Saturday, June 30, 2012

New Nepali Maoist party returns to people’s struggle

By Theo Russell

A NEW Maoist party emerged last week in Nepal which has adopted the name of the party that led the people’s war from 1996 to 2006. The split comes after months of tension and protests within the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPNM), led by Prachanda and current premier Baburam Bhattarai, following the 2006 peace agreement.
The new party is led by general secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa (“Badal”) and chair Kiran Bhaidya, the former leader of the People’s Liberation Army.
            And at a meeting last week in London Peter Tobin, the editor of a new English-language Nepali magazine Red Front, who now lives in Kathmandu, explained what led to the foundation of the new Communist Party of Nepal, Maoist (CPNM).
CP Gajurel, a leader of the new party, accused Prachanda and Bhattarai of: “Abandoning all the achievements of the revolution: the base areas, the people’s communes, the people’s courts, and finally giving up the People’s Liberation Army.”
In addition land seized from feudal landowners and tilled by peasant communes has been returned to its former owners, another humiliating agreement has been signed with India, squatters settlements have been bulldozed, and anti-China activities have multiplied.
The Maoists had led the struggle against the feudal monarchy and by 2006 the Maoist guerrillas had gained control of 80 per cent of Nepal. Under the peace agreement 19,000 PLA fighters were held under UN auspices in “cantonments” to be integrated into the Nepalese Army as an equal and distinct force, and 7,000 weapons were put into storage.
But when the UN peacekeeping mission departed on 10th April the Nepalese Army entered the camps and, in Gajurel’s words: “They forced a humiliating surrender of the PLA combatants”. Their weapons ended up in the army’s hands and, all but a handful of the PLA fighters have returned to the rural areas.
In response the “Red Faction” Maoists took to the streets across Nepal, denouncing and burning effigies of Prachanda and Bhattarai. In an example of growing repression a torchlight protest in Kathmandu was baton-charged by police who targeted the leader, Badal.
Tobin said: “Prachanda presented the peace agreement, which led to PLA  fighters leaving the ‘Red Base’ areas in the countryside, as a tactical and temporary measure. The rationale was that there was a military stalemate, the People’s Liberation Army could not break into the urban centres, and that the agreement was the only way to gain access to the masses in the cities.
“But the lack of inner party democracy in the UCPNM and the cult around the ‘Prachanda Path’ have led to the collapse of the agreement, and to a situation where Prachanda lost all credibility with many party members. Prachanda, now known as ‘Mr India’ has  dismissed the Red Faction as ‘anarchists’ but many cadres have deserted his ranks to join the new party.
 “Out of 130 members of the central committee of the UCPNM, 44 have joined the new party. The leadership of the new party has is committed to restoring collective leadership and democratic centralism,” Tobin said.
“The establishment may have all the money and all the properties, but they don’t have the cadres. On May Day this year the Red Faction held two separate large-scale celebrations in Kathmandu while Prachanda’s party had to resort to bussing supporters into the capital.
“In my estimate one in three people in Kathmandu are Maoists. Nepali communism and Maoism have brought a hope to the people for the future of many classes and castes.”
Tobin pointed out: “India controls 80 per cent of Nepal’s financial sector and 70 per cent of manufacturing industry, and almost all Nepali parties including the mass communist parties have close ties with Delhi, apart from some small royalist nationalist parties.
“But the new CPNM is the only party to take a stand against Indian expansionism, and to recognise that China is not expansionist.”
An agreement to promote investment signed by Bhattarai on his first visit to Delhi caused a huge a backlash across the political spectrum due to a clause promising compensation to Indian investors for losses resulting from “war, armed conflict, national emergency, insurrection or riots”.
 Only the UCPNM and the Nepali Congress (closely tied to the ruling Indian Congress Party) supported it.
In addition to India’s strong influence, the US presence has steadily grown.  Tobin said: “In 2009 the CIA set up a daily English language newspaper and slick website, República, which is linked to the Washington Post.
“The US has played a growing role in Nepal since 2002 when it bankrolled the recruitment of an extra 20,000 troops for the Nepalese Army. This greatly angered India and was a major reason for New Delhi’s decision to abandon King Gyanendra leading to the fall of the monarchy in 2008.”

