Monday, 19 November 2012

Goodbye Blog

The more observant of you will have noticed that this blog has pretty much stopped being updated. That's because I have been ridiculously busy doing other things in other corners of the internet. I'm pretty much solely responsible for the South West Communist Party website, and I've been trying my hardest to launch a larger more wide-ranging left wing blog for the South West - The Broadside (which anyone can contribute too)

So rather than looking at this blog, check out and read and contribute to

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


We know what’s at stake and how great the foe’s power,
And what is now coming to pass.
The hour of courage has struck on the clock
And our courage will hold to the last.
The bullets can kill us, but cannot deter;
Though our houses will fall, we shall remain.

Anna Akhmatova, 1942

13 September, 06.45, 1942 the Nazi onslaught on Stalingrad commenced with a bloody vengeance. The sky turned brown from the dust of fragmented buildings, the ground vibrated because of the power of the explosions. The Fascist army's advance continued but faced the most ferocious resistance imaginable. The horror of fighting the Soviet troops on their favoured terrain, the approaching Russian winter, fast became a reality for Hitler's Generals. While German tanks entered the outskirts of Stalingrad the Soviets dug in preparing to fight for every district, every street, every house.

Almost six months later , 2 February 1943 and the defeat of the Nazi forces which had sought to encircle and destroy Stalingrad was complete. Out of each Red Army division sent to defend the city no more than a few hundred soldiers survived, 1.1 million casualties, of which 485,751 lost their lives.

For Hitler the defeat at Stalingrad was the beginning of the end. The story of the Red Army's sacrifice had a powerful effect across the world, especially on resistance movements in occupied Europe. The Russians who had taken the brunt of the German onslaught since 1941 were now turning the tide and a year later would be joined by the Allied forces opening up the second front with the D-Day landings landings at Normandy.

Philosophy Football's 1942-2012 Stalingrad range marks the battle's 70th Anniversary. Inspired by Anna Akhmatova's poem the designs are based on a medal, a fuselage, a propaganda poster, a book title from the time and the slogan with which the Russian people greeted their eventual victory. " Nobody is forgotten. Nothing is forgotten!"

Stalingrad Anniversary Shirts available from

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Stalin and why much of the left needs to grow up

It seems to me that the various “socialist” parties spend more time talking about Stalin than anyone else.

I've never written about Stalin or “Stalinism” before – I've never seen the point. Why would I? His “terrors” happened eighty-odd years ago and the man himself died over half a century ago. But despite that, you'll find people on the left casually throwing around the phrase “Stalinist” at just about anyone they disagree with.

It's a strange thing. Members of the public you talk to rarely bring up Stalin, and if they do they'll raise perfectly justified concerns. There's nothing wrong with that, I tend to agree with them. The public at large certainly don't think of “Stalinism” as an ideology, or as something anyone is advocating we should try and build in this country.

But much of the left seem utterly obsessed by the man. The “anti-Stalinists”, the various “socialist” parties, spend more time talking about Stalin than anyone else. These are, generally, the same parties who say things like “the USSR wasn't really communist”. The Soviet Union may not have been a communist utopia, but it was a damn site better than what replaced it (you only need to look at average life expectancy to see the effects).

These same parties are quite happy to call themselves Marxist, but never communist. They generally call themselves “Trotskyist” but not necessarily from any in-depth following of his work. To me it seems these parties are so scared, obsessed and paranoid about the past that they are desperate to distance themselves from the word communist. That way, rather than having to analyse anything that went on in the USSR eighty years ago, they can just say “oh no not us, that's the other lot, we don't even think the Soviet Union was communist”.

And what do they even mean by “Stalinist”? I simply can't work it out. You should try it. Next time someone calls you a Stalinist, challenge them. Ask them what they mean by it, then ask them for any evidence whatsoever that you are a supporter of Stalin. Do they think that communists want to set up gulags? Do they think we want secret police? Show trials? That we go home at night and read Stalin's writings underneath a portrait of him that hangs on our living room walls?

Perhaps the greatest irony of all that many of these people who accuse the Communist Party, its members and even the Morning Star of being “Stalinist”, also call the People's Charter “reformist”. The Communist Party is a leading force behind the People's Charter and champions its six points as an alternative economic strategy that would lay the grounds for building socialism in this country. So in the same breath the Communist Party is some hard-line, bureaucratic, authoritarian dictatorship, and also a reformist, apologist, pro-capitalist, anti-revolutionary party that panders to the “trade union bureaucracy” and Labour Party.

So in short, the left needs to grow up. The only people who give a toss about Stalin are the people who are scared of being called Stalinist themselves. The Communist Party has moved on, everyone else should too.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

North South Divide?

Last week I ended up in a discussion with a comrade from "up north" or, if I'm honest, had some truly bizarre views on the "south".

His first statement was a massive generalisation, "the Tories only win general elections because people in the south vote for them". Really?

Secondly he insisted, with some force, "it's a fact, absolutely indisputable, that the cuts are affecting the north more than the south, because the Tories want to punish the north". As if all of us in the south are practising some sort of internal colonialism.

His third preposterous claim was that "the cuts in the north are driving people into poverty, in the south they are only cutting cultural funds".

I may not be quoting exactly word for word, but you get the idea.

I didn't know where to start, I was well and truly shocked that someone who claims to be a communist could fall for the old divide and rule lies perpetuated by the Tories themselves. That's why it's taken me a week to get round to writing this blog, even now I still can't quite believe what was coming out of his mouth.

So here goes:

  • Over 4000 people in Plymouth relied on a single food-bank in Plymouth last year.
  • Cornwall still receives EU Convergence support (which yes, mainly gets swallowed up by private companies, but I'm not going into that here). To quote from their website Cornwall is in the same league as "The Convergence programme is mostly funding the new member states of the EU, East Germany, Southern Italy, most regions of Spain, Portugal and Greece".
  • Pay in the region is nothing to shout about. Figures from the SW TUC which reveal that pay in the region is already amongst the lowest in the country. Devon and Cornwall in particular, with pay rates in Cornwall £3.59 an hour below the national average.
  • The south is not a bastion of private enterprise. The public sector makes up around 27% of the workforce in the South West.
  • The South West has the highest median house prices in the country. This is 13 times the average income. House prices have increased 3 times faster than wages over the last decade.

The "evidence" for my comrade's claims can probably be traced to this BBC report. It is a shocking report. But if you look at it closely you'll notice that rather than a north south divide, it's actually an urban rural divide. That big light coloured blob in the south is mainly countryside and the London commuter belt - if you look at the south coast, it is ringed by areas just as badly affected, and in some cases hit even harder, than places in the north.

And never forget, when it comes to the NHS, schools, legal aid, welfare cuts. . . the list goes on, these are all NATIONAL issues, affecting all of us, no matter where we live.

So, to sum up. Lets stop talking about north south divides and playing the "we've got it harder than you" game, and how about we just kick out the Tories.