Fears of a coup in Venezuela as Donald Trump recognises Opposition Leader Juan Guaidó

The news came forward yesterday that the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president with the backing of the white house. Protests have erupted, with six deaths. In response the current president, Nicolas Maduro, has declared that diplomatic ties will be cut with ‘imperialist’ North America, giving diplomats 72 hours to leave the country.

This supposed coup attempt follows the 2018 May election which placed Maduro back in office amidst international claims of vote buying and electoral fraud.

Maduro has denied claims of electoral rigging and has made clear his belief that this is an imperialist intervention by the USA in an attempt to destabilise Venezuelan, declaring “They intend to govern Venezuela from Washington”.

With the possible secondary backing of the Canadian government this latest development in Venezuela appears, to some, to fit into the trend of American interventionism in Latin America. Which includes a chequered history of repression and brutal overthrows by regimes like that of Chilean General Pinochet and the failed Venezuelan coup of 2002.

Some have claimed that despite the questionable circumstances surrounding the 2018 elections, American enabled coups are not the way forward, including the rapper Boots Riley who pointed out

“If you’ve been worried about Russian bots influencing elections here [North America], I’d hope you express outrage about this”.

Others point to the fact that Venezuela currently has the largest proven crude oil reserves in the world, a resource the United States government has expressed keen interest in before, leading to the question of their humanitarian stance.

Whether the sham election of 2018 is leading to a cuba-style dictatorship or not, is the intervention of North America in yet another Latin American coup really the answer to the failures of the Madura government? Needless to say, these are complicated and fraught times for the people of Venezuela.

40 Tory MPs could resign over no deal, warns Rudd

Amber Rudd

Up to 40 Tory ministers are poised to quit if Theresa May forces through plans for a No Deal Brexit , Amber Rudd has reportedly warned Downing Street. Rudd is said to want a free vote for Tory MPs on the Cooper Amendment, which hopes to secure powers for MPs to extend Article 50 if the Prime Minister fails to get a deal through Parliament by February 26th.

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Cooper amendment to give Parliament control of Brexit

A new bill tabled by senior Labour MP Yvette Cooper hopes to secure powers for MPs to extend Article 50 if the Prime Minister fails to get a deal through Parliament by February 26th. It’s backed by former Tory cabinet minister Nick Boles, as well as Oliver Letwin, Nicky Morgan Labour’s Hillary Benn, chair of the Exiting the European Union Select Committee.

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May publicly dismisses possibility of a People’s Vote in address to House of Commons.

In Theresa May’s first speech to the House of Commons following her Brexit deal vote, which was dismissed by a 230-vote majority, the Prime Minister has publicly dismissed the possibility of the Government backing a second referendum.

In a speech detailing the Government’s plans and revisions to the Brexit deal following a record-breaking defeat in the House of Commons, May remarked that a second referendum would have “significant implications” for how referendums are handled, causing widespread criticism from supporters of the People’s Vote and the Labour Party.

Theresa May also stated that a second referendum would end up “strengthening the hand of those campaigning to break-up our United Kingdom” and that it was the duty of the Government to “implement to decision of the first one.”

The People’s Vote Campaign was first developed as a grassroots campaign over social media, most notably through the ‘#People’sVote’ movement. It was pushed by several influential celebrities and former news media pundits, such as Gavin Esler, former ITV4 news correspondent and current University of Kent Chancellor. The campaign currently claims to have over 700,000 supporters and 20,000 active members, as well as over a million followers on various social media accounts.

The campaign’s main goal was to call for a second referendum over whether the UK will formally leave the European Union due to allegations that the true implications of Brexit were kept from the public during the run-up to the first referendum.

However, Jeremy Corbyn called the Prime Minister in “deep denial” about her deal, and that the Government’s Brexit deal is entirely “undeliverable”.

Several Journalists and political analysts have also questioned the nature of May’s “Plan B” Brexit deal as simply being an attempt to talk MPs into agreeing with Plan A instead of any substantial changes that could change politician’s minds after May also announced that there would be no delay to Brexit and no changes to the possibility of a No-Deal Brexit.

Theresa May Announces concessions to her Brexit deal for the first time since her disastrous commons shutdown.

Prime Minister Theresa May has conceded several aspects of her Brexit plan following a disastrous vote from MPs last week.