Out Against Austerity

By Anton Johnson

OFTEN the charge is levelled that with equality having been won under the last Labour Government, coupled with the so called “Pink” pound, that many in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transvestite and Queer) communities have become detached from the class struggle.
 Well the austerity policies of the Tory Government, with its swingeing cuts on jobs and benefits, is changing that with LGBTQ community activists coming together in bodies such as Queer Resistance and Queers Against the Cuts bringing with them that talent for grass-roots activism that we saw in our communities in the 1970s, late 1980s and 1990s when LGBTQ were under attack.
 Last Monday, grassroots community LGBTQ activist groups, including Queer Resistance; Queers Against the Cuts; No to Hate; Left Front Art and the NUS LGBT Campaign came together to start building for the TUC national demonstration “A future that works” on 20 October.
 This positive initiative from LGBTQ community activists shows that there is still an active political LGBTQ presence and is re-invigorated by the fact that the Tory policies are attacking LGBTQ communities.
 One would think from the Stonewall output that the only concern of LGBTQ people is to mimic the heternomative bourgeois institution of marriage. This may be a concern for those small numbers of privileged, in main the white, LGBT women and men who have secured some sort of management or executive position.
 But for the majority of LGBTQ people – old and young, disabled, front-line workers or unemployed the reality is that their main concern is, like the rest of the working class, poverty, something that is becoming an increasing reality under the Tories.
 Many LGBTQ people in areas such as London are struggling and live under the constant fear of homelessness and poverty. Many in London are being hit by the current rocketing rents.
 LGBTQ people tend to be single and many are living in multi-occupancy houses in the inner city paying, high rent for squalor and in effect overcrowding.
 LGBTQ people gravitate to localities where there is a large LGBTQ population so that they can live in a safer environ; this is threatened by the austerity policies.
 Only today Cameron in the Daily Mail has proposed abolishing Housing Benefit for the under 25s – a group already hit by recent changes in Housing Benefit.
 Many young LGBTQ people had to leave the family home as they were not accepted and for their safety, returning to the parental home, as Cameron suggests for young people, is not an option for those LGBTQ young people.
 The realisation of despite the media chatter of gay marriage, which is where Stonewall and Peter Tatchell’s efforts lay, is that LGBTQ people’s fundamental rights of being safe is at risk!
 This is why these grassroots community activists groups that met recognised and agreed the importance to work with the labour movement and build for the TUC demonstration in a creative way so that LGBTQ communities understand what the stakes are now.
 The meeting had lots of ideas and this grassroots activism in the LGBTQ communities is what is needed as it was when Thatcher and Major attacked LGBTQ rights.
 The groups have come together under the title Out Against Austerity. They will be leafleting World Pride happening on 7 July.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Defending Democratic Korea

By New Worker correspondent

FRIENDS of the Korean people marked the 62nd anniversary of the start of the US-led imperialist attack on Democratic Korea with a picket outside the American embassy in London on Monday.
 NCP leader Andy Brooks joined other comrades in the afternoon protest, called by the UK Korea Friendship Association and the New Communist Party of Britain, in solidarity with the DPR Korea as part of the world-wide month of solidarity with the Korean people.

Giant steps for Juché Korea

Andy Brooks, Michael Chant and Dermot Hudson
by New Worker correspondent

MILLIONS of Koreans took part in a week of celebrations in April to celebrate the centenary of the birth of great leader Kim Il Sung. They were joined by hundreds of communists, academics and progressives from all over the world who had come to Pyongyang to take part in the World Congress of the Juché Idea, the ideology of independence, anti-imperialism and socialism developed by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, which is the guiding light of the Korean communist movement.
            Two of them, New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks and Dermot Hudson from the Juché Idea Study Group, recalled what they saw at a Korean friendship meeting last Saturday in London’s historic Marx House.
This included the great military parade in the heart of the capital that was addressed by Kim Jong Un, First Secretary of the WPK and supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It was followed by a grand firework display along the Taedong river held on 15th April, the anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the eternal president of the DPRK.
This month sees the start of the month of solidarity with the Korean people against US imperialism and Michael Chant spoke of the need to remind people of the horrors of the Korean War and the threat to peace posed by the continued partition of the Korean peninsula.
After the formal reports, and the showing of a new film from Democratic Korea, the meeting was opened for general discussion and the debate that followed covered the lies of the bourgeois media, the DPRK satellite launch, cultural exchanges and the campaign to build solidarity with the DPR Korea.
The Friends of Korea committee consists of the New Communist Party of Britain, Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (ML), Socialist Labour Party, European Regional Society for the Study of the Juché Idea and the UK Korean Friendship Association. Meetings are open to all friends of the Korean revolution and the committee organises events throughout the year in London, which are listed by the supporting movements and on the Friends of Korea blog. 

