Thursday, April 20, 2006

A tale of two London boroughs

ANTI-FASCIST and anti-racist campaigners all over Britain have, for the last few weeks, been pounding pavements on countless housing estates, delivering leaflets and newsletters and speaking to voters on their doorsteps to convince them not to vote for the fascist British National Party. This is not difficult.
Once voters are told who and what the BNP is and the lies told by the BNP are explained and refuted, only a tiny, tiny handful would ever support them. The vast majority of the working class in Britain are not racists or fascists.
And it is not difficult to find volunteers to do this work – much easier than to find people willing to canvass votes for Blair’s New Labour. Many are trade union activists and campaigning against the BNP can involve people from a wide political spectrum from the left fringe to Tories.
But this weekend these valiant volunteers all felt as though they had been stabbed in the back by remarks from Barking Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who claimed that eight out of ten voters in the estates she has canvassed in her constituency have considered voting BNP. This is an enormous exaggeration and an insult to the working class people of Barking. But more reliable research by the Joseph Rowntree Trust and by Searchlight anti-fascist magazine puts the figure of those considering voting BNP at between 20 and 30 per cent – which is quite high enough to raise real concerns.
The BNP has targeted the area, as it has the neighbouring borough of Dagenham but there is a different story in Dagenham. Dagenham Labour MP Jon Cruddas has a long and honourable record of leading the anti-fascist campaign in Dagenham, of going round on the doorstep, talking to people and taking up their concerns. Consequently support for the BNP in Dagenham in last year’s general election was less than half what it was in Barking.
Hodge has never done this door to door work until now. Like too many of the New Labour elite, talking to ordinary people was beneath her. Now suddenly she is crying that Labour has neglected the needs of the white working class and thousands of people are going to vote for the fascists in protest.
New Labour has neglected the concerns of all the working class whatever their colour – and it expects to do badly in the coming local elections. Some believe that Hodge may be preparing an alibi in advance for that electoral disaster to come. If so, she is playing with fire. The BNP itself is jubilant at her remarks.
Others believe she is trying to scare people into voting Labour on the basis that there is no alternative. Searchlight criticises other mainstream parties – the Tories and Liberal Democrats – that they are not standing in many wards, leaving voters who oppose Labour with nowhere else to go but BNP or abstention.
Make no mistake, the BNP must be stopped. Its aim is to gain up to 70 council seats throughout Britain on 4th May. It will do nothing with these seats. BNP councillors have never functioned as proper councillors. But the party aims to use this base to go on eventually to take a seat in the European Parliament; to become part of the neo-fascist bloc with Le Pen from France and Haider from Austria and so get European Union funding.
The condescending New Labour elitism of Margaret Hodge will not be able to stop them. The traditional Labour grass roots hard work of Jon Cruddas, talking to voters and taking their concerns seriously, can smash the BNP’s hopes.
Other measures that would turn out the Labour vote in force on 4th May of course would be bringing the troops home from Iraq, rescuing the NHS from its financial crisis, dropping the privatisation of our public services and sacking Tony Blair.
We call on all Labour MPs – along with trades unionists like those who have been campaigning tirelessly against the BNP – to use the strength they have in the Labour Party to bring this about.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Kim Il Sung remembered

SAKLATVALA HALL in Southall, west London, was packed last Saturday with friends of Democratic Korea celebrating the birthday of the great Korean revolutionary leader, Kim Il Sung. NCP leader Andy Brooks delivered the solidarity greeting of the NCP and other messages came from Michael Chant of the RCPB (ML) and representatives of the CPGB(ML), SLP, the British Juche Society and Southall Respect.
The day finished with Indian poetry and music, Korean songs and dances performed by the sons and daughters of the DPR Korea’s diplomatic community, and a piano composition from Michael Chant.

London bombings: Al Qaeda 'not linked'

THE MEN who carried out the 7th July London bombings last year had no direct support from or connection with Al Qaeda, according to the official inquiry into the bombings.
The first forensic account of the bombings that claimed 52 lives was published last week. It revealed that the attacks were planned on a shoe-string budget from information on the internet; there was no fifth bomber and although two of the bombers had visited Pakistan, there were no direct links with Al Qaeda.
There was no international terror network behind the bombings and all the materials involved cost no more than a few hundred pounds.
A Whitehall source said: “the London attacks were a modest, simple affair by four seemingly normal men using the internet.”
The inquiry also concluded that the attacks were motivated by anger at Britain’s foreign policy, which was perceived to be deliberately anti-Muslim.

London opens office in Beijing

Visiting London Mayor Ken Livingstone opened a new London office in Beijing on Tuesday to boost cooperation and exchanges between the two cities.
The London Economic Development and Inward Investment office is the first the city has established abroad to boost trade, investment and social exchanges.
Livingstone said the office aimed to promote the exchanges in commerce, trade and tourism.
The two cities could learn much from each other, especially in staging the Olympic Games, the mayor said.
Sebastian Coe, head of the London delegation bidding for the 2012 Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games, met on Tuesday with Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games.
Both sides pledged to support each other's Olympic Games projects and carry forward the spirit of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.
Nearly 400 Chinese enterprises have established branches in Britain and the Olympic Games will lift the Chinese capital's cooperation with London to a new level.
Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2008 Olympics, made the remarks during a meeting with the visiting London Mayor Ken Livingstone.
"Beijing and London had traditional friendship, and the Olympics has offered a good opportunity for the cooperation between the two cities,"said Liu.
Livingstone, who has visited Beijing Olympic venues as well as the urban planning exhibition during his stay, said that London will share experience and enhance exchanges with Beijing in hosting the Olympic Games.
The mayor added that the Olympics bring both cities opportunities for development, but also responsibilities of delivering it successfully due to the Games' great influence on billions of people in the world.
He said that the delegation of London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games has met the Beijing organisers, laying a foundation for the cooperation between the two cities
Some 7,700 Chinese students are studying in London,while the number of Chinese tourists and business people going to Britain has increased rapidly in the last six years.
Livingstone said London was the gateway for Chinese enterprises into the European market, and hosted the European and British headquarters of many Chinese enterprises.
Xinhua news agency

