National News

Don’t let them drown!

by New Worker correspondent

PROTESTERS gathered in London last Sunday outside the London office of the European Union in Westminster to express anger at the EU policy towards migrants from Africa and Asia, which led to the deaths of around 900 desperate people in a shipwreck last week — and many more over the last few years.

Imperialist interventions in the Middle East and Africa have smashed the elected governments in Iraq and Libya and are attempting to do the same to Syria, inflicting war, devastation and destabilisation throughout the region.

The oil-rich Gaddafi government in Libya gave economic support to many impoverished North African countries and now it is gone the people there are destitute and the whole area is filled with warring extremist religious factions.

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DWP harassment threatens life of disabled woman

A WOMAN suffering from type-one diabetes says that a barrage of texts and phone calls from the Department of Work and Pensions is causing so much stress that her medication cannot work properly and her life is in danger.

The woman, known as “Stella,” was placed in the support group of people claiming employment and support allowance (ESA), after a tribunal found in her favour and said she should not be assessed again for two years.

The ESA support group is, according to the government’s own rules, for sick or disabled people not expected to carry out any work-related activity in return for out-of-work benefits. But Stella was forced to lodge a complaint with the police after being “scared witless” by an “unacceptable barrage of communications” about work-focussed interviews and threats to remove her benefits if she failed to attend.

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Hands off our houses

THE CHIEF executive of the Peabody Housing Trust last week condemned David Cameron’s plans to extend the rightto- buy to housing association tenants.

Stephen Howlett wrote in an article in the Financial Times that it was “one of the worst policy ideas ever”.

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Stealth cuts hit NHS hospitals

NHS HOSPITAL trusts in England have lost around £2 billion as a result of reductions in the amount paid by the Government to trusts for standard medical procedures, according to a new report.

Hospitals across England have suffered a “stealth cut” amounting to more than to £2bn since 2010, because of reductions in the amounts paid to fund standard medical procedures, according to new research.

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Campaigners against PFI

ACTIVISTS campaigning against the Private Finance Initiative and the disastrous effects PFI deals are having on the finances of public bodies toured London last Saturday on a campaigning battle bus to raise awareness.

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Paramedics under stress

INCREASING numbers of paramedics are becoming sick with stress as the demand for 999 services increases. Freedom of information requests submitted to NHS regional ambulance services show that both the number of paramedics on stress-related leave and the amount of time taken have increased dramatically in the last three years.

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Labour promises to scrap tribunal fees

THE LABOUR Party last week promised that it will abolish fees for taking cases to an employment tribunal if it wins the General Election.

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The cost of bedroom tax

A SKELMERSDALE man has had all of his toes amputated as he was forced to spend winter in a tent after falling victim to the bedroom tax.

Mitchell Keenan was diagnosed with frostbite six weeks ago after his family discovered his blackened toes and rushed him to hospital. Mitchell was living in the tent with his father Keith, 62, following their eviction from their four-bedroomed home in Birch Green last year when they fell behind with their repayments.

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Scottish News

from our Scottish political correspondent

THE SCOTTISH Trades Union Congress passed largely unreported in the mainstream press north and south of the border apart from reports about the party leaders’ speeches.

In conjunction with Scottish CND it launched a new report, Trident and Jobs, which calls for the establishment of a Scottish Defence Diversification Agency.

The STUC has a long standing policy of opposition to nuclear weapons, in particular Trident’s replacement. The report said that the effects of cancellation on the Scottish economy would be more limited, but that the only way to reap the benefits is by establishing such an agency. This must be properly resourced and adequately staffed and produce realistic plans for diversification that have the confidence of the workforce.

STUC opposition to Trident has always been more theoretical than real given that unions such as Unite, GMB, PCS and Prospect all have members employed at Faslane.

CND chair Arthur West said: “The report clearly shows that a properly resourced Defence Diversification Agency with workforce involvement would be a key factor in allowing communities to prosper following the cancellation of projects such as Trident.”

One might respectfully enquire why the SNP government has not already used its powers to establish such an agency, or at least come up with such plans.

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Italian comrades celebrate liberation from fascism

by New Worker correspondent

BRITISH and Greek comrades joined Italian communists in celebrating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Italy from fascism on 25th April 1945 at a meeting organised by the British section of the Partito Comunista in north London last weekend.

Alain Fissore of the Partito Comunista spoke on the history of the fascism in Italy and the betrayal of the mainly communist-led partisan movement in the “Salerno Turn” by Communist Party of Italy leader Palmiro Togliatti, who adopted a parliamentary path and agreed a “democratic compromise” with the bourgeois parties and the monarchy. He also described at struggles led by Eugenio Curiel and Pietro Secchia against revisionism in the CPI.

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International News

Thousands march in Portugal for national Freedom Day

by Mu Xuequan

THOUSANDS of people marched in downtown Lisbon on Saturday to commemorate the carnation revolution in 1974. People held red carnations and national flags and sang Grandola Vila Morena, the anthem of the revolution.

