A report of the CP’s first national meeting on February 8 will be online soon. Below are the platform and motions passed at this meeting- successful amendments to the platform and motions are indicated with bold, underlined text.
The meeting voted to adopt the new platform proposed by the CPGB and this was then subject to amendments.
1. The Communist Platform is committed to building Left Unity as a socialist party, a party that seeks to bring about the end of capitalism and its replacement by the rule of the working class.
2. Under socialism the means of production pass [back – delete] into common ownership. Our ultimate aim is a society based on the principle of ‘From each according to their abilities; to each according to their needs’. A moneyless, classless, stateless society within which each individual can develop their fullest individuality.
3. The rule of the working class requires a state to defend itself , but a state that is withering away, a partial state.
4. Socialism and democracy are inseparable. Democracy is not just about casting votes. It is a process of the constant forming of ideas, and taking and carrying out decisions. Hence the need for the entire population to exercise control over every sphere of social life: the state and politics, work and the economy, international relations, etc. Without open discussion as a norm and the right to form parties, platforms and oppositions democracy can only be formal or simply fictional.
5. We stand on the historic examples of the Paris Commune of 1871 and the Bolshevik-led revolution in October 1917 as the first attempts of the working class to dispossess the capitalists and begin the construction of socialism.We reject the idea that the Soviet Union and similar regimes were democratic, socialist or represented either the political rule of the working class or some kind of step on the road to socialism.
6. Socialism is international or it is nothing. The victory of socialism in one or more country is only partial until the balance of forces has decisively tilted against capitalism. That means socialism must triumph in a tranche of advanced countries if it is not to suffer deformation and counterrevolution in one form or another. National revolutions are therefore best coordinated and where possible synchronised.
7. Towards this end the working class should as a means of organisation and struggle use both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary means.
8. All members of Left Unity who agree with these aims and principles are urged to join the Communist Platform.
Motions on Dieudonné from Ian Donovan and James Turley – both remitted
ID motion 2,Governmental power- agreed unamended
The Communist Platform of Left Unity puts forward the following perspective regarding the key question of government:
Left Unity aims to win political power to end capitalism, not to manage it. It will not participate in governmental coalitions with capitalist parties at national or local level. Nor will it aim to administer the existing capitalist state alone or in coalition with reformists, in the manner of either ‘old’ or New Labour.
The elevation of Left Unity to government either alone or as part of a working-class block must be generally understood as heralding the abolition of the core of the capitalist state, centrally the police, the officer caste of the armed forces, the capitalist judiciary and prison system, and the command structure of the civil service etc. The creation of such a workers government must therefore be accompanied by the existence of independent, armed working class organisations, capable of successfully defending the government and its working class base against the disintegrating capitalist state forces. It must be clearly understood that without such conditions being in place, no working class government can be formed.
CPGB motion 1, Winning the battle for democracy - agreed unamended
Capitalism creates the necessity amongst workers to engage in constant struggle. Even without the leadership of socialists class battles will occur, albeit at an elemental level.
However, to liberate themselves workers must fight for the positive resolution of all social contradictions, first and foremost by winning the battle for democracy.
Under capitalism democracy exhibits two sides. There is mystification, whereby the masses are reconciled to their exploitation and fooled into imagining themselves to be the sovereign power in society. On the other hand, there is the struggle to give democratic forms a new, substantive, content. This can only be achieved by the working class taking the lead in the fight to ensure popular control over all aspects of society.
Hence, Left Unity does not counterpose democracy to socialism. Democracy is much more than voting every four or five years. Democracy is the rule of the people, for the people, by the people. To make that aspiration real necessarily means removing all judicial, structural and socio-economic restraints on, or distortions of, popular control from below.
Left Unity stands for republican democracy. That means demanding:
- Abolition of the monarchy and the House of Lords, and a single-chamber parliament with proportional representation, annual elections and MPs’ salaries set at the level of a skilled worker.
- No to the presidential prime minister. End prime ministerial appointment of ministers and all other forms of prime ministerial patronage.
- Disband MI5, MI6, special branch and the entire secret state apparatus.
