The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 10th October, 1997

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Editorial - Turkey out of Iraq!
Lead Story - Time-bomb under the NHS.
Feature - Benefit charges push more under-25s on to the streets.
International - Arafat in secret talks with Netanyahu.
British News - TUC targets young people.


 Turkey out of Iraq!

IN 1991 a huge United States-led coalition launched a murderous war against Iraq. The blanket bombing, the relentless bombardments of shells, the attacks with Cruise missiles and the colossal damage to the infrastructure of the region, all leading to a huge loss of life, were done in the name of defending the "sovereignty" of oil-rich Kuwait -a puppet state of the West.

 But the humbugs and hypocrites in Washington and Europe, that six years ago took it upon themselves to marshal huge armies and arsenals for an all-out attack on Iraq, have done little tnore than tut tut and shake their heads when it comes to the outrageous invasion of northern Iraq by Turkish forces.

 Sovereignty, it seems, is only defended by the West when it suits the economic, political and strategic interests of the itnperialist powers.

 The British government must not be allowed to shrug its shoulders and pretend it is not involved -- Britain and the United States are at present providing a cover for Turkey's invasion, since northern Iraq is under the so-cal led "protection" of what is effectively an Anglo American "no-fly zone".

 Britain and the US patrol the skies of northern Iraq to keep Iraq's own forces out of a part of their own country and yet they do nothing to stop Turkey from invading the region and terrorising the Kurdish community living there.

 Britain, the US and other western powers could stop this illegal and inhuman invasion ofIraq. They could, for instance, suspend Turkey as a member of Nato on the grounds that member states are not supposed to take tnilitary action against another country without prior discussion within the alliance. Turkey has not sought any talks with its Nato allies.

 Nato is also supposed to be an alliance of democratic states -- Turkey could be disqualified on this basis as well.

 The situation is deteriorating by the day. The dreadful news came in last week that the invading Turkish forces in northern Iraq had beheaded over 100 Kurds in the area of their occupation.

 This horror has not been given prominence in the capitalist press and many people may not even know this outrage has taken place.

 How different this is from the news coverage given the other week to the possible beheading of a British nurse living in Saudi Arabia following her trial for murder. Every detail of the case was reported, every twist and turn of events was covered. The foreign secretary Robin Cook -- a self-proclaimed champion of human rights -- was prevailed upon to discuss the matter with the Saudi regime.

 The actual beheading of over 100 Kurdish people is an act of vile barbarism carried out as part of a campaign to terrorise the Kurdish people living in Iraq and the majority of Kurds who live in Turkey itself.

 What is Robin Cook going to say about this crime? What is the British government going to do?

 So far the British foreign office has only said it has made complaints about the Turkish invasion of Iraq to the highest levels of the Turkish government.

 Is this all Robin Cook's Human Rights campaign amounts to -- lodging a few complaints?

 Clearly we cannot sit back and wait for this new champion of human rights to act.

 The peace movement needs to take the lead and launch a campaign of public protest against the illegal and murderous invasion of Iraq by Turkey and the criminal brutality against the Kurdish people.

 Our own government must not be let off the hook. Our demands for peace and justice must surely include the call for an end to the no-fly zones that prevent the people of Iraq from defending their own territory and for an end to the cruel blockade against Iraq that has been responsible for a million deaths in that country. Turkey out of Iraq! Turkey out of Nato! Hands Off Iraq!

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Lead Story

Time-bomb under the NHS

PFI could bankrupt health service in 25 years.
 THE National Health Service could face financial ruin in 20-25 years time if the government sticks with Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes to provide money for NHS capital projects.

 This stark warning was given by Geoff Martin of London Health Emergency when he addressed a fringe meeting at the recent Labour Party conference in Brighton.

 The campaigning group "Hands Off Greenwich NHS", has already seen the impact of PFI on its own local Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

 The original cost of refurbishing the hospital was estimated to be under £30 million, including the purchase price.

 "PFI was brought in", said an HOGNHS spokesperson, "and overnight the proposed cost rose to £60 million.

 "Over this week we have heard it has risen again -- to £85 million".

 Other reports at the meeting showed that the Greenwich experience was certainly not a one-off.

 And these problems are just for starters.

 It is easy to see why governments wanting to hold down public spending would be attracted to PFI for major projects like the building, extending or refurbishment of prisons, hospitals, schools, roads and so on - it simply gets the private sector to put up the money. The government can appear to be getting things done without having to find the up-front cash.

