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Friday, December 30, 2011
by Theo Russell
A member of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) politburo, Indra Mohan Sigdel or ‘Basanta’, addressed a meeting in London last week, organised by Second Wave Publications, about the “line struggle” taking place in the party, following a series of setbacks to the cause of advancing to a national democratic revolution. Since the end of the war led by the UCPN (M) – formerly the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) - and the abolition of the monarchy in 2008, splits have appeared in the party over the implementation of peace agreements and Comrade Prachanda’s leadership of the UCPN (M).
In his talk Indra Mohan Sigdel made these points:
“Mao said that with a correct political line, you will have everything: you will have an army, and you will have state power, you will have all of these. But without the correct political line, you will lose all of them.
“Today we see that whatever we had, we have lost. In this case Mao has been proved correct.
“When we started our struggle we didn’t have a single rifle which worked. We had four rifles which didn’t work. But we were able to seize power in the countryside, organise mass support in the towns and cities, and get rid of the monarchy.
“Our army has been dissolved in the name of integration, but this is in fact a surrender. Our fighters were about to defeat the Nepalese Army. But the revolutionary cause ten years of struggle has not been given up. The whole party has not surrendered. The whole party has not become revisionist.
“Now the situation is very difficult, but there is still the possibility that the political struggle will continue until victory. It may take a few years, but the struggle will continue uninterrupted.
“In 2008 our tactics were successful when the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly abolished the monarchy, and we got a democratic republic. But after this advance the leadership never thought of developing the national democratic revolution. What we have achieved is still a reactionary system.
“At the Kharipati Convention held on November 2008 there were very sharp divisions in the party. Prachanda proposed a ‘people’s federal democratic republic’, but the leadership never tried to implement this in practice, and the struggle started again. We developed our plan and had to develop new tactics to achieve the people’s democratic revolution.
“At a three month-long CC meeting in mid-2009 Prachanda finally agreed that a people’s insurrection is a must to establish the people’s federal republic. Will this be peaceful? No, it can never be peaceful, it has to be armed insurrection. The theory that armed struggle is necessary is still valid.
“At the Sukute standing committee last April 3 Bhattarai (now the UCPN(M) prime minister of Nepal) said we can’t make a revolution now, we need to stop and prepare the ground, to integrate the army and write the best possible constitution and then move ahead.
“Prachanda accused him of ‘right deviation’ and being a ‘national capitalist’, and pretended to be revolutionary. But history shows us that no party which has entered into bourgeois government has gone on to create a revolution.
“Later Prachanda, Bhattarai and the other leaders agreed a four point programme: a constitution based on a ‘democratic republic’; an extradition treaty with India; an Indian military and air force presence in Nepal, to protect Indian projects; and ‘relief’ measures, which meant that land seized by the peasants was to be returned to the former landowners, with compensation.
“The call was issued to resist and take the land back. So far land is being seized and seized back again with no violence, but when they commit to implementing the line, the police and army will be deployed.
“We had built up a strong military force which was an inspiration to the people does not exist, actually it has been eliminated.
“Under the agreement our fighters going into the army will have to undergo a ‘bridge’ course run by the army, and those who are unsuccessful will be sent home without a penny.
“This shows that with a correct political line we gained so much, when we took the wrong political line, we lost everything.
“From this point two lines of struggle and two opposed positions have emerged in the party. Now we are in a situation where the people can see the contradictions, and those comrades taking a revolutionary line are gaining support, which is a good thing.
“This will take a long time, but the objective conditions still exist for the revolution. We are now taking our political programme and political education to cadres across the entire country.
“To ensure power, we have to create another PLA, and that PLA has to seize power. The question is how we can sustain our revolution. We are being encircled by imperialist powers, and there are no revolutionary countries nearby.
“We agree with Lenin that it is possible to make a revolution in one country, but the question is can we sustain the revolution.
“Armed insurrection is definitely the most important factor, but the question is how to bring this about. Overall conditions are increasingly favourable because the contradictions and class struggle are sharpening in the capitalist countries, but the question is how to deal with this situation.
“If we eventually achieve the revolution, then definitely the state will be led by the proletariat, but until that time power will be held by all the people, as Mao said.
“But the situation is very very difficult and very sensitive. This line struggle is going deep into class struggle, it will produce a result and show the way forward.
In an article last September, Basanta provided further detail on the ideological struggle taking place in the UCPN(M).
“The ideological struggle in our party has now been manifested in two lines, Marxism or reformism, and it has centred on ideological, political and organisational lines.
“The Party did not have any tactics through a period of almost a year after the democratic republic of Nepal was declared. In the situation when the old tactics were over and the new ones was not taken up it was obvious the party had no plan to go forward, except cycling around the parliamentary exercise.
“Finally, elucidating that Nepal was still a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country and the federal democratic republic was a reactionary political system, the party adopted a new tactic, a people’s federal republic, to accomplish the new democratic revolution. This tactic is still valid and is awaiting its execution.
“On May 1st 2010, the party declared from the stadium at Tundikhel, Kathmandu that an indefinite strike would be continued until it culminated in a people’s insurrection, through which Nepalese people become the masters of state power.
“This brought about unprecedented enthusiasm among the broad masses. But strangely, after less than two weeks; the strike was suddenly brought to a stop, which did nothing other than bring about complete demoralisation among the people.
“The ideological struggle that had started from Kharipati reached its climax after the indefinite strike was stopped. Everyone from our leaders to cadres, as well the Nepalese masses, is aware of the height of the Palungtar debate held in November 2010.
“The two-line struggle being waged after Kharipati took a different turn after the standing committee meeting held at Sukute. Essentially, the contradiction between reform in essence and revolution in form that existed in our party leadership was resolved at Sukute.
“It is clear that the new democratic revolution in Nepal is now on the threshold of counter-revolution. It is being manifested in the danger of surrendering the PLA in the name of army integration, and in writing document of compromise with the comprador, bureaucratic capitalists and feudalists, in the name of building consensus.
