Archive for the ‘Welfare rights’ Category









(Jacinda illustrations from John Moore facebook page)

Jacinda – Labour’s most pleasant leader

Jacinda redefines fairness

Jacinda’s aspirational fluff

Jacinda’s plan of hitting workers with more indirect tax

Jacinda’s party and bourgeois respectability

and for our wider collection of articles on Labour see: Redline on the Labour Party


by Susanne Kemp

The Metiria Turei case certainly brought a lot of mean-spirited people with double standards out of the woodwork.  People who vigorously defended John Key’s electoral fraud and Bill English’s rorting of the public purse for the polticians’ equivalent of accommodation supplement mounted their moral high horse to condemn Metiria Turei.

Unfortunately, people with these kinds of double standards have the power to inflict them on (more…)

by Don Franks (Rewrite of Blind Alfred Reed song)

There was never a time when everything was cheap
But these days the cost of living is so steep
If you’re stuck on a benefit
You just know that you’ll be hit
Tell me – how can the poor folks stand such times and live?

Meritia used her platform for the poor
Like Oliver Twist, please sir, we want some more
The bourgeoisie wouldn’t let that ride
She was duly crucified
Tell me – how can the poor folks stand such times and live?

Not so long ago , Labour was little lead
Now everywhere you look is blazing red
Well, you can believe the dazzling spin
Just remember what class you’re in
Tell me – how can the poor folks stand such times and live?

Now in a few more days, we all get to vote
They say that means we’re all in the same boat
parliaments for the smug well dressed
Its not there for the dispossessed
Tell me – how can the poor folks stand such times and live?


Cartoon: Tom Scott/DominionPost

by Phil Duncan

Late this afternoon Green MP and party co-leader Metiria Turei announced that she was stepping down from the co-leader post and would be resigning as an MP as of the end of the current parliamentary term in a few weeks.

She said that the media intrusion and, in effect, harassment of whanau members had become too much and, in order to protect them from further media harassment, she was resigning.  She also said that the Greens’ campaign against poverty was being undermined by the focus on her and so she was taking herself out of the equation.

Middle class loathing of the poor

Turei has been the victim of a sustained campaign of what is essentially class loathing on the part of chunks of the middle class towards the poorest sections of the working class, especially the brown working class poor.  There has been a sustained campaign in the media, engineered by middle class pundits and commentators, people who predominantly would see themselves as “liberals”.

And Turei’s great sin?  At the (more…)

Below is the text of a talk delivered by Dani in Dunedin on Friday, July 21.

by Dani Sanmugathasan

Good evening! My name is Dani Sanmugathasan, and I am a member of the British Marxist and Leninist organisation called the Revolutionary Communist Group. The following talk will be on the topic of ‘Corbynmania’ – the opportunist phenomenon that’s swept through the labour movements in core economies over the last two years – and a good place to start is at the events in London earlier this month.


“Oh, Je-re-my Cor-byn!” rang out the chants of many on the streets of London on the 1st of July at the People’s Assembly’s ‘Tories Out’ march. The People’s Assembly, Momentum, Radical Housing Network, the Socialist Workers Party, the Stop the War Coalition, the Socialist Party, and the large trade unions (PCS, RMT, CWU, Unison, Len McCluskey’s Unite the Union…) were all rallying round the Labour Party leader, the holy Son of Attlee, the man who would save Britain from the iron grip of Tory austerity.

But beside these organisations, a distinct second current of marchers – composed of such organisations as Class War, the Focus E15 Mothers, Lesbians & Gays Support the Migrants, Architects for Social Housing, Movement For Justice, the Revolutionary Communist Group, and trade unions like the IWGB – led a different chant: “Labour, Tory, same old story!” These groups made (more…)

51oeo6tryl-_sx329_bo1204203200_The Imperialism study group has been discussing John Smith’s Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation, and Capitalism’s Final Crisis. We have been fortunate to have the author join the group and lead the discussion. Below are two email discussions on the labour aristocracy from John Smith and Walter Daum.