Supporting Bradley Manning

by New Worker correspondent

DEMONSTRATORS gathered outside the US embassy in London on Monday for a protest picket in support of Bradley Manning, the American veteran of the Iraq war accused of leaking secrets to WikiLeaks.
 The demonstraors are supporting a campaign and nomination initiated by Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir for Bradley manning to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
            Manning, who allegedly passed on a huge tranche of classified information to WikiLeaks when he served in the US army of occupation in Iraq, was arrested in May 2010 and charged with leaking secrets including the “collateral murder” video film of a US helicopter gunship mowing down civilians and two Reuters war correspondents.
The UN special rapporteur on torture has formally accused the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Bradley Manning, who was held in solitary confinement for almost a year on suspicion of being the WikiLeaks source.
This week a US military judge ordered prosecutors to share more documents with Manning after his lawyers accused them of hiding information that could help their client's case.
For months, Manning's defence team has demanded access to reports by US government agencies, including the CIA, which assessed the effect of the leak of classified documents to the WikiLeaks website. Manning’s lawyers believe the reports will show the alleged disclosures had no major effect on American national security.

Message of Peace

  by New Worker correspondent

ON THE evening of the summer solstice, last Thursday, close to the Greenwich Time Meridian and next to the Cutty Sark an amazing troupe of Japanese young men and women drummers and dancers performed to bring a message of peace to this part of the world.
 They were from the Japanese Peace Boat, a Japan-based international non-governmental and non-profit organisation that works to promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development and respect for the environment.
 The event was jointly organised by Greenwich CND, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and the Peace Boat.
 They brought with the two veteran survivors of the nuclear attack on Nagasaki in August 1945 and a young woman from Fukushima – devastated last year by an earthquake and tsunami that ruptured the local nuclear power plant leading to serious radioactive contamination of the region.
 After the gathered peace campaigners, a large group from London’s Japanese community and local passers by had enjoyed a magnificent display of drumming and dancing, Inowe Nao from the Peace Boat addressed those present, explaining the role of the Peace Boat to connect with people all over the world and to campaign against the dangers of nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants.
 He said the boat has visited 80 ports and met 80,000 people – mainly in Asia and the Middle East and now London.
 Kitano Shigetaka, aged 77, described how, when he was 10-years-old he lived two kilometres from the epicentre of the Nagasaki blast. “I was in the kitchen with my brother. The first thing was a brilliant white flash followed by a terrific wind that destroyed everything. We were lucky; we were next to a strong wall that protected us.”
 After the blast, he said: “Our neighbour was outside screaming the names of her children, they had been playing outside. Everyone who had been outside had perished instantly.”
 He said that he was still campaigning to make sure no one ever had to go through that horror again.
 Fitano Kuniko, aged 74, had been seven-years-old and she had lived four kilometres from the epicentre. Again, she spoke of the brilliant white light, followed by a big wind that rattled and shattered all the windows. The room she was in was devastated. “I just stayed on the floor, covering my baby brother until our mother came and took us to the shelter. We were so relieved to see her we were in tears,” she said. She lost many relatives not long after from cancer.
 Rebecca Johnson, a veteran of Greenham Common and a life-long peace campaigner spoke next. She said that the most recent calculations predict that if just 100 nuclear warheads, less that half of one Trident submarine’s payload, were to be detonated in a densely populated part of the world it would probably kill 17 million people at once – and injure and make sick many more.
 “Within 24 hours the dust and debris would be filling the upper atmosphere of this planet and within a week there would be a significant drop in temperatures all around the globe.
 “Agriculture all around the world would collapse and it would take up to 10 years for the atmosphere to clear and sunlight to reach the surface of the earth again.”
 She said how Africans she had spoken to had been surprised and alarmed that although their countries had no nuclear weapons and were unlikely to be involved in a nuclear war, their continent would nevertheless be devastated and millions would starve.
 “That would be the effect of ‘just a small, local nuclear war’,” she said.
 She spoke of the need still to campaign to “ban the bomb” and get rid of all nuclear weapons.
 The audience was then treated to another session of drumming and dancing, even more spectacular than the first.
 Throughout the event an artist from the Peace Boat worked on a banner of the CND symbol portrayed as a wreath of wild flowers and leaves.
 Mikami Kaori spoke of her experience of the disaster at Fukushima. Up until then she had little interest in nuclear matters. “We were told there were high levels of radiation but we couldn’t see anything. That is the most worrying aspect of radioactivity. There is no way of knowing how badly you have been affected.”
 She is a young woman, in her early 20s and had planned to marry and have a family. Now she is afraid to do so in case she gives birth to seriously damaged babies.
 “There are several hot-spots near where my home used to be,” she said. And she spoke of the rice farmers who completely lost their livelihood as their fields were contaminated.
 The event was wound up with peace songs, in English and Japanese.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Remembering Redmond O'Neill

