National News

Prosecute Iain Duncan Smith says McDonnell

LABOUR’S Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell last week called for former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) to be prosecuted as he addressed a meeting at the TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference in London on Friday 20th May. McDonnell’s call was greeted with loud applause.

The Scottish-based grass-roots group Black Triangle, backed by many other disabled activists, has led calls for IDS to face a criminal investigation for misconduct in public office following his apparent refusal in 2010 to address a coroner’s concerns about the safety of the discredited work capability assessment (WCA).

They want to hold IDS and his former employment minister Chris Grayling to account in court for their failure to improve the safety of the WCA even though they were warned that it risked causing further deaths.

Scottish police are currently assessing whether to launch a criminal investigation after an approach from Black Triangle’s co-founder John McArdle.

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Mural to remember Grunwick strikers

THE GRUNWICK strike of 1976, in which women workers, mostly immigrants, walked out of the Grunwick film processing laboratories in Willesden in protest at working conditions, pay inequality and institutionalised racism within the company, is to be commemorated with a special mural that is being crowd-funded.

The two-year strike shook the whole country as the women disproved the then current stereotype image of Asian women as submissive, timid and easily bullied and exploited. They attracted support from far and wide, including from the National Union of Mineworkers led by Arthur Scargill.

The strike was led by Jayaben Desai. Born in Gujarat, India, Desai moved to Tanzania in 1965 but was then expelled and arrived in Britain, where she took up low-paid work, first as a sewing machinist, then processing film in the Grunwick factory.

She resigned after being ordered to work overtime, and instigated a strike amongst the mainly Asian and female workforce.

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Austerity does more harm than good

ECONOMISTS from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last week issued a critique of neo-liberal austerity programmes, warning that they do more harm than good.

These policies have dominated the capitalist world for three decades when they were pioneered by Pinochet, Thatcher and Reagan.

In an article seized on by the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, the IMF economists said that rising inequality was bad for growth and that governments should use controls to cope with destabilising capital flows.

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Schoolgirl barred from competition for telling Nakba story

LEANNE Mohamad, a 15-year-old British-Palestinian girl who won a regional public speaking competition, was barred from the national final because her speech was about Palestinian human rights.

Leanne, from Wanstead High School was dropped from the Jack Petchy “Speak Out Challenge” competition after video footage of her speech was posted on YouTube and went viral.

Her speech, entitled Birds not bombs, described the historical and contemporary reality for Palestinians under Israeli settler colonialism.

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Jackie Walker cleared of anti-Semitism

THE LABOUR Party last week cleared activist Jaqueline Walker, who is the vice-chair of the Momentum movement, of allegations that she is anti-Semitic and her suspension has been lifted with immediate effect.

Walker was suspended by the Labour Party on 4th May, on allegations that she had posted “anti-Semitic” comments on social media.

Ms Walker vigorously denied the allegations and was robustly defended by the high-profile Human Rights solicitor Martin Howe.

Following a full investigation by the Labour Party, Ms Walker has now been cleared of all allegations and the Party has wished her well in her future campaigning and party activities.

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May to deport the low-paid

HOME Secretary Theresa May is planning to start deporting immigrants — who have hitherto been living here legally — if they are earning less than £35,000 per year.

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EU Referendum

by our Scottish political affairs correspondent

THE electorate in Scotland appears to be suffering voting fatigue. The Referendum on Britain’s European Union (EU) membership has not exactly set the heather alight.

The Scottish parliament took a symbolic vote on the issue. Only eight of the 129 MSPs voted to leave, one of the eight admitted to pressing the wrong button.

Needless to say there were no dissenting Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs amongst them. It is an article of faith with the SNP that Britain’s membership of the EU is a very good thing but things are not so simple. It is likely that some of them want to leave but the bravehearts are too feart (afraid) to put their heads above the parapet.

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General Assembly Week

by our Ecclesiastical Affairs Correspondent

LATE May is General Assembly week in Scotland. This is when modern and progressive Scotland’s assorted Presbyterian churches assemble in Edinburgh to hold their AGMs. There is no truth in the coarse joke that the week is the busiest of the year for the city’s ladies of the night as the Commissioners are busy debating the issues that really matter.

The biggest is the Church of Scotland, which has been in business since 1560 but has suffered a number of splits that have led to the creation of smaller, stricter rivals who dispute the Kirk’s claim to be the true Church of Scotland despite its Established status.

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British film wins Palme d’Or at Cannes


THE British film I, Daniel Blake, directed by Ken Loach, won the Palme d’Or at the 69th Cannes Film Festival last week.

Daniel Blake, 59, worked as a joiner in Newcastle for most of his life. Now, after a heart attack and nearly falling from scaffolding, he needs help from the state for the first time in his life. He crosses paths with a single mother Katie and her two young children, Daisy and Dylan. Katie’s only chance to escape a one-roomed homeless hostel in London has been to accept a flat in a city she doesn’t know some 300 miles away.

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Young British trade unionists show solidarity with Cuba

by Catriona Goss

A TOTAL of 28 young trade unionists, representing different British unions, formed part of the 11th Contingent of the May Day International Solidarity with Cuba Brigade, organized by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).

The brigadistas from Unite, UNISON, GMB, CWU, RMT and USDAW — representing several million workers in Britain and Ireland — joined trade unionists and political activists from across the world, undertaking a programme of solidarity work and political, educational and cultural visits. They also participated, together with other international guests, in the May Day parade in Havana and the International Solidarity with Cuba Conference on 2nd May.

