Joe Biden steps down as Democratic presidential candidate

Posted on: July 21st, 2024 by Thomas Foster
Joe Biden illustrating an article on Biden resignation

Joe Biden has gone

Joe Biden has been forced to step down as the Democratic presidential candidate in a sign of the deep crisis in the United States. 

Biden resigned on Sunday after it became impossible for him to carry on. Democratic Party grandees such as Barack Obama, Senate leader Chuck Schumer and former speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi came out against his candidacy. 

Crucially, more and more Democratic donors from Wall Street to Hollywood threatened to cut funding. One Wall Street donor said, “Biden got the message that there’s not another dollar of fundraising.”

Donald Trump’s lead over Biden widened to 5 percent since the assassination attempt last weekend. 

Biden failed on his own pro-capitalist terms. When elected in 2020, Biden ran on an anti-populist ticket and promised efficient and technocratic government. He was supposed to be a capable pair of hands for the bosses and the rich. 

The Democrats have long championed themselves as managers of the system. But all of Biden’s recent gaffes—such as calling vice president Kamala Harris “vice president Trump”—have undermined this carefully cultivated image.

As Trump has also made a number of slip-ups and gaffes, has appeared confused, and made wild statements such as likening himself to Jesus Christ but not faced a similar level of scrutiny.

It’s unlikely that there’d be serious calls for Biden to stand down on health grounds if he was comfortably ahead of Trump in the polls. 

His growing unpopularity reflects deeper issues about the failures of his presidency to help ordinary people. Eric, a socialist activist in New York, said, “There’s a real disconnect between what the Democrats say about the US economy and how people are living. 

“People didn’t feel the impact of Bidenomics. If they could suddenly afford houses that they couldn’t before, it would seem like it’s working. But things like housing and healthcare remain huge problems.”

Biden’s presidency has used state intervention in the economy, but it’s been in the the form of tax credits and subsidies to big business. 

At the same time government assistance has faded, demand for foodbanks has surged, food insecurity sky-rocketed and homelessness is at a record high. The number of people in the US who have difficulty paying for basic household expenses increased from 32 percent in 2020 to 39 percent in 2024.

Mike, a teacher from Michigan, argued, “The issue of Biden being old wouldn’t be an issue if he had good politics. If there was a clearer sense of the Democrats offering an alternative then we wouldn’t be here.

“Biden was a bad candidate not because of his age, but because he is a pro-corporate candidate.”

Biden’s resignation also points towards the limitations of Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other squad members, who backed Biden till the end.

As Eric argued, “The left’s backing of Biden enables people with right wing explanations to get a hearing. Politics could be polarised around class lines. But Biden worked to prevent that, like when he stopped rail workers from striking.

“The left could have amplified movements on the streets to say these are the issues we are fighting on 

“But the left made compromises with the centre and this has fed into disillusionment with left alternatives to Trump.” 

But both parties represent different sections of the capitalist class—neither stand for working class people.

Biden’s downfall will see the Democrats fighting among themselves. Kamala Harris, as vice president, will be vying for the Whitehouse but there’s isn’t unity around her. But one thing is for sure, said Mike, “The Democratic establishment will keep any progressives out.”

“We can’t let movements on the left get sucked into focusing entirely on electing a Democratic president.”

While the Democrats hurl mud at each other, there needs to be resistance from below. In 2016, for example, protesters shut down Trump rallies. 

We need to see similar action now—and the left needs to build outside of the Democrats fighting for a socialist politics based on struggle. 

Why did Amazon workers lose fight for union recognition?

Posted on: July 21st, 2024 by Daire Cumiskey
Hundreds of workers have joined picket lines at the Coventry warehouse (Picture: Darren Westwood)

Hundreds of workers have joined picket lines at the Coventry warehouse (Picture: Darren Westwood)

Amazon workers in Coventry narrowly lost their battle for union recognition last week by 0.5 percent.

The GMB union announced it was just 28 votes short of winning at the BHX4 warehouse, where 3,000 people work.

It was a David versus Goliath battle where a group of workers took on the mammoth Amazon multinational.

A victory would’ve been the first time anywhere outside the United States that Amazon workers have won union recognition.

Amazon put its full weight behind discrediting the workers’ fight, union busting and spreading misinformation.

