Thursday, March 22, 2018

To the eternal memory of Karl Marx

Andy Brooks and London comrades at the tomb
By New Worker correspondent

Well over a hundred communists and friends defied the snow to take part in the annual commemoration of the passing of Karl Marx at his tomb on Sunday. Marx died in his London study at half-past two on the afternoon of Wednesday 14th March 1883. He was buried three days later at Highgate Cemetery and the Marx Memorial Library has for many decades held an annual graveside oration at his burial place in the cemetery in North London.
Marx was buried in the same grave as his wife in Highgate Cemetery; it was marked with a simple headstone in accordance with Marx's wishes. In 1954 the grave was moved to a better position and it was decided to commission a more impressive tomb. The current monument, a bronze head atop a granite plinth, was designed and made by Laurence Bradshaw who was commissioned by the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). It was unveiled by Harry Pollitt, General Secretary of the CPGB, in 1956.
The Marx Memorial Library is the trustee of the Marx monument in the cemetery and the event is organised by the Library, which was opened in 1933 with the aim of advancing education, knowledge and learning in all aspects of the science of Marxism, the history of socialism and the working class movement.
 Library chair Alex Gordon opened the event to welcome everyone on the anniversary of Marx’s death. He was followed by the Cuban ambassador, Teresita Vicente Sotolongo, who delivered the oration on the life-long contribution that Marx made to the development of scientific socialism.
Andy Brooks, along with London comrades, laid the NCP’s floral tribute at the tomb together with a procession of other communist representatives that included diplomats from the Chinese and Cuban embassies, comrades from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE),  the Progressive Party of Working People of Cyprus (AKEL), and many more from other workers’ parties in the Middle East and the rest of the world that have members studying or working in Britain.
Finally the Internationale was sung around the monument bedecked with dozens of wreathes and floral tributes. The comrades then departed – some to a reception at a nearby public house and others to brave the elements to get back home.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Lewisham Train Fiasco

By Dermot Hudson

On Friday 2nd March I boarded the 17:39 train from Waterloo East to Orpington to get home. The train was operated by the South Eastern Railway, a privatised rail company owned by the Go Ahead Group, a capitalist monopoly.
The train actually arrived at 17:41. Not too bad I thought to myself, only two minutes late. Commuting on South Eastern Trains is a negative experience because they are continually late. “Signalling difficulties“, “broken down train“, “engineering works“, “weather”, you name it, there is always an excuse for the fact that they cannot do the basic thing and run the trains on time or nearly on time. I did not know what was in store for me!
It had been snowing that afternoon and there was still a bit of snow coming. There had been snow on and off for the past two or three days. It had not been the dire reports of 20cm of snow but just a few centimetres of snow, which should not have posed any problem. The DPRK and socialist countries never have these problems with snow.
The train pulled out of Waterloo East. It was crowded because there was no Sidcup train and they had told passengers for Sidcup to join the train and change at Lewisham. The train trundled into London Bridge and left London Bridge, however it got slower and slower. Eventually it came to a halt about half a mile or so from New Cross. This was at about 17:53. The train just sat there. After about 15 minutes or maybe longer the driver spoke to the passengers over the PA system. He basically said he did not know what was what and was “speaking to two signal boxes“ to find out. About another 15 or 20 minutes later the driver informed us that a train in front had stuck on a gradient on the approach to Lewisham. Later the driver said it was because it was a 12 car train. This announcement was met with derision by some passengers.
Time dragged on. We had been on the train over an hour. The driver appealed for a paramedic because someone in one of the carriages had suffered a fit (not surprising being stuck on a train). Meanwhile the heating and air conditioning went off because of no power, there were emergency lights only. Worse still, the only toilet on the train became blocked.
Meanwhile more excuses offered were offered and a great deal of conflicting information. At one point we were told that the train would be reversed back into London Bridge. It was learned that people on the first train had been evacuated and those on the second train had opened the doors and jumped off. Some people decided to take matters in their own hands and pressed the emergency door release and jumped out. This did not look a good choice however: firstly, on jumping out one risked landing on the third rail (600 volts at least); secondly, trying to walk along icy tracks in the darkness; thirdly, one would have to scramble down a snow covered bank in darkness. I also realised that I would need to walk to a bus route to get home. So myself and a number of other passengers stayed put.
The train eventually moved at 22:35, nearly five hours after it had left Waterloo East. What a disgrace! The privatised rail companies have a real ‘do not care’ attitude towards passengers. It is not simply a case of people having their evenings and weekends messed up by this kind of nonsense, but there are cases of people who have lost jobs due to train delays (which seem to be permanent and perennial on South Eastern Trains rather than the odd occurrence). In the days of British Rail (BR) generally problems like this incident did not occur because BR had their own shunting engines and locos that could move broken-down or stuck trains, but the toy-town privatised railways do not have their own locos only electric units. The BBC, taking the side of South Eastern Trains, blamed the incident on passengers escaping the train – but it was down to pure and simple incompetence by South Eastern Trains, who could not could not run a bath let alone a railway!
Bring back British Rail!
 Nationalise the railways without compensation!

Marx – thinker and revolutionary

Andy Brooks with comrades at the reception
by New Worker 

Karl Marx died in London on 14th March 1883 and his passing is marked by a number of ceremonies including the annual address at Marx’s tomb in Highgate Cemetery and the New Communist Party’s more modest annual reception at the Party Centre in Battersea last week.
Our numbers were down due to sickness and transport problems as NCP leader Andy Brooks explained during the formal part of the proceedings. National Chair Alex Kempshall was in hospital recovering from major surgery and a number of other comrades had sent in their apologies.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx who with Friedrich Engels, wrote the Communist Manifesto and laid the foundations of modern scientific socialism. The immense contribution that Marx and Engels made in the struggle for the emancipation of the working class can never be forgotten Andy said and this was taken up by all the speakers that followed.
But the tributes began on a sombre note when comrades rose for a minute’s silence in memory of Neil Harris, who passed away at the beginning of the month after a long illness. This was followed by solidarity greetings from Dermot Hudson from the Korean Friendship Association and John Macleod from the Socialist Labour Party.
There was plenty of good food and drink for all, and £130 was raised for the New Worker following the appeal by Daphne Liddle.