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Greece
‘The working class showed it will return to struggle’

04/08/2015: After Syriza capitulates, taking first steps towards building a new mass Left alternative to austerity and capitalism

  Greece

 CWI School 2015
World crisis continues amid horrific consequences

03/08/2015: Report of World Perspectives discussion at the 2015 CWI Summer School

  CWI

 CWI School
Drawing the lessons from the revolutions in North Africa

03/08/2015: Life and death struggle with the process of counter-revolution.

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US
Over 1,000 attend housing debate hosted by Socialist councillor Kshama Sawant

31/07/2015: Kshama Sawant, Seattle’s socialist councillor defending seat in primary elections on 4 August

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 CWI School
Social and political turmoil in Ireland

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Britain
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Turkey
Horrific Suruc massacre

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Europe’s euro-crisis and prospects for class struggle

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CWI brings solidarity with Suruç victims

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Turkey
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Ireland
57% boycott water charges

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 Video
Reject sectarianism in Northern Ireland

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Germany
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14/07/2015: A socialist view on immigration crisis

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Tsipras crosses the Rubicon

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Britain
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China
Stock market crash can turn into a political crisis

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Austria
Social? Democratic? Party!

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Britain
Socialists and the EU referendum

03/07/2015: How should socialists approach the in-or-out EU debate?

  Britain

 Video
Real nature of EU is being laid bare

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 Video
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  Video

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Troika threatens Greeks ahead of referendum

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The Marikana Report – a whitewash

30/06/2015: Not a stone has been left unturned on the political landscape

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Terrorist atrocity in Sousse

29/06/2015: For a renewed mass movement against poverty and terror

  Tunisia

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“NO”

27/06/2015: On Sunday 5 July, we say “no” to the gang of the lenders!

  Greece

Britain’s class battle-lines are drawn

26/06/2015: A quarter-of-a-million people protested through London and Glasgow raising the need for trade union-led struggle

  Britain

Germany
Indefinite strike for more staff at Charité hospital

26/06/2015: Berlin industrial dispute of national importance

  Germany

Greece
Where are mass solidarity protests with Syriza?

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  Greece

Egypt
Counter-revolution continues

25/06/2015: Recent strikes show workers will resist

  Egypt

Australia

Yarra Council - One in five people vote socialist across city

www.socialistworld.net, 05/11/2012
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Socialists increase vote and retain Stephen Jolly’s seat

By Socialist Party (CWI in Australia) reporters Melbourne

October 27 saw elections take place across Victorian councils. The Socialist Party stood five candidates in the City of Yarra municipality which is located in the inner north of Melbourne.

The press widely reported these elections being some of the ‘dirtiest’ in recent times. In many electorates reports of stolen ballots, scuffles between candidates, and misrepresentations of party affiliations were the dominant focus.

In contrast, the Yarra Council election was much more political. It was one of the few places where there were genuine differences between the candidates: the choice in Yarra was between the Socialist Party and the establishment forces of the Labor Party, Greens and right-wing independents.

The Socialist Party had two sitting Councillors going into the election. Stephen Jolly was first elected in 2004 with 12.34% and was re-elected in 2008 after topping the polls with 29.18%. Anthony Main was elected in early 2011 after a Labor Councillor resigned. Main polled 5.55% and was elected on preferences.

The Council has 9 seats divided into 3 separate wards (3 seats in each ward). To be elected candidates need to win 25% plus 1 vote. Preferences are allocated until 3 candidates in each ward reach this target. The goal of the Socialist Party in this election was to retain Stephen Jolly’s seat in the Langridge ward and to increase our vote and deepen our support base in the other two wards, Nicholls and Melba.

It was clear on election day that many people voted for Labor or the Greens on the basis of state or federal issues. As the Socialist Party does not have the same national profile as these parties, we needed to actively win every vote we received.

We were also up against difficult objective conditions for socialists given the fact that the mining boom in Australia is giving people a false sense of security about the state of the economy and the system in general.

