The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 14th November, 1997

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Editorial - The future is socialism.
Lead Story - Moscow marches for socialism.
Feature - A dangerous time to be young.
International - British government must act to build Irish talks.
British News - Firefighters warn of falling standards.


 The future is socialism.

 IN EVERY corner of the capitalist world enormous efforts are made to persuade people that socialism is nothing more than some sort of political experiment which was tried in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe and which miserably failed. They want us to think socialism is an impossible, utopian dream which can never succeed and which is now dead and buried.

 Just in case we are not convinced by these arguments, other propaganda is poured out to denigrate socialism. Seemingly endless articles appear in the capitalist press and other publications in a desperate attempt to portray the socialist countries -- including the existing socialist countries -- as "evil" and "murderous" regimes.

 Despite all this demagogy, lies and smears, the 80th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917 has been celebrated by working people in every continent of the world. Red banners have been raised across the globe to salute the greatest historic event of our

 It is not difficult to understand why the exploiting capitalist class want to believe that the "spectre of communism" has gone away. And of course they dream of a world in which the oppressed peoples are deprived of hope for the future and meekly accept their oppression.

 But these fantasies will not prevail and the lies will be exposed. For capitalism cannot conceal its crimes from the millions who suffer at its hands and the class struggle, nationally and internationally, will intensify.

 The truth is there for all to see -- a world dominated by capitalism is a world in which millions are left to starve, millions are. homeless and desperately poor. Capitalism fails to Provide even the most meagre. quality of life for countless people who struggle to exist without an adequate diet, access to clean water, basic health care, education and employment.

 Even in the advanced industrial countries, millions are out of work, the homeless sleep on the streets, and the ranks of the poor never diminish.

 Workers in the former socialist countries have, under restored capitalism, experienced unemployment for the first time in their lives. Their pensions and benefits have been rendered virtually worthless, their social provision has been slashed and poverty has grown. Racketeers and mafia gangs flourish, neo-Nazi thugs are tolerated, crime and corruption abounds.

 Capitalism is responsible for killing millions of people in its wars. It spawned fascism, it uses racism to divide and rule and it continues to threaten the world with weapons of mass destruction. Capitalism is the old order, capitalism is the criminal system -- it is capitalism which is passé.

 The Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917 changed history and ushered in a period in which a sixth of the world would throw off the yoke of capitalism. For the first time in history the oppressed seized the reins of state power and began the task of building socialism.

 Within a generation the new socialist power proved to be decisive in the defeat of fascism. The great contribution of the former Soviet Union in bringing about the victory over fascism is an achievement of the Great October Socialist Revolution that no counter-revolutionaty traitor can steal, denigrate or conceal.

 The existence of socialism in the world brought hope and inspiration. The peoples of the developing world who had fought long and hard against colonial oppression at last found solidarity and friendship.

 No one can deny that the working class has suffered a tragic setback over the past ten years. The pro-imperialist elements within the Soviet Union aided and abetted by the imperialist powers effected a counter-revolution that has given capitalism an undeserved breathing space.

 This did not happen because socialism had failed but because the ideas of Marxism-Leninism, that had guided the Revolution to victory, were gradually undermined and not applied.

 Just as the revolutionary movement learned important and valuable lessons from the defeat of the Paris Commune in 1871, so we shall learn even more important lessons from the counter-revolution of our own time.

 Like the Revolutionaries of 1917, who were not defeated by the setback of 1871, so shall the revolutionary forces of today and tomorrow fight on and take strength and experience from the Great October Socialist Revolution and the lessons it has provided.

 We salute the Great October Socialist Revolution! Long Live Marxism-Leninism! The future is Socialism!

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Lead Story

Moscow marches for socialism.

 HUNDREDS of thousands of Russians took to the streets of Moscow last Friday to mark the 80th anniversary of the Great October Revolution and demonstrate, their opposition to the Yeltsin regime.

 Though 7 November is still a Public holiday in the Russian Federation it has now been renamed the "Day of Reconciliation and Accord". And President Yeltsin used the occasion for further anti-communist propaganda during a nation-wide televised address which revealed that he has ordered the construction of a monument to those killed on both sides during the Civil War which ended in victory for the Bolsheviks.