“If army integration is carried out in a capitulationist way and if a document of compromise is adopted in the name of writing a constitution, it will be an outright counter-revolution.”
Saturday, December 17, 2011
by New Worker correspondent
|Joe's mother with Diane Abbott|
LINDA MORGAN last Saturday, along with her MP Diane Abbott, led a demonstration to present a petition at Downing Street calling for justice for her mentally ill son, Joe Paraskeva, who has been given an indeterminate prison sentence.
Joe was jailed after using an aerosol can and cigarette lighter to try to escape from a mental health unit in which he had been sectioned in October 2010.
Even though Joe had no previous convictions and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, he was sent to prison, and his family have no idea when he might be released.
Joe was recently transferred to the John Howard Centre forensic unit in Hackney, but his mother fears he may be moved back to prison at any time.
The 6,000-signature petition calls for Joe's case to be reviewed, for his conviction to be overturned and for him to receive proper care, as a mental health patient, within the NHS.
Just before the event Ms Morgan said: "We are going to Downing Street today not only to campaign for Joe, but to address a huge injustice in both the NHS and the criminal justice system.
These failings allow the most vulnerable in society to be punished rather than helped. Prison is not a safe or therapeutic environment for people suffering with mental health problems and should not be used as a dumping ground.
Joe's case is only one example; there are many other families out there who have been through similar experiences. Anyone who has a mental illness deserves to be safely cared for, not thrown into prison."
The Justice for Joe campaign is being supported by a number of major mental health and criminal justice organisations including, Sane, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, The Manic Depressive Fellowship, YoungMinds, The Howard League for Penal Reform and The Prison Reform Trust.
DOZENS of people gathered in Whitehall, opposite Downing Street, last Saturday to demand action from the Government to take action to secure the release of Shaker Aamer, who is still held in the Guantánamo prison by the United States government.
Shaker Aamer has been held in the Guantánamo Bay concentration camp since 2002. He is a legal permanent resident of Britain, married to a British national, with four British children living in London.
Shaker has long been cleared for release by the United States, never been charged by the United States with a crime and has never received a trial.
Reprieve Director Clive Stafford Smith visited Shaker in November 2011 and on departure, immediately penned a letter to Foreign Secretary William Hague listing numerous physical ailments that Shaker suffers – a list that had just been cleared through the US censorship process.
The letter calls for Shaker's release and meanwhile Shaker waits alone in his cell, officially cleared of wrongdoing, but still paying the cruellest of costs for his kindness to others.
Protesters at Saturday’s event read out the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on the 63rd anniversary of its adoption by the United Nations.
By a New Worker correspondent
London students demonstrated outside King’s College last week in protest at a “Back Boris Student Bootcamp” meeting called to support the Tory London Mayor’s campaign for another term next year. About twenty students, some wearing spoof Boris Johnson masks assembled outside the main university entrance in the Strand to show their opposition to the meeting organised by Conservative Future, the youth wing of the Tory party in a protest called by Occupy London protest movement that has led the tent protests in Finsbury Square and St Paul’s cathedral.
Emma Stanton, student and supporter of Occupy London said: “Boris Johnson is the Mayor of the one per cent, the privileged few. This bootcamp is an attempt to prettify and legitimise the brutal Tory agenda, which has having a devastating impact upon students and young Londoners. By pricing Londoners out of education, the Tories are taking away not only the opportunities and ability of an entire generation, but they are dealing a severe blow to the economy which grows with an educated workforce.”
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
TUC GENERAL Secretary Brendan Barber called it “a terrific success”. Prime Minister David Cameron says it was a "damp squib". But the public sector strike that shut down over two-thirds of all schools and paralysed local government throughout Britain was anything but the futile exercise Cameron would have his followers believe.
Last November's national strike certainly shook the Cameron government. Millions of workers went on strike on 30th November despite the best efforts of the Tories and their Liberal Democrat collaborators to split and divide the unions in the run-up to Pension Justice Day.
The protest strike and the demonstrations across the country in support of the TUC’s day of action were supported by 30 unions, representing over two million teachers, health workers, civil servants and local authority workers. The industrial action, the biggest in British labour history, was a powerful display of the strength of organised labour that reflected the growing mass support for the campaign against the Coalition Government’s attempts to cut pensions and pension rights to pay for the deficit caused by the slump across the entire capitalist world.
The ruling class claims that we are all in this together. But their parasitical lives of luxury and ease continue unscathed while working people face a future of unemployment, poverty and homelessness.
These worthless people, even now, are not even prepared to see a serious tax on their profits or income to cushion the blow to the working class, who create all the wealth in the first place.
Their media pundits claim that austerity is the only way out of the crisis but they say nothing about the billions spent on the wars in Afghanistan and Libya or the billions that the ruling class will just as easily find for their planned attacks on Syria and Iran. In fact there is only one way out of the capitalist crisis and that is socialism and the planned economy that does away with exploitation and oppression altogether.
Cameron can bleat all he likes about improved offers, continuing negotiations and that strikes achieve nothing. But everybody on the front-line of the cuts offensive knows that any crumbs the Cameron Coalition puts on the table for some workers will be paid for by robbing others and that the Government is determined to force public sector workers to work longer and pay more into pensions that will be worth much less than what they were promised when they were first employed.
The intensification of the Government’s draconian austerity programme and its decision to cap public sector pay rises to one per cent for the next two years shows that Cameron & Co have no intention of backing down in their determination to make working people foot the entire bill for the capitalist crisis. And we will pay for the slump in lost jobs, fewer benefits and poorer services if we don’t fight back.
Last week must only be the beginning of a mass campaign to resist the cuts every inch of the way and to mobilise the labour movement for greater national actions to bring down the Government to force new elections and the return of a Labour leadership committed to supporting the just demands of organised labour.
by New Worker correspondent
THE LONDON Borough of Westminster last week passed a new by-law in order to demolish the Parliament Square peace camp and to ban protesters from a large part of central London.