Andy was part of the GMB’s almost 1,400 members who tried to convince others to vote for the union.

“When the results first came in, I was absolutely gutted,” he told Socialist Worker.

“I think we all knew it’d be tight— we were up against a trillion‑dollar company with almost infinite resources. To get so close only to lose by such a fine margin was devastating.”

But Andy said the reaction from members “has been truly incredible”.

“We may be feeling wounded but we’re proud of how far we’ve come and have no intention of ending the fight here. If anything this loss has only strengthened our resolve. “We brush ourselves down and carry on.”

GMB member Darren said he also doesn’t see the vote as a defeat.

“Amazon has spent millions on its propaganda. And it’s funded managers in to fight us from different countries,” he told Socialist Worker.

“I’d heard about Amazon’s union busting, but no one could’ve imagined how massive it was.” Bosses even put unlabelled QR codes around the warehouse in the hope that workers would click on them.

“I don’t know how much data was breached, but when I scanned the code it took me to the GMB’s website where you unsubscribe from your membership,” said Darren.

“I retaliated and put a code on a board to cancel your Amazon Prime account. Within hours the site manager visited me and said we’d all lose our jobs.”

Andy thinks Amazon spent so much time, effort and money union busting because recognition “would massively upset the balance of power”.

“Amazon’s system could potentially fall apart. We’re also looking for better pay and better working conditions,” he said.

“This would of course eat into Amazon’s massive profits and potentially risk damaging its reputation.”

Darren added, “We’ve funded this with donations and volunteers. In my view, 49.5 percent wanted to be unionised and the other half were scared of the backlash.

“Amazon said that the union would have no rights to negotiate—we know that’s not true. Some of the lies managed to get through.

“We did everything we could, and can walk away with our heads held high. Anyone out there saying they want to copy what we’ve done should.”

‘The union had a short window to convince people’

GMB union member Andy thinks the fact that so many people voted for union recognition is “incredible”. “When this started back in 2022 there was only a handful of us,” he said.

“Looking back and seeing how far we’ve come makes me incredibly proud.” Another source told Socialist Worker, “Amazon had months to put its spin on things.

“It said union recognition would mean losing overtime and holiday entitlements.

“We were convincing people as to why they should make a sacrifice to the union when they’re already struggling to support themselves.

“We had a short window to convince people. Amazon also held meetings where you sit down and get paid for an hour. “It was hard in the time we had to undo its damaging and poisonous manifesto.”

The source also said that some people didn’t receive their postal ballots, and other members had left the workplace or union by the time of the ballot.

“Amazon did more talking in the last few months than it had in the last six years,” they said.

“With union recognition we could’ve looked at terms and conditions as well as health and safety.

“We would have the right to ask about higher staff’s pay and have more transparency about profits. That’s what Amazon is scared of.”

The source explained that throughout the battle the workers have learnt how to communicate better with workers speaking different languages.

“There’s also an education process. So many people haven’t been on strike before, so you have to explain to people why withdrawing labour is a protest. And explain why you have to give up some of your pay as part of that.

“We need to let members know that they are the union— representation comes from asking what they want and who they want to vote for. We are that structure.”

Workers will fight again

The Coventry site distributes everything arriving internationally to fulfilment centres around Britain.

Strikes have been ongoing since January 2023, after an initial unofficial walkout in August 2022—the first ever at Amazon in Britain.

The workers in Coventry have increased their pay by striking by 20 percent.

After Amazon denied voluntary union recognition, the GMB union went to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) to vote for recognition.

Workers then went on strike again in both Coventry and Birmingham. But the CAC set the threshold for the vote after Amazon brought in 1,300 new workers to dilute the union’s membership.

They now have to wait three years to reballot—a threshold Keir Starmer said he’d reduce.

Now the unions need to hold him to it. And the GMB has filed a legal challenge against Amazon over its union busting.

Reps have already been representing members, and will continue to do so.

A source told Socialist Worker,“We’ve escalated strikes and made managers take us seriously. We’ll have to see if they stick to the promises they made to workers recently.

“While we’re struggling to make ends meet, Amazon’s profits get bigger.

“We say no—enough is enough. We lost this battle but we won’t lose the war. We will come up with a strategy to go again.”

