Friday, April 29, 2005

Long Live May Day!

Imperialist flies conquer the flypaper

THIS week we celebrate May Day, Workers’ Day, along with millions of other workers all around the world. We also celebrate the 30th anniversary of the victory of the people of Vietnam, led by their Communist Party, against the forces of United States imperialism.

This is a very important victory for the whole world’s working class because it proved that in spite of having vastly superior weapons and financial resources; the imperialists could not defeat the will of the ordinary people of Vietnam.

Washington threw everything it had at Vietnam: years of massive bombing, gassing, napalm, Agent Orange, massacres of civilians, lies and deceit. Warmonger Kissinger could not believe the people of Vietnam did not have the breaking point he was seeking.

The Americans were bewildered. They could easily win all the big, set piece battles but lost the war. Ho Chi Minh and General Giap, like Mao Zedong and Kim Il Sung before them, rewrote the rule book on war, leaving the experts of West Point, Sandhurst and the Japanese military academy at Ichigaya Heights in despair.

The imperialists believed that when they marched in and took over a country, that was the end of the matter. But it was only the beginning. To quote Steinbeck in The Moon is Down, it was just the flies conquering the flypaper. The harder they went in, the more they were stuck, prisoners of their own adventurism.

They are learning the lesson again today in Iraq, where the imperialist invaders are afraid to venture outside their small, heavily guarded enclaves. With hindsight we can see that Saddam, who was no Marxist, was mistaken to comply with imperialist-imposed weapons bans and United Nations inspections. It made Iraq more likely to get invaded, not less.

Democratic Korea, Iran and Syria have noted that lesson.

But Saddam did one wise thing, when he could see that invasion was inevitable, he armed the ordinary people so they could continue the fight after the Americans and British thought they had won. Now they never can win. They are stuck on the flypaper as firmly as they were in Vietnam and cannot find a way out.

Way back in 1973, Salvador Allende knew the US imperialists, led by Nixon, were plotting a coup to bring down his socialist government. Castro advised him to arm the people but he was afraid to do so because it might spark a civil war and bloodbath. The bloodbath came anyway after the Pinochet coup.

The lesson is that appeasing the imperialists does not prevent bloodshed. But history is showing that those who have the courage to stand and fight, however long it takes, in the end, cannot be defeated. There can be no doubt the sacrifices made by the Vietnamese people and now the Iraqi people have been enormous. But the alternative – accepting conquest, oppression, exploitation, poverty and all the associated illness and misery would be even worse.

Next week we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. This was brought about by a broad alliance of many anti-fascist forces. Chief among them was the Red Army – the armed manifestation of the mighty working class of the Soviet Union. May is a good month for workers’ power.

“The people, united, can never be defeated” is no meaningless mantra. The imperialists, in spite of all their money, their vast weaponry, their technology and their spies, do not own the future of this planet. That belongs to the workers of the world.

Long live May Day!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

London News

PFI schools stuck with junk dinners

by Caroline Colebrook

THE GOVERNMENT last month promised to impose new nutritional standards for school dinners after the television series by campaigning chef Jamie Oliver revealed the appalling standard of food served in many schools and the effects it has on children’s health and ability to learn.
But some 450 schools are likely to exempt from the new standards because they are tied into 25-year contracts with private suppliers of ready cooked food and cannot withdraw without heavy financial penalties.
These are all schools built or renovated under private finance initiative schemes and are tied into long-term contracts with private catering companies.
Many of these schools have been built without proper on-site kitchens so they cannot opt to have freshly cooked healthy meals prepared at the schools. They only have facilities to re-heat the junk food supplied to them by the contract caterers.
The problem came to light when a campaign group was set up in the London Borough of Merton after the Jamie Oliver TV series on to demand better school meals in the borough.
The campaigners found that six new PFI schools are likely to be exempt from the new guidelines because of their long-tern contracts with caterers.
The schools are locked into 25-year contracts with a company called New Schools. This has sub-contracted all its services for 25 years to Atkins Asset Management, which in turn has sub-contracted the catering for the schools to Scholarest catering.
This company was featured in the Jamie Oliver television programmes as one of the main suppliers of junk food.
When Oliver interviewed a company representative he was told that Scholarest supplied the highly processed, high-fat, high-salt low-nutrition food because they had to give a choice and that was what children liked.
But Oliver pointed out that young children do not understand their own nutritional needs. Fed only on junk food, they are reluctant to try the proper, freshly cooked food, including fruit and vegetables they so desperately need.

