National News

MoD, we have you surrounded, lay your weapons down and walk away ...

by New Worker correspondent

THOUSANDS of peace campaigners last Saturday descended on the Ministry of Defence in London and surrounded it with a giant pink woollen scarf — reputedly up to seven miles long, which had previously been used to surround the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston.

It was certainly very long — long enough to go around not only the MoD but also the adjoining Department of Health at Richmond House and Portcullis House. This was apt because the focus of this protest against the proposed renewal of the Trident nuclear missile system was that the money would be much better spent on the NHS — and it was the MPs in Portcullis House, an annexe of the Palace of Westminster, to whom this message was targeted.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Fascists take a beating in Dover

A THINLY disguised racist and anti-immigration far right group calling itself Support the Calais Truckers (SCT) made a second attempt to blockade the port of Dover last Sunday but spent most of the day being hassled and attacked by anti-fascists as police tried to get between the warring sides.

The SCT claims it is campaigning against rules that mean truckers can be fined when an illegal immigrant tries to smuggle themselves into Britain in the back of their lorries.

But what they really do is serve as a platform for far-right idiots, neo-Nazis and fascists. In the build up to Sunday’s protest they said they were looking forward to “more support” than they got at their previous demo. Instead, fewer people turned up. They managed to bring half a road to a standstill for about 30 minutes.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

High Court rules Pickles illegally discriminating against Gypsies and Travellers

THE COALITION’s Community Secretary, Eric Pickles, has been illegally discriminating against Gypsies and Travellers by using his ministerial powers to personally decide whether they should be allowed to settle on green belt land, the High Court has ruled.

In a devastating judgement which lawyers said carried “enormous” implications and could lead to a flood of fresh claims against the Government, Mr Justice Gilbart said the Communities Secretary had “discriminated unlawfully against a racial group” by subjecting planning applications from Gypsies and Travellers to special scrutiny.

The judicial review case was brought by Charmaine Moore and Sarah Coates, two Romany Gypsy women living in different parts of England who wanted to live with their children in caravans on their own green belt land. Both were refused planning permission by their local authorities and their subsequent appeals were automatically referred to Pickles.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Care workers fight 9.5 per cent pay cut

MORE than 60 care workers in Brent, north London, who are members of the public sector union Unison took strike action last Thursday in protest at a 9.5 per cent cuts in their pay.

The care workers are employed by Your Choice Barnet (YCB), a subsidiary set up by the London Borough of Barnet known as a local authority trading company. They are employed caring for adults with learning disabilities.

The workers had already taken four days of strike action over the pay cut, which they said was the result of an historic £400,000 pension deficit accrued by the council. In addition more than 30 workers have taken redundancy.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

DLR strike action called off

Transport union RMT has announced that strike action due to commence on Docklands Light Railway early on Wednesday was called off after talks with the operators — Keolis/Amey — secured agreement on all of the key points in dispute.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

National Gallery staff strike over sell-off

WORKERS at the National Gallery have voted overwhelmingly to strike over plans to hand all visitor services to a private company, the Public and Commercial Services union announced. In a ballot 94 per cent voted for strikes on a 62 per cent turnout.

The decision means extended periods of industrial action are now likely if senior managers press ahead.

Gallery bosses announced plans last year to privatise almost all staff, including those who look after the paintings and help the gallery’s six million annual visitors.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Sanctions fail to get people jobs

PETER Hain, the Labour MP for Neath, last week expressed shock and surprise that 80 per cent of individuals who have job seeker benefits sanctioned, don’t find work.

The figures have been released in a report from the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which was presented to MPs last week.

The report looks at individuals who have been removed from Jobseekers Allowance, and what happens to them next with 43 per cent subsequently ceasing to try to claim the benefit and only 20 per cent of those who left stating that they had found work.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

TfL leader angers taxis drivers

LONDON Taxi Drivers belonging to the RMT union last week registered their dismay at comments made by Sir Peter Hendy regarding the licensed taxi trade that it is “not the job of TFL to protect the taxi trade, but the public”.

In an interview with London’s [Evening Standard] the Transport Commissioners’ comments have exposed his gross ignorance of the trade.

As a highly regulated service, the licensed taxi industry provides the public with a safe, secure travel option. Protecting the standards of the industry in turn protect the public.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Frackhead MPs

by New Worker correspondent

THE HOUSE of Commons last Monday voted by 308 votes to 52 against a proposed moratorium on fracking in Britain.

This was in spite of the energetic efforts of hundreds of anti- fracking activists just across the road in Old Palace Yard who held a noisy and colourful protest against fracking.

Protesters came from Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Green Party, unions RMT and PCS and many other groups and brought along a giant “Mr Frackhead” monster.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

The Holocaust — learning lessons from the past

by New Worker correspondent

WAR VETERANS, diplomats, anti-fascists, communists and school-children packed the cinema at the Imperial War Museum on Tuesday for London’s annual Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration. The solemn occasion, opened by the Sunil Chopra, the Mayor of Southwark, included short poems, music and films about the Auschwitz death camp and the Nazi extermination of Jews, Soviet prisoners-of-war, gays, gypsies and the mentally ill during the Second World War.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Economic progress in Ecuador

by Theo Russell

ECUADOR’S minister for knowledge and human talent, Dr Guillaume Long, was in London to report on the successes of his country’s “Citizens Revolution” at a meeting chaired by ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone in Parliament last week.