Why trade unionists must defend Just Stop Oil

Posted on: July 21st, 2024 by TTE
Just Stop Oil activists march in central London.

Just Stop Oil activists march in central London (Picture: Just Stop Oil)

Unions should be speaking out in solidarity with Just Stop Oil (JSO). If thinking about inconveniencing people is an offence that can lead to five years in prison, trade unionists should be worried.

Imprisoning people for thinking about blocking roads is a short step away from imprisoning people for thinking about forming picket lines.

The right wing media attack JSO and other climate activists for how their actions inconvenience the public. 

It’s the same whenever we strike—the press focus on disrupted commuters or patients who couldn’t get to an appointment.

But the real inconvenience to the public will be climate breakdown and decimated public services—unless we fight back now.

We should be taking more action jointly with climate activists to protect our planet and our livelihoods.

Those at the top of society are failing to act—and climate activists keep sounding the alarm despite the failings of those in power. 

The Cop climate conference have protected the interests of big business and the fossil fuel companies. Governments have declared climate emergencies, then returned to business-as-usual and expanded fossil fuel licences rather than ending them.

It’s not just climate activists who’re facing state repression. We can see this already with the police’s brutal treatment of students in the Palestine encampments. The state wants to criminalise students for calling for their universities to stop their complicity in arming Israel. 

We need to defend the right to protest. The fact that you can now be imprisoned for planning to protest is a fundamental attack on our ability to organise. Any issue, which we want to speak out on, could become the target of an authoritarian police and court system.

As capitalism faces crisis after crisis, its backers are seeking to scapegoat, blameand ultimately imprison those who resist. 

If we allow that to happen, then our future looks bleak. It’s a disgrace that the new Labour government is not repealing the Tory anti-protest laws that attack our rights to protest. 

Trade unionists should be pushing for these laws to be scrapped alongside all the anti-union laws. We have to defend the right to protest.

Labour and its Indian independence myth

Posted on: July 20th, 2024 by Yuri
Protest march in India against the Simon commission in 1928. Banner reads 'Simon Go Back'

Protest march in India against the Simon commission in 1928.

The Labour Party celebrates Indian independence as one of the great achievements of its 1945-51 government, and of prime minister Clement Attlee in particular. Attlee actually described it as “the fulfilment of Britain’s mission in India”. This was barefaced hypocrisy.

What were Attlee’s anti-imperialist credentials? Back in 1928 the government appointed him as a Labour member of the Simon commission, sent to India to report back on constitutional reforms. As there were no Indian representatives on the commission the anti-colonial Indian National Congress (INC) decided to boycott it.

When the commission arrived in India it was met with a general strike and everywhere it went people demonstrated. None of this seems to have perturbed Attlee.  On 30 October 1928, in Lahore, police attacked a protest demonstration led by the 63-year-old Lajpat Rai. He later died from injuries the police inflicted.

Rai had been a friend of Labour Party founder Keir Hardie and had once hoped for great things from the party. But just days before his death he warned, “We should expect nothing from the Labour Party.”

It was Attlee as deputy prime minister who in August 1942 ordered the arrest of Gandhi and the INC leadership, precipitating the great Quit India revolt. With backing from the government in London, authorities in India put down the rising with the utmost brutality.

Police and troops burned down villages and arrested over 90,000 people, torturing many of them. They killed as many as 25,000 protesters.

Then in July 1945 Labour took office and Attlee became prime minister. The government was determined to hold on to India but recognised that to do it Britain would have to concede some measure of self-governance.

It intended to create a weak, fragmented India, governed by puppet rulers, so India could still provide the British Empire with troops and military bases. The government gave this strategy the name “Plan Balkan”.

But the scheme was overthrown by a growing movement of nationalist protest that threatened to become a full-scale rebellion.

The decisive event was the mutiny of the Royal Indian Navy that began in Bombay—today Mumbai—in February 1946 and soon involved the crews of 78 warships in ports across the country. Among the mutineers’ demands were equal pay with British sailors and the withdrawal of Indian troops from Indonesia.

Activists in Bombay called a general strike in support of the sailors and some 300,000 workers walked out. Together they built barricades in the streets and clashed with police and troops. The INC leaders worried that the protests were becoming too radical and persuaded the mutineers to call it off.

