Saturday, 13 April 2013

The Red Plough Vol. 4-4

The Red Plough
Vol. 4-4
April 2013

1/Vile odious woman!

2/ The Falklands/Malvinas.( A Flock Of Sheep, Pair Of Welly Boots And Oil  )

3/ Put Your Money Under The Bed!  

Vile odious woman!

The death of Margaret Thatcher has provoked sickening images of odious politicians praising her role in British politics. She put the “great” back into “Great Britain” it is claimed. 
 On the other hand there were public celebrations in some parts  of Britain (and private celebrations all over Britain) and public expressions of joy in working class nationalist districts in Belfast and Derry.

Irish Republicans have many reasons to hate Thatcher. It was her public role that we hate. On a private level one can sympathise with a family on the death of a frail, mentally impaired old lady of 87. This writer normally would, believing it is usually best not to speak ill of the dead. After all it was Che who wrote

“Let me say at the risk of seeming ridiculous that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”
However there are exceptions.  Margaret Thatcher was one such exception. Both on a personal and a political level she was a vile odious creature devoid of empathy with other human beings, a bully, a power monger, a woman who despised feminism and adopted the worst of machismo. She had no redeeming features except for those who worship at the altar of Imperialism Capitalism and the God of Mammon 
Thatcher’s role in Ireland was to suppress by any means possible the demand for national independence of the whole island and the undoing of the partition of the island. In that she is no different from all other British Prime Ministers. It has always been the case that in the interests of the British ruling class that Ireland needs to be controlled so that there can exist no threat to British interests.
Pitch capping a United Irishman

That has been the case since the Normans first came to Ireland. Throughout the centuries through conquest, plantation, plunder, torture, pitch capping, bribery, religious intolerance, ethnic cleansing, land clearances and  repression the British ruling class  have  maintained a foothold in Ireland with the help of the descendants of the plantations and the willing collaboration of nationalists happy with the half loaf that they were bribed with. 

Thatcher when she came to power saw only one solution to the ongoing  armed resistance by republican forces in Ireland-repression. Under the previous Labour Government a process had begun to criminalise Irish republicans. This had begun under Roy Mason and had led to the so called dirty protest by many republican prisoner eventually leading to two major hunger strikers in 1980 and 81. In1981 Bobby Sands on hunger strike was elected to Westminster as the MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone. Despite this political endorsement by the electorate Thatcher allowed Sands and nine other brave hunger strikers to die in pursuit of demands which were granted but only after their deaths. 

The Dirty Protest
She showed callous disregard for their plight, labelling then criminals ands ignoring the demands of nationalist Ireland. She also approved  the selective assassination of leading H-block leaders utilising both British murder squads and loyalist sectarian hit squads. She give the go ahead for shot to kill policies by both the RUC and the British Army and allowed 3 loyalist paramilitary groups to collude with the Apartheid state in South Africa and import thousands of weapons later used to kill hundreds of  Irish republicans and innocent catholics

So there are plenty of reasons for Irish republicans to despite and hate Thatcher. 

But Irish republicans have always been used to  the tactics of British repression. What was different about the Thatcher regime was it it used similar tactics against its own working class. From the end of the 2nd world war there had been a general consensus that the role of the state was to assist those most in need and that the state needed to control major utilities such as power transport etc. Partially this was because the labour movements reforms and establishment of the welfare state proved so popular that even during a previous period of 13 years of Tory rule the conservatives had felt unable to pursue their normally laissez faire capitalist economics to benefit their own elitist supporters.

Thatcher was an instrument of the liberal economics of the likes of Friedman which was in essence the remove of any restraints to  the so called “free market”. Thatcher unleashed the so called green grocer economics on the British working class. Back to the monetarism of the 1930‘s.
Monetarist Guru Friedman

This involved, deregulation of the financial markets, tax awards for the rich, privatisation of public amenities anti-trade union legislation and the full force of the state against their opponents just as in Ireland.

Backed by the Murdoch’s press and whipping up nationalist fervour Thatcher went to war over the Malvinas and authorised the sinking of the Belgrano well outside the conflict zone. This at a time when the Tories were well down in the polls meant she was able to use British nationalism to gain power in two subsequent election.

During this time she then declared war on the enemy within and broke the NUM. Paramilitary police smashed into working class mining districts.
Paramilitary police attack workers.

