Canadian Women Electricians

An Interview:

Nathalie Soullière, Construction Worker and Member of Electrical Workers’ Union

I am an electrician and a member of the electrical workers’ union (FIPOE). I also have my welder’s cards. I am a member of the FIPOE’s Women’s Committee that meets a few times a year to discuss various issues, mostly those faced by women. Our job is to provide resources and make them aware of the resources that exist to help them. Some women have difficulty getting accepted into their workplace. There are employers who do not want them. The committee did a survey of women workers to find out their expectations for the committee. Many told us they can’t get work, that not all employers are interested in hiring a women. Either they are not hired, or are not called back. In the construction industry, when the job is finished, it’s “bye-bye, go home.”

A major problem, and it’s not just a problem for women, is work-family balance. It is not easy for women who are single parents and for men who are in the same situation, with the hours we do. For example, tomorrow morning I start working at 6:30 am in Montreal and I live 45 minutes from my place of work. There is no daycare open at this time. I’m fine because my daughters are old enough to be independent, but for single parents with preschool children, that’s a big problem. The construction industry is not always well-suited to these conditions.

I think we need to continue to increase the number of women in construction, but we have to make sure they have the training and the knowledge they require.

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History of International Women’s Day

Historic site in Copenhagen, Denmark where women from around the world gathered for the Second International Conference of Socialist Women in 1910 and passed the resolution
establishing International Women’s Day.

In 1910, a resolution was passed by the Second International Conference of Socialist Women, held in Copenhagen, Denmark, establishing International Women’s Day. The resolution was unanimously adopted by the more than 100 women delegates from 17 countries attending, among whom were the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament. The resolution was put forward by German communist Clara Zetkin who had first proposed the idea of an annual demonstration in support of working women and women’s rights at the First International Conference of Socialist Women held in Stuttgart, Germany in 1907.

This Second International Conference reiterated the principles adopted at the First International Conference of Socialist Women on the question of women’s suffrage. These principles established the framework for the resolution to establish an International Women’s Day that focused on the question of women’s political rights.

The document states in part:

German communist Clara Zetkin (1857-1933), initially proposed International Women’s Day in 1910. She was active in the Social Democratic Party of Germany until 1916, when she co-founded the Spartacus League of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany. In 1919 she joined the Communist Party of Germany, which she represented in
the Reichstag from 1920-1933.

“The socialist woman’s movement of all countries repudiates the limited Woman’s Suffrage as a falsification of and insult to the principle of the political equality of the female sex. It fights for the only living concrete expression of this principle: the universal woman’s suffrage which is open to all adults and bound by no conditions of property, payment of taxes, or degrees of education or any other qualifications, which exclude members of the working class from the enjoyment of the right. They carry on their struggle not in alliance with the bourgeois Women’s Righters, but in alliance with the Socialist Parties, and these fight for Woman’s Suffrage as one of the demands which from the point of view of principle and practice is most important for the democratization of the suffrage.”

Stating that the socialist parties in all countries are “bound to fight with energy for the introduction of Woman’s Suffrage” it says that the socialist women’s movement must take part in the struggles organized by the socialist parties for the democratization of the suffrage, while at the same time ensuring that within this fight the “question of the Universal Woman Suffrage is insisted upon with due regard to its importance of principle and practice.”

The resolution to establish International Women’s Day states,

“In order to forward political enfranchisement of women it is the duty of the Socialist women of all countries to agitate according to the above-named principles indefatigably among the labouring masses; enlighten them by discourses and literature about the social necessity and importance of the political emancipation of the female sex and use therefore every opportunity of doing so. For that propaganda they have to make the most especially of elections to all sorts of political and public bodies.”

The delegates resolved,

“In agreement with the class-conscious political and trade organizations of the proletariat in their country the socialist women of all nationalities have to organize a special Woman’s Day, which in first line has to promote Women Suffrage propaganda. This demand must be discussed in connection with the whole women’s question according to the socialist conception of social things.”