The council aims to clear the area in time for the Olympics.
The by-law gives Westminster council the power to clear 15 streets around the square as well as other nearby footways, pavements and gardens.
The law marks the final act in a 10-year occupation that began when anti-war campaigner Brian Haw set up camp. The council regarded it as an eyesore and national disgrace.
The law, which makes it an offence not to comply with the order to remove a tent, should be in place by March, meaning the square would be cleared in time for London 2012.
Maria Gallastegui, 53, who has been camped outside Parliament Square protesting for five and a half years, said: "We have a nation built on a proud heritage of peaceful protest. It is crucial now more than ever to keep our stand at Parliament Square as we are heading to another war, this time with Iran, and people need to know that. We represent victims of war.
"Parliament Square is the most symbolic position for grass roots campaigners to highlight their causes. It is a world stage that is photographed every day by tourists and locals alike. We have a powerful message and we should be allowed to send it out."
THE ROYAL College of Surgeons is investigating the resignation of five surgeons at the Royal London Hospital in Tower Hamlets and one surgeon from Bart’s Hospital over cuts in resources which, they say, endanger patients’ safety.
A lack of plastic surgeons, anaesthetists, beds and equipment meant patients with non-life threatening injuries routinely had operations cancelled.
One whistleblower said that patients were left with open wounds for six days while waiting for a slot. When they were finally operated on, bones often healed badly or infection set in leading to long-term complications, the source added.
The resignations, which all happened in recent months, mean almost half the hospital's 12 orthopaedic surgeons have now handed in their notice.
In his resignation email to colleagues orthopaedic surgeon Dr David Goodier, said: “I can no longer stand idly by when patients are physically harmed by the care they receive.
"The supplies situation is dangerous. We are regularly out of kit, out of nurses, and always out of beds.
"We have become so used to this situation it is no longer seen as a crisis, it is the norm.
"I did an operation last week on a fracture that kept getting bumped by more urgent cases.
"It was three weeks down the line and healed in a bad position. There was nothing I could do for him.
"I look patients in the eye and tell them they might sit around for five or even six days of starving for an operation that might get cancelled at the last minute."
He concluded: "I have been complicit in a poor standard of trauma care and am guilty of negligence by association.
"I can no longer stand idly by when patients are at best having their human rights breached, and at worst physically harmed by the care they receive."
HEAVY handed policing and the use of the stop-and-search laws – reintroduced under the Blair government as an anti-terrorism measure – against young black people fuelled much of the anger and rioting that flared suddenly last August.
This was the conclusion of a lengthy study by the London School of Economics and the Guardian newspaper that interviewed 270 rioters.
Of those interviewed, 85 per cent cited anger at policing practices as a key factor in why the violence happened.
Many cited repeatedly being stopped and searched whenever they went outside their homes, seeing close friends and relatives treated with brutality and groups being rounded up who just happened to be in the same place but did not know each other and being treated as a gang.
The complaints were remarkably similar from rioters all around Britain – and very similar to those made 30 years ago to the Scarman inquiry into the Brixton riots of the early 1980s: police taking advantage of their powers to make life hell for people they just did not like – mainly because they were black.
The Association of Chief Police Officers said it was not surprised such a study saw police cited as a factor. “But August also showed the ability of our police to restore order using robust, common sense policing in the British way," it said.
The former Metropolitan Police Chief Sir Ian Blair and a Tory spokesperson made similar comments on the BBC’s Newsnight programme during a discussion of the report.
They were saying the reason why these rioters hated the police is because criminals always hate the police – completely missing the point that it is their approach that is criminalising a whole community.
One measure particularly irked many of the rioters. Previously police who stopped and searched youths were obliged to give them a written note with an account of what had happened and details of how and where to complain about inappropriate treatment.
The Con-Dem Coalition has done away with this as part of its “war on red tape”. But it leaves police unaccountable for the way they pick on people to stop and search and their victims with no redress.
The riots began on Tottenham two days after the police shot and killed Mark Duggan, a young black man, who turned out to be unarmed, contrary to police claims.
His family and friends staged a small demonstration to the police station, demanding to speak with senior officers for an explanation. The police ignored them for three hours until anger boiled over and the rioting began with the burning of a police car.
One rioter was on holiday when he heard about the riots but returned to take part. He said: “As soon as I saw that, I was happy, like. For some reason I just wanted to be there. I actually wanted to burn the cars," he said.
"What I've been through my whole life, police have caused hell for me... now was my opportunity to get revenge."
Interviewed on the BBC's Newsnight, he said the Government had made it hard to get jobs, cut people's benefits, and made university unaffordable.
"We thought, 'Okay, you want to financially hurt us?' We'll financially hurt you by burning down buildings. "That was the best three days of my life."
Meanwhile former Met Police Chief Lord Stevens has said he believes public disorder will be one of the major problems facing police over the next 18 months.
Launching a commission into policing in England and Wales set up by Labour, he said his feeling was that the coming months would be "very difficult".
He said he was worried about unemployment and rising crime – police would have to be "match fit" to cope.
Crossbencher Lord Stevens also stressed the commission would be non-political.
Friday, December 02, 2011
|Marching through London on Wednesday|
by Daphne Liddle
MILLIONS of workers last Wednesday took part in a historic national strike that closed 21,000 schools as well as thousands of libraries, council offices, parks, courts, job centres, benefit offices and other government offices. And many thousands more workplaces were closed or seriously affected by industrial action throughout the UK.
Hospitals remained open for emergencies and essential care of in-patients but all other work was off for the day.
Unions estimate that around two-and-a-half million public sector workers took strike action, making it the largest strike in terms of numbers in Britain ever.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “I have been to pickets around central London and spirits are sky high with many other unions besides PCS out on strike.
“People should be very proud of the stand they are making today in contrast to the shame of the Government.
“Public sector workers have come together today to show their united opposition to the government’s prolonged and concerted attacks on their pensions, jobs and communities.”