The original Brexit plan saw roughly 3 million EU nationals currently living in the UK forced to apply to remain as a UK citizen, with a £65 application fee for each national wanting to remain in the country.

A successful application was to be regarded as having “settled status” as a citizen in the UK, which gives the right to a free education, and access to the NHS.

Earlier this week, a pilot scheme was introduced where nationals could apply via their smartphones to have the same rights as UK citizens when the country leaves the EU, with the £65 fee still being a requirement.

Since the Commons vote, Theresa May has since announced that all applicants for settled status will have this £65 application fee reimbursed, both since the release of the pilot scheme last week and for any future applications to remain in the UK for the foreseeable future.

May also announced in her speech to the House of Commons a promise to involve the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales a greater say.

Jeremy Corbyn, however, dismissed May’s promise for talks as a “PR sham” and that the PM must change her “red lines” of the deal, instead of small aspects of it such as the application fees.

A number of Labour MPs, such as Debbi Abrahams, put forward the possibility of using citizens assemblies to come up with a second plan on Brexit instead of deciding one through committees by established MPs.

Corbyn also called out the Prime Minister on her willingness to be flexible, as many previous committees on the Brexit deal were met with little flexibility from the government. However, the Opposition leader did voice his support for the concessions over the waiving of the £65 application fee for EU nationals.

Theresa May also strengthened her belief that her deal was the only way forward for the United Kingdom, however Corbyn also refuted this by mentioning the commitments of the European Council to be open to any revisions made by the UK Government on the deal.

As a final point of the opposition’s speech, the Labour leader also called for Theresa May to confirm that she would accept ruling out a no-deal Brexit if MPs successfully voted on an amendment make by Labour next week.

Bercow ‘seriously reflecting’ staying on as Speaker until 2022 following alleged ‘bias’ over Brexit

It has been reported that John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, is ‘seriously reflecting’ as staying on as Speaker until 2022 – in defiance of his original plans to step-down in the summer of 2019.

This change of heart has allegedly been caused by the threat of being denied a peerage – an honour given to those following their service as Speaker.

Ministers have accused Mr. Bercow of ‘bias’ over Brexit – believing that his thoughts and sentiments have led him to violate the impartiality of his position. These claims have been strenuously denied.

He was recently criticised for allegedly driving a vehicle with a sticker in the window stating: ‘Bollocks to Brexit’. But, Mr. Bercow pointed out that the vehicle was his wife’s and she is fully entitled to her opinions – also that it would not be proper for a man to control the thoughts of his wife, as she is not property.

Government sources alleged that Mr. Bercow was accused of ‘cheating centuries of procedure’ and as such should not be elevated to the House of Lords. He has been viewed as being sympathetic to the Labour Party as well as those supporting Remain.

One senior Member of Parliament stated: ‘The Speaker will play a critical role in the coming days, selecting amendments and determining parliamentary business. If ministers thought it was a good idea to put his back up they may regret it.’

It was believed that the Speaker would step-down in the summer of 2019 – following the conclusion of the withdrawal from the European Union. He was also caught up in allegations regarding a culture of ‘bullying’ in the House of Commons.

Analysis from Thomas Howard, Editor at TPN:

These accusations levied by some ministers have a poor foundation, hence at present there is nothing which can be done. They believe that the only retribution achievable would be to deny Mr. Bercow elevation to the House of Lords – a tradition which has lasted decades. It seems that the divisions of Brexit are continuing to threaten the foundations of democracy in the United Kingdom.

In response, Mr. Bercow is fully entitled to maintain his position until 2022 – unless formally challenged by the House of Commons. It appears that he will not cave in to the attempt to ensure that he follows the direction of the Government.

NHS is financially unsustainable, says NAO

 

The NHS continues to be in crisis. According to the National Audit Office (NAO), the NHS is financially unsustainable. The Prime Minister’s plan to increase the NHS budget by £20.5 billion by 2023-2024 may not be sufficient enough to cover services such as social and mental health care.

According to NAO additional funding has been provided, however, it has been spent on existing pressures within the healthcare service. The Head of the National Audit Office Amyas Morse says:

The NHS has received extra funding, but this has mostly been used to cope with current pressures and has not provided the stable platform intended from which to transform services. Repeated short-term funding-boosts could turn into the new normal, when the public purse may be better served by a long-term funding settlement that provides a stable platform for sustained improvements.