A “Woman’s Day” had been organized the previous year in the United States, on the last Sunday in February 1909, by the National Women’s Committee of the American Socialist Party, marked by demonstrations for women’s rights. Women’s suffrage along with the rights of women workers, particularly in the garment trade, were the focus of these demonstrations. This Woman’s Day honoured the thousands of women involved in the numerous labour strikes in the first years of the twentieth century in many cities, including Montreal, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York. This was a period when women entered the labour force in their thousands and alongside working men fought to organize collectively and to improve their brutal conditions of work.

Later in 1909, needle-trade workers in New York City — 80 per cent of whom were women — walked off their jobs and marched and rallied for union rights, decent wages and working conditions in the “Uprising of 20,000.” The work stoppage was reportedly referred to as the “women’s movement strike” and continued from November 22, 1909 to February 15, 1910. The Women’s Trade Union League provided bail money for arrested strikers and large sums for strike funds during the work stoppage.

Early Celebrations of International Women’s Day

March 19, 1911 was the date set for the first International Women’s Day by the Second International Conference of Socialist Women and, implementing their resolution, rallies held in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on that day were attended by more than one million women and men. “The vote for women will unite our strength in the struggle for socialism” was the call of these rallies. In addition to their demand for the right to elect and be elected, they demanded the right to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job. A woman socialist wrote at that time:

“The first International Women’s Day took place in 1911. Its success exceeded all expectation. Germany and Austria on Working Women’s Day was one seething, trembling sea of women. Meetings were organized everywhere — in the small towns and even in the villages halls were packed so full that they had to ask male workers to give up their places for the women.

“This was certainly the first show of militancy by the working woman. Men stayed at home with their children for a change, and their wives, the captive housewives, went to meetings. During the largest street demonstrations, in which 30,000 were taking part, the police decided to remove the demonstrators’ banners: the women workers made a stand. In the scuffle that followed, bloodshed was averted only with the help of the socialist deputies in Parliament.”

The following year, women in France, the Netherlands and Sweden joined in actions marking International Women’s Day. In the period leading up to the declaration of World War I, the celebration of International Women’s Day opposed imperialist war and expressed solidarity between working women of different lands in opposition to the national chauvinist hysteria of the ruling circles. For example, in Europe International Women’s Day was an occasion when speakers from one country would be sent to another to deliver greetings.

Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February 1913 (on the Julian calendar, which corresponded to March 8 on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere), under conditions of brutal Tsarist reaction. There was no possibility of women organizing open demonstrations but, led by communist women, they found ways to celebrate the day. Articles on International Women’s Day were published in the two legal workers’ newspapers of the time, including greetings from Clara Zetkin and others.

An essay written in 1920 by a woman communist activist at that time described the 1913 celebration:

“In those bleak years meetings were forbidden. But in Petrograd, at the Kalashaikovsky Exchange, those women workers who belonged to the Party organized a public forum on ‘The Woman Question.’ Entrance was five kopecks. This was an illegal meeting but the hall was absolutely packed. Members of the Party spoke. But this animated ‘closed’ meeting had hardly finished when the police, alarmed at such proceedings, intervened and arrested many of the speakers.

“It was of great significance for the workers of the world that the women of Russia, who lived under Tsarist repression, should join in and somehow manage to acknowledge with actions International Women’s Day. This was a welcome sign that Russia was waking up and the Tsarist prisons and gallows were powerless to kill the workers’ spirit of struggle and protest.”

Women in Russia continued to celebrate International Women’s Day in various ways over the ensuing years. Many involved in organizing landed themselves in Tsarist prisons as the slogan “for the working women’s vote” had become an open call for the overthrow of the Tsarist autocracy.

