Wednesday, July 27, 2005

BNP crashes in Barking and Leicester

by Daphne Liddle

THE NEO-Nazi British Nationalist Party last week were well beaten in local council by-elections in the Becontree ward of Barking and Dagenham in east London and in the Beaumont Leys ward of Leicester.
The BNP in Becontree tried to benefit from stirring up Islamophobia in the wake of the London bombings, using an official election leaflet showing the bombed bus and an illegal hate sticker that used the council’s logo.
But the voters were not taken in and voted overwhelmingly against the BNP.

few willing

The BNP were very short-handed with very few activists willing to turn out. They ran a campaign that seemed intent on confrontation and a gang of them threatened Councillor Jeff Porter and his wife with violence.
Jeff works as a train driver on the London Underground and was driving one of the trains involved in the bombings on the 7th of July. Despite his cab being damaged he managed to lead his passengers to safety and this was covered in the national and international press.
So the BNP threats to him rebounded in the local campaign, making the fascists more unpopular than ever.
Local anti-fascists in the community group Barking and Dagenham Together had leafleted every home in the ward twice over.
On election day the BNP acted aggressively and broke the law by distributing leaflets within the precincts of polling stations.
Labour candidate Alok Agrawal polled 1,171 votes – 59.8 per cent of the total while the BNP candidate won only 378. The Conservative won 283 and UKIP 125.
Angered by their defeat, the BNP became vicious and a female member punched Councillor Val Rush, the Labour election agent and a grandmother.
Several witnesses saw the assault and it was caught on CCTV and charges are expected to follow.
In the Beaumont Leys ward of Leicester Labour candidate Violet Dempster polled 962 votes, the Conservatives 342, the Liberal Democrats 295 and the BNP just 161.
Meanwhile there has been a serious rise in hate attacks on Muslims throughout Britain since the London bombings.
In the worst case, a week ago a Muslim man was beaten to death by racists in Nottingham.
Dev Barrah of the Greenwich Council for racial Equality told the New Worker of a steep rise in attacks, perpetrated by a very small number of racists.

petrol bomb

In one instance a petrol bomb was thrown through the window of a Sikh temple in Belvedere in the London Borough of Bexley, though it failed to ignite. And a Buddhist centre in Deptford has been covered in anti-Islamic graffiti.
The National Front was allowed to conduct an anti-Islamic march in Westminster last Saturday. Anti-fascists are not so surprised at the National Front wanting to perform this thinly veiled incitement to race violence. But we are surprised at the police and the Mayor of London allowing this outrage.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Labour Representation Conference

by Caroline Colebrook

“DON’T try to tell us that the United States war in Iraq played no part in the London bombings,” said Labour MP John McDonnell, chair of the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) in his opening comments at its annual general meeting and conference in London last Saturday.
The conference, of left Labour Party members, MPs and trade unionists who want to restore the Labour Party to its original socialist roots, began with a minute’s silence in memory of those killed by bombs in London, Baghdad and Fallujah.
The New Communist Party is affiliated to the LRC as an associate organisation and four NCP delegates – Mike Fletcher, Ken Ruddock, Daphne Liddle and Andy Brooks – attended.
The morning session, chaired by LRC vice chair Maria Exall, of the conference dealt with domestic policy as laid out in a policy document with additional motions on defending the Royal Mail from privatisation, fighting civil service job cuts, rail safety and an emergency resolution on the London bombings.
Debate was launched by platform speakers Michael Meacher, National Union of Journalists general secretary Jeremy Dear and Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack.
Michael Meacher spoke on the need for socialist ideology and stressed that a labour government should not be the servant of big business.
Matt Wrack spoke of the need to find a way for those who have left or disaffiliated from the Labour Party to be able to work together with comrades inside the party for common goals.
There were many contributions from the floor and a great sense of general agreement on all the issues being debated. The domestic part of the main policy statement and other motions were all passed unanimously.
One delegate from the RMT warned that the Government is trying to cut down on the number of safety reps on the Tube and reverse the regulations introduced after the Kings Cross fire. Risk assessment will be left to the discretion of station managers “leading to cost-driven corner cutting”.
This session ended with speeches from Katy Clark MP, Paul Mackney of the lecturers’ union Natfhe and PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka.
Paul Mackney attacked tuition fees, introduced by a government that includes many former radicals from the National Union of Students. He said this will lead to the exclusion of the working class from higher education “to the benefit of dimmer and dimmer members of the upper classes”.
The afternoon session covered foreign policy and the structural organisation of the LRC. The session was kicked off by Bob Wareing MP and veteran left Labour politician Tony Benn.
It covered nuclear weapons and Nato, support for Venezuela and the occupation of Iraq and then the LRC organisational statement.
Again, the main policy document, all resolutions and the LRC constitution were endorsed.
New Communist Party delegates made two interventions – on the need for solidarity and respect for the sovereignty of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in face of US aggression and on the need to work in trades councils.
Jeremy Corbyn MP made the final speech and the conference ended with the singing of The Red Flag. Throughout the conference all those attending were addressed as “comrade” and a genuinely comradely atmosphere prevailed.
There was little internal controversy as this new pressure group set itself in motion. Useful contacts were made, views and political papers were exchanged and delegates left having achieved important steps.

