Tuesday, 30 September 2008

US Bail Out Failure Demands Decisive Action From Gordon Brown

Labour MP John McDonnell, chair of the Left Economic Advisory Panel, has called for decisive action from Gordon Brown in face of failure of US bail out plan.

John said:

"After Bradford and Bingley and the failure of the US bail out plan we are facing further collapses and a long and deep recession. Simply addressing this crisis in Britain on a case by case basis means that the economy is staggering from one crisis to another into recession.

"The root cause of this crisis is the Government's policy of allowing the housing market for over a decade to be used for profiteering speculation rather than to provide homes. The resultant crisis of confidence in the financial institutions has created a self-fulfilling crisis of liquidity.

"Gordon Brown must take decisive action before it is too late. I am calling upon him to bring the home loans industry under pubic ownership and control and override the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee to cut interest rates decisively."

Monday, 29 September 2008

Debate on workers' control

Last night, I spoke at a discussion forum organised by the Commune entitled 'The Debates on Workers' Control'. The debate is part of a series of discussion forums on class struggles in the 1970s.

The debate was wide-ranging, considering different models of worker's control - from participation on boards to co-operative control under nationalisation, the role and limitations of trade unions, and the old chestnut of reformism vs. revolution. Around 20 people attended the debate.

You can download a copy of the presentation I gave, and please give any feedback in the comments section. It is a much extended version of the preface to the new LEAP pamphlet, Building the new Common Sense - social ownership for the 21st century.

You can buy Building the new common sense online for just £3 or by sending a cheque payable to 'Another World is Possible' to LEAP, PO Box 2378, London, E5 9QU.

John McDonnell on the latest crisis

Labour MP, John McDonnell has warned Gordon Brown against any plans to follow the US model of bailing out the bad debts of British banks and financial institutions.

This comes as the Treasury has announced the nationalisation of the debts of Bradford & Bingley, while Santander is rumoured to be taking over the savings and branches side of the failed bank.

John McDonnell said:

"People will be extremely angry if Gordon Brown tries to use taxpayers' money to implement a US style bail out of the bad debts of Britain's financial institutions. Every year we have witnessed obscene levels of bonuses doled out in the City.

"Ordinary people struggling with housing, food and fuel costs should not be forced to pay for the profligacy of these city speculators. Allowing the City to pass on its poor investments to the taxpayer whilst retaining the cream of the crop is simply not acceptable. Nationalisation of all the assets of an institution is the only fair way of balancing the risks to taxpayers.

"Given the current liquidity trap the Prime Minister needs to introduce an immediate and significant cut in rates if we are to avoid further institutional collapses."

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Another review of Building the new common sense

The Commune has done a detailed review of the new LEAP pamphlet Building the new common sense. The Commune states "we fight for a new self-managed society based on collective ownership of the means of production and distribution and an economy organised not for value production but for the well-being of humanity and in harmony with our natural environment" - so who better to review our pamphlet?

You can get a copy of Building the new common sense - social ownership for the 21st century for just £3 - online at the LRC website or by sending a cheque payable to 'Another World is Possible' to LEAP, PO Box 2378, London, E5 9QU.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

LEAP @ the Convention of the Left

LEAP held a session at the Convention of the Left on Monday lunchtime 'The Economic Crisis - how we got there and how to get out' . . . or at least we were due to.

We had a room that seated about 60 allocated to us, but by the start time there were already people standing and more trying to get in . . . meanwhile in the main hall, a meeting on globalisation was questioning why the two meetings could not merge as neither topic could be discussed without reference to the other.

After some swift negotiations, shuffling of papers, scraping of chairs and about 10 minutes, we were all sat in the main hall - about 150 of us to discuss globalisation and the economic crisis. There were contributions from a number of LEAP regulars: Prem Sikka, Gerry Gold, Rosamund Stock and Graham Turner who had articles published in both the Morning Star and the Guardian that day! I also said a few words about why LEAP was setup, what it is and what it is trying to do.

Raphie de Santos from the SSP also spoke from the (informal) platform, as did John Hilary of War on Want - from the session on globalisation. Like the LEAP speakers they explained the complexities of the economic system that had led to the current economic crisis, how that crisis would develop and what the effects have been and might be in the future. The contributions from around the packed hall proved that there is a real appetite to discuss economics at the moment.

The meeting was also attended by Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Kelvin Hopkins, John McDonnell and Austin Mitchell. Former MP Alice Mahon also attended and spoke about the corruption of former Ministers taking up lucrative positions with companies to which they had awarded contracts while in office.

The debate went on for over three hours, time which despite my burgeoning cold actually seemed to fly past - as the level of debate was so high, with a range of perspectives and prescriptions being aired. Both the Convention of the Left and LEAP will be taking forward some of the ideas raised in the debate.

If you were there, what do you think should be a campaign to come out of that meeting? And even if you weren't what areas do you think LEAP should focus on in the coming months?

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Graham Turner @ Bookmarks tonight

Graham Turner will be discussing his new book 'The Credit Crunch' at Bookmarks bookshop in Bloomsbury Street, London.

