Friday, May 28, 2010

Remembering the Kwanju massacre

NEW COMMUNIST Party comrades joined friends of the Korean revolution picketing the south Korean embassy in London last Friday to mark the 30th anniversary of the Kwanju massacre, when thousands of south Korean students and pro-democracy demonstrators were mowed down by the forces of the US puppet regime.
The protest was organised by the UK Korea Friendship Association and also supported by the Juche Idea Study Group, Association for the Study of Songun Politics and supporters of the Russian AUCPB communist party.

Freedom for Mumia!

PROTESTERS stood outside the US embassy in London last Wednesday to demonstrate their support for Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, who has spent nearly 30 years in jail for a crime he did not commit.
New Worker supporters joined the picket held on 19th May – the birthday of Malcolm X, the American Black Muslim leader assassinated in 1965 – to raise public awareness about this monstrous miscarriage of justice and demand his immediate and unconditional release.
International support for Mumia has grown over the years including world leaders like Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela, members of the Westminster, European and Japanese parliaments and Hollywood celebrities as well as unions and social justice groups representing millions across the globe.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is a renowned journalist from Philadelphia who has been in prison since 1981 for the alleged killing of a police officer. Mumia is known as the “Voice of the Voiceless” for his award-winning reporting on police brutality and other social and racial epidemics in the United States and the rest of the world. He has always protested his innocence but Mumia remains on death row despite the fact that another man admitted in 1999 that he was responsible for the shooting.
From his cell Mumia has continued to speak out for all who are oppressed through his journalism. He has published four books, and his weekly columns are published throughout the world. His case is one of the most important social justice fights of our time

Brian Haw arrested

PEACE campaigner Brian Haw, who has lived for nine years in a tent opposite the House of Commons, was arrested along with a fellow protester last Tuesday at dawn on the day of the Queen’s official opening of Parliament.
Police also moved to try to clear demonstrators encamped in a peace camp on Parliament Square before the Queen’s arrival. But they failed and the Queen was met by a sea of anti-monarchist placards and hostile slogans.
Haw was arrested officially for trying to stop the police searching his tent and carried away, held off the ground by his arms that were twisted behind him.
Another protester at the camp, Barbara Tucker, was also arrested. Tucker was heard saying on BBC London 94.9: “You can’t arrest him [Mr Haw]; you don’t have a search order.”
Haw first set up camp in June 2001 in a one-man protest against war and foreign policy – initially, the sanctions against Iraq.
He said he was inspired to take up his vigil after seeing the images and information produced by the Mariam appeal, an anti-sanctions campaign.
Haw only leaves his campsite to attend court hearings and survives on food brought by supporters, who include the former Labour cabinet minister Tony Benn and activist and comedian Mark Thomas.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Join the Resistance!

LRC backs McDonnell for Labour leader

by Theo Russell

THE TORY-Liberal Democrat assault on public services and a Labour Party leadership contest provided the backdrop of a conference last Saturday called by the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) that came with an invitation to “Join the Resistance”.
And immediately after the conference the LRC national committee voted to endorse John McDonnell MP as a Labour leadership candidate and urged LRC members and others to lobby Labour MPs and pass motions in their Constituency Labour Parties and trade union branches to nominate McDonnell.
A statement urged “people who have left the party to rejoin in order to vote for John,” adding that new members will be eligible to vote in the Labour leadership election.
On Tuesday John McDonnell accused the Labour Party of organising a “discredited” leadership contest after it set a deadline for nomination as a leadership candidate of 27th May – even though the winner will not be announced until party conference in September.
He needs to win nomination from 33 MPs before that date for his name to appear on the ballot paper and will struggle to make it in under a fortnight.
McDonnell said this would exclude make rank and file members from choosing him and reduce the chances of a fresh start.
Around 300 people from across the country turned up for the Join the Resistance conference at the University of London Union on 15th May despite the very short notice.
Billy Hayes, general secretary of the Communication Workers’ Union, delivered the welcome news that in the previous week Labour had gained 12,000 new members, many believed to be disgusted Lib-Dem supporters.