Pearse Doherty TD and Sinn Fein London representative Sean Oliver

By Theo Russell

LONDONERS remembered the work of Redmond O’Neill for the Irish community and all the peoples of Greater London at a memorial lecture given by a leading nationalist member of the Irish parliament last week. Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty delivered the first Redmond O'Neill memorial lecture at the Bolivar Hall in London on behalf of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, who had to cancel due to a minor accident. The meeting was also addressed by the Venezuelan ambassador Samuel Moncada, CND Chair Kate Hudson, and chaired by Ken Livingstone.
In his lecture Adams said: “O'Neill,” who died in October 2009, “played an important role in the development of Sinn Féin’s uniting Ireland strategy and specifically its outreach into the Irish community in Britain, and to others here who support that demand.”
O'Neill played a major role in the campaigns against Cruise missiles, opposing the 1990 Gulf War, the Israeli assault on Gaza, and to defend Muslim communities in London and elsewhere.
In 2000 he became Ken Livingstone’s deputy chief of staff, and according to Adams worked “in support of working people in London and oppressed peoples around the world, in Latin America and Palestine”.
He used this role to extend solidarity to the Venezuelan revolution, develop links with President Hugo Chavez, and provide technical assistance from the Greater London Authority to the Municipal Council of the Venezuelan capital Caracas.
O'Neill was also Livingstone’s main advisor on Irish issues and turned the St Patrick’s Day parade and festival into one of London’s major annual events. Adams said: “His work on behalf of the victims of British state violence in Ireland was invaluable.”

Friday, June 22, 2012

Assange flees to Ecuadorian embabassy

By New Worker correspondent

WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange has fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, claiming political asylum less than a week after the Supreme Court rejected a renewed attempt to block his extradition to Sweden to face charges of rape and sexual assault during a visit to the country two years ago.
            While fighting extradition Assange has lived under virtual house arrest in Norfolk on bail conditions. On Tuesday he jumped bail to make his dramatic bid for freedom under the United Nations Human Rights Declaration.
            The internet crusader has always denied the Swedish allegations, which he believes are a put-up job by the CIA to obtain his eventual deportation to the United States to face charges of leaking secret US documents to the world’s media.
            WikiLeaks was set up in 2006 by Assange and a number of other computer experts to “publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth”. It soon established a reputation for obtaining secret documents from sources deep within in the imperialist heartlands that deeply embarrassed the Americans and their allies and allegedly compromised their intelligence efforts.
            Assange has no illusions of what awaits him if he crosses the Atlantic. Some reactionary American politicians and the rabid media jockeys who support them are openly calling for his execution. While this is unlikely – the man is an Australian citizen and cannot be charged with treason – he will certainly get harsh treatment and a long stretch in jail if the Americans ever get their hands on him.
The UN special rapporteur on torture has already formally accused the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Bradley Manning, the US soldier who was held in solitary confinement for almost a year on suspicion of being the WikiLeaks source.
            Manning, who allegedly passed on a huge tranche of classified information to WikiLeaks when he served in the US army of occupation in Iraq, was arrested in May 2010 and charged with leaking secrets including the “collateral murder” video film of a US helicopter gunship mowing down civilians and two Reuters war correspondents.
            The police have now surrounded the Ecuadorian embassy, near Harrod’s in London’s fashionable West End, ready to arrest him for breaching his bail conditions. He’s safe as long as he remains in the embassy. Whether he can leave it unscathed is another matter.
Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino has confirmed that Assange had directly appealed to his president, Rafael Correa, for sanctuary. He said that Assange had argued that Australia “will not defend his minimum guarantees in front of any government or ignore the obligation to protect a politically persecuted citizen”.
It was, therefore, impossible for him to return to his homeland because it would not protect him from being extradited to "a foreign country that applies the death penalty for the crime of espionage and sedition".
            Ecuadorian officials are now holding talks with a clearly embarrassed Cameron government while considering the asylum request. In the meantime the embassy says Assange will remain “under the protection of the Ecuadorean government”.

