Saturday, September 28, 2013

Deal with the Golden Dawn say anti-fascists

By New Worker
NEARLY 300 anti-fascist protesters assembled last Saturday outside the Greek Embassy in Holland Park, London to demand that the Greek government take measures to deal with the increasingly violent neo-Nazi party known as the Golden Dawn.
This follows the murder last week of Pavlos Fyssas, a young anti-fascist Greek musician and a few days before that a violent attack on members of the KKE Greek Communist Party.
The young communists were putting up anti-Golden dawn posters when one of the neo-Nazi movement’s “punishment squads” descended on them, leaving them with severe head injuries some which are life threatening.
Greek police were reported to be nearby when the murder of Pavlos Fyssas happened but failed to prevent the stabbing.
There have been international calls for the banning of the Golden Dawn but the Greek police and government have been dragging their heels.
Some suspect the government feels it may soon need the support of the 18 votes of Golden Dawn MPs to support them in office.
The protest was called by the Greek broad left popular movement Syriza and was supported by Unite Against Fascism, Searchlight and other anti-fascists.
London-based members of the KKE also attended with a banner and a loud speaker, emphasising that fascism is a product of capitalism, which is the root of the problem.
Certainly the Golden Dawn has thrived as the extreme austerity imposed on Greece by the European Union has opened ethnic divisions in Greece.
Police tried to keep the protesters to the pavement opposite the embassy in Holland Park but they soon spilled over and filled the pavement on both sides of the road.
The diplomatic protection police were quite happy as long as no one attempted to attack the embassy – and it was quite clear that, while noisy, this was a peaceful protest.
Later efforts by police to shepherd the protesters back across the road simply resulted in the road itself filling up with protesters as more and more arrived.
There were two arrests as some protesters resisted the police efforts to move them across the road.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

London news round-up

RMT cleaners refuse to be ignored by ITV

RMT MEMBERS working for the cleaning company ISS noisily occupied ITV offices in Kings Cross, London, to demand coverage for their strike action.
The striking cleaners held a protest last week at Kings Cross station as part of their strike action in support of the Living Wage. According to the union:
“RMT has been campaigning for the ISS cleaners on the East Coast to receive the Living Wage and for improvements to their working conditions and pensions that match the important job they do maintaining the environment on the busy, high profile East Coast Mainline.
“However, despite efforts by RMT to force the issue, including rounds of previous rock-solid action, the company remain entrenched and have chosen to adopt an aggressively hostile attitude that has led to this weekend’s action.”
Also present on the picket line in support were RMT general secretary Bob Crow, Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley, President Peter Pinkney and London Regional Secretary John Reid. NSSN chair Rob Williams addressed the protest with a message of solidarity.
The protest then marched to the nearby offices of ITV. A request was made for ITV to send down a reporter to interview the strikers.
When no reporter emerged from the building to speak to RMT members the strikers then occupied the building and held a noisy protest.
Faced with the determination of the strikers to be heard, ITV eventually relented and sent a camera and reporter to interview the pickets.

Met ‘heavy handed’

LAWYERS representing many of the 300 arrested at demonstrations in East London a week ago have criticised “heavy-handed” tactics used by police after they.
Solicitors at Hodge Jones and Allen which is resenting many of those arrested during protests against Islamophobic group the English Defence League, said bail conditions imposed by police raise “fundamental questions about the right to free speech.”
“The conditions appear to be a standard set, which have been imposed irrespective of personal circumstances or evidence in an individual case,” the firm added in a statement.
Many of those arrested in the Whitechapel area on Saturday are prevented from demonstrating anywhere in London while on bail until October.
Partner Raj Chada, who specialises in public order cases, said he had never seen so many arrests at a protest – and pledged to “scrutinise” the conditions imposed.
Scotland Yard confirmed the “vast majority” of the 286 people arrested for public order offences were anti-fascists who, they said, had breached conditions imposed on Saturday’s marches.
A spokesperson said the Met took a “balanced approach” to reducing violence and disorder and would consider legal representations on bail conditions upon receipt.

Lewisham hospital victory march

CAMPAIGNERS to save Lewisham Hospital’s maternity and accident and emergency units last Saturday staged a victory march through the town centre to mark a court success against the plans by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to close Lewisham’s maternity accident and A&E units in order to bail out the bankrupt neighbouring South London Health Trust.
But the battle is far from over. Hunt decided to lodge an appeal against the ruling of Judge Justice Silber at the very last minute so the case will now go to the Appeal Court.
Local campaigners were angry at the waste of taxpayers’ money in dragging out the legal battle.
But leading campaigner George Hallam from the People before Profit Party pointed out a more serious threat to Lewisham Hospital from a Department of Health decision to carve up and rearrange south London’s hospital trusts.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Woolwich Common – sinking under the weight of PFI debts – is to be detached from the bankrupt South London Healthcare Trust and put in a new trust specially created trust with Lewisham.
It will leave Lewisham’s maternity and A&E safe for a few years. But, as campaigner Helen Mercer has shown, it will not be long before the Woolwich hospital’s debts render the new trust insolvent and the cuts will be put on the agenda again.
In a paper presented to the campaign and to the health authorities, Helen Mercer argued: “The Government’s own figures show that over the next 16 years PFI charges on the new merged Trust will increase by an average 4.7 per cent per year. In contrast, Government support for these charges will be frozen after 2015. Consequently the burden of unsupported PFI charges the new Trust will inherit from QEH will grow an average rate of 6.7 per cent.
“In cash terms the unsupported PFI burden will grow from 17 million this year to 20 million in 2016-17, to 25 million in 2019-20. By 2029-30 it will be an extra 47.7 million in.
“This means that just to remain solvent the new Trust will have to make ‘savings’ of millions of pounds every single year. The only way of avoiding these will be to increase income by expanding provision for private patients.
“Inevitably, a point will be reached were the only way of making ends meet will be through the same sort of savage cuts, such as the closure of whole departments, that the Special Administrator has sought to impose. The difference will be that such cuts will be an internal matter for the Trust and so not something we can challenge through a Judicial Review.
“Recognition of the extent of the problem puts an unavoidable duty on the campaign to discuss a response, to seek legal advice as necessary and to raise the issue publicly.
“I propose that SLH agrees that support for the merger will depend on the liquidation of, or at least renegotiation, of PFI commitments.
“One possible route might be to argue that the merger as envisaged should be reviewed with the aim of ensuring that any merger that does take place is preceded by a clear indication of how the PFI debts of the merged trust are to be paid in such a way as to avoid future threats to A&E, maternity services and so on in either hospital.
“Clearly, this requires taking legal advice. Unless this is done, the only way that the new Trust will be viable is through cuts and increased private patients.”
A report issued last week by the Office of National Statistics showed that 21,000 NHS jobs were lost over the last three months
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: “These figures show how government cuts are continuing to hit vital frontline services with 21,000 jobs lost in the NHS over the last three months alone.
“Despite the Chancellor's boasts this week, austerity is continuing to cause damage and we are far from a strong and sustained jobs recovery.”