However, at a national level there is much disappointment in the federal Labor government. While the Greens are in de facto coalition with Labor they have been able to maintain an illusion of distance to some extent. Because of this they are still seen by many as a progressive alternative to the two major parties. However, there have also been some swings against the Greens in recent elections in various parts of Australia.

On Yarra Council the Greens and the Labor Party have also been in coalition from 2008 – 2012. They have shared the position of Mayor and have jointly voted for neo-liberal budgets. They have overseen year on year over inflation rate rises, cuts to some services and the attempted sell off of Council assets – although they claimed the opposite during the campaign!

In the lead up to the election the Greens were desperately trying to decouple themselves from Labor. To this end they had some success. Labor has been faring poorly in the polls nationally and the Greens recognised that if they were seen to be in partnership they too could lose support.

While in coalition locally, federally and in some states, in the inner suburbs of Melbourne the Greens are the major electoral challenger to Labor. The area of Yarra is part of the federal seat of Melbourne – the only lower house seat that Labor has lost to the Greens. The difference in Yarra compared to other inner city Councils is that it is also the only place that the Greens face a credible left-wing challenge in the Socialist Party.

Left-wing challenge to the Greens

It was clear from the election results that the work of the Socialist Party in the area is starting to become more widely recognised. For over 25 years now we have been involved in community campaigns in the area. Since 2004 we have also been the voice of opposition in the Council Chamber.

In this election, city wide, we managed to increase our vote from 12.16% in 2008 to 19.59% in 2012, with almost one in five people across the municipality voting socialist. This is by far the best result achieved by socialists anywhere in Australia in recent history.

Given that many people do not follow politics at a local level we see our vote as much more conscious than the votes for the other parties. While there is a layer who vote for the Socialist Party because we are anti-capitalist, most people who vote for us do so because they have been touched by our work or appreciate our local campaigning.

Our long term and consistent approach to community campaigning has meant that we have been successful in eating into the electoral support of the Labor Party and the Greens. Our highest votes were recorded at the booths where public housing tenants voted in big numbers, most of whom previously voted Labor.

At the Fitzroy Town Hall pre-poll booth near the Fitzroy estate we won 38.2%. At Collingwood College near the Collingwood estate we won 37.9% and at the Richmond estate, the biggest public housing estate in Victoria, and a stronghold of the Labor Party, we won an impressive 26% of the vote.

The Labor vote across Yarra went down by 1.88% while the Socialist Party vote increased by 7.43%. The Greens managed to increase their vote by 6.65% but this was largely due to the fact that they appealed to a more conservative constituency.

Many of the Greens candidates were extremely right-wing and would find themselves just as much at home in the Liberal Party. In fact one Greens candidate proudly described himself a Green with Liberal Party values while another was a former CEO.

Despite winning almost 20% of the vote the Socialist Party was rewarded with only 1 seat on the Council. In contrast the Labor Party won only 24.83% and was rewarded with 3 seats.

Langridge ward

Stephen Jolly, standing for the Socialist Party in the Langridge ward increased his vote to an impressive 34.24%. He topped the polls for the second time in a row. Stephen is by far the most popular Councillor at Yarra and is widely respected for his many years of struggle in the area.

Second elected in the Langridge ward was the lead Greens candidate, and the 2012 Labor Party Mayor scraped into the final spot on preferences. In the Langridge ward the Labor vote was reduced by 2.4%. With just a few hundred more votes it would have been possible for our second candidate, Mel Gregson, to be elected on preferences. Together Mel Gregson and Stephen Jolly won 37.06% of the vote – the highest of any party.

Melba ward

Our other sitting Councillor Anthony Main stood in the Melba ward this time around. The Socialist party has never had a Councillor on this area. It is also the area of Yarra where the Labor Party is strongest.