The coup 41 years ago that saw a popular uprising overthrow a right-wing dictatorship in less than 24 hours is today still widely celebrated in Portugal.

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India, a thirsty, worried nation

by Alberto Salazar

INDIA, with nearly 1,300 million inhabitants, an uncontrolled population growth, limited water resources and inadequate supply and purification networks, lives with serious present and future concerns.

The South Asian nation has a population representing 16 per cent of the world’s total, but its water resources are only four per cent of the planet, posing severe current problems.

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For some on Tibet-Nepal border, life goes on

by Xiang Bo

DAWA reverentially lights a ghee lamp in her tent at a temporary camp on the China-Nepal border and murmurs a prayer for her elder sister Yangjain who died in Saturday’s earthquake.

Her mother Sonam, 80, sits motionless except for the prayer beads she runs ceaselessly through her fingers.

About 40 km from the epicentre in Nepal, two days after an 8.1-magnitude earthquake destroyed nearly 95 per cent of houses in their village, the family is overwhelmed by grief. When their home was destroyed on Saturday Yangjain, 42, was hit by falling rubble.

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Beatlemania in Cuba, as lively as ever

HAVING been adrift in a dark abyss for many years, the Yellow Submarine has come up beneath the Cuban sun, in a nation that feels that the Fabulous Four are also partly theirs.

The crowded booklaunch of Long and Winding Road of the Beatles once again proved that the legendary foursome from Liverpool are now an integral part of Cuban culture with inalienable rights to sentimentality.

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Features

Is there life after Social Democracy?

by Zoltan Zigedy

“Labour’s problems aren’t very different from those of other western social democratic parties... In this sense we are experiencing not merely a crisis of the British state but also a general crisis of social democracy” (Labour Vanishes, Ross McKibbin, London Review of Books, 20th November 2014).

MCKIBBIN’S summary assessment of social democracy is both keen and cogent. Social democracy, the political expression of 20th-century anti-Communist reformism, has arrived at a juncture that challenges its vision as well as its political vitality. In McKibbin’s words: “Over the last 20 or 30 years the great social democratic parties of Germany, Austria, Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand (and now France) have bled support...” One could add, though in a less dramatic way, the ersatz US social democratic party, the Democratic Party.

In a real sense social democracy drew its energy from its posture as an alternative to Communism. For various reasons — fear of change, anti-Communist demonology, ignorance, imagined self-interest — many of those disadvantaged by capitalism took refuge in the tame, gradualist, and militantly anti-Communist parties claiming space on the left. By advocating an easy parliamentary approach, charting a cautious, non-confrontational road, and enveloping the effort with civility, social democratic thinkers believe they can win popularity and smooth the sharp edges of capitalism.

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Vietnam 40 years after liberation: visitors flock to the tunnels of Cu Chi

by Paul Wilcox and Joyce Chediac

HO CHI Minh City, known as Saigon before its liberation, is a fast-moving metropolis of more than 10 million people. Preparations for 30th April, the 40th anniversary of the unification of north and south Vietnam and the decisive defeat of the US invasion and occupation, can be seen all over.

Red flags of Vietnam and the Vietnamese Communist Party fly everywhere. Billboards announcing the anniversary abound. Hundreds of exuberant children gather in a downtown park rehearsing for commemoration ceremonies and posing for pictures.

But, no place in Vietnam more embodies the revolutionary heroism that made this victory possible than this small suburb of Ho Chi Minh City. The guerrilla tunnels of Cu Chi District testify to the determination of a people to win their independence against a foe far superior in technology but far inferior in motivation, morale, creativity and sheer determination to resist. The tunnels have been preserved and turned into a national museum.

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‘No to War!’ and ‘Hands Off Russia!’

by Rob Gowland

THE CENTENARY of the futile but costly ANZAC landing is almost upon us, and the propaganda mills of capitalism are working at full bore. “War, glorious war”, they shout, oblivious to the death, destruction and misery that accompanies it.

In their usual way they are busy recasting the First World War as some sort of noble struggle for truth and justice, for the defence of small countries against wicked invaders. Much the way they do with the wars imperialism is fighting today, really, whether in Syria, Yemen or already (covertly) in Venezuela.

But now as then, imperialism’s expressed war aims are a travesty of the facts. The First World War was sold to the public in Britain and France, and their various allies, as a war to defend the peace of the world from barbarous German and Turkish invaders. It was far from the truth, of course.

The Great War was in fact a war between two groups of empires (British, French and Russian on one side, German, Austro-Hungarian and Turkish on the other) for nothing more noble than control of trade and colonies.

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Tolerance and reconciliation the keys to peace, inclusion and development

by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

SENIOR figures from the United Nations came together with religious leaders this week to hold high-level talks on the need to create peaceful and inclusive societies where children are born in a world free of hatred, division and exclusion. The key words were togetherness and tolerance, without which there is no reconciliation or development.

For those who update themselves on the latest news with regularity, we do not need to go into many details to see that the world we live in is far from balanced and increasingly, is a place where a growing number of us who care about spreading global values do not wish to be and have no pleasure whatsoever in living here.

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