Tag Archives: Socialist Caucus

Video: Jeremy Corbyn and the New Politics of the British Labour Party. 

Guest speaker, Michael Chessum from London, England opened the NDP Socialist Caucus / NDP Momentum Conference on 10 December 2016.

Michael’s presentation was on Jeremy Corbyn and the New Politics of the British Labour Party.

Michael is a member of the Momentum Steering Committee and has been a socialist activist in and around the Labour Party for a number of years. He was previously an organiser in the student and anti-austerity movements of 2010 and thereafter. He currently works as the national organiser for Another Europe is Possible, which was the radical Remain campaign in the EU referendum, and writes for the New Statesman, Guardian and other publications.

Michael’s presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxfnwywJHCY

The Q&A session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcMYezlXFxg

Justice for Palestine!

Statement of the NDP Socialist Caucus delivered to NDP MP Craig Scott during sit in at constituency office:

 

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NDP Leader’s policy is Neither Balanced Nor Just

Lift the Siege of Gaza! Boycott Israeli Apartheid! Justice for Palestine!

Members of the New Democratic Party Socialist Caucus, joined by anti-war, labour, human rights and community activists, are here today to say: We stand with the people of Gaza. We are on the side of Palestine in the present conflict.

We call on NDP MP Craig Scott (Toronto Danforth) to stand up for justice, human rights, self-determination for Palestine, and the prosecution of Israeli war crimes. Statements by the NDP Leader, which MP Scott has echoed, fall far short of a ‘balanced’ or just approach to the war waged against the people of Gaza, in which the Israeli war machine has killed nearly 2,000, the vast majority of whom are civilians, including hundreds of children.

In the Toronto Star, Thomas Mulcair wrote: “New Democrats have long been committed to a policy of supporting peaceful coexistence in viable, independent states with agreed-upon borders, an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and an end to violence targeting civilians.”

This policy is wrong on many counts. The ‘two state’ solution is neither viable nor just. It would reduce Palestine to a few disconnected, impoverished Bantustans. The Oslo Accords failed even to slow, let alone halt the proliferation of Zionist settlements across the West Bank. Israeli jails are full of Palestinians never convicted of any crime. With the ‘separation’ wall, the Zionist state illegally seized Palestinian land and crippled the commerce of Arab cities and towns. Mulcair proposes lifting the blockade, but only after Gazans halt their justified armed resistance. He urges aid for reconstruction, and bringing injured Gazan children to Canada for treatment. The latter are fine sentiments, but grossly inadequate. Totally missing is a clear and unequivocal denunciation of the crimes committed by the dominant power. There is no moral equivalence between, on the one hand, brutal and devastating forms of collective punishment, using the most sophisticated weaponry, against an imprisoned people, and on the other hand, the firing of homemade ‘bottle rockets’ incapable of hitting a target. Mulcair’s stance blames victims and victimizers equally. This is an infernal ‘balance’. He says ‘end the occupation’, but robs it of any clear meaning.

NDP members across the country, alongside millions of working people from coast to coast to coast, want the labour-based party and its parliamentary caucus, to advance NDP adopted policy. ‘End the Occupation’ must be more than a tag-on phrase. It must be linked to: Dismantle the settlements. Tear down the Wall. For the Right of Return of all refugees. End the shipment of arms to Israel. Free the political prisoners. Prosecute Israeli war criminals, starting with Benjamin Netanyahu. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Apartheid Israel. Abrogate the special trade arrangements between Ottawa and Tel Aviv. For a single, secular, democratic state, based on full equality of rights for Jews, Muslims, Christians and non-believers, for Arabs and all others, in a unitary, free Palestine/Israel.

In solidarity,

Barry Weisleder,

chair, NDP Socialist Caucus

www.ndpsocialists.ca barryaw@rogers.com

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The Ontario election and the future of the NDP

