Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Make the rich pay!

​by New Worker correspondent

London comrades joined tens of thousands of front-line workers over the weekend marching through the heart of the capital to a TUC rally demanding social justice and higher wages.
    Trade unionists and campaigners from across the country marched from Portland Place to for a TUC rally in Parliament Square. Some comrades carried the NCP national banner while others joined Donbas solidarity campaigners leafleting the crowd with the latest hand-out from the International Ukraine Anti-Fascist Solidarity campaign.
    Real wages are down by £68 a month compared to a year ago but bonuses for the City executives have risen exponentially. Energy bills have gone up by 45 per cent in recent months and though the Government has offered an energy bill rebate of £150 a household that will barely make a dent in rising costs. Inflation now stands at nine per cent – a 40-year-high.
    The Johnson government bleats on about the impact of the global energy crisis and the conflict in Ukraine. But the cost of everything from food, fuel and rent is soaring because the Government wants to put even more of the burden of the slump on the backs of working people who are only just recovering from the Covid crisis. The price hikes are the worst in half a century. Many people are now having to choose between heating their homes and eating.
    At the rally TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady backed the rail workers whose pay campaign began with national strikes this week.
    “Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has threatened rail workers that they will strike themselves out of a job.“Well you are wrong, Mr Shapps: if you keep stirring, come the next election, you will be out of a job,” she said. “It is time to raise taxes on wealth, not workers”.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Resistance grows to Rwanda camps

Outside Home Office headquarters
by New Worker correspondent

Demonstrators gathered outside the Home Office in London on Monday to protest against the Government’s plan to send asylum-seekers to detention camps in central Africa. Around a thousand people rallied outside the Home Office HQ in Westminster to oppose widely-condemned plans to send refugees to detention camps in Rwanda that have even been denounced by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Prince of Wales.
    The Westminster picket, called by Stand Up to Racism and the Care4Calais movement, was part of a national Day of Action which included protests at the Brook House immigration removal centre at Gatwick airport and the mass action on the streets of Peckham in south London that forced Home Office officers to release an alleged illegal immigrant after a five-hour stand-off with hundreds of protesters that included three local Labour councillors.
    Over a hundred people had been told that they could be removed from the UK under the Home Office’s new policy to send migrants to Rwanda in a bid to curb Channel crossings. Thirty-one of them were due on the first flight on Tuesday with the Home Office planning to schedule more this year.
    Prince Charles was said to be "more than disappointed" by the Government's policy, with reports that he privately described the move as "appalling".
    On the eve of the first planned deportation flight PCS, the union that represents immigration officers, and the Care4Calais legal team were in court appealing against the result of their submission for an injunction last week to stop the flight going ahead. Care4Calais said: “Another Rwanda deportee has had his ticket cancelled. Twenty-one people have now had their Rwanda tickets cancelled, but ten still have live tickets for tomorrow.”
    They waited in despair at the RAF air-base at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire for their one-way trip to an uncertain future in Rwanda. But at the last moment the flight was grounded after the intervention of the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of an Iraqi national on the flight. All the migrants were then removed from the plane and the flight to Rwanda cancelled
    The European Court of Human Rights is not a European Union institution and Brexit has not affected the UK’s obligations to the Strasbourg court or the European Convention of Human Rights. The Court was set up in 1959 to rule on individual or state applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. It was originally proposed by Winston Churchill and British lawyers were involved in its formation. Its judgments are binding on the 46 Council of Europe member states that have ratified the Convention.

Monday, June 13, 2022

RMT shuts down Tube

by New Worker correspondent

Some 4,000 striking station and revenue control staff shut down London Underground on Monday in a show of strength to oppose pension attacks and job cuts.
    Trains remained in depots across the network as picket lines spread across the combine despite heavy rain across the capital.
    600 station staff jobs will be lost if TfL (Transport for London) plans go through and RMT members face huge detrimental changes to their pensions and working conditions.
    RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "I congratulate our station grade and revenue control staff members on London Underground for taking strike action in defence of their pensions and jobs.
    "The effectiveness and industrial power of these members cannot be underestimated. TfL, London Underground Limited (LUL) and the Mayor of London have had ample opportunity to negotiate with the union properly to avert this strike action today.
    "Their intransigence and stubbornness have left RMT members no choice but to act decisively. We will not rest until we have a just settlement to this dispute and we urge the Mayor to stand up to the Tory government who are cutting funding to TfL rather than try to pick a fight with tube workers."