Carnival of Dirt hits London

By New Worker correspondent

A COALITION of 30 environmental groups from all around the world arrived in London, the world’s centre for commodities, metal and oil trading, and base for many of the world's mining and extraction corporations, for a day of protest last week against the damage being done to the planet and its people by the giant mineral mining and trading companies.
The Carnival of Dirt spans from London to the Congo, West Papua to the Philippines and brings together the UK groups alongside pressure groups and NGOs from DR Congo, West Papua, Peru, the Philippines, Nigeria and Somalia, to create “a carnival like no other”.
            It came to challenge mining and extraction organisations – such as Xstrata, Glencore International, Rio Tinto, Vedanta, Anglo American, BHP Billiton, BP and Shell – who maintain a sustainable reputation domestically, while abroad make British people complicit in their devastating activities, including environmental disasters, summary executions, financial crimes, labour rights violations, political corruption and cultural genocide.
            This complicity is achieved through links between UK pension funds with companies such as Xstrata present in almost every fund, the UK public is financing and legitimising these mining and extraction companies globally, while their executive boards enjoy massive remunerations.
 The carnival began at 11am at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday in the City of London with a dramatic and poignant ceremony to celebrate those who stand up against the mining and extraction corporations and to remember those who have died for doing so.
            The full funeral cortège – with Congolese choir and New Orleans funeral jazz band – brought their message to one of the institutions most responsible for these practices, the London Stock Exchange.
            The event was “policed” by a firm of private security guards hired by the Corporation of London.
            At 2pm a lunch rally with shared food was addressed by a wide range of speakers, including many indigenous activists from all over the world.
            The carnival lasted all day as it wound its way to Aldgate, through the City and later to the Embankment, pausing often for more speakers and activities, carrying the message that “business as usual” has got to stop.
            One example of the inconsistencies happening in the mining world, is the many column inches garnered around the world as Xstrata officials in Europe have made preparations for a $90 billion merger with London-listed commodities giant Glencore. This is despite the opposition of many ordinary shareholders after it emerged that CEO Mick Davis has been offered a retention package of over £20 million just to stay in his job.
            In contrast, on the other side of the world with far less media attention, farmers in one of the world's poorest regions are under siege by hundreds of police commandos, as a result of Xstrata refusing to negotiate a new social contract for its Tintaya mine in Peru.
            A province-wide strike has resulted in at least two deaths, over 100 wounded, the declaration of a state-of-emergency and the arrest of the local mayor.
 Sylvestre Mido from the Congolese Action Youth Platform (CAYP), said: “It is outrageous that in this modern day and age, practices such as slavery, murder and rape are not only tolerated by those multinationals but also supported by the British government amongst others. We will no longer stand by when millions are silently killed across the globe for trivial things such as our mobile phones.”

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Serwotka lambasts sell-out union leaders

