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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

National News

Gladstone speaks

by New Worker correspondent

IN 1844 the then Tory President of the Board of Trade, William Gladstone, oversaw the passing of the Railway Act. In theory, this provided for their nationalisation in 1865. In the 1918 General Election Winston Churchill said: “Railways in private hands must be used for immediate direct profit but it might pay the state to run railways at a loss to develop industries and agriculture.”

With such illustrious advocates and an historical pedigree, the idea of railway nationalisation is being pressed home by transport union RMT, which has discovered that the government led by a self-styled Churchillian has already laid the groundwork for renationalisation.

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School Strike

by New Worker correspondent

IN OUR 5th February issue [NW:2018] we reported that cleaners at the south London Roman Catholic school for girls La Retraite were balloting for strike action over a pay cut that was imposed on them when their hours were cut in revenge for them winning the London Living Wage.

Organised by the non-TUC street union United Voices of the World (UVW), the Latino workforce have now voted for what could be a 40-day strike. They are employed by private contractor Ecocleen, which has inferior pay rates and terms and conditions to those of directly employed La Retraite staff, including only Statutory Sick Pay whilst everyone else gets full pay sick pay.

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Trade Union odds and ends

NEXT TUESDAY evening the TUC is holding an online “Rally for a Workers’ Budget”. Amongst other things, Unison’s new General Secretary Christina McAnea will be demanding an end to the pay freeze that Chancellor Rishi Sunak has declared for some public service workers, together with a real living wage for care workers and a commitment to proper sick pay for all, and “for proper investment in public services – including £1 billion that is needed to close the funding gap in local government”.

That is all well and good but given that the Budget takes place the very next day and the Stationery Office will already have printed papers for MPs, they ought to have done something earlier had they genuinely expected their ideas to be taken up, but at least it shows the Congress House bureaucrats care about the workers.

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Playing games with people’s lifes

In the Northamptonshire town of Daventry, refuse workers employed by a private contractor (at £8.89 per hour, only just above the minimum wage) are facing being sent home on the basic Statutory Sick Pay of £95 per week should they test positive for COVID-19. To make matters worse, they are being tested using lateral flow tests, which are only 50 per cent accurate, and anyone refusing them is suspended from work.

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Response to sackings

Academic staff at the University of East London (UEL) have gone on strike after management pressed ahead with redundancy plans.

This is in response to the sacking of four staff and in protest at unmanageable workloads resulting from the 82 job cuts that took in 2020. UEL refused to take part in talks, resulting in an overwhelming 92 per cent of members voting for industrial action.

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Dire straits

by our Scottish political affairs correspondent

NICOLA Sturgeon, who at time of typing was still the First Minister of Scotland, recently announced that the European Union flag must be flown from all government buildings. The Union Jack was originally designed by James Stuart, the Scottish king who inherited the throne of England in 1603. It will now only be flown on Remembrance Sunday.

Apart from demonstrating a servile allegiance to the Brussels Eurocrats, the order demonstrates just what dire straits the SNP government is in. A bit of flag waving is just what is needed to distract SNP members when things are getting tough. Sturgeon could just have easily demanded that the NATO flag was to be flown because the SNP also want to join that organisation after leaving the UK, but that would only annoy her supporters rather than her opponents.

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More of the same

by our Scottish political affairs correspondent

Another example of an SNP cover-up come from Professor Lindsay Paterson, head of the Department of Education at the University of Edinburgh, who claims that specialists who tried to give detailed written evidence to a report on Scottish education by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) were informed that only people “approved by the Scottish Government” could contribute, thus ensuring that the SNP Government was allowed to mark its own homework.

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Hancock’s neighbour under investigation

by Max Gorbachev

A NEIGHBOUR of Health Secretary Matt Hancock is being investigated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the Guardian reported without citing its sources. The company of Alex Bourne, who previously ran a pub near Hancock’s old constituency, received a £30 million contract for the supply of vials for coronavirus tests. According to the Guardian, prior to the contract, the company Hinpack had no experience in medical devices. Before the pandemic it produced plastic cups and takeaway boxes for catering.