 But in the longer-term the system is a disaster because the private investors then own outright the facility their money has provided and get their return by charging the public sector for its use.

 This is not like having a mortgage -- where you do get to own what you have paid for eventually. Under PFI you pay and pay and pay without ever owning anything. Obviously, in the long term the public sector -- NHS, education authority, local authority or whatever -- pays the original cost over and over again -- it is for ever in hock.

 PFI started under the Tory government in 1992. In 1994 new guidelines for the NHS made it compulsory fhr hospital trusts to test private finance in all developments over £500,000. If this route was not tried public funds would he refused.


 Concerned members of the public and health service staff have found it extremely difficult to find out what is happening when PFI is introduced. This is because "commercial confidentiality" can be cited to cover details -- including very important matters -- of a PFI contract.

 Dr Allyson Pollock of St George's Hospital, London, told the meeting that the introduction of PFI would change the balance of the public and private sectors in the health services. PFI, she said, would arrange the construction, operating and financing and would soon play a crucial role in the planning of future hospital services.

 Contracts for the future hospitals are secret, she said, but we do know that a minimun of 15 to 17 per cent return will be required on this investment.

 She pointed out that when the hospitals are up and running, the usual thing is for the contracts to be sold to the big healthcare giants who will take over.

 Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn congratulated London Health Emergency for their work in bringing to light what is happening in the health service.

 He urged the meeting to deal with arguments that hospitals cannot be kept open and said there is a need for campaigning for the health service.

 Liberal-Democrat MP Simon Hughes challenged any PFI scheme to show that it had provided more beds. In Bedfordshire a PFI scheme was introduced and the number of beds went down from 450 to 280.

 Geoff Martin said the resources for the NHS are inadequate to provide a service. One thousand acute beds are being lost every year, he said. Patients waiting on trolleys will again be the picture this winter, he said.

 There is no doubt that the NHS is, and has long been, seriously underfunded. The answer is not to hand the buildings and facililies to the private sector under costly, short-sighted, PFI schemes.

 This Tory initiative has to go The NHS needs proper levels of public funding that will only be possible when the government abandons its policy of keeping to Tory spending and income tax levels.

 After all, when did any government minister tell us that we couldn't afford to keep Trident because it was too expensive!

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Benefit charges push more under-25s on to the streets

By Caroline Colebrook

CHANGES to the Housing Benefit system put in place by the Tories that will make it more difficult for young people to get privately rented accommodation came into force last Monday.

 Housing Benefit to young people was cut a year ago to the "going local rate for shared accomodation" which was fine for those that could find shared accomodation but meant eviction for many of those that could not.

 As an interim measure, claimants were allowed a 50 per cent top up to make up the difference between their local "reference" rent -- an average rent set by their local rent officer and the actual rent charged by the landlord.

 Now even this has been withdrawn.

 One result of the changes, revcealed by a recent survey of 1,000 landlords, is that half of them will no longer let their properties to under-25s and a quarter will no longer let their properties to anyone on Housing Benefit.

It is estimated that the Housing Benefit changes over the last year have saved the government £500 million. So new Chancellor Gordon Brown -- committed to keeping to Tory spending limits -- is not rushing to change things.

 The changes have led to a big reduction in the amount of low cost private rented accomodation available for young people.

thousands on the streets

 The result is, that with the cold weather due now, many thousands more young people will find themselves on the streets with nowhere to go.

 And those already on the streets are finding it even more difficult to escape.

 Peter Middleton, an outreach worker at the New Horizon Youth Centre in London's King's Cross, which provides support for homeless young people, said the cuts make it almost impossible for him to find places for young people in private rented accommodation.

 This means that the only places available are in hostels, which have come under tremendous pressure.

 On a typical day now hostel places are taken up so fast that by mid-morning there are only 10 beds free in all London for homeless youngsters.

 "It's really quite drastic what has happened," said Peter Middleton.

 Campaigners are calling for the restoration of Housing Benefit to young people -- finding a home costs just as much for a younger person as anyone else.

 And lack of proper jobs and the provisions of the Job Seekers' Allowance compel young people to travel and to move from home in search of work.

 The benefits system is in effect telling young people that if they want a home they must stay with their parents and forgo the independence, freedom and dignity of adulthood until they are 26. But if they want a job they must he prepared to travel.

