Friday, December 30, 2011


NEPAL: The objective conditions still exist for the revolution

by Theo Russell

A member of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) politburo, Indra Mohan Sigdel or ‘Basanta’, addressed a meeting in London last week, organised  by Second Wave Publications, about the “line struggle” taking place in the party, following a series of setbacks to the cause of advancing to a national democratic revolution. Since the end of the war led by the UCPN (M) – formerly the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) - and the abolition of the monarchy in 2008, splits have appeared in the party over the implementation of peace agreements and Comrade Prachanda’s leadership of the UCPN (M).

 In his talk Indra Mohan Sigdel made these points:

 “Mao said that with a correct political line, you will have everything: you will have an army, and you will have state power, you will have all of these. But without the correct political line, you will lose all of them.
 “Today we see that whatever we had, we have lost. In this case Mao has been proved correct.
 “When we started our struggle we didn’t have a single rifle which worked. We had four rifles which didn’t work. But we were able to seize power in the countryside, organise mass support in the towns and cities, and get rid of the monarchy.
 “Our army has been dissolved in the name of integration, but this is in fact a surrender. Our fighters were about to defeat the Nepalese Army. But the revolutionary cause ten years of struggle has not been given up. The whole party has not surrendered. The whole party has not become revisionist.
 “Now the situation is very difficult, but there is still the possibility that the political struggle will continue until victory. It may take a few years, but the struggle will continue uninterrupted.
 “In 2008 our tactics were successful when the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly abolished the monarchy, and we got a democratic republic. But after this advance the leadership never thought of developing the national democratic revolution. What we have achieved is still a reactionary system.
 “At the Kharipati Convention held on November 2008 there were very sharp  divisions in the party. Prachanda proposed a ‘people’s federal democratic republic’, but the leadership never tried to implement this in practice, and the struggle started again. We developed our plan and had to develop new tactics to achieve the people’s democratic revolution.
 “At a three month-long CC meeting in mid-2009 Prachanda finally agreed that a people’s insurrection is a must to establish the people’s federal republic. Will this be peaceful? No, it can never be peaceful, it has to be armed insurrection. The theory that armed struggle is necessary is still valid.
 “At the Sukute standing committee last April 3 Bhattarai (now the UCPN(M) prime minister of Nepal) said we can’t make a revolution now, we need to stop and prepare the ground, to integrate the army and write the best possible constitution  and then move ahead.
 “Prachanda accused him of ‘right deviation’ and being a ‘national capitalist’, and pretended to be revolutionary. But history shows us that no party which has entered into bourgeois government has gone on to create a revolution.
 “Later Prachanda, Bhattarai and the other leaders agreed a four point programme: a constitution based on a ‘democratic republic’; an extradition treaty with India; an Indian military and air force presence in Nepal, to protect Indian projects; and ‘relief’ measures, which meant that land seized by the peasants was to be returned to the former landowners, with compensation.
 “The call was issued to resist and take the land back. So far land is being seized and seized back again with no violence, but when they commit to implementing the line, the police and army will be deployed.
 “We had built up a strong military force which was an inspiration to the people does not exist, actually it has been eliminated.
 “Under the agreement our fighters going into the army will have to undergo a ‘bridge’ course run by the army, and those who are unsuccessful will be sent home without a penny.
 “This shows that with a correct political line we gained so much, when we took the wrong political line, we lost everything.
 “From this point two lines of struggle and two opposed positions have emerged in the party. Now  we are in a situation where the people can see the contradictions, and those comrades taking a revolutionary line are gaining support, which is a good thing.
 “This will take a long time, but the objective conditions still exist for the revolution. We are now taking our political programme and political education to cadres across the entire country.
 “To ensure power, we have to create another PLA, and that PLA has to seize power. The question is how we can sustain our revolution. We are being encircled by imperialist powers, and there are no revolutionary countries nearby.
 “We agree with Lenin that it is possible to make a revolution in one country, but the question is can we sustain the revolution.
 “Armed insurrection is definitely the most important factor, but the question is how to bring this about. Overall conditions are increasingly favourable because the contradictions and class struggle are sharpening in the capitalist countries, but the question is how to deal with this situation.
 “If we eventually achieve the revolution, then definitely the state will be led by the proletariat, but until that time power will be held by all the people, as Mao said.
 “But the situation is very very difficult and very sensitive. This line struggle is going deep into class struggle, it will produce a result and show the way forward.
 In an article last September, Basanta provided further detail on the ideological struggle taking place in the UCPN(M).
 “The ideological struggle in our party has now been manifested in two lines, Marxism or reformism, and it has centred on ideological, political and organisational lines.
 “The Party did not have any tactics through a period of almost a year after the democratic republic of Nepal was declared. In the situation when the old tactics were over and the new ones was not taken up it was obvious the party had  no plan to go forward, except cycling around the parliamentary exercise.
 “Finally, elucidating that Nepal was still a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country and the federal democratic republic was a reactionary political system, the party adopted a new tactic, a people’s federal republic, to accomplish the new democratic revolution. This tactic is still valid and is awaiting its execution.
 “On May 1st  2010, the party declared from the stadium at Tundikhel, Kathmandu that an indefinite strike would be continued until it culminated in a people’s insurrection, through which Nepalese people become the masters of state power.
 “This brought about unprecedented enthusiasm among the broad masses. But strangely, after less than two weeks; the strike was suddenly brought to a stop, which did nothing other than bring about complete demoralisation among the people.
 “The ideological struggle that had started from Kharipati reached its climax after the indefinite strike was stopped. Everyone from our leaders to cadres, as well the Nepalese masses, is aware of the height of the Palungtar debate held in November 2010.
 “The two-line struggle being waged after Kharipati took a different turn after the standing committee meeting held at Sukute. Essentially, the contradiction between reform in essence and revolution in form that existed in our party leadership was resolved at Sukute.
 “It is clear that the new democratic revolution in Nepal is now on the threshold of counter-revolution. It is being manifested in the danger of surrendering the PLA in the name of army integration, and in writing document of compromise with the comprador, bureaucratic capitalists and feudalists, in the name of building consensus.
 “If army integration is carried out in a capitulationist way and if a document of compromise is adopted in the name of writing a constitution, it will be an outright counter-revolution.”