 "We are able not only to oppose each other but also to find an accord. We can at last do away with the divisions of Russians into "them" and "us" Yeltsin rambled. And he called on Russians to ignore communist demonstrations and stay at home to "pickle cabbage" and look after their families.

 But this cut little ice with the ranks of "them", the communists and their supporters who braved the cold and ice to parade in Moscow, St.Petersburg (Leningrad) and as far as Vladivostok in the Siberian Far East with posters of Lenin and Stalin and banners denouncing Yeltsin and his cronies.

 In the Russian capital Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the biggest communist faction in parliament, the Communist Patty of the Russian Federation, led a march supported by over 300,000 Muscovites. He ridiculed Yeltsin's call for "reconciliation".

 "Did Mr Yeltsin ask the four million homeless children who live rough in cellars and in railway stations about reconciliation?" he said to the roars of approval from the crowd. "Did he consult the 20 million highly educated people who have no job or the six million refugees his regime has created" he asked.

 "Revolutions occur when people refuse to tolerate tyrants and exploiters any longer," Zyuganov warned. "Once again Russia has been plunged into a time of troubles that tries peoples' patience".

 The rally was also backed by dissident General Lev Rokhlin. the head of the Russian parliament's Duma Defence Committee and leader of the Movement in Support of the Army. He urged the people "to overturn the hateful regime and the sooner the better".

 The rally paused for a minute's silence to mark the tens of millions of Soviet people who died in the war against fascism.

 But General Rokhlin said that the regime had outdone the Nazis in destroying Russian industry. "During World War 2 the Germans destroyed no more than 25 percent of our industries," he declared. But in the last few years 70 to 90 per cent of Russia's industries had now gone.

 The demonstrators were banned from marching to Lenin's Mausoleum in Red Square. But the rally, in central Moscow's Lubyanka Square became a sea of red flags, banners and protesters to hear the speeches and the rare recording of Lenin's voice. Other communists, opposed to Zyuganov's parliamentary tactics and his backdown over a no-confidence vote in the Duma, held their own rally in Moscow calling for revolutionary action to bring down the Yeltsin regime.

 And in the capitals of the former Soviet republics communists: organised similar demonstrations to mark the October revolution which ended Czarism in 1917.

by Ann Rogers in Paris

SO many people came to eelebrate the 80th anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution last weekend in Paris that the theatre booked for the event was filled to overflowing. Many comrades had to listen to the speeches from the adjoining stairways and foyer.

 The meeting, arranged by the Organising Committee for the 80th Anniversary of 1917 October Revolution, opened with a speech by the highly respected veteran fighter for the cause of Algerian freedom, Comrade Henri Alleg.


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A dangerous time to be young.

By Caroline Colebrook
THREE separate reports issued last week gave details of different hazards facing modern children -- from road accidents, from lead poisoning and from repetitive strain injury (RSI) -- which altogether paint a gloomy picture for many of our youngest citizens.

 A report from Sussex University shows that one in 10 children is suffering some degree of brain damage from lead poisoning by the age of six.

 The main sources of exposure are from water and paintand do most damage to the under-sixes, whose brains are still developing.

 Children who have been affected will suffer intellectually and achieve lower IQs.

 Erik Millstone, author of the report, said: "The evidence indicates that children being poisoned are doing less well at school. The lead is also contributing to their disruptive and delinquent behaviour."

 Dr Millstone says that government departments have been "negligent" and "culpable" and pointed out that Britain will not meet World Health Organisation limits for lead in drinking water until 2010.

 "Britain is operating with completely archaic standards," he said. Children are suffering because the public has not been warned of the dangers of stripping old paint in their homes.

 The rate of change from lead pipes is going so slowly that many will remain in use for another 60 years.

 "Half of all British homes are contaminated with old lead paint, and approximately one in three receives its drinking supply through old lead pipes," said Dr Millstone.

 He called for regular monitoring of lead levels in young children's blood samples, lowering the levels deemed safe and a publicity campaign on the danger of stripping old paint.

 He also said that water companies should not be allowed to charge for water that does not conform to European Union standards.

 Meanwhile the Body Action campaign, a charity set up to teach children how to prevent arm and hand disorders, warns that an alarming number of children are being crippled by RSI from too much use of computer keyboards and games consoles.

 Thousands are displaying early signs of the condition which can leave sufferers experiencing agonising pain and unable to perform simple tasks such as opening doors.

