Friday, June 23, 2017

Remembering Brian Haw

by New Worker correspondent

PEOPLE gathered in Parliament Square last Sunday to mark the sixth anniversary of the death of Brian Haw – the peace campaigner who spent almost a decade camped in the Square facing the House of Commons with an array of placards, posters, banners and a microphone reminding MPs of the horrors of war, especially to children.
In 2001 Brian Haw had been affected by the Mariam appeal and the effect of United States sanctions against Iraq on the children there, who could not get enough food or medicines for the cancers that resulted from the use of depleted Uranium weapons in the First Gulf War.
He said he could not face his own seven children if he did not do something, so he began his permanent protest on 2nd June, 2001 and maintained it until January 2001.
Brian Haw had to fight off many attempts by right-wing MPs and Westminster council to have him forcibly removed, and he was badly beaten up by police on more than one occasion. But he attracted the support of other peace campaigners who helped him with his battles, legal and physical, and some joined his camp for a while.
Brian was diagnosed with lung cancer in September 2010 and in January 2011 he left England for treatment in Berlin, funded by his supporters. He died there on 18th June 2011.
The memorial event was organised by Veterans for Peace.

Sinn Féin to confront a “despicable alliance of bigots”

By Theo Russell
veteran republican and ex-prisoner Francie Molloy speaking
The seven new Sinn Féin MPs from northern Ireland held a meeting for members and supporters last Wednesday at the London Irish Centre in Camden Town, attended by over 70 people despite less than 12-hours notice of the event being given.
The MPs, along with Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and MEP Martina Anderson, were also in London to sound alarm bells about the threat to the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) posed by the planned Tory–DUP [Democratic Unionist Party] deal.
It was clear from the MPs, and the mood of their supporters at the meeting, that they were up for a fight with the Tories and there would be some blunt speaking in their meetings with ministers.
The general election saw both the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the moderate nationalist Social Democratic & Labour Party (SDLP) wiped out at Westminster, and the Unionist vote dropping below 50 per cent for the first time ever in a Westminster election.
One item on the DUP’s wish list in its talks with the Tories is to block Westminster funding for MPs who don’t take up their seats, which if implemented would be a virtual declaration of war with Sinn Féin.
Chris Hazzard, Sinn Féin’s first ever MP in South Down, told the meeting that Sinn Féin would never drop its abstention policy, which was “part of the DNA and heritage” of the party, and said “the idea that we will give that up is pure fantasy”.
He also revealed that Sinn Féin had offered an electoral pact with the SDLP, “but this was rejected to their cost”.
Commenting on Tory attempts during the general election campaign to damage Jeremy Corbyn for his historic dealings with republicans, veteran MP and ex-Executive member Michelle Gildernew pointed out that Corbyn “was vilified for talking to us, not just the IRA.”
The GFA has been brought to the brink of almost total collapse through a combination of lack of interest by David Cameron and, as Chris Hazzard put it, “growing accusations of corruption and back-room deals by the DUP” that brought the Northern Ireland Executive down last March.
Gerry Adams said he told the British Prime Minister Theresa May that “she and her government are in default of the Good Friday Agreement, and that they have turned a blind eye to the disruptive actions of the DUP over a long time.”
The outgoing Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny has also warned that a Tory–DUP deal could pose a challenge to the peace process. But his successor, Leo Varadkar, said on Monday he was “very reassured” about the Irish government’s concerns after meeting Theresa May.
The cosy relationship between Tory northern Ireland ministers and the DUP since 2010 has seen major commitments promised under the 20-year-old GFA kicked into the long grass, whilst the DUP has slipped back into calling Sinn Féin representatives “IRA terrorists” as if the peace process had never happened.
Sinn Féin has called for DUP leader Arlene Foster to resign before it will re-join the executive, and Hazzard said that the party would only do so on the basis of “respect, integrity and equality”. He also stressed, to loud applause, that “the Orange State is dead and buried, and it can never come back again”.
The fighting mood of the meeting was summed up in a question from the floor by a factory worker and Sinn Féin member from Waterford in the Irish Republic, who denounced the Tory–DUP deal and asked: “How are we going to rid ourselves of this despicable alliance of bigots?”

Working for Korean friendship

Kim Song Gi speaking
  by New Worker correspondent

Friends and comrades met last weekend for the annual general meeting of the UK Korean Friendship Association (KFA) at the Chadswell Centre in central London that elected new officers to the committee and heard reports of work over the past year. The KFA Chair Dermot Hudson opened on the need to build solidarity with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) within the labour movement. Theo Russell from the NCP spoke about the Korean war and the shameful role of British imperialism in support of US aggression and honoured guest Kim Song Gi from the DPRK embassy spoke about the historic efforts of the DPRK for the peaceful re-unification of the Korean peninsula.
            The KFA had stepped up its activities, which included regular meetings and protest pickets over the last year, but more needs to be done in London and beyond to build solidarity with the DPRK and support the struggling people of south Korea.

Force the Tories Out!

 Two weeks after the election and Theresa May continues to cling to power on the strength of a promise of support from the sectarian bigots of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which has yet to be delivered, to give the Tories a wafer-thin majority in the House of Commons. But most of the reactionary Tory agenda has been culled from the Queen’s Speech, which Tory grandees concede was “her first and last”.
            Mrs May’s rivals are openly debating whether to depose her now or wait until she loses the next election before making a bid for the leadership amidst rumours that Conservative Campaign Headquarters has already been told to prepare for a late autumn re-run. Meanwhile the struggle between the two poles of the ruling class divided over Brexit continue within the corridors of power, with the Europhiles determined to create the conditions for another referendum before the conclusion of the Brexit talks.
            Communists have no say, nor indeed any interest, in who should lead the Tory party. Nor are we interested in the divisions within the ruling class except to exploit them for the benefit of the working class. The immediate priority is to bring this government down.
            The incompetence, greed and indifference that led to the Grenfell Tower fire sums up all that is rotten within the British ruling class.
Getting rid of capitalism and replacing it with socialism is the ultimate objective of working people. Getting rid of austerity and replacing it with social justice is the immediate objective of the working class and the Labour Party.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to oppose the May government in every way in Parliament and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has called for a million people to take to the streets to bring this government down.
But when the next general election comes we must mobilise to ensure that Labour gets a clear working majority. We don’t want the ‘austerity-lite’ of the Blairites who still remain within the Labour Party. We don’t want a mealy-mouthed compromise with the worthless Liberal-Democrats or the Scottish Nationalists that the liberal bourgeois pundits who pose as friends of the working class are now advocating. We don’t want any retreat from the decision of the British people in 2016 to leave the European Union.
What we want is an end to austerity and the restoration of trade union rights. Saving the NHS, capping rents and building cheap council homes, raising wages, getting rid of the need for foodbanks, saving our schools, restoring the right to independence for the disabled, restoring proper care for the elderly and restoring legal aid to bring justice for all – these are the issues that Labour’s manifesto addresses. Restoring at least part of the public sector, cutting the defence budget and taxing the rich to make them pay for the crisis of their own creation will pay for all of this and more.
There’s new militancy in parliament. There’s anger on the streets. One way or another the May government will fall. The sooner the better.