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Thursday, December 19, 2013
FRIENDS of Democratic Korea returned to the John Buckle Centre in south London last weekend to mark the 2nd anniversary of the passing of dear leader Kim Jong Il and show their solidarity following the purge of the hidden traitor Jang Song Thaek.
The event, at the south London headquarters of the RCPB (ML), was chaired by New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks and it opened with a powerful baritone rendition of the Song of General Kim Jong Il by one of the DPRK London diplomats accompanied by the violinist Leslie Larkum. This was followed by Changing Sorrow Into Strength, a short film about Koreans’ grief at the loss of their leader. But the highlight of the evening was the opening by the DPRK ambassador, Hyong Hak Bong, on the life of Kim Jong Il and the crimes and punishment of Jang and his counter-revolutionary faction.
All these points were taken up during discussion by other members of the committee including Michael Chant of the RCPB (ML)), Dermot Hudson of the UK Korean Friendship Association and John McLeod from the Socialist Labour Party (SLP).
Michael, who is the FoK secretary, then moved a solidarity message that was endorsed by acclaim to end the formal part of the meeting, which closed with drinks and a buffet of Korean food.
The Co-ordinating Committee of Friends of Korea consists of the European Regional Society for the Study of the Juché Idea, UK Korean Friendship Association, New Communist Party of Britain, Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and the Socialist Labour Party and it holds meetings in London throughout the year.
Monday, December 16, 2013
by Daphne Liddle
STUDENTS are continuing to demonstrate against the closure of the social centre for London’s 120,000 students following violent clashes with the police last week.
Last Thursday riot police brutally moved in to eject students who had occupied the centre’s admin office in protest against the closure of the University of London Union (ULU) buildings.
These buildings in Malet Street, which include offices, meetings rooms and a bar, have for generations been a popular venue for meetings of left and progressive groups in London, not just students.
The protest also reflected anger at yet another big rise in student union fees and at the University authorities getting a court injunction to ban student protests anywhere on the campus until June next year.
The students returned in greater numbers the next day and with a new demand: “Cops off Campus!”
Again police attacked the protesters and drove them round and about the surrounding streets so that they ended up kettled in Euston Square.
At 5.20pm police began arresting two groups of people who had been kettled in by Euston Square tube station for an hour “to prevent a further breach of the peace” and on suspicion of affray.
The students, including Oscar Webb, the editor of the student union paper who was photographing the protest, were handcuffed and sent to police stations across south London. Two people were also arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.
One man who was handcuffed and driven away in a police van had a crutch. An eyewitness told London Student, the student union journal, that: “The man was walking near the police when they pushed him, and as he fell backwards the police kicked away his crutch before jumping on him”. A second eyewitness made the same claim. After police stepped away from where the man was handcuffed, blood could be seen on the pavement.
Michael Chessum, president of ULU, said the police “were brutal”. He told London Student: “Today there was an unprecedented level of police violence on campus. It was a transparent attempt to assault, intimidate and deflate protest, and it will not work.” He added: “We will only come back stronger.” Chessum also said: “The university has taken this draconian measure because it has lost the arguments on the issues.”
The clashes with the London University students follow a series of unusually violent clashes between police and students throughout the country over the last few months.
Earlier that week, students at the University of Sussex mounted a protest, including an occupation of some university buildings and five students were suspended and excluded from the university.
Labour MP John McDonnell said students were being “persecuted”, but police said they were preventing a breach of peace. He has tabled an early day motion in the Commons, and said: “I am deeply anxious about the whole range of protests that are taking place because they are all peaceful; they are all students seeking to make their voices heard.
“But they’re being met with real intimidation and suspending students for an occupation is not acceptable.”
He added: “It’s outrageous that students exercising their traditional democratic right to protest have been persecuted in this way.”
He said that judging by the television footage, there appeared to have been “real violence” at last week’s London University occupation. This was an “over-reaction”, he said.
He added: “Universities should recognise that students have a right to protest as long as it is peaceful. We should be encouraging people to speak out and exercise their democratic right and to be involved in society.”
Michael Segalov, one of the students suspended indefinitely from Sussex University over the protests, said: “This is an attempt to de-legitimise protests on campus and dissent on universities.
“It is scaremongering so that students are afraid to have their voices heard.”Another London student, Rebecca Greenford, put it like this: “Teaching staff, clerical staff, cleaners and students all know these changes will damage our education. This week we organised peaceful rallies to make our point in public, but university authorities, Government and police have effectively criminalised dissent.”
By New Worker correspondent
While world leaders flew to South Africa to salute the passing of Nelson Mandela Londoners gathered to pay their own last respects to the man who led the struggle against apartheid to become the first president of free South Africa.
Some lit candles, sang or laid garlands to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday 5th December at the age of 95. Others brought flowers to lay at the Mandela statue in Parliament Square or by the gates of the nearby South African embassy.
