Thursday, July 28, 2011

Marxism: the choice of the Chinese people

Ambassador Liu opens the seminar

by New Worker correspondent

NEW COMMUNIST Party leader Andy Brooks took part in a seminar with other communists, academics and labour movement leaders at the Chinese embassy in London last week, held to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China in Shanghai in 1921.
Around the theme of Marxism in China, the participants discussed the historic links between the British and Chinese people and the role of the Communist Party of China in liberating the country and leading the people’s republic into the 21st century.
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming opened the seminar with a keynote speech in which he said “Marxism became the choice of the Chinese people following a painstaking journey of exploration and perseverance since the second half of the 19th century,” in an opening that swept across the struggle of the Chinese communist movement over the decades to achieve liberation and practice and develop Marxism following the establishment of the people’s government in 1949.
“In 1921 the CPC started with 50 members,” he said. “Today, 90 years after its birth the CPC has become the world's largest ruling party with over 80 million members. Over the same period, China has been utterly transformed. In 1921 China was a poor, weak and underdeveloped country. Today, 90 years on, China is the second largest global economy. The Chinese people, once on the verge of crisis, are well on the path toward a great rejuvenation.”
Ambassador Liu was followed by openings from a panel that included historian and Labour MP Tristram Hunt, John Callow from the Marx Memorial Library, Graham Stevenson, who is president of the European Transport Workers’ Federation, Communist Party of Britain general secretary Robert Griffiths and Keith Bennett from the 48 Group Club, established in the early 1950s by progressive British businessmen to promote trade with the People’s Republic.
The efforts of the communist leadership to represent the advanced productive forces, the advanced culture and the interests of the broad masses to build a harmonious society were an underlying theme of most of the contributions to the discussion.
When the people’s government was established in 1949 China had the lowest standard of living in the world. Today China can now not only feed, cloth and educate its people but also provide consumer goods and living standards for working people unimaginable before liberation. China has a modern expanding economy that has withstood much of the current global capitalist crisis.
Feudal China was once the workshop of the world – a position it lost when it was exploited and plundered by the modern imperialists.

NCP leader Andy Brooks

But as Andy Brooks pointed out: “In the 13th century China was ahead of Europe in per capita income terms. China accounted for one third of the world’s GDP in 1820. It was a global economic power during 18 of the past 20 centuries and it is only regaining the ground it lost because of the interference of imperialism during the 100 years from the mid 19th century”.
Other participants included Billy Hayes, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, Prof John Ross, a former advisor to the Livingstone administration in London, Dr Jenny Clegg, a China specialist at the University of Central Lancashire and former Respect MP George Galloway.

Spotlight on Nepal

By New Worker correspondent

COMRADES gathered in central London for a New Worker meeting last week to hear a report from writer and journalist Peter Tobin, who has recently returned after six months in Nepal.
Tobin covered the current political situation there and the prospects for the UN-backed peace process, three-and-a-half years after the end of the civil war that brought about the fall of the feudal monarchy. He described the complex balance of internal and external forces, and how the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) – the largest party in the Constituent Assembly – has consolidated its organisation in Nepal’s cities and towns and is resisting attempts to disarm and neutralise its armed wing: the People’s Liberation Army.
Tobin summarised the position of the pro-Indian Nepal Congress Party and the “constitutional” Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), the current state of the bourgeois and feudal forces in Nepal and the role played by the Indian government and US imperialism in backing them.
Both Tobin and Kumar Sarkar, of Second Wave Publications, who also visited Nepal recently, discussed the emerging divisions within the UCPN(M) over strategy in the coming period and the advancement of the Nepali peoples’ revolutionary gains, and plans to hold the UCPN(Maoist)’s second party congress in the near future to resolve these questions.