grow to like

Once junk food is removed from the options, the children quickly grow to like the better quality food.
But the junk food is cheap to supply. Oliver highlighted the problems faced by schools that can often only spend 37 pence per meal on ingredients. The Government has now agreed to raise this to 50 pence last this year.
Roger Casale, the Labour MP for Wimbledon, next door to Merton, has been working on a report on PFI schools for Education Minister Stephen Twigg before the election was called.
He said: “There is a great deal of room for improvement” in Merton’s school meals. “For contractors what matters is the bottom line.
“But it isn’t just about getting food on plates as quickly and cheaply as possible. There are wider issues involved and we don’t know how far they were taken into account when contracts were drawn up. We are in new territory here with PFI contracts.”
Many of the PFI school contracts include the PFI companies putting vending machines for junk food snacks and fizzy drinks around the school. If they are removed, any resulting financial loss to the companies will be cut from the school budgets.
Some schools that are not PFI schools are also locked into long-tern contracts with private caterers and could face “substantial financial penalties” if they try to withdraw.

tied into

Schools in the London Borough of Islington are tied into a five-year contract with Scholarest by CEA – the organisation brought in to run education in the borough after the Government decided that the local education authority was “failing”
One school reported that if it withdrew from the contract with Scholarest it would be legally obliged to compensate the company for any loss of expected profits.
Currently CEA is considering a plan for all Islington schools to opt out of the Scholarest contract a year early in 2006.
Meanwhile the Merton campaigning group is faced with a bewildering complex of contracts and subcontracts, unable to work out where the responsibility lies.
Jackie Schneider, a parent who is part of the campaign, said: “Judging by the response we have had, this is clearly a concern among parents and governors across the borough.
“The unbalanced diet in our schools is affecting the health of our children now, and will damage their health for years. They deserve better.”
The campaign has had an uphill battle to get drinking water available at mealtimes in one of the schools, as an alternative to sugary fizzy drinks.
Scholarest says its 25-year catering contract with Merton is subject to five-yearly “commercial review” but said it was not aware of any complaints about its food.

London police sacked after race crimes

TWO METROPOLITAN police constables were dismissed from the force recently after being found guilty of racially aggravated crimes on separate occasions. Both officers were off duty when they committed their crimes.
David Davies was found guilty at the Guildhall Magistrates Court after an incident at Piccadilly Circus Underground station. He had been drinking when he barged into the operations room and demanded that station staff call the police. He kicked, punched and racially abused the black station supervisor.
He received a one-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £750 compensation. Later an internal disciplinary board demanded his resignation from the Met.
PC Stuart Inglis was sacked from the Met last month after being found guilty at Lancaster Magistrates Court of racially aggravated disorder. He was fined £250 and ordered to pay £50 compensation to the victim.

Monday, April 25, 2005

A CITY FIT FOR ALL -- not just the Olympics!

