Sunday, June 28, 2009

New Worker summer break

now in full colour

The New Worker will be taking its regular summer break from 28th June to 10th July. The next issue will be out on the 17th July.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Not in my name

PELTING Nick Griffin in Parliament Square was good street theatre. The fascist leader and his chief henchman, Andrew Brons, were indeed forced to abandon a press conference designed to gloat over their elevation to the European Parliament. But the British National Party isn’t going to go away under a shower of eggs. Nor can we simply wish them away by pointing at how poorly they did overall in the European elections that, in any case, were largely boycotted by the people of Britain.
The BNP vote was a racist vote. The BNP exploits concern over mass immigration and cheap labour from the European Union and beyond to garner votes from working people who feel abandoned by Labour. The BNP tries to tap widespread opposition to the European Union in its favour. The BNP argues for white supremacy, cloaked in the language of a patriotism that existed when the British Empire spanned the globe. The BNP even claims it is a workers’ party though its half-baked corporatist theories would put Sir Oswald Mosley to shame.
This is not an exclusively BNP patch and they are not the most successful at it. Parts of their agenda are shared by all sorts of fringe, and not so far-right parties. The maverick Tory UKIP party has been remarkably successful in garnering the anti-EU vote and the English Democrats won the mayoral election for Doncaster last week.
The question of Britain’s membership of the European Union, mass immigration and even home rule for England are all part the political debate on the street and it’s a debate that must not be left exclusively to the likes of UKIP to control or the BNP to exploit.
In the 1930s fascism represented the programme of the most aggressive and reactionary elements in Europe. Though their leaders like Mussolini and Hitler claimed to represent all classes including the workers, their real aim was to crush communists and socialists; divert workers’ anger against their oppressors to chosen minorities like the German Jews and dragoon the masses for war.
The British ruling class has never needed fascism, as Mosley found to his cost when he made his bid for power in the 1930s. But racism was the ideological justification for colonial oppression in the British Empire and the ruling class still uses it from time to time to retain the invisible caste system that operates in Britain and divides the working class.
But the BNP are not just racists. The BNP are wolves in sheeps’ clothing. Their leaders pose as racists but they are Nazis. The BNP is run by hardline Nazis who believe that the Holocaust did not happen. Its rule book remains firmly entrenched in the principles of racial superiority and the banning of racial integration.
Everyone knows where this all ends up and that’s why the BNP’s leaders are so coy now about their past record.
Well we’ve got to make sure that everyone understands exactly what the BNP stands for. We’ve got to isolate, confront and expose the BNP for what it is. There are a number of anti-racist movements in Britain, some more effective than others. Hope not Hate, sponsored by the anti-fascist magazine, Searchlight, has consistently worked to build a mass movement against the British National Party and other racists and fascists.
Hope not Hate recognises that people, communities and society as a whole face problems, but the BNP is not the answer and would only make everything worse. It has now launched a new “Not in My Name” campaign that will take this message into every neighbourhood, estate and street in the country.
Hope not Hate, along with the other anti-racist movements, must be supported by the labour movement as the struggle intensifies in the run-up to the next general election.

Spanish honours for IB veteran

By Daphne Liddle

SEVEN veteran International Brigaders last week were honoured by the Spanish government and awarded Spanish citizenship in a ceremony at the Spanish Embassy in Belgravia.
They were 96-year-old Paddy Cochrane, Sam Lesser, Thomas Watters, Penny Feiwel, Jack Edwards, Lou Kenton and Joseph Kahn.
The ambassador, Carles Casajuana, shook hands with each of the volunteers and handed them Spanish passports.
The International Brigade veteran and trade unionist Jack Jones, who died in April, received a posthumous passport, which was given to his son, Mick.
Sam Lesser, who recalled how the communist politician Dolores Ibárruri – La Pasionaria – had promised the foreign fighters in 1938 that they would one day return to find a peaceful, republican Spain.
"We've taken a while but now we've come home," Lesser, 94, said in – Spanish.
"We've come home. But there are those of us who did not come home, who sleep under the sun, the soil and the olive trees of Spain."
He quoted the poet Laurence Binyon, saying their sacrifice would never be forgotten: "They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old. /Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. /At the going down of the sun and in the morning/We will remember them."
This prompted Paddy Cochrane to raise a defiant clenched fist in the air, and to describe how proud he now was of what he had done.
Casajuana said that although Spain had changed – "now we settle our differences at the ballot box and not on the battlefield" – the country would never forget those who had given up comfortable lives at home to fight for democracy and freedom.
"Your fight was not in vain," he told them. "Your ideals are part of the foundations of our democracy."
After the ceremony, Paddy Cochrane sat in his wheelchair; grinning as he inspected the little red booklet he had just been given. "It makes me very proud," he said. "Very proud."
Joseph Kahn, reflected: "It's very pleasant to get the passport," he said. "They did offer it to us a few years ago but that was on condition that we gave up our British nationality, which, of course, we refused. I'm very appreciative of the gesture. "
He also had an odd sensation as he glanced around the room: "It's the first time in my life that I've felt like the youngest."
Mick Jones said his father would, in spite of his principles, have appreciated the granting of Spanish citizenship.
"It's a shame that Jack isn't here today but he knew he was going to get it – he'd filled in all the forms," he said.
"My father was never very impressed with ceremonies and honours but he would have thought it was about time that Spain recognised the sacrifices made by the International Brigade."