 We must call For the Labour government to step up the provision of low-cost housing for single people of all ages and for families and for full benefits entitlements to be resored to young people between 16 and 25.

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Arafat in secret talks with Netanyahu

by Our Middle-East Affairs Correspondent
PALESTINIAN President Yasser Arafat has held secret talks with Benyamin Netanyahu amid rumours that the Americans are pushing to get the "peace process" back on line. But Netanyahu is under fire in Israel, following the release of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin after a botched-up Israeli secret service murder-plot in Jordan.

 Yasser Arafat met Israeli premier Benyamin Netanyahu at 2am on Tuesday on the Eretz crossing point between the Gaza Strip "autonomous" zone and Israel. It was their first face to face meeting for eight months and though no details have been revealed, the talks must have centred on the Palestinian-lsraeli negotiations which started this week.

 US special envoy Dennis Ross has been active behind the scenes to bring the two leaders together and many suspect that he may have also been behind the extraordinary events of the past week which saw the release of the spiritual leader of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and 22 other Palestinian prisoners in exchange for two Israeli agents held in Jordan for the attempted murder of one of their leaders in Amman. Sheikh Ahmad Yassin got a hero's welcome on Monday when he returned to Gaza after eight long years in an Israeli jail. But Netanyahu faced renewed calls for his resignaton when it was revealed that the Islamic resistance leader had been swapped for two Mossad agents who tried to kill another Hamas leader, Khaled Mashal, in the Jordanian capital on 25 September.

 The two Israeli agents, who had entered Jordan with fake Canadian passports,jumped Mashal in a car and injected him with poison. They were seized as they tried to escape and Mashal's life was saved, according to the Jordanian media, after Crown Prince Hassan obtained an antidote from the Americans.

 In Tel Aviv the Labour opposition are demanding Netanyahu's resignation and a public inquiry into the operation which has led to Canada's recall of their ambassador is protest; considerable embarrassment to Jordan's King Hussein, and the release of the leader of the resistance movement responsible for devastating suicide-bomb attacks in Israel.

 Netanyahu's motives remain a mystery. Sheikh Yassin, who is blind and paralysed in all limbs, is frail and his death in an Israeli dungeon could easily have triggered another violent backlash. But this could equally have happened had Mashal died in Jordan.

 Some suspect that the Amman attack was a joint Mossad-Jordanian operation which went wrong forcing Netanyahu and the Jordanian royal family to move to divert opinion by releasing the old man. Others think it may have been a complete charade to justify the release of the Hamas leader who could help end the resistance war.

 Sheikh Yassin may he blind hut he call still talk, and his first response will have given little comfort to Netanyahu's hard-line Likud government. The Sheikh did talk of co-cxistcnce with Israel if Israel withdrew from all the occupied territories including Jerusalem and recognised the Palestinian refugees' right to return to their homes. This, in fact, is the call of past United Nations' resolutions and the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

 "We have a people, four million Palestinians in the diaspora, who want to return to the homes from which they were expelled. Therefore we are prepared to live with the Jews, the best life, in brotherhood and co-operation and co-existence, on condition they do not gobble up our rights. We do not attack anybody. We do not oppress anyone," Sheikh Yassin declared.

 If Israel accepted this the crisis would end immediately, but the Likud government is stalling on the old Oslo agreement and still encouraging new Zionist settlements on Arab land. The Labour leadership baulk at the return of all the occupied territories and none of them even talk about letting the refugees return to their homes in what is now Israel.

 Netanyahu may hope that by drawing Hamas into the bargaining process he can obtain a cease fire and a scaling down of their demands. But his failure to honour even the modest terms of the Labour-brokered Oslo deal has done nothing to enhance his credibility with any section of Palestinian opinion, let alone those of the Muslim Brotherhood.

 The Americans, of course, hold most of the cards as they ultimately can dictate terms to Tel Aviv. Washington has been pushing for an end to violence which, if it spread, could threaten the feudal Arab regimes who collaborate in the plunder of Arab oil by the Western monopolies. But the United States has, until now, done nothing in practice to
stop Netanyahu's provocations. The Palesinian negotiators are demanding concrete measures from the Americans to kick-start the peace process. They want Washington to insist on the implementation of the Oslo agreement which was witnessed by the United States.