The first issue of “The Woman Worker” (Rabotnitsa), a journal for working class women, was published in 1914. That same year, the Bolshevik Central Committee decided to create a special committee to organize meetings for International Women’s Day. These meetings were held in the factories and public places to discuss issues related to women’s oppression and to elect representatives from those who had participated in these discussions and the resulting proposals to work on the new committee.

International Women’s Day 1917 in Russia

In Russia, International Women’s Day 1917 was a time of intense struggle against the Tsarist regime. Workers, including women workers in textile and metal working industries, were on strike in the capital city and opposition to Russia’s participation in the imperialist war raging in Europe was growing. On March 8 (February 23 on the Julian calendar), women in their thousands poured onto the streets of St. Petersburg in a strike for bread and peace. The women factory workers, joined by wives of soldiers and other women, demanded, “Bread for our children” and “The return of our husbands from the trenches.” This day marked the beginning of the February Revolution, which led to the abdication of the Tsar and the establishment of a provisional government.

The provisional government made the franchise universal, and recognized equal rights for women. Following the October 1917 Revolution, the Bolshevik government implemented more advanced legislation, guaranteeing in the workplaces the right of women to directly participate in social and political activity, eliminating all formal and concrete obstacles which previously had meant the subordination of their social and political activity and their subservience to men. New legislation on maternity and health insurance was proposed and approved in December 1917. A public insurance fund was created, with no deductions from workers wages, that benefited both women workers and male workers’ wives. It meant that women were now treated second to none as neither they nor their children were dependent on spouses and fathers for their well-being.

After 1917

March 8 as International Women’s Day became official in 1921 when Bulgarian women attending the International Women’s Secretariat of the Communist International proposed a motion that it be uniformly celebrated around the world on this day. March 8 was chosen to honour the role played by the Russian women in the revolution in their country, and through their actions, in the struggle of women for their emancipation internationally.

The first IWD rally in Australia was held in 1928. It was organized by the communist women there and demanded an eight hour day, equal pay for equal work, paid annual leave and a living wage for the unemployed.

Spanish women demonstrated against the fascist forces of Gen. Francisco Franco to mark International Women’s Day in 1937. Italian women marked IWD 1943 with militant protests against fascist dictator Benito Mussolini for sending their sons to die in World War II.

In this way, since 1917, International Women’s Day has been both a day of celebration of women’s fight for their empowerment and a day to militantly affirm the opposition of women to imperialist war and aggression. Its spirit has always been that to win the rights of women and the fight for security and peace, women must put themselves in the front ranks of the fight and of governments which represent these demands.

(Reproduced from TML Daily, 2010)

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About BAE: From the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT)

BAE Systems is the world’s third largest arms producer. It is headquartered in the UK, but considers the US, UK, Saudi Arabia and Australia to be “home markets” (BAE website). The company’s portfolio includes fighter aircraft, warships, nuclear missile submarines, tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery, missiles and small arms ammunition.

BAE’s Role in Arming the World

BAE’s arms are sold indiscriminately around the world. The company has military customers in over 100 countries and around 93% of its sales are military (SIPRI, Top 100 2015). Its weapons and equipment are deployed across the world, including in Iraq and Yemen.

BAE does not believe it has a moral obligation to consider its customers’ actions. When questioned at the company’s 2016 AGM by activists concerned about the uses to which BAE’s weaponry is put, Roger Carr, the company’s chairman, said: We are not here to judge the way that other governments work; we are here to do a job under the rules and regulations we are given. (Guardian, 4 May, 2016)

BAE is currently supplying Saudi Arabia with Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft, in accordance with a contract known as the Al-Salam deal which was signed in 2007. BAE has, to date, delivered 68 of an order of 72 Typhoons ( Negotiations are believed to be ongoing for a further order for 48 Typhoons (BBC, 6 October, 2016).

These warplanes are playing a central role in Saudi Arabia’s attacks in Yemen (Washington Institute, 11.8.2015 & Hansard, 6.6.2016) which have been condemned by human rights organisations. Typhoons, operated by the Royal Saudi Air Force but made in the UK, have bombed numerous targets, contributing to the conflict’s thousands of casualties (Human Rights Watch). For more information, see CAAT’s Stop Arming Saudi Arabia campaign.