- For local democracy. Service provision, planning, tax raising, law enforcement and funding allocation to be radically devolved downwards as far as possible and appropriate: to ward, borough, city and county levels.
CPGB motion 2, European Union - agreed as amended
Left Unity oppose all programmes and demands for a British withdrawal from the European Union. By the same measure we oppose the EU of commissioners, corruption and capital. However, as the political, bureaucratic and economic elite has created the reality of a confederal EU, the working class should take it, not the narrow limits of the nation-state, as its decisive point of departure.
The constituent national parts of the EU exhibit a definite commonality due to geography, culture, history, economics and politics. Put another way, the EU is not an empire kept together by force. Nor is it just a trading bloc. Far from capitalism pushing through what is objectively necessary – the unity of Europe – on the contrary capitalism has held back European unification.
For the working class that necessitates organising at an EU level: campaigns, trade unions, cooperatives, for the levelling up of working conditions and wages across Europe to the best status quo currently in force, and the fight for extreme democracy.
Left Unity wants not a quasi-democratic, confederal EU, but a united Europe under the rule of the working class.
- Power to the EU parliament. Replace the EU commission by an executive democratically responsible to the parliament. Abolish the council of ministers.
- For a democratically controlled European Central Bank.
- Towards indivisible European unity.
- For the free movement of people. Against all immigration controls.
Naturally, to the degree the working class extends its power over the EU it will exercise attraction for the oppressed peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Such a bloc would be able to face down all threats and quickly spread the flame of universal liberation.
War is the continuation of politics by other, violent, means. War is a sustained conflict on an extended scale. War is the product of class society. War, and the potential for war, will only end with the ending of class society itself.
Capitalism goes hand in hand with uneven development. Hence the constant pressure for a redivision of spoils. Rising ‘have not’ powers challenge the existing imperialist hierarchy and seek to offset their own problems at the expense of foreign rivals. When diplomacy and trade wars fail, military force decides. Trade blocs become military blocs. So imperialism means preparation for war. Peace is only a period of ceasefire. It is only the freezing of the division of spoils arrived at through war.
After 1945 imperialism normalised high levels of production of the means of destruction. Popular support for military Keynesianism was garnered through anti-communism and competition with the Soviet Union. The cold war became a system of social control east and west.
Capitalism now possesses weapons capable of destroying human life across the whole planet. The struggle to end the danger of war by the working class is therefore a struggle for the survival of the human species.
British imperialism has an unparalleled history of war and aggression in virtually every corner of the world. Though no longer the power it once was, large, well equipped armed forces are maintained in order to serve the interests of British capitalism abroad and at home.
British capitalism is one of the world’s main weapons manufacturers and exporters. It has a vested interest in promoting militarism. Socialists stress, however, that the struggle against the military-industrial complex cannot be separated from the struggle against the profit system as a whole.
Left Unity oppose all imperialist wars, military alliances and occupations. We also reject nuclear, biological and other such weapons of mass destruction as inherently inhuman.
Peace cannot come courtesy of bodies such as the United Nations – an assembly of exploiters and murderers. It is the duty of socialists to connect the popular desire for peace with the aim of revolution. Only by disarming the bourgeoisie and through the victory of international socialism can the danger of war be eliminated.
With global socialism the word ‘war’ will become redundant. So will the word ‘peace’. The absence of war will gradually render obsolete its opposite, as humanity leaves behind its pre-history.
Socialists are not pacifists. Everywhere we support just wars, above all revolutionary civil wars for socialism. Left Unity will therefore strive to expose the war preparations of the capitalist class, the lies of social imperialists and illusions fostered by social pacifism.
CPGB motion 4, Crime and prison - agreed unamended
Crime can only be understood in relationship to society. In class society crime is a product of alienation, want or resistance. Under capitalism the criminal justice system is anti-working class, irrational and inhuman. Property is considered primary; the person merely a form of property.
5. Prison should always be considered a last resort. There must be workers’ supervision of prisons. Prisoners must be allowed the maximum opportunity to develop themselves as human beings. People should only be imprisoned within a short distance of their home locality – if not, families must be given full cost of travel for visits.