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Justice for Joe Paraskeva

by New Worker correspondent
Joe's mother with Diane Abbott

LINDA MORGAN last Saturday, along with her MP Diane Abbott, led a demonstration to present a petition at Downing Street calling for justice for her mentally ill son, Joe Paraskeva, who has been given an indeterminate prison sentence.
 Joe was jailed after using an aerosol can and cigarette lighter to try to escape from a mental health unit in which he had been sectioned in October 2010.
 Even though Joe had no previous convictions and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, he was sent to prison, and his family have no idea when he might be released.
 Joe was recently transferred to the John Howard Centre forensic unit in Hackney, but his mother fears he may be moved back to prison at any time.
 The 6,000-signature petition calls for Joe's case to be reviewed, for his conviction to be overturned and for him to receive proper care, as a mental health patient, within the NHS.
 Just before the event Ms Morgan said: "We are going to Downing Street today not only to campaign for Joe, but to address a huge injustice in both the NHS and the criminal justice system.
 These failings allow the most vulnerable in society to be punished rather than helped. Prison is not a safe or therapeutic environment for people suffering with mental health problems and should not be used as a dumping ground.
 Joe's case is only one example; there are many other families out there who have been through similar experiences. Anyone who has a mental illness deserves to be safely cared for, not thrown into prison."
 The Justice for Joe campaign is being supported by a number of major mental health and criminal justice organisations including, Sane, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, The Manic Depressive Fellowship, YoungMinds, The Howard League for Penal Reform and The Prison Reform Trust.

Free Shaker Aamer!

by New Worker correspondent

DOZENS of people gathered in Whitehall, opposite Downing Street, last Saturday to demand action from the Government to take action to secure the release of Shaker Aamer, who is still held in the Guantánamo prison by the United States government.
 Shaker Aamer has been held in the Guantánamo Bay concentration camp since 2002. He is a legal permanent resident of Britain, married to a British national, with four British children living in London.
 Shaker has long been cleared for release by the United States, never been charged by the United States with a crime and has never received a trial.
 Reprieve Director Clive Stafford Smith visited Shaker in November 2011 and on departure, immediately penned a letter to Foreign Secretary William Hague listing numerous physical ailments that Shaker suffers – a list that had just been cleared through the US censorship process.
 The letter calls for Shaker's release and meanwhile Shaker waits alone in his cell, officially cleared of wrongdoing, but still paying the cruellest of costs for his kindness to others.
 Protesters at Saturday’s event read out the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on the 63rd  anniversary of its adoption by the United Nations.

Time to boot out Boris!

