Thursday, April 21, 2011


by New Worker

AROUND 1,000 relatives, friends and supporters gathered in south London last Saturday to march to Scotland Yard to demand justice following the unexplained death of rapper and DJ Smiley Culture during a police raid on his home last month.
They marched from Wandsworth Road, near his home in Stockwell, behind a float pumping reggae music in a peaceful and colourful procession to protest at yet another name being added to the list of 400 who have died in police custody in unexplained circumstances over the last decade.
Police raided Smiley’s flat in the early hours of 15th March and while they were there he died of a single stab wound to the heart.
The police officers say he went to the kitchen to make a cup of tea while they searched other rooms and that he stabbed himself to death.
Family, friends and campaigners are sceptical and have referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
As one of the chants on the march pointed out: “Four hundred dead – nothing said”.
Family campaigns such as those for Sean Rigg, who died in custody at Brixton police station in 2008, were also on the march, and the names of Ian Tomlinson, who died after being punched by police on the G20 demonstration in 2009, and Jean Charles de Menezes, shot by police at Stockwell tube station in 2005, cropped up again and again.
No police officer has ever been convicted for any of these deaths.
The march was led by family members including Smiley’s nephew Merlin Emmanuel and activist and lawyer Lee Jasper. Both spoke at a rally outside Scotland Yard at the end of the march.
The demand continues to be: “Who killed Smiley Culture? And when will the Met be brought to account for the deaths of Londoners in police custody?"

Stop the war in Libya!

by New Worker correspondent

AROUND 200 people, including members of the Libyan community, took part in Stop the War Coalition’s third London protest outside Ten Downing Street, against Nato’s intervention in Libya.
Most of the protesters carried green placards with the slogan “Hands off Libya” in bold white letters. The slogans on other placards included “We do not need intervention”, “This war is not for people, it is for oil”, “Stop killing our frightened families”, “Here we go again, the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan have not been learned”.
The protesters chanted: “One, two, three four we don’t want another war, five, six, seven, eight spend it on the welfare state” and “David Cameron, hear us say, intervention no way”.
In a statement to the New Worker, John Rees from Stop the War Coalition said that it is not only the protesters who are opposing the war.
“It is opposed by the majority of people in this country as indicated by the opinion polls. This is just the moment when the Government should be reconsidering. The no-fly zone is not working and David Cameron is considering committing ground troops and that will drag Britain even further into an absolutely unwinnable situation in Libya.
“The Government’s current actions are on the brink of moving beyond anything that has been sanctioned by their previous statements or anything that is sanctioned by the United Nations resolution. We were opposed to the war from the beginning but we are absolutely opposed to any extension of the war.
“The Government is now in the position where its initial intervention failed and that is the point at which it should draw the conclusion that it made a mistake and it should get out of Libya”.
Kate Hudson, the General Secretary of CND told the New Worker: “We are here today because we are outraged at the position of our Government. It is only three weeks since Parliament debated this issue and the Prime Minister assured MPs that this was not a war.
“It was a no-fly zone to protect Libyan civilians. And what have we seen since then? We have seen the escalation of that war; we have seen the use of cruise missiles.
“Now we have a statement from Sarkozy, Obama and Cameron saying this is indeed a war for regime change. So not only it is reprehensible on a human and moral level, it is also an illegal war and a war which is not authorised by the British Parliament.
“And it is no surprise that many MPs are now saying that they were misled and that the Government is proceeding along a line which does not have authorisation.
“Recently we have heard demands by a number of MPs that Parliament, which is currently in recess, should be recalled in order to further discuss this issue. And our very strong message to the Prime minister today is he doesn’t have the authorisation of Parliament, he doesn’t have the backing of international law, he does not have the backing of the UN Security Council Resolution and he does not have the backing of the British people.
“Many of our politicians regret now what they did in Iraq and believe that they were duped and they were lied to”.
Author Jim Brann said: “I do not think it is the business of the British, French or American government to decide by force or any other way who the government of Libya is.
“I note that all three leaders have said the war is about regime change. I have read their letter and it is very clear that what they are doing is deciding who is, and who is not the government of Libya. That is the clear meaning of their letter.”

