The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 14th March 2008

Debt Freedom Day

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by Daphne Liddle

of  American imperialism, along with their running dogs like Tony Blair, and Israel’s Sharon, five years ago thought they and their system were immortal, omnipotent and all-conquering.

History, aided by the heroic Iraqi resistance, has proved them wrong!

The imperialists failed to learn the lessons that all great empires eventually collapse into dust and with their ill-judged greed, adventurism and warmongering brought the end of their own empire a lot nearer.

 It is not gone yet but the fighters from the land of two rivers, ancient cradle of civilisation, have critically weakened the power of the US Empire militarily, economically and politically.

 And in doing so they have opened up the possibility of a world freed from US imperialist greed and brutality in the foreseeable rather than the far distant future.

 Five years ago the imperialist coalition thought Iraq would be just another routine conquest like they had had in Afghanistan, the Balkans, in Latin America and places around the globe; force of superior arms would quickly prevail and peace protesters would be marginalised, demoralised and defeated. They forgot Vietnam.

 And at first they thought everything was going to plan. The peace protesters had been louder and more numerous before, supported by some major capitalist rivals to the US. These included the European Union and Russia and pro-Euro popular papers like the Mirror and the Independent.

 This put an unprecedented two million protesters onto the streets of London but the imperialists ignored them. They thought they could get away with lying to the people about a non-existent threat from weapons of mass destruction. Their arrogance was the beginning of their downfall.

 The initial military conquest of Iraq was a little more difficult than they thought it would be but within weeks the imperialist invaders thought they had it all sewn up.

 But they had only scratched the surface. The Iraqis were a long way from being a conquered people – and still are. Saddam Hussein made many mistakes in his life – including actually getting rid of the serious weapons – at the behest of the United Nations – that would have deterred the invaders. But he did one crucial thing right; just before the invasion he distributed arms to the general population of Iraq to enable them to fight back – and they have done so.

 The invaders have not been able to secure Iraq’s oil supplies – the resistance has denied them their chief economic target and the result has been soaring oil prices in the West.
The costs of the war to the imperialists are astronomical and leave them facing an impending financial recession with little room for manoeuvre.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have tied down the armed forces of the invaders for five years now – making US military interventions in other parts of the world impossible.

 The new Bolivarian governments in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador have benefited from this. And Hugo Chavez has been able to use Venezuela’s oil wealth to support other progressive and socialist countries in defiance of US embargos.

 The US has lost friends and supporters among other capitalist states as its weakness and poor judgement have been made plain. It has lost the confidence of its own military leaders, many of whom have spoken out against the poor planning and tactics.

 Just last Wednesday Admiral William Fallon, who headed the US Central Command in the Middle East resigned his post before he was due for retirement over concerns that President Bush is planning further reckless action against Iran.

 The people of Iraq continue to pay a heavy price for the invasion and occupation of their country. Bush tries to pretend the conquest is achieving its ends and the conflict is dying down. But on 10th January, US bombers unleashed 40,000 pounds of explosives in the biggest aerial attack since March 2003, killing or injuring dozens of civilians, many of them women, children and the elderly.

On Saturday 15th March – a good date for toppling tyrants – the Stop the War Coalition has organised mass demonstration in London and Glasgow, calling for an end to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, a halt to war preparations against Iran and justice for the people of Palestine. This will be part of a worldwide day of action, The World Against War that will see similar peace protests in most major cities on the planet.

 The day of action was agreed at an international peace conference in London in December.

 Veteran campaigner Tony Benn urged people to support the demonstration, saying: “The destruction of Iraq continues; its people killed amidst bombings and atrocities, a million or more dead, many more than two million driven from their homes, the social and economic infrastructure shattered.

 “In Afghanistan the US military is spending $65,000 a minute and there are four times as many air strikes than in Iraq.
 “The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in untold suffering for the people of these countries. Yet British troops remain in both countries.

 “The International Peace Conference we organised in London in December agreed to hold anti-war demonstrations across the world in March 2008. The UK demonstration takes place in London on 15th March. I hope you will join me there.”

 One man who will not be addressing the rally – but who has defied restrictions to send a message – is former SAS soldier Benn Griffin, who has spoken out against British military involvement in US torture “rendition” flights.

 The message he has sent is: “As of 1940hrs 29/02/08 I have been placed under an injunction preventing me from speaking publicly and publishing material gained as a result of my service in UKSF (SAS).