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by Barry Weisleder
Conservative leader Tim Hudak got exactly what he deserved. On June 12 Ontario voters rejected his plan to eliminate 100,000 public sector jobs and to gut the unions.
For the most part, labour’s campaign to stop Hudak worked. The Tories were trounced at the polls, reduced to 28 seats and 31 per cent of the ballots cast. Hudak announced he’d step down when his party picks a replacement leader. But members of his caucus forced him to quit sooner. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy!
However, this anti-Hudak sentiment translated into a Liberal majority. It’s hard to celebrate four more years of Bay Street’s preferred party. It’s hard to celebrate an electoral system that rewards a party that got less than 39 per cent of the votes cast, only about 19 per cent of the eligible electorate, with a majority of seats (58 of 107) in the Ontario Legislature.
The union-based New Democratic Party, on the other hand, lost the little power it had – despite increasing its vote share by 1 per cent (to 24 per cent) and retaining a seat total of 21. It would have done better had it pulled the plug on Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne one year earlier. But the NDP did manage to pick up seats and consolidate its hold in the areas hardest hit by recession. In St. Catherines, in Hamilton (although NDP Leader Andrea Horwath did lose votes in her own riding), in London, Niagara, Oshawa and Windsor Essex regions the party had seat gains or vote increases. Still, the NDP lost three seats and major ground in Toronto.
The voter turnout was barely 51 per cent, a three per cent improvement from the 2011 provincial election, but a dismal result by any standard.
Key to the disappointment was the NDP’s feckless effort. Worse than losing ‘an electoral gamble’, Andrea Horwath waged the worst NDP campaign since Bob Rae attempted to defend his infamous Social Contract in 1995.
Horwath had no mandate to veer to the right of the Liberal Party in a vain attempt to appeal to 20120624-092713-gConservative supporters and the business class. She had no mandate to abandon the fight for social justice in favour of a crass appeal to consumerism.
The NDP platform emphasized “making life more affordable” by removing the HST from electricity bills, reducing car insurance rates by 15%, opening up a few more child care spaces, shortening hospital wait times, and offering a mere $1 increase in the hourly minimum wage. At the same time, Horwath campaigned to continue the practice of bribing big private corporations to create jobs – without demanding any public ownership or democratic control of state investment.
Horwath projected a small increase in corporate taxation, but no plan to conscript the hidden, un-taxed billions of dollars – what a former head of the Bank of Canada calls ‘dead Capital’. That means the NDP proposed no way to fund a serious assault on poverty, on homelessness, or to end the deeping crises in public transit, education and health care.
Horwath and her strategists said nothing about phasing out nuclear power plants, stopping Line 9, satisfying the just claims of indigenous peoples, curtailing state surveillance, and terminating police repression of the kind that was unleashed during the G-20 Summit in Toronto. There was not even a hint that the problems faced today by the vast majority of Ontarions are rooted in the decaying and increasingly destructive capitalist system — much less that the solution is socialist democracy.
The ONDP Leader campaigned on ‘integrity’. But she failed to reduce her own democratic deficit. She ignored a party convention decision to be tougher on the Ontario Liberal budget of 2012/13. In fact, on her watch, party conventions provide less time for policy debate. And Horwath’s Election Planning Committee undemocratically prevents leftists from being NDP candidates.
o-KATHLEEN-WYNNE-TIM-HUDAK-facebookWhile it is gratifying that the Progressive Conservatives lost big time, it is clear that the capitalist austerity agenda continues vigorously under Premier Wynne. Remember, Wynne bragged during the TV leaders’ debate that she had implemented “80 per cent of the Drummond Report” — a harsh austerity plan. Behind Wynne’s affable smile, the locomotive of the rulers’ public sector wage freeze, social cutbacks, 3Ps, and privatization remains firmly on track.
Corporate Ontario found a way to sanitize its brutal anti-working class agenda by hiding it behind the ‘progressive’ veneer of the province’s first female Premier, also Canada’s first lesbian Premier.
Now New Democrats, labour unionists, feminists, LGBTQ folks, environmentalists, socialists and social justice advocates must fight to take the NDP from the latter-day Blairites, and re-direct the party to lead the battle against capitalist austerity, and for socialist solutions to the mounting problems we face.
That starts with the demand that Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath resign immediately. It’s time for a full review of the party’s leadership and political direction, leading up to its November 14-16 convention in Toronto.
The question of Horwath’s future as ONDP leader is posed daily in the mass media. The Socialist Caucus did not initiate this question, but it does have the opportunity to rally opinion behind a concrete proposal. Robin Sears and Brian Topp have written articles in defense of Horwath. Dave Cooke, former NDP Education Minister, Gerry Caplan, Paul Ferriera, Michael Prue, even Rosario Marchese have sharply criticized her. For socialists, the main issue is not personality; it is the need for a full review of the leadership and political direction of the party.
But how do we get it?
This is not an abstract matter. A full review is triggered by a vote of non-confidence in the leader. A confidence vote occurs at every party convention. If even 35% of the delegates vote for a leadership review (that is, if less than 65% vote to support the current leader), in all likelihood a leadership race will ensue.
It is clear that such a vote would open up a period of intense discussion about the future of the NDP.
So, what should socialists and labour activists do?
Should we just wait to see what happens, and in the meantime conduct ‘business as usual’ by submitting resolutions to the Convention, knowing full well that party officials will ensure that few of our resolutions ever make it to the floor?
This is where a bold initiative is needed – to galvanize the widespread discontent in the party and its voter base by posing a concrete course of action: Demand that Andrea resign, and insist that a full review of the political direction of the party take place now.