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Stand by Ukraine anti-fascists!

by New Worker correspondent

LOCAL supporters of the Ukrainian resistance held a lightning picket outside the Ukraine embassy in West London on Sunday. They paid tribute to those that fell resisting the fascist mobs who overthrew the legitimate Ukrainian government in February 2014.

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Cli-fi – a new genre but an old theme

by Leslie Misson

CLIMATE FICTION (cli-fi) is now a widely recognised literary genre. It has proliferated so rapidly that it’s difficult to keep up. Common features of cli-fi include references to alternative histories, aliens, geoengineering, cautionary tales and survivalist compounds.

Alternative histories can show how adoption of a particular technology might have averted the climate crisis. Suppose for example that Thomas Edison had perfected a lithium battery in the early 20th century and that Henry Ford had mass produced lithium battery-powered vehicles. In Dennis Bartels’ The Lithium Option, Edison and Ford decide against mass production of electric vehicles when they learn that the Soviet Union has extensive lithium deposits. Their anti-communism forestalls a green future.

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International News

India: Rail protests and growing state terror

by Tania Siddiqi

SAMYUKTA Kisan Morcha, the farmer unions’ umbrella body, launched a ‘rail roko’ protest to halt train transit in many parts of India for four hours on 18th February. This action is the farmers’ latest attempt to push India’s national government to repeal three ‘farm bills” intended to appease corporate cravings.

Bhajan Singh, district president of Karntikari Kisan Union-Gurdaspur, said the purpose of the protest was to counter the government’s narrative that demonstrations were happening in only two provinces: Punjab and Haryana. Moreover, Singh said, protesting on the nationwide network of railway tracks would demonstrate that the uprising is happening all over the country.

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French moves against fascists

by Ed Newman

FRANCE is beginning the process of shutting down the far-right Generation Identity (GI) group, a move that comes after Al Jazeera’s undercover investigation exposed the group’s racism, violence and connections with Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party.

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Texans freeze, power companies rejoice

Radio Havana Cuba

MILLIONS of Americans endured another day with shortages of water, heat or electricity, as the death toll from winter storms rose to at least 49. More than 13 million Texans remained under a “boil water advisory” and some 200,000 had no power, days after Texas’s power grid collapsed amidst record low temperatures.

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NATO’s Mission Impossible

by Finian Cunningham

NATO defence ministers are reportedly trying to thrash out a new, updated mission for the military alliance. Less charitably, the organisation is desperately seeking to find a purpose for its continuing existence.

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US fascist thug Robert Rundo expelled from Serbia‘

IDoC ON THURSDAY 11th February, the anti-fascist movement of Serbia, and particularly the League of Communist Youth of Yugoslavia (SKOJ), achieved an important victory when the country’s authorities finally expelled American neo-Nazi Robert Rundo.

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Harry Haywood - Black Bolshevik

by Devin Cole

THE 4th February was the birthday of Black Communist Harry Haywood, one of the great Marxist-Leninist thinkers, leaders and revolutionaries of the 20th century. Although Haywood was born over 100 years ago and has been dead for over 30 years, his contributions to Marxism-Leninism and the struggle for Black Liberation and self-determination remain central in the fight for revolutionary socialism.

Haywood, a leader of the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) and member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), developed and popularised the theoretical concept known as the Black Belt thesis, which explains that Black people in America make up an entire nation that is nationally oppressed by capitalism and US imperialism.

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The Paris Commune

People’s Democracy (India)

ON 19th July 1870, war broke out between France and Prussia. The ruling classes of both countries had long been preparing secretly for it. Marx had long foreseen that the adventurer Napoleon III and the Prussian Junker Bismarck, who was bent on unifying Germany “by blood and iron”, would embark on policies leading to an armed conflict.

The Bonaparte Government hoped that military victories would help to bolster its regime and enable it to weather the deep international political crisis. For its part, Prussia sought to weaken France by seizing the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, which were rich in iron ore and important strategically.

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