|Daphne Liddle winning the argument|
By New Worker correspondent
BANKERS are taking over the political protest and our role is to resist this Labour MP John McDonald told the annual conference of the Labour Representation Committee, which packed out the main hall at the University of London Union last Saturday.
He spoke on the unprecedented austerity attack on our class, the need to defend ourselves and the need to present a concrete alternative model to oppose that of the bankers.
He praised those occupying the churchyard of St Paul’s Cathedral, next to the London Stock Exchange and the threat from the City of London Corporation to evict them.
“We should be campaigning for the abolition of the City of London Corporation,” McDonnell said.
Symeon Brown, a community worker from Tottenham gave a moving speech on the effects of the cuts to services on the low income people of Tottenham.
He said: “Prior to the riots there were protests against the cuts but they were ignored.
“After the riots people were asking ‘Why?’ – as if they lived in a vacuum and had not seen what has been going on.”
He described the local people, especially the black community, who had lost so much just before the riots as “victims of the most drastic cuts”.
“You will never know unless you live there, so many people suffering so much. How do you feel when the very services on which you are reliant are being cut? Has a single generation ever lost more gains?”
Phien O’Reachtigan also made a moving speech on behalf of the travelling community. He pointed out that their community is referred to as the Irish travelling community even though they have been in this country for 900 years.
He told the conference that the people evicted from Dale Farm are still there in the area because they have no other place to go and that racist hate against them is not only tolerated but encouraged.
“They keep telling us to go back where we came from. We are part of Britain. If all people were to go back to their original countries we would all go back to Africa. Our ancestors left there and they were all travellers once.”
Steve Acheson, an electrician who has been blacklisted for many years for his trade union activities, spoke about the current long-running dispute between construction site electricians and the giant companies that are planning to cut their pay by 36 per cent and their terms and conditions.
They have protested every Wednesday for several months now; focussing on a different big construction site every time and already one of the employers has back away from the plan to cut.
Most of the resolutions to conference concerned the fight against the cuts and putting pressure on Labour leaders to present a real, socialist alternative.
And most resolutions were uncontroversial, receiving near unanimous support.
But the resolution from the New Communist Party concerning the Nato violent overthrow of the government of Libya – and the need to defend Syria from a similar attack, sparked a real debate that divided the conference chamber.
Many delegates to the conference, although against Nato and imperialism in general, were unaware of the history of Libya and had swallowed western propaganda that it was an old fashioned brutal feudal Arab dictatorship.
Moving the resolution, Daphne Liddle explained that Gaddafi had been given the demonisation treatment that so many leaders of small countries opposed to western imperialism have been given and that Libya had pursued many progressive policies, including setting up Opec to ensure that oil revenues went, at least to some extent, to benefit the people of the countries where the oil was extracted.
This was fiercely opposed by some delegates but was also supported by peace activists who agreed that bombing civilian populations was no way to liberate them.
One young woman Arab delegate also stunned the less-well informed delegates by explaining that the Gaddafi government has given full equal rights to women, protected them from male violence and angered some of the more reactionary and powerful forces in the country by granting women equal rights to inherit land.
“But now they have Sharia law imposed and the forced marriages and child marriages, the stonings and beatings, the genital mutilation and the enslavement of women will all come back.”
The motion was passed with 79 for, 48 against and 39 abstentions.
- LRC report of conference
- text of the NCP motion on Libya agreed at conference
This conference opposes all interference by Nato and other imperialist forces in the internal affairs of Syria and/or Iran, following the outcome of the Nato intervention in Libya that has enforced a regime change, without any democratic mandate, for the sole benefit of western oil companies.
The Nato forces obtained a United Nations mandate to impose a no-fly-zone on Libya, ostensibly to protect human lives. They used this mandate to unleash a campaign of terror bombing that cost thousands of civilian lives and to support reactionary stooges, including elements of Al Qaeda, as a front for the violent overthrow of a government that used its oil revenue to provide a high social wage for the Libyan population and to provide generous and frequent humanitarian famine relief for other African countries.
The Libyan government has now been replaced by a divided group of puppets which include violent racists responsible for the massacre of many black African workers in Libya.
Nato is now seeking a UN mandate to impose similar carnage in Syria – a country of mixed ethnicities, cultures and religions, which is currently a secular state.
A Nato intervention in Syria can only destabilise the whole region, leading to inter-racial, inter-religious and inter-ethnic carnage and bloodshed.
We deplore the pretence of the defence of human rights to mask attempts to impose a new age of imperialist colonialism in the Middle East and call on the United Nations to defend the sovereignty of small nations against imperialist aggression.