John Smith on labour aristocracy

Guglielmo Carchedi, Behind the Crisis (2012), p262:

“Some authors see a contraposition between the notion of labour-aristocracy as an internal segmentation within the imperialist countries (for example, unionised versus non-unionised workers, as stressed by Engels) and a different notion stressing, as in Lenin, that in a way all workers in the imperialist countries benefit from the appropriation of international value. But there is no contraposition between the two theses, once it is realised that it is not those firms that appropriate international surplus-value that pay higher wages than other firms. They simply realise higher profits. Rather, the policy of higher wages is pursued by the states in the imperialist countries which appropriate (part of) that international surplus-value from those firms (for example, through taxation) and pursue pro-labour economic policies, as for example more favourable labour- (and wage-) legislation or infrastructures. Thus, it is the whole of the working class in the imperialist countries that profits from the appropriation of international surplus-value and not only privileged and relatively small sections of it. At the same time, it is also true that labour in the imperialist countries profits in various degrees from the appropriation of international surplus-value according to each imperialist country’s class-segmentation and differently in various phases of the cycle.”

This contains some very interesting insights. Among the many discussion points here, the most important concerns the role of the state. In defending my book against the arguments of Sartesian and others, I pointed out that, despite the anti-labour offensive and attempts to roll back the state characteristic of the neoliberal era, despite the austerity regimes since the 2008 that have attempted to intensify these attacks, and despite the big holes made in the welfare state and the impoverishment and destitution of a minority, so far, of workers in the imperialist countries, Government spending on health, education & transfer payments (pensions, unemployment pay etc) rose from around 25% in 1980 to 35% in 2010 in the UK, in the US by the same degree from a lower base, while in France it has increased from 35% to 45%. Similar increases are to be observed in all other imperialist countries; data for oppressed nations is far more patchy but indicates that social expenditure consumes a much smaller fraction of a much smaller GDP. As Tony Norfield argued in The China Price and as I argued in my book, much of this social expenditure is paid for by surplus-value extracted from super-exploited Bangladeshi etc workers and appropriated by imperialist states through various types of taxes.


Bangladeshi garment workers demonstrate at the site of the Rana Plaza garment factory building collapse

At a well-attended book launch last week in Nottingham (more than 50 people attended), when I mentioned this and said that, when we hear people argue “why should we let immigrants use our health service or send their kids to ‘our’ schools,” the correct and true response should be “because they have already paid for it,” and pointed out that this is not what any section of the British left says, from Corbyn to the so-called revolutionaries – I noticed many heads in the audience nodding their agreement. (more…)


Demonstrators hold banners as they protest against the Government’s austerity measures applied due to the Spanish economic crisis that began in 2008, at Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, on May 28, 2016. (AFP)

The article below is appearing simultaneously here and on Tony Norfield’s Economics of Imperialism site.

by Susil Gupta 

It seems that the class struggle, or at least the fear of it, is indeed the motive force of history. The EU has announced that it will not, after all, impose a hefty Є2.2 billion fine on Spain for repeatedly missing its budget reduction targets, as it had been threatening to do for months. EU hard-liners, particularly the Germans, were until recently demanding a Є5 billion fine. Spain has now been given another two years to get its finances in order.

EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, who made the announcement, explained that the Spanish people had already made sacrifices and it was not appropriate to demand more of them, particularly at a time when there is a question mark over the entire European project. Why has Spain been shown such largesse, when the Greeks were not? The Greek people also made sacrifices, larger than those imposed on Spain.

More significant still is that, according to German press reports, it appears that the change in policy was promoted by none other than German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, the hard-line archduke of fiscal probity and sticking to the rules. The German business paper Handelsblatt reports that following a long discussion with French, Italian and Spanish ministers at the recent G-20 summit in Beijing, Schäuble himself phoned the EU Commission pressing for a policy change in favour of more carrot and less stick. The Spanish argued that a fine would undermine Spain’s Christian democrats and would only benefit the ‘populist’ Podemos.

The EU’s problem is that the three areas in which it wants to see some major traction – labour market flexibility, pensions, and social spending – are all very politically sensitive and disruptive. This limits how far it can push austerity. Spanish economy minister Luis de Guindos has been bragging openly for weeks that the EU would not impose a fine, which was rather undiplomatic.

Greece, with only 2% of the EU’s population and of little economic importance, can be pushed around. Spain, the EU’s fifth-largest economy, is a different matter.  Despite being wrongly dubbed a ruthless neoliberal by the Left, prime minister Rajoy has been resisting on all three fronts.  Sledge-hammer austerity can only knock Spain’s social and constitutional order to pieces and push the popular classes into the arms of Podemos and possibly beyond.


Spain has around 30 different forms of (more…)