own campaign

McDonnell told the conference he may not get on the ballot paper, but said “don’t be disillusioned. We’ll run our own campaign in parallel with the leadership battle to put our ideas across.
“I won’t support any of the others on the ‘faux left’ – anyone who has blood on their hands from the Iraq war, supported the privatisations of the past 13 years and the most severe attack on civil liberties in the past 50 years.”
He described how Labour had alienated its supporters since 1997, failing to deliver on trade union rights and the environment, going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and attacking pensioners.
“We’ve alienated that coalition, we lost our moral compass, and we lost at the election because we deserved to lose”, he said, adding that where left-wing Labour candidates such as Jeremy Corbyn and Kelvin Hopkins stood Labour’s vote had increased significantly.
“Now we’re going to learn through brutal struggle. Jobs across the public sector will go, and trade union rights will be attacked as the only way to ensure more privatisation and public sector outsourcing.”
Peter Firmin, joint LRC secretary, pointed the finger at trade union leaders “who didn’t campaign for our policies, who sponsored over 100 MPs who voted for right-wing Labour policies”.
He also condemned the Trade Union Labour Organisation’s call for tactical voting, saying “members of affiliated unions should demand to know why they encouraged people to vote Liberal Democrat, when their manifesto called for privatising the Royal Mail”.
Gary Heather, a Communication Workers’ Union national executive committee member and chair of Islington trades union council, pointed to the success of the campaign to save the Whittington Hospital in north London (with plans to close the Accident and Emergency department shelved at least for now) as an example of a non-sectarian campaign bringing people into activity.
Luton Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins said that the British people were “to the left of the Labour Party”, with polls showing majorities supporting increased pensions, higher taxes to pay for services and re-nationalising the railways.
“What New Labour don’t like is active branches and campaigning socialists,” he said. “People who voted Liberal Democrat thinking it is some kind of left-wing party have been totally disillusioned. I think the Liberal Party is finished and we’re going to go back to a two-party system, representing capital and labour – they represent capital and we represent labour.”
Veteran Labour activist Walter Wolfgang urged people not just to join the Labour Party but to come forward as candidates and delegates, and work actively “to make the Labour Party what is was meant to be – a major force for socialism”.
Tony Benn was among several speakers to point out that “new parties are not the answer,” and call for focused campaigns.
“Thatcher knew what to go for – trade unions, local government and public ownership,” he said. “We need to recognise that campaigns on issues such as Iraq and the BNP can rally people from across the labour movement. Pick the main issues and campaign around them.”
He added that although the Tories are in power “it seems to me they are a bit frightened – they are in a very difficult situation and know their task will not be easy”.

Remembering the Nakba!

by Robert Laurie

ON SATURDAY 15th May hundreds of protesters joined a picket in Whitehall opposite Downing Streets to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by the newly formed Israel state in 1948, known as the Nakba (catastrophe).
Organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, the British Muslim Initiative and CND the lively lunchtime picket included Palestinian exiles, British Muslims, left-wing supporters of the Palestinian cause and orthodox Jews who regard Zionism as a perversion of their faith.
This, the first protest outside Downing Street since the installation of David Cameron as Prime Minister saw the delivery of a petition protesting against the British government persistent support for every aggressive action of the Israeli government.
Sarah Colborne, of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “We’re asking the new government to remember the Nakba and let it serve as a reminder of the justice that is long overdue to the Palestinian people.
“We are asking for the government not to let those responsible for Israel’s war crimes evade justice. Whilst Israel continues to steal Palestinian land in the West Bank, and lays siege to Gaza without fear of sanction from the international community, there will be no peace or justice for the people of Palestine.”
The petition, that was handed in Number 10 Downing Street said: “We demand the government:
* End Israel’s violations of international law, including ending its illegal occupation and building of settlements;
* End the siege on Gaza;
* Support bringing Israeli war criminals to justice – no attack on universal jurisdiction;
* Ban settlement goods;
* Suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement;
* End the arms trade with Israel.