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

China’s communists through the eyes of others

by Andy Brooks
Last week a video seminar was held as part of the events organised by the Communist Party of China in the run-up to its 20th National Congress this year. NCP leader Andy Brooks joined Rob Griffiths of the CPB, Ella Rule from the CPGB-ML, Keith Bennett from Friends of Socialist China, Carlos Martinez from the No Cold War movement and a representative of the CPB’s YCL to talk on the theme of the Communist Party of China in My Eyes. This is Andy Brooks’ contribution...

First of all I would like to thank our hosts for allowing me to say a few words about my impressions of the Communist Party of China which began when I first set foot in the people’s republic as part of a New Communist Party delegation that went to study economic reforms in the new enterprise zones in China back in April 1993.
    During the course of that visit we met a veteran Chinese communist who had fought the Japanese invaders and the reactionary forces during the civil war that ended in victory in 1949. He shared his memories of Harry Pollitt, who he had met when the British communist leader went to China in 1955, and he told us about the first steps taken by the communists along the road of socialist construction following the establishment of the people’s government in 1949.
    The Chinese comrade also spoke about the great changes in the countryside that had begun in 1979 and the development of the special zones that paved the way for the economic reforms that built the socialist market economy which is now the second largest in the world. He knew that dogmatists in some parts of the international communist movement didn’t understand the reform movement. But he said “what is the purpose of the Communist Party if it can’t raise the living standards of working people”.
    I have never forgotten that point. Sadly many European communists, east and west, did – leading to the fall of the Soviet Union and its allies in 1991 in the east and the collapse of communist and workers’ parties millions strong in western Europe.
    I don’t know whether that old Chinese communist lived to see the immense changes that have transform the towns and cities of China but we certainly have in subsequent visits to China over the past thirty-odd years.
    China has become a major force for peace. It has become a beacon of hope for all oppressed people.
It offers economic assistance to poor countries and has played an important role in helping the international efforts to combat the Covid pandemic.
    Cities have been modernised beyond recognition. Absolute poverty has been abolished Vast investments have created new industries to face the challenge of the 21st century and China is, once again, the work-shop of the world.
    Of course great cities are not unique to China. Monumental designs and towering blocks can be seen throughout the Western world. Modern cities house the banks and investment houses of capitalist speculation. Huge factories build the technology and the weapons needed to maintain the global system of oppression while the power of oil has transformed small fishing ports in the Persian Gulf into millionaires’ playgrounds. But this has not benefited the workers in the heartlands of imperialism while oil riches have not helped free the Palestinians or raised living standards on the Arab street.
    The immense wealth of the Western world remains in the hands of a tiny minority of capitalists and feudal lords.
    In the West millions of people scrabble to earn a living just to keep a roof over their heads, while a tiny elite live lives beyond the reach and often beyond the imagination of most workers.
    In the Third World millions upon millions live in poverty while their resources are plundered by the big Western corporations.
    We, on the other hand, see a different picture in China. Vast cities with modern offices and factories and equally modern housing for the workers who live there.
    Chinese astronauts circle the globe. A high-speed rail network spans the country. Container trains travel to Europe packed with the goods that fill our shops and markets. International airports link China to the four corners of the world. A growing network of domestic airline services and modern ports serve the seaborne trade that fires the global economy. And a state run education system and a dedicated health service that battled to contain the Covid plague is available to all.
    China’s wealth is being used to raise the standard of living of everyone in the people’s republic and help the development of the Third World through genuine fair trade and economic assistance.
    Though the social changes that inevitably followed the establishment of a mixed economy did lead to a rise in street crime it remains remarkably low compared to the norm in Europe and nothing like US or Latin American levels.
    There are no shanty-towns and slums in People’s China and the last vestiges of colonial rule, the shameful hovels in Hong Kong, will soon be swept away by the new government of the special administrative region.
    Big city pollution is being tackled by the people’s government in a meaningful way. The smog and acrid air has gone and blue skies have returned to Beijing following the national “war against pollution”, huge investments into a new regulations and an air pollution action plan that has transformed the capital and many other cities across the country.
    Over the years exchanges of views with the representatives of the Communist Party of China have deepened our understanding of the immense problems in organising the communist movement in such a vast country with such a huge population. We have also seen the immense achievements that China has made under the leadership of the Communist Party of China in overcoming poverty, providing the basic needs of all the people and tackling the population problem to give everyone a better life and a standard of living that is constantly rising.
    This year China’s communists will gather for their national Congress to chart the way forward for the Party and the country in the immediate future. Back in 2014 Communist Party of China (CPC) leader Xi Jinping said: "The very purpose of the CPC's leadership of the people in developing people's democracy is to guarantee and support the people’s position as masters of the country.”
    We are confident that the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China will set the agenda for the people of China for many years to come. We wish the comrades success in their work and look forward to studying their conclusions in the future.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Reclaim our NHS!