Thursday, April 06, 2006

New Worker Pamphlets

Stalin: Dialectical and Historical Materialism: £1.00

The Case for Communism: £2.00

All in the Family: £1.00

Arab Nationalism & the Communist Movement: £1.00

New Technology and the need for socialism: £2.00

Orders to: NCP Lit, PO Box 73, London, SW11 2PQ

cheques or postal orders payable to the New Worker.

please add 50p p&p on all orders.

Billy Bragg's Hope not Hate tour

ANTI-FASCIST singer Billy Bragg this week, in the run-up to the 4th May local elections, launched a Hope Not Hate Tour to oppose British National Party election endeavours – with the backing of a House of Commons motion.
The Commons motion, and the Hope Not Hate campaign, is being driven by Dagenham Labour MP Jon Cruddas with the support of MP’s from the West Midlands, the East Midlands, the North West, the North East and Yorkshire – all areas where the BNP are running candidates and where the Billy Bragg tour will roll into town offering an alternative to the hate, division and violence of the BNP.
The Hope Not Hate tour is backed by four of the country’s biggest and most powerful trade unions – Amicus, GMB, the RMT and Unison – along with the campaigning organisations Unite Against Fascism, Searchlight, Love Music Hate Racism and Glastonbury Festival’s Left Field.
Jon Cruddas said: “The Hope Not Hate tour will give a real boost to the campaign against the BNP in the regions where they are touting their racist poison. The trade union movement has risen to the challenge thrown down by the BNP and will be mobilising their members under the Hope Not Hate banner.”
Billy Bragg said: “In my home town, Barking, we’ve organised and begun to turn the tide on the BNP. It couldn’t have been done without the support of the unions. If you want to know what trade unions are all about, it’s not just what happens in the workplace, it’s about building communities – communities where people can live side by side in peace and prosperity.”

Further information: Geoff Martin 07831 465 103 or 020 8644 2965. Hope Not Hate tour dates at

Justice for London cleaners!

by Caroline Colebrook

THE TRANSPORT and General Workers’ Union is fighting to improve the wages and conditions of office cleaners employed by major banks in London at Canary Wharf and at the giant Deutsche Bank in the City of London.
The union announced last Friday that it is stepping up its campaign for justice for the cleaners in Canary Wharf and that, unless rapid progress is made in resolving the Wharf cleaners’ grievances, it will ballot its members for strike action.
Senior industrial organiser for the TGWU Paul Davies said: “Our members at the Wharf have had enough. They’ve had enough of working for some of the wealthiest companies in the world for low pay and of their managers refusing to meet with their union.
“Each and every cleaning contractor at Canary Wharf, and their clients the banks, should be working with the cleaners’ union on a way forward. Some of the more enlightened contractors and some of the more socially aware clients are working with the union to improve the pay and other conditions of employment of cleaners.
“But others are hiding their heads in the sand and failing to respect their cleaners’ demand for justice.
“In those buildings at the Wharf where there is still no constructive dialogue we will be planning industrial action.
“Regretfully, unless we can see some significant progress on the part of the banks and the contractors in the next seven days, we will proceed towards a series of strategic strikes in key buildings across the Wharf.”
The TGWU’s Justice for Cleaners campaign represents cleaners in Reuters, the Financial Services Authority, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, HSBC, Lehman’s, Credit Suisse, 1 Canada Square, the Bank of America, McGraw Hill, and Clifford Chance. They are fighting for a living wage, sick pay, improved holidays, a pension and recognition for their union.
Meanwhile, a few miles away in the City of London, cleaners being paid £6 an hour to clean the London offices of the giant Deutsche Bank are urging the bank’s top bosses to help them get a fair deal at work.
The cleaners hand-delivered a letter last Tuesday to the bank’s head of operations in Britain, Aidan Brady, asking Deutsche Bank to tell the Lancaster office cleaning company to pay them a long-promised bonus and start talks with their union, the TGWU.
“Deutsche Bank’s top executive is now paid €11.9 million a year, and the company has a reputation for paying big bonuses to many staff,” said Paul Davies.
“Our cleaners’ expectations are rather more modest, but they are the basic demands of employees in any civilised country. They are only asking for £6.70p an hour plus a sick pay scheme.
“They expect their trade union to be able to negotiate for them with their employers, and they expect their employers to keep their promises. At a meeting before Christmas, Lancaster promised our cleaners a quarterly bonus and this should have been paid last week. They are still waiting for it. We believe a little encouragement from Deutsche Bank could remedy this situation immediately. “That’s why we are asking Deutsche Bank to tell Lancaster to treat their workers properly. After all, Deutsche Bank boasts that it is ‘a European global powerhouse dedicated to excellence, constantly challenging the status quo to deliver superior solutions’. Sorting out Lancaster Cleaners shouldn’t pose too big a problem for the bank.”