7. Prisoners should have the right to vote in parliamentary and other such elections and to stand for election. Votes from prisoners to count within the constituency where they actually live, not where they happen to originate.
CPGB motion 5, Environment - agreed unamended
Nature is accorded no value by capital, which has but one interest – self-expansion. Capital has no intrinsic concern either for the worker or nature. Nature and the human being are nothing for capital except objects of exploitation.
Over the last 100 years, and increasingly so, the exploitation of nature has resulted in unprecedented destruction. Countless species of plants and animals have been driven to extinction. Many more are endangered. Deforestation, erosion of top soil, spread of deserts, overfishing of seas and oceans and anthropogenic air and water pollution have grown apace. In third-world cities that means deadly smogs, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. Huge numbers have no proper sanitation facilities and no ready access to clean drinking water.
Instead of cherishing the resources of nature there is plunder, waste, depletion and irresponsibility. Oil is criminally squandered through the car economy, huge areas of land are given over for growing biofuels, air travel booms, while public transport is typically neglected, and nuclear power is presented as the solution to global warming and the danger of runaway climate change.
Left Unity rejects the claim that workers create all wealth under capitalism. There is also the wealth that comes from the labour of peasants, the petty bourgeoisie and middle class strata. Above that there is nature too.
Working class power presents the only viable alternative to the destructive reproduction of capital. To begin with as a countervailing force within capitalism that pulls against the logic of capital. The political economy of the working class brings with it not only higher wages and shorter hours. It brings health services, social security systems, pensions, universal primary and secondary education … and measures that protect the environment.
As well as being of capitalism, the working class is uniquely opposed to capitalism. The political economy of the working class more than challenges capital. It points beyond: to the total reorganisation of society and with that the ending of humanity’s strained, brutalised and crisis-ridden relationship with nature.
Our aim is not only to put a stop to the destruction of nature and preserve what remains. For the sake of future generations we must restore and where possible enhance the riches of nature.
Against the destructive, wasteful and polluting logic of capital, Left Unity presents these immediate demands:
Free local and city-wide public transport. Nationalise the land. Tax polluters. Minimise carbon, methane and other such global warming gas outputs.
For sustainable development. For the re-establishment of an intimate connection between town and country, agriculture and industry, and a reversal of the trend to concentrate the population in London and south-east England. Work and domestic life should be brought closer together.
Concrete jungles, urban sprawl, huge farms and uninterrupted industrialised agriculture are profoundly alienating and inhuman. Towns and cities should be full of trees, roof gardens, planted walls, allotments, wild parks and little farms.
Inshore seas must include wide non-fishing areas. The aim should be to fully restore marine life and thus create a sustainable fishing industry.
Where feasible there should be the re-establishment of forests, natural floodplains, marshes, fens and heath land. Extensive wilderness areas should be created in the countryside, along with the reintroduction of the full array of native plants and animal species.
CPGB motion 6,Freedom of information – agreed unamended
Knowledge is power. The British bourgeois state has always shrouded its affairs in secrecy. Real class interests and imperialist plans and ambitions are thus kept from the eyes of the working class. Simultaneously there is a close relationship between the state and the owners and controllers of the mass media. The press, radio, TV and the internet are highly monopolised and not only serve as a means of generating huge profits, but constantly reinforce bourgeois values.
The working class needs openness in state, business, scientific and cultural matters, not least as a preparation for running its own state.
Left Unity therefore demands:
- Abolish the 30-year rule and all other forms of secrecy. Public access to all state files, cabinet papers, diplomatic agreements, etc.
- Democratise the state-sponsored mass media. The controllers and top management of the BBC should be elected and recallable. For the free communication of ideas. End all forms of censorship, legislative, commercial and institutional.
- Abolish copyright laws and other so-called intellectual property rights.
- Unrestricted freedom of the internet should be considered an integral part of freedom of information.
CPGB motion 7, Health – agreed unamended
Left Unity demands a comprehensive, free and democratic health service to meets the needs of everyone.
Left Unity therefore presents the following demands:
The national health service must provide the highest quality care in all areas, including dentistry, optometry and those complementary therapies that have been scientifically proven to be effective.