By a New Worker correspondent

London students demonstrated outside King’s College last week in protest at a “Back Boris Student Bootcamp” meeting called to support the Tory London Mayor’s campaign for another term next year. About twenty students, some wearing spoof Boris Johnson masks assembled outside the main university entrance in the Strand to show their opposition to the meeting organised by Conservative Future, the youth wing of the Tory party in a protest called by Occupy London protest movement that has led the tent protests in Finsbury Square and St Paul’s cathedral.
Emma Stanton, student and supporter of Occupy London said: “Boris Johnson is the Mayor of the one per cent, the privileged few. This bootcamp is an attempt to prettify and legitimise the brutal Tory agenda, which has having a devastating impact upon students and young Londoners. By pricing Londoners out of education, the Tories are taking away not only the opportunities and ability of an entire generation, but they are dealing a severe blow to the economy which grows with an educated workforce.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Build on strike success

TUC GENERAL Secretary Brendan Barber called it “a terrific success”. Prime Minister David Cameron says it was a "damp squib". But the public sector strike that shut down over two-thirds of all schools and paralysed local government throughout Britain was anything but the futile exercise Cameron would have his followers believe.
Last November's national strike certainly shook the Cameron government. Millions of workers went on strike on 30th November despite the best efforts of the Tories and their Liberal Democrat collaborators to split and divide the unions in the run-up to Pension Justice Day.
 The protest strike and the demonstrations across the country in support of the TUC’s day of action were supported by 30 unions, representing over two million teachers, health workers, civil servants and local authority workers. The industrial action, the biggest in British labour history, was a powerful display of the strength of organised labour that reflected the growing mass support for the campaign against the Coalition Government’s attempts to cut pensions and pension rights to pay for the deficit caused by the slump across the entire capitalist world.
            The ruling class claims that we are all in this together. But their parasitical lives of luxury and ease continue unscathed while working people face a future of unemployment, poverty and homelessness.  
These worthless people, even now, are not even prepared to see a serious tax on their profits or income to cushion the blow to the working class, who create all the wealth in the first place.
 Their media pundits claim that austerity is the only way out of the crisis but they say nothing about the billions spent on the wars in Afghanistan and Libya or the billions that the ruling class will just as easily find for their planned attacks on Syria and Iran. In fact there is only one way out of the capitalist crisis and that is socialism and the planned economy that does away with exploitation and oppression altogether.
            Cameron can bleat all he likes about improved offers, continuing negotiations and that strikes achieve nothing. But everybody on the front-line of the cuts offensive knows that any crumbs the Cameron Coalition puts on the table for some workers will be paid for by robbing others and that the Government is determined to force public sector workers to work longer and pay more into pensions that will be worth much less than what they were promised when they were first employed.
The intensification of the Government’s draconian austerity programme and its decision to cap public sector pay rises to one per cent for the next two years shows that Cameron & Co have no intention of backing down in their determination to make working people foot the entire bill for the capitalist crisis. And we will pay for the slump in lost jobs, fewer benefits and poorer services if we don’t fight back.
Last week must only be the beginning of a mass campaign to resist the cuts every inch of the way and to mobilise the labour movement for greater national actions to bring down the Government to force new elections and the return of a Labour leadership committed to supporting the just demands of organised labour.

New peace camp ban

by New Worker correspondent

THE LONDON Borough of Westminster last week passed a new by-law in order to demolish the Parliament Square peace camp and to ban protesters from a large part of central London.
 The council aims to clear the area in time for the Olympics.
 The by-law gives Westminster council the power to clear 15 streets around the square as well as other nearby footways, pavements and gardens.
 The law marks the final act in a 10-year occupation that began when anti-war campaigner Brian Haw set up camp. The council regarded it as an eyesore and national disgrace.
 The law, which makes it an offence not to comply with the order to remove a tent, should be in place by March, meaning the square would be cleared in time for London 2012.
 Maria Gallastegui, 53, who has been camped outside Parliament Square protesting for five and a half years, said: "We have a nation built on a proud heritage of peaceful protest. It is crucial now more than ever to keep our stand at Parliament Square as we are heading to another war, this time with Iran, and people need to know that. We represent victims of war.
 "Parliament Square is the most symbolic position for grass roots campaigners to highlight their causes. It is a world stage that is photographed every day by tourists and locals alike. We have a powerful message and we should be allowed to send it out."