photo: Protestors including former comedian Alexei Sayle at the picket

Friday, May 14, 2010

Left Labour prepares for battle

by Daphne Liddle

WE HAVE a new Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition government and Gordon Brown has resigned both as Prime Minister and as leader of the Labour Party. New Prime Minister David Cameron is busy stitching up the Liberal Democrats while the left of the Labour Party is rallying to wage a defensive war against the coming urge of public sector spending cuts.
The Labour Representation Committee (LRC) has already organised a conference for this Saturday 15th May in London’s University of London Union (10.30am to 3.30pm, admission free, donations welcome) for labour activists and trade unionists to discuss how to build their own coalition.
The LRC said: “With a Tory-Lib Dem coalition threatening massive cuts in public spending, there is clearly a need for the Left to discuss how it can build a coalition to argue against and defeat the cuts consensus.
“There is also the fight for socialism in the Labour Party to be fought – and a vacancy for Labour Party leader . . .
“This is a one day conference for the labour movement left across the UK to share experiences of the General Election and plan for the coming months.”
Speakers will include John McDonnell MP and Billy Hayes, general secretary of the Communication Workers’ Union.
They are encouraged good results that Labour won in last week’s general election in traditional Labour’s core areas of the north of England, central London, Scotland and Wales. LRC MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn both succeeded in increasing their majorities.
And although Labour lost the general election it made significant gains in the local elections.
The message from voters is that they have no stomach for Cameron’s proposed drastic cuts to local government spending.
John McDonnell said on Monday: “The public and private horse-trading masks the fact that whatever government emerges will be somewhere on the neo-liberal spectrum, and will soon be driving through large scale cuts in public services, pensions and benefits.
“To face a neo-liberal coalition government, the left and trade unions will be forging a coalition to resist attacks on our communities.
“The disgusting sight of the bond markets opening during the night to speculate at our expense demonstrates starkly what we are up against: the return of the casino economy backed by a neo-liberal coalition government.”
The Liberal-Democrat Party encompasses a wide political spectrum with party leader Nick Clegg on the right of it. He is facing a huge challenge to ensure his 57 Lib-Dem MPs will toe the Tory line. Many are bitterly opposed to it.
On Tuesday night the Labour Party’s on-line membership application page crashed under a flood of applications. Political commentators believe many of them were from left Lib-Dems unhappy with Clegg’s decision to form a coalition with the Tories.
Cameron is not making it easy for Clegg. Already the Lib-Dems have had to jettison their principled opposition to the renewal of the Trident missile system.
On proportional representation – their flagship policy – the only concessions the Tories have made is to agree a referendum on Alternative Voting – a halfway step. But the Tories have made it clear they will campaign for the proposal to be rejected.
Since Labour also opposes PR the Lib-Dems chances of winning it are remote.
The Cabinet positions given so far to the Lib-Dems carry little political weight. Clegg will be made Deputy Prime Minister.
Vince Cable – a far better economist than the Tories John Osborne – has been denied the position of Chancellor. He will have to make do with Minister for Banking and Business while Osborne occupies Number 11 Downing Street.
Danny Alexander, a member of the Liberal Democrat team which negotiated the coalition, becomes Scottish Secretary.
Chris Huhne will take on Energy and Climate Change, while David Laws will be Treasury Chief Secretary. No real power there at all.
So at the moment Clegg is crowing that he is the first “Liberal” to enter Number 10 as a Cabinet Minister for about 90 years but it is not certain he will have a party at all in a few months.
This will be an unstable coalition and Labour had better get on selecting a new leader in time for the next general election, which many believe is only months away.
And Labour must recognise that the left of the party polled much more strongly than the right-wing New Labourites.

