National News

Cameron attacks schools

DAVID Cameron last Monday launched a two prong attack on England’s schools, firstly attacking “mediocre” teaching standards and then promising yet more serious funding cuts if the Tories are re-elected in May.

He plans to cut school funding by 10 per cent if they win the general election. Cameron conceded the English education budget would not be protected from inflation, meaning a real-terms fall as teaching staff pension and national insurance costs rise.

At the same time Cameron launched an attack on school “mediocrity”, saying that he wants to challenge schools that are not rated good or outstanding by inspectors.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Protesters force Channel Four to cut Immigration Street

CHANNEL Four has been forced to cut short its programme Immigration Street after angry residents of Derby Road in Southampton opposed and disrupted filming of the six-episode “documentary” in their community.

The series was a spin-off from the controversial series Benefits Street which won the confidence of a group of neighbours in Kingston Road, in Tilery, Stockton-On- Tees who included a number of benefit claimants and then misrepresented them in the programme as lazy and scroungers.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Care workers cheated of even minimum wage

THE PUBLIC sector union Unison has set up an on-line petition and a campaign to expose care home companies that are paying their staff less than the minimum wage.

So far 12,500 people have signed the petition demanding justice for 220,000 employees locked in a “wage scandal”. Many care workers pocket less than the legal minimum of £6.50 an hour as they work split shifts and are not paid for travel time.

One told the Mirror she calculated that her actual pay amounted to just £4.55 an hour.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Defend Magna Carta: Save Access To Justice!

JUSTICE Secretary Chris Grayling is planning a big celebration of the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta with a Global Law Summit due to be held in London 23rd — 25th February at The Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in Westminster.

The National Association of Probation Officers (Napo), the Justice Alliance and the TUC Speak up for Justice Campaign will be organising our own alternative Justice Day. The message will be: “Defend the Magna Carta: Save Access to Justice!”

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Vital police files ‘lost in the post’

THE MINISTRY of Justice is frantically searching for computer discs containing essential information on three serious cases where police action has caused great controversy.

One of the discs contains details identifying the police marksman who shot Mark Duggan, whose death led to the anti-police riots of the summer of 2011.

Another contains details of the inquiry into the police killing of Azelle Rodney and the third contains details of police action surrounding the death of Robert Hamill.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Daily Mail promotion helps migrants

THE DAILY Mail has been running a promotion of a £1 ferry return ticket from Dover to Calais to load up on bargain French wine, tour the battlefields or visit the charming Boulogne-Sur- Mer.

But one group of activists have decided to use the tickets for a better cause, to help the freezing migrants huddled in Calais homeless camps — sponsored by the Mail’s generosity, and prompted by the paper’s negative attitude toward immigration.

The initiative was begun by the editorial team at the anarchist magazine Strike! in a Facebook post entitled: “How to help your fellow human beings at the Calais migrant camps... at the Daily Mail’s expense! This is probably the best thing you could do this weekend/ever.”

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Unite calls for ban on “Nazi” ship

THE GIANT union Unite has denounced plans by one of Britain’s major companies to allow a ship named after a Nazi war criminal to operate in British waters.

The ship, which is the world’s largest vessel, is to be deployed by Shell on the decommissioning of three oil platforms, is named after a Waffen SS officer who fought for the Nazis on the Eastern front and was later imprisoned for war crimes.

Unite has written to Shell as a matter of urgency to demand that the vessel be renamed or stepped down, and is calling upon the British government to intervene too.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Oil firm’s safety failures

THE HEALTH and Safety Executive (HSE) last year found 182 outstanding jobs when it carried out an inspection on the North Sea Clyde platform, 159 of which, by last week, had not been approved for deferral.

The company, Talisman, has since been issued with an improvement notice following the evaluation last year.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Anger at Chilcot delay

PEACE campaigners gathered outside Parliament last Thursday to protest at continuing to publication of the report of the Chilcot inquiry into events leading up to the Iraq War.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Save Kellingley colliery

HUNDREDS of miners, their families and supporters from around Britain last Saturday took part in a march and rally in a bid to persuade the Government to help save Kellingley Colliery from imminent closure.