The current financial crisis has shaken globalisation and challenged the free market economic model. This book shows that the housing bubbles in the West were deliberately created to mask the damage inflicted by companies shifting production abroad in an attempt to boost profits.

Bookmarks Bookshop, 1 Bloomsbury Street, WC1B 3QE

All these events are free with refreshment provided however we do ask that if you’re coming you reserve a place in advance if possible.

To book or for more info call 020 7637 1848, email enquiries@bookmarks.uk.com or see http://www.bookmarks.uk.com/

Read Graham Turner's article from Monday's Guardian.

Friday, 19 September 2008

It’s common sense! - Review of the new LEAP pamphlet

  • Review by Mary Partington, which first appeared in the October issue of Labour Briefing.
New Labour's unprecedented assault on the public sector through privatisation and PFIs combined with their refusal to repeal the anti-trade union laws has set back the debate around social ownership years.

UK industries, workplaces and public infilstructure have become more and more unaccountable. The recent collapse of Northern Rock and the Metronet consortium on the London Underground show that the Government was only willing to spend public finance industries or services in order to bail out ventures that have not succeeded within the market. The public took on the risk involved in these projects without any democratisation of either structure. In the meantime the shareholders of Northern Rock and Metronet have, over the years, pocketed huge profits. Nevertheless, these examples – as LEAP Editor Andrew Fisher points out – obliterate the Government's own rhetoric that the market is always more efficient and therefore better.

Building the New Common Sense - Social Ownership for the 21st Century is a useful contribution to reigniting the discussion about the state and the role of workers in exercising control over their workplaces and society. From Gregor Gall's essay on the importance of workplace democracy to RMT General Secretary Bob Crow's piece on the public ownership of the railways, the pamphlet provides a space for alternative arguments about how democratic public ownership is more efficient in providing the needs of society. Rosamund Stock's essay is particularly valuable. She argues that the key component of public ownership is the collective culture of democracy. It is not enough to talk simply of nationalisation or co-operatives, we have to have industries and services that are fully democratically accountable.

As with other LEAP projects, this pamphlet doesn't claim to hold the definitive answer to one clear question. It is an inclusive and discursive contribution to promote rational and informed analysis of how society is run, in whose interest and how it could be run better. These are exactly the sort of intelligent discussions we need to foster.

  • To obtain this 28 page pamphlet, send a cheque for £3, payable to Another World is Possible, to LEAP, PO Box 2378, London E5 9QU or order online from the LRC website.

Monday, 15 September 2008

The Economic Crisis

First of all a plug for another great article on Comment is Free by Prem Sikka, the standfirst for which is "Financial institutions have long devised ways of avoiding tax. Now they're relying on taxpayers to bail them out". Succinctly put.

Prem will be speaking at the LEAP fringe at the Convention of the Left/Labour Party conference - alongside Graham Turner, Raphie de Santos and John McDonnell MP.

The fringe meeting takes place on Monday 22nd September from 12:30pm-2:30pm, at Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester and will be discussing the Economic Crisis - how we got there and how to get out. I hope to see you there. You can download the flyer here

Friday, 5 September 2008

Beyond the conference

The "Beyond the Market Economy" conference in May was a great success. The workshops however were so good that many people wanted to go to all of them. In response to this we are prepared to organise workshops one each topic:
1) Securing housing for all;
2) Ending corporate power: 21st Century models of social ownership;
3) Drowning in Debt: Transforming the financial system;
4) Defending pay, pensions and jobs in a global market economy.

At preset the plan is to hold half day workshops at the London School of Economics on Saturdays between now and mid-November. If you are interested please contact: Rosamund Stock r.e.stock@lse.ac.uk.

Let us know which sessions you are interested in and which dates you could make.

Gerry Gold, who led the second workshop, has said he would be happy to lead another session, and in view of LEAP's recent publication on Social or Common Ownership this would be a good start.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

New LEAP pamphlet out now!

This pamphlet is published at a time when the economy is faltering, and there is an urgent need to reconsider the role for workers in exercising control over their workplaces and their employers. With the recent collapse of Northern Rock and the Metronet consortium on the London Underground, the role of the state and public ownership has also been reignited.

Contributions in this pamphlet include: Gregor Gall looks at industrial democracy, RMT General Secretary Bob Crow considers the model of public ownership best suited to the railways, while CWU Executive members Maria Exall and Gary Heather argue the case for taking the telecommunications industry back into state control. Rosamund Stock argues that we need to create a culture of social ownership, while Jerry Jones considers what an economy based on social ownership would look like, and Gerry Gold considers how we might get there.

The conclusion by John McDonnell MP argues for a debate about how a campaign for social ownership can be fought.

You can order a copy of this 28 page pamphlet for just £3 (inc. p&p) online at http://www.l-r-c.org.uk/payments/default.asp#LEAP, or send a cheque for £3, payable to 'Another World is Possible' to: LEAP, PO Box 2378, London, E5 9QU.