On the surface London is a great international city with a booming economy. But Londoners know you only have to scratch the surface to reveal the poverty, exploitation, pollution, the run-down, over-priced tube, and a growing drug and crime problem.
London benefits from Britain’s massive imbalance in wealth, with jobs and money concentrated in the capital. But it also reflects the increasing gap between rich and poor under New Labour, now the highest for over a century.
Some of the worst poverty in Britain is in London. According to Barnardo’s, 54 per cent of children in London are living in poverty. Many pensioners, students, unemployed, asylum seekers and people with disabilities struggle to maintain themselves in London.
Unemployment is among the highest in the country, and London contains several of Britain’s poorest boroughs. There are plenty of jobs, but these are mainly for the well educated, or very poorly paid. London has the highest proportion of ethnic minorities, who experience higher levels of unemployment and poverty.
While house prices continue to rocket, the shortage of affordable social housing grows. Many are left to the mercy of the insecure and extortionate private rented market, while the wealthy move further afield to buy up property, driving ordinary working people out of the market.
High streets in prosperous areas are being taken over by estate agents, and almost the entire length of London’s river has been colonised for luxury flat complexes. Meanwhile large areas of the inner city are urban wastelands - the areas where those who create London’s wealth live.
The newly restored Greater London Authority under Ken Livingstone has been generally popular, but there is a huge credibility gap between Londoners and many local councils. They are seen as distant, undemocratic and often corrupt, favouring property developers and private contractors over the interests of their local residents.
New Labour under Blair and Brown showed its contempt for the people of London when privatisation of the underground was forced through against their wishes. While Livingstone has achieved massive improvements in bus services, Londoners will pay the price while huge international conglomerates are guaranteed 30 years of sky-high profits for upgrading the tube system – something which should have been done 25 years ago.
Perhaps this explains why London’s Olympic bid has failed to catch the popular mood in London. Suddenly the government has found money for long-overdue transport improvements, but most Londoners think the millions spent on the Olympics will not benefit them.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Never Again!

Never Again

THROUGHOUT the world governments are honouring the 60th anniversary of the defeat of the Axis with solemn ceremonies to remember those who gave their lives in the struggle to defeat Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan.

In Europe and Asia it’s a time to recall those epic days of liberation from the yoke of fascist oppression and remember the millions who were butchered on the orders of Hitler and Hirohito. But in Japan it’s been marked by the publication of a new school history text book that praises the Imperial army and whitewashes the crimes of past.

Imagine the outrage if the German ruling class had decided to honour the Wehrmacht and SS and dismissed the Holocaust as an “incident” in the school room. Imagine the horror if the German Chancellor had chosen to make an annual pilgrimage to the graves of Hitler, Goering, Goebbels and Himmler.

Yet this is what is happening in Japan today. The war crimes of Hirohito’s legions, that raped, burned and butchered their way across Asia, are ignored. But the books do not mention the war criminals. For the past four years Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi has paid homage at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, a place that honours Class A war-criminals whose hands were stained with the blood of the people of China and other Asian countries.
No wonder the people of China are taking to the streets to express their anger and disgust.

The Soviet sacrifice

The 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany is a time for reflection for all working people. It is a time to remember the sacrifice of millions of people, and in particular the 20 million Soviet workers and peasants, who died in the fight to defeat Hitler fascism and Japanese imperialism. The Axis powers wanted world domination and they committed unspeakable crimes in the Second World War that began in 1939 and only ended in 1945 with the total defeat of the Third Reich and the Japanese Empire.

Though the forces of the United States and the British Empire played an important role in the defeat of fascism it was the undoubted courage and determination of the Soviet people that brought Nazi Germany to its knees and it was equally the final intervention by the USSR against Japan in 1945 that forced the Japanese imperialists to capitulate, regardless of the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The flower of Soviet youth, led by Stalin and the Bolsheviks, sacrificed their lives to preserve their socialist motherland in a titanic struggle against the forces of reaction. They fought the Nazis to a standstill outside the gates of Leningrad and Moscow and then broke the might of the Nazi legions in Stalingrad and Kursk in the war that ended with Hitler dead in his bunker and the Red Flag flying over Berlin.

The finest sons and daughters of the working class of Europe and Asia joined the resistance to the Axis. Underground communist workers in Germany, Italy and the other fascist regimes played a vital role in mobilising the people against the dictatorships and sabotaging the Axis war-effort. Communist partisan units played the major role in the guerrilla struggle against the Axis occupation throughout Europe and led the victorious people’s liberation movements in Yugoslavia and Albania.