Rev Tim Yaeger speaking
by Daphne Liddle

AROUND 60 people assembled in London’s Tramshed in Woolwich on the evening of Tuesday 10th May to support a meeting organised by Reclaim the NHS.
    The purpose of the meeting was to raise awareness of the dangers of the Health and Care Bill 2021, which has recently been enacted, and how it will drive our NHS further along the route towards the system in the USA where health care is controlled by the insurance industry and where profit is prioritised over the needs of patients.
    Long-standing NHS campaigner Dr Bob Gill addressed the meeting in a pre-recorded video, where he spoke of the need to get the public in Britain actively on our side to prevent the demise of our National Health Service.
    The Act means there is now no statutory duty on anybody to arrange provision of secondary (ie hospital) medical services, only a power for the new Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) to do so.
    These ICBs cover all the health-care provision over large swathes of the population. The ICB for south-east London covers six boroughs: Bexley, Greenwich, Bromley, Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth – a population of nearly two million people. But the board has only one elected representative of those people. It is mostly run by business people.
    Their main aim will be to reduce services, limit expenditure, further degrade local accountability and entrench the market. These ICBs will organise hospital care, not the patients’ GPs.
    The ICBs will only have a “core responsibility” for a “group of people” in accordance with enrolment rules made by NHS England (Scotland, Wales and the occupied north of Ireland have their own systems). The ICBs are following the definition of a health maintenance organisation that provides “basic and supplemental health service to its members”.
    It will be possible for ICBs to award and extend contracts for health-care services of unlimited value without advertising, including to private companies.
    Private health companies will be able to be members of ICBs, their committees and sub-committees, which will plan NHS services and decide how to spend NHS money.
    NHS England will have powers to impose limits on expenditure by NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts.
    Integrated care partnerships will be set up as joint committees of local authorities and ICBs to draw up integrated strategies, with no restrictions on membership and without clear transparency of obligation. Local authority representation on ICBs will be limited to one member, covering several boroughs.
    Dr Gill spoke of the steady decline in healthcare provision – and working conditions for healthcare workers – for over a decade before the COVID‑19 pandemic hit. The pandemic just showed up the deficiencies.
    This new Act will do nothing to restore the NHS – but has put it under the control of business people who will see cutting costs (and improving their profits) as the primary goal. GPs will become distanced from their patients and rewarded financially for referring fewer patients for hospital care.
    NHS staff will no longer be employed on a national basis but by the ICBs, breaking-up their nationwide bargaining on wages and conditions.
    The triage of patients – the initial examination to determine what they need – will be done using computers and less qualified staff, increasing the risk of error.
    Jane Lethbridge, a local academic expert on social care provision, told the meeting that 90 per cent of the provision for social care for the elderly, disabled and young has been privatised. She called for the setting up of a National Care Service.
    She pointed out: “We will all need social care at some time in our lives, whether it is in a residential care home or in our own homes.”
    Local authorities no longer provide care but commission care. Jane called for a public sector National Care Service, with the ability to plan and assess the level of support needed.
    Assessing the needs of individual patients will require highly qualified staff and also high-quality well-trained staff to deliver it. The system will need democratic accountability – like the old community care councils.
    The Reverend Tim Yaeger, who has first-hand experience of the health system in the USA, in his words: “As a patient, a worker, a lawyer, a union rep and a priest”, described it as “a jungle, dominated by insurance companies”. As a union rep he helped hundreds of desperate people file for bankruptcy and told the meeting that health care costs are the major cause (67 per cent) of personal bankruptcies in the USA.
    He was at one stage a hospital chaplain in Chicago and said: “As a chaplain, when the bell rings for you to come, you know what it means. Someone has just died or is just about to.” And the biggest factor in the distress of the families was how they were going to pay the medical and funeral bills.
    He said: “The insurance companies take your money and disappear it. The insurance company assessors are instructed to reject claims.”
    He also said the fire department was also under the thumb of the insurance companies. He said that when called out to a house fire they will always check first if the house is insured. If it is not, they will not come out unless it is next to one that is insured. In that case they will turn up but do nothing unless the fire starts to spread to the house that is insured.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Victory Day in London