 Therapists are already treating some teenagers with severe symptoms. Some now have to wear neck braces or have had to give up playing musical instruments.

 The charity is trying to make children aware of the dangers and develop the practice or safe play, with proper rest breaks away from the keyboards.

 Many children find computer games addictive and will play for up to five hours at a time without a break, unaware they are storing up severe health problems for the future.

 And in Scotland, a survey by researchers at Napier University has found that children from poor homes are more likely to be knocked down in road accidents compared to those living in more affluent areas.

 The fairly obvious reason for this is that children from poorer backgrounds spend more time as pedestrians and less time being driven about in cars by their parents.

 The researchers, working in the fortner Lothian region, studied the links between road accident victims and where they lived through their post codes. They concluded that those from the most deprived areas like Weste Hailes and Craigmillar are almost eight times as likely to be knocked over than children living in the richer areas like Morningside and Barnton.

 The findings have prompted Councillor David Begg, roads and transportation spokesperson for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), to promise that local authorities will now be "prioritising" in favour of pedestrians.

 He said that Cosla has now put the rights of pedestrians top of its list, followed by the needs of cyclists, then public transport users, and finally car owners.

 "To be frank," said Mr Begg, "in the past the decision-makers have viewed the transport problern almost exclusively from behind the windscreen of some car but, thankfully, that is changing now.

The director of the Pedestrians' Association, Bell Plowden, says the Napier report backs the case to make walking safer.

 He said that planners have designed towns and cities on the assumption that the majority of people have access to cars.

 "In many new towns or recently opened leisure or shopping centres it is assumed that people can get around by car.

 "In many cases if there is a crossing, it is maybe 150 yards in the opposite direction from where the pedestrian wants to go.

 "Pedestrians may have to walk through narrow side streets or across car parks to get to their destination.

 "By setting up towns and cities suitable for car drivers you are excluding a wide range of society who do not have cars, or because of physical disabilities cannot drive.

 "These findings, which show that people in poor areas are more Likely to be killed, does not surprise me.

 "Planners created many housing estates on the way into cities and many of the people there do not have cars but have many cars coming through their home areas.

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British government must act to build Irish talks.

by Steve Lawton
SINN Féin president Gerry Adams, reacting to the resignation of some members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) at the end of last week, reaffirmed that the IRA's ceasefire stood -- a Belfast newspaper last Friday carried an IRA statement to that effect -- and multi-party talks were on track.

 Gerry Adams acknowledged on BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Politics programme last Saturday that the current resignations, combined with the unsalisfactory pace of the talks, were a "risky" and "dangerous" matter.

 And that dead-slow pace has everything to do with the constant disruption by the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the distinct reticence of the British Labour government to take the bull by the horns and push the process forward. This is the nub of the issue.

 Gerry Adams put the events in context: "I think all of this plays very much to the agenda of those people who have tried to cultivate confusion and dissent, who when they can't get a split try to create the illusion of a split.

 "Coming at a time when there has been no real movement in the peace process beyond most of the parties actually getting into the same room -- of course all of this is risky, it is dangerous." But he said the "search for peace" was "always going to be testing." And it's not the first time that there have been such resignations.

 Moreover, as Sinn Féin chair Mitchel McLaughlin pointed out, these resignations do not compare with the disarray caused in the unionist and loyalist camp, by the resignation of the entire Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC), which killed one of its own members in the process.

 The IRA, on the other hand, according to its own statement, was "totally intact". Gerry Adams said that it was "cohesive" and the cessation was "good and genuine", giving the IRA deserved "credibility" for so maintainiag it.

 Speaking at the Edentubber Martyrs 40th Commemoration of the death from a landmine of five Republicans in 1957, Mitchel McLaughlin said that in achieving a resolution of "centuries of turmoil and trauma" it fell to their generation to "create a new and agreed Ireland. The United Ireland of our future."

 But the British government must "also exercise a crucial responsibility". He said the fact that the British government recognises there can be no "internal Six County settlement" means the policy of partition has failed and Britain should now relinquish involvement in Irish affairs.

 He said: "Tony Blair should use his influence and power to convince the Unionist leadership that the future of all of our people lies in a stable, peaceful sovereign Ireland agreed amongst the people of this island."