By New Worker

MARK Serwotka, general secretary of the civil service union PCS, last Saturday made a blistering attack on right-wing unions leaders who had failed their members last December by dropping out of the concerted union fight to defend public sector pensions.
 He was speaking at the annual conference of the National Shop Stewards Network, with around 500 delegates in Friends Meeting House, Euston, London.
 He described the meeting on 19th December last year, just days after the two-million-strong one-day public sector strike in defence of pensions where some unions had dropped out of the battle on the basis of a very weak offer from the Government.
 Serwotka said there were some there “who didn’t want to see a struggle”. “Outside we could hear the union members in the street chanting: ‘No sell-out’. But some union leaders ridiculed them and opted to pull the plug.”
 He named no names but the leadership of Unison came in for some very heavy criticism.
 Throughout the struggle PCS has taken a lead in trying to build joint union cohesion for the struggle – not only for pensions but against the damaging effects of the Con-Dem Coalition cuts on working class living standards.
 Serwotka spoke of the “rogues and charlatans who sold out the pensions struggle” and how he would sooner have been outside the meeting room with the activists in the street.
 “In the political battle against the current austerity programme normal rules of engagement do not apply.
 “Eighty-five per cent of the austerity cuts are still to come. This is not the normal ebb and flow of union negotiations.
 “The Coalition intends to unleash an assault on our class of a kind we have not seen before. There has never been a more important time than now to have a political opposition ready to defend our class. But the Labour Party response has been pitiful, letting down the people who need so much more….
 “We want people bold enough to say ‘Not a single cut!’ We need a coalition of unions ready to fight,” he said.
 Serwotka spoke of the progress since December, leading to the 10th May strike that included several public sector unions – including the Police Federation.
 PCS has been pushing for another one-day strike on 21st June: “But one union cannot do this alone”. Serwotka said that PCS would have to make a serious judgement as to whether it would be better to postpone the action and build for a bigger strike later in the year.
 The conference – all active shop stewards at the cutting edge of the struggle – gave  its full support to another national march against the cuts and speaker after speaker stood up to re-iterate Serwotka’s criticisms of right-wing union leaderships who sold out the interests of their members.
 And they all agreed there should be “more 30th Novembers”. The one-day conference was chaired by Rob Williams and Katrine Williams.
 Alex Gordon, president of the RMT also make a very good speech and PJ McParlin, chair of the Prison Officers’ Association received a round of applause for the illegal action his union took in defiance of anti-union laws.
 Dr Jackie Grunskill spoke for the British Medical Association on why doctors are now fully involved in the battle against the cuts and threatening strike action.
 Ray Lufford from the Remploy trade unions was another speaker who attracted a lot of applause as was construction worker Steve Kelly of Unite speaking about blacklisting.
 There were also international speakers from the trade union movements in Greece and Kazakhstan.
 NSSN communications officer Suzanne Muna moved an NSSN Guide to Action, which welcomed the TUC national demo being organised in October and called for it to be a "start to the next phase of an action-based campaign against austerity”.
 "We advocate that the next step should be for the TUC to organise a one-day general strike, which includes both public and private sectors," she said.

London bus workers vote to strike

LONDON bus workers have voted overwhelmingly for strike action in a dispute over London's bus operators' refusal to recognise the massive increase in workload for their workers during the Olympic Games.
 Members of Unite working for 21 London bus operators, including Go Ahead, Stagecoach, London United, Arriva, Metroline, First and Abelio backed strike action by an average of 94 per cent.
 Turnouts across the operators averaged 38 per cent (the same percentage turnout that saw Boris Johnson re-elected as mayor of London).
 The giant union Unite is now giving the bus companies a final opportunity to consider this landslide result in favour of strike action before the union announces possible strike dates early next week.
 Bus workers are the only London transport workers not receiving an award for their extra effort during the Olympic Games.
 A recent survey of almost 3,000 London transport passengers conducted by independent researchers for Unite, revealed hat almost nine out of ten back bus workers' call for an Olympic payment.
At least 800,000 extra passengers are predicted to use London's iconic red buses during the Olympics.

We don’t want Olympic missiles!

 by New Worker correspondent
AROUND 100 people from Lewisham and Greenwich marched from Oxleas Woods on Shooters’ Hill to Blackheath last Saturday, linking the two sites where the Government plans to site Rapier missiles to “defend” the coming Olympic Games in east London from any terrorist attack from the air.
The marchers were protesting at the siting of these missiles close to their homes and in places of recreation and leisure that are popular with the local community.
As the marchers pointed out, if any missile were fired from these sites both the missile itself and anything it hit would fall as dangerous shrapnel over the heavily populated area of south and east London.
The preparations for the games, which are meant to represent peace and friendship between nations, are beginning to resemble the preparations for a war.
The marchers’ route took them to the Peace Garden at Charlton House and the War Memorial on Blackheath.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stuff the Jubilee