Party Day at the Centre

greetings from Poland

By New Worker

COMRADES and friends joined New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks and Party Chair Alex Kempshall in celebrating the NCP's founding day reception last Saturday at the Party Centre in London.
The New Communist Party of Britain was established in July 1977 and since then the Party has worked to build the communist movement and working class unity while upholding the tenets of Marxism-Leninism. But this work cannot be done alone. This was a point made by Andy Brooks and this was a theme echoed by friends old and new during the formal part of the proceedings.
Michael Chant from the RCPB (ML) spoke of the consistent and principled co-operation between our two parties that began in 1994 and continues with greater depth today.
Kumar Sarkar from the South Asia Forum raised the problems of the communist movement in India and Nepal and Andrei from Polish Labour Party youth movement talked about the current struggle in Poland. Congratulatory messages were also received from Dermot Hudson of the UK Korean Friendship Association and Anton Johnson of the London Left Front Art group.
No NCP social ends without an appeal for the New Worker but this time it was to launch a special fund for the essential repair and restoration of part of the back of the Party building. National Treasurer Dolly Shaer said all donations earmarked for this fund would help to pay for the building work, which began last month with the clearing of the yard, and £143 was raised on the night.

Unite launches workers' "big society"!

by New Worker correspondent

THE GIANT union Unite last week chose the first anniversary of David Cameron’s “Big Society” to launch their own by inviting students, single parents, the unemployed and claimants to join the union under a new “community membership” scheme for just 50 pence-a-week.
Unite is considering offering legal support and education facilities under the community membership scheme in exchange for “collective community action”, which could include supporting industrial action or campaigns against job cuts.
And it is offering these services precisely to those made most vulnerable by the withdrawal of state services like legal aid, advice and general support services.
Last Tuesday evening a small rally in Whitehall saw the launch of the new scheme, attended by Unite officer Kingsley Abrams attended by Unite officer Kingsley Abrams – a former Lambeth councillor who campaigned for his council to refuse to implement Government cuts. Also in attendance were leading disability rights campaigners.
The next day Unite’s “Big Society” road show came to an end on Wednesday 20th July with the delivery to Downing Street of four massive anniversary cards, crammed full of hundreds of furious messages to the Prime Minister.
The trip to Downing Street of Unite voluntary sector workers ends a two-week road show which has taken in Dorset in the South West, Liverpool, Durham and London.
The event culminated with a mass rally in central London outside the Houses of Parliament.
Thousands of people have shared their stories which have exposed the true scale of the devastation being wrought by the Government’s cuts to communities across the country in the year since the Prime Minister launched his so-called “Big Society”.
Cameron launched his “Big Society” a year ago (19th July 2010) to great fanfare but during the past year, his government has snatched a staggering £4.4 billion from the voluntary sector – services are being slashed, jobs cut and charities have been left struggling to survive.
Sally Kosky, Unite national officer for the not-for-profit sector said: “The stories of the thousands of people who took the time to respond to us should serve as a wake up call to David Cameron and his ministers, but instead he continues to turn a blind eye to the devastation his cuts are causing to millions of people throughout the country.
“The Prime Minister’s idea of the ‘Big Society’ is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of voluntary sector workers who keep our elderly safe, our disabled supported, the young off the streets and give a voice to the most marginalised in society.
“Cameron and his millionaires’ cabinet need to stop hiding behind ever more elaborate cost-cutting gimmicks and face up to the fact that their can be no volunteers without a voluntary sector with professional staff to underpin its structure.”
Unite the union, which has 60,000 members in the not for profit sector, is calling on the Government to give back the £4.4 billion it has taken from the sector.
In an interview with the Guardian, the general secretary of Unite, Len McCluskey, warned that strikes by millions of state employees are “inevitable” this autumn because of Government inflexibility over pension reforms, while he criticised Labour party leader Ed Miliband for an “ill-advised” attack on last month’s public sector walkouts.
McCluskey said the trade union movement already reflects through its voluntary membership structure the Conservative party’s “big society” vision of non-state organisations taking a bigger role in running public services. “David Cameron is talking about the big society. Well we are here. In many ways we are the big society. It will include students, single parent families, unemployed people, and retired individuals. If they want to come join us in this large family where we can link our work places and families together, that’s the type of union that we are looking to develop.”
McCluskey added that the TUC march against public sector cuts this year, attended by 250,000 people, underlined the potential for a community membership project. “There are millions of people out there who are vulnerable and without a voice.
“As the 26th March demonstration showed, I will bet that there are tens of thousands of people who were not union members. The only organisations speaking up for people are trade unions. I want to extend our remit into areas where perhaps we have not represented people before. If advice bureaus close down where do people seek help?”
He criticised Labour’s record in power, saying that the party’s “absolute adherence to the financial markets and the slavish following of neo-liberalism” had created a poverty gap.
McCluskey added: “I think Ed was wrong to condemn the strikes on 30th June. He was ill-advised to condemn those workers. We are talking about teachers here.”