But for their sacrifice the Soviet Union would have been destroyed and the world would have been dominated by the most aggressive capitalist circles in Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire. The genocidal policies of the Axis during their brief period of ascendancy show what the future would have been had they won and there can be no doubt that a world run by Adolf Hitler and Emperor Hirohito would have set back civilisation hundreds of years.

The struggle and sacrifice of millions upon millions of working people destroyed the Axis. We must never forget them nor must we forget the cause that motivated them in the tremendous effort that led to victory in 1945. They fought for peace and a new tomorrow.

We must keep up the fight for a better tomorrow, the world that Marx and Engels dreamed of; the world that Lenin and Stalin built; a world without war; a world without oppression or exploitation; a world worthy of the sacrifices made by the past generations that we honour today.

New Worker editorial
22nd April 2005

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

New Worker London News

London vigil for trade justice

THOUSANDS of campaigners, including leading trade unionists, last weekend staged an overnight candlelit vigil in Whitehall, London to demand trade justice for the world’s poorest workers.
The vigil was organised by the Trade Justice Movement as part of a Global Week of Action for Trade Justice. It was followed by an early morning march from Westminster Abbey to Downing Street.
The Trade Justice Movement is a coalition of 65 progressive organisations based in Britain, representing nine million people, including the Fair Trade Foundation, Make Poverty History and Friends of the Earth.
The event began at Westminster Abbey with readings and performances from the many celebrities who supported the event, including Ronan Keating, Vanessa Redgrave, Pete Postlethwaite and Beverley Knight.
Also present was Pauline Grant, representing the public sector union Unison. She said: “I’m proud to be representing the trade union movement at the finale of this global week of action on trade justice.
“Unison has been actively campaigning against the GATS trade agreement, so it is important that we are here alongside other campaigners, calling together for international trade rules that benefit poor people and the environment.”
The campaigners made three main demands on the Government, calling on it to:
• Fight to ensure that governments, particularly in poor countries, can choose the best solutions to end poverty and protect the environment;
• End export dumping that damages the livelihoods of poor communities around the world;
• Make laws that stop big business profiting at the expense of people and the environment.

The campaign has already won some policy changes from the Government. Hilary Benn, the Secretary of State for International Development has agreed that his department “will not make UK aid conditional on specific policy decisions by partner governments, or attempt to impose policy choices on them, including on sensitive economic areas such as privatisation and liberalisation.”
In addition Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt has pledged that each African, Caribbean and Pacific regional group should make its own decisions “on the timing, pace, sequencing and product coverage of market opening, in line with individual countries’ national development plans and poverty reduction strategies.”
Unison assistant international officer Polly Jones said: “These changes are very significant for the campaign. They show that Make Poverty History is a truly just campaign, and one with some bite.”
The demands of the campaign are highlighting the real causes of poverty in the poorer countries. But the demands it is making on our elected government – that capitalism should stop exploiting the poor and cease to be capitalism – are beyond its power to deliver.
If this results in a greater awareness of the limits of bourgeois democracy and the need for an end to capitalism/imperialism and its replacement with socialism, it will be an important step forward.

Council sets quota for Asbos

THE LONDON Borough of Camden has set its staff quotas for the number of anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) they are expected to win.
Last week it emerged that the local authority’s 50 housing managers have been told they must help bring at least one Asbo case a year.
Currently the council and local police are pushing ahead with plans for an Asbo to be imposed on a 12-year-old boy. So far the council has successfully imposed 150 Asbos.
But now pressure is mounting on the council to review its policies after 200 protesters met in Friends Meeting House in Euston Road to launch the pressure group Asbo Concern. This coincided with Camden Labour Party launching its election campaign.
Dame Helena Kennedy QC was the guest speaker. “They are being used inappropriately,” she said. “They started out as an honourable intention but have had a dishonourable outcome. They were meant to be used as a last resort but all too often they are being used as a first resort.”

Friday, April 15, 2005

Nationalise Rover now!