The north of England was  de-industrialised as engineering, the steel industry including the decimation of Corby,with its30%unemployment, mining and shipbuilding were stripped bare. The plight of Geordie workers having to emigrate to Germany to work parallels the Irish experience of emigration,

We had no way of staying afloat
We had to leave on the ferry boat
Economic refugees
On the run to Germany
We had the back of Maggie's hand
Times were tough in Geordie land
We got wor tools and working gear
And humped it all from Newcastle to here
Why aye man, why aye, why aye man
Why aye man, why aye, why aye man

We're the nomad tribes, travelling boys
In the dust and dirt and the racket and the noise
Drills and hammers, diggers and picks
Mixing concrete, laying bricks
There's English, Irish, Scots, the lot
United nation's what we've got
Brickies, chippies, every trade
German building, British-made

(Mark Knopfler “Why aye man”)

Thatcherism denied there was any such thing as society thereby giving carte blanche to ‘the greed is good’ philosophy that swept the financial centre of London and other cities eventually leading to the drastic austerity that we have today.

During this period many Irish Republicans came to recognise an affinity with the be-leagued British working class  and solidarity with the miners was well expressed. This empathy with fellow workers in Britain contrasted with the attitude of previous generations of Republicans who adhered to an old slogan- 

“Burn everything British but their coal”

While there had always been a stream of republican socialism who adhered to the internationalism of James Connolly the struggles of the British working class against Thatcherism  in the 1980‘s inspired more republicans to look to international solidarity between all workers. 

Even today when Irish republicanism is split and sundered,  the majority of the republican factions all proclaim their internationalism. That is a far cry from the narrow nationalism of the 1940, 1950’s and1960’60.

The class war never goes away. In Thatcher’s day she openly proclaimed it with her" us and them" approach and open contempt for the lives of working class people, her decimation of the industrial north and the unleashing of brutal force against miners , Irish, Argentines and all who opposed naked capitalism.

Today in the midst of a world recession and with austerity the watch word of the ruling classes now “we are all in it together” Whether in Britain, Ireland , north or South or across Europe  the class war continues but without the stridency of Thatcherism but still with its methods. Now rather than smash the Unions the new Thatcherities try to incorporate the labour bureaucracies  through deals like Croke Park 2, into voluntary giving up even more of the gains gained through centuries of struggle; gains such as in trade union rights, education health care and employment.

 It matters not the identity of our rulers, Irish or British, Catholic or Protestant, it is what they are now doing, that must be resisted. Trade unionists, socialists, republicans, catholics, protestants and all other religions or non, and working class communities throughout the British Isles, all have a common interest in resisting the austerity programme that blames us, the workers for the excesses of the bankers money lenders and gamblers of the financial institutions

North and South East t and West, workers resist austerity, throw out the coalitions in the British Isles and put in power only those empowered with a socialist programme to act in the  interests of the working class.
 Now that Thatcher is dead let us smash Thatcherism! On the day of her funeral let us all wear red in memory of all workers who suffered under her policies.


         The Falklands/Malvinas. A Flock Of Sheep, Pair Of Welly Boots And Oil  

Imagine being part of a people with no real identity which wishes to be part of another people based 7,000 miles away with no real idea as to why. To older people of the Falklands/Malvinas islands who have long outgrown the meaning of logic the question might pose no barriers or problems. However to an ever increasingly curious younger generation certainly in years to come the question may be very relevant. For the time being however the question for the people of the Falkland/Malvinas islands has been answered in a recent referendum. The outcome of this referendum was 98% in favour remaining British as opposed to Argentinean. This is despite the fact that the islands lay 7,000 miles away from Britain and only a few hundred away from Argentina. 

It can now be argued that “the people have spoken” and they did not choose Argentina. By this criteria does this mean that if, for some reason, the people of the Isle Of Wight chose to be part of, let’s say, Portugal then this wish would be granted? I very much doubt it! The occupants of the Falkland/Malvinas were, until 1982, largely forgotten by Britain in fact they did not even receive a vote in British elections. The islands were neglected as were their people giving the impression that Britain, or the British establishment, could not care less about this outlying area in the South Atlantic.

Up until 1982 the nearest and dearest companions of many islanders were their flock of sheep. Perhaps the most important piece of survival equipment for many a lonely sheep farmer would be their Wellington Boots for the use of! One could be forgiven imagining these boots amounting to the islands largest import, after all there are a lot of sheep out there and per capita a large number of sheep farmers, sheep farming particularly in inclement weather prevalent in the South Atlantic winters is dirty work!! Again up until 1982 the people, majority of, England had never heard of the “Falkland Islands” let alone the people who live there. I use the description “England” as opposed to Britain because in real terms that is the correct one as in terms of population and therefore electorate it is the major country. Scotland, the other country which constitutes Britain, is holding a referendum in 2014, the 700th  anniversary year commemorating the Scottish victory over the English at Bannockburn in 1314 to decide on Independence, is only of any relevance to the English ruling class when it comes to the natural resources off the Scottish coast in the North Sea. 