London round-up

Students fight for cleaners

STUDENTS at the University of London’s School for Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) last week began an occupation of university buildings in protest at an immigration service raid and the arrest, pending deportation of a number of the cleaning staff.
The students claim the raid is a repressive reaction for recent trade union activity.
Early last Friday morning all the cleaning staff were summoned to a meeting in a hall by the employers, ISS. When they had gathered doors were locked and immigration officers and police wearing riot gear entered and detained all the workers, including one young pregnant woman.
They were held in the hall and one-by-one taken to a side room where their immigration status was checked. They were allowed no legal or union representation; many spoke only Spanish but there were no interpreters. A union officer who tried to get in to advise and represent the workers was barred.
A number were arrested and nine have already been deported.
The students are demanding that SOAS director Paul Webley, write to the Home Secretary calling for amnesty for the remaining detainees.
One student said: “Universities should be sanctuaries: places free of violence and aggression. SOAS’s reputation as a university has been tainted today”.
Over 20 academics from the university also signed a statement denouncing the School’s management for facilitating the Border Control Agency’s work.
“It is a total disgrace that the raid took place at an institution actively recruiting students from around the world on the basis of its reputation as a leading centre for the study of global justice, human rights and racial tolerance,” it said.
The recent Living Wage campaign and protests over the controversial sacking of cleaner and union activist Jose Stalin Bermudez, are cited by protestors as motivation for the deportations.
Labour MP John McDonnell said “As living wage campaigns are building in strength, we are increasingly seeing the use of immigration statuses to attack workers fighting against poverty wages and break trade union organising.
“The message is that they are happy to employ migrant labour on poverty wages, but if you complain they will send you back home. It is absolutely shameful.”
The university said that it was “legally obliged to co-operate fully with the authorities”.
The company ISS Cleaning and Hygiene Services, SOAS’s cleaning contractor has been accused of using immigration law to keep wages low after strikes by its employees working on tube trains were also followed by deportation of key activists. But ISS strongly denied a link between unionisation and the raids.

Police accused of torture

THE METROPOLITAN Police has suspended or placed on restricted duties six officers after allegations that they tortured suspected drug dealers after a police raid.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating the Enfield-based officers' conduct, according to Scotland Yard.
The alleged offences are said to have taken place in the borough during two drugs raids on 4th November last year.
The Met said the allegations were serious and raised "real concern". But they said they could not comment on the exact nature of the complaints.
But some national newspapers are reporting that the officers used water torture techniques such as ducking a suspect's head under water.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

No to the European Union

Many of us will have received a letter from Gordon Brown last week laying out Labour’s case at the local and European elections this week. Brown recalls the Tories’ record during the last recession and restates his government’s efforts in the current slump. But he says very little about the European Union, which is after-all what this week’s poll is largely about.
In just two sentences the Prime Minister reduces the EU question to that of trade with “Europe”, which he says means “more jobs at home” while claiming that the Tories “prefer isolation in Europe – even at the costs of jobs in Britain”. That’s one way of looking at it.
In fact neither statement is true. Overseas trade with “Europe” or anyone else in the world means more jobs at home but Brown ignores the strictures of the European Union that have led to the collapse of British manufacturing and the virtual end of the mining industry over the years. Nor is it true to say that the Tories “prefer isolation” in Europe. The Cameron leadership are certainly opposed to the euro currency but they are not, in principle, against the EU or the Treaty of Rome.
None of this has been raised in a campaign overshadowed by the scandal over MPs expenses which is plainly being exploited by the Eurosceptic wing of the ruling class to undermine all the major parliamentary parties to ensure that none of them will be in a position to take Britain into the single European currency after the next general election.
In this EU election the only parties campaigning outright against the EU are UKIP and the fascist BNP while the new left social-democratic No2EU slate argues against the Lisbon Treaty but makes no outright call to tear up the Treaty of Rome. But where are big guns of the pro-EU camp?
Those in the Labour Party clearly have more immediate problems on their plate. But the Liberal Democrats, the torch-bearers of European integration, are simply concentrating on domestic issues. Kenneth Clarke, only recently brought back into the Tory Shadow Cabinet as a sop to the Europhiles, is saying nothing.
The section of the ruling class that wants to align British imperialism with Franco-German imperialism within the European bloc are keeping their heads down because they know that this week’s poll will be another rejection of the European Union. Millions will simply not bother to vote at all. Many of the minority that do will cast their votes for openly anti-EU platforms.
But behind the scenes moves are being taken to discredit the vote even before it’s counted. Mass abstention and the UKIP vote will simply be dismissed as a backlash against the parliamentary expenses scandal while demands for “constitutional reform” – essentially a call for proportional representation – will become even shriller.
All bourgeois elections are the manipulation of the largest number of votes by the smallest number of people. And proportional representation has been the method favoured by all the post-war bourgeois governments in Europe because it enables the bourgeois parties to more equitably share the spoils of office amongst themselves. It will be the chosen method of the pro-European camp to create a coalition government to take Britain into the euro and the European super-state.
We have always been opposed to the European Union and the Treaty of Rome. But the interests of the working class can never be protected by elements of bourgeoisie. Whether for or against the EU they are all defending their own class interests, not those of the workers.
The ruling class as a whole wants to reduce political argument to the divisions within their own ranks as they did in the Victorian era and as they continue to do in the United States of America. Communists must campaign to build a working-class agenda to fight to defend the interests of working people and raise the demand for the socialist alternative.