IT’S NOT ALL OVER at MG Rover but it soon will be unless the Government takes decisive action to guarantee continued production at Longbridge. The unions are focusing the workers’ demands on trying to revive bail-out deal talks with the Chinese Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) while protesting at the pitiful levels of redundancy payments currently on the table.

Rover was losing between £20 to £25 million a month before it crashed last week. The Chinese rescue plan, which would have given SAIC 75 per cent of the holding in return for investments that would shift some production to People’s China and enable Rover to develop badly needed new models in Britain, now looks as dead as the dodo.

A massive injection of public money to underwrite the ailing motor works could make it more attractive to SAIC, the Chinese publicly-owned motor manufacturing giant, which pulled out of the deal when it realised that it might have pick up the £400 million bill to cover MG Rover’s pension fund liabilities. But the chances of reviving the talks with SAIC are slim now that Rover’s gone into administration, a form of bankruptcy.

Though the unions are right to concentrate on immediate demands that might save the livelihoods of over 6,000 Midlands workers and a further 20,000 employed by Rover’s suppliers the only solution that can guarantee continued employment at the Longbridge plant is nationalisation. This is what the Labour Government did in 1975 when it effectively nationalised the old British Leyland Motor Corporation to stave off bankruptcy.

British Leyland was once a manufacturing giant owning nearly 40 manufacturing plants across the country. The process of asset-stripping and sell-out began when it was still under state-control and continued after BL was privatised by the Tories in 1988. But everyone who owned Leyland’s, down to the rump MG Rover company which is its direct successor, made fortunes except for the workers who built all the cars.

The vultures who bought the MG Rover Group for £10 five years ago, in another “rescue” operation, milked it for around £160 million to cover their own pay and pension contributions. While there’s pressure to get them to disgorge some of their loot to help the company’s creditors, this is little comfort to the workers who have been told that the most they can expect from redundancy is £280 for each year of service up to a maximum of 12 years.

The capitalists and their “New Labour” apologists claim that private enterprise is for the good of the country and the workers. MG Rover proves that all capitalism is good for is the capitalists themselves. They make their millions out of the labour of others and the workers just get their weekly wage to make a living and leave the factory no better off than when they first clocked in.

Britain’s manufacturing base can only survive through massive re-investment but the capitalist class as a whole see no purpose in diverting their fortunes into this arena when there are much richer pickings to be made through speculation and overseas investment.

Nationalising MG Rover would safeguard production and enable a new public company to resume joint-venture talks with Shanghai Automotive on a realistic basis. But nationalising the plant by itself would not solve the long-term problems of the British manufacturing. Only the nationalisation of the entire motor industry and the entire manufacturing base, including the high-tech aerospace industry can secure a future for the workers.

The restoration of the old public sector as it existed in 1979, including the entire telecom industry would provide millions for the modernisation of our factories, the restoration of the National Health Service and the provision of a decent standard of living for every worker in a country that we are constantly told is the fourth richest in the world.