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International News

France’s Hollande refuses to back-down over labour laws

by Mu Xuequan

Despite growing public anger, French President François Hollande on Tuesday stood firm to pass through the controversial labour reform and to maintain its “principles” that grant companies more flexibility to negotiate work conditions.

“The bill will not be withdrawn. The principles of Article 2 will be kept,” Hollande told the regional newspaper Sud-Ouest.

Asked if he would pass the reform into law by decree, the Socialist leader said: “I would prefer that the text be adopted without having to do so, but not at the price of abandoning it.”

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Manuel Valls had resorted to a 49-3 decree, to push through the law without a parliamentary vote.

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Baghdad depends on retaking Fallujah


THE OPERATION to free the second largest Iraqi city under ISIS control, Fallujah, is currently underway and Baghdad’s, future both literally and figuratively, depends on the outcome. The victory could pave the way for an offensive on Mosul, protect the capital from terrorist attacks and help to bolster Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Fallujah, located less than 70 km west of Baghdad, was the first city to fall when ISIS decided to extends its control from Syria to Iraq in January 2014. It could now become the latest success story for the Iraqi security forces and their allies, who have been on a roll for the last seven months.

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Maduro mobilises in response to OAS threats

by Pavel Jacomino

VENEZUELAN President Nicolas Maduro’s ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) called for mobilisations and rallies across the country on Wednesday and again on Saturday in protest against the Organization of American States (OAS) “intervention.”

On Tuesday, the secretary general of the OAS, Luis Almagro, invoked the so-called “Democratic Charter” on Venezuela, a measure that initiates a process which could end in the suspension of the South American country from the OAS.

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Arab Springs: An interview with Fulvio Grimaldi

It’s been just over five years since the beginning of the “Arab spring” and all countries that have experienced them have undergone dramatic upheavals. Tunisia was the luckiest because the regime change, cleverly orchestrated by Western powers, brought with it a minimum of bloodshed. Egypt has recently dealt with the disruption of the Muslim Brotherhood with a sort of military restoration by General al-Sisi, but its future is still uncertain.

Conversely, Libya has been completely destroyed and its leader, Gaddafi, brutally killed. Syria is still at war against murderous militias injected from the outside, saved only by the determination of her best people and the intervention of external allies.

Costantino Ceoldo takes stock of the situation in this interview with Fulvio Grimaldi, an Italian journalist and war correspondent who has spent a long time in the Middle East.

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Vietnamese exhibition explores Irish women in history


STORMY Petrel, an image and sound exhibition about Irish history, opened in Hànội this week. The exhibition explores the forgotten history of a group of revolutionary women couriers operating in Ireland 100 years ago.

Stormy Petrel is a sound, light and image collaboration developed by Irish artists Orla Ryan, Alanna O’Kelly and Brian Hand. It is being curated by CUC Gallery Director Phạm Phương Cúc.

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Not so rich after all

by Rob Gowland

THE USA is supposedly the richest country on Earth. That might depend however, on how one defines “rich”. A country that cannot — or will not — provide affordable (let alone free) health care for its population is arguably not really rich. Neither is a country that cannot give its people universal, free education, or that cannot guarantee employment for all its citizens. Also fundamental to a definition of a rich country is whether it can provide its people with sufficient to eat and drink. The provision of fresh, clean drinking water is a basic requirement that many people — especially in poor countries — simply do not receive. And not just in poor countries.

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CIA still undermines Africa

by Abayomi Azikiwe

CONFIRMATION of United States efforts to prevent Africa from reaching genuine self-determination and national liberation resurfaced in mid-May when the international media circulated damning reports about the CIA’s pivotal role in the arrest of African National Congress (ANC) and South African Communist Party (SACP) official Nelson Mandela in 1962.

Donald Rickard, who in 1962 was the US vice-consul in Durban, said he and his superiors believed that Mandela was “the world’s most dangerous communist outside of the Soviet Union.” And he had no reservations about alerting the apartheid regime about his location.

Mandela was stopped at a police roadblock in Howick, KwaZulu Natal on 5th August 1962 and arrested. His capture provided the legal and political basis for trials that culminated with the Rivonia Treason convictions, sending him to over 27 years in prison. The CIA’s pivotal role in his arrest has been repeatedly documented since 1990, the eve of Mandela’s first visit to the US after his release from prison.

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Ukraine after the coup: fascists integrated into the Ukrainian state

by Theo Russell

Part two of a two-part article. Part one was published in last week’s New Worker

TWO months after the coup in February 2014 President Poroshenko launched an “anti-terrorist operation”, an all-out conventional military operation, against the anti-fascists who declared independence in eastern Ukraine. According to the United Nations (UN) this has cost over 8,000 lives, including 2,500 civilians killed in bombing and shelling by Ukrainian forces, and the displacement of two million refugees, mainly to Russia.

A number of far-right paramilitary groups emerged to join the operation in the east. The Azov Battalion, founded by Andriy Biletsky after being released in a post-coup amnesty, uses the “Wolfsangel” logo (used by the Waffen-SS in the Second World War). Canada’s defence minister and the US House of Representatives have barred their forces from training Azov by American forces because of its neo-Nazi background.

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