Many workers sent their message to the Government by simply staying at home but throughout the country hundreds of thousands took part in over 1,000 local marches and rallies, with bigger marches in all major towns and cities. For many it was the first industrial or political action they had ever been involved in.
The Con-Dem Coalition cannot now possibly say that the opposition to their cuts and their robbery of public sector pensions is down just to a few “militant union leaders itching for a fight”.
When he launched that remark last week, Education Secretary Michael Gove had it the wrong way round. Some of the union leaders would have preferred a quiet life; the pressure for this action has come from the rank and file. But the leaders are now shaping up to the battle that has landed on them.
It is important now that the unions carry on the momentum and start preparing for the next strike. It should not be hard; the morale on today’s well attended picket lines was very high and the Chancellor George Osborne has added to the workers’ anger by promising a one-per cent cap on their pay rises — after a two year freeze, while inflation is around five per cent — and hundreds of thousands more job cuts in his vain efforts to balance his books.
This strike has hit the Government and a lot harder that it expected but it will not fall or back off yet. More strikes, more rallies, meetings and pickets are needed. But now the workers know their fight is effective and they can win.
This confidence is what will win the war against capitalism.
This strike could also go down in history as the first really big national strike where most of the strikers, pickets and marchers were women. The working women of Britain are no longer submissive and lacking in confidence.One Unison picket in south London said she had told two children on the picket line with their mother: “You may not believe it now but in years to come when you are grown up and people still talk about the great public sector pension strike, you will be able to say, ‘I was there, at the strike rally at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’.”
By Theo Russell
KEN LIVINGSTONE, Labour’s London mayoral candidate, last week told his first major campaign rally, in Camden, that transport fares must be cut “on transport grounds to make the system more attractive, but also on economic grounds to put ordinary Londoners first by putting money back in the pockets that will boost the London economy.”
In the last two years fares have risen by 21 per cent – 13 per cent above inflation – and Tory mayor Boris Johnson plans another 20 years of above-inflation rises.
A single bus fare with an Oyster card has risen 56 per cent since 2008, and zone 1-6 travel cards 22 per cent, hitting Londoners already suffering the effects of recession.
Livingstone told 500 people at the Camden Centre in King’s Cross that if re-elected he would cut overall fares by five per cent in autumn 2012, with no increase in 2013. After that fares would rise by no more than RPI (Retail Price Index) inflation.
Livingstone has identified Johnson’s weak spot on transport – a £728 million Transport for London operating surplus in the last financial year, which is growing every year.
Johnson has scrapped plans for disabled access at 18 tube stations, indefinitely postponed upgrade work on the Piccadilly, Bakerloo and Central lines, and cancelled the Croydon Tramlink extension and Docklands Light Railway extension to Croydon and Dagenham.
London’s public transport is the most expensive in the world, but Johnson’s hatred of trade unions and mismanagement by his big business appointees have resulted in major delays on the underground almost daily, with only seven months to go before the Olympics.
The rally heard from young Labour supporters that Londoners are being forced to turn down job and education offers due to high fares. Yet Boris Johnson, who earns £430,000 as mayor, told a BBC interviewer that the £250,000 a year he gets for a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph was “chicken-feed” – a statement which surely ranks alongside Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake”.
Labour MP Tom Watson told the meeting: “No wonder he can’t understand what a seven per cent increase in transport costs (planned for January) means to ordinary Londoners”.
Livingstone said that in 2000-08 while he was mayor, n umbers of bus passengers rose by half while bus fares fell nine per cent, and tube fares rose by only 1.4 per cent. His bus strategy was so successful it was copied by cities across Britain.
London’s dilapidated, unreliable and poorly staffed overground rail network was also transformed under Livingstone with new stations, trains and tracks, service frequency doubled, and lines re-opened, and has just been voted Britain’s best railway.
As mayor Livingstone obtained £5 billion to build affordable homes in London, but although these were planned to be available by April 2012 Johnson is refusing to publish figures for new housing.
While house building has collapsed, Johnson and Tory and Lib-Dem run councils have drastically cut quotas for affordable homes in new developments.
Livingstone also plans to restore all Johnson’s policing cuts, including plans to axe 1,800 officers after the Olympics, and 900 lost through a recruitment freeze.
Friday, November 25, 2011
By New Worker correspondent
AROUND a thousand angry women, along with friends and supporters, last Saturday marched from Temple to Whitehall to demand that the Con-Dem Coalition stop making cuts that take away women’s chances of an equal life.
The march, organised by the Fawcett Society, was a protest at the way the cuts are turning back the clock on women’s rights and freedoms.
Many marchers wore 1950s style clothing – from French Haute Couture to overalls, pinnies, hairnets and head scarves with rubber gloves, to make the point that this was an age they did not want to go back to.
In what it describes as its first nationwide "call to arms" in nearly a century-and-a-half of activism for women’s equality, the Fawcett Society urged people to turn out to deliver a message to David Cameron that his austerity measures threaten to "turn back time" on women's rights.
Similar rallies were held in other cities, including Coventry, Bristol and Manchester, and finished with tea parties.
In Oxford, a 1950s-themed "flash mob" took place with some marchers coming in handcuffs the most to chain themselves symbolically "to the kitchen sink".
The Fawcett Society has previously shied away from militant feminism in favour of measured, persistent campaigning.
But last week the number of women out of work reached 1.09 million, the highest in 23 years and Fawcett's acting chief executive, Anna Bird, said there was no time to lose.
"We think we are very much at a watershed moment for women's rights in the UK," she said. "We think that the impact of austerity has brought us to a tipping point where, while we have got used to steady progress towards greater equality, we're now seeing a risk of slipping backwards. We cannot afford to let that happen."
Women will generally be harder hit by cuts to benefits and public services such as SureStart children's centres, and will be more likely to take on roles, like caring for the long-term sick and elderly, which will plug the gaps once such state services have been withdrawn.
