The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 24th August 2018

Workers Notes': Defend Corbyn: Time to fightback

by New Worker correspondent

CONWAY Hall was packed to the rafters this week to condemn the vicious efforts of Blairites and Zionists to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. Hundreds faced a barrage of abuse from a Zionist gang as they piled into the meeting in central London on Tuesday, and a hundred more late-comers were turned away on safety grounds.

Inside, the 400-strong audience heard speaker after speaker uphold the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, and slam the smears that brand Corbyn and the Labour left as “anti-Semitic”. Called by the Corbyn, Antisemitism & Justice for Palestine campaign, the meeting was chaired by Christine Blower, a former teaching union leader, and the panel included a number of well-known Palestinian and Jewish socialists as well as the author Tariq Ali.

Campaigners, including Lindsey German of the Stop the War coalition and Tariq Ali, called on the left to close ranks around Corbyn and defeat attempts to define any criticism of Israel as “anti-Semitic”.

Richard Kuper of Jewish Voice for Labour said: “That the Corbyn project is under attack is in no doubt — from a large proportion of Labour’s MPs and a large proportion still of Labour’s bureaucracy… Labour is also under assault from the pro-Israel lobby, which has been alarmed for some time about the prospect of a leader who is in favour of Palestinian rights.”

Huda Elmi, who is running on the Corbyn slate in this year’s Labour NEC elections, said the mainstream media focus on ‘anti-Semitism’ deliberately ignores the Palestinians: “The problem is Palestinians have been completely erased from it. They’re trying to subvert our ability to be loud and unapologetic about being anti-colonial.

“Talk about the human rights abuses against the Palestinians. We have to turn it back to that. We have stood consistently shoulder to shoulder with Palestinian people. We can’t take steps back from that.”

Down and out in the West Country

by New Worker correspondent

CUTS in Somerset County Council spending don’t only effect their employees they also have an enormous impact on the most vulnerable people in society.

Over a year ago a homeless man was found dead in a tent outside Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. His body was so badly decomposed that police have been unable to identify who the man was, despite a driving licence and birth certificate being found when the corpse was first discovered on 15th August 2017. The police still haven’t managed to make a formal identification.

In neighbouring Bristol, the local newspaper reported, also last week, that a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Bristol City Council had revealed that at least 50 homeless people had died in the City during the last five years. Some were subject to violence, some took their own lives, and for some no explanation as to how they died could be found.

The request also revealed that most of the information, including the person’s date of death and age, are recorded wrongly. Some have their names spelled incorrectly. Apparently Bristol’s council is one of the few anywhere in Britain to keep any semblance of a record.

In another investigation, FOI requests were sent to every council and police force in Britain asking how many rough sleepers had died on their streets. It was found that just under half of the councils weren’t able to provide any numbers because they are not required to keep the necessary records.Many of these homeless who died had few friends let alone family in Bristol — a sizeable number are drawn to Bristol or pushed from neighbouring authorities such as Somerset, Wiltshire or Gloucestershire because these authorities haven’t the monies to deal with the homeless crisis having faced year-on-year cuts in central funding.

The best estimates from the information available is that the average life expectancy for a man on the streets is just 47 years of age, and 43 for a woman, with 70 per cent having personality disorders compared with four per cent of society overall.Making life even harder for the homeless in Bristol, the City Council has closed all public toilets in order to save a bit of cash. So now the homeless have nowhere to go for a wash or other necessary bodily functions.

A Bristol Council officer said: “The council has a duty of care to everyone living in the city and in Bristol we are working together to try and end homelessness through both short term solutions and long term change. However, we acknowledge that homelessness is a complex problem that cannot be solved overnight.”

Bristol has 10,000 people on the housing waiting list and has created a £57 million pot of money to get private developers to build affordable homes and council houses instead of just homes to sell or buy-to-let. The policy will have limited success because developers are trying every which way to build homes without meeting the council’s policy of 30 per cent affordable homes or 40 per cent in the city centre. Countrywide there needs to be a huge programme of building new homes at genuinely affordable rents and democratically controlled — along with controls on rents in the private sector, which have soared beyond what millions of low-paid workers can afford. The cuts to housing benefit and the benefits system as a whole need to be reversed. We need a Labour Government that is committed to reversing the mess that decades of failed housing policies has created.