The national health service must place a strong emphasis on preventative interventions.
All NHS hospitals to be run by their staff and the community they serve.
For NHS community clinics providing a full range of health services democratically accountable to local people.
GPs, hospital doctors, consultants, etc who work in the NHS should be exclusively employed by the NHS.
The pharmaceutical industry should be nationalised, so that the development of drugs serves human need, not the generation of profits.
CPGB motion 8, Housing – agreed unamended
Left Unity regards the provision of housing as a basic right.
Towards this end we demand:
A massive revival of council and other social house building programmes. The shortage of housing must be ended.
Council and social housing must be high quality, energy- efficient and with spacious rooms. Where appropriate, outside areas must be provided for children to play.
Accommodation to be allocated on the basis of need and rents set at a token level. There should be life-long tenure.
Communal housing schemes with shared services, gardens, swimming pools, gyms, etc should be included as part of the mix of housing options.
Housing estates and blocks of flats should be democratically run by tenants in conjunction with the local authorities and relevant trade unions.
Architects should be encouraged to innovate and use their imagination. However, the design of all new builds and the refurbishment of existing accommodation should fully involve future residents and the wider local community.
A publicly-owned building corporation to be established to ensure that planned targets for house-building are reached and to provide permanent employment and ongoing training for building workers.
CPGB motion 9,Migrant workers and racism – agreed unamended
Large numbers of workers who have come from other countries live in Britain. Migration is often the result of poverty, lack of opportunity, war or persecution.
Capital moves around the world without restriction. As a matter of principle Left Unity is for the free movement of people and against all measures preventing them entering or leaving countries. Simultaneously, we seek to end poverty, lack of opportunity, war and persecution everywhere.
The bourgeoisie uses migrant workers, especially illegals, as worst paid labour. That is ensured through immigration laws and quotas, lack of security and police raids, detention centres and deportations.
The capitalist state in Britain now has an official ideology of anti-racism. Of course, racism still exists, as does the national chauvinist consensus which champions British imperialism’s interests against foreign rivals and sets worker against worker.
Migrant workers are not the problem. The capitalists who use them to increase competition between workers are. The reformist plea for non-racist immigration controls plays directly into the hands of our exploiters. It concedes the right of the state to bar workers from entering Britain.
It is in the interest of all workers that migrant workers and ethnic communities are integrated. Assimilation is progressive as long as if is not based upon force. In order to encourage integration and strengthen the unity of the working class, the following demands are put forward:
1. The right to speak and be educated in one’s own language. The right to conduct correspondence with the state in one’s own language.
2. The right to learn English for all migrant workers and their families. Employers must provide language courses.
3. The right to become citizens with full social and political rights for all workers who have resided in the country for six months.
4. Fight all discrimination based on race, ethnicity or culture by state or private bodies.
CPGB 10, The national question – agreed unamended
1. As a general rule socialists do not want to see countries broken up into small nation-states. Ours is the revolutionary call for humanity to shed the flag-waving, imagined community of the nation-state.
2. Socialists are the most consistent internationalists and unreservedly denounce any tactical pandering to, let alone attempts to exacerbate, national tensions.
3. Socialists want a positive solution to the national question in the interests of the working class: that is, the merging of nations. That can only be achieved through democracy and the right of all to fully develop their own culture.
4. Where national questions exist, Left Unity will fight to secure the right of nations to self-determination. Historically constituted peoples should be able to freely decide their own destiny. They can separate if they so wish. Thereby they can also elect to come together or stay together with others.
5. The British nation evolved from the gradual bonding of the English, Welsh and Scottish. Drawn together over centuries by common political and economic experience, they now in the main possess a common language, culture and psychology.
6. The birth of the British nation was a progressive development objectively. Nevertheless, because it was carried out under the aegis of a brutal absolutism it was accompanied by countless acts of violence and discrimination.
7. As post-boom British imperialism was forced to turn inwards, and in the absence of a viable proletarian alternative, resistance in Scotland and Wales often took a national form. A mythologised past was deployed by nationalists, opportunists and Labourites alike to serve their nefarious purposes.