For the British military, however, the writing was on the wall. It understood that it did not have the resources to crush a full-scale rebellion, especially if Indian troops joined the rebels.

The government‑appointed viceroy of India, field marshal Archibald Wavell, was warned that it was unlikely that “a Congress rebellion could be suppressed”. But the government took some convincing that it could not hold on to India.

Labour foreign secretary Ernst Bevin argued that Britain should keep control of the country for another 15 years if necessary. It should put down any rebellion, smash the INC and build-up puppet governments to run a divided nation. But in the end Labour had to accept that this was just not possible.

When India finally extracted its independence in August 1947, it was not Labour’s “generosity” or “internationalism” that granted it. The Indian people themselves won their freedom through heroic, and often bloody, struggle.

Bibby Stockholm refugees organise protests and hunger strikes

Posted on: July 20th, 2024 by TTE
a crowd shot of refugees on the Bibby Stockholm barge

The refugee from the Bibby Stockholm barge on their first protest on Monday

Refugees on the Bibby Stockholm prison barge in Portland, Dorset, followed up their 100-strong protest last week with another two days of action.

Up to 300 men went on hunger strike for three days in total, while some 200 joined protests outside the barge by Wednesday. 

“We feel like we’re invisible,” Smith, one of the protest organisers, told Socialist Worker. “Some of us have been on the barge for six months. We were told if we stayed here our interview would come soon.

“We were also told when we arrived in Britain that we would be able to reject our accommodation if it wasn’t suitable. But when we were moved to the barge, the Home Office told us we don’t have the right to reject it.”

Instead, the Home Office threatened removing all support from the refugees if they don’t move on-board.

Smith said that withdrawing from meals in particular was “hard, and especially tough on the third day”. “Some people were worried about joining the protest and being punished by the Home Office.” He said. 

“So these people joined the hunger strike from their rooms. But we’ve had so much support from people.”

Smith said he wants the protest to counter the media’s narrative about refugees. “We’re not greedy and we’re not here to do anything bad,” he said. “We want to get out of here.

“Life on here is very tough, and the conditions are difficult. Some of us have been waiting for one, two or three years. We want to join society.” 

The refugees involved in the action have set up a committee to coordinate and organise the action, with men from different nationalities represented.

The committee made sure there were chairs available for those who couldn’t stand at the protest, and advised on the safest ways to fast.

In a statement the refugees said, “It is important to ensure that our three-day hunger strike and protest are not seen as being against the government. 

“We are here to highlight the failure and inhumane policies of the previous government under Rishi Sunak. We seek the support of the Labour government to help us out of this terrible situation.”

They have four demands. The first is, “Abolish the barge contract and ensure it is not renewed. The barge, intended for asylum seekers, resembles a prison and compromises basic rights—access to adequate housing and freedom of movement. 

“Living on the barge has led to psychological disorders, mental health issues, severe depression, and anxiety. We are stressed about our interviews, which directly affect our peace and well-being.”

The second is, “Minimise the timeframe for residents on the Bibby Stockholm”. “We deserve to know our duration here and move toward a stable future. The criteria for selecting us among 86,000 asylum seekers are unclear,” the statement said.

The third is to speed up the residents’ asylum cases. “Living in uncertainty is distressing. We need the new government’s attention and help with our situation,” they said. 

And the fourth is to “improve health services on the barge”. “Thank you to all participants, volunteers, and supporters. Together, we are strong. Together, we will achieve our goals,” the statement ended.

Refugees from the Bibby Stockholm also joined a lobby of the new Liberal Democrat controlled council. 

The new leader has to meet with local anti-racists and also with the refugees. Candy from Dorset Stand Up To Racism told Socialist Worker, “The protests got bigger every day. There’s not even 400 people on the barge so it’s really impressive action.

“It’s so significant that refugees are organizing themselves. My message to other anti-racists is to support any other actions across the country—and encourage more. The men on the barge deserve all of our support.”

What’s behind the downfall of Vaughan Gething and the Welsh Labour crisis?

Posted on: July 19th, 2024 by TTE
Vaughan Gething (left) embraces Keir Starmer

Vaughan Gething (left), who will leave his position at the end of the summer, embraces Keir Starmer (Picture: Number 10/Fickr)

After less than four months Vaughan Gething’s time as first minister of Wales is up.

