MARY DAVIS explains the historic significance of Sylvia Pankhurst and the East London Federation of Suffragettes
This year we celebrate the centenary of the Representation of the People Act when women over 30 with a small property qualification were enfranchised, even though the 1918 Act gave all men over 21 the vote.
For some reason there appears to be a greater preference to mark the 1918 anniversary than 1928 when, at last, all women over 21 were enfranchised.
We need to re-examine suffrage history.
We are accustomed to thinking that the historic demand for “votes for women” meant votes for all women. At the time it was formulated in the late 1860s, the demand was that women should obtain the vote “on the same terms as that agreed or may be accorded to men.”
However, the 1884 Reform Act only enfranchised 40 per cent of adult males. Thus, this formula excluded most women, despite the fact that all the suffrage societies including the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) adopted it.
Rob Griffith Communist Party General Secretary's eulogy at the funeral of Derek Robinson in Stourbridge, West Midlands, on Wednesday (November 22):
What drove workers in their hundreds and thousands - many with family and financial responsibilities - to down tools and leave their benches, desks and assembly lines? Not once, but 523 times, at least according to the BBC ...
Not the power of one man, not even if that man was Derek Robinson, labelled 'Red Robbo' by the hostile mass media - a badge, incidentally, that he wore with pride. No, it was the deep human desire for dignity, respect, recognition and reward, in the face of what Karl Marx called the 'alien and dominating force' of the machine.
Derek Robinson led those workers because he had earned their loyalty. He had inspired them to fight for decent pay and working conditions. And when he was sacked for putting forward an alternative to a misnamed 'Rescue Plan' that would sink another 25,000 jobs at British Leyland, 30,000 car workers walked out or barricaded themselves inside the factories.
That's not mentioned in Derek's obituary on the BBC website.
But we know it happened. It was even reported in a secret telegram sent by the US embassy in London to the Department of State in Washington DC on November 23, 1979. Of course, the Americans knew all about the collusion between BL management, right-wing trade union leaders, the Thatcher government and the Security Service, MI5, to sack Derek Robinson, to undermine the mass resistance and so send a message to shop stewards across Britain: 'If we can get rid of "Red Robbo", we can get rid of you'.
One US embassy telegram refers to Derek as a 'shrewd, calculating, determined tactician'. (I think it's important to place on record the US embassy's tribute to Derek Robinson as well).Those were indeed some of the qualities with which he served the working class.
But we know that he was much more than that.
For thousands of his fellow workers, comrades, friends and family members, he was a warm, considerate, courageous and inspirational man. His was no vain or wasted life.
Charles Woolfson, Professor of Labour Studies in Sweden, looks carefully at Brexit and the EU with key facts and figures. Rightwing and liberal narratives have sought to dominate public debate for their own ends, so here is a clear socialist analysis, showing the reality facing many ordinary workers.
Recorded at a packed Communist Party public meeting 7th November 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland
ROBERT GRIFFITHS reviews the recent international meeting of communist and workers’ parties in Russia.
Since 1999, communist and workers’ parties from across the world have met every year to exchange news and views, hold bilateral discussions with one another and endorse statements setting out common positions on particular issues.
A working group meets in between meetings to prepare the agenda and issue the appeals and declarations agreed by all present at the event. It also recommends acceptance or rejection of applications by more parties every year to join the proceedings.
The host party is responsible for providing all necessary facilities for the hundreds of representatives who arrive from all corners of the world — some of them in defiance of their illegal status at home, where communist parties are persecuted and banned.
Past venues for the annual gathering have included Athens, New Delhi, Lisbon, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Sao Paulo, Minsk and Beirut.
On November 2-3 this year, fittingly enough, representatives from 103 parties in 78 countries converged on Leningrad (now known by its pre-1914 name of St Petersburg), which as the Russian capital Petrograd was the epicentre of the 1917 Socialist Revolution.
Ahead of the Communist Party's Scottish Conference next week TOM MORRISON writes on the challenges ahead. SCOTTISH Communists prepare for their congress next week in good heart with the party’s cadre force growing in numbers and experience.
Our party in Scotland, along with an active and expanding Young Communist League, has sought to keep the focus of the labour movement on class politics during a difficult and challenging period.
The siren voices of those who call for “partnership working,” for classless nationalism and for securing a benevolent EU protector have diverted energies at a time when our movement most needs strength and unity to stop the pillage of our country.