Wales which lies to the West of England is considered by the establishment to be merely a Principality. Scotland and Wales have administrative centres, the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, similar to the Legislative Assembly for the Six Counties. For the record both these countries ideally should be independent socialist republics living in harmony and equality with the English socialist republic. The people of the Falklands/Malvinas could not, perhaps until 1982 say with any certainty what the constituency of Britain was/is but still feel fit to consider themselves part of it.
The year 1982 was very important for the islands because this was the time when Argentina decided to invade and take the islands by force. The Military Junta, led by General Galtieri and his right wing butchers,
which ruled Argentina with an iron grip, was facing massive social and economic problems along with a wave of strikes by workers. Repression was the strategic order of the day adopted by the Junta which was not working. No matter how many, chiefly working class, people disappeared the protests continued unabated. What could Galtieri do? Answer, bring on the national question, the flag, the pride in the nation Viva La Argentina La Malvinas! (or something like that). This strategy has a historical high rate of success in various crisis ridden countries as the people, stupidly, rally to defend the interests of their tormentors and exploiters. The Argentinean people felt very strongly about the Malvinas and the Junta knew it. They also knew how to exploit this feeling amongst the population, even if it did mean hundreds of these same people or their off springs, spouses and relatives meeting premature deaths. An invasion of the Malvinas would divert attention away from the real issues like poverty faced by the population. Maybe Argentina had a lot of frustrated sheep farmers in waiting! Argentina would invade and take back the islands by force thus solving two problems for the Military Junta and prolonging their rule. It was logic!

In Britain the government of Margaret Thatcher was, like her Argentinean counterparts, facing similar problems.
She had managed to make herself the least popular Prime Minister certainly since the Second World War and her government were also facing industrial action including strikes by some trade unions. Perhaps the most prominent of these actions was the strike by train drivers led by ASLEF (Association of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen) and their leader the late Ray Buckton. 

Thatcher’s political future was at this point in the balance and she was worried. Perhaps this is why she ignored warnings from the Royal Naval ice ship The Endurance that an Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands was imminent! These warnings had been coming in for months which would have allowed the British to garrison the islands and perhaps repel any Argentine attempt to capture them. Such a move however would not have suited Thatcher’s purpose. She needed an incident, not dissimilar to Galtieri, to divert attention away from the real problems the population were suffering due to her policies. It could be reasonably argued that had Thatcher been in charge of Argentina she may well have done exactly the same as did Galtieri! A Royal Naval Task Force was assembled destined for the Falklands and the rest is history.

Suddenly the hitherto unheard of and perhaps unwanted people inhabiting the Falklands/ Malvinas became an important factor in this game played out by Galtieri and Thatcher. In fact as far as Thatcher was concerned these people were a consequential reason as opposed to the real motive for defending these long forgotten islands. Apart from her social and economic problems at home the far more important issue of OIL had reportedly come to the fore.
Various reports claimed that oil deposits and reserves had been discovered in the South Atlantic and around the Falkland Islands. This, coupled with the British and Argentinean governments domestic problems would be a very worthy prize to fight for. 

According to some reports up to fifteen countries laid claim to the oil around the Falklands/ Malvinas and the last thing the British needed was for one of them encamped on the islands themselves. Of course this could never be publicly admitted by either government, the argument would not carry the weight of pride that the national sovereignty question would especially given the cost of the operation. The British side lost “255 British dead and 777 wounded” In addition, six British ships were sunk”. The cost for the “defence of the islands” was £5 billion, a lot of money in 1982. The cost to Argentina, certainly in terms of life was far higher. Their chiefly conscript army mainly consisting of otherwise unemployed teenagers were no parity for the elite of the British Army, Para’s, Marines etc. The money spent on saving Thatcher’s political standing on this campaign could have eased the economic burden suffered by working class people every day in Britain. This money could have been far better spent rebuilding crisis torn Britain. The result of the war - “brought on to a significant extent by the Governments own diplomatic failings - enabled the Prime Minister to claim: Great Britain is great again” (Source Contemporary British Politics; Bill Coxall and Lynton Robins: P. 33). The exercise served Thatcher’s purpose, many people forgot about their own problems and Thatcher was once again popular.
The population of the Falklands/Malvinas after the success of the British Task Force in 1982 now get a vote in British General elections. This is of course an incidental consequence of the conflict and anybody who thinks the British government of the day sent troops and marines seven thousand miles to fight out of concern for these peoples voting rights are living in cloud cuckoo land. The Argentinean invasion of the Falklands/Malvinas designed to save Galtieri and his Junta had in fact the opposite affect. It was Margaret Thatcher who benefited and the British people, misled as they may have been, who suffered.