UK Coal is planning to close Kellingley Colliery, which employs 700 people, later this year. Campaigners want to put pressure on the government to accept a current state aid bid and extend the life of the mine to 2018.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

No charges for drone protesters

THE CROWN Prosecution Service last week dropped all charges against peace campaigners who occupied a British drone engines manufacturer at the last minute, after the company refused to hand over evidence about its exports of weaponry to Israel.

The nine demonstrators had been due to go on trial next month for aggravated trespass after they halted production during a sit-in at the Staffordshire factory of UAV Engines Ltd a subsidiary of the Israeli defence giant Elbit Systems — one of the largest manufacturer of military drones.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Young face being homeless

DAVID Cameron last week announced plans to stop housing benefit for anyone aged 18-21 who is unemployed, if the Tories win power in May’s election.

This means that all sorts of young people — the entirely financially destitute who’ve never had a job in their lives and were hoping to move out despite not earning any money, to those who land a job a little too far away from home to commute and haven’t started earning yet, students looking to go to university in a different part of the country where they’ve got to rent, and those whose parents are abusive or unaccepting of them — won’t get Government assistance to do what they want.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Scottish News

From our Scottish political correspondent

IT IS now less than three months to the general election. North of the Border the Scottish National Party are grinning like Cheshire cats as poll after poll suggests that they will be making large gains at the expense of Labour.

If this indeed turns out to be the case on the 7th of May it will mean that David Cameron will not be needing the services of Pickford’s the next day and will retain a perhaps less than secure tenancy on Number 10 Downing Street.

Despite their anti-Tory rhetoric the SNP would make ideal coalition partners for the Tories. The SNP is much more devoted to the neoliberal European Union than the Tories who took Britain in to what was the Common Market.

While it is loudly opposed to Trident nobody gets more upset about cuts to the military budget than the SNP. Any suggestion that there should be fewer kilted soldiers or fewer fighter planes are needed to shoot down those damned Ruskies results in much Nationalist frothing at the mouth that would put the proverbial retired colonel from Tunbridge Wells to shame.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Dedicated to the Korean people

by New Worker correspondent

NEW COMMUNIST Party leader Andy Brooks joined Juché supporters and Korean solidarity activists in paying tribute to the life-time achievements of dear leader Kim Jong Il at a solidarity meeting in London last weekend.

The meeting, at the Marchmont Centre in central London, was organised by the Juché Idea Study Group as part of a round of events in February to mark the birthday of Kim Jong Il who led Democratic Korea through the turbulent times that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

India: ‘A prison house of nations’

by Theo Russell

THE INDIAN Workers’ Association and Ghadar International held a meeting last Saturday at the Redbridge Punjabi Centre marking the adoption of the Indian constitution in January 1950. It was addressed by Professor Satish Kumar, an authority on the subject and a representative of Lok Raj Sangathan, which aims to bring about fundamental change in India.

Prof Kumar’s talk was a tour de force exposing the constitution as riddled with the colonial legacy of British rule, repressive and undemocratic, designed to serve purely the interests of capitalists and landowners, and “a prison house of nations and nationalities”.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

International News

Jordan executes al-Qaida prisoners in wake of pilot’s death


JORDAN has hanged two Iraqi terrorists following the brutal execution of a Jordanian air force officer by the Islamic State (IS) movement in Syria. The executions came after the release of an IS video which showed the Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage.

Sajida al-Rishawi, the female suicide bomber IS wanted to swap for the captured Jordanian pilot, was sentenced to death in 2005 for trying to launch a suicide bomb attack in Amman. She had close relations with IS founder Abu Musab Zarqawi. Ziad Karbuli, a senior al-Qaida member convicted of terrorist acts in 2007, was also hanged at dawn on Wednesday.

Moaz al Kassasbeh, the 26-year-old Jordanian air force pilot, was taking part in a mission for the US-led anti-terror coalition, when he was captured by IS after his plane crashed late last year in northern Syria.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Venezuelans accuse Biden of planning coup

by Ivan Martínez

VENEZUELAN head of state Nicolas Maduro has accused US Vice President Joe Biden of heading a “bloody” plan to overthrow his government, which he said was announced to presidents and prime ministers of Caribbean countries.

During a political event in the central state of Miranda Maduro said that he didn’t know if US President Barack Obama was aware of the plan.