The Welsh Labour leader was forced to announce his resignation on Tuesday after four of his ministers quit following a series of scandals. He will leave his post at the end of the summer.

Gething—an ally of Keir Starmer and the party leadership—is a product of Welsh Labour and his downfall revealed the corrupt underbelly of Welsh politics.

Gething, when running for Welsh Labour leader this year, took two donations of £100,000 from Dauson Environmental Ltd. The group’s director David John Neal was given a three-month suspended jail sentence for illegally dumping waste on a site of natural interest in 2013.

Gething must have known this, yet he remains unrepentant. He said it was “nonsense” to suggest he should repay the money. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a spare £200,000 lying around,” he said.

Times are tough, but perhaps Gething has a spare £1,000 lying around? He trousered that much in another donation from a company which was awarded a £1.8 million PPE contract when he was health minister during the pandemic.

As health minister, he told colleagues in a WhatsApp group that he was deleting messages so they couldn’t be found in a freedom of information request. Those revelations in May came after he told the Covid inquiry, “I understood that we’d kept and maintained all the information that we should do.”

And, if that wasn’t enough, in February police arrested four people from Signature Living as part of a £140 million property fraud investigation.  The firm—which donated £10,000 to Gething previously—had snapped up Cardiff’s Coal Exchange for just £1 after public money had gone on refurbishing the iconic building.

Its boss Laurence Kenwright said Gething had “cleared the path” for the deal “even though it was not part of his remit”.

In May Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalist party, scrapped its cooperation agreement with Labour and opened the door to a no-confidence motion the following month. While non-binding, losing it was a symbolic blow.

The crisis was exacerbated by Gething seeking closer ties with the Starmer leadership in Westminster. He attacked the record of his more left-leaning predecessor Mark Drakeford and overturned several policy decisions.

He allowed Starmer to parachute in candidates for the general election. And he sacked cabinet minister Hannah Blythn, who was previously a Unite union official and is on the party’s soft left.

But the political crisis in Welsh Labour stems from turmoil outside the Senedd.

When Gething came to office there were farmers’ protests over a new subsidy and anger over the 20mph speed limit in built up areas.

The Palestine movement in Wales has also had an impact on Gething. Two Labour MSs—including his supporter Hefin David—sponsored a Tory amendment to a Plaid Cymru motion that called for a ceasefire in Gaza.

This replaced the word “ceasefire” with the weasel-worded phrase “suspension of hostilities” and said the Welsh parliament should “recognise the right” of Israel to self-defence in Gaza.

And Gething abstained on supporting a ceasefire as anger over Israel’s genocide raged on the streets.

But the problems go deeper still. Labour has ruled Wales since the Welsh Assembly—know Welsh Parliament or Senedd—was set up in 1999.

The party talked of “clear red water” between Cardiff Bay and Westminster when Tony Blair’s Labour government was in office. There were some benefits—for example, unlike Blair, it didn’t pursue privatisation in the NHS or schools.

But Welsh Labour’s more traditionally social democratic programme was premised on funding from Westminster. That strategy began to unravel after the global financial crisis of 2008 and the Tory election victory in 2010.

The Tories deliberately starved Wales of funds. But Labour politicians, aside from left wing flourishes, didn’t attempt to mount any sort of resistance. They didn’t encourage strikes and protests in response. Instead, Labour accepted the logic of managing a system that fails working class people.

In one of his first press conferences as first minister, Gething defended cuts that could lead to the closure of the National Museum and 90 job losses.

It should come as little surprise that people don’t give Welsh Labour a free ride after its managed Tory austerity for 14 years.

The NHS in Wales may have avoided privatisation, but it hasn’t dodged the crisis. Almost 600,000 people are on the waiting list for treatment and almost 100 GP surgeries have closed.

The majority of schools will likely face deficits by the end of the financial year, which will lead to job cuts.

This will have a devastating impact on school workers and pupils. Some 29 percent of children in Wales live in poverty and the two-child benefit cap, which Starmer refuses to abolish, is fuelling it.

One resident in Cardiff told BBC news, “If you ask every one of us right now, the cost of living is killing. It feels like the government doesn’t really understand our plight and know what the people are going through.”