Anthony was asked by the party to change from Nicholls to the Melba ward given the huge amount of inappropriate development taking place in the area and the utter incompetence of the right-wing Labor, Greens and Independent Councillors. The Socialist Party Councillors have initiated and been involved in campaigns in this area, particularly in struggles between ordinary residents and big developers. In 2008 we polled a mere 2.13% in this ward.

This was always going to a difficult position to win but given the circumstances we did extremely well. Anthony polled 11.74% of the vote beating two sitting Councillors including a former Mayor. The first position was won by the Labor Party. Uniquely they managed to increase their vote, partly through the luck of appearing on the top of the ballot paper but largely because of the absence of the ‘ALP endorsed’ Independent that stood in 2008.

The Greens also managed to increase their vote – in this case by 15.14%. It seemed that the Greens won most of this increase from a conservative layer who voted for one or another of the right-wing Independents last time around.

The Labor Party won the first seat in Melba with the Greens winning the second. The third spot ended up being a close race between Anthony Main from the Socialist Party and Phillip Vlahogiannis, a right-wing Independent.

There was much speculation during the campaign about the motivations of Vlahogiannis. He claimed to stand against inappropriate development and against the overuse of parking waivers in new blocks of units, yet he decided to preference the Labor Party – the party who stand for exactly the opposite!

To make matters worse he was also photographed handing out Labor Party how-to-vote cards at a pre-polling booth. This suggests that he may be a Labor Party ‘stooge’ candidate, put there to edge out Labor’s opponents. Unfortunately these facts were ignored by the mainstream media and he managed to avoid any serious criticisms during the campaign.

He managed to win a significant vote amongst the large Greek community and received preferences from another right-wing Independent and from the Labor Party. This pushed him just in front of Anthony Main, winning him the last spot in the Melba ward.

Nicholls ward

The Nicholls ward was where we won our second Council seat via a count back in 2011, winning 5.55% in the last election. Due to the work that we have done in this area over the past two years, our candidates Chris Dite and David Elliott managed to almost double our vote to 10.81%.

Again a few hundred more votes at the expense of the Labor Party in this ward could have seen Chris Dite elected on preferences. In the end the Greens won the first position and right-wing Independent Jackie Fristacky won the second position. The Labor candidate scraped into the last spot on preferences and thanks to an advantageous position on the ballot paper, despite seeing Labor’s vote drop by 5.15% since 2008.

Mass campaign

While most of our vote came from a conscious layer of supporters our election campaign played a significant role in popularising our ideas and consolidating our support. Over the course of about 2 months we managed to letterbox over 90,000 leaflets and knock on the doors of almost 15,000 homes. We did regular street stalls and put up thousands of posters across the municipality.

All up more than 150 people helped during the campaign. Alongside our polling both volunteers, letterboxers and door knockers, dozens of musicians, comedians, DJs, film makers and artists helped with fundraising and publicity for the campaign.

Our long term work and active campaigning in Yarra has meant the term socialism has been rebranded in the area. Rather than socialist ideas being seen as a relic of the past, Socialist Party members are seen as the best fighters against big developer greed, for more council services and as the best representatives of ordinary people residents and public housing tenants.

In 2002 three Socialist Party candidates won 3.5% across Yarra. In 2004 our three candidates won 4.5% and in 2008 we won 12.1%. Our vote this year of nearly 20% clearly shows that people are not afraid of socialist ideas if they are explained clearly and made relevant to people’s everyday lives.

The Socialist Party will continue to play a role in all the major struggles in Yarra and continue to win support for socialist ideas amongst a growing layer of people. While campaigning Councillors can play a useful auxiliary role, as we have shown in Yarra, real change happens when people organise and mobilise in their workplaces, in their communities and on the streets.

The challenge ahead for the Socialist Party is expand this work, side by side with building our organisation so that we can spread these examples beyond Yarra. Stephen Jolly will continue to be the voice of opposition to the establishment parties inside the Council Chamber and we will continue to campaign on the ground.