 Mitchel McLaughlin, accusing the Unionists of selfish and schoolboy behaviour, pointed out that their antics of "disruption and non-engagement" can only succeed while the British government fails to denounce them. "Tony Blair is in a very powerful position to insist that the Unionist party leader; face up to the fundamental constitutional change that is required if we are to resolve this conflict."

 He said Unionist leader David Trimble can scuttle in and out of talks but he can't hide -- he must negotiate with Sinn Féin as equals, and "we must do it now".

 But Mitchel McLaughlin was also at pains to reassure the Unionist community. He said that they have no need to "fear discrimination or second class citizenship". David Trimble, he said, should take more notice of his own community who wish to see serious progress in talks.

 Indeed Sinn Féin, in its submission to Strands One and Two of the talks, show clearly the elements of a future framework on social, economic, justice, security and democratic issues.

 The document, noting that "London holds the distinction of having been found guilty before the European Court of Human Rights more often than any other signatory since 1950", demands the removal of British influence and the dismantling of its security apparatus.

 For instance, setting out its views under the terms of parity of esteem, equality of treatment and meaningful protection of rights, Sinn Féin asserts that the most rigorous investigations into past killings by security forces and "agencies of the state" will be necessary.

 It calls for "The privilege against self-incrimination" to be restored; the lifting of restrictions, intimidation and descrimination in other spheres of life, work, culture and language. There would be an end to repressive structures and a completely reformed judicial and policing system created.

 The depth and extent of the issues involved to secure peace for an Ireland of all its people, reveals just how urgent it is that the British labour and trade union movement pressure the Labour government to take positive action to gear-up the peace talks, particularly with the review of progress expected soon.


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British News

Firefighters warn of falling standards.
by Daphne Liddle
 THE FIRE Brigades Union last week warned that our fire service is facing a crisis because of poor training, outdated inspections and crippling financial pressures.

 The FBU says its research shows that many firefighters are not being trained adequately in the latest techniques.

 Training is an area that has been subject to repeated cuts over the years as regional fire services have tried to avoid making cuts in front-line services.

 And the FBU says that health and safety obligations to both firefighters and the community are now going unfulfilled because of cuts.


 The research found inadequacies within Her Majesty's Fire Service inspectorate and the FBU accuse this body of failing to maintain operational standards within Britain's 58 brigades.

 The union is backed up by senior figures in the Chief and Assistant Chief Fire Officers' Association (CACFOA), when it complains that firefighters have have no specific training in dealing with two particularly dangerous phenomena known as "backdraft" and "flashover".

 "Flashover" happens when gases, heat and smoke explode.

 A number of firefighters have lost their lives in recent years because of these phenomena.

 Last year woman firefighter Fleur Lombard, from the Avon brigade, died in a "flashover" incident at a fire at a Bristol supermarket.

 And two retained, or part-time, firefighters, Steve Griffin and Kevin Lane, also died last year in another "flashover" incident in Blaina, Gwent.

 The FBU has also warned fire authorities that they are leaving themselves open to be sued if poorly trained firefighters make mistakes.

 Last year Hampshire County Council, which runs the fire authority, was ordered by a court to pay £16 million to a computer firm after firefighters were judged to have wrongly switched off a sprinkler system while dealing with a fire at the company's premises in Basingstoke.

 FBU health and safety officer David Matthews warned: "I think it is important that people realise we are heading for crisis because of the failure of the inspectorate to do its job, the budgetary situation faced by many brigades and the lack of proper training.

 "We need a full investigation and a public report on the role of the inspectorate."

 Richard Bull, chairperson of the CACFOA added: "The ultimate effect is that it compromises the safety of firefighters. The safety of firefighters should receive priority. They must have the right facilities and the right level of training."

 Meanwhile London firefighters are enlisting the help of local communities in their current battle against a threatened £20 million cut in the capital's fire service budget.

 The cuts threaten to close two stations: Shooters' Hill in southeast London and the Barbican in central London.

 The cuts also threaten 100 jobs in addition to the 1,000 that have already gone from London's fire service in the last 12 years. And the service provided by the Thames fireboat service.

 Both have been under threat before and have been saved by strong local campaigns.

 Currently the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority is negotiating with the Home Office for extra funding to avoid the cuts.

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