Friday, July 22, 2011


by New Worker correspondent

Progressive musicians paid tribute to the fight for Spain at a concert dedicated to their memory last weekend. Piano virtuoso Michael Chant and contemporary musician Hugh Shrapnel, together with many other artists, assembled in London’s historic Bridewell Hall for an evening of music, song and poetry celebrating the stand against war and fascism of the heroes of the Spanish Republic and the International Brigade.
The hall, originally part of the St Bride’s printers’ library and polytechnic founded in 1894, was for decades used by Fleet Street print chapels and other nearby union branches for mass meetings and strike rallies. Now the renovated hall is home for broader cultural events. But last Saturday it returned to its roots with a concert organised by revolutionary musicians who had worked with the late Cornelius Cardew and the cutting edge Scratch Orchestra and People’s Liberation Music group back in the 1970s that later developed into the Progressive Cultural Association.
The main work, Song of Songs, written by Michael Chant, who also organised the event, was inspired by a poem by T E Nicholas, the Welsh communist also known as Niclas y Glais, who was a founder member of the old CPGB and a life-long revolutionary and struggler for peace.
Hugh Shrapnel and the De Madrugada (The Dawn) ensemble performed two pieces in memory of the International Brigaders and all those who fell in the battle to defeat Hitler and the Axis in the Second World War, while pianist Robert Coleridge played a composition dedicated to John Cornford, the communist poet who volunteered to fight in Spain and was killed in action in 1936.

A concert of music by Cornelius Cardew will take place at the Conway Hall, in central London, on Saturday 17th December to mark the 30th anniversary of his death. The communist musician and composer was killed on 13th December 1981 by a hit-and-run driver shortly after he had organised an anti-fascist concert to mark the 45th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War and the Battle of Cable Street.

News roundup

Tube bosses to rely on volunteers during Olympics

THE TRANSPORT union RMT last week warned of dangerous consequences as tube bosses plan to replace station staff with untrained volunteers during the Olympics
The union cast a public safety warning over London Underground’s Olympic strategy for staffing stations as it emerged they plan to use “Non-Licensed Volunteers” to work throughout stations doing “way finding” – a coded term for crowd control – a skill and task that should only be carried out by experienced competent members of staff.
The main reason behind LU’s plan to use volunteers is their admission to the unions that they need an extra 400-600 Olympic duties per day to able to cope with the demand.
This admission totally demolishes the company’s case for dumping station staff posts and solidly proves RMT’s point that the 650 operational jobs shed by the company this year was a short sighted and dangerous move that has now left them desperately short of personnel.

Care home fire safety 'horrifying'

THE CON-DEM Coalition is eager to make a “bonfire of red tape” by getting rid of as many regulations as possible and reducing health and safety inspections. But this may well lead to a real bonfire of residential care homes and the people living in them, according to the London Fire Brigade.
The FBU reports that dozens of care homes across London have been ordered to improve after failing to achieve even basic fire safety standards.
After hospitals, firefighters consider care homes to present the single greatest risk to life of any public buildings. Residents are often elderly, fragile or mentally ill.
But 29 care homes in the city have been discovered not reaching basic standards since 2010.
The London Fire Brigade issued each of the homes – many of which were breaching the law – with a legal Enforcement Order, compelling them to make changes.
The homes were guilty of breaches including:

No fire escape plans
No training for staff
No marked fire exits

Green Party London Assembly Member Jenny Jones said: "It is quite horrifying. In care homes you have some of the most vulnerable people in society – people who can't move around quickly. It's crucial those homes have good fire safety procedures.”
But residential care homes are under increasing pressure from rising costs at the same time as local authority cuts in the grants they can give per resident. So the problem is likely to get worse.
Ms Jones said: "At the moment fire checks only have to happen every four years. I'd say there's a strong argument for having them more often – particularly in places where there are vulnerable people."
Six of the 29 flawed homes were in Croydon. All are privately run.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

by New Worker correspondent

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared at the High Court in London onTuesday to appeal against his extradition to Sweden over sex allegations. The former computer hacker was arrested in December over the sex assault claims, while WikiLeaks was in the process of releasing another huge cache of leaked US diplomatic cables. Assange says the claims are without basis and that he has no chance of a fair trial in Sweden because of the controversy around the case which followed an earlier massive leak of secret American documents. His lawyers also claim that if Assange was deported to Sweden he could then face extradition to the United States and incarceration in Guantánamo Bay on charges that carry the death penalty.

A toast to Kim Il Sung

By New Worker correspondent

Friends of Korea marked the passing of great leader Kim Il Sung, who died in July 1994, at the John Buckle bookshop in south London last week. During the formal part of the proceedings RCPB (ML) leader Michael Chant and NCP general secretary Andy Brooks both paid tribute to the contribution Kim Il Sung had made in the fight for Korean independence and in the world communist movement throughout his long and active life.

Defending the Right to Protest

By New Worker correspondent

Demonstrators turned up outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday in solidarity with the UK Uncut activists who have been charged with “aggravated trespass” following their occupation of Fortnum & Mason’s store in Oxford Street during the big union march through London in March. The activists peacefully occupied the luxury West End store to highlight the owner’s tax avoidance schemes. They were told by the police that they would not be charged if they left quietly but 139 were arrested after they left the building.
At the hearing on 5th July their supporters were again threatened with arrest if they waved banners or started chanting by police who claimed that it was “unlawful” as they had not received 49 hours notice of the demonstration. Some taped their mouths in defiance but Labour MP John McDonnell, the leader of the Labour Representation Committee, reasoned with the police and the demo went ahead anyway without incident.

photo: John McDonnell at the picket

Save the NHS!

by New Worker correspondent

Thousands of health workers, trade unionists and campaigners marched through London on Tuesday 5th July in a “Save the NHS” protest called by Unite the union on the 63rd anniversary of the founding of the national health service. Led by Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey, the demonstrators marched through central London to a rally at Old Palace Yard, opposite Parliament, to hear speakers that included Labour Shadow Health Secretary John Healey.

Remembering Spain

by New Worker

This month Londoners stopped to remember the struggle and sacrifice of those who volunteered to defend the Spanish republic against General Franco’s rebels and his Nazi and Italian fascist allies during the Spanish Civil War. The Soviet Union sent arms and materiel to the legitimate Popular Front government but Britain stood aside. Anglo-French imperialism tacitly supported the fascists with a policy of “non-intervention” that prevented the Spanish government from importing British or French arms while turning a blind eye to the intervention of Mussolini’s fascist legions and the Nazi Luftwaffe which ultimately proved decisive.
Some 4,000 volunteers from Britain and Ireland , many of them communists, went to Spain to aid the republican cause fighting in the ranks of the International Brigade or working in front-line medical services. Over 35,000 anti-fascists from all over the world rallied to the call to defend the doomed efforts of the Spanish republic to quell Franco’s rebellion.
This year the International Brigade Memorial Trust is holding a number of events around the country to mark the 75th anniversary of the Brigades' formation in October 1936 starting with the annual ceremony at the brigade memorial in Jubilee Gardens in London’s South Bank on Saturday 2nd July. Guests of honour included the Spanish ambassador and representatives from the Catalan regional government along with delegations from Swedish and German brigader associations. Wreaths were laid by representatives of the British Jewish Ex-Servicemen’s Association and Veterans for Peace from the United States along with those of two surviving veteran volunteers,Thomas Watters and David Lomon.