By New Worker correspondent

MILLIONS of Russians took to the streets on Monday to celebrate Victory Day and the surrender of the Third Reich on 9th May 1945. Every year, the Russian Federation celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany with parades and processions across the country including Moscow, where a massive parade in the capital showcased modern Russia’s military might. Similar tributes to the millions of Soviet soldiers and citizens who died in the struggle to defeat the Nazis in the Second World War were held in much of the former Soviet Union, western Europe and the rest of the world.
    Victory Day is also celebrated in London and in the past veterans, diplomats and local dignitaries joined the capital’s Russian community at a ceremony that’s held every year at the Soviet War Memorial in the shadow of the Imperial War Museum in south London.
    It was sadly different this year. Fearing disruption by Ukrainian fascists and their supporters the official ceremony was called off by the Soviet Memorial Trust but informal tributes were made throughout the day by Russian ex-pats and members of the labour movement that have always supported the event at the memorial.
    Apparently an attempt by pro Ukraine elements was made to sabotage the event by creating an incident in the Imperial War Museum causing it to be evacuated and a man with a Ukraine flag and an anti-communist placard was seen being escorted away by the police.
    The Russian ambassador, Andrei Kelin, led the wreath laying in the morning, followed by diplomats from other former Soviet republics and representatives of the Russian ex-pat community. Others arrived later including NCP leader Andy Brooks, who laid a floral tribute on behalf of the Party alongside the others at lunchtime.

Down with the BBC!

By New Worker correspondent

NCP leader Andy Brooks joined other Korean solidarity campaigners outside BBC headquarters in London last weekend to protest at the ongoing bias of the state-owned broadcaster.
    The protest picket outside Broadcasting House called by the Korean Friendship Association highlighted “the continual ideological attack by the media representatives of world imperialism of which the BBC is part of. This tax-payer funded entity has lied and distorted the truth for decades. It lied about the Iraq war, it lied about imperialism’s attack on Yugoslavia, it lied about Syria’s war against imperialist backed terrorists, it is lying about the situation in Ukraine. They cannot be trusted…simple as that”.
    KFA Chair Dermot Hudson Chairman of KFA said: “The BBC, which is known to progressive people as the British Brainwashing Corporation has consistently lied about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Its coverage of the DPRK is one sided and exaggerated to say the least. On several occasions BBC reporters have used tricks and subterfuges to enter the DPRK .
    “The BBC has taken upon itself the role of a shock brigade in the propaganda war against People’s Korea.
    The BBC is a state broadcaster closely linked to British imperialism and US imperialism... what is disgusting is that not only does the BBC lie about People’s Korea but it expects us to pay for its lies in the form of the BBC licence fee” and concluded “We, the Korean Friendship Association of the UK,believe in defending People’s Korea with no ifs or buts”.

Friday, May 06, 2022

May Day in London

by New Worker correspondent

London May Day returned to the street with its traditional celebration of international workers' day and NCP leader Andy Brooks joined London comrades outside the Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell Green on Sunday for the march and rally in Trafalgar Square. There they joined other supporters of the anti-fascist resistance in Ukraine to give out leaflets from the International Ukraine Anti-Fascist Solidarity campaign. Numbers were down, not surprisingly after a two year break due to the Covid lockdowns, but this was more than off-set by the enthusiasm of the crowd and the bands that joined in the lively march through the heart of the capital.