In 2016-2017, the NHS received an additional £1.8 billion in Sustainability and Transformation Fund which also intended to give the NHS stability, to improve and transform performance and services in order to achieve a sustainable healthcare system. 

Although the fund has assisted in the overall financial improvement, the NHS is still struggling to achieve targets with its high demand and restricted budget.

Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth MP, responds to the NAO’s report on NHS financial sustainability:

The Tories have spent nine years running down the NHS, imposing the biggest cash squeeze in its history, with swingeing cuts to public health services and the slashing of social care services.

Final Comment from Editor- Heidi Boahen

The NAO report has come as a surprise to some as the news of an additional £20.5 billion was the Government’s proposed solution to the NHS crisis. However, the NAO report indicates that the money may not be sufficient enough as other areas of the health service have been neglected for years.  This is a great indicator that simply throwing money at a system is not a solution. There needs to be a strategic plan to improve a system that the majority of public members rely on. Waiting times continue to slip and there is an increasing problem with the workforce. The NHS cannot work for the public if it does not have the right amount of workers.

These are the same issues we had for years yet, we still have no solution.  As previously reported NHS Leaders were forced to delay publication of long term plans due to the Brexit chaos. The current Government’s focus is not its people.

The Government needs a reminder of what the NHS set out to do when it was established in 1948 following the Second World War. The principles were to provide a universal and comprehensive service. Currently, the NHS is failing at providing a comprehensive service however, this is not because they refuse to but because they do not have the necessary backing from the Government to provide the public with an efficient service.

The World’s Biggest Strike: Why 200 Million Indian Workers Decided To Strike

 

Around 200 million workers are estimated to have participated in the worlds largest general strike action in India against the “anti-worker and anti-people policies of the Modi government,”. The strike, which was organised by the Centre of Indian Trade Union who was assisted by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has led to the detention of communist party leaders in West Bengal and Kerala where communist activists shut down transport services.

The strike has come amongst a notable growing trend of tension within India between the Modi government and the RSS far-right paramilitary against left-wing progressive activists in the country. Within Kerala, a communist stronghold state led by the Left Democratic Front, tensions have run especially high. Political murders have increased in recent years with the rise of both Hindu nationalist sentiment and communist party activism. Beatings, stabbings and hackings have dominated Kerala party politics.

The strike itself has seen the visible presence of a vast array of workers from factory workers to bus drivers to bank workers. It can be seen as a vast show of strength by the leftist linked Indian trade unions protesting against the recent neoliberal reforms of the Modi/BJP administration which has included the privatisation of the transport system as proposed in a recent government bill. Recent job losses from the economic crisis in India has led to rising support for the various movements that occupy the Indian left.

Indian left-wing politics is lead by its militancy. Amongst the strikers at the various demonstrations were cadres from the Maoist CPI (ML) Liberation, a former guerrilla outfit now involved in organising landless farmers and street vendors. The struggle in the rural areas over land rights has been especially militant over the years. The Indian government is currently fighting an on-going 50-year insurgency from Maoist rebels known as the Naxalites. The group has in more recent times come to prominence after it assassinated 24 Indian National Congress leaders in a single attack.

The strike has continued in certain areas since its callout by union heads. In Mumbai, transport workers are on an “indefinite” strike against the municipal government-owned Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking. 32,000 workers in the city have shut down the transport service that usually accommodates over 4 million people.

The strike will no doubt worry president Modi who is only months away from running for re-election. Accusations of fascism and sectarianism have haunted the president who has been accused of repealing India’s secularist past by inflaming tensions between Muslims and Hindus. In 2002, the BJP government refused to intervene in the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat which led to the deaths of over 2000 Muslims

With the strike uniting both rural and urban workers and official unemployment rising to 7.4 percent, the radical left in India has built some solid ground to challenge the anti-working class Modi government and their fascist para-militarist allies. Coming elections will be telling but the success of parliamentarian-ism has been questioned by young militant communist radicals who can now be seen at the frontlines of the struggle. Whether further revolutionary sentiment can be developed within India remains to be seen. However, with violence and militancy growing, revolutionary fervour appears to be expanding day by day.