Murdock's vile Sun
Finally it should be stated that Thatcher as an individual was no better than was Galtieri. There was very little between them in their personal policies be under no illusions about that. It was more an accident of birth rather than political ideology that it was not Thatcher who invaded the islands and Galtieri sending out a Task Force!Finally it is prudent to mention the island of Grenada in the Caribbean Sea. This small island was invaded by the United States of America in 1983 despite being a British 

“Commonwealth realm”. Needless to say when this American country, from North as opposed to South America, invaded there was no British task force steaming ahead to retake the islands. This was despite the United Nations General Assembly declaring the invasion a “violation of International law” and verbal objections from the British Government. Has anybody any ideas why a task force was deemed appropriate when one American country invaded British territory but not when another did? 

Kevin Morley

Put Your Money Under The Bed!  

As we have recently witnessed the small island of Cyprus is in deep economic turmoil. The banks were closed for a number of days and people, customers, were told how much of their own money they could withdraw and when. This was to prevent people drawing all their savings out thus leaving those who had caused the crisis, the capitalist class and their system, in a not very nice place.

 So much for the rights of the individual so often preached to us by those custodians of the status quo, the bourgeoisie. Cypriots, when the banks finally opened on Thursday 28th March 2013, were limited to €300.00 per day. Cyprus is the latest victim of the economic joke referred to as the “Euro zone”, the coming together of a single European monetary unit, the Euro, by a number of countries, though not all states, within the European Union. Unfortunately Cyprus was one of them!

It must be remembered that these people were not asking the Cypriot banks for loans, no not at all, they simply wanted their own money before the banks lost it all for them. This money was in many cases wages which had been worked for. However the Cyprus government needed this money, the workers money, for themselves to secure a “bailout” or loan from the ECB, EU and/or IMF (European Central Bank, European Union and International Monetary Fund). This would save the capitalist class and capitalism in Cyprus, at least in theory. Once again the mess this system has produced must be paid for by the dispossessed proletariat. 

Not so long ago various capitalist countries, the United States and other non-aligned bourgeois blocks began introducing laws demanding workers have their wages paid into banks. This new efficient system replaced the old pay packets, which workers looked forward to at the end of the week and reduced staff in wages offices,  Salaried or monthly payments were always paid either by cheque or into bank accounts but now everybody was forced to accept this method. After the Cyprus experience we now know that governments can, if needed, confiscate these monies to bail out the business classes and themselves in times of economic crisis, a precedent hitherto unheard of  has been set. It could now happen in any country which operates this unstable economic system.

In larger countries governments can, and do, use peoples monies to fund such enterprises as going to war (or committing genocide) for oil. Normally these projects are funded out of taxation but this is not a sacred cow. Not any more! Libya would be a recent example of a group of countries murdering for oil. Led by Britain and France a gang of lesser NATO thugs backed a few hundred right wing rebels in Libya. 

Their excuse for war was to “bring freedom” and “save lives” in the country. They used air power second to none against a country with barely an air force worthy of the name. Of course Libya was/is not in the same league as Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait in the oil stakes but the latter of these are the property of the United States and the former large investors in the US economy. These countries are out of bounds for NATO's second eleven, former US President George W. Bush made this abundantly clear, who have just being mentioned. 

However Libya with, of course, US approval was fair game. The question must be asked is how long before instead of purely peoples monies paid in taxation being used for such ventures, their savings and wages are used as well to fund them? Obviously governments can if they wish take peoples money without their consent so why not for pursuing the profits from oil? After all who would stop them? Has the time come to revert back to the days when savings were kept in a brief case under the bed? It may be safer because in these days of high technology it only takes the pushing of a switch to prevent people getting to their own money if a government feel fit. The message here is don’t trust them or their system, the evidence is there to see! Of course keeping thousands of pounds, dollars or euro under the bed is not the answer. A different economic and political system is needed to replace this flawed entity. How to achieve it is the question!

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