Honouring the International Brigaders

by Robert Laurie
LAST SATURDAY saw many members and supporters of the International Brigade Memorial Trust gather at the memorial in London’s Jubilee Gardens to the British anti-fascist volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War.
 Only a handful of veterans survive but the numbers attending grow yearly, thanks to the hard work of the trust in keeping the memory of the Brigaders alive.
  The ceremony was presided over by Jack Jones, the former general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, who remains president of the trust. A roll of honour of recently deceased Brigaders was read before Jack Edwards laid a wreath at the memorial.
Another veteran, Sam Russell spoke movingly of a recent ceremony at the site of the Battle of the Ebro where the Brigaders fought their last major battle. A new memorial, paid for by Unison, to the fallen of the International Brigade has just been erected.
 Sam recalled that the ground was so hard that the dead could not be buried. Instead the bodies had to be covered with stones. It is only in recent years that the Spanish government and local authorities have permitted the establishment of memorials to Franco’s opponents.
One welcome feature of the Ebro ceremony was that the British Government sent Madrid and Barcelona-based diplomats thus giving the Brigaders long overdue recognition.
Campaigning journalist John Pilger then gave an excellent speech, which he began by paying tribute to Martha Gellhorn, whose reports from Spain inspired him to follow his chosen career.
 Pilger stated that both then and now the most dangerous people were not the strutting uniformed fascists but the “respectable” power-hungry and greedy people behind them. 
A rousing rendition of the Internationale concluded the ceremony before veterans and supporters headed off for refreshments and further reminiscences.

Their war, our dead!

by Renée Sams

NEARLY 1,000 people gathered in Russell Square last Sunday not far from where the suicide bombers killed over 50 people on 7th July. The gathering was held in the street beside the gardens as Camden Council had refused to permission to hold the speeches in the gardens.
The event was called by the Stop the War Coalition to support the Muslim community and to express condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives. One minute’s silence was held and many people left flowers.
There was wide support for the meeting from trade unionists in London Amicus, the General Municipal and Boilermakers’ union, Transport and General Workers’ Union, Labour Against the War, Respect and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), Military Families Against the War, and many ordinary Londoners who were shocked by the horror of the bombs.

not stop

Andrew Murray said that the Stop The War Coalition was proud to work with MAB and he affirmed that: “We will not stop campaigning; we are still going to fight for the withdrawal of the troops.”
Peter Brearly, the father of a soldier killed in Iraq, said that initially he had been proud of his son going to war, but since his death he had thought a lot about it and he is now convinced that we must withdraw the armed forces from Iraq.
“Blair is not going to do anything about the war Iraq” he said, “or tell us the truth about what caused it. We have been told lie after lie and now we have got to have the truth.”
A speaker from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said, “We stand in solidarity with the Muslim community. Every heart goes out to them.” And she continued: “The Government is now trying to pass the buck to the intelligence community but they are not the root cause behind these terrible incidents.”
The Government will not acknowledge the link between the bombing incidents and their foreign policy of supporting the US and the war in Iraq.
“The only way we can deal with these atrocities,” she said, “is to deal with the causes and demand genuine peace and democracy that is the only way it will be resolved.”
A young Muslim woman from MAB said that she was nervous of getting on buses because she felt the hostility of people who thought that the Muslim community was to blame for the bombing.
She also stressed: “We must be told the truth about Afghanistan and Palestine as well as Iraq.”
A speaker from the TGWU expressed the thanks of many for the wonderful work of the emergency services who have struggled tirelessly to help the injured – and the railway workers who are still endeavouring to restore the underground services in terrible conditions. He made a strong call for the “immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq”.