Another notorious deal was for 200 Tactica armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. These vehicles were used by Saudi troops helping to suppress pro-democracy protests in Bahrain in March 2011 (Jane’s Defence Weekly, 23.3.2011).

In the UK, amongst a wide variety of arms procurement contracts with the UK government, BAE runs the only UK shipyards capable of building sophisticated warships (Parker Review, 29.11.2016). Although the 2016 Parker Review called for more competition in this market, this seems unlikely to happen in the near future (Telegraph, 3.1.2017). Amongst its current commissions, BAE is constructing seven Astute Class attack submarines, three of which have been delivered (BAE, 18.5.2014), and has started building the next generation of nuclear missile submarines (BAE, 5.10.2016). It is also the lead contractor for the UK’s new Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers (BAE).

BAE has a workshare agreement with Lockheed Martin producing the US F-35 stealth combat aircraft. The rear section of each F-35 will be built by BAE either in the UK or Australia, and a wide range of components will be manufactured in the UK (BAE). The F-35 has been in development for well over a decade, and currently around threethousand are expected to be produced for twelve different countries ( Israel, for example, took delivery of its first F-35 in 2016 (

In early 2017, BAE announced a deal to supply the Indian military with 145 M777 ultra-lightweight howitzers. (BBC, 14.1.2017)

Corruption investigations

From 2004 to 2006, various BAE deals came under investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office. Covering deals with numerous countries, the most pivotal allegation was of corrupt practices concerning the massive Al-Yamamah deals with Saudi Arabia. Specifically, it was alleged that the deal was facilitated through bribes paid from a BAE ‘slush fund’ to members of the Saudi Royal Family (Guardian, 12.9.2003). BAE’s dealings with Chile, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria, Qatar, Romania, South Africa and Tanzania were also investigated.

In 2006, the Serious Fraud Office announced that it was dropping the Saudi arm of the investigation following representations from the government citing ‘national security’ concerns (Telegraph, 21.12.2010). Reports in the Daily Telegraph suggested that the Saudi government had threatened to withdraw from the Al-Salam deal to buy 72 Eurofighter Typhoons if the investigation was not stopped (Telegraph, 1.12.2006). Documents revealed in court showed that the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, had intervened personally to stop the investigation (Royal Courts of Justice, 10.4.2008).

Corner House Research and CAAT took the government to court over the matter, arguing that the SFO’s decision to drop the case was unlawful. Initially, they were successful, obtaining a High Court judgement that the Director of the SFO submitted too readily to threats from Saudi Arabia, when the rule of law required him to resist that pressure (Royal Courts of Justice, 10.4.2008). The government appealed however and the House of Lords overturned the High Court’s judgement, finding that the national security threat, that Saudi Arabia would withdraw security cooperation, was sufficient to render the decision lawful, if distasteful (House of Lords, 30.7.2008).

The case continued however in the US, where BAE was forced to agree a plea bargain with the US Department of Justice in 2010. The company was sentenced…

to pay a $400 million criminal fine, one of the largest criminal fines in the history of DoJ’s ongoing effort to combat overseas corruption in international business and enforce US export control laws., 1 March 2010
Following this, the SFO agreed a £30 million settlement in relation to a corrupt Tanzanian radar system contract, for which BAE admitted to false accounting practices (BAE). The settlement was described by Private Eye as “crumbs”.


Corruption Investigations
and plea bargains

In 2004 the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) started an investigation into BAE Systems’ deals with respect to Chile, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Tanzania.

The UK government halted the Saudi investigation in December 2006. The formal announcement that all the other investigations had finished was made when the SFO announced a plea bargain deal on 5 February 2010. BAE would pay £30million and plead guilty to failing to keep reasonably accurate accounting records in relation to its activities in Tanzania. No action would be taken in respect of the allegations with regards to the other countries.