Solidarity with the Venezuelan revolution

By New Worker correspondent

Supporters of the Venezuelan revolution packed London’s Conway Hall last Saturday for a conference by the Venezuela Solidarity Committee.
Issued discussed included how the country is developing public services and social inclusion, the 2012 general election in Venezuela and how to combat the demonisation of the country by the western imperialist media.
Speakers included Samuel Moncada, Venezuelan Ambassador to Britain and Ireland, Benita Fional from the Venezuelan Women’s Ministry, Temir Porras, Venezuelan Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Juana Garcia from the Venezuelan National Women’s Institute, author Richard Gott, journalists Alex Main and Jody McIntyre and Islington Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn.
The first plenary session was chaired by Gail Cartmail of the union Unite and began with Ambassador Moncada giving an account of how the country has improved since Hugo Chavez was elected to the presidency in 1998; how the oil revenues of the country have been turned from supplying profits to wealthy imperialists to tackling poverty, illiteracy and ill health in Venezuela and the impact this has made.
Levels of malnutrition have fallen from 7.7 per cent of the population to 3.7 per cent (the Latin American average is six per cent), thanks to food prices subsidised by oil money.
And Moncada told the conference that although Venezuela had been affected by the recent global economic crisis and had fallen into a brief period of recession, it had never cut funding to any of the programmes aimed at improving the social wellbeing of the people – but rather increased them, investing in the working people.
Moncada also mentioned the unsuccessful US-backed coup of 2002, which had the support of the right-wing media in Venezuela – though later, when the coup was brought down by the people, they tried to deny their support.
The Catholic Archbishop of Caracas had even complained to the Chavez government that the church was being sidelined in its work among the poor and downtrodden because now there was a shortage of people who were poor and downtrodden.
Women have been at the forefront of Chavez’s onslaught on poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition and Benita Fional explained why Chavez has the loyalty and support of the women of Venezuela.
She said that one of Chavez’s first acts had been to outlaw violence against women and all forms of domestic violence and to pass a law confirming the equality of women in all aspects of life.
This has made a huge difference to their lives and opened up a vast array of opportunities previously closed to women. Now they are well represented at all levels of government and administration – and now men to their share of looking after the children and housework, including the washing up.
Many speakers stressed the onslaught of irrational and vicious slanders directed at Venezuela and Chavez in particular, describing him as a dictator in spite of his continuing support in elections – and the fact that Chavez lost one referendum vote on 2005 And the right-wing still control the media in Venezuela and they do have an impact. As Temir Porras said, of the four million or so who cast their votes against Chavez, “they are not all wealthy oligarchs”.
Journalist Alex Main and researcher Lee Salter showed how the western media, in Britain the BBC in particular, describe Chavez’s achievements negatively for their impact on a small minority of wealthy people – who they regard as “Venezuela”, while the majority of workers and poor people who vote for Chavez are regarded as a dangerous, intimidating sub-human mob.
They all stressed how important it is for progressives in Britain to keep countering these lies and to promote a more balanced view of Venezuela, in the run-up to next year’s elections.

photo: Temir Porras

Gagarin in London

By New Worker correspondent

DOZENS of people from left-wing progressive groups, the world of art and literature and the London Russian community last Thursday gathered at the headquarters of the Society for Cooperation in Russian and Soviet Studies (SCRSS) last Thursday to mark the opening of a photographic exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight into space, on 12th April 1961.
The exhibition included Soviet posters marking the achievement of the first person to travel into space and orbit the earth, as well as pictures of Gagarin’s later visit to London, when he met all manner of dignitaries, dined with the Queen but also called in at the Kensington headquarters of the Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR – the forerunner of the SCRSS.
There Gagarin met, among others, the young poet and playwright Bernard Kops, who was present again last Thursday to read out the poem he had presented to Yuri Gagarin 50 years ago.
The gathering also saw a video presentation of Gagarin’s career before he be came the first man in space. He had not been an academic but had followed a vocational career as an engineer working in the production of farm machinery.
They also heard a recording of his first message from space – a message of peace for the whole world at the height of imperialism’s Cold War propaganda.
The British Council is to erect a statue to Yuri Gagarin outside their headquarters in the Mall – an exact copy of one in his home town. It will be unveiled in July to coincide with the anniversary of Gagarin’s visit to Britain but will be on display only for six months – unless there is enough public interest to warrant keeping it there longer.
The photo exhibition will run until 21st May at the SCRSS headquarters at 320 Brixton Road, London SW9. Phone 020 7274 2282 in advance for details or visit

