Listening to the debate between the CPGB (PCC) and Workers Hammer (Britain) - affectionately known as Workers Hamster - I realised that this, of course, should be a debate about election tactics inside the same communist organisation.

For the CPGB this would be no problem, but of course, the Sparts - as orthodox Cannonite Trotskyists - insist on agreement from top to bottom of programme, strategy and tactics, sealed inside internal debate away from the prying eyes of the working class. Unity, for them, means sect agreement, debate restricted to ordained acolytes, with sterile dogma delivered to the masses on tablets of stone. A dead end for the working class.

The fight for communist unity isn’t a kumbaya non-aggression pact around ‘abstract ideas’. The fight for communist unity is the unrelenting struggle for a consistent, democratic communist programme - a concrete strategic plan. Organisational and programmatic questions are directly connected. The Sparts do not understand this. That was obvious in the debate.

It was therefore unfortunate that Mike Macnair started off by ‘defending the third and fourth Congresses of the Comintern’. This played straight into the Sparts’ comfort zone - discussing holy text devoid of context.

I was surprised as comrade Macnair regularly chastises this approach in his articles and his pamphlet Revolutionary Strategy.

The starting point needs to be the reality in front of us, informed by theory. In most advanced capitalist countries the ideas of socialism and communism are absent as mass forces and there exists no organised communist party to educate and organise the working class to fight for its interests. A far cry from 1920, when both existed.

The Spart position, to limit its ‘united front work’ to Tusc, is bizarre. In reality it is a smash and grab raid. The united front tactic must apply across the entire labour movement and engage with workers voting for people like Jeremy Corbyn, George Galloway and Zarah Sultana. It must reach people voting Labour in general.

In the absence of being able to pose the question of who should rule society (despite the Sparts’ abstract “Workers must rule”), engaging with mass illusions in Labourism is essential and central.

On what grounds is a boycottist approach to Labour viable? The crimes of Arthur Henderson as World War I Labour leader are ones that Sir Keir Starmer merely aspires to - and even in the aftermath of Labour betrayal in 1914-18, communists fought to engage with and win workers voting Labour.

While the CPGB strategy of raising the flag of communism and the need for a communist party is essential, this seems abstract, passive and not enough. Neither is a blank cheque for Labour in seats where there are no socialist candidates.

In the absence of standing its own candidates, communists need to urge active intervention in the election by supporting socialist candidates where they exist, sure, but also campaigning around a minimum platform of working-class defence to draw out divisions in the labour movement around concrete questions of the day. What that platform should be is a tactical question designed to maximise mass political clarity and highlight the need for communism to solve the myriad crises of capitalism.

Martin Greenfield

Empire robbery

A new report by the Institute for Economic Affairs claims to show that “colonialism and the slave trade were, at best, minor factors in Britain’s prosperity and may have been net loss makers”. The IEA’s goal is to refute an “increasingly prominent anti-capitalist narrative”, which sees the empire as the basis of Britain’s wealth; it seeks to prove, instead, that there was no such ‘original sin’.

I intend to prove that, regardless of which interpretation is true - whether the empire was a major or minor contributor to the British economy - the same moral judgment holds: the empire was a monstrous crime. It was a crime that flourished alongside capitalism, and the two cannot easily be separated.

Let us suppose that the empire was indispensable for Britain’s prosperity. It follows that Britain was enriched by the robbery and brutalisation of millions; that industrialisation and the improvements in living standards that accompanied it were bought with the blood of poor, often destitute, innocents around the world. The evil of the crime is manifest.

Now suppose that the empire was a minor aid to Britain’s prosperity: that it delivered concentrated benefits to a few, but imposed costs and burdens on the rest of society. The evil of the crime is not in the least diminished; on the contrary, the evil is even greater than that of the former interpretation. If the empire was essential for economic development, then the crime was at least accompanied by benefits to a large number of people in Britain (that does not, of course, justify the crime). But if the empire only brought minor benefits to a small class to mitigate its evils, then the crime was even worse. The IEA’s report, therefore, delivers a more damning judgment of British imperialism than those ‘radicals’ who maintain that the empire was crucial for growing Britain’s wealth.