At the embassy Mandela’s goddaughter, Tanya von Ahlefeldt, whose father Jimmy Kantor was his lawyer before also being charged at the Rivonia trial in the 1960s, told the media that: “I think what we have to focus on is the legacy that he’s left, which was dignity and choice for all South Africans.”
Former Labour Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said: “ "It's amazing how one person made so much change. How many people could say they made a nation change the way they think?"
Livingstone’s Tory successor, Boris Johnson, told the media his party had got it
"completely wrong" on Mandela in the 1980s, when Margaret Thatcher called the ANC a terrorist group. He said: "There's no-one really to touch Mandela because plenty of people can claim that they have in some way united their country and brought people together but Mandela's the only one I can think of that basically united the whole world,".
Friday, December 06, 2013
PEACE activists marched through the centre of London to the United States embassy last week to protest at the use by the imperialist powers of unmanned drones to bring death, injury and terror to people living in Pakistan, Somalia and other places.
The demonstration was organised by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party and Stop the War as part of a worldwide series of protests against drones, the biggest protest being in Pakistan.
Members and supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (the Pakistani political party headed by Imran Khan) marched from 10 Downing Street to the US Embassy in London demand an end to the use of drones – which are supposed to be targeted at “terrorists” but inevitably kill more civilians, including many children.
Their use is a violation of human rights and has sabotaged peace negotiations between the Pakistani government and representatives of the Taliban.
The US provides no evidence, no trial and no defence for those it accuses of terrorism – just an instant death sentence for them and anyone else who happens to be near them. In many cases groups of children and or field workers have been assessed to be terrorists by those remote controllers in charge of the drones and blown to pieces.
Earlier this month the German government has suspended the purchase of armed drones on the grounds that it “categorically rejects illegal killings.”
This follows a report by Amnesty International that accused Merkel’s government of aiding the US with drone strikes in Pakistan and a campaign in Germany against the use of drones.
US drone attacks have resulted in deaths of innocent civilians and extra judicial killings of suspected militants in Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan. These attacks violate human rights, are classed as a “war crime” by the United Nations and violate Pakistan’s sovereignty.
Amnesty International stated in its recent report, Will I be next?’ US drone strikes in Pakistan that Pakistan government sources confirm the US has launched 330 to 374 drone strikes in Pakistan between 2004 and September 2013.
According to these sources, between 400 and 900 civilians have been killed in these attacks and at least 600 people have been seriously injured with life changing injuries.
The PTI has been very vocal regarding its opposition of drone attacks in Pakistan since they first started in 2004. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) believes that drones are not only in violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, they are also a major hurdle for the way to peace and stability within Pakistan.
Monday, December 02, 2013
LONDON’S Conway Hall was once again the venue of the tenth annual conference of the Labour Representation Committee where left-wing Labour Party members – and a few others including delegates from the New Communist Party which affiliated to the LRC in February 2005.
And NCP comrades ran a joint New Worker/Searchlight stall throughout the day of debate on the most pressing issues facing the Labour and trade union movement.
Numbers were a little down this year but there were a number of other events on the same day – a march against drones and a march to demand the release of Shaker Aamer to name just two – which left activists thinly spread between events.
The conference was opened by John McDonnell MP presenting the National Committee statement, covering the long list of topics mentioned in the statement.
He was followed by journalist Owen Jones and Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the civil service union PCS.
There were many resolutions concerning the Fire Service cuts and firefighters’ pensions, the privatisation of the Royal Mail, energy prices, fracking, benefit cuts, defending the link between the unions and the Labour Party and many more.
Few were controversial but an emergency motion on Grangemouth and the privatisation of the Royal Mail from Brent and Harrow LRC led to a heated debate.
The motion was moved with passion by Graham Durham, who began by pointing out that he had been to many recent meetings of the LRC, the People’s Assembly and other forums of the left and heard exactly the same speeches from McDonnell, Jones and others but the fine words had failed to prevent the disaster of the defeat of Unite, Britain’s largest union, at Grangemouth or the privatisation of the Royal Mail.
This was the wrong message to deliver to a room of very hard-working activists, many looking well weary but still fighting. And it was unjustified. Grangemouth and the privatisation of the Royal Mail were indeed defeats for the working class but those present were not culpable.
Since the defeat of the miners’ strike, the passing of anti-union laws and the fall of the Soviet Union we have suffered 30 years of working class retreat and demoralisation but it is not the fault of those activists who have done all in their power to hold the line and are at last now beginning to have a few successes.
These include the vote in the House of Commons in September against going to war with Syria and court battles that have stopped, for the time being, cuts to Lewisham Hospital, the rescue of the Independent Living Allowance and the ruling that compulsory workfare was illegal. All proving that campaigning and activism are worthwhile and can succeed.
But the masses of the working class are not yet properly woken up and mobilised and there may be more defeats like Grangemouth. But as the oppression of the working class is ratcheted up by our greedy and callous ruling class the anger and the level of mobilisation have to grow and defeats can be reversed. It’s all a matter of numbers out on the streets – and even more important, out on strike.