Friday, April 08, 2005

John Paul II

Pope John Paul II

JOHN PAUL II became a part of the fabric of life of the late 20th century. To some people he was Christ’s representative on earth. He himself certainly believed that he had been chosen by a higher power to lead humanity on to a different path.
But he has left behind a Church that, because of his political agenda, finds itself increasingly on the margins of European society. Every reactionary and traditionalist movement within the Church claims John Paul as their friend and supporter.
Every progressive Catholic organisation has suffered years of isolation and exclusion at the hands of a man who refused to enter into dialogue and believed his job was to teach, not to listen.
At his death, John Paul must have realised that all his plans had turned to dust. Rather like King Canute, his promoters held him up as an invincible force who could stem the tides of human history and development.
At the time of his election in 1978, the arrival of a Polish pope was openly welcomed by the bourgeoisie as a tremendous Trojan horse that would undermine the socialist bloc from within. John Paul certainly had the same agenda, but he never recognised the sinister forces that were manipulating him. A utopian idealist, the new Pope believed that he had to bring down the socialist governments of Eastern Europe and replace them with some sort of earthly paradise.
Unfortunately for him, the capitalists of the United States and Western Europe were only interested in using him to achieve their own ends, which was the re-establishment of unbridled market forces and the complete destruction of everything that had been achieved since the October revolution.
The co-operation between the Vatican and the CIA in promoting and financing the counter-revolutionary "Solidarity" movement in Poland was just the first step in a truly unholy alliance in which the Pope worked with the most unprincipled forces on the planet.
Elsewhere in the World, John Paul certainly received rapturous welcomes wherever he travelled, but his countless visits had little lasting impact. One obstacle was that the Pope always came amongst his faithful as one who expected to be obeyed. He was promoted as some sort of religious superstar, and people responded accordingly, but fewer and fewer felt that he had anything valid to say about their lives.
At a recent World Youth Day rally in Paris, the organisers were amazed that the thousands of young people who had so enthusiastically cheered the Pope during the day were the same ones who the following morning left the campsite littered with used condoms.
The Pope’s increasing obsession with sexual issues, with the ban on artificial contraception and the place of women and gays within the Church and within society as a whole were all attempts to close the stable door after the horse had bolted. Few people bothered to actively oppose the Church, but the Church became increasingly irrelevant.
Despite his endless speeches about the dignity of the human person, several events called into question the Pope’s judgement. During John Paul’s visit to Chile, many people were astounded by scenes of him laughing and joking with the military dictator Augusto Pinochet in the Moneda palace in Santiago. This was the same building where Pinochet’s gunmen had murdered the democratically elected president Salvador Allende. Such open support for a fascist regime was in marked contrast to his public humiliation and condemnation of progressive priests who served in the popular government of Nicaragua following the Sandinista revolution, that for a few years brought liberty and development to that tragic corner of Latin America.
So many of Pope John Paul’s dreams turned sour. His greatest mistake was to believe that the Church could somehow ignore the laws of human social development and economics. He made the calculation that he could control the course of events in eastern Europe, whereas he ended up being cast aside by the international capitalists for whom he had acted as a useful stooge.
The end of the Soviet Union has brought misery and poverty to countless millions, and the Church has proved to be just as irrelevant in the East as it now is in the West. Perhaps if John Paul had been content to serve simply as a humble follower of Jesus, rather than fancy himself as a world statesman, he himself would have found greater happiness and the World would be a better place.

Karol Wojtyla was born near Kracow in 1920 and appointed Archbishop of Kracow in 1964. Elected Pope in 1978 he survived an assassination attempt in 1981 and died in Rome in 2005.

New Worker Editorial 8th April 2005

The election race has begun

THE New Communist Party will be calling on working people to vote Labour in the general election, not because we support the venal right-wing policies of "New Labour", Blair and Brown, or because we think a Labour government can solve the problems of working people. That isn’t possible in a capitalist "democracy". It is simply the best possible outcome in the current circumstances.
In our view a Labour government, with the yet unbroken links with the Labour Party, the trade unions and the co-operative movement, offers the best option for the working class in the era of bourgeois parliamentary democracy. Our strategy is for working class unity and our campaigns are focused on defeating the right-wing within the movement and strengthening the left and progressive forces within the Labour Party and the unions.
Working people have made some gains since Labour returned to office in 1997, gains that would not have happened under the Tories, like the peace process in Ireland, devolution for Scotland and Wales and the restoration of the Greater London Authority, improved terms and conditions for workers and reduced child poverty.
The alternatives, all ultimately based on the revisionist thinking of the old communist party’s "British Road to Socialism", are nothing more than an illusion. Running left candidates against Labour divides the movement and the class. It doesn’t strengthen the left within the Labour Party and ignores the obvious fact that the only realistic alternative governments are those of the Tories or the Liberal Democrats that would be much worse than any Labour government.
Blair & Co hope that the election will force the class to close ranks around their class collaborationist, war party "New Labour" agenda. We must campaign for a Labour victory that strengthens the genuinely progressive and democratic trends within the labour movement that ultimately are the only force that can defeat them.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

