National News

Campaigns constrained by new lobby laws

CHARITIES and other campaign pressure groups have toned down their activities in response to the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act passed last year.

They fear falling foul of the new Act, which affects non-party campaigners, those that intend to campaign in the run-up to elections but are not standing as a political party or candidate.

It requires them to keep strict account of every penny they spend, and where that money has come from, campaigning on issues that will feature in election manifestos and could affect the way people vote as part of the controls on how much money parties are allowed to spend promoting their candidates and policies.

Charities and pressure groups must keep their campaign spending under £5,000 or be forced to register as “consultant lobbyists”. In theory the Act was supposed to prevent the wealthy and powerful lobbyists having undue influence on the election process.

In reality it was aimed at gagging the trade unions and organisations critical of Government Government policies

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Met backs down on charging marchers

THE METROPOLITAN Police Force has withdrawn its refusal to police the climate change Time to Act and the Million Women Rise marches due to take place this weekend after pressure including from London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Previously the Met had told many groups planning marches and demonstrations in London in coming months that they would have to hire private security guards to manage traffic and road closures at a cost of many thousands of pounds.

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Standing up to Ukip

by New Worker correspondent

HUNDREDS of anti-fascists and anti-racists gathered in Margate last Saturday in a blistering cold wind to march and rally outside the national conference of the United Kingdom Independence Party and protest at its racism and xenophobia.

Contingents came from all over Kent, London and from as far away as East Anglia and included trade unionists, members of community groups, political parties, Antifa, Unite Against Fascism. But local groups from Thanet led the march along the sea front to the cliff top just above Winter Gardens where Ukip was in conference.

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East Coast Main Line privatisation ‘costly mistake’

COMMENTING on the East Coast Main Line private contract which started last Sunday TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It is disappointing to see East Coast in private hands after five years of public sector success.

“The Government’s decision to re-privatise the line, awarding the contract to Stagecoach and Virgin, is a costly mistake.

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Newcastle rejects German fascists

THE GERMAN racist and Islamophobic group Pegida hoped to stage a major march in Newcastle-upon-Tyne last Saturday supported by home-grown racists from the English Defence League but were overwhelmed by the numbers of local anti-fascists who turned out to oppose them.

The Pegida march against the “Islamisation of Europe” rallied just 375 supporters in total and was dwarfed by around 3,000 anti-fascists.

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RMT fights for its women activists

THE TRANSPORT union RMT is battling for the reinstatement of two women union activists who have been victimised for fighting for their rights.

RMT members on Hull Trains last week voted by more than nine-to-one for both strike action and action short of a strike after, they claim, a colleague was forced out of her job after challenging a manager.

The company says her post is being made redundant, but the union says she is being punished for challenging a manager caught verbally accusing another member of staff.

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Police spy joined Ucatt

AN UNDERCOVER policeman infiltrated the construction workers’ union Ucatt to monitor protests against deaths on building sites, according to a report in the Mirror.

Mark Jenner posed as a joiner and joined Ucatt to collect personal information that was used by industry bosses to blacklist workers who raised concerns over health and safety.

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Veteran peace activist challenge to police spies

POLICE chiefs are seeking to overturn a legal ruling won by an 89-yearold campaigner whose political activities were recorded on a clandestine database.

Last week lawyers for the police argued at the Supreme Court that a secretive police unit that says it tracks domestic extremists acted lawfully when it monitored John Catt who has no criminal record. Catt has said he was “shocked and terrified” when he discovered that police had logged details of his presence 66 times at peace and human rights demonstrations over a four year period.

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Scottish News

by our Scottish political correspondent

PROFESSORS of Accountancy are rarely among the more radical sections of the population. One notable exception to this rule is Prem Sikka, of the University of Essex who was the star turn at last Sunday’s Scottish Morning Star Spring Conference entitled “How to Defeat Austerity?” held at the Scottish Trades Union Congress’s Glasgow headquarters.

He opened by observing that austerity policies are not based on economic necessity but are part of a political strategy which in recent decades has successfully reduced the percentage of Gross National Product going in wages and increased that going in profits.

The resulting lack of purchasing power has a devastating impact on the British economy as falling demand for mass produced goods is not compensated by increased sales of Rolls Royces.

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Defend the Donbas!

by New Worker correspondent

COMRADES and friends heard stirring calls for solidarity with the anti-fascist fighters of Novorossiya at a well-attended meeting in central London last week. Speakers from the Solidarity with the Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine (SARU) movement along with New Communist Party and Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (ML) leaders were as one in their support for the partisans and all the Ukrainian people struggling against the puppet regime in Ukraine.

Alex Gordon from SARU stressed the leading role of the communists in the Novorossiyan militias and David Ayrton stressed the need to build the solidarity movement in Britain to counter the lies of the imperialists and their craven apologists in the labour movement that are being used to justify open British intervention to prop up the Kiev regime.

