Saturday, 15 October 2011

New South West YCL blog

I've not posted on here in a while. Or at least, I've not actually written a post on here for a while. Some of you may have (hopefully) noticed, there is now a South West England and Cornwall District website, (plug plug plug) and with it is a new YCL blog, (more shameless plugging, it's the capitalist in me). To say I had a big part in setting these up would be an understatement - call me a control freak, but yes, I did it all.

So while I've been distracted, this blog has been neglected. Whether I manage to redress the balance all depends on how many people now start to contribute and take some of the work off my hands. And if I let them. . .

Friday, 14 October 2011

Thursday, 13 October 2011

South West News and Views

A new edition of News and Views has just been released with all of the latest news from the South West District. It includes all of the details of the Speaking Tour in Exeter, Somerset, Dorset and Bristol

Communist News & Views
In to action against the ConDems
Get involved - come and join us!

Speaking Tour: South West dates announced
The nationwide CP speaking tour is to make four stops in the South West of England [see Events right].
Launching the new edition of Britain's Road to Socialism, the open public meetings will discuss why Britain needs socialism more than ever. 

As well as promoting the new edition of the party programme, the meetings coincide with the launch of a new district website and the unveiling of a new district banner and a growing membership and increasing branch activity across the region.

New Website
The South West of England and Cornwall District of the CPB is pleased to announce the launch of its new website. For details of events in the region and information on the party's local campaigns, visit and bookmark

National Speaking Tour
The national speaking tour is making four stops in the South West. For your nearest location go here.  

Celebrating the Bolshevik Revolution
A celebration and meal in Taunton on November the 12th. With Guest speaker Jean Turner, Honorary Secretary of the Society for Co-operation in Russian & Soviet Studies. Visit the event section for details 
North Devon film night
North Devon are showing the film “Sylvia Pankhurst - Everything is Possible” on the 22nd of November, with guest speaker Mary Davis. Go here for details.  


Visit our site for full listings

Location: Dorchester
Date: Saturday 15th October – 12:30 start
Address: Colliton Club, Colliton Park, Dorchester, DT1 1XJ
Speakers: Robert Griffiths – CPB General Secretary
Paul Kimber – Councillor, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council
Tim Nicholls – Dorset Socialists
Carl Wainwright –  Dorset CPB Branch Secretary.

Location: Exeter
Date: Monday 17th October – 19:30 start
Address: Exeter Phoenix Centre Black Box Studio, Gandy Street, Exeter, EX4 3LS
Speakers: Robert Griffiths – CPB General Secretary
Liz Payne – CPB National Women's Organiser and South West District Chair

Location: Bridgwater.
Date: Monday 24th October –  19:00 for 19:30 start
Address: Unity House, Dampiet Street, Bridgwater, TA6 3LZ
Speaker: Robert Griffiths – CPB General Secretary

Location: Bristol
Date: Monday 28th November – 19:15 start
Address: YHA Building, 14 Narrow Quay, Bristol, BS1 4QA
Speakers: Robert Griffiths – CPB General Secretary
Local speakers TBA

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Copyright © 2011 Communist Party, All rights reserved.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Britishness – an impossible concept?

I think we can all agree that any concept of nation and nationality, wherever they are in the world, are social and political constructs. Nations are historically constructed based upon lines on a map, often many hundreds of years old. As an island nation, the lines of the map are rather more easy to define for Britain, but historically, the “kingdom” of Britain could have included much of northern France, and if it were not for the various struggles of medieval Britain, the concept of Britishness, and of much of Europe, could have been very different today.

Nations are also constructed on ethnic grounds. These ethnic divides were accentuated as history progressed, with various ethnic groups settling in different geographic areas, often based upon the same artificial lines described above.

But nationhood is also capable of encompassing ethnically diverse groups. We are quite familiar with concepts of British-Asian, British-Afro-Caribbean etc. and many people self identify as such. National identity along these lines allows different groups to come together and construct a shared identity based upon common values and engaging in common expressions of democracy and government.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Analysing the riots - sort of

Analysing last week's riots is going to take a long time. There are such big issues at stake that trying sum up the root causes simply cannot be done in a news report or newspaper article. As a Marxist, when someone asks me my opinion, all I can do is sit down and sigh. It is simply too big for me to do.

And let me take a line from all of the politicians – I'm not making excuses. But when someone says that the riots are “criminal”, a whole series of questions goes through my head, as well as the Daily Mail type answers.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The People's Charter - Not just an anti-cuts campaign

Recently the People's Charter was described to me as "the CPB's anti-cuts campaign".

The People's Charter is not an anti-cuts movement. Yes, if adopted, it would mean that none of the government's cuts would be enacted. But more than that, it is a document for the future. It is a set of policies and demands that lay the groundwork for the building of socialism in this country.