George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green condemned the bombing as mass murder and said that he did not believe that these acts of terror have no connection with government foreign policy and their support for Bush and the war in Iraq.
Tony Blair maintains that this is “to preserve our way of life”. George said that, “if this is his way of life, it is not our way of life”. And he added “what they do in our name we will not accept without protest”.
To young Muslim men misled into thinking that their deaths could help the situation, he hoped that they would find that “there are better ways to protest than blowing yourself up”.


He said: “We have argued, as did the security services in this country, that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attacks in Britain. Tragically, Londoners have now paid the price of the Government ignoring such warnings.”
He called on the peace movement to redouble its efforts, and in conclusion he called for people to “stand shoulder to shoulder telling the truth because truth is the only way we can get out of this mess”.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


by Daphne Liddle

HOME SECRETARY Charles Clarke last Thursday, a few hours after the bombs that rocked London, admitted that identity cards could not have prevented the tragedy. In the shock of the moment, he was being honest.
But by this Wednesday he was urging the emergency European counter-terrorism summit adopt a plan to compulsorily fingerprint all European Union citizens who have identity cards – bringing their ID card systems up to the biometric detail level of those proposed for Britain.
Tony Blair’s ID card proposals were in deep trouble before the terrorist attacks and losing popularity every day through soaring costs and a growing realisation of the loss of civil liberties involved.
Now, it will be a very brave backbench MP who will stand up to Blair when he insists that, in the light of the attacks, ID cards and other “anti-terrorist” measures are essential.
And recent history has shown we do not have enough very brave backbench MPs.
More to the point, Tory leader Michael Howard has been praising Blair as “calm, resolute and statesmanlike” in the wake of the bombings. There is a possibility that the Tories could drop their opposition to ID cards and the Bill could sail through.


It hardly matters that Blair’s position is totally illogical if his real aim is to prevent terrorism. A raft of anti-terrorist measures passed in the aftermath of 11th September 2001 led to the imprisonment of innocent men in Belmarsh without charge or trial for over two years. Many of them, though now released are still effectively under house arrest.
In the United States the “war on terror” led to similar breaches of human rights culminating in the setting up of the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, the invasion of Afghanistan and eventually to the illegal invasion of Iraq.
None of these “anti-terrorist” measures did anything to end terrorism. They did the opposite. They created fear, anger and desperation in many places that helped the terrorist organisations recruit thousands. They increased the likelihood of terrorism.
The young men who blew themselves up – along with dozens of ordinary Londoners – last Thursday were carrying plenty of things to identify them. They were not trying to hide their identity. If ID cards had been compulsory, they would have had them and it would not have made the slightest difference to what happened.
Blair knows this and so does Clarke. Anti-terrorism is not their real goal – tighter control of the working class is – but they will use the issue of the London bombings as an excuse to force in ID cards and many other breaches of our civil liberties.