There were other problems with the motion – it wanted to affiliate the LRC to the Grass Roots Left faction in Unite – and apart from the opening statement most of the motion was rejected by conference.
The afternoon session included a debate on Syria. The LRC has taken a principled position of opposing all imperialist aggression in the Middle East (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Iran) and Libya.
But there was some controversy over the attitude to the leaderships of these countries under attack, some feeling that in addition to the imperialist propaganda they had to add their own barbs.
How is it that left-wingers can see through the vile demonization by the ruling class media against figures like Len McCluskey and Bob Crow but believe every allegation made against Assad and Gaddafi?
There is still clearly a strong influence from Trotskyism that anyone elected to the leadership of a country, a union or a movement automatically turns into a monster on taking office and must be brought down – an attitude that is bound to doom any working class mobilisation.
This was reflected in what the movers conceded was a badly worded motion, which the NCP and its supporters could not support, and it was easily defeated.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
ANTI-FASCIST and anti-racist activists and academics gathered last Saturday at the Bishopsgate Institute in London’s East End to debate the rising threat of extreme right-wing ideas throughout Europe and the western world and how to confront it.
The conference was called by the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, which it marking its 50th year. Searchlight editor Gerry Gable told the New Worker that “many people when looking at the far right do not see beyond the British National Party and the English Defence League”.
These organisations have suffered serious setbacks in recent years – largely because of the hard work of anti-fascists and anti-racists going round and knocking on doors wherever the BNP has been standing in elections to counter the lies put out by the BNP – and by turning out in huge numbers wherever the EDL declares it intends to march, not to fight but simply to block them.
Bothe the BNP and the EDL are declining but that does not mean that the threat has gone away.
Two recent conferences in London were organised by people who are re-inventing fascism for the modern era. One was facilitated by the Traditional Britain Group – which has links with the right-wing of the Tory Party and provides a bridge with the new fascists in same way and the Monday Club used to. The other was fully organised by the TBG.
The first, on 12th October, is entitled “The end of the present world: the post-American century and beyond”, and will feature the infamous Russian fascist Alexander Dugin and Alain de Benoist, the French New Right philosopher and writer who for the past 40 years has tried to influence the extreme-right agenda and organisations internationally.
A week later the TBG’s day-long conference entitled “The future of the nation state”, brought together a range of extremist participants.
Among the most concerning is the rise of Generation Identity – an extreme right wing “intellectual” group that is growing across Europe, including Britain, and is re-inventing eugenics.
A leading voice in Generation Identity is Markus Willinger, who has written Generation Identity: A Declaration of War Against the ’68ers, is trying to undo all the reforms, all the advances against racism, sexism, homophobia and general intolerance that have been made since the 1960s, which he refers to as “cultural Marxism”.
And we could be seeing the influence of these ideas in the Con-Dem coalition’s demonization of the long-term sick and disabled as “scroungers” – and some of the outrageously racist and sexist utterances of various Tory councillors and UK Independence Party “loose cannons”.
Last Saturday’s conference began with a debate on the role of the trade unions in resisting fascism and racism that was chaired by Megan Dobney, regional secretary of the South East Region TUC.
Speakers at this session included Kay Carberry, who is assistant general secretary of the TUC, Mohammed Taj, a Bradford bus driver and a member of Unite who is the TUC’s first Asian President, Jo Rust from King’s Lynn trades council and Cathy Pound who is [Searchlight’s] trade union liaison officer.
The second session dealt with the “No Platform” policy chaired by Aaron Kiely, the National Union of Students Black Students’ officer and included speakers Dr Matthew Feldman who c-directs the Centre for Fascist, Anti-Fascist and Post Fascist Studies at Teesside University, Kyaz Mughal, founder and co-director of Faith Matters, veteran [Searchlight] activist Paul Crofts and journalist Tim Lezzard.
Session three was entitled: “Education in the front-line of the defence of young people” chaired by Dr Paul Jackson of the University of Northampton. Speakers included teacher David Rosenberg, Paul Mackney, former general secretary of the lecturers’ union Natfhe until it merged with AUT to become UCU, Kevin Courtney, the deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, and Dagenham teacher Dominic Byrne who a long history of campaigning against racism.
The fourth and final session, on building a stronger, non-sectarian front of mutual support, was chaired by Gerry Gable. Speakers included Bob Archer, president of Redbridge NUT, Ulrike Schmidt, a musician, instrument-maker, teacher and Activist for Amnesty specialising in campaigning against the persecution suffered by the Roma community in Europe, Daphne Liddle from the New Communist Party, Steve Hart of the trade union think-tank Class and chair of Unite Against fascism, Jo Caldwell, a leader of the very successful We Are Waltham Forest, which formed to keep the EDL out of the borough but now also campaigns against cuts and Maria Nikolakaki, Associate Professor of Education at the University of the Peloponnese in Greece and an active anti-fascist.