As for the CPB reference, I hand over to John Hendy QC

Taken from the Morning Star 17/05/2011

Monday, 8 August 2011

Activists planning autumn strikes and mass protests

Taken from This is Plymouth

ACTIVISTS in Plymouth are planning further strikes and mass protests against cuts to jobs and public services.
Around 40 trade union figures and campaigners met to discuss their autumn action plan over the weekend.
They are to stage dozens of events in coming months, including marches, rallies, "flash mobs" and festivals.
Unionists urged the city's public sectors workers to support a national day of action, due to be held across the country on November 8.
The latest call to arms follows mass action at the end of June, which saw thousands of people support striking teachers and civil servants in Plymouth.
Plymouth Fightback Against the Cuts held the latest conference at the Quaker House, Mutley Plain, on Saturday.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Nouveau Fascism?

I have a problem. OK, not personally, but I have a problem with the word fascism and calling people fascists. It occurred to me during the anti-EDL march at the start of the month. I found myself in a group of people carrying placards and shouting “EDL, fascist scum!” And perhaps controversially, I don't think the EDL are fascists.

And I'm not alone. The Hope not Hate website EDL article has this:

“The English Defence League (EDL) is a racist organisation whose main activity is street demonstrations against the Muslim community”, and, “the EDL is not a national socialist or a fascist organisation but that certainly does not mean it is not a right-wing extremist organisation”.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

EDL outnumbered 4 to 1 (at least)

Estimating the number of people at protests is always difficult. Each side always tries to exaggerate their own turnout. But even if we use the biggest estimate of EDL numbers, and the smallest estimate of anti-EDL protesters, they were still outnumbered 4 to 1.

I'm being generous to them just to show how insignificant they are. If we reverse the logic (smallest EDL estimate and largest anti estimate) the ratio jumps to nearer 7 to 1.

Numbers aside, the most important thing we need to ask is, what on earth are they protesting about? The Westcountry is the least ethnically diverse place I can think of. Honestly, if any of the EDL on the streets of Plymouth yesterday ever travelled to London, they'd have a heart attack.

The EDL say they are protesting against Islam (they've started to drop the militant bit). They argue that all Muslims are at heart as extreme as the Taliban, and that if we are not careful, Britain will soon become an Islamic state. Rather laughably, the EDL claimed yesterday that they were defending women, homosexuals, children (from paedophiles), English culture, human rights, equality, the very fabric of our society.

In reality what we saw was a small group of drunken football hooligans being escorted through the streets of Plymouth while shouting “E – E – EDL”. Very productive. I feel safer already.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A Common Sense Ideology? How neoliberalism dominates discourse

Most of you will probably know, I gave a workshop on Saturday at the Exeter Anarchist Summer Conference. I thought I stick up the notes I took into the session. Below is sort of what I said for an introduction, and my ideas on the subject.

It was a very good hour and we covered a lot, with loads of audience participation.

  • Use the current political and economic situation to demonstrate how neoliberal ideology dominates opinion and discourse. Challenge common ideas of democracy and analyse the concept of the “big society”


Welcome and thanks for coming. For those who don’t know me I’m the secretary of the local branch of the communist party. This isn’t about the CP, or necessarily about Marxist ideology.

Monday, 6 June 2011

So why are we reforming the NHS?

I pinched this from Liberal Conspiracy

A major report ranked the British NHS #1 for efficiency and effective care when compared to other developed countries.
The US report compares the quality and cost effectiveness of healthcare systems in seven major countries.
Overall, the NHS is ranked second.

Survey ranks NHS #1 for efficiency, #2 overall

Saturday, 14 May 2011

So much to do, so much to oppose

Been a while since I last posted, but to be honest it's because I've been so busy, and because the government is throwing so much crap at us it has been hard to know where to begin.

On the 11th of June I'm taking part in the Exeter Anarchist Summer Conference, leading a workshop on  the ideology of the ConDems and what neoliberalism has done to democracy. The "choice democracy" I'm calling it. It's, hopefully, going to be about the cultural hegemony of capitalism and the "common sense" ideology that has grown up around deficit reduction.

There were of course the two May Day festivals in Plymouth and Exeter, which were great. Lots of nice people with banners, what more can you want!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

AV Referendum Press Release

Scare mongering and communist baiting by the supporters of AV will fool no one. Indeed, writes general secretary Robert Griffiths to newspaper editors, our position on electoral reform, first defined in 1944 is more consistent than the record of other political forces.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

May Day in Plymouth

With around 100 people on the march through Plymouth the turnout could have been better - but we all made plenty of noise to make up for it!

After the march there was a rally in the university's Roland Levinsky building, where we had a stall

As usual, you can see all the photos on our facebook page!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Glenn Beck CPUSA interview. What a moron.

The home of rational debate. I honestly don't know why Glenn Beck bothers having guests on his show. Sam Webb isn't the best Marxist in the world, but he actually stood up pretty well in this farce.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

To Smash or not to Smash?

That was a good old march! However, there will now be lots of people saying that it didn't achieve anything. Well if you were thinking that one protest would bring down a government and transform our society, you were always going to be disappointed. What it did show was there is a large group of people (anywhere between 250,000 to 700,000 depending on who you listen to) who are prepared to say “no, there is an alternative”. The Tory government won't listen, much of the media won't listen – but the general public might.

That is what is important. Unfortunately media coverage will play a big role in getting that alternative message across, and the violent bits of the protest have, predictably dominated the front pages this Sunday. Is that good or bad? Without the violence the front pages would have been about Lybia, or Japan, with the TUC march given relatively small column space.