Information about the legal challenge CAAT and The Corner House made to the plea bargain between February and April 2010 can be found here.

UK plea bargain

Under the plea bargain BAE pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to keep proper accounting records. Mr Justice Bean held a sentencing hearing at Southwark Crown Court and was clearly unhappy about the deal between the SFO and BAE as his sentencing remarks on 21 December 2010 make clear. BAE was to pay a fine of £500,000 and make a further £29.5million payment to the people of Tanzania. Following the hearing, the SFO released its lawyers opening statement to the court as well as the actual plea bargain.

The court hearing revealed for the first time the details of the blanket immunity from prosecution given to BAE by the SFO as part of the plea bargain, but lawyers for CAAT and The Corner House subsequently received assurances from the SFO and BAE that it would be interpreted more narrowly. To quote BAE’s lawyers: “..we confirm that our client would not dispute that paragraph 8 should properly be interpreted as meaning that the SFO will not prosecute our client’s group in relation to matters which were the subject of its investigations or of which the SFO was otherwise aware before the date of the settlement.”

It was reported in May 2011 that BAE had set up a committee of six people, three of them BAE employees, to decide how the £29.5million payment agreed as part of the UK plea bargain should be spent. The Tanzanian and, allegedly, the UK governments were said to be unhappy about this and thought the money should go to the Tanzanian government. On 19 July 2011 the Commons’ International Development Committee held a hearing to discuss this payment. The Committee made clear its unhappiness about the BAE comittee idea, said that there was already a good scheme for the payment of the money agreed by the UK Department for International Development and the Tanzanian government, and wanted the money paid over without further delay. BAE did bow to the pressure from the Committee which, on 9 September 2011, announced that the company had agreed to honour its settlement with the SFO and make an immediate payment of £29.5million to the Tanzanian government.

On 15 March 2012 the Serious Fraud Office announced that a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed enabling the £29.5million plus interest to be paid for educational projects in Tanzania. BAE issued its own press release and the media reported that the money was paid over on that date.

US plea bargain

Simultaneously with the UK plea bargain, BAE agreed another with the US Department of Justice. On 1 March 2010 BAE pleaded guilty in the United States District Court in Washington DC to conspiring to defraud the US by impairing and impeding its lawful functions, to make false statements about its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance program, and to violate the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations. The company was fined $400 million, one of the largest criminal fines in the history of the US DoJ’s effort to combat overseas corruption in international business and enforce US export control laws.

On 17 May 2011 BAE agreed to pay additional fines of up to $79million as part of a civil settlement with the US State Department. This was for 2,591 violations of US regulations governing the export and brokering of sensitive military hardware. Full details can be found in the Proposed Charging Letter, the Consent Agreement and the Order.

The agents and Red Diamond

The Proposed Charging Letter confirms the role of Red Diamond. This was set up in February 1998 in the British Virgin Islands by a Liechtenstein company Uniglobe to conceal BAE’s brokering arrangements.

BAE’s brokers, or advisors, or agents, were either overt or covert. The Proposed Charging Letter says there were approximately 350 covert agreements wih 299 brokers. Red Diamond, at the specific direction of BAE’s then senior management, made 1,000 payments to the brokers between 1998 and 2007, when it was dissolved by BAE.

BAE auditor investigation peters out
The Accountancy & Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB) announced in October 2010 that it was looking at the conduct of KPMG Audit as BAE’s auditor from 1997 to 2007 in relation to the commissions paid by BAE through any route to subsidiaries, agents and any connected companies.

After nearly three years, on 1 August 2013, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), as the AADB had become, said the inquiry had been closed. The FRC said it would have had to look into audits which took place before 1997 and, as it was unlikely that an adverse finding would be made in respect of work done so long ago, it was not in the public interest to continue. The media was scathing about this – see an example. Lawyers acting for CAAT and the Corner House wrote to the FRC and there was an exchange of correspondence.