New Worker London News

Unions lead fight against BNP

THE ANTI-fascist magazine Searchlight and active trade unions throughout the country are preparing a massive campaign against candidates from the fascist British National Party in the run-up to the 5th May election.
This follows the enormous success of the Dagenham Together day of action last month, which saw 130 volunteers deliver nearly 50,000 newspapers in one day.
Many local trade union activists were among those taking part or lending support in whatever way they could.
Searchlight is arguing that the fight against the BNP should be wider than just the issue of racism. There’s more to stopping fascism than that. Furthermore the fascist doctrines of the BNP are a threat to the entire community – not just racial minorities. In particular they are a threat to workers’ rights.
So it follows logically that the organised working class, the trade unions, are best placed to play a leading role in that struggle.
Searchlight editor Steve Silver wrote: “Our anti-fascism needs to be more than just anti-racism. We have to address people’s concerns in our localities regardless of what they are.
“Whether it is housing, transport, council tax or a myriad of other local issues we need to be a part of a grassroots movement that empowers people to understand that just a little local activism can make a big difference.
“We need to popularise the ideas of collectivism and solidarity as the way of changing things in contrast to the divisiveness of racism.
“The anti-fascist movement needs solid leadership – black and white – and the trade union movement has already demonstrated the potential to give it.”
The newspaper delivered was tailored specifically to Dagenham issues and pointed out that the lone BNP councillor elected to represent the Goresbrook ward has admitted that he simply cannot understand or take part in council meetings. They go right over his head, so as a councillor he has done nothing He has confessed: “There’s little point in me being there. I’m wasting my time”.
The campaign carefully addresses the reasons why some people are tempted to vote for the BNP – mostly it is ignorance of the real nature of the BNP and disillusionment with mainstream parties. And it sets out to overcome that ignorance.
It is obviously having a powerful impact because the fascists are going out of their way to try to slander the campaign.
They claim there were not many people at the local Labour Hall base in Dagenham on the day of action. That’s because they were all out on the streets, scattered in groups throughout the borough, delivering newspapers.
Searchlight veteran Gerry Gable told the New Worker that some people turned up even before the official start of 9am. Many delivered all their papers and then came back to collect more, several times over.
Support from a local Indian restaurant came in the form of free lunches supplied for the campaigners.
Now the election has been declared, similar campaigns will be going on in every constituency where the BNP or other fascists are standing.
The campaign needs all the supporters it can get. So if any of our readers are willing to give up some time to help and play a really important role in the coming election, either get a copy of the April edition of Searchlight, which contains a full list of contacts throughout the country, or contact Searchlight on 020 7681 8660, email or website
Days of action have already been fixed for 9th April in Keighly, 10th April in Burnley, 16th April Bradford South, 17th April Kirklees, 30th April Stoke.
The campaign has also produced a T-shirt, bearing an RAF roundel with the message: “1945 was a victory won by the extraordinary heroism of ordinary people, a defeat for a politics that begins with hate your neighbour and end in gas chambers. Today the fascists’ blackshirts have been swapped for suits, but the danger hasn’t changed. Our shirt reminds them we haven’t forgotten.”

London cleaners target theatre-goers

LOW PAID cleaners who work for multi-billion pound corporations in Canary Wharf, last week took their campaign for better wages to London’s theatre land on Thursday. These giant companies include the bank Morgan Stanley, which owns Canary Wharf.
In particular they leafleted theatre-goers outside the Old Vic where Kevin Spacey is the artistic director. He is to star in the play National Anthems, which is part of a season being sponsored by Morgan Stanley.
The cleaners employed by Morgan Stanley, supported by the Transport and General Workers’ Union, are protesting that they were given a two per cent pay rise, while the bank made profits of $4.49 billion (£2.39 billion).
The bank is sponsoring the Old Vic with £500,000, which the cleaners say could have gone to helping them earn a living wage on £6.70 an hour in Europe’s most expensive capital.

