The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 15th April 2005
Rover workers and families protest -
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AL QAIM LIBERATED
by our Arab Affairs Correspondent
IRAQI resistance forces
have liberated al Qaim, a city in al Anbar province on the River
Euphrates near the border with Syria. Partisans from other parts of the
region are pouring into the city as four American columns advance and
fierce fighting is continuing between partisans and American Marines on
The US high command has proclaimed martial law throughout al Anbar
province, dividing it into military zones of Fallujah, Ramadi, Hit,
Hadithah, Qaim and Rutbah. Any Iraqi coming within a 1,000 metres of US
army bases or military columns will be shot.
The chief Muslim authority of al Anbar has issued a general call to
arms to able-bodied men and women to defend al Qaim and a new Iraqi
resistance movement drawn from the Sufi Muslim community has been
established to take the field and fight the Americans.
The Marines and their puppet auxiliaries were driven out of al Qaim
last week and the resistance has thrown back several American attempts
to retake it, driving them out of positions the US troops had briefly
retaken. Large quantities of drugs known locally as “Arteen” and
“Makdoon” were found in the abandoned American trenches.
Al Qaim is now under American siege while US helicopter gunships
and artillery target the drinking water storage tanks and food storage
freezers. The electricity supply has been cut and no food is being
allowed into the city.
Eight resistance groups have responded by issuing an ultimatum to
the Americans, giving them 12 hours to pull out all their troops
surrounding al Qaim to allow the civilians supplies of food and water,
warning that if their demand is not met US bases throughout occupied
Iraq will be subjected to “simultaneous painful strikes”.
In Baghdad the resistance is resuming the offensive after a lull to
cover the massive anti-American street protests organised by supporters
of maverick Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr last weekend. Roadside bombs
greeted the unannounced arrival of US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld
in the Iraqi capital for one-day talks with the new puppet regime on
Tuesday and attacks on American military convoys continued on Wednesday
to “welcome” Rumsfeld’s deputy, Robert Zoelick, to Baghdad.
On the oil front resistance commandos killed the head of the puppet
force set up to protect the northern oil fields from sabotage.
Nine puppet hirelings working for the American-created “Northern Oil
Company”, including their commander, Colonel Natham Abdullah, were
killed when a mine was detonated while they were attempting to disarm a
decoy device near the oil town of Kirkuk.
The mouthpieces of Anglo-American imperialism are claiming that the
US-led occupation army has got the partisans on the run. But reality
proves otherwise. Bush’s “coalition of the willing” is crumbling by the
day. This week Poland broke ranks, announcing that its 1,700-strong
contingent will quit Iraq in the first weeks of 2006, which means that
all the US army can rely on in the future is token forces from former
Soviet republics in the thrall of imperialism, Japan, south Korea and
the British expeditionary force in southern Iraq.
Though Tony Blair may hope that anti-war feeling will not fatally
damage the Labour vote in next month’s general election, some of our
troops are at least voting with their feet.
The number of deserters and those going absent without leave (AWOL) has
more than doubled over the past year. According to the Ministry of
Defence 530 soldiers deserted in 2004 compared to 205 in 2003, 150 in
2002 and just 100 in 2001. Over 3,000 troops went AWOL last year with
only a third returning to base within 21 days.
The largest number came from the infantry, followed by the Royal
Logistics Corps and the Royal Artillery. Gilbert Blades, a lawyer
representing AWOL soldiers told the media that Iraq was “probably the
biggest factor” though he added that he thought a growing number
of young soldiers were also not prepared to “suffer the indignities and
discipline” of army life.
Nationalise Rover now!
IT’S NOT ALL OVER at MG Rover
but it soon will be unless the Government takes decisive action to
guarantee continued production at Longbridge. The unions are focusing
the workers’ demands on trying to revive bail-out deal talks with the
Chinese Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) while
protesting at the pitiful levels of redundancy payments currently on
Rover was losing between £20 to £25 million a month before
it crashed last week. The Chinese rescue plan, which would have given
SAIC 75 per cent of the holding in return for investments that would
shift some production to People’s China and enable Rover to develop
badly needed new models in Britain, now looks as dead as the dodo.
A massive injection of public money to underwrite the ailing motor
works could make it more attractive to SAIC, the Chinese publicly-owned
motor manufacturing giant, which pulled out of the deal when it
realised that it might have pick up the £400 million bill to
cover MG Rover’s pension fund liabilities. But the chances of reviving
the talks with SAIC are slim now that Rover’s gone into administration,
a form of bankruptcy.
Though the unions are right to concentrate on immediate demands that
might save the livelihoods of over 6,000 Midlands workers and a further
20,000 employed by Rover’s suppliers the only solution that can
guarantee continued employment at the Longbridge plant is
nationalisation. This is what the Labour Government did in 1975 when it
effectively nationalised the old British Leyland Motor Corporation to
stave off bankruptcy.
British