Another said the next first minister should be “up front and honest with people and actually being more grassroots than anything”.

The question is, where does that anger and disillusionment with Welsh Labour go?

The far right Reform UK came second in 13 seats—including many in Labour heartlands such as the South Wales Valleys.

In Llanelli, Reform almost beat Labour in the general election in a seat it’s held since 1922.

A racist campaign—which included the far right—successfully stopped refugees being housed at a hotel in the West Wales town. It deflected people’s anger in a town that never recovered from Margaret Thatcher’s assaults in the 1980s onto refugees and whipped up a vile racist atmosphere.

But the racists were aided by the silence of the Labour Party and most of the wider labour movement. Labour politicians didn’t speak up with an anti-racist message that said, “Blame Tories and bosses, not refugees,” for fear of losing votes.

One abiding lesson from Llanelli is, you don’t take on the far right by making concessions to racist myths around refugees. You have to take them on and offer an alternative on wages, jobs and living conditions.

That’s a crucial task for socialists in Wales. And, if we’re to harness that anger in a left wing direction, it means breaking with illusions in the Welsh Labour party whoever is the first minister.

Struggle outside the Senedd is key.

Fight against racism in Wales 

Anti-racists rightly welcomed the victory of Gething—and racists hated that someone with Zambian heritage had become first minister. 

The first black leader of Wales was an inspiration to many black and Asian people in a country marked by deep structural racism and inequalities. 

But Welsh Labour right wingers have suddenly—cynically—discovered that they’re principled anti-racists, arguing Gething was held to a higher standard because of racism. They want to deflect people’s legitimate anger over Gething’s corruption. 

Cabinet minister Ken Skates said, “I’m really worried about the message that today’s events sends to people of colour in Wales, but also what it sends to the world.” 

When has Ken Skates ever championed anti-racism? What did he have to say, for example, when Mohamud Hassan died following an arrest in 2021?

What did they have to say about Starmer’s treatment of Dianne Abbott—or were they too busy cosying up to the Labour leadership? 

Did the likes of Skates speak up and build opposition to the racist campaign in Llanelli last year? What have these Labour politicians had to say about the Israeli settler colonial state’s genocide of Palestinians? 

Racism runs through Welsh society. To challenge it, we need a politics that goes far beyond Welsh Labour, one that uproots the structural inequality and oppression. And to ensure the racist forces doesn’t grow out of the anger, the left shouldn’t line up behind Gething and the Labour right. 

How the Democrats paved way for Trump’s return

Posted on: July 19th, 2024 by Isabel
Donald Trump as president in 2018

We could see Donald Trump in the White House—again

We’ve reached a point where a convicted felon, a conspiracist, a sexual predator, a fraudulent billionaire and a far right figurehead might well win a second presidential term. How have we got here? People are suffering and they’re desperate for things to get better.

With a lot of the left lining up behind Joe Biden and his business as usual politics, people turn to Trump as an alternative. But what is Trump’s appeal? A key tool in his armoury is playing hugely into nostalgia. His slogan—“Make America Great Again”—resonates with many who feel like the so-called “American Dream” has died.

But this dream was contradictory. It was a time of jobs and economic expansion, yet it was a nightmare for black people, women and LGBT+ people. Trump taps into those contradictions. He whips up racism into this nostalgia, creating a longing for a time when migration was lower and making people believe that only he can reverse the United States’s decline.

In turn, he harnesses a real feeling of resentment, of being left behind, forgotten and ridiculed. But he points the finger at migrants and “culture war” flashpoints like LGBT+ rights and the US’s racist history. And he creates a spectacle, with his electric mass rallies providing a feeling of belonging.

Annon, a retiree living in Portland, Oregon, spoke about the content of Trump’s vote. He told Socialist Worker, “I think a lot of his support is small business owners struggling under the system who feel squeezed, who feel disadvantaged and that the system’s unfair.”

Eric, a socialist activist in New York, agreed. “More and more CEOs are seeing that Trump can pull small business owners together,” he said. “Whether they agree with the anti-migrant stuff that Trump has activated, the rich see it can be useful, supporting him for his deregulation and decrease of taxes. But Trump does capture some poor and minorities that don’t see a credible alternative.