8. Left Unity stands opposed to every form of Scottish and Welsh national narrow-mindedness. Equally we oppose every form of British/English national chauvinism. Ideas of exclusiveness or superiority, national oppression itself, obscure the fundamental antagonism between labour and capital, and divert attention from the need to unite against the common enemy – the British capitalist state.
9. While socialists defend the right of Scotland and Wales to secede, we do not want separation. Socialists want the closest union circumstances allow. That is why we stand for a federal republic of England, Scotland and Wales.
10. It is the proletarian-internationalist duty of socialists in Scotland and Wales to defend the right of the Scots and Welsh to remain with and achieve an even higher degree of unity with the English. Correspondingly socialists in England must be the best defenders of the right of Scotland and Wales to separate. That in no way contradicts the duty to advocate unity.
11. Ireland is Britain’s oldest colony. In 1921 Ireland was dissected – a sectarian Six County statelet was created in order to permanently divide the Irish working class and perpetuate British domination over the whole island of Ireland.
12. We socialists in Britain unconditionally support the right of the people of Ireland to reunite. Working class opposition to British imperialism in Ireland is a necessary condition for our own liberation – a nation that oppresses another can never itself be free. The struggle for socialism in Britain and national liberation in Ireland are closely linked.
13. Socialists in Ireland likewise have internationalist duties. They must fight for the friendship between workers in Britain and Ireland and their speediest coming together. They must be resolute opponents of nationalism.
CPGB motion 11,Sexual freedom – agreed unamended
Gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, etc have often been scapegoated or persecuted. They are portrayed as threats to timeless religious values, sexual norms and the nuclear family – the basic economic unit of capitalist society.
Bigoted attitudes divide the working class and aid those advocating the authoritarian state. The working class needs to be mobilised in order to defend and advance sexual freedom.
Left Unity demands:
1. Decriminalisation of all consensual sexual practices. End police and state harassment.
2. Lesbian women and gay men should be accorded the same rights in society as heterosexuals: that is, state marriages, artificial insemination for lesbians, adoption and fostering. No discrimination in custody cases on the grounds of sexual orientation.
3. No discrimination in any area of employment.
4. Decriminalisation of prostitution so as to remove it from criminal control. For the self-organisation of prostitutes to improve their conditions. Prostitutes to be provided with special healthcare and other services to reduce the dangers they confront. Measures must be put in place to give prostitutes wider social opportunities.
CPGB motion 12, Trade union demands – agreed unamended
Trade unions limit competition between workers, thus securing a better price for labour-power. They represent a tremendous gain for the working class, drawing millions of workers into collective activity against employers.
Of course, left to itself, trade union consciousness is characterised by sectionalism. At best trade union consciousness attempts to constantly improve the lot of workers within capitalism. At worst trade union consciousness degenerates into business unionism and sacrificing the interests of workers for the sake of capitalist competitiveness and profitability.
Left Unity openly seeks to make trade unions into schools for socialism. We do this by always putting forward the general interest, by fighting for workers’ unity and by fully involving the rank and file in decision-making.
Bargaining is a specialist activity. Consequently the trade unions need a layer of functionaries. However, due to lack of democratic control and accountability these functionaries have consolidated themselves into a conservative caste.
The trade union bureaucracy is more concerned with amicable deals and preserving union funds than with the class struggle. Operating as an intermediary between labour and capital, it has a real, material interest in the continued existence of the wage system.
Within the trade unions Left Unity will fight against bureaucracy by demanding:
1. Trade unions must be free of any interference or control by the state or employer.
2. No trade union official to be paid above the average wage of a worker in that particular union.
3. All full-time trade union officials must be elected, accountable and instantly recallable.
4. Workers should support trade union leaders only to the extent that they fight for the long-term interests of the working class as a whole.
5. All-embracing workplace committees. Organise all workers, whatever their trade, whether or not they are in trade unions. Workplace committees should fight to exercise control over hiring and firing, production and investment.
6. One industry, one union. Industrial unions are rational and enhance the ability of workers to struggle.
7. Given the international nature of the capitalist system and the existence of giant transnational companies, trade unions also need to organise internationally.