Is there a risk that such a demand may upset a section of the membership? Well, yes, but which section of members is likely to be offended? Will it be supporters of the openly critical letter of the 34 prominent present and former NDPers? Or that part of the labour section which openly broke with Andrea the day the election was called? Or the mass of party members who were so dissatisfied with Andrea’s campaign that they did not participate in it?
Of course, there is the segment, including party staff and paid canvassers, who heartily support making the NDP the New Liberal Party – but the left has few prospects among them.
Naturally, the removal of Andrea is no guarantee that another MPP in the top job will change direction.
But what are the chances if the party ranks, including the SC, do not demand this? It would only help Horwath and her team of handlers and fixers to weather the storm.
Our task is to ‘fan the flames of discontent.’ On what basis should we demand a full review of the r-BARRY-WEISLEDER-NDP-large570political direction of the party, starting with the demand that the Leader resign? It should be done on the basis that there was no mandate to turn right; indeed, that to survive the NDP must turn sharply to the left.
What should be said to those who argue that it’s time to launch a new electoral party of the left? Stand up and fight for your principles – but fight where it really matters. Don’t retreat into a fantasy world.
What is the record of new left-party initiatives in English Canada?
It ranges from tragedy to farce. The Waffle movement had 10,000 NDP supporters in the early 1970s. But within three years of its departure from the NDP, it had disappeared. The Campaign for an Activist Party, and later the New Politics Initiative, led by Svend Robinson and Judy Rebick in the 1990s, were top-down, undemocratic structures that gave up the fight and disappeared. Four years ago a small body of dissident NDPers launched the Ginger Group. After a brief polemic, it quit the NDP and launched the Socialist Party of Ontario. In 2011 it ran three candidates. On June 12, 2014 the SPO ran only two candidates. The Communist Party of Canada ran 11 candidates on a left-reformist platform. None of those ‘left’ candidates got more than 200 votes. The NDP got 1.1 million votes, with no support from big business. Most of its votes came from working people in heavily working class districts.
Then there is the left-populist or anarchist perspective. It says “Just ignore the NDP”. The problem with that is many-fold. It is economist. It leaves the struggle for bread and butter improvements at the front door of the Legislature. It is anti-political, or at best, a stunted form of politics. Worst of all, it gives the present leadership of the working class a free hand to continue the sell-out. That includes so-called strategic voting, which favours the Liberal Party. We saw what that means when Gerry Dias, the President of UNIFOR, was shown on TV at the Liberal victory party congratulating Kathleen Wynne.
The NDP is the only mass, labour-based political party in North America. To understand the significance of that, just look at politics in the United States. The NDP remains a workers’ party, which is obvious to anyone who has been to an NDP convention. But the NDP has a staunchly pro-capitalist leadership which is out of step with reality, that is, seemingly oblivious to the extremely destructive decline of late capitalism.
The struggle for a Workers’ Agenda will take place in the NDP, as it will take place in the unions. Not exclusively there, but there too.
The battle against capitalist austerity continues. Quickly the Toronto Star warned Wynne to renege on her ‘progressive’ promises and instead to reduce the deficit – “to avoid a credit-rating downgrade.” The Star asks, “Will Wynne play Hudak-lite and cut public service jobs or government spending?” It darkly predicts “confrontations with public sector unions.”
Let’s hope that there will be confrontations – arising from resistence to the coming cuts. Let’s hope that union leaders don’t declare victory over Hudak and then go to sleep, as they did when the Bob Rae-led Ontario NDP surprisingly won a majority of seats in 1990.
529399_10152715812245215_874041131_nOne thing should be clear: for anti-austerity resistence to succeed there must be rank and file organization against austerity and concessions inside the NDP and the unions.
A critical test of that idea will occur at the Ontario NDP Convention in November. To prepare for that, the Socialist Caucus will host an Ontario Conference on Saturday, September 6. It will petition for a change of leadership and political direction of the party. It will decide on priority resolutions. It will select SC candidates for the ONDP Executive. It will plan the next edition of Turn Left, the SC magazine, for which a fund appeal is presently underway.
Can the Socialist Caucus make a difference? It has proven that it can. The SC won the federal NDP in 2006 to the policy ‘Canada Out of Afghanistan’. The SC led the fight at the 2011 NDP convention in Vancouver to keep ‘socialism’ in the party constitution, and again at the 2013 convention where we won the debate on ‘free post-secondary education’. We forced the Ontario party leadership in 2010 to conduct a review of public funding of Catholic separate schools, and held the only large public hearing on the issue.
Clearly, socialist revolution requires more than socialist resolutions. But change starts with joining the fight inside the main working class organizations.
Capitalism has nothing to offer workers, women, youths, seniors and the poor. The Occupy movement showed there is a hunger for change, and re-defined the notion of ‘majority.’ The Quebec students’ movement showed what a mass ‘social strike’ against neo-liberalism looks like. The current continental campaign for a $15/hour minimum wage inspires millions.
Opposition to Line 9, to the Northern Gateway pipeline, and the fight to save Canada’s postal services have the same potential. The global popularity of Thomas Piketty’s book ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ indicates the wide disdain for growing inequality, and the appetite for a radical new direction. The defeat of Ken Georgetti’s executive slate at the Canadian Labour Congress Convention in May is further evidence of stirrings below the surface.
In our tortured world, anger and suffering there is aplenty. What’s lacking is leadership. Leadership is born in struggle. Join the struggle for a new leadership in the workers’ movement. Join the NDP Socialist Caucus. Together we will win.
Sign the petition! Spread the word!!