“That’s what gives him a winning coalition come the election.” Mike, a teacher in Michigan, added, “Trump appeals to believers in the American Dream who think capitalism can work for them if you work your way up. “He has a solid base, and with low voter turnout and lack of enthusiasm you can win an election with a third of the population.”

Millions of workers scarred as American Dream crashes

Millions of Americans are being left behind. This is despite Biden’s pronouncements like, “Our economy is literally the envy of the world.” Yet the US economy is one where many Americans are unhappy and anxious about the explosion of living costs in recent years.

Government assistance has faded, demand for foodbanks has surged, food insecurity sky-rocketed and homelessness is at a record high. Just a look at surveys of Americans backs up a picture of hardship. The number of Americans who have difficulty paying for basic household expenses has increased from 32 percent in 2020 to 39 percent in 2024.

That’s now 130 million people out of the total US population of 330 million. Of all US adults, 60 percent have seen their disposable income decline in the last year. And 58 percent live pay cheque to pay cheque. In comparison, 31 percent of British people say they do.

Annon said, “Inflation isn’t going up as fast as it was, but the prices aren’t coming down. When I go to a store I notice the prices are higher than a few years ago. Life isn’t getting easier. People don’t feel like they’ve benefited from Biden. It’s a little disturbing but under Trump it seemed to be getting better.” And there are huge long standing structural costs to US life that cause significant problems for working people.

Take healthcare. The absence of any systematic reform to the dysfunctional US healthcare system means that a crucial essential remains a huge expense for many Americans. Just over half of US adults say it’s hard to afford healthcare, with nearly two in five saying they put off or skipped treatment entirely because of cost. People without health insurance are often faced with a choice between bankruptcy and death.

The number of people struggling for food is soaring, reaching record highs in 2024. Charities point to high food prices, the gradual disappearance of pandemic-era aid and unaffordable housing. Nearly 44 million people are living in households where they struggle to get the food they need because they lack money and resources. 

That includes 13 million children, the last report by the US Department of Agriculture found. And record levels of homelessness unsurprisingly come alongside high eviction rates and a crisis in affordable housing. The number of renters who spend more than 30 percent of income on rent and utilities was 22.4 million in 2022, another all-time high.

When it comes to childcare, parents are forking out tens of thousands of dollars a year. There’s poor quality jobs, weak trade unions, giant national and multinational dominating industries. Technological change and outsourcing has eroded many middle-income jobs, worsening inequality.

Mike said, “Biden has brought down inflation and grown the economy. “But these changes aren’t seen by the working class who are objectively worse off with pay not keeping up with inflation.” Eric echoed this, “People can’t afford the same things as when Biden’s presidency started.”

In response to hardship, people are ramping up credit card debt with more than a third of Americans saying they have more credit card debt than in emergency savings. In the last three months of 2023, credit card debt reached a 22 year high of over £1 trillion.

Currently 21 million Americans are behind on utility bill payments and 25 million are behind on credit card or personal loan payments. These are the highest numbers since the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Inequality has escalated out of control in the US since politicians introduced neoliberal policies in the 1980s.

The income of CEOs in the largest US firm rose by 1,460 percent between 1978 and 2021. Meanwhile the average worker’s pay grew during the same period by only 18.1 percent. To give a sense of the scale, as of 2021, the average CEO got 399 times more than the average worker.

The reality is that the US economy isn’t working for ordinary people.

Biden’s policies were gifts to bosses—not to workers

The Democrats aren’t offering any meaningful solutions, instead they paper over the cracks. So it’s not surprising that people look to Trump as someone who falsely appears as “different”. Biden’s presidency has been marked by the state having a prominent role in directing investment in the form of tax incentives, direct subsidies and tariffs to encourage production.

But ultimately Biden’s steering of the economy has operated within a narrow groove of what’s acceptable to the capitalist class. Biden has passed bills like the American Rescue Plan in 2021, which sent out £1,100 in stimulus cheques to most Americans. It also expanded unemployment insurance, child credit and rental assistance. But it was temporary—a pop-up safety net—with provisions expiring at the end of the pandemic and leaving the deep inequalities unchanged.