But what about the CPB? There were loads of us, as you can see from these few photos:

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Your Child as a Commodity – A case against academy schools

What is so wrong with the system we have now? A school has a budget based upon the number of children attending it. A school covers a certain geographic area, servicing the local community. Parents have a limited choice over where they send their child, but as demand is high and places are limited, allocation is often made based on distance from the school, whether any siblings attend the school, and in some areas, on ability. If there is a problem with the system it is that some schools need more funding to make improvements, and more choice could be given to parents by the local authority investing in more schools.

So what is the government proposing to do? Bear in mind this doesn't fall under their usual deceit of “deficit reduction” or “Labour's legacy”. Well rather than funding schools, they are now attaching a price to the head of your child. Your child now has a value – she is a commodity.

So your child is now for sale, and if you come from a “lower socio-economic background” or a “deprived area” your child is worth even more! Under the pupil premium poor and disruptive children are now a lucrative money spinner.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Thursday, 24 February 2011

From Economic to Political Crisis

The Economic Battle

There has been much discussion on the left about developing the anti-cuts campaigning beyond “simply” protesting about spending cuts.

One of the most frequent, and often difficult, questions we are asked is “if you aren’t going to cut spending, how would you reduce the deficit”. This point then leads to the favoured criticism from the right, that anyone who questions spending cuts is a “deficit denier”.

This question demands an answer. If we want people to accept that the cuts are an ideological assault on ordinary working people, we need to show the majority of the population that another path is possible.

Firstly we must not deny that the deficit is a problem. Reducing the amount of interest the government pays on its debt is a good thing! A country cannot run a deficit forever. However we must continue to make the argument, which is often done very well, that the deficit has been exaggerated, that the total national debt is both historically and internationally manageable (and even small), and that cutting spending is not the best way to reduce a deficit.

Monday, 21 February 2011

South West Communists take “Tremendous step forward”

Communists from across the South West region, from Gloucestershire to Cornwall and from Minehead to Bournemouth, met in Exeter on Saturday (19th Feb) to establish a new District of the party. The new District, to be called the South-West of England and Cornwall, matches the territory of the South West Regional TUC.

In a hall decked with the banners of the various branches there was a very positive mood and Ken Keable, who had played the interim and semi-official role of Branch Co-ordinator for the region since 2007, said “not only is the wind of change blowing through North Africa and the Middle East, but there is a breeze of change blowing through the South West as well. People who “don’t do politics” are finding that politics does them.”

All the CPB branches have grown in size and strength over the past year. In this region, an electoral stronghold of the Tories and Lib-Dems, the Coalition is in trouble and this will become more evident in the local elections on 5th May. The Somerset Branch, where the Tories are in control, reported how the Lib-Dems were opposing cuts locally that they were imposing nationally. Other members reported similar tensions elsewhere.

Friday, 11 February 2011

EDL and all that

Last week we saw a lot of news coverage of the EDL. Whether it was Paxman’s rather weak interview with their “leader” (who’d have known owning a tanning salon could turn you orange AND crazy) or the march in Luton, the profile of the organization seems to be rising. As does their membership.

Now I’m not about to call them racists, or Nazis, or fascists, or any other nasty names. (Although I did just call them crazy, sorry) That really doesn’t help, and it probably isn’t true. From what I have learned the membership seems to be made up of a lot of working class people who have nowhere else to turn. Judging from the chants (and tattoos) the membership seems to be based upon, and to have grown out of, more militant arms of football hooliganism. Now whether this is cause or effect, or just coincidence, we will probably never know. However the bigger questions we need to ask are:

Why have they come about? And, why are they growing?

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Making a Scene

I arrived slightly later than everyone else for the street stall on Saturday. I got onto Exeter High Street, wondering "where have they set up?". I couldn't miss them!

Despite it being absolutely freezing, being watched by private security guards, having photos taken by random members of the public (government spies? Or far right idiots? I'm expecting my face to be all over some rather dubious blogs by now), and then being not so secretly videoed by this really odd guy, it went really well.

For the rest of the photos, visit our facebook page

Monday, 17 January 2011

Homes Under the Hammer – Property and Communism

“You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths. You reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition for whose existence is the non-existence of any property for the immense majority of society.

“In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so, that is just what we intend”

That is possibly one of my all time favourite parts of the Communist Manifesto. I can imagine Marx, with a wry, all knowing smile, the full force of the moral and ethical argument on his side, putting pen to paper, then sitting back, his work done - “Precisely so, that is just what we intend”.

For when we look at the world, as it is now, and throughout history, the rich are rich because they have property, the poor are poor because they do not. But more than that – the poor are poor precisely because the rich have property. The great cities of the UK were built on the wealth created by slavery in the colonies; the wealth of the modern businessman by the exploitation of wage-labour in his company; the landlord by capital investment in the homes of his tenants.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Plymouth Fightback Against the Cuts

I suppose I shouldn't just repost the same article on several blogs, but sod it! Here's a report of last night's anti-cuts meeting in Plymouth.