Surgeons resign over cuts

THE ROYAL College of Surgeons is investigating the resignation of five surgeons at the Royal London Hospital in Tower Hamlets and one surgeon from Bart’s Hospital over cuts in resources which, they say, endanger patients’ safety.
 A lack of plastic surgeons, anaesthetists, beds and equipment meant patients with non-life threatening injuries routinely had operations cancelled.
 One whistleblower said that patients were left with open wounds for six days while waiting for a slot. When they were finally operated on, bones often healed badly or infection set in leading to long-term complications, the source added.
 The resignations, which all happened in recent months, mean almost half the hospital's 12 orthopaedic surgeons have now handed in their notice.
 In his resignation email to colleagues orthopaedic surgeon Dr David Goodier, said: “I can no longer stand idly by when patients are physically harmed by the care they receive.
 "The supplies situation is dangerous. We are regularly out of kit, out of nurses, and always out of beds.
"We have become so used to this situation it is no longer seen as a crisis, it is the norm.
 "I did an operation last week on a fracture that kept getting bumped by more urgent cases.
 "It was three weeks down the line and healed in a bad position. There was nothing I could do for him.
 "I look patients in the eye and tell them they might sit around for five or even six days of starving for an operation that might get cancelled at the last minute."
 He concluded: "I have been complicit in a poor standard of trauma care and am guilty of negligence by association.
 "I can no longer stand idly by when patients are at best having their human rights breached, and at worst physically harmed by the care they receive."

Oppressive policing provoked riots

HEAVY handed policing and the use of the stop-and-search laws – reintroduced under the Blair government as an anti-terrorism measure – against young black people fuelled much of the anger and rioting that flared suddenly last August.
 This was the conclusion of a lengthy study by the London School of Economics and the Guardian newspaper that interviewed 270 rioters.
 Of those interviewed, 85 per cent cited anger at policing practices as a key factor in why the violence happened.
 Many cited repeatedly being stopped and searched whenever they went outside their homes, seeing close friends and relatives treated with brutality and groups being rounded up who just happened to be in the same place but did not know each other and being treated as a gang.
 The complaints were remarkably similar from rioters all around Britain – and very similar to those made 30 years ago to the Scarman inquiry into the Brixton riots of the early 1980s: police taking advantage of their powers to make life hell for people they just did not like – mainly because they were black.
 The Association of Chief Police Officers said it was not surprised such a study saw police cited as a factor. “But August also showed the ability of our police to restore order using robust, common sense policing in the British way," it said.
 The former Metropolitan Police Chief Sir Ian Blair and a Tory spokesperson made similar comments on the BBC’s Newsnight programme during a discussion of the report.
 They were saying the reason why these rioters hated the police is because criminals always hate the police – completely missing the point that it is their approach that is criminalising a whole community.
 One measure particularly irked many of the rioters. Previously police who stopped and searched youths were obliged to give them a written note with an account of what had happened and details of how and where to complain about inappropriate treatment.
 The Con-Dem Coalition has done away with this as part of its “war on red tape”. But it leaves police unaccountable for the way they pick on people to stop and search and their victims with no redress.
 The riots began on Tottenham two days after the police shot and killed Mark Duggan, a young black man, who turned out to be unarmed, contrary to police claims.
 His family and friends staged a small demonstration to the police station, demanding to speak with senior officers for an explanation. The police ignored them for three hours until anger boiled over and the rioting began with the burning of a police car.
 One rioter was on holiday when he heard about the riots but returned to take part. He said: “As soon as I saw that, I was happy, like. For some reason I just wanted to be there. I actually wanted to burn the cars," he said.
 "What I've been through my whole life, police have caused hell for me... now was my opportunity to get revenge."
 Interviewed on the BBC's Newsnight, he said the Government had made it hard to get jobs, cut people's benefits, and made university unaffordable.
 "We thought, 'Okay, you want to financially hurt us?' We'll financially hurt you by burning down buildings. "That was the best three days of my life."
 Meanwhile former Met Police Chief Lord Stevens has said he believes public disorder will be one of the major problems facing police over the next 18 months.
 Launching a commission into policing in England and Wales set up by Labour, he said his feeling was that the coming months would be "very difficult".
 He said he was worried about unemployment and rising crime – police would have to be "match fit" to cope.
 Crossbencher Lord Stevens also stressed the commission would be non-political.