But the Fawcett Society believes the most serious damage is being done in the jib market, as 65 per cent of the public sector workforce, female employees will be disproportionately affected by job cuts.
The TUC last week released a "tool kit" guide to raising awareness about the impact of the cuts on women; it estimated that 325,000 of the 500,000 people who will lose their jobs as a result of public sector cuts will be women.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: "Is it any wonder that the coalition are losing the support of women voters? It is a triple whammy for women who are being hit hard by unemployment, the rising cost of living as well as cuts to benefits and services to young people."
Many of the marchers had experienced first hand the impact of the cuts. Maggie Cowan, 59, from Walthamstow in north-east London, is one of those: after working in the careers service for 22 years, she was made redundant in July as an indirect result of local authority cuts to Connexions advice centres. Because of the closures, the organisation that employed her decided to close its head office. Of about a dozen of her colleagues, only one was male.
Since September, she has had a part-time job on a temporary contract working with young people to try to keep them in education. But the summer was hard.
"I was anxious,” she said. “Looking for work is difficult – because of my age and I accept I may not look like the best prospect," she joked. "I applied for lots and lots of jobs … I just seemed to be filling in application forms and sending off CVs left, right and centre."
As her contract is due to end in the spring, Cowan, the breadwinner in her family, admits she is insecure. "I have to be really careful about how much money I spend because come next March I don't know what I'll be doing," she said. "There is pressure. The only other time in my life I haven't worked is when I stopped to have my children."
Fawcett has outlined policies it wants the Government to take, including the ring-fencing of funding for SureStart children's centres and pressure on local authorities not to cut services concerned with combating violence against women.
|Daphne Liddle winning the argument|
By New Worker correspondent
BANKERS are taking over the political protest and our role is to resist this Labour MP John McDonald told the annual conference of the Labour Representation Committee, which packed out the main hall at the University of London Union last Saturday.
He spoke on the unprecedented austerity attack on our class, the need to defend ourselves and the need to present a concrete alternative model to oppose that of the bankers.
He praised those occupying the churchyard of St Paul’s Cathedral, next to the London Stock Exchange and the threat from the City of London Corporation to evict them.
“We should be campaigning for the abolition of the City of London Corporation,” McDonnell said.
Symeon Brown, a community worker from Tottenham gave a moving speech on the effects of the cuts to services on the low income people of Tottenham.
He said: “Prior to the riots there were protests against the cuts but they were ignored.
“After the riots people were asking ‘Why?’ – as if they lived in a vacuum and had not seen what has been going on.”
He described the local people, especially the black community, who had lost so much just before the riots as “victims of the most drastic cuts”.
“You will never know unless you live there, so many people suffering so much. How do you feel when the very services on which you are reliant are being cut? Has a single generation ever lost more gains?”
Phien O’Reachtigan also made a moving speech on behalf of the travelling community. He pointed out that their community is referred to as the Irish travelling community even though they have been in this country for 900 years.
He told the conference that the people evicted from Dale Farm are still there in the area because they have no other place to go and that racist hate against them is not only tolerated but encouraged.
“They keep telling us to go back where we came from. We are part of Britain. If all people were to go back to their original countries we would all go back to Africa. Our ancestors left there and they were all travellers once.”
Steve Acheson, an electrician who has been blacklisted for many years for his trade union activities, spoke about the current long-running dispute between construction site electricians and the giant companies that are planning to cut their pay by 36 per cent and their terms and conditions.
They have protested every Wednesday for several months now; focussing on a different big construction site every time and already one of the employers has back away from the plan to cut.
Most of the resolutions to conference concerned the fight against the cuts and putting pressure on Labour leaders to present a real, socialist alternative.
And most resolutions were uncontroversial, receiving near unanimous support.
But the resolution from the New Communist Party concerning the Nato violent overthrow of the government of Libya – and the need to defend Syria from a similar attack, sparked a real debate that divided the conference chamber.
Many delegates to the conference, although against Nato and imperialism in general, were unaware of the history of Libya and had swallowed western propaganda that it was an old fashioned brutal feudal Arab dictatorship.
Moving the resolution, Daphne Liddle explained that Gaddafi had been given the demonisation treatment that so many leaders of small countries opposed to western imperialism have been given and that Libya had pursued many progressive policies, including setting up Opec to ensure that oil revenues went, at least to some extent, to benefit the people of the countries where the oil was extracted.
This was fiercely opposed by some delegates but was also supported by peace activists who agreed that bombing civilian populations was no way to liberate them.
One young woman Arab delegate also stunned the less-well informed delegates by explaining that the Gaddafi government has given full equal rights to women, protected them from male violence and angered some of the more reactionary and powerful forces in the country by granting women equal rights to inherit land.
“But now they have Sharia law imposed and the forced marriages and child marriages, the stonings and beatings, the genital mutilation and the enslavement of women will all come back.”
The motion was passed with 79 for, 48 against and 39 abstentions.
- LRC report of conference
- text of the NCP motion on Libya agreed at conference
This conference opposes all interference by Nato and other imperialist forces in the internal affairs of Syria and/or Iran, following the outcome of the Nato intervention in Libya that has enforced a regime change, without any democratic mandate, for the sole benefit of western oil companies.
The Nato forces obtained a United Nations mandate to impose a no-fly-zone on Libya, ostensibly to protect human lives. They used this mandate to unleash a campaign of terror bombing that cost thousands of civilian lives and to support reactionary stooges, including elements of Al Qaeda, as a front for the violent overthrow of a government that used its oil revenue to provide a high social wage for the Libyan population and to provide generous and frequent humanitarian famine relief for other African countries.
The Libyan government has now been replaced by a divided group of puppets which include violent racists responsible for the massacre of many black African workers in Libya.
Nato is now seeking a UN mandate to impose similar carnage in Syria – a country of mixed ethnicities, cultures and religions, which is currently a secular state.