Last Wednesday Clarke and Blair presented their European Union counterparts with a 10-point anti-terrorism package that includes the retention of email and telephone records for up to three years.
It also includes all ID cards in Europe carrying an electronic fingerprint. A Home Office official explained: “Identity cards are valid travel documents. We cannot afford to have them be a weak link in international travel.
“A really significant amount of travel within Europe is done not on a passport but on an identity card which is just a piece of cardboard with a photograph attached. It is a weak link. We need to have a standard.”
Tony Bunyan of the civil liberties group Statewatch said: “This proposal, with the others, means that everyone living in the EU and their details are held on an EU-wide database.
“At a time of great tragedy it is all the more important that we act with care and do not bequeath to future generations a society where every movement and every communication is under surveillance.”
Just in case other European countries had any doubts about the proposals, Gordon Brown warned a meeting of EU finance ministers that any country that fails to crack down on “terrorist money laundering” will face the threat of sanctions.
Meanwhile Blair is promising a new draft Counter Terrorism Bill for this autumn.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Bush is also preparing to ratchet up “anti-terrorist” measures, further reducing civil liberties in the US.
Some political analysts believe that last Thursday’s bombings have helped Bush and Blair to lift their failing popularity and remove the focus or world attention from the catastrophe of the occupation of Iraq.
It seems likely now that the bombings were carried out by a group linked to Al Qaeda. That organisation was created and fostered by US imperialism to undermine the socialist government of Najibullah in Afghanistan.
It seems that it is still – indirectly and perhaps inadvertently – helping to strengthen US imperialism.
Britain has, in the last week, celebrated the end of the war to defeat Nazi fascism. Britain suffered heavy bombing in that war, far in excess of anything Al Qaeda could manage. But the British people were not asked or expected to surrender their civil liberties for ever in order to defeat Nazism. There is no logical reason to surrender them now.

Call for tolerance after London bombings

by Caroline Colebrook

LONDON Mayor Ken Livingstone last week responded to last Thursday’s bombings, saying: “I want to say one thing to the world specifically today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at presidents or prime ministers.
“It was aimed at ordinary working class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old.
“It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion or whatever.
“That isn’t an ideology, it isn’t even a perverted faith, it is an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the objective is. They seek to turn Londoners against each other.”
He went on to say that Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack.
Respect leader George Galloway repeated his call to end the occupation of Iraq in his condemnation of the bombings. The east London MP warned: “The loss of innocent lives, whether in this country or Iraq, is precisely the result of a world that has become a less safe and peaceful place in recent years.
“We have worked without rest to remove the causes of such violence from our world. We argued, as did the security services in this country, that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attack in Britain. Tragically Londoners have now paid the price of the Government ignoring such warnings.”
Union leaders also condemned the attacks; TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “These attacks have brought out the best in London’s workforce. Emergency service and transport workers have earned the gratitude and admiration of everyone affected by these outrages.
“We offer our sympathy and condolences to everyone who has suffered in today’s atrocities. They were an indiscriminate attack on the population of one of the world’s most diverse cities.
“We have received messages of support from trade unions around the world including those who have suffered from similar terrorist attacks.
“When the immediate emergency is over, we will look for an opportunity to bring London’s workforce together in all its diversity to show our unity in opposition to terrorism.”
Unison general secretary David Prentis reacted to the explosions in London by saying: “Our sympathy goes out to all those who have lost loved ones in the London transport blasts.
“And our thoughts are with those who have been injured or suffered trauma as a result.
“On behalf of Unison and local communities, our thanks go to all the emergency workers for all they have had to do in London today.
“We pay particular tribute to our health service workers – nurses, paramedics, ambulance workers – who have had to deal with the aftermath of today’s tragic events.”
RMT, London Underground’s biggest union expressed sympathy for the families of the dead and to those injured in today’s explosion and called for a security review of the Tube network.
“These terrible attacks show just how vulnerable commuters and Tube workers are,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.
“Tube workers and the emergency services have responded magnificently and there is now a clear need to review security after such an attack,” Bob Crow said.
Tony Woodley, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, spoke today following the tragic explosions in central London. The TGWU represents thousands of bus workers and support staff in the emergency services.
“Our sympathy and solidarity is with the families of those who have been killed today, and our thoughts with those who have been injured. It is a terrible and shocking day.
“Bus workers in London should be commended for their work on this difficult day, working with Transport for London and bus operators to take buses off the road safely and professionally after the shocking explosion at Tavistock Square. In the coming days and weeks, the TGWU will play its part in assisting security operations, in particular on public transport.
“These awful events will undoubtedly have a wider social and political impact. We will do all we can, together with the rest of the trade union movement, to respond with strength and solidarity.
“Our response as a nation must be consistent with our culture of tolerance, and we will stand together with all communities to resist any expression of division and intolerance.”