CPGB motion 13,Unemployment and capitalism – agreed unamended
Unemployment is an integral feature of capitalism. In periods of crisis millions cannot be profitably employed and are discarded. At all times unemployment is capitalism’s principal tool for collectively disciplining the working class and maximising exploitation. Full employment, whether as a result of deliberate government policy – as in the post-war period – or in periods of exceptional economic boom, increases the confidence of workers and the strength of their organisations, leading to higher wages and improved conditions.
Permanent full employment is not compatible with the continuation of capitalism. The capitalist class and its state will therefore act to restore the reserve army of labour to counter the combativeness of the organised working class.
Maintained at below subsistence levels, the unemployed increasingly constitute a permanently marginalised section of the population. The only way to eradicate unemployment is to end the system that causes and requires it.
1. As part of the working class the unemployed must be integrated as fully as possible into the workers’ movement.
2. They must be made into a reserve army of the revolution by demanding:
3. The right to work at trade union rates of pay or unemployment benefit at the level of the minimum wage.
4. No state harassment of the unemployed. Claiming benefit is a right, not a privilege.
5. Cheap labour schemes must be replaced by real training and education under trade union supervision.
6. The unemployed must have the right to remain in or join trade unions as full members with equal rights.
7. To the extent that they operate, unemployed workers’ organisations must be represented in the trade union movement – from trades councils to the Trade Union Congress.
CPGB motion 14, Women’s liberation – agreed as amended
Women are oppressed because of the system of exploitation and the division of labour. Women’s oppression has existed since the dawn of class society. Ending exploitation will create the framework for the full realisation of women’s emancipation. Therefore the struggle for both is interconnected.
Women’s emancipation is not a question for women alone. Just as the abolition of class exploitation is of concern to female workers, so the emancipation of women is of concern to male workers. The struggle for socialism and the emancipation of women cannot be separated.
Women carry the main burden of feeding babies, house management, supermarket buying, family cooking, child ferrying, etc, which is performed gratis. Given the ever increasing pressure on time, such work is often frantic, demoralising and allows no kind of rounded, cultural development.
Advanced capitalism has created the material prerequisites for the liberation of women. However, women cannot be fully emancipated until the disappearance of the division of labour and without going beyond bourgeois right, which entails: to each according to work done.
In Britain women have won or been granted formal equality with men. But the capitalist system makes a mockery of that. At work, at home, in trade unions, in official politics, in culture, in organised religion, women are still faced with inequality, discrimination or oppression.
There has been a rapid increase in women’s participation in the economy. As a norm therefore women are exploited by capital as cheap wage workers and domestic slaves. Hence they suffer a double burden.
Women have their own problems and demands. These demands, however, do not conflict with the demands of the working class: rather they reinforce them.
Left Unity says:
1. Turn formal equality into genuine equality. Socially, economically, politically and culturally there must be substantial equality.
2. Open free, 24-hour crèches and kindergartens to facilitate full participation in social life outside the home. Open high-quality canteens with cheap prices. Establish laundry and house-cleaning services undertaken by local authorities and the state. This to be the first step in the socialisation of housework.
3. Fully paid maternity leave of 12 months, which the mother can choose to take from up to three months before giving birth. The partner to be provided with six months’ fully paid paternity leave – three months of which should be compulsory – to encourage equality and bonding with the child.
4. Free abortion and contraception on demand.
5. Provision for either parent to be allowed paid leave to look after sick children.
6. Maximum six-hour working day for all nursing mothers.
7. Full support for women fleeing violence within the home.
CPGB motion 15, Working conditions – agreed unamended
Left Unity begins with what workers need, not what capitalism can afford.
Therefore we demand:
1. A maximum five-day working week and a maximum seven-hour day for all wage workers. Reduction of that to a four-day working week and a maximum six-hour day for occupations which are dangerous or particularly demanding. The working day must include rest periods of not less than two hours.
2. An uninterrupted weekly break of not less than 65 hours for all wage workers.
3. Equal pay for equal work.
4. Abolition of overtime in its present form. In the case of emergencies and other such eventualities overtime must be voluntary, for only short periods and with at least double pay.