IN ANCIENT days Roman emperors were assumed to possess divine powers to justify their immense wealth and the power of life and death that they wielded over their subjects and slaves. In feudal times warrior kings were praised in song for the numbers they had killed or for the occasional acts of mercy and charity that demonstrated supposed Christian merit. These days we’ve been deluged with four days of commercialised festivities in honour of the Queen whose only claim to fame has been to remain on the throne for the past 60 years.
Though a thousand or so “republicans” managed to hold a spirited demonstration against the jubilee pageant in central London on Sunday, there’s been nothing to compare to the backlash that took place during the Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977 when thousands sported “stuff the jubilee” badges and punk rockers hurled abuse at the Royal Family on the air-waves.
The Prime Minister, the Liberal Democrats and the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, have led the pack in sycophantic praise of the monarchy and the only sour note was struck by the Archbishop of Canterbury who raised concern about financial greed and environmental recklessness during his otherwise innocuous Jubilee Thanksgiving sermon at St Paul’s Cathedral.
The monarchy is draped in bogus patriotism and myths largely of its own creation. Children used to be taught about the reigns of kings from the Norman Conquest in 1066 as if there was a timeless chain to the current monarch. The Civil War, the trial and execution of the king and the short-lived republic led by Oliver Cromwell that followed is portrayed as a brief interruption to a benevolent institution which exists, so we are led to believe, simply to serve the people and its elected institutions.
In fact the current monarchy only goes back to the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 which established the sovereignty of the bourgeois parliament of landowners and capitalists.
But the main myth of the monarchy is that the Queen, who is after-all, the hereditary Head of State, has no power. Apart from the reserve powers of the royal prerogative over parliament, the armed forces and the civil service it is simply absurd to believe that the House of Windsor, one of the richest families in the world, has no power or influence in Britain today.
In fact, the monarchy is a central pillar of the ruling class and the bourgeois “democracy” they uphold. The monarchy embodies the principle of hereditary power and wealth that justifies the immense wealth of the other great landowners and the inherited wealth of the oligarchs who control the financial, media and industrial empires of capitalism in Britain.
The Queen is not the symbol of the British “nation” or the supposed unity of the English, Scottish and Welsh peoples that bourgeois propaganda would have us believe. The monarch is simply the pinnacle of the bourgeois state.
These are the people who robbed and looted Africa and Asia in the 19th century to build an Empire on which “the sun never set”, killing and enslaving millions on their way; the kind who lived in luxury and ease in their grand houses while British workers slaved in their factories for pennies and died broken and destitute in the slums of our great cities; the people who sent millions to their deaths in the First World War to preserve and increase their fortunes.
They are the ruling class; the big capitalists, the bankers, the industrialists and big landowners who really run this country. They are still with us. They pull the strings.
They fear and loathe organised labour because they know that the entire wealth of the world comes from workers in the factories and peasants in the fields.
But it is working people who will eventually sweep them away to build a genuine people’s democracy where there will be no more landowners, no more capitalists and no more kings.

Pre-emptive policing for the Olympics


by Daphne Liddle

THE METROPOLITAN Police plans to use controversial pre-emptive arrests during the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to prevent any possible disruption of the events.
 Met Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison claims this will be nothing more than the policy already adopted for the Notting Hill Carnival, where known pickpockets, thieves and gangs who are likely to be intending to attend are pre-emptively arrested before the event and released without charge afterwards.
 The police claim they have foreknowledge of these people’s criminal intentions – possibly even before the “criminals” themselves have made up their minds what they intend to do.
 And certainly there is a real case for pre-emptively arresting someone like the notorious neo-Nazi Tony Lecomber who, in 1981, was arrested for plotting to explode a bomb at the Notting Hill Carnival after information was passed to the police by the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight.
 Plotting to carry out a terrorist attack like that is in itself a crime.
But the Met are now into the policy of arresting people who might be about to commit a crime on the basis of their opinion of that person.
 Furthermore they intend to arrest any protesters, including peaceful protesters, who might disrupt the games. Allison said the police would not arrest “law-abiding protesters” but this definition is restricted to those who have informed the police in advance and have been told exactly where they may stand – probably a very long way from anywhere they might be seen by more than a handful of people.
 Last year, just before the royal wedding, 20 people were pre-emptively arrested in four separate locations on the ground that they were suspected of being about to commit breaches of the peace.
 Their case is currently under a judicial review at the High Court. Those arrested include members of the “Charing Cross 10” who were on their way to a republican street party, the “Starbucks Zombies” who were arrested from an Oxford Street branch of Starbucks for wearing zombie outfits, and a man who was simply walking in London and was arrested because he was a “known activist”.
 All were released without charge after the event. But anyone arrested in similar circumstances during the Olympics might have to wait several weeks before the events are over.
 Hannah Eiseman-Renyard, from Occupy London, voiced concerns that plans for pre-emptive strikes might target legitimate protesters hoping to use the Olympics to highlight a cause. “The definition of protest currently seems to be synonymous with disruption and criminality,” she added.
 Police and intelligence officers are also carrying out checks on more than half a million people coming to the Olympics. This includes the competitors and their entourage as well as stewards, security guards, catering and cleaning workers and ticket-holding spectators.
 There has been a lot of focus on the teams from Syria including members of the Syrian Olympic committee with close links to the Assad government – as though it was a crime for the Syrian Olympic Committee to have links with its own elected government.
 MI5 says that, so far as it knows, no know Al Qaeda supporters have tried to become stewards or other workers at the games. This illustrates the point that real terrorists could be very hard to identify in advance but legitimate political protesters are easy to spot because they make their views publicly known – so police and intelligence services will focus on the easy targets.
 Another sinister aspect of the policy of pre-emptive arrests is that the arrest is, police acknowledge, meant to have a “chilling effect” – in other words it is used to deter people from attending legitimate political protests in future.