An afternoon for Korea

By New Worker correspondent
FRIENDS of the Korean revolution returned to the historic Lucas Arms in north London on Saturday for a further celebration of the foundation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Academics and school students joined Korean solidarity workers to take part in the meeting called by the British Juché Idea Study Group at the Kings Cross pub, which has been a working class venue for many years and was the place where the Committee to Defeat Revisionism for Communist Unity was founded to challenge the leadership of the old Communist Party of Great Britain in 1963.
             Dermot Hudson opened the meeting by saying that the 65th anniversary of the DPRK was proudly celebrated by the successful Worker-Peasant Red Guard parade in the DPRK on September. He also paid tribute to Madame Kim Jong Suk the mother of Korea who passed away 64 years ago on the 22nd September.
                  Shaun Pickford, the secretary general of the group, was unable to travel into London as his father is gravely ill. But he sent a paper that stressed the remarkable achievements of Democratic Korea over the past 65 years, including free medical care, free housing, no taxation and other benefits of the DPRK's social system. In the DPRK there is the tradition of collectivism throughout society, the spirit of single-hearted unity.
Dermot then followed with a contribution on the Juché and Songun politics that had transformed the DPR Korea into a modern socialist republic. And this was taken up Dr Hugh Goodacre, a senior lecturer in economics who explained the deep significance of anniversary of the foundation within the context of the Juché Idea. He said that in the DPRK the people are the masters of the state.  The great leader President Kim Il Sung was a great man of the people, Hugh said, who mixed with workers and farmers and even shook the ink-stained hands of academics!
Dr Goodacre, who is an accomplished linguist, demonstrated his talents by singing the national anthem of the DPRK in Korean to the applause of the audience and the meeting ended in informal discussion and a buffet.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

MPs seek mandatory Commons vote on arms for Syrian rebels

By Theo Russell

PEACE campaigners and MPs met on 4th September at the House of Commons to discuss the historic defeat in Parliament of plans to join air strikes on Syria and to discuss the way forward for peace.
Diane Abbott said: “The long shadow of the Iraq war has hung over the debate. For the first time Parliament was able to vote in time to prevent military action and I hope that will set a precedent.
“This was an important day for Parliament but also an important day for those of us who have campaigned for so long.” She added: “Hundreds of people are still alive today who wouldn’t be alive if Syria had been bombed.”
Abbott also said that Ed Miliband had been subjected to “major pressure inside the Shadow Cabinet from people of the Blair type,” and that “he did well to stand up to that pressure”.
She called for votes at the United Nations to be decided by the General Assembly rather than by the Security Council.
Sarah Wollastone, one of 61 Tory backbenchers to rebel or abstain on 29th August told the meeting: “The message from Parliament is very clear – we reject the notion that humanitarian aid is best delivered at the end of a cruise missile.
“Any action in Syria should come from an Arab nation. We are told that no Arab nation is capable of delivering assistance – I’m sorry, but what have we been doing all these years selling arms to these people?”
Lindsay German from Stop the War said: The vote created a political crisis around the world, and as a result Obama has been forced to go to Congress make a case, although he’s already said he’ll carry on with strikes anyway.” She added: “The Government’s defeat would not have happened without an anti-war movement.”
But she also warned against the “chorus of voices” claiming the vote was a “tragedy” for Britain and calling for another vote, including Paddy Ashdown, Boris Johnson and Henry Kissinger. Fortunately for the peace movement, Cameron cannot risk another vote, which could force him to resign if it falls again.
“The vast majority of people in Britain support our position, but the establishment, the media and the Government are out of touch with ordinary people,” German said.
Both Diane Abbott and fellow Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn called for a War Powers Act to prevent the use of the Royal Prerogative to take Britain to war.
Senior Labour backbencher Peter Hain again called for “President Assad and other concerned parties, including Iran, to be included in any negotiations on resolving the conflict in Syria,” saying it was “impractical and unrealistic” for them to be left out.
Commenting on France’s support for strikes on Syria, Jeremy Corbyn MP recalled that the Free French forces led by Charles de Gaulle had fought against the Syrian independence movement in the midst of the Second World War.
He added that Britain is spending £35 billion every year on “defence” when there is “no money for housing or libraries, and more and more people sleeping on our streets”.