A Nato intervention in Syria can only destabilise the whole region, leading to inter-racial, inter-religious and inter-ethnic carnage and bloodshed.
We deplore the pretence of the defence of human rights to mask attempts to impose a new age of imperialist colonialism in the Middle East and call on the United Nations to defend the sovereignty of small nations against imperialist aggression.
|Alejandro Cao de Benos and Dermot Hudson|
By New Worker correspondent
FRIENDS of the Korean people from home and abroad gathered last Saturday for an international meeting of the Korean Friendship Association (KFA) in central London. Leading activists in the Korean solidarity movement including KFA President Alejandro Cao de Benos, Dermot Hudson from the UK KFA and others from Europe and Africa took part in the conference. But others from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand and Russia were prevented by the Foreign Office from entering the country.
November marks the 12th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean Friendship Association. Over the decade the KFA has become the authoritative and authentic friendship body promoting solidarity with the DPRK. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the KFA has been to spread an understanding of the DPRK among an audience of millions, particularly young people through the medium of the Internet and other resources.
While the morning session was devoted to internal organisational matters the afternoon was spent in open discussion on building solidarity with the DPR Korea.
In his keynote speech KFA president Alejandro Cao de Benos said: "Frequently people around the world talk about 'personality cult' or 'state religion', but out of their ignorance they cannot understand that the admiration and the lapel pin on the heart of every Korean comes from genuine respect towards a great man who did so much for others but never thought of himself. This is why is our duty and honour to safeguard the works and life of Generalissimo Kim Il Sung, to spread this knowledge worldwide and shield Korea, the country of Juche against any enemy attack”.
Solidarity messages were received from the DPRK embassy in London and the Pyongyang mission of the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front of south Korea and the conference unanimously endorsed a solidarity message to the great leader comrade Kim Jong Il .
Saturday, November 19, 2011
By New Worker correspondent
FRIENDS and comrades met in central London last Friday to take part in a debate on the Arab Spring and its relevance to the struggle against world imperialism. Prof Kamal Majid, a vice-president of the Stop the War Coalition, and New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks kicked off the discussion with openings on the recent upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt, Nato’s invasion of Libya and imperialism’s growing threat to Syria.
The speakers reported the stance of the communist movements in Syria and Tunisia and the issue was taken up by other participants, who also raised the concept of the “national bourgeoisie” and questioned whether such a class now exists in the Arab world.
The meeting, organised by the NCP’s London District, was the fourth and last of this year’s series of talks on contemporary issues. A new series of talks is planned for the New Year.
|Tony Nicolaides bringing greetings from his father|
By New Worker correspondent
THE GREAT OCTOBER Russian Revolution is commemorated all around the world and every year the 1917 Bolshevik revolution that established the first workers’ and peasants’ state is celebrated by communists and progressive working people all around the world.
And for many years friends and comrades have gathered at the New Communist Party Centre to take part in the Party’s traditional celebration of the greatest event of the 20th century. Guests included comrades from the Socialist Labour Party, Second Wave Publications and, as usual, the old print shop was transformed into a bar and buffet for the event.
NCP chairperson Alex Kempshall kicked off the formal part of the evening of tributes to the achievements and sacrifice of the Soviet people throughout the 20th century by reading a message from the RCPB (ML).
This was followed by Tony Nicolaides, who read out a message that came, along with a very generous donation to the collection, from his father – a retired founder member of the party who now lives in a former Soviet Baltic republic. Tony briefly worked at the Centre in 1979 when his father, Nick, was the leading Soviet Weekly organiser in London.
Then John McCloud of the Socialist Labour Party spoke about the relevance of socialism in the 21st century and Kumar Sarkar of Second Wave Publications recalled the heady events of the past year at home and internationally.
Finally NCP leader Andy Brooks paid tribute to the sacrifices of the past, the need for struggle today and the certainty of victory tomorrow. Naturally, no NCP event can ever take place without a collection for the fighting fund. This year we marked the occasion by also producing a special NCP 2012 calendar for sale on the night as an added fund-raiser for the monthly appeal. That, together with the rousing appeal from NCP Treasurer Dolly Shaer and the commitment of all our friends and comrades, raised over £732 for the fighting fund!
- We still have some 2012 calendars in stock at £3.50 post free from NCP Lit, PO Box 73, London SW11 2PQ. Every month is illustrated with labour movement shots taken by our own photographers over the past year.
By New Worker
VETERANS, local dignitaries, ambassadors and members of political and community organisations gathered in Southwark last Sunday for a ceremony of remembrance at the Soviet War Memorial in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park in the grounds of the Imperial War Museum.
They included the veterans of the Arctic Convoy Club with their distinctive white berets, who grow fewer in number very year.
Local Southwark Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes was there, who is continuing to support their long struggle for recognition in a specific campaign medal, which they have never been granted.
The previous Labour government extended the Atlantic medal to include them and granted them a lapel badge. But there is still no real recognition for the extreme difficulty and hazards of their journeys, in sub-zero temperatures and preyed upon by U-boats.
Many suspect this is because the Soviet Union did recognise their heroism and granted them medals and the British state resents those who accept medals from socialist states.
Now Prime Minister Cameron, after promising to award them proper medals before the 2010 election, has changed his mind apparently on account of the costs involved.
Also present wearing authentic Soviet uniforms from the 1940s, were members of the British Second Guards Rifle Division Red Army re-enactment group, the largest of its kind in Europe. These enthusiasts, with their replica red hammer and sickle banner bearing a portrait of Lenin, triggered a positive emotional response from members of the London Russian community in attendance and other older people.
by New Worker correspondent
THE MURDER of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in Eltham, south-east London, over 18 years ago, was just one of a series of racist murders in the area but made history because of police failures to pursue the case properly and because of his family’s determination to hold the police to account and to seek justice for Stephen.
Stephen Lawrence, 18, and his friend Duwayne Brooks, were attacked in 1993 by five youths shouting racist abuse in 1993 as they waited for a bus.