One in seven London workers on poverty pay

ONE IN seven workers in London is paid so little that their income – even taking into account benefits and tax credits – falls below poverty levels, according to the first report of the Living Wage Unit, set up by Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, as a manifesto commitment in 2004.
The report calculates a “poverty threshold wage” for London at £5.80 an hour, well above the minimum wage of £5.05 an hour, to be introduced in October.
The minimum wage falls below poverty levels in London because of the higher costs of living in the capital, especially housing.
A poverty threshold wage does not secure an employee receiving it from poverty. A “living wage” must safeguard a person receiving it from poverty levels. The report said that £6.70 an hour constitutes a living wage in London.
Ken Livingstone said: “These findings show the importance not only of the fight against low pay but indicate why I have laid such stress on the achievement of an adequate supply of affordable housing in London.”
Dave Prentis, the general secretary of the public sector union Unison, said: “These are shocking findings. It’s a scandal that so many people are paid below the poverty threshold in the capital of the fourth richest nation and have to rely on benefits to get by.
“We have long argued that we need a higher minimum wage of at least £6.50 to make work pay, free low-paid workers from in-work benefits and free taxpayers from the burden of subsidising poverty wage employers.”
And Tony Woodley, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, said: “These figures show that low pay remains a real problem in London, which the national minimum wage has not been able to solve. It cannot be right that one worker in five in the capital has to get by on less than a living wage and one in seven is in real, dire poverty.”

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Howard's Flight

Howard’s flight

It’s been fun and games for the Tories this week. One of their leading MPs admits that their election manifesto contained only an edited version of their plans to cut public services and then gets kicked out of the party for spilling the beans.
Speaking at a private function millionaire Tory MP Howard Flight admitted that Conservative plans for cuts had been “sieved” to make them more acceptable to the electorate but that much more could be done after they won the election.
Howard Flight’s remarks were for the Tory faithful – the Thatcherite core who’ve made plenty since 1979 and who want to ensure that the entire burden of the capitalist crisis remains on the backs of the working class.
No one can seriously believe that Tory leader Michael Howard was unaware of the considered views of his deputy chairman who also acted as the Tories chief liaison officer with the financiers of the City of London. But once leaked Howard moved swiftly to boot Flight out of the Conservative party and he’s now running around denying that there is any hidden agenda behind their election promises.
Howard says “we won’t promise one thing before an election and do something else after an election. We won’t say one thing in private and another in public” though that’s what the Tories are all about and Flight thinks he’s done nothing wrong.
Whether Flight remains the Tory candidate for Arundel and South Downs is a matter of complete indifference to working people. But if anyone had any doubts that a Tory government would be infinitely worse than Labour’s they would have been easily dispelled by Howard Flight’s remarks.

Blair into reverse

What a difference a day makes – especially to Blair & Co who now realise they’ve got a fight on their hands to stave off the Liberal Democrats and get Labour’s core working class vote out on election day.
In the past Blair revelled in his ability to ignore the unions and the democratic will of the Labour Party. This was the man who told Labour Conference in 2003 that he could “only go one way. I’ve not got a reverse gear”.
Now he’s backed down over extending the retirement age for the time being. Now he’s promising to extend the right to four weeks paid leave to cover the traditional bank holidays.
Most employers already give their workers 20 days annual leave over and above our national public holidays. Others, the millions in poorly paid and badly organised or non-unionised labour, have their eight bank holidays deducted from their allowance or they are forced to work bank holidays without being given other days off in compensation.
This modest and long-overdue reform hasn’t fallen from the skies. It’s come from pressure from the unions and working people whose votes Blair has to get if Labour is to win a third term in office.
More pressure from the unions and the left of the labour movement must now be exerted to defeat Blair, Brown and all the other craven class-collaborators at the helm of the Labour Party and change the direction of the party and the government towards the demands of the people.