 “I will be continuing to collect evidence and opinion on British involvement in extraordinary rendition, torture, secret detentions, extra judicial detention, use of evidence gained through torture, breaches of the Geneva Conventions, breaches of International Law and failure to abide by our obligations as per UN Convention Against Torture. I am carrying on regardless.”

 The demonstration assembles in Trafalgar Square at 12 noon then marches down Whitehall, across the river and back for a rally in Parliament Square.

 And in one week’s time peace protesters will be taking to the streets again for the 50th anniversary of the first Aldermaston march, organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament – and protesting at the Government’s decision to go ahead with a new generation of Trident missiles.

 The march will also be to defend the right to protest. CND clarified that despite the recent High Court ruling on byelaws restricting the right to protest at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston, the demonstration set for Easter Monday will be going ahead, legally, as planned and looks likely to be the biggest in 20 years.

 The Bomb Stops Here protest of 24th March will celebrate 50 years of campaigning against nuclear weapons, taking place on the anniversary of the arrival of the first march to Aldermaston in 1958.

 Thousands of protesters are expected to surround the base which produces the warheads for the Trident nuclear weapons system.



The last resort of scoundrels

SHOULD teenagers be encouraged to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen and country? Former attorney general Lord Goldsmith last Tuesday delivered a report to Gordon Brown outlining proposals for such oath-taking ceremonies – probably as part of leaving school – in order to “give them a sense of belonging”.

This is a very sinister and anti-democratic proposal that will send a message to young people that it is wrong to have republican or left-wing views. In addition, the Queen is the head of the Church of England; millions of youngsters who follow other religions will have great problems swearing allegiance to her.

And it will take very courageous youngsters to stand up to their elders and mentors and refuse to swear. Many would be coerced into taking the oath for fearing of getting a bad mark against their name on the national identity register that is being compiled to back up the identity card scheme.

On the whole, adolescents feel passionately about basic honesty and pressuring them into swearing an oath they do not totally agree just to avoid the attention of the secret police will leave them feeling humiliated and debased.

Other, less imaginative youngsters who yearn to conform with authority in order to get on in the world, will take it as an official state endorsement that free thinkers, atheists and republicans – never mind communists like us – are the bad guys.

It will create division between the conformists and the rebels – but it will also spark some fierce debates and maybe recruit a few of the best to our ranks.

Dr Johnson said that patriotism is the last resort of scoundrels; this government has taken the county into a bloody war on a lie; it vaunts wealth and greed; it robs the poor to give tax concessions to the rich. Now the only way it can trump up support is on the basis of bogus right-wing nationalism when its only real basis of support is that the alternative is even worse.

Save London

AND THIS brings us to the coming London mayoral election in May. Ken Livingstone is the official Labour candidate. The leadership of that party may have been hi-jacked by scoundrels but it is still the only mass political party in Britain that has any potential whatever to giving a voice to Britain’s organised working class. And Livingstone’s record has been one of measures that have been of some benefit to London’s working class.

The Labour Party machine originally skewed its selection process to pick Yorkshireman Frank Dobson as its choice of candidate for the job. Livingstone quit the party to stand as an independent – though still holding the support of most of London’s Labour Party rank and file. He stood on a policy of opposing Tube privatisation. Though the Government imposed part privatisation of the Tube before handing control of it over to Livingstone, his stance has been more than vindicated in the dire performance and eventual collapse of Metronet, one of the two private companies involved in the part privatisation.

Livingstone has vastly improved the bus services. By and large the congestion charge has worked in lessening the gridlock in central London, though we would argue it weighs more heavily on low income drivers. Leading Green activists and campaigners acknowledge he is one of the very few elected mayors in the world with enough courage to take on the motor and oil industry lobbies in trying to reduce pollution in the capital.

And when it comes to the position of London Mayor, the alternative really is very much worse than Livingstone. Boris Johnson affects the public persona of a posh buffoon but he is really very reactionary and set on removing all barriers to his very rich class friends making as much profit as they can at the expense of ordinary Londoners.

All the advances made by Livingstone would be undone; the Tube would probably be fully privatised; travel concessions for children and the pensioners’ Freedom Pass would be under threat and developers would be allowed to run riot with no planning checks.

But the poll is likely to be a tight-run thing. People considering voting for alternative candidates or not voting at all should be aware that Boris is the only alternative to Ken and that a few votes going elsewhere could make all the difference and help Boris get in. Livingstone is not perfect but don’t wish a nightmare future on London.

 Save the Mayor, save London.
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