Then there was the Infrastructure of Jobs Act in 2021 that allocated £1 trillion for transportation and infrastructure projects. After that was Biden’s flagship Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which included major investments in green energy, including £300 billion in climate spending. But most of it was in tax credits and subsidies to big businesses to incentivise private investment in clean energy and green manufacturing.

As Mike argued, “Biden’s economic policy was corporate handouts— not direct investment but what essentially amounted to tax breaks for corporations to boost their profits.” The Biden administration is one that lavishes spending on favoured sectors of business but fails to move the needle in the interests of the working class. This is due to its policies being aimed at shoring up the stability of US capitalism and towards the interests of the bosses and the rich. A central motivation of Biden’s policies is the US’s increasing imperialist rivalry with China.

The US state is trying to take a more active role in bankrolling its capitalists to compete. Eric explained, “Working people don’t feel Biden’s policies. They hear about big sums of money. But in truth a lot of money just went to corporations.

“And Biden poses his policies as protecting US business against Chinese business, which makes working people feel like his policies aren’t made for them.” There’s huge class anger in US society. But Biden can’t point it towards the real enemy, the capitalist class, as this is who he represents.

US needs a real radical left 

Trump is succeeding in part because the left is failing. It’s lining up behind the centrist Democrats. When Bernie Sanders and left Democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez back Biden, it helps Trump to falsely pose as the “anti-establishment” force.

Eric noted, “Sanders said Biden is one of the most progressive candidates we’ve seen with a record of real accomplishment. AOC has become one of Biden’s most effective supporters in saying we have to go along with him. But it doesn’t line up with what people experience. This ties figures of the left to the failed Democratic Party. It’s disastrous because Biden is a personification of the status quo. 

“Despite Trump’s contradictions, he appears to push something different. The more the left defends Biden the more it opens up channels to the right.” Eric said that “Biden adopted all of Trump’s policies when it came to border migration. In practice, he’s been as bad as Trump on migration.”

Mike added, “If there was a clearer sense of Democrats offering an alternative to the status quo, we wouldn’t be here. They never appeal to the working class on class politics but instead on issues of gender or race.

“It’s part of a lack of class politics by Democrats that allow it to be filled by people like Trump. People are angry. There’s a lot to be angry about.” Mike is clear that Trump is deflecting anger onto migrants and dividing the working class.  Anyone who came out with class anger could win, but Biden is dampening down on that and the left is helping him too,” he explained.

The left should be using the Palestine movement, the Black Lives Movement, the abortion rights movement and opposition under Trump to build a political force outside of the Democrats. It shouldn’t conform to its limited politics. Failing to provide a credible alternative that channels anger towards the bosses and the rich allows Trump to utilise workers’ disillusionment for himself.

Thousands of pro-Palestine campaigners link arms around parliament

Posted on: July 19th, 2024 by TTE
a crowd shot of the hands around parliament Palestine protest

People link arms on Westminster Bridge as part of the protest

Thousands of protesters surrounded parliament on Thursday to demand the new Labour government stops arming Israel.

People linked arms on the protest organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and Stop The War (STW). A long line of activists stretched from Parliament square past Big Ben and along Westminster bridge.  

People stood hand in hand in a line past the rear of Westminster Abbey and down Millbank, through Victoria Tower Gardens South and all the way along Lambeth bridge. 

Ishita, who travelled from Hertfordshire, told Socialist Worker, “I think it’s vital that we send a clear message to the new government tonight. Even if only some MPs are forced to take notice that is important.”

She added, “There is lots of pressure on the shoulders of the five newly elected pro-Palestinian MPs. It’s a significant shift that there are more voices for Palestine in Westminster. 

“With a new government we have to keep the momentum and pressure up to show we’re going nowhere. I want Labour to stop arming Israel.”

Protesters gathered on Parliament Square before they spread out to link arms. PSC director Ben Jamal highlighted that David Lammy’s first act as Labour’s new foreign secretary was to fly to Israel to shake hands with Benjamin Netanyahu.   

The day before, Israel had committed the latest in a series of massacres killing 90 people.

Jamal pointed out that, five days on, there has been no comment let alone condemnation from Labour. “Today we bring the voice of the people to Westminster. Our message is we want an end to all UK complicity with genocide”, he said.

People with Keffiyehs, placards and Palestine flags chanted, “Free, free, Palestine,” and, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”