“The imperial power has entered a dangerous phase of desperation and has been talking to governments of the continent to announce they’ll topple my government. I accuse US Vice President Joe Biden, who personally spoke with the presidents and prime ministers about the plan,” he said.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Russia, India, China, reaffirm strategic alliance role

Prensa Latina

THE DIALOGUE of trust between Russia, India and China is an effective tool to support the process of formation of a multipolar world order, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a ministerial meeting in Beijing this week.

Lavrov reaffirmed the role of the three countries “as a key factor in international politics” in a complex period for the world, during the opening of the meeting of foreign ministers of the troika in Beijing.

He said that foreign interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states exacerbates the potential for conflict, increases tension and makes the world increasingly less secure.

“Let me take this encounter on the path back to the process of formation of a multipolar order, capable of reflecting the diversity of civilisations in the world today.”

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

For a coalition of the left in Ireland

by John Hedges

SENIOR Sinn Féin figures have welcomed a call at the weekend by SIPTU (Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union) President Jack O’Connor for discussions amongst groups and individuals to develop anti-austerity groups leading to possibly the first-ever Left of Centre government in the history of the Southern state.

The statement by the leader of Ireland’s biggest trade union at the Jim Larkin Commemoration in Dublin on 31st January followed a renewed call by Sinn Féin for the opening of formal discussions between republicans, progressive independents, the trades union movement, grassroots community organisations and others on the anti-austerity Left in Ireland, North and South.

The Sinn Féin call from Declan Kearney comes in the February edition of An Phoblacht in a series of articles on “Building an Alternative” by figures inside and outside Sinn Féin, including Jack O’Connor and other prominent trade union leaders such as John Douglas, Peter Bunting, Jimmy Kelly and David Begg.

Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney said that SIPTU President Jack O’Connor’s public support for developing an agreed platform by organisations and individuals on the anti-austerity Left is to be welcomed.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]


The Cold War renewed

by Rob Gowland

LET’S get one thing clear: the Cold War never ended. It never even went away. It just changed tactics for a while. With Gorbachev doing their job for them, the USA and the other imperialist countries could afford to pose as peace-loving champions of friendly relations between all countries.

Meanwhile Gorbachev dissolved the USSR (despite a plebiscite specifically rejecting that proposal) while every self-seeking opportunist in a position of power or influence seized public property as their own personal possession, whether it was a large chunk of the USSR’s oil industry or — in Gorbachev’s case — the Lenin Institute (to Gorby’s chagrin, they made him give that back).

But Gorby wasn’t the only thief with a big appetite determined to loot the USSR of its publicly-owned assets. By the time they had finished, and Gorby’s successor, the venal Boris Yeltsin, and his cohorts had been shown the door, the country had lost more wealth than had been lost to the ravages of the Nazi invasion in the Second World War!

The western imperialist powers were heavily involved in this wholesale looting of the assets built up in Russia and Eastern Europe under Socialism. Inventions and patents, scientific discoveries, entire research units were taken abroad to be exploited for profit. This too was a stage of the Cold War, a form of aggression without an actual invasion.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Saudi oil and American hypocrisy

by Sara Flounders

FEW EVENTS expose the utter hypocrisy of US politicians’ grand words about democracy so starkly as their praise for the recently deceased King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. For decades US imperialism and all the imperialist powers have given political, military and diplomatic support to the corrupt feudal family that rules Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of oil.

Heads of state abruptly changed plans and rushed to Riyadh to greet the 79-year-old new ruler King Salman. President Obama, British Prime Minister Cameron accompanied by Prince Charles, French President Hollande, Afghanistan President Ghani, Spain’s King Felipe VI, Turkish President Erdogan and Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif were all anxious to be assured of the regime’s continuation.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute and brutal dictatorship. The country is named after the royal Saud family that has expropriated the country’s fabulous oil wealth, and treats it as a wholly owned family asset. Their control is maintained by massive state-organised repression. All forms of political dissent and social organisation, from political parties to trade unions, are banned under pain of death.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Holocaust Day at the United Nations

by William M Reilly

THE 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps by the Soviet Army was marked at UN Headquarters in New York last week at a special service in the great hall of the General Assembly.

Highlights of the annual commemoration included remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, the President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, Holocaust survivor Jona Laks and Soviet Army veteran Boris Feldman.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]