photo:Bernard Kops reading his poem to Gagarin

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kim Il Sung -- a great communist fighter

by New Worker

Friend of Korea met on 9th April to mark the 99th anniversary of the birth of the great leader comrade Kim Il Sung at the Marchmont Centre in London.
Dermot Hudson, chair of the Juché Idea Study Group of England and the UK representative of the KFA, presided over the meeting and opened stressing the importance of Sun’s Day. Other speakers included Michael Chant from the RCPB (ML), Ella Rule of the CPGB (ML), John McLeod of the SLP and NCP leader Andy Brooks.
Dermot told the meeting that all the DPRK achievements are associated with the great leader comrade Kim Il Sung. He said that the DPRK under the leadership of the great leader comrade Kim Jong Il had been great achievements and was advancing in the fields of science and education.
Ella Rule talked about the great ideological achievements made by the great leader comrade Kim Il Sung pointing out that the Worker’s Party of Korea firmly opposed modern revisionism and the so called “market socialism”.
John McLeod spoke about the US provocation of the Korean War and the atrocities committed by the US imperialists and Andy Brooks, general secretary of the New Communist Party, stressed the role of the great leader comrade Kim Il Sung in developing the communist movement in Korea and opposing the division of Korea caused by the Americans. He said Kim Il Sung was a giant amongst communist leaders.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

London call to end the war

By New Worker correspondent

Some 200 people called for an end to the imperialist aggression against Libya at meeting in the heart of London called by Stop the War Coalition. In the historic Conway Hall a galaxy of speakers from the peace and labour movement addressed the meeting including veteran statesman Tony Benn, CND General Secretary Kate Hudson, Sami Ramadan of Iraqi Democrats, Andrew Murray and Lindsay German from the Stop the War Coalition, left Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn and campaigning former MP George Galloway.
Andrew Murray, who chaired of the meeting said that the Stop the War Coalition was trying to build a mass movement against the war against Libya and to get people across Britain to understand that the war is another war for regime change and it can do nothing to stop the problems in the Middle East.
"We need to build a mass movement to force our government to declare a ceasefire and cease its military involvement in Libya,” he said. "It is not our job to say that regime change by force, regime change from outside is a lawless, hopeless position which we have to oppose. The Arab revolution must be a revolution made for and by Arabs".
This was echoed by all the other speakers, who condemned the Western hypocrisy and double standards evident in the war on Libya and drew parallels with the ongoing conflict in Iraq.
Tony Benn told the meeting that the argument that the Security Council agrees to something may make it legal but it doesn’t make it right. "It is very difficult to escape the conclusion that the war is about the desire of the British and French governments to try and restore the control they had over the North African coast” in the colonial era, he declared.
That was also George Galloway’s view. This was about Empire and empires are built on blood he said. But the war in Libya was a military stalemate in the making. "Our troops are not coming home for Christmas from this war or the Christmas after that. The cost of the war will be taken from the Libyan wealth. The Libyans are going to pay for this".
Galloway dismissed the Arab League’s support for the attack with contempt. The League was a collection of dictatorships most of whom are busy shooting down their own democracy activists. "Qatar has the biggest American military base in the entire world and Qatar's ruler has been appointed the oil minister of “liberated” Libya and has been given the job in London of selling Libyan oil from the so-called liberated area in complete disregard and breach of international law. How can the ruler of Qatar, an absolut monarch be part of a coalition for democracy in Libya? It is absolutely absurd".
And that, Andrew Murray said in his closing remarks, was going to be a major task for the Stop the War Coalition which is holding Hands Off Libya meetings up and down the country to mobilise public opinion end what Galloway aptly called “this monstrous and grotesque adventure”.

Viva Venezuela!