This election demonstrated that a small party like ours is able to win significant support on the basis of socialist ideas and action. This shows the potential a new mass workers party would have, with the support of left-wing unions, community groups and other activists, to replicate this success on a much wider scale.

More and more people are becoming fed up with the rightward drift of the Labor Party and the inaction of the Greens. As the mining boom winds down and economic conditions begin to worsen a growing number of workers and young people are recognising the need for an alternative way of running society. We consider our work in Yarra an important contribution towards building the political alternative that is necessary.



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NEWS

CWI School: Drawing the lessons from the revolutions in North Africa
03/08/2015, David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
Life and death struggle with the process of counter-revolution.

US: Over 1,000 attend housing debate hosted by Socialist councillor Kshama Sawant
31/07/2015, Kshama Sawant:
Kshama Sawant, Seattle’s socialist councillor defending seat in primary elections on 4 August

CWI School: Social and political turmoil in Ireland
30/07/2015, Eddie McCabe, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Socialists play key role in rapidly changing situation

Britain: Corbyn’s Labour leadership bid shows anti-austerity message popular
29/07/2015, Editorial from The Socialist, weekly paper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Militant Tendency held up as bogeyman by Labour right and media - What’s the real history?

Turkey: Horrific Suruc massacre
28/07/2015, Paula Mitchell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Only workers’ unity can end terrorism and division

Britain: Labour Left leadership candidate under fire from right wing
27/07/2015, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales - formerly the Militant Tendency) press statement on Labour leadership contest:
Blairites’ terror at popularity of left-wing ideas in Corbyn campaign

Turkey: CWI brings solidarity with Suruç victims
22/07/2015, :
Message of support from the CWI and its sections

Turkey: Massacre in Suruç
20/07/2015, Sosyalist Alternatif (CWI in Turkey):
Kurdish and Turkish people pay price for Erdoğan’s support for ISIS

Venezuela: Solidarity with workers and unions at FOGADE
20/07/2015, socialistworld.net:
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Ireland: 57% boycott water charges
18/07/2015, Michael O’Brien, Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) Councillor and Socialist Party member:
Mass non-payment campaign gets results

Video: Reject sectarianism in Northern Ireland
17/07/2015, socialistworld.net:
Paul Murphy addresses Irish parliament

Germany: Capitalists strangling Greece
15/07/2015, Georg Kümmel, Cologne, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
No to the dictatorship of banks and big business – For a socialist Europe!

Migration: Fleeing horrors created by capitalism
14/07/2015, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
A socialist view on immigration crisis

Greece: Tsipras crosses the Rubicon
10/07/2015, Editorial Statement by Xekinima(CWI Greece):
Time for a new, mass revolutionary Left to oppose all austerity!

Britain: Union activists say, We could stop austerity in its tracks
09/07/2015, From The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party, CWI England & Wales):
National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) conference

Scotland: Dundee porters’ victory proves strike action can deliver
06/07/2015, By Philip Stott:
After 13 weeks of all-out strike action the 117 Dundee hospital porters have won an inspiring victory

Video: Harris Sideris on Greek referendum and Vodafone battle
05/07/2015, socialistworld.net:
Sacked Greek Vodafone trade unionist speaks in London on eve of historic referendum

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Video: Real nature of EU is being laid bare
02/07/2015, Socialistworld.net:
Ruth Coppinger, Socialist TD (Irish MP), supports Greek ‘NO’ vote, and calls for debt refutation and nationalisations

Video: Socialist MP condemns Troika/Irish government’s bullying of Greek voters
01/07/2015, :
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For a renewed mass movement against poverty and terror

Greece: “NO”
27/06/2015, Statement by Xekinima (CWI in Greece):
On Sunday 5 July, we say “no” to the gang of the lenders!