I confess that I do not see why this should cause us to respect and admire capitalism more than we did previously. If it was the IEA’s aim to rid capitalism of the moral stain of imperialism, it has failed dismally.

Talal Hangari

Stop genocide

Hamas’s leader has released a statement endorsing a ceasefire deal negotiated through intermediaries with the United States and Israel. However, the Israelis have not yet accepted the proposal. This means that, while the people of Rafah celebrate their apparent deliverance at the 11th hour, nothing is set in stone yet.

The details of the ceasefire have not currently been released, so it is only possible to speculate about its contents. While this is a major development in the Israeli genocide against the Gazan people, no-one should be under any illusions. Until the Israel Occupation Forces withdraw from Gaza, the war will continue. At the same time, the families of hostages have made demands for acceptance of the ceasefire.

We should note:

(1) Israel is a democratic country - for its Jewish citizens. While Netanyahu has made major steps to overturn Israeli democracy, he still has to contend with a loud and boisterous public. The interests of the Israeli opposition and the interests of the resistance may intersect, and it may be possible to divide Israeli society against itself. Guerrilla movements don’t have to win: they just have to not lose.

(2) The political tasks in the United States remain the same: keep pressuring Biden and the Democrats to demand a ceasefire. Demand that America stop supplying Israel with weapons, which may already be happening in some areas (ammunition).

(3) If Israel does invade Rafah, we have to raise hell in every western national, district and local seat of government. We must make the world stop and the heavens shake to prevent this genocide, and we have to begin to establish a global, internet-based socialist party that can unite all struggles into one revolutionary united front!

Ian Hartman

Vicious enemy

Tony Greenstein really is a most poisonous creature. I am sorry to be so blunt, but his foul, bitter, personal and vicious attacks on both Unite the Union and its elected general secretary, Sharon Graham, are really completely and utterly beyond any sort of pale (‘My Zionist general secretary’, April 25).

I was personally absolutely delighted when Sharon Graham was elected general secretary of Unite in 2021. Like very many others, I was very fearful that rightwinger (and Starmer-backed) Gerrard Coyne would be elected. Sharon has more than fulfilled and delivered on her promise and has provided outstanding leadership and as a woman a fantastic role model for female members of all trade unions.

The notion that she is “apolitical” is a complete nonsense. She is an advocate of real working class power being built up from workplaces and through organisation and militancy. She is absolutely not in the pocket of the Parliamentary Labour Party, is not offering cosy chats and cups of tea with Keir Starmer, but is perfectly well aware that effective trade unionism has a necessary political dimension, including in the parliamentary arena, and is prepared to exercise Unite’s power and influence in the interests of our members and the wider working class.

It seems on planet Greenstein that anyone who doesn’t say or do exactly what he says they should or when they should, with regard to Palestine and Gaza more specifically, is automatically some sort of running dog of the most reactionary sections of pro-Zionist imperialism and by implication (often stated more explicitly) somehow in favour of the appalling war and consequences being conducted by the Israeli state against the Palestinian people.

It should hardly need saying, but this is the polar opposite of the stated views, policies and actions of Unite the Union (and indeed I would expect every labour movement organisation), its elected general secretary, Sharon Graham, and its elected leadership at all levels, up to and including the national executive council.

It is one thing to criticise the union and its leadership for specific wordings of statements, specific actions or absence of specific wordings and actions, etc. But to then assert from these issues of perhaps nuance, timings and tactics that Unite and its elected leadership are acting as (or are) agents of the most extreme reactionary factions of pro-Zionist imperialism is completely, totally and utterly unacceptable.

To claim that Unite and any of its elected leadership bodies are somehow in any way in favour of the genocidal onslaught and ‘ethnic cleansing’ (a far too sanitised expression) of the Palestinian people is a disgusting and repulsive total pack of lies.

To even contemplate, let alone put in writing, such a pile of sheer garbage and filth into a two-page article just shows how twisted, bitter and hostile Greenstein has become and not only how far from the labour movement he now operates, but the fact that he is clearly now acting as a vicious and active enemy of the labour movement, using Unite as some sort of stalking horse.