 They want the Israeli government to respond seriously at the peace talks, halt the violence against the Palestinians, freeze settlement building and comply with the second-stage withdrawal agreement for the West Bank. The ball, once again, is in America's court.

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British News

TUC targets young people
by Daphne Liddle

THE TRADES Union Congress is planning a major event For young people, in two weeks, to come together to share ideas, experiences and skills.

 And next January it plans to launch a new academy to train 25 young trades unionists as organisers.

 The InterActiv event will take place on Friday 24 October at North London University and is part of the TUC's New Unionism project to reverse the decline in union membership.

 It will involve well-known personalities from the worlds of sports, arts and the media. Athletics gold medallist Alison Curbishley, comic Kevin Day and Dazed & Confused editor Jefferson Hack.

 The organisers of the event say: "Young people are on the cutting edge of a fast-changing world where there are no more jobs for life.

 "Flexibility is the name of the game and too often "McJobs" are the only ones going. InterActiv aims to give young people from around the country space to say what they want and what they think on a whole range of issues affecting them.

 "It will also provide young people with the chance to find out why trade unions are good for them as they start out in today's insecure world of work."

 Other personalities taking part in InterActiv will be Labour MPs Oona King, Stephen Twigg and Claire Ward -- elected at 24 she is Britain's youngest MP.

 Trade unionists participating will include Ron Blackwcll (AFLCIO, the American equivalent of the TUC); TUC general secretary John Monks; Transport and General Workers' Union general secretary Bill Morris, Sue Longley of the International Food Union; Dawn Butler, from the civil service union PTC; Louisa Ball and Mike Eatwell from the print union GPMU and the TUC Youth Forum Students Douglas Trainer (NUS) and Rokshana Fiat (Student Assembly Against Racism).

 From the worlds of media and marketing, there will he John Grant (St Lukes Marketing); Louise Sanderson (TV writer) and John Mulholland (The Guardian Media Editor).

 Representing culture and literature will be Dotun Adebayo (Xpress and GLR); Bille Eltringham (film-maker); Suzy Graham-Adriani (Royal National Theatre) and Ollie Ola Animashawun (Royal Court Young Peoples Theatre).

And on the sporting front will he Adam Brown (Football Task Force) and Piara Powar (Kick Racism Out or Football).

 There will be different "activity zones" will run through the afternoon.

 The Speak Out Zone will provide an opportunity for discussion and debate on how young people are treated at work and beyond -- in the media, sports and culture.

 At the Organising Zone young people can try out basic organising skills, from the latest straight up union recruitment tactics to cutting edge video and multimedia techniques -- with tips from the best or today's young union organisers.

 The Information Zone will feature exhibitions offering information and advice vital for effective organising.

 In addition, a multi-media installation and a "vidjanation" will allow participants on the day to have discussions with the guest speakers both on-line and on camera.

When all the serious work is over -- between 6pm and 7pm -- the event will not be. Club InterActiv, with full-on dance DJs and comics Vladimir McTavish and Kevin Boyle, will get people partying into the small hours.

 There will he a chill-out room for those who fancy a quieter time to sit and chat.

 InterActiv is on Friday, October 24th from noon to 7pm at the University of North London Student Centre, The Rocket, Holloway Road, N7.

 Mark Holding, the TUC's youth officer, said: "InterActiv is a great chance for young people to express themselves on all those things they're concerned about -- work, sport, culture, the media, entertainment.

 "It will also prove that they are not apathetic, individualistic and apolitical.

 "I also hope InterActiv will inspire some of them to think ahout a new career in onion organising and apply for places at the TUC's Organising Academy.


 The Organising Academy will he the flagship of the TUC'a New Unionism project. In its pilot year, starting in January 1998, it will train around 25 mainly young dedicated organisers. The dosing date for applications for the Academy is October 31.

 Many young people feel too many big unions are dominated by right-wing leaderships, out of touch with their needs, and failing to give support to workers in struggle.

 Many unions are now planning to follow New Labour in diminishing and marginalising existing democratic structures including annual conferences.

 Young activists are desperately needed in the struggle to reverse this trend.

 The InterActiv event will provide an opportunity for them, firstly to voice their feelings to those who matter, and secondly to get themselves directly involved in the re-building and re-shaping of the trade union movement.

 Tickets for InterActiv are free although there will he a charge for Club InterActiv.

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