Germany: Indefinite strike for more staff at Charité hospital
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Greece: Where are mass solidarity protests with Syriza?
26/06/2015, Eleni Mitsou, from Xekinima (CWI Greece) website:
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CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Greece: ‘The working class showed it will return to struggle’
04/08/2015, Interview with a Greek socialist:
After Syriza capitulates, taking first steps towards building a new mass Left alternative to austerity and capitalism

CWI School 2015: World crisis continues amid horrific consequences
03/08/2015, Cillian Gillespie, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Report of World Perspectives discussion at the 2015 CWI Summer School

CWI School: Europe’s euro-crisis and prospects for class struggle
28/07/2015, Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Ground prepared everywhere for new battles and rise of left formations

China: Stock market crash can turn into a political crisis
08/07/2015, Interview, with chinaworker.info editor, Vincent Kolo:
Regime adopts panic measures as market crash threatens wider economic recession

Greece: Mighty class-based ‘NO’ shakes bosses’ EU
06/07/2015, Editorial comment by Xekinima (CWI Greece), 6 July 2015:
Referendum earthquake sees working class boldly defy Troika and Greece’s servile ruling class!

Britain: Socialists and the EU referendum
03/07/2015, Clive Heemskerk, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
How should socialists approach the in-or-out EU debate?

Greece: Troika threatens Greeks ahead of referendum
30/06/2015, Andreas Payiatsos and Niall Mulholland:
Vote ‘No’! For a mass working class campaign to oppose Troika and for socialist policies!

Britain’s class battle-lines are drawn
26/06/2015, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) Deputy General Secretary - article from ’Socialism Today’:
A quarter-of-a-million people protested through London and Glasgow raising the need for trade union-led struggle

Greece: Tsipras retreats before Troika threats
24/06/2015, Statement by Xekinima (CWI Greece) [dated 23 June 2015]:
What should the SYRIZA Left do next?

Greece: No surrender to‘Gang of Lenders’
22/06/2015, Editorial article from Xekinima (CWI Greece) [dated 17 June 2015]:
Plan an anti-austerity fight-back, with socialist policies!

Iraq/Syria: US imperialist strategy in tatters
12/06/2015, Serge Jordan (CWI):
A year after ISIS captured Mosul, the jihadist group controls about half of Syria and a third of Iraq – more territory than ever before

Greece: Syriza voters want austerity ended, not another ’compromise’ Troika deal
04/06/2015, Editorial article from Xekinima (CWI Greece) website [dated 3 June 2015]:
Break with the austerity - adopt a socialist programme!

China: Is China heading for a new Tiananmen?
04/06/2015, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
26th anniversary of the Beijing massacre on June 4, 1989, is also a warning of revolutionary shocks ahead

Hong Kong: Endgame for Beijing’s fake democracy plan
03/06/2015, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Government’s electoral reform proposals meet with mass opposition

Spain: Victories for Left “popular unity” lists in local elections
02/06/2015, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Two-party system dealt a new blow in local and regional elections

Belgium: Momentum to bring down right wing government lost
01/06/2015, Els Deschoemacker and Eric Byl, LSP/PSL (Belgian section of the CWI), Brussels:
Learn from the struggle, as new opportunities open up

Ireland: Massive ‘Yes’ to Marriage Equality referendum
28/05/2015, Conor Payne, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
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Britain: The struggles to come
27/05/2015, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI England and Wales) General Secretary:
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Iraq/Syria: ISIS rout national armies at Ramadi and Palmyra
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Ireland North: Election marks growing rejection of sectarian status quo
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Spain: Is Podemos in crisis?
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Left and social movements in a state of flux, as key elections loom

USA: Presidential candidate declares "political revolution" against billionaires
12/05/2015, Philip Locker, Socialist Alternative, Seattle:
Campaign needs to build independent political power

Britain: Fight against "five more damned years" of Tory rule
12/05/2015, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party )CWI England & Wales) General Secretary:
Labour leader’s ’responsible capitalism’ shows its bankruptcy

China: “In a hard landing now”
11/05/2015, Dikang, chinaworker.info:
Stock market frenzy and fabricated GDP figures cannot hide the reality of an economy in deep trouble