National News

No confidence in Ofsted chief

THE THREE leading teaching unions — the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the National Association of Schoolmasters and Women Teachers (Nasuwt) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) — at their respective annual conferences over the Easter break showed remarkable unanimity in their anger at Education Secretary Michael Gove and his appointee as chief of the education standards watchdog Ofsted, Sire Michael Wilshaw.

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End bedroom tax madness

THOUSANDS of protesters turned out in freezing cold in all major cities throughout Britain last Saturday to show opposition to the iniquitous bedroom tax, which came into force on Monday.

Many are predicting it will become as disastrous to the Cameron government as the poll tax was for Margaret Thatcher.

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Durham miners demand banner back from Stadium of Light

DAVE HOPPER, the general secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association is writing to Sunderland Football Club to demand the return of the Wearmouth Miners’ Banner, which is on permanent display in the Stadium of Light — Sunderland FC’s home ground — in protest at the decision to appoint the self-confessed fascist, Paolo Di Canio, as Sunderland’s head coach.

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Poll tax returns?

THE JOSEPH Rowntree Trust last week warned that council tax reforms introduced on Monday will hit the poorest and most vulnerable who are simultaneously being hit by a perfect storm of other benefit cuts.

Speaking for the trust, Sabrina Bushe argues the changes to council tax create a postcode lottery, with more than two million poor families paying the price.

On Friday the JRF published research conducted by the New Policy Institute on the localisation of Council Tax Benefit (CTB). From 1st April, Council Tax Benefit will be abolished and replaced with schemes devised by local authorities, but with a 10 per cent reduction in spending.

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Doctors warn lives at risk

THE GOVERNMENT was forced to postpone the nationwide extension of the new telephone medical help-line that will replace NHS Direct after doctors warned that the staff taking the calls, who are not medically qualified, had undergone only half of their training.

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NUJ/Bectu strike hits BBC

BBC JOURNALISTS and their colleagues walked out at noon on Easter Thursday in a 12-hour strike against a damaging cost-cutting scheme imposed by management. The action severely disrupted the BBC’s schedules and had a knock-on effect on Easter programming.

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EU chief accuses Britain of xenophobia

NILS MUIZNIEKS, a Latvian human rights activist and political scientist, and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights., has warned British politicians to stop using “shameful rhetoric” to portray Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants as a scourge on society.

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Bullying at the BBC

THE NATIONAL Union of Journalists has called for an end to the bullying culture at the BBC after the tragic suicide of journalist Russell Joslin after reporting sexual harassment at work. The union said he should be remembered as “a valued friend”.

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Sussex students fight outsourcing

by New Worker correspondent

HUNDREDS of students from the University of Sussex descended on London’s Strand last Wednesday to support comrades inside the Law Courts fighting the eviction of a student sit-in.

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Bahraini protesters ‘shouting in the dark’

by New Worker correspondent

A LARGE group of Bahraini fighters for democracy and human rights staged a protest rally in Whitehall opposite Downing Street last Saturday to draw attention to the plight of democrats in the oil-rich Arab kingdom of Bahrain and to protest at David Cameron’s continued friendly relations with the ruling King Hamad Bin Isa al Kalifa.

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Baluchistan separatists speak out

by New Worker correspondent

A GROUP of Baluchistan separatists demonstrated in Whitehall last Saturday calling for British government support for their demand for independence from Pakistan.

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Scotland a nation again?

Reviewed by Robert Laurie

Communist Party of Scotland: Scotland A Nation Again?

Glasgow: CPS, 2013 pp. 46. Copies available from Jean Muir, CPS/Alert Scotland, House 01, 112 Shawbridge Street, Glasgow G43 1LY price £2.00.

THE EMBLEM used in this cover of this pamphlet accurately reflects the contents. It is a Saint Andrew’s cross surrounded by vertically arranged words, some of which are obliterated by the fluttering flag.

On close examination these are the English words of Eugène Pottier’s The Internationale, but presented in such a way that they are reduced to gibberish: “For reason in r...” and “strike the iron come rally” and so on. In short identity politics override class politics. Surely a communist party should use the good old hammer and sickle as an emblem, perhaps with an added thistle or a bottle of whisky to symbolise Scotland?

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International News

Bankers provoked Cyprus crisis

by David Sole

THE EUROPEAN economic crisis has crashed down upon the small nation of Cyprus. A second “bailout” was announced on 25th March after mass protests shook Cyprus over the terms of a first proposal only eight days earlier.

The revised austerity terms, however, are bound to result in further protests as unemployment, service cuts and recession worsen, along with seizure of a large part of bank deposits to pay off the foreign bankers.

As usual, the corporate media try to blame the people and government of Cyprus for the economic crisis. But a 27th March New York Times headline reveals that “Europeans planted seeds of crisis in Cyprus”.

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Cuban workers prepare their Congress

Radio Havana Cuba

SINCE the call for the 20th Congress of the Confederations of Cuban Workers (CTC) was officially launched last October, the whole society is preparing to face this great event, which will discuss pending issues amid the economic transformations taking place in the country today.

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Congratulations to Alexander Mitta on his 80th birthday

by Olivia Kroth

ALEXANDER Naumovich Mitta celebrated his 80th birthday on the 28th of March 2013. The Russian cartoonist, screenwriter and film director was born in Moscow, in 1933. He first studied engineering, graduating in 1955, then worked as a cartoonist in art and humorous magazines, like the satirical journal Crocodile.

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Features

Some lessons for today The ‘Molly Maguires’ labour war in US coal country

by Chris Mahin

AS THEY mounted the scaffold together, the two miners joined hands. The older man said to the younger one: “Let’s die like men.” Then the trapdoor was pulled from under their feet, and two bodies dangled in the air.

“The degree of nerve of both men ... was extraordinary,” a newspaper reported. The gallows were cleared. Four more leaders of the miners’ struggle were executed in rapid succession. On the same day, on another Pennsylvania scaffold, four other miners were hanged.

Ten union leaders were executed in eastern Pennsylvania on 21st June 1877. These men were accused of committing various murders, and of belonging to a secret, violent, conspiratorial organisation — the “Molly Maguires”. During their time these men were denounced by the powerful as “terrorists.” Today, most historians agree that they were the first martyrs in the fight to build industrial unions in the United States, and that, in fact, no such organisation as the Molly Maguires ever existed.

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The Middle “Class”

Part two of two

by Neil Harris

FOR MANY years, the reformist Communist Party of Great Britain had the position that the middle class always had the potential to go fascist and therefore to prevent it, concessions would have to be made to them by the working class. This is not unlike the position of social democracy: that elections can’t be won without winning the middle class, even though this is at the expense of working class interests. In both cases, this is just plain class collaboration.

The middle class may be an objective reality, something that exists, but that does not make it an economic class. Membership is a choice people make, it is subjective. In fact, it is precisely because the middle class have chosen to segregate themselves from the workers that no concessions should be made to them. Although they are part of the working class, they have voluntarily adopted the reactionary positions as well as the superficial mannerisms of the ruling class. This is in order to gain the trust of that class, for their own advantage.

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