Election results

THE COUNTRY voted last Thursday and, as predicted, it resulted in a hung parliament. But some interesting patterns emerged. The Tories gained more seats than any other party but not enough to form a government on their own, which shows that for all Labour’s faults most of the people of this country do not really want the Tory alternative.
The Labour vote held up well in the traditional Labour core areas: the North of England, central and east London, Scotland, Wales and Birmingham – and all the major urban working class areas. London MPs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell – both members of the Labour Representation Committee opposed to “New Labour” – even increased their majorities.
The Labour Party campaign had very little funding so there was nothing much in the way of poster or media campaigns. This actually worked in the party’s favour because it reduced the influence of the right-wing “New Labourites”, while the door-to-door canvassers were mainly traditional party activists.
The evidence is that wherever there was door-to-door canvassing, Labour did well; the three televised debates between the party leaders dominated the media and the opinion polls but had little effect on the final vote; the vilification of Labour by the right-wing press (only one paper, the Mirror, supported Labour) had little effect and Lord Ashcroft’s multi-million-pound poster campaign also had little effect. Voters have developed an immunity to the ruling class media circus and commercial style advertising. But they do listen to people like themselves who can be bothered to come and talk to them face to face.
Certainly a return to old fashioned door-to-door canvassing was a major factor in the high turn out. And the high turn out was a major factor in the huge defeats suffered by the fascist British National Party. They failed to gain a parliamentary seat and lost the local government seats that were up for election at the same time. This is a triumph of the massive sheer hard slog of the work of thousands of supporters of Hope not Hate who put in the door-to-door work and we congratulate them. Wherever Hope not Hate had campaigned the turn out was higher and it was this that defeated the BNP. But we cannot be complacent – the racists actually increased their total vote but it shrank in proportion to the votes of other parties.
In many places the turn out was so high that there were long queues and hundreds were not able to vote before the polls closed, by law, on the dot of 10pm. This is the result of local government cuts – not enough staff to process the voters quickly enough and a lesson to all politicians who think that they can cut and cut and cut public sector jobs without it having any effect on them.
We now face a real possibility that the Liberal Democrats will insist that the new government ensures that the next election is held under some sort of proportional representation. This will not help the left.
The suggested Alternative Vote system will largely benefit the Liberal Democrats and guarantee their place as kingmakers in parliaments for many years to come. Under full proportional representation, if the threshold was one per cent of the vote as it is in some countries, the BNP would have won a parliamentary seat, as would UKIP. If the threshold was five per cent the result would be much the same as today with a parliament dominated by the three major parties but with a larger slice for the Liberal Democrats. Either way none of the fringe left parties would get into parliament.
Like most proportional representation governments it would become more bureaucratic, expensive and unwieldy than it already is. Bourgeois state machines are never truly democratic and are always geared to keep the working class out of power.
Even when there is a centre left coalition that gives a few government positions to left fringe parties they have no opportunities to implement left policies. They find themselves being used as tools to enforce anti-working class policies and end up betraying their class.
But it looks as though proportional representation will be on the agenda and our responsibility as a communist party will be to expose its lack of real democracy and fight to build the organised, class-conscious working class, as we would under any bourgeois state.
And it looks as though we will almost certainly have another general election within the year. As ever, the struggle goes on!

Hope not Hate success in Barking!

THE LEADER of the fascist British National Party, Nick Griffin, failed dramatically in his bid to gain a Westminster seat last Thursday when he suffered a resounding defeat in the BNP’s east London stronghold.
Margaret Hodge, the Labour incumbent, won by a majority of more than 16,000 to deflect the BNP leader’s challenge in what she labelled the most important and moral fight of her life.
In a humiliating defeat, Griffin was relegated to third place in Barking, trailing behind Conservative candidate Simon Marcus. The BNP’s share of the vote dropped by two per cent – the result of an extensive campaign to mobilise voters against the threat of the far right.
Hodge, the former Culture Minister, achieved a seven per cent swing, winning more than 24,000 votes and 55 per cent of the vote.
She said: “The message of Barking to the BNP is clear: get out and stay out. You are not wanted here and your vile politics have no place in British democracy. Pack your bags and go.”
She said voters had chosen democratic politics built on fairness over “a fascist politics built on division, prejudice and hatred”.
“We have not just beaten but we have smashed the attempts of extremists.”
The BNP had considered Barking a stronghold after exploiting local concerns about immigration and housing to win twelve seats in the local council in 2006.
But following a disastrous election campaign, Griffin received 6,620 votes – one third as many as Hodge.
There were indications of a national collapse in the BNP vote after it failed to make headway in its other target seat, Stoke Central.
It lost its 12 seats on the Barking and Dagenham Council, despite beginning the campaign with hopes of gaining a majority.
Griffin blamed high voter turnout for his defeat and said that it was the “last chance for Barking”.
As his voice was drowned out by booing, he said: “This was the last of London. Within the next five years the indigenous people of London will be a minority in our own capital city. This is a wake up call, not just for London. This is a wake up call for the whole of Britain.”
Griffin said he would not resign, despite the crushing defeat, however elements in his party are certain to demand answers about the disastrous performance.
There was a heavy police presence at the count in Goresbrook Leisure Centre, in Dagenham, as large numbers of BNP supporters turned out to support their leader.
The BNP’s campaign has been was plagued with trouble and infighting. In the first week, Griffin faced an alleged plot by BNP officials to overthrow him.
He also told police that a colleague had threatened to kill him after an investigation into the political “conspiracy”.
Last Tuesday 4th May the head of the party’s online operation resigned and took the website down with him. Simon Bennett, 41, directed BNP traffic to his personal site, which contained a lengthy diatribe against Griffin and other senior figures.
The next day Robert Bailey, the party’s London organiser and Romford candidate, was videoed assaulting an Asian youth who had spat on him.
The civil service union PCS described Griffin’s defeat as “a victory for community organisation”.
Responding to the news that the BNP has been wiped out from Barking and Dagenham council, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We are absolutely delighted. This is a huge victory for grassroots community organisation and solidarity, and a tribute to all those who have spent weeks and months campaigning in the borough.
“It shows what can be achieved when people from all backgrounds, races and religions come together with a positive message of hope.
“This is not the end of the campaign, it’s the beginning. Wherever the far right tries to spread its hate and poison in our communities, we must be there to stop them, and we have shown that we can.”
Anti-fascist campaigning by PCS members in Barking and Dagenham during the election included:
• Distributing material as part of PCS’s Love Public Services Hate Fascism campaign, including leaflets, posters and Hope not Hate anti-fascist tabloid newspapers;
• Taking part in days of action in the borough, as well as in the BNP’s other main target area of Stoke.
For example, more than 20,000 people were canvassed or leafleted at a Unite Against Fascism and PCS day of action in Barking. A Hope not Hate joint-union day of action attracted 500 people delivering more than 82,000 tabloids.
PCS Midlands regional secretary Andrew Lloyd said: “The hard work in challenging the BNP and the far right in Stoke has paid off.
“Not only did Simon Darby, the BNP’s number two, fail to win the Stoke Central parliamentary seat, but far right candidates also lost seats in the city’s council election. Even the BNP’s own leader in the area described the elections as ‘a disaster’.
“During the campaign we sponsored events, sent an open top bus around the city to demonstrate our opposition to the BNP and funded an anti-fascist worker for Stoke who has linked up with local groups.
“We are proud to have contributed to the efforts in Stoke to ensure the BNP did not make any gains in these elections.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