During the economic crisis which started in the late 1990s over two million of the country’s 13 million population emigrated. In 2006 Raphael Correa came to power at the head of the patriotic socialist PAIS Alliance and in December 2008 he defaulted on $3 billion in foreign loans, declaring them an odious debt contracted by corrupt and despotic predecessors.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Scottish News

from out Scottish Political Correspondent

MEMBERS of the Scottish Parliament seem to have little to do with themselves. One way they can occupy the empty hours is to put up a parliamentary motion for no particular reason.

Cowdenbeath Labour MSP Alex Rowley has attacked the practice of MSPs wasting time and money promoting themselves by posting vacuous motions.

Since the foundation of the Holyrood parliament until 10th May last year the total number of motions submitted was 29,510. Of these 10,000, over a third, contained the word “congratulates,” which almost invariably means that the motion is simply an attention drawing message to one of the MSPs constituency community groups.

It would be easier and cheaper to send a card to the local bowling club on winning the county over-eighties ladies championship, but that would deprive the MSP of the oxygen of publicity.

family matters

Even family matters come to public attention: in 2002, Scottish National Party MSP Kenneth Gibson used a motion to congratulate a fellow Nationalist on the birth of his eighth grandchild. Six years later he used the official parliamentary motion system to praise his own daughter for winning a school prize.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

International News

No change in Saudi Arabia by our Arab Affairs correspondent

KING Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died last week and since then the movers and shakers of the bourgeois world have been falling over themselves to praise the feudal Arab tyrant with the usual platitudes reserved for immensely rich tools of imperialism. US President Barack Obama broke off his visit to India to lead the pack, which included David Cameron and French President Francoise Hollande, offering their condolences to the House of Saud in the oil-rich kingdom that has been aligned to American imperialism since the 1930s.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Fidel Castro: cautious support of Cuba/US talks


FIDEL Castro has welcomed talks with Washington, but warned: “I don’t trust the policy of the United States.”

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro publicly gave his blessing to historic negotiations between his nation and the United States Monday, but warned Washington isn’t to be trusted.

“We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all the peoples of the world, among them our political adversaries,” said Fidel Castro in a statement published in [Granma], the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Communists form new bloc for Israeli elections

CP Israel

LATE on Thursday night, 22nd January, in an unprecedented, historic move, Hadash (The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality — Communist Party of Israel) and the Arab parties Balad, Ta’al and Ra’am announced that they will run as a joint list in the upcoming 17th March elections. The slate, to be called “The Joint List,” will be headed by Ayman Odeh of the Arab-Jewish Hadash front, followed by Masud Ghnaim of the Islamist Ra’am in second place and Balad’s Jamal Zahalka in the third spot. Ahmed Tibi (Ta’al) will be in fourth place on the list.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Colombia: now they call it ‘Chiquita Brands’

by Yira Castro Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP

Struggle over land and its use has long shaped Colombian political history. What’s below the land’s surface and what grows on the top, or who grazes there, represent wealth. In Colombia, as elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere, ever larger scale operations have permitted exploitation of land for growing export crops.

The American United Fruit Company, an early exemplar of industrialised agriculture — but not as early as production based on slavery — began banana operations in Colombia at the dawn of the 20th century.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]


On the Greek elections

by Dimitris Koutsoumpas General Secretary, Communist Party of Greece.

FIRST of all, we would like to salute the thousands of working people in our country, the young people who responded to the appeal of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and contributed to its strengthening today, confirming the positive tendency of forces to the tendency to regain votes. This tendency appeared last year in the European Union parliamentary elections, the regional and municipal elections and continued in all the various struggles of the people in the labour, trade union and wider people’s movement.

[ Read more about the Greek elections here ]

Harsh winter adds to suffering of poor Afghans

by Haleem

FOR THE impoverished people in this Afghan capital city, the cold winter has added to their suffering, forcing some of them to beg in the streets.

“I have no wood, no fuel and no coal to keep me and my family warm,” said an elderly Afghan woman, who asked not to be identified, while begging from passers-by.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

French, European imperialists escalate Islamophobia

by Fred Goldstein

FRENCH, US and British imperialism and their partners, each in their own way and for their own aims, are determined to escalate wars abroad and repression at home.

The French ruling class has imposed an undeclared state of siege on its own Muslim population and has used troops in North and West Africa to repress rebellions protesting at the publication of Islamophobic cartoons in the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

French President Francois Hollande, of the misnamed “Socialist Party,” has declared that France is “at war,” echoing a previous statement by Prime Minister Manuel Valls. France has deployed 122,000 heavily armed troops and police throughout the country and has declared a “high alert”. Soldiers and police with heavy weapons patrol the streets, train stations and other public places. Raids have been carried out and dozens of people arrested.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Korea: Japan’s shameful past

by Kim Kil Nam

In the 19th century Korean kings still paid homage to the Chinese Emperor. But faced with the growing power of Czarist Russia and Japan in the region the feudal rulers of Korea tried to preserve the kingdom’s independence. In 1897, King Kojong, the feudal king of Korea, proclaimed “full and complete” independence with the founding of the Empire of Korea.

THE POISONING of the feudal Joson Emperor of Korea is one of the innumerable crimes Japan committed against the Korean people. Japan, which reduced Korea to its colony by imposing one-sided treaties and by unlawful and unwarrantable methods it hatched a plot to assassinate Emperor Kojong in a bid to cover up all of its outrageous crimes and tighten its grip on the country.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]