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How the Conviction of the Women to Fight for the New Society is Being Strengthened in the NHS

The brutal way in which the ruling elite are destroying public authority and civil society in favour of imposing direct control of the monopolies over public services, health, education and culture is also accompanied by their attacks on the rights of the people including those of women. The attempt by their monopoly-controlled media to distort the question of the oppression of women in society and reduce it to one of victimisation by men is part of this attempt to divide and disempower the working class and people’s movement and the women who are fighting to affirm their rights and the rights of all in society.

For example, in the NHS, the arrangements that suit the ruling elite have since its founding excluded women from leading positions. Whilst today progress of the women’s struggle in society has reduced this discrimination against women in occupying leading positions and closed the “gender gap”, it has not resulted in new arrangements that empower health workers and the vast majority of women who work in the NHS.

Today, women make up 77% of the NHS workforce and they are in the forefront of providing health care to the whole population as doctors, nurses and support workers, and they are also in the forefront of the struggle of health workers to safeguard the future of the NHS and the right to health care for all the people. Women in the health service are not only organised in the workplace, in trade unions and professional bodies to defend their rights, but many are realising from the struggles that they are waging that the most enlightened thinking is needed and this growing consciousness means that women are also at the forefront of solving the problems of society.

One of the most crucial questions in the fight to safeguard the future of the NHS is where decision-making power lies. Today, as NHS England and its Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) announce downgrading, cut-backs and closures of health services all over England, who the decision-makers are has become the vital question. For health workers and women in particular, the fight against the diktat of these decisions taken elsewhere with only the formality of “consultation” but without any involvement of clinical staff has reached a crisis point. Clinical staff are openly organising, and fighting these decisions and risking everything, even their own careers, to stand up for the rights of the people and to the health services that they provide.

In the health unions and professional bodies as well, the women are in the forefront of uniting health workers in the workplace with the whole community to take up the responsibility to safeguard the future of their health services. There is increasing recognition that the government and its commissioning bodies set up over the recent period are driving massive cut-backs and a direct takeover of the NHS by private corporations at the expense of public authority and public good. In this situation the women are in the forefront of uniting the people regardless of political views and to fight not just as “pressure groups”. They see themselves and these new movements of the people as a means to go all out to disempower those who are trying to marginalise them from power.

Although victories are not always won, the conviction of the women to fight for the new society is being strengthened in the NHS. They are increasingly recognising that a new direction is required for the NHS based on the right to health care and determined by the people.

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International Women’s Day on March 8

As International Women’s Day Approaches

2018 marks the centenary of a section of the women in Britain gaining the vote. After a lengthy struggle and widespread political movement for women’s emancipation, on February 6, 1918, Parliament passed the Representation of People Act 1918, which gave women over the age of 30, who occupied a house (or were married to someone who did), the right to vote. At the time, this enabled 8.5 million women to vote for members of Parliament, about two in every five women in the UK, whilst at the same time allowing for men over the age of 21 to vote. Even recognising the disparity with men in terms of the voting age, this Act represented an advance for women at the time, empowering women over the age of thirty to participate in the polity alongside men, and represented a victory for women at the time who were fighting the patriarchal nature of society that denied them a vote and a say in society.

A hundred years on, the issue poses itself differently, and the greatest problem facing women today, as individuals and as a collective in society, is one of marginalisation. Indeed, the burning issue of our times is that of the necessity for the affirmation of women and for a modern definition of rights as key to the renovation and modernisation of society.

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15th Anniversary of Worldwide Day of Action: “No to War!”

The Necessity for an Anti-War Government

Hyde Park anti-war rally, February 15, 2003

February 15 was the 15th anniversary of the massive 2-million march in London, 2003, as part of so many worldwide actions on that day to say No to War. Ever since the “war on terror” had been declared by George W Bush and Tony Blair in the wake of 9/11, the movement had been growing to demand “No War on Iraq”.