London news wrap

London police still stopping photographers

PROFESSIONAL photographer Grant Smith, renowned for his work on architecture, was stopped and searched by police last week for taking pictures of the London skyline and subjected to a search under anti-terrorism laws – six months after a similar incident in which he was prevented from taking pictures on a London church.
He said the officers from the City of London Police prevented him from using his camera to film the stop and search and held his arms behind his back while they searched through his possessions. They even refused to allow him to use pen and paper to take notes.
He was told he was being held under section 44 of the Terrorism Act because of his obstructive and non-compliant attitude.
Smith said police left him feeling humiliated after manhandling him in front of office workers.
Last December police had stopped him from photographing the spire of Sir Christopher Wren’s Christ Church. This and a number of other well publicised incidents led to a public furore after which several senior police officers instructed their officers to refrain from inappropriate use of section 44 and reminding them that there are no laws against people taking pictures of buildings.
And earlier this year the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the arbitrary stop and search of people under section 44 without suspicion is illegal.

Boris renationalises Tube

TORY Mayor of London Boris Johnson last week accomplished one of the main goals of his predecessor, Ken Livingstone, when he renationalised the London Underground.
LU services have been blighted for over a decade by a deeply unpopular Government-imposed public-private partnership (PPP) for maintenance of the rail network that has seen the private companies involved milk the system for millions of pound for the benefit of their shareholders while delivering late and faulty work, causing hundreds of lines closures and delays.
But Boris had to pay a high price – £310 million – to buy the companies out of the PPP scheme. And there are more delays and closures to come because Transport for London (TfL) has discovered new, complex “challenges” in terms of work that needs doing before the system is working as it should.
And this extra cost is causing concern that the deal will involve cuts to jobs and services.
The Jubilee Line has suffered 113 closures since 2008 due to the installation of a new signalling system. A further 33 closures are planned but it may need a lot more as TfL has discovered “substantial further work” needed before the line can operate normally.
People living in south-east London have been forced to regard the line as generally a week-day only service.
This has particularly hit the O2 (formerly the Dome) – a venue for many large events of all kinds that depends on the Jubilee Line as the main public transport connection with central London.
The RMT transport union is concerned that the new strategy is a smokescreen for job cuts, ticket office closures and attacks on safety standards.
The union warns that Boris’s well publicised launch of his new TfL policy is masking a multi-billion transport cuts package that threatens thousands of jobs, ticket office closures across the capital and a systematic undermining of current safety standards.
RMT repeated its pledge to fight the tube and TfL cuts, including the threat to jobs following the final collapse of the PPP shambles with the buying out of the Tube Lines contract.
The union also raised fears that the incoming government, whichever format it takes, will seek further cuts in transport budgets as it swings the axe at public expenditure.

