proletarian dictatorship – the rule of the working class – to Britain.

Long live the October Revolution!                                     

The future belongs to communism!”

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Join us at Councillor Trickett’s surgery this Thursday 6pm (cpgb-ml)

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Local residents outside Lisa Trickett’s surgery in September

The Birmingham bin strike is far from over. The ballot of industrial action is valid from Monday, although bin men won’t be taking strike action as they are relying on the Union lawyers and officials to come to some sort of agreement with the Council else see the matter settled in their favour in the Courts.

Reliance on the bourgeois courts is the favoured tactic of most trade union negotiators these days when settlement through agencies like ACAS isn’t possible. Having seen the tangible value of an ACAS agreement in August, and the back-stabbing antics of the Labour Party, the CPGB-ML is of the opinion that the real strength of the workers lies in industrial action and political pressure exerted against the Labour party. Closing your eyes and wishing that your cheating, lieing, underhand partner is going to change their ways is wishful thinking. The reality of the trade union – Labour party “relationship” has tragic consequences for the workers who fail to ascertain that endless pleading with Labour to “see sense” gets you nowhere – bullies only understand strength and there’s no choice but to fight them.

Join CPGB-ML outside the surgery of Councillor Trickett

Thursday 12th October 6.00 – 7.00pm

Moseley Exchange, Moseley Community Development Trust, The Post Office Building, 149 – 153 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 8JP

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Demand a vote on any deal & target Labour party councillors

The coming days and weeks in the Birmingham bin strike will be crucial for the bin men. Tonight (Tuesday 19 September), the Party Committee of Birmingham CPGB-ML discussed the likely outcome of the High Court ruling in London and the success of both last Thursday’s Trickett picket and the Sunday rally.

High Court

Firstly we fully expect the High Court to cobble together a decision that will enable both Unite and the Council to claim some sort of victory. As with the fiasco of the ACAS deal, it is only right and proper that the workers vote on whether to accept such a deal and return to work. The decision cannot be made on their behalf by officials and stewards alone. Furthermore, any deal that delays the demands of the workers should be challenged until the Grade 3s are given a cast iron guarantee that their job is protected.

It is the job of social democracy to ensure that the anger of the mistreated working classes is dissipated. They do this by announcing public inquiries and commissions as in Grenfell and in the case of industrial disputes, they use ACAS and the Courts to get men back to work on promises alone. This has happened once before in this dispute. If the men are offered a promise, or if the men are offered a temporary concession or deal, perhaps even a pause in hostilities, they must push on for total victory. Don’t clean the streets up only to have to come out again! Each delay only gives the Council more time to prepare their attack and undermine the strike.

Labour

Secondly our Party believes a campaign targeting Labour councillors and members at Ward meetings and constituency party meetings will pressure the local Labour Party to think again and encourage the welcome process already begun of internal Labour party back-stabbing whereby Momentum and others are emboldened to attack and remove incumbent councillors. Dissention in the enemy’s ranks is to be welcomed. Our party notes with amusement the beginnings of the great purge in local CLP’s and offers the following advice to the butchers,

“Today you amputate one limb, tomorrow another, the day after tomorrow a third – what will we have left in the Party” (J V Stalin 1924).
Victory to the bin workers!

Five myths about Manzie and Labour

Myth 1 – Manzie uses magic powers to make all the poor Labour councillors do her bidding, including poor old John Clancy

Truth – Manzie was appointed by the Labour party. Clancy and the rest, including the Tories love her. Her views coincide with theirs. All their views are the same because they are all capitalists, none of them are socialists. In fact, Manzie was appointed precisely because she is such a wretched slave to the interests of capitalism.

Myth 2 – Manzie gets £180,000pa

Truth – she does, it was a salary agreed by her bosses in the Labour Party when they appointed her. They also take neat little sums as Councillors.

Myth 3 – Manzie is a Tory

Truth – who knows and who cares? Labour or Tory its the same old story. She was appointed by Labour with Tory support, her salary was agreed by the Labour Cabinet, and presumably her politics and reputation preceeded her, thats why they appointed her and not a bin man. So – they knew she was a disgrace and they appointed her for that very reason, they haven’t been tricked or bullied!

Myth 4 – “if it sounds like a Tory, talks like a Tory and is a Labour party member, it’s a Tory” video here

Truth – nope, it’s a Labour party member. Let’s stop making excuses for Labour class traitors by calling them Tories. They’re Labour, the same party which didn’t overturn any anti-union legislation between 1997-2010, gased 4 million Korean workers whilst it bribed British workers with the NHS in 1948 (which it then began privatising in 1998!), betrayed the Miners Strike in 1984 and abandoned the fig leaf of Clause 4 & common ownership in 1995. The list could go on….

Myth 5 – the Labour party is a socialist organisation

Truth – The Labour party doesn’t set itself the goal of socialism. The Labour party aims to manage capitalism, to put a nice face on it. When workers make a fuss, all the top brass start going on about socialism again. The mention of socialism in Clause 4 of the Labour party constitution was put in by Tony Blair in the 90’s. Tony had total power to do what the hell he wanted for ten years, we didn’t advance one inch towards socialism, but Tony did manage to murder a few million and make himself a few more million from all the slaughter.

We need to strive for socialism, and for that, we need a Communist Party. The CPGB-ML is that party.