Apparently oblivious to the fact that Unite has a membership of 1.2 million, Greenstein is just one poisonous individual. With just one flick of its collective finger, Unite could ensure Greenstein ceased to exist (metaphorically speaking, of course).

While some will point to Greenstein’s alleged pro-Palestinian activism as some form of mitigation, I think that - by his whole personality and his disgraceful and disgusting behaviour, words and conduct - he does far, far more damage in total to the Palestinian cause. One might be tempted to ask, in whose real interests is Greenstein acting?

Just thinking more broadly and hopefully a bit more positively, why can’t the Weekly Worker publish significant articles on Palestine/Israel from the Palestinian perspective - and, ideally, from those within the secular, Marxist, communist traditions within the Palestinian resistance and national liberation movement, of which there are vast quantities of material available? This would be much more in line with the Weekly Worker’s stated aims of being in favour of Marxism, national liberation and socialism, and an international communist movement.

Relying on Greenstein’s personal bile and hatreds obviously should be stopped, while Moshé Machover, as an expatriate Israeli with a very specific and sectarian political history, provides a far too narrow and exclusionary take. He just repeats his ancient historical views over and over and over again, constantly claiming how many of his “predictions” turn out to be right, but in fact is just like the proverbial stopped clock: yes, occasionally right, but mostly simply wrong.

Andrew Northall

Drug regulation

Humans have taken mind-altering drugs for thousands of years and will continue to do so.

The so-called ‘war on drugs’ has failed and led to organised crime and South American drug cartels making hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Far better to have the state legally regulate all drugs. Due to economies of scale, this would put all illegal drug factories out of business.

Cannabis should be made available from independent shops licensed by local authorities, as happens in Canada and 15 states in the USA. Cocaine and ecstasy should be made available from specially licensed pharmacies. Heroin should be made available to registered addicts through doctor-led clinics, as happens in Switzerland.

The Office for National Statistics estimates that the UK cannabis market comes to £10 billion a year. A 10% sales tax on the sale of cannabis through independent shops would bring in £1 billion a year to the treasury. This money could then be spent on public services and on a public health education campaign about drugs aimed at teenagers.

By the state legally regulating all drugs, billions of pounds each year would be taken out of the hands of petty dealers and organised crime.

John Smithee

Racist mayor

Kim McGuinness, Labour’s elected mayor of the North East, has won by cheating. On polling day, she put the 2019 general election result on the front pages of certain local newspapers, from which it was then widely shared on social media, as if it were an opinion poll result. On that false basis, she claimed that only she could “beat the Tories”. She has won on a lie by paid journalists who were in fact cogs in the rightwing Labour machine.

Add that to the lie that was the media blackout of McGuinness’s racism - coverage of which would have disqualified a candidate of any other faction. In post-war Britain, McGuinness’s victory is the far right’s biggest ever. It now controls an area with a population larger than that of 13 European territories that the United Kingdom recognised as sovereign states. If any of those fell under the rule of someone like McGuinness, then there would rightly be international uproar. There should be international uproar in this case too (the Labour right in the north-east of England is also a byword for good, old-fashioned corruption). I shall be watching that space, but who else will be?

As a mixed-race person, I am now in mortal danger lest Mayor McGuinness, or one of her staff or supporters, mistake me for a ‘gypsy’. The same threat applies to anyone else who is not a pure-blood Northern European and who sets foot in County Durham, Northumberland, Newcastle upon Tyne, Sunderland, Gateshead, North Tyneside, or South Tyneside. The campaign against McGuinness starts now.

I am a candidate for mayor of the North East Mayoral Combined Authority in 2028 - or whenever we could get her out before that.

David Lindsay

European action

In his recent article Mike Macnair writes: “To deal with the issues of inequality, to plan for health service provision, for housing, for measures to deal with human-induced climate change, and so on - all these need common action of the working class on a European scale to break out of the coercive power of global capital and the capitalist states” (‘Foibles, fantasies and failure’, May 2.

Well said. But where is our common European programme, and what steps should we be taking now to formulate one?

Chris Gray