Friday, December 02, 2011


Marching through London on Wednesday

by Daphne Liddle

MILLIONS of workers last Wednesday took part in a historic national strike that closed 21,000 schools as well as thousands of libraries, council offices, parks, courts, job centres, benefit offices and other government offices. And many thousands more workplaces were closed or seriously affected by industrial action throughout the UK.
Hospitals remained open for emergencies and essential care of in-patients but all other work was off for the day.
Unions estimate that around two-and-a-half million public sector workers took strike action, making it the largest strike in terms of numbers in Britain ever.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “I have been to pickets around central London and spirits are sky high with many other unions besides PCS out on strike.
“People should be very proud of the stand they are making today in contrast to the shame of the Government.
“Public sector workers have come together today to show their united opposition to the government’s prolonged and concerted attacks on their pensions, jobs and communities.”
Many workers sent their message to the Government by simply staying at home but throughout the country hundreds of thousands took part in over 1,000 local marches and rallies, with bigger marches in all major towns and cities. For many it was the first industrial or political action they had ever been involved in.
The Con-Dem Coalition cannot now possibly say that the opposition to their cuts and their robbery of public sector pensions is down just to a few “militant union leaders itching for a fight”.
When he launched that remark last week, Education Secretary Michael Gove had it the wrong way round. Some of the union leaders would have preferred a quiet life; the pressure for this action has come from the rank and file. But the leaders are now shaping up to the battle that has landed on them.
It is important now that the unions carry on the momentum and start preparing for the next strike. It should not be hard; the morale on today’s well attended picket lines was very high and the Chancellor George Osborne has added to the workers’ anger by promising a one-per cent cap on their pay rises — after a two year freeze, while inflation is around five per cent — and hundreds of thousands more job cuts in his vain efforts to balance his books.
This strike has hit the Government and a lot harder that it expected but it will not fall or back off yet. More strikes, more rallies, meetings and pickets are needed. But now the workers know their fight is effective and they can win.
This confidence is what will win the war against capitalism.
This strike could also go down in history as the first really big national strike where most of the strikers, pickets and marchers were women. The working women of Britain are no longer submissive and lacking in confidence.
One Unison picket in south London said she had told two children on the picket line with their mother: “You may not believe it now but in years to come when you are grown up and people still talk about the great public sector pension strike, you will be able to say, ‘I was there, at the strike rally at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’.”

Livingstone Fare Deal campaign launch

By Theo Russell

KEN LIVINGSTONE, Labour’s London mayoral candidate, last week told his first major campaign rally, in Camden, that transport fares must be cut “on transport grounds to make the system more attractive, but also on economic grounds to put ordinary Londoners first by putting money back in the pockets that will boost the London economy.”
 In the last two years fares have risen by 21 per cent – 13 per cent above inflation – and Tory mayor Boris Johnson plans another 20 years of above-inflation rises.
 A single bus fare with an Oyster card has risen 56 per cent since 2008, and zone 1-6 travel cards 22 per cent, hitting Londoners already suffering the effects of recession.
 Livingstone told 500 people at the Camden Centre in King’s Cross that if re-elected he would cut overall fares by five per cent in autumn 2012, with no increase in 2013. After that fares would rise by no more than RPI (Retail Price Index) inflation.
 Livingstone has identified Johnson’s weak spot on transport – a £728 million Transport for London operating surplus in the last financial year, which is growing every year.
 Johnson has scrapped plans for disabled access at 18 tube stations, indefinitely postponed upgrade work on the Piccadilly, Bakerloo and Central lines, and cancelled the Croydon Tramlink extension and Docklands Light Railway extension to Croydon and Dagenham.
 London’s public transport is the most expensive in the world, but Johnson’s hatred of trade unions and mismanagement by his big business appointees have resulted in major delays on the underground almost daily, with only seven months to go before the Olympics.
 The rally heard from young Labour supporters that Londoners are being forced to turn down job and education offers due to high fares. Yet Boris Johnson, who earns £430,000 as mayor, told a BBC interviewer that the £250,000 a year he gets for a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph was “chicken-feed” – a statement which surely ranks alongside Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake”.
 Labour MP Tom Watson told the meeting: “No wonder he can’t understand what a seven per cent increase in transport costs (planned for January) means to ordinary Londoners”.
 Livingstone said that in 2000-08 while he was mayor, n umbers of bus passengers rose by half while bus fares fell nine per cent, and tube fares rose by only 1.4 per cent. His bus strategy was so successful it was copied by cities across Britain.
 London’s dilapidated, unreliable and poorly staffed overground rail network was also transformed under Livingstone with new stations, trains and tracks, service frequency doubled, and lines re-opened, and has just been voted Britain’s best railway.
 As mayor Livingstone obtained £5 billion to build affordable homes in London, but although these were planned to be available by April 2012 Johnson is refusing to publish figures for new housing.
 While house building has collapsed, Johnson and Tory and Lib-Dem run councils have drastically cut quotas for affordable homes in new developments.
 Livingstone also plans to restore all Johnson’s policing cuts, including plans to axe 1,800 officers after the Olympics, and 900 lost through a recruitment freeze.