An important gathering of progressives from the labour movement and beyond will come together in London on April 16, to discuss how we can learn from and further build support for Venezuela, a country at the forefront of the struggle for peace, justice and socialism in the 21st century, writes Richard Irons.

Reading the coverage of the corporate press of the country, very few people would know that since the election of Hugo Chavez as President of Venezuela in 1998, enormous changes have taken place in that country, transforming the lives of millions, including:

  • the eradication of illiteracy after 1.5m people learnt to read and write in just two years

  • the introduction of free education for all, with the number of university students trebling

  • a free National Health System being introduced, which is estimated to have saved 240,000 lives.

  • 4 million Venezuelans being lifted out of poverty since 1998 with poverty rates falling by half and extreme poverty by two-thirds

  • The adoption of a new constitution and social policies that guarantee rights for women, indigenous and black communities and disabled people

  • Measures to protect and extend workers’ rights, with the minimum wage now the highest in Latin America, with the privatisation and outsourcing of public services now illegal.
The sum total of this is that Venezuela has met the UN Millennium Development Goals, on poverty, gender equality, inequality and many more, way ahead of schedule – unlike most countries that are going to miss them.

A Voice for Peace and Justice in the World

But Venezuela’s progressive role goes beyond social progress at home, it is also a leading voice for peace, justice plus non-alignment, seeking an end to neo-liberalism internationally and a new, multi-polar world order.

Examples of this include playing a leading role in both ALBA – a ‘bloc’ of progressive nations in the region such as Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua that is putting trade in a context of social development rather than private profit- helping them remove the ‘dead hand’ of debts to the West and bodies such as the IMF plus World Bank.

Additionally, President Chavez has been a vocal opponent of the adventures in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya, recently arguing that "We know what's going to happen: bombs, bombs, war, more suffering for the people, [and] more death," when asked about the air strikes on that country. Venezuela is also a great friend of the Palestinian and Libyan people, and their quest for justice against Israel’s illegal occupations – for example, expelling the Israeli Ambassador during the bombardment of Gaza in 2009.

Lessons to be Learnt & Solidarity Needed!

Here, in Britain, and in many other places in Europe and the world, millions of people are looking for alternatives to the failed ‘solutions’ of cuts and privatisation. To these people, Venezuela can show that governments can put people first – despite the effects of the global recession, Venezuela has continued to both lift people out of poverty and expand their social spending!

Many lessons can be learnt from specific struggles and social programmes in that country, which is why so many are looking to it as a progressive beacon. Of course, equally as a leading critic of neo-liberalism and US imperialism, the Venezuelan Government has many enemies, both across the world and in Venezuela itself, including those worried about ‘the threat of a good example.

Venezuela’s government is still under constant attack from the former ruling elite who previously ran the country into the ground, and their allies on the hard right in the US who, following recent electoral gains, have regained confidence in calling for intervention and ‘regime change,’ with Republican Connie Mack recently arguing for the US to "confront Hugo Chavez directly."

Of course, the continual electoral victories (14 out of 15 national elections) of Chavez and his coalition (led by his own United Socialist Party, and including the Communist Party of Venezuela and others) does not alter their perspective in this one bit! Additionally, allies of the Venezuelan Opposition in the international media continue to propagate disinformation in an attempt to isolate the government internationally and prevent the truth about social progress from reaching a wider audience.

It is therefore vitally important in the run-up to 2012’s presidential elections in Venezuela that we continue to spread the truth and counter media misrepresentations. All who support social progress should show their solidarity by joining the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign and attending our major event on April 16, which will bring together guests from Venezuela, elsewhere in Latin America, Europe and Britain to discuss not only what we can learn from Venezuela but what we can do to offer support.

The Venezuela: Defending the Majority, Not Punishing the Poorest Conference , supported by the TUC, and many others is on April 16 at Conway Hall, London, WC1R 4RL. Speakers include Venezuelan trade union leader Jacobo Torres, women’s leader Juana Garcia, a former Higher Education Minister Samuel Moncada, and Andreína Tarazón, youth and student leader of the Hugo Chavez-led PSUV political party.

You can register online and get more information at or register by post by sending a £9 (£5 concession) cheque to ‘Venezuela Solidarity Campaign,’ c/o PO Box 56210, London, N4 4XH. The event is followed by a dinner and celebration of Venezuela at Bolivar Hall with live Latin music – contact for more information.