It was in its statement for this demonstration that RCPB(ML) gave its call: Organise Now for an Anti-War Government! and pointed out that the aim of the people’s movement against war is to bring into being a world without war, a world in which it is the people’s will which prevails. It said that the people have the democratic right to decide in favour of peace and for the interests of humanity.

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The Party’s statement said: “Only the working class and peoples of the world have the ability to stop the warmongers and open humanity’s path to social progress. Only they have the ability to prevent international instability and avert a cataclysmic world war. Only they have the ability to resolve society’s problems and end the anti-social offensive against the working people of this country and the merciless exploitation of the peoples of the world.”

The statement, in declaring that the drive to war was “Not In Our Name!” continued: “The working class must lead the people in fighting for an anti-war government in Britain now. Such a programme would ensure that the warmongers are defeated, war is outlawed, and the path to democratic renewal is opened up. Therefore RCPB(ML) calls for the people themselves to organise for an anti-war government that represents their desire for peace and social progress. A government committed to peace and progress, not war and reaction, would:

“Outlaw any and all British involvement in wars of aggression and renounce the use of force in settling international affairs;

  • “Outlaw any and all British involvement in wars of aggression and renounce the use of force in settling international affairs;
  • “Accept the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries;
  • “Recognise the sovereignty and equality of all nations;
  • “Adopt a foreign policy independent of the United States;
  • “Remove all British troops from foreign soil;
  • “End the militarisation of the economy;
  • “Pay reparations for all the crimes of British imperialism and colonialism.”

The Call to Bring into Being an Anti-War Government

The working class and people of Britain have a fine history of opposition to warmongering, not only of that of Britain’s ruling elites, but as internationalists who stand with the working people of all countries. The British working class took a stand against the slaughter of the First World War despite social-democratic betrayal; it took a stand against the intervention in Russia after the October Revolution, and took up the fight against Nazi fascism when the British government was for appeasement, and again when it attacked the Soviet Union, the then homeland of the working class and proletarian internationalism. It has been for global denuclearisation and against the nuclear blackmail of the big powers.

In assessing how to move forward to achieving the aim of the anti-war movement for an anti-war government in a profound sense, what must be taken into consideration is the fact that society is saddled with old forms of political representation and political institutions. The fact that Blair could override the people’s insistence that if Britain went to war it would not be in their name is one of the outstanding examples of this fact. In other words, new forms in which people take decisions in their own name must be found, in opposition to the situation where they hand over their decision-making power to others who then betray their interests, who have the power to deny the people’s rights, or at the very best are forced to compromise those rights and interests, or are prevented from upholding them, by virtue of the political forms which ensure that private interests in the form of state powers are represented and enforced, not the will of the people.

The conclusion can be drawn therefore that it is neither poverty and misery that is the fuel of war, nor the arming of “dictatorships” abroad. It is to put the cart before the horse. The stand of ananti-war government, based on internationalist principles and established by the people themselves, would be to end British intervention abroad, end the arms trade for reactionary ends, abrogate those treaties which are unequal and in favour of exploitation, oppose spurious pretexts for war and intervention such as the so-called “right to protect”, and remove US bases themselves from Britain.

The conception of an anti-war government is one which encompasses all aspects of society – for instance, its economic base, which must be based not on militarisation and austerity and the imposition of the social irresponsibility of private interests, but on identifying the needs of all the collectives of the people, and thereby establishing anti-austerity on a new basis.

People cannot have illusions about the powers-that-be. It is the people who are the guarantors of peace, and must take the fight to bring into being an anti-war government into their own hands. We call on everyone to join in this movement, and to settle scores with the warmongers, to avert the danger of war, put an end to the militarisation of the economy, and fight for peace as part of fighting for the renewal of society, empowering the working class and people, defending the rights of all and establishing the institutions of the New.


Workers’  Weekly

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