Unpaid Jubilee stewards had to sleep under bridge

COACHLOADS of young unemployed people were brought to London last weekend on a work programme to act as unpaid stewards during the Royal Jubilee Thames pageant.
 They had been told that this might lead to some similar work during the Olympics that would be paid.
 But when they arrived, late at night and in the pouring rain, they were taken to London Bridge and told their accommodation for the night would be the cold pavement under the bridge.
 A report by Shiv Malik in last Monday’s Guardian revealed that up to 30 jobseekers and another 50 people on apprentice wages were taken to London by coach from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth to work for the security firm Close Protection UK.
 Two jobseekers, who did not want to be identified in case they lost their benefits, said they had to camp under London Bridge the night before the pageant.
            They said they had to change into security gear in public, had no access to toilets for 24 hours, and were later taken to a swampy campsite outside London after working a 14-hour shift in the pouring rain on the banks of the Thames on Sunday.
            One young worker said she was on duty between London Bridge and Tower Bridge during the £12 million river spectacle of a 1,000-boat flotilla and members of the Royal family sail-by. She said that the security firm Close Protection UK, which won a stewarding contract for the jubilee events, gave her a plastic see-through poncho and a high-visibility jacket for protection against the rain.
            Close Protection UK confirmed that it was using up to 30 unpaid staff and 50 apprentices, who were paid £2.80 an hour, for the three-day event in London.
 The woman said that people were picked up at Bristol at 11pm on Saturday and arrived in London at 3am on Sunday. "We all got off the coach and we were stranded on the side of the road for 20 minutes until they came back and told us all to follow them," she said. "We followed them under London Bridge and that's where they told us to camp out for the night … It was raining and freezing."
            A 30-year-old steward told the Guardian that the conditions under the bridge were "cold and wet and we were told to get our head down [to sleep]". He said that it was impossible to pitch a tent because of the concrete floor.
 The woman said they were woken at 5.30am and supplied with boots, combat trousers and polo shirts. She said: "They had told the ladies we were getting ready in a minibus around the corner and I went to the minibus and they had failed to open it so it was locked. I waited around to find someone to unlock it, and all of the other girls were coming down trying to get ready and no one was bothering to come down to unlock [it], so some of us, including me, were getting undressed in public in the freezing cold and rain." The men are understood to have changed under the bridge.
 The female steward said that after the royal pageant, the group travelled by tube to a campsite in Theydon Bois, Essex, where some had to pitch their tents in the dark.
 Both stewards said they were originally told they would be paid. But when they got to the coach on Saturday night, they said, they were told that the work would be unpaid and that if they did not accept it they would not be considered for “well-paid” work at the Olympics.
 The report has caused general outrage and spurred former Labour Deputy Prime Minister Lord John Prescott to demand and inquiry. He has written to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, saying the contractor owed staff a "duty of care".
 He wrote: “If the allegations are true, it is totally unacceptable that young unemployed people were bussed in to London from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth and forced to sleep out in the cold overnight before stewarding a major event with no payment.
 "I am deeply concerned that a private security firm is not only providing policing on the cheap but failing to show a duty of care to its staff and threatening to withdraw an opportunity to work at the Olympics as a means to coerce them to work unpaid."