Monday, July 11, 2005

Terror in London

London’s transport system was brought to a standstill last Thursday by a wave of terror bombings that killed scores of innocent working people and wounded hundreds more. The New Communist Party of Britain condemns outright the terror bombings of 7th July and expresses its deepest sympathy for all the victims, their families and friends.
No-one knows who was responsible for the terror attack but the Government, from Tony Blair downwards, is assuming it was the work of supporters of Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda movement. If so, the maelstrom of terror that has encompassed the Middle East for decades has now swept Londoners into its path.
Blair and Bush justify Anglo-American imperialism’s offensive against the peoples of the Middle East as a “war against terror”. They claim to be fighting to “root out” the causes of global “terrorism”. But the causes are of their own doing and their names are Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Oil.
Last Thursday innocent London workers experienced the terror that has been part of everyday life for millions of Iraqis, Afghans and Palestinians. Blair denies any link between the invasion of Iraq and the London bombings but even he conceded that “old injustices, poverty and the democratic vacuum” in the Middle East had to be addressed if terror was to be countered effectively. He also praised Muslim leaders at home and abroad who have joined in the public condemnation of London bombings and the shadowy movements that incite and plan these acts of terror. But their remarks went much further than those of the Prime Minister.
In a sermon last Friday, Ayatollah Mohamed Emami-Kashani, dismissed Al Qaeda as a “fake version of Islam” but then added: “Has the British Prime Minister forgotten who Al Qaeda’s parents are? I remind him then that the United States is Al Qaeda’s father and Israel is the mother of that illegitimate child…it was you yourselves who created this group in the name of Islam and therefore the conduct of a child whose father is global arrogance and whose mother is the Israeli butchers should not surprise anyone”.
Fifty years ago the Arabs were breaking the chains of colonialism and dreaming of creating modern democratic states built on the vast oil wealth their lands possessed. Imperialism destroyed that vision by working with feudal elements to smash the communist parties and the national democratic movements led by Nasser and the Baath that stood in their way. Imperialism allied itself with the feudal kings and princes and the reactionary movements in the region, rewarding them with a tiny fraction of the vast profits made from the oil industry. Imperialism nursed and succoured reactionary groups like Al Qaeda to destroy the people’s democracy in Afghanistan. Now the carnage has blown back with a vengeance.
Imperialism is not concerned one iota about the “human rights” they claim to defend. Working people are just expendable pawns to be used whether they live in Baghdad or London.
The overwhelming majority of the world’s known oil reserves are in the Middle East and imperialist control and plunder of this vast source of energy has been the root cause of conflict in the region since 1948. This is what it’s all about.
The Government will, no doubt, be using the bombings to justify the introduction of ID cards and other repressive measures in the next few months. Fascists and Zionist elements will be striving to fan the flames of anti-Arab and anti-Islamic sentiment in its wake.
Only when the real root causes of terrorism are dealt with will the cycle of violence end. There must be a just solution to the Palestinian problem; an end to the occupation of Iraq and the recognition of the right of all countries in the Middle East to control their own natural resources

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Tube firms fined

COMPANIES who were awarded lucrative contracts by the Government to operate the London Underground system and to undertake renovation and renewal of the infrastructure were fined a total of £26.5 million last week for failure to carry out the work.
Tube Lines, which runs the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines was fined £23.32 million. And Metronet BCV, which runs the Bakerloo, Central, Victoria and Waterloo & City lines was fined £11.31 million.
But the total is offset by £9 million in bonuses given to Metronet SSL, which runs the Metropolitan, District, Circle, Hammersmith & City and East London lines.
The fines were revealed by London Mayor Ken Livingstone in answer to a question tabled in the Greater London Assembly.
Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson Geoff Pope said: “the amount clawed back in fines for all the misery tube commuters have suffered is just a drop in the ocean.
“The tube maintenance firms are failing miserably to deliver on the pledged improvements for the Underground and yet the penalties charged are small change compared to the cash given to them to upgrade the Underground.
“All the evidence shows the deal struck by this Labour government was ill-conceived and poorly implemented.