5. A minimum net wage to be set on the basis of what is needed by a worker and one child to lead a full life, participating materially and culturally in society. All benefits, pensions and student grants to at least match the minimum wage.
6. A minimum of six weeks’ fully paid holiday leave during the year in addition to public holidays.
7. Insurance and other such payments to be made entirely by the capitalists and the state.
8. Occupational training for all workers to be a legal obligation for employers.
9. Child labour to be illegal. For young people aged between 14 and 16, the working week should be limited to five days and the working day to no more than two hours.
10. All industrial courts, arbitration panels, etc to be made up of at least 50% elected workers’ representatives.
11. All workers must have the right to strike and to join a trade union.
CPGB motion 16, Youth and education – agreed as amended
Youth are used as cheap labour, sexually policed and blamed for social decay. The system also exploits youth as consumers. Every ideal, every artistic talent is judged in terms of generating artificial needs. There are many who reject the twisted values of the system. But in despair this often turns to nihilism and escapism – themselves turned into commodities by capitalism.
Youth are at the sharp end of capitalist decline. Young workers are in general less likely to be protected by trade union membership. Homelessness, unemployment and sexual abuse are greatly disproportionate amongst the young.
The education system is a vitally important site of struggle. Secondary education is narrow, unimaginative and obsessively focused on targets and exams. Official schemes for unemployed youth are notoriously mediocre, designed more to massage government statistics than equip young workers with the skills they need for a worthwhile future.
Higher education is increasingly designed to suit the commercial interests of employers – university courses included. This sector churns out the next generation of skilled workers. Elite universities specialise in the reproduction of the upper-middle and ruling classes. Not surprisingly, here something like a proper education is on offer.
The following demands are of crucial importance for youth:
1. Compulsory education up until the age of 16 and from then on within a fully democratic system. Secondary education should be of a polytechnical nature. That is, rounded to include technical and personal skills, as well as scientific, social, historical and artistic subjects. Tertiary education should be a right, not a privilege. Abolish student fees. Everyone should be encouraged to develop themselves and their intellectual and critical abilities to the fullest degree.
2. For academic freedom in teaching and research.
3. Students over the age of 16 should receive grants set at the level of the minimum wage.
4. No state funding, charitable status or tax breaks for religious and private schools and colleges.
5. Provision of housing/hostels for youth to enter of their own choice for longer or shorter periods when they lose their parents or choose to leave them.
6. The right of every young person on leaving education to a job, proper technical training or full benefits.
7. Remove all obstacles to the participation of youth in social life. Votes and the right to be elected from the age of 16.
8. The provision of a broad range of sports and cultural centres under the control of representatives elected by youth.
[9. Abolish age-of-consent laws. We recognise the right of individuals to enter into the sexual relations they choose, provided this does not conflict with the rights of others. Alternative legislation to protect children from sexual abuse – remitted]
10. The extensive provision of education and counselling facilities on all sexual matters, free from moralistic judgement, is an essential prerequisite to enable youth to develop themselves in all areas of sexuality and reproduction.
CPGB motion 17, Pensioners and the elderly – agreed unamended
People deserve a secure, dignified and comfortable old age. The needs of the elderly should be met fully by the state and be available by right. Old people must not suffer the humiliation and anxiety of relying on means tests or charity.
The aim of these demands is to mobilise the working class as a whole to fight for pensioners’ rights:
1. No compulsory retirement on the basis of age. Right to retirement from age 60 for all workers – at 55 in unpleasant and dangerous occupations.
2. The state pension should be set at the level of the minimum wage, and should be paid to everyone who has reached retirement age and wants to give up work.
3. Old people should have the right to decide how they live. The state must provide what is needed to allow elderly people to live independently if they so wish, for as long as they are physically or mentally capable of doing so. There should be no compulsory institutionalisation.
4. Social clubs for the elderly should be democratic and subsidised by the state, not charities.
5. The comfort and dignity of the dying must be ensured at all times. Euthanasia and disposal of the body after death should be carried out according to the wishes of the individual.
The following steering committee was elected:
John Bridge, Ian Donovan, Mark Fischer, Moshé Machover, Yassamine Mather