Brooks succeeded in fleeing them but Stephen Lawrence was overtaken and fatally stabbed.
Police mishandling of the case compromised the evidence – by allowing the chief witness, Duwayne Brooks, sight of the suspects at the police station and so leaving his identification evidence open to being challenged in court.
They also reacted slowly to collecting forensic evidence, leaving the suspects time to dispose of the weapon and contaminated clothing.
The Crown Prosecution Service refused to bring a case and a private prosecution brought by the family failed because Brooks' evidence was ruled inadmissible.
But now a new case is being brought by the Crown Prosecution Service based on forensic evidence on the clothing to two of the suspects using micro analysis techniques that were unavailable 18 years ago.
Opening the trial against Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, the prosecutor Mark Ellison QC on Tuesday picked out racism as the main motive for the murder.
"The only discernible reason for the attack was the colour of his skin," Ellison told the jury. The way in which the attack was executed indicates that this group were a group of like-minded young, white men who acted together and reacted together. They shared the same racial animosity and motivation."
The jury was told that the key to the case against Dobson and Norris was new scientific evidence which had not been available at the time of Lawrence's death. No one had ever been able to identify the youths involved in the attack – that remained true today, Ellison said.
The new tests, carried out by a different firm of forensic scientists who specialise in reviewing old cases, had retrieved textile fibres, blood and hair linked to Lawrence on the clothing seized from the defendants when they were first arrested in connection with the murder in May 1993, the court heard.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
A GROUP of young, unemployed activists last Saturday strode proudly into Trafalgar Square at the end of a 330-mile march from Jarrow in the north-east of England to London in protest at the lack of jobs and Con-Dem Coalition cuts that are “affecting everyone apart from the rich”.
The march began on 1st October and gathered support all the way along to be a couple of thousand strong by the time it reached Trafalgar Square. It was re-creating the famous Jarrow march of the unemployed from 1936 and the marchers delivered a petition to Downing Street as they passed on their way to the Square.
All the way along logistics support from trade unions, especially PCS, GMB, FBU and RMT, provided food, accommodation and transport of baggage for the young marchers.
The rally in Trafalgar Square was addressed by Chris Baugh on behalf of the PCS union, Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn, former AEI worker Ian Harris, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack and RMT secretary Bob Crow.
And one of the marchers, Lizi Grey, whose great grandfather, Michael McLoughlin, had been on the original Jarrow march, also addressed the crowd.
The 17-year-old college student from Gateshead said: "The stories I've heard from his son – my grandfather – were that they were very well received in all of the towns that they went to, and we have had the same experience.
"I think a lot of that has to do with communities feeling that the cuts are starting to bite and it's affecting everyone apart from the rich and the people making the decisions."
She added: "It's taken us five weeks to march the whole 330 miles but it feels amazing."
Chris Baugh spoke on the effects of the current “biggest attack on the working class since the 1920s”.
He also spoke of the build up to the national strike of public sector workers on 30th of the month and the Government’s attempt to undermine support for it with a bogus offer of a “better” deal. “It’s like have £10 stolen from you and being offered £1 back”.
Then he warned that the battle is not just about the pensions robbery and not just about the fight for a decent wage.
“We must reach out to the millions of unorganised workers in the public and private sectors,” he said.
Ian Harris spoke about the AEI factory where he had worked for many years that was closed suddenly “with no procedure at all”, no notice and no redundancy money. “The tax payers had to pick up the bill for that,” he said.
MP Stephen Hepburn paid tribute to the dedication and enthusiasm of the marchers and to those occupying the churchyard of St Paul’s Cathedral.
“That’s where the cancer is,” he said, “In the City of London.” And he pointed out the similarity of the attitudes of rich bankers in the City in the 1930s and now – only now “with a computer switch they can put hundreds out of work and put hundreds of families into misery”.
Bob Crow and Matt Wrack both spoke about the socialist alternative to the capitalist system and of unity with workers all over the world where similar cuts are being made and working class resistance is growing.
Claire Laker, a PCS officer from Mansfield, also addressed the rally.
“Young people have shown that far from being lazy or scroungers, they want a future with decent jobs and education,” she said.
"The marchers have received huge support up and down the country. People have fed them, put them up and made it clear they back our demands."
She continued: "We think it is unfair that in the 21st century, young people are facing long-term unemployment.”There are almost a million young people out of work, and the jobs market is not getting any better."
Saturday, November 12, 2011
by Daphne Liddle
THOUSANDS of students took to the streets of London on Wednesday to repeat the message of last year’s march against the tripling of tuition fees and the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance and the privatisation of universities.
But this year the numbers were down to between 4,000 and 5,000 while police number were much higher, after last year’s dramatic student attack on the Tory party headquarters at Milbank.
Many students may have been deterred by a Home Office threat that the police had permission to deploy baton rounds — plastic bullets — if things got out of hand again.
This year’s demonstration was just as noisy and colourful but those not part of it would have had difficulty seeing much of it for the numbers of police. One photographer described it as a “walking kettle”.
The march, organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, went from the University of London to Trafalgar Square — where a breakaway group had set up a small encampment — then via the Strand and Fleet Street to the City of London.
Very heavy cordons prevented the student march from any contact with the anti-capitalist occupation of St Paul’s Churchyard. The lead organiser of the demonstration, Michael Chessum, said: “Police intimidation is unacceptable and irresponsible” and accused police chiefs of acting in a “political and cynical manner to put people off attending”.
He added: “Our message to the Government is very simply: tax the rich to fund education. Students are not going to accept these drastic cuts to their futures. Young people won’t accept this.
“We are here back again and we will keep coming back until we win our demands that education is free and accessible to all.”
The students are a part of a huge and growing protest movement against Con-Dem Coalition cuts and their march was not the only protest in London on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day 300 electricians had brought traffic in the City to a halt in part of a very long-running protest against employers’ plans to change contracts without negotiation, cutting pay and conditions drastically.