Friday, April 01, 2011

No War for Oil!

By New Worker correspondent

OVER 100 demonstrators, many of them Libyan students, took part in an peace protest against the London Conference on Libya at Lancaster House last Tuesday. The protesters, hoisting green flags, chanted 'Stop bombing Libya', “Hands off Libya', “No war for oil”, 'Down down Cameron', and ' Down, down Obama”.

No one was allowed to get near the conference venue and the protest was confined to a street leading to Lancaster House. “As always when they get these people together there is an exclusion zone or a security zone,” said Chris Neiman of Stop the War Coalition. “We are protesting because we think Western intervention in Libya is a disaster,” he said. “ We are here to say that Western leaders should have learned by now from Iraq and Afghanistan that you can't bomb a country into democracy. What is liable to happen – what is already happening – is that Western bombs are causing civilian casualties. They are creating a situation which will be perceived as one in which Western powers are leading a third war against a Muslim country. I just can't understand why or how this can possibly help any move towards democracy by the people of Libya. I think this is liable to draw the country and the draw the West into a widening war, possibly lead to the partition of the country but do nothing to improve the lives of the people of Libya”.

“I am protesting here today because we don't believe that military might is the way to stop complex political problems”, said Kate Hudson the General Secretary of CND. “Our concern is that the increasing use of military force, including the quite substantial use of cruise missiles and other missiles will result in large numbers of civilians casualties. We think it is up to the Libyan people to decide for themselves who runs their country and how their country is run and they should come to their own conclusions about that. We are here today particularly outside this conference because increasingly the agenda is looking less like the supposed humanitarian mission that was spoken about a week or so ago. Now the talk seems to be about regime change for Libyan, the West's role in political change in that country, the West's role in helping to rebuild that country and helping to determine its future. It is clear that the West has had a long history of involvement in North Africa and in the Middle East. That involvement has generally led to the disenfranchisement of the people of those countries and that process has to end. Foreign countries should be out of Libya and other Middle Eastern countries and those countries should decide for themselves what relationships they wish to have with other independent states. So our view is Libya must determine its own future without Western or any foreign military intervention”.

“We are against the war, we don't want our children and our families to be killed”, said Dekhil Ramadan a Libyan student. “That is the reason why we are here. We are supporting our families and our country. We support Colonel Gaddafi. All the tv news you are seeing is a lie. They don't tell us the truth. They are only portraying one view. They just show all the news for one view. The people they call the revolutionaries or the rebels they are not revolutionaries. They destroy all the buildings. If you want to have a demonstration it has to be peaceful. Like in Egypt and Tunisia. This is not a demonstration. There are people from Egypt, Tunisia and Pakistan so we see that Al Qaeda is there. The people who have been captured are from Algeria, from Afghanistan and from Yemen. So it is not the Libyan people who are taking part in this demonstration. The Libyan people have to demonstrate, not people from other countries”.

“I want this bombing to stop. That is why I am here,” said Huda Shebani a Libyan student who has taken a break from her studies to defend her country. “I want these countries to take their hands out of my country because we can solve our problem ourselves. That is why I am protesting. Every day my family is calling me and telling me they started bombing us in my home town. They destroyed even my college. They say they are saving the civilians. What civilians are they saving? They want our oil and say they are saving civilians. Why don't they just say we want your oil? We will defend ourselves”.

We've marched together... let's strike together!

By New Worker correspondents

NEW COMMUNIST Party comrades from all over the country descended on London to join more than half a million demonstrators last Saturday to take part in the TUC’s March for the Alternative to the massive cuts in public jobs and services being implemented by the Con-Dem Coalition.

The protesters came from every trade union you can name and from every city, town, hamlet and village in the country. They came by coach, train, bus, bicycle, wheelchair and on foot. And there were solidarity contingents from Europe. The march through the heart of the capital was so big that five hours after the head reached Hyde Park marchers were still thronging past the giant statue of Achilles, festooned with banners, placards, balloons and ribbons. The marchers could be heard coming from far away – armed with whistles, vuvuzelas, brass bands, jazz bands, songs, chants and slogans.