Victory Day in London

by Caroline Colebrook

SOME OF the joy and exuberance of the Soviet peoples at the defeat of Nazism 65 years ago resurfaced as spontaneous singing and dancing last week in a south London park, after a solemn ceremony to remember the millions of Soviet citizens who gave their lives to save their Soviet Motherland and the rest of the world from the horrors of Nazism.
Hundreds of people had gathered in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, in the grounds of the Imperial War Museum for the annual ceremony at London’s memorial to the fallen Soviet fighters to mark the day the Nazis surrendered and peace broke out in Europe.
The event was attended by war veterans from Britain and the former Soviet Union including members of the Arctic Convoy Club, in their familiar white berets who are regulars at these events, members of the British Legion, who made up the colour party and representatives from almost all the embassies of the former Soviet republics.
There were also representatives of a wide spectrum of progressive parties and organisations, including the New Communist Party, the Communist Party of Britain, the International Brigade Association and Marx House – all regulars at these events.
And there were individuals like a survivor of the Holocaust who had been a child slave of the Nazis until liberated by the Red Army and representatives of the expanding Russian community in London, including many young students from the Russian embassy school.
The ceremony began with a welcoming speech from the mayor of Southwark and the Soviet Memorial Trust fund who organised the event.
There were also speeches from local MP Simon Hughes and the Russian ambassador, Yuri Fedotov.
Then there was the wreath-laying with so many laying flowers – including New Communist Party general secretary Andy Brooks – that it took a long time and left the large stone in front of the memorial totally carpeted with flowers.
Polina Baranova, a teenage student from the Russian embassy, sang, unaccompanied, a melancholy song, Nightingales, that had been popular with Soviet troops during the war.
That was followed by the Last Post, the exhortation: “They shall not grow old…” and the two minutes silence.
Then Ambassador Fedotov invited everyone to toast the victory over Nazism with vodka, wine and food laid on jointly by the embassies.
The atmosphere changed from solemn to celebratory, spontaneous singing and dancing broke out and everyone was talking and laughing with everyone else – across all boundaries of generation, race, nationality and language.
After the event the Arctic Convoy veterans climbed aboard a coach to go to ceremony on board HMS Belfast, moored in the Thames at Southwark for decades now but one of the ships that made the heroic wartime journeys to Archangel and Murmansk, braving nightmare weather and predatory U-boats.
There Ambassador Fedotov honoured the veterans’ dedication and sacrifice and presented medals to them.
Many of them had been teenagers when they made those terrible but vital journeys. Of about 1,400 ships on the 78 convoys, 85 merchant vessels and 16 Royal Navy ships were sunk.

photo:Andy Brooks at the memorial

Thursday, May 06, 2010

May Day in London

THOUSANDS of workers all around Britain last Saturday turned out on May Day parades to celebrate international Workers’ Day and to lobby against impending cuts in public sector jobs and services after the election.
They were all marching for trade union rights, human rights and international solidarity across the world and several thousands gathered at Clerkenwell Green in central London by Marx House for the annual march from there to Trafalgar Square.
As usual it was colourful and noisy with large contingents from the Turkish and Kurdish communities in London and headed by trade union banners and a large contingent from the Labour Representation Committee.
The New Communist Party was among many political banners on this march, following a brief interview by BBC2 reporters with NCP general secretary Andy Brooks, which was shown the same night on the Newsnight programme.
The event was organised by the South East Region TUC (Sertuc), which also organised several other marches, including in Ipswich, Brighton and the Isle of Wight.
There were also major May Day marches in Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Cardiff, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee.
The London march ended in Trafalgar Square where Megan Dobney, speaking for Sertuc, paid tribute to the Greek workers who are refusing to knuckle under international capitalism’s demands for a huge austerity programme designed to resolve the country’s huge debt problem.
The crisis was caused by irresponsible bankers, not the workers, and the workers are right to refuse to pay the bill in hardship and misery.
Veteran Labour campaigners Tony Benn and Ken Livingstone as well as union leaders addressed the rally including PCS assistant general secretary Chris Baugh. The civil service workers’ leader called for unions to unite after the election to fight the massive cuts in public spending that all the main political parties were threatening.
Baugh said: “Across the UK, workers from the private and public sectors are coming together to resist what we have been told will be vicious cuts to jobs, living standards, pensions and public services.
“We stand together with all workers to say we did not cause this crisis and we do not accept that we should be made to pay for it.
“We fundamentally reject the consensus that massive cuts in public spending are necessary, but if they are anything like on the scale that has been suggested, industrial action by the unions is not only likely, it is inevitable.”
One of the main speakers at the London Mayday rally was Thierry Schaffauser – president of the GMB sex workers’ branch, speaking on behalf of the Sertuc Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender network.
He quoted from an article he had written that was published in the New Worker a few months ago on the need for trade union protection for sex workers.
They are demanding the recognition of their human and labour rights and the end of their criminalisation.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Police did kill Blair Peach!