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We shall not be moved!

by Ray Davies

THE OBSCENITY of spending £100 billion to upgrade Trident at a time of crippling financial cuts must be one of the defining arguments of May’s general election.

Following a successful demonstration outside Newport’s Royal Gwent Hospital by CND Cymru and Côr Cochion — “NHS Not Trident” — on Monday we headed for Burghfield AWE (Atomic Weapons Establishment) determined to bring the nuclear bomb facility to a standstill.

After Non-Violent Direct Action training the previous evening, and a few hours’ sleep, we set off in the pitch-dark long before dawn, winding through the Berkshire hedgerows towards AWE Burghfield.

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International News

Pyongyang blasts US- south Korean war games

by Ma Xiaochun

THE DEMOCRATIC People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has blasted the large-scale US-South Korean military exercises, saying the “golden opportunity” for improvement in inter-Korean relations has gone.

The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said that the south Korean authorities, in collusion with the United States, are “pushing the situation on the peninsula to the brink of a war”.

As Seoul blatantly challenges Pyongyang by kicking off the drills with the United States, the opportunity of North-South dialogue and improvement of relations has already passed and “there will only be a final standoff by force,” the committee as said in a statement on Tuesday.

As long as the US and South Korean forces “are allowed to continue anti- DPRK war drills, the Korean nation can neither lead a peaceful life nor evade the nuclear holocaust,” warned the statement.

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Japan misleads public by denying war crimes

by Mioh Song THE JAPANESE government has tried to mislead the public by denying involvement in any acts of wartime Russian ambassador declared last week.

“Japanese political thinking is based on an assumption that the country has never in history participated in any acts of aggression, and that’s why Tokyo wants to deny that the Japanese troops have committed any crimes like Nanjing Massacre,” said Alexander Panov.

A Japanese rightist daily recently released a four-day report in which it denied the existence of the appalling Nanjing Massacre, at a time when the world gears up to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made consistent attempts to reinterpret the country’s invasion of Asian countries, a move that has provoked worldwide criticism.

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Spanish anti-fascist fighters arrested

Interview by Ibai Trebiño for the Basque weekly Argia

Last week the Spanish police arrested eight anti- fascist volunteers who had returned from the fighting in Novorossiya. The eight men, all from various trends in the Spanish communist movement, were accused of terrorism and “murder, possession of weapons and explosives, and acts against the interests of Spain” but they were all released on the same day. One of them is Madrid’s Sergio Becerra. We spoke with him by phone to learn the circumstances in which the operation occurred.

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Soviet night witches

by New Worker correspondent

THE NAZIS during the Second World War referred to Soviet women pilots who operated on and around the eastern front as “Nachthexen” (night witches) because the whooshing noise their plywood and canvas airplanes made reminded the Germans of the sound of a witch’s broomstick.

The women who piloted those planes, former crop dusters, took it as a compliment. In 30,000 missions over four years, they dumped 23,000 tons of bombs on the German invaders, ultimately helping to chase them back to Berlin. Any German pilot who downed a “witch” was awarded an Iron Cross.

The 588th Night Bomber Regiment was formed by Colonel Marina Raskova and led by Major Yevdokia Bershanskaya. The women pilots, all volunteers and most in their teens and early 20s, became legends of the Second World War II but are now largely forgotten. Flying only in the dark, they had no parachutes, guns, radios or radar, only maps and compasses. If hit by tracer bullets, their planes would burn like sheets of paper.”

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International Women’s Day

An African warrior queen

by Caroline Colebrook

QUEEN Ana de Sousa Nzinga is famous as a 17th century warrior queen in the region now known as Angola who fought against the colonisation of her homeland by the Portuguese and the slave trade, making a stand where her father and brother had been unable to do so. She was renowned for her strategic military tactics and political and diplomatic intelligence.

Nzinga was born to King Kiluanji in 1583. According to tradition, she was named Nzinga because her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck (the Kimbundu verb kujinga means to twist or turn). It was said to be an indication that the person who had this characteristic would be proud and haughty, and a wise woman told her mother that Nzinga would become queen one day.

According to her recollections later in life, she was greatly favoured by her father, who allowed her to witness as he governed his kingdom, and who carried her with him to war. She also had a brother, Mbandi, and two sisters, Kifunji and Mukambu. She lived during a period when the Atlantic slave trade and the consolidation of power by the Portuguese in the region were growing rapidly.

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Novorossiya Communist commander Alexei Markov: ‘We are part of an anti-fascist front’

by Sergey Artemov

FORMED in November 2014, the Ghost Brigade’s Communist unit had 18 volunteers. Since then the unit has grown to more than 100 volunteers. It has also been part of the forces of the Lugansk People’s Republic that have recently managed to liberate the strategic town of Debaltsevo. Last week the Berlin Junge Welt daily interviewed its commander, Alexei Markov. Many communists fight in the armed forces of the Lugansk People’s Republic. They have established a separate unit. How did this happen?

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