The Fire Brigades Union brought a banner expressing solidarity with the firefighters of Wisconsin. FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: ““I am sure many of you will have been following the remarkable struggles in of trade unionists, students and local communities against attacks on public services and trade union rights Wisconsin and other US states. To send solidarity greeting, the FBU has produced a special ‘Stand with Wisconsin banner for the demonstration’.” He also said: “Cameron and Clegg have launched a war on working people and today’s demonstration is the start of the fight-back. They expect us to suffer tax increases, pay cuts, unemployment and devastation of our pensions to pay for the crisis their friends in the city caused. They should expect the fight of their lives.”

At the rally in Hyde Park there was a long list of speakers from the galaxy of the union movement including Len McCluskey of Unite, Michael Leahy of Community, Brendan Barber of the TUC, Dave Prentis of Unison, Bob Crow of RMT, Mark Serwotka of PCS, pensioners, leaders of Black and minority ethnic organisations, representatives of European trade unions, students, disabled workers and people from the world of show business – all introduced by TV presenter and comedian Tony Robinson.

In his speech Len McCluskey repeated his call for the Met police to “keep your sleazy hands off our kids”. He called on Labour MPs to come to “the barricades” and saying that the country needed “coordinated industrial strike action” and more “direct action”. Few Labour parliamentarians would go that far these days. But some were part of the vast crowd in Hyde Park which heard Labour leader Ed Miliband declare that he was “profoundly moved” by the turnout. “David Cameron, you wanted to create the big society. This is the big society,” he declared. Miliband was the first Labour leader to attend a demonstration of any kind since Michael Foot back in the early 80s. In the past most of the people filling Hyde Park were workers of the kind that the bourgeoisie called the “the salt of the earth”. Yet Miliband was attacked in the bourgeois press and media for associating with them.

The lines for a serious class war are being drawn – by the ruling class. In his speech PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka restated his union’s opposition to all cuts and called for joint strike action. He began: “What a fantastic turnout. Now, let me start with a story. Before Christmas, I went with the leaders of the TUC to meet the Government. Do you want to know something amazing about the Government – everyone on their side of the table was a multi-millionaire.

“And these multi-millionaires, they tell us we’re all in it together. But they don’t use our services and they don’t use all the things we care about in our community. “And let me tell you another thing, they have no mandate whatsoever for these cuts… “Now listen. Let’s be clear about this demonstration and something my union feels passionately about. And let the journalists and the media hear it loud and proud. We must oppose every single cut in public spending. No cuts. No Cuts whatsoever.

“And why do we oppose every cut? Because if we don’t we will have to choose between young people and pensioners; between public sector and private sector; between those on welfare and those in work. We should defend every student, every pensioner and every worker wherever they are.

“So, let’s also be clear about two things to finish. There is an alternative to the cuts, and I’ll tell you what the alternative is. Let’s collect the tax that is avoided by the rich people in this country.

“And while we’re at it, while we’re at it, let’s start naming the scroungers. Sir Philip Green from Top Shop – what a scrounger he is. In one body swerve he avoided paying a quarter of a billion pounds in tax by investing it in Monaco….

“Now look around you in this park. Imagine what it would be if we didn’t only march together, we took strike action together across all of our public services.

“And let’s be clear, whether you work in health, in schools, in the civil service, in private industry, wherever you work. We are stronger when we march together, so let’s ensure that we strike together to let the government know we won’t accept it.”

Thoughts on the Commune

By New Worker correspondent

COMRADES and friends recalled the heady days the Paris Commune at the Fitzrovia community centre in central London last week. The Communards established the first workers’ government in 1871 following France’s defeat in the war with Prussia. Though it was brutally suppressed by the French bourgeoisie the Commune’s acts and decrees during its two months of freedom were, as Marx said, the prototype for a revolutionary government of the future. The meeting, organised by the London District New Communist Party, began with tributes from Neil Harris of the NCP, Thierry Schaffauser from Left Front Art and Mushtaq Lasharie from Third World Solidarity followed by a round-table discussion on the meaning and lessons of the Commune for workers today.

photo: Andy Brooks making a point during the discussion