And taxi drivers organised by the transport union RMT also held a protest rally in Trafalgar Square over attacks on the licensed taxi trade.
And all the major unions are now gearing up for the national one-day strike of public sector workers on 30th November — and many private sector unions are planning complementary support activities.
Unison was the first of the big unions to complete its ballot — a resounding yes for the strike with 245,358 and 70,253 against.
The Government tried to make much of a low turnout of 30 per cent. Unison general secretary Dave Prentis responded: “Unison is a democratic organisation whose members have the right to vote in strike ballots. There was a 76 per cent vote in favour of action and that democratic decision made by our membership is valid and legitimate and must be respected.
“Democracy in the UK is not perfect, and we all need to look at why turnouts have fallen. But for government ministers and business leaders to question the legitimacy of our result is a bit rich?.
“If you follow our critics’ own logic, they would all have a rather shaky claim to power.
“For example in 2010 the Conservatives received only 23 per cent of all votes that could have been cast.”
The unions last week rejected a Government ploy of an “improved offer” as merely a tactic to undermine growing public support for the big strike.
And the giant union Unite has exposed the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, for using misleading data to attempt to manipulate public opinion over public sector pensions.
The Government’s dirty tricks show it is really anxious about the planned strike — and others that are likely to follow it if the Government does not abandon its policy of cuts.
But this government has got to go; no one except the richest is safe from life-changing cuts to their standard of living and the poorest, the disabled, children and the elderly stand to lose the most.
And of course the very future of our NHS depends on this government falling.We must keep marching, striking, occupying and protesting until they do go.
Friday, November 11, 2011
TWO CHEERS for Ed Miliband who came out in support of the St Paul’s protesters last weekend. The Labour leader said that the protesters camped outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London presented a stark warning to the political classes and reflect a wider national crisis in confidence about the values of those in business and politics.
But, while clearly keen to align Labour with today’s mounting anger against the capitalist class that is sweeping Britain and the rest of Europe, Miliband was careful not to endorse what he called the "long list of diverse and often impractical proposals" of the protesters
Writing in the Observer, Miliband described the Occupy London protest and others around the world as "danger signals" that only the "most reckless will ignore".
"The challenge is that they reflect a crisis of concern for millions of people about the biggest issue of our time: the gap between their values and the way our country is run,” Miliband declared. “I am determined that mainstream politics, and the Labour party in particular, speaks to that crisis and rises to the challenge”.
The Labour leader hasn’t stuck his neck out that much. He’s got at least half the Established Church behind him and he knows that most of the ruling class themselves fear a Greek-style backlash and want to distance themselves from the “let them eat cake” neo-con attitude that was the norm in Bush and Blair’s days. And while he’s happy to lend half a hand to a few hundred tent people parked in St Paul’s churchyard he says nothing in support of the millions preparing for the biggest strike in British labour history on 30th November.
Last week the Cameron government made a revised pension offer to avert the public sector strike at the end of the month. The offer, which would exempt those who stand to retire within the next 10 years from the changes and gave slightly more generous upper limits, did nothing to allay the major areas of union concern such as increased pension contributions and later retirement. It was too little too late and it’s been justly rejected.
Miliband talks about the gross inequalities in society. Like some of the media pundits or Anglican bishops we see more frequently on TV these days, he talks about the immense annual bonuses the City bankers pay themselves while their own staff are paid peanuts and the unemployed and the elderly are forced to eke out a miserable existence on a benefits system that is facing further cut-backs.
This certainly more than what his predecessor, the wretched Tony Blair, would have ever said, But Miliband is not making a case for social justice and he is essentially appealing to the bourgeoisie to accept reform and help those at the bottom of the ladder climb up a peg or two.
Former Labour premier Harold Wilson once said that the Labour Party owed more to Methodism than Marx. Wilson may have been biased towards his own Wesleyan church but he was certainly right about the Labour Party.
Wilson, like a number of other Labour leaders in the 20th century, was a lay preacher. Though they were all dab hands at extolling the virtues of Jesus none of them seriously claimed that prayers not politics were the answer. But the politics they espoused were those of reform, social-democracy and bourgeois argument to deride and dismiss Marxist ideas and scientific socialism.
Working people have never got anywhere with pious motions or cringing appeals to the supposed good conscience of the bourgeoisie. Past victories were won only through confrontation with the employers and their state machine. Today the working class can only rely on the organised strength of the unions to defend their rights, now under massive attack from the ruling class and the Tory-led Coalition government. Resistance to the bourgeois onslaught on our living standards will get a huge boost with a massive turn-out for the pensions strike in three weeks time. Support the protest in St Paul’s but let’s make sure it’s solid on 30th November!
by New Worker correspondent
THE ANTI-CAPITA|LIST protesters currently occupying the churchyard of St Paul’s Cathedral have found an increasing number of London’s homeless joining them for the sake of food, warmth, security and companionship.
So the protesters are opening a “welfare centre” tent. They are appealing to charities and individuals with expertise in social work, counselling, drug and alcohol services, welfare housing and mental health issues to work voluntarily at the centre.
The encampment already has its own “university”, a bookshop, a kitchen and a visitor information centre.
Malcolm Blackman, who has been at the camp since its start on 15th October, said: “We have a lot of people coming by, stumbling round the tents at night.
“There’s a lot of friendly people here and food. There was a concern that it would undermine the image of the camp. But so far we’ve met every obstacle we’ve come up against, and the welfare centre will be a good way to address this one.”
James McMahon, one of the homeless who has been helped, said he had lived around the cathedral for 10 years. He gets free food cooked by the camp’s chefs, and a canvas roof over his head.
“I asked for a tent and was given one,” he said. “There’s a community here. I have welcomed these people to my home and they have welcomed me. There’s people I can sit with, eat with and have a conversation with. It’s the most human contact I’ve had in 10 years.”
The Corporation of London and the St Paul’s authorities have now granted the encampment permission to stay until after Christmas.