ANTI-FASCIST protester Blair Peach died 31 years ago from a blow to the head and “a police officer is likely to have struck the fatal blow” according to a new police report published last Tuesday.
Blair Peach died aged 33 when police clashed with anti-fascist protesters against a planned National Front march in Southall, West London.
Police had prepared an “independent” report into the death after an inquiry by Commander John Cass but had refused to publish it. But last week, after decades of pressure and a sustained campaign led by his former partner Celia Stubbs and his family, Scotland Yard relented and published their findings.
But although it admits the killer was a riot squad officer who was defended by lies and collusion from his colleagues, the report does not name the chief suspect, nor those who have shielded him.
The Cass report does not name any of the implicated officers, but said six were on board a van belonging to the now disbanded Special Patrol Group identified as carrier U11.
It said there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone over the death but recommended action for perverting the course of justice for three officers, including “Officer E” – the chief suspect.
The 1979 report said: “Whilst it can reasonably be concluded that a police officer struck the fatal blow, and that that officer came from carrier U.11, I am sure that it will be agreed that the present situation is far from satisfactory and disturbing.”
It went on: “The attitude and untruthfulness of some of the officers involved is a contributory factor.
“It is understandable that because of the events of the day officers were confused, or made mistakes, but one would expect better recall of events by trained police officers.
“However, there are cases where the evidence shows that certain officers have clearly not told the truth.”
Last year, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said the report should be published after being reviewed by lawyers.
The Crown Prosecution Service completed that review and advised Scotland Yard that charges could only be brought if there was sufficient new evidence, such as a confession.

Olympics workers join protest march

WORKERS on London’s Olympics site stopped work to join a protest march and a ommemorative event in Stratford to mark Workers Memorial Day (WMD) on Wednesday 28th April.
The events remembered the two workers who have lost their lives on work associated with the Olympics project and to call for action to end construction’s deadly record.
The workers stopped work to join a short protest march in Pudding Mill Lane in Stratford at 11.30am and then marched to the Westfield site where a commemorative event will be held with workers from all over the Olympics works.
Shaun Scurry, 39, from Kirkby, died following an incident in December 2009 when he was reportedly trapped between a steal beam and an industrial lift at the Westfield Olympics shopping centre site, Stratford. He was employed by Firesafe Installations.
Henry Sheridan, 58, from Luton, was killed in December 2008 when an excavator bucket fell on him while working on the Olympics rail extension at West Ham. He was employed by Lorclon Ltd.
Tony O’Brien, National Secretary Construction Safety Campaign, said: “The legacy of the London Olympics must not be that of even more construction workers having lost their lives. The industry still kills far too many workers, either in incidents at work or from ill-health in later life such as lung diseases and cancers, especially cancer caused by asbestos exposure.”
Commenting on employment on the Olympics site, Tony O’Brien added: “There is far too much sub-contracting and employment through employment agencies on the Olympics project and this raises real concerns over health and safety.
“The original employment agreement was meant to ensure direct employment for the majority and this should be the standard form of employment there from now on.”
Workers Memorial Day is a global day to mark the damage work does – globally every year more people are killed at work or by work activities than die in wars. Workers Memorial Day’s motto is “Remember the dead – but fight for the living!”