Mergers, rationalisation and a big business investment strike have left Scotland’s economy more vulnerable than at any time since the 1930s.
For Communists the national question is not about “identity” but what class owns and controls a nation’s resources and how these can be liberated for the benefit of its people.
ROBERT GRIFFITHS IN RUSSIA - Communist Party general secretary speech to the international meeting in St Petersburg (Leningrad), 2 November 2017.
When we Communists urge people to overthrow capitalism because it is unfair, unstable, wasteful, belligerent, exploitative and oppressive, many agree with us that capitalism is indeed most—if not all—of these things.
But what do we propose to put in its place?
Before the Great October Socialist Revolution, we could only offer people a set of values—liberty, equality, cooperation, comradeship, freedom—and the hope that a new type of society could be created in which these would be the ruling values.
Marx did not provide any model for the future communist society, although he pointed to the Paris Commune as an example of how power can be exercised by the mass of people through a system of direct democracy.
But he was reluctant to provide a blueprint because, as the very first rule of the International Working Men's Association put it, the emancipation of the working classes must be achieved by the working classes themselves'.
After 1917, Communists could point to the achievements of the Soviet Union in the teeth of civil war, imperialist intervention, sabotage and fascist invasion. It transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of workers and their families for the better. It played the leading role in rescuing Europe from Nazi-fascist barbarism. It proclaimed the equality of women, all races and nationalities and assisted the struggle for peace, progress, socialism and national liberation across the world.
Yet there were weaknesses, failures and severe violations of socialist democracy that eroded popular support for the Soviet Union, outside and within.
This does not mean that Communists should cease defending and promoting all that was liberating and transformational about the October Revolution and its outcome.
But how can we inspire workers and the mass of people today with the ideals of socialism and communism?
How the Russian Revolution Influenced the Left in Britain & Scotland
with Professor John Foster
This video lays out how the Left across Britain (and Scotland) organised together in the time when the Russian Revolution rocked the world. This led ultimately to the formation of the Communist Party in Britain, a Party which brought together working class activists armed with experiences of struggle which were fully expressed by the emerging Marxism-Leninism in theory and practice.
The Russian Revolution, which began with the downfall of the tsar in February and climaxed with the overthrow of the Provisional Government in October, is a historic event that cannot be confined to the past. Reverberations from October 1917, a political earthquake that gave rise to the world’s first socialist state, are still felt around the globe today.
Recorded as part of the 2017 Novemeber Scottish Labour History Society Conference on the Centenary of the Russian Revolution, which Prof Foster couldn't attend in person as he was in attendence at the national official Russian Revolution Centenary commemoration in London, looking after international comrades from across the world as part of his role as the International Secretary of the British Communist Party .
William Steele reviews In Place of Austerity: A Programme for the People (The People’s Assembly)
Click the cover to get a free download of this new essential pamphlet!
“It is essential that we, together with the trade unions, continue to build the mass movement further to force the Tories out of office, and to help elect and sustain a future anti-austerity progressive government — which, of course, would be under fierce attack by the bankers, big business monopoly corporations and their pet politicians and media. This is the clear aim of the People’s Assembly.”
In its strongest-ever policy statement and plan of action, the recently published pamphlet, In Place of Austerity: A Programme for the People, the People’s Assembly reasserts its position right at the front of the very widespread view that the Tories are not fit to continue in office, and the fast-growing awareness that our movement — the People’s Assembly and our trade unions — needs to go beyond protest to organising to bring them down.
Tracing the origins of austerity to the policies of government following the 2008 financial and economic crisis, which ministers claimed to be aimed at “deficit reduction,” the policy statement says: “Many people now say that austerity policies have failed — and indeed deficit targets are routinely ‘missed,’ and there has been no debt reduction … in fact it has steadily grown from under 40 per cent of GDP in 2008 to just under 90 per cent in 2017.
“But the real aim of austerity was to stabilise the post-crisis economy in favour of the bankers and big business billionaires, raising the rate of profit at the expense of the working class. In that they have succeeded, and will continue to do so, if we let them.”
The opening section of the pamphlet pulls together very useful evidence and statistics
The opening section of the pamphlet pulls together very useful evidence and statistics — from pay and pensions to jobs and working conditions, from privatisation of services to community infrastructure, from benefit cuts to taxation policy, from NHS and state education to the growth of bogus or enforced “self-employment,” from the wealth gap and poverty to housing and transport, and much more.