Change Starts with Joining the Fight

ndp_socialist_caucus_logoSome long-time New Democrats, suddenly on May 23, issued a critique of Andrea Horwath’s provincial election campaign.

    Now there’s nothing wrong with constructive criticism of one’s own party, even in the midst of its desperate efforts to woo voters.
    But we have to wonder: What were those 34 progressive voices saying before the writ was dropped? Where were those activists one year ago when Horwath backed the Liberal minority government when it was still fresh from gas plant, e-health, and ORNGE scandals?
    And just what were those activists doing during the past decade when Socialist Caucus militants and other concerned New Democrats spoke repeatedly at party conventions in opposition to leadership policies that favour corporate bail-outs, tax incentives to business, state funding of Catholic separate schools, the estrangement of the labour movement, and the abandonment of public auto insurance and Ontario Hydro? Where were they when Andrea Horwath, Gilles Bisson and the ONDP Election Planning Committee prevented socialists from being NDP candidates in the 2011 Ontario election?
    No doubt, the current Ontario NDP electoral campaign is the worst since Bob Rae vainly defended his odious Social Contract in 1995. Gerry Caplan is right to complain that the platform has “No coherent theme, no memorable policies, nothing to deal with the great concerns of New Democrats everywhere.”
Horwath ditched the provincial pension plan she previously touted. She proposes a measly increase in the corporate tax rate, a new ministry of “Savings and Accountability” to cut $600 million a year (shades of Rob Ford’s anti-gravy train mythology), and is silent on poverty and growing social inequality.
    But what do Caplan, and Michelle Landsberg, Judy Rebick, Cathy Crowe, Winnie Ng and the others propose? Abstain? Vote Liberal?
    Have they forgotten that Liberals act like Tories in government? That the Liberals suspended the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike for tens of thousands of education workers? That the Liberals kept millions without decent housing, affordable post-secondary education, liveable welfare rates, an adequate minimum wage, good public transit, and subjected everyone to a deteriorating and increasingly toxic environment.
    Conservative Leader Tim Hudak aims to cut 100,000 jobs and cripple unions. He says aloud what other capitalist politicians think.
Workers and allied folks need to stop the corporate agenda. We need to stop Hudak, but also stop Kathleen Wynne (and her Drummond Report austerity policies).
    So, what should be done?
    Supporting either one of Bay Street’s two main political parties is no solution.
On June 12, vote NDP. It remains a labour party, despite its present leadership and right wing populist campaign. Demand that the NDP fight for a Workers’ Agenda, and strive to form a Workers’ Government, in the interest of the vast majority of the people of Ontario.
    Join the Socialist Caucus. Together, let’s turn the NDP sharply to the left.
For more information visit the NDP Socialist Caucus web site: www.ndpsocialists.ca
Read the SC magazine on-line: Turn Left
e-mail: info@ndpsocialists.ca or barryaw@rogers.com phone: 416 – 535 – 8779

NDP Socialist Caucus public forum in Brantford

Do you plan to attend?
If you live far from Brantford (which is about a 20 minute drive west of Hamilton, Ontario), please disregard this message.

Please copy, post and circulate this invitation widely, especially across southern Ontario:

– An NDP Socialist Caucus Public Forum-
The Future of the NDP and Labour
with guest speaker:
Barry Weisleder, Chair, NDP Socialist Caucus; Editorial board member of Turn Left (the SC magazine); Co-editor of Socialist Action monthly newspaper; Organizer, Toronto Substitute Teachers’ Action Caucus, OSSTF District 12.

Friday, September 14
7 p.m.
MOOSE LODGE, 145 West St., (at Grey St.)
downstairs hall, in Brantford, Ontario
Everyone is welcome. For more information visit: http://www.ndpsocialists.ca
e-mail: barryaw@rogers.com phone: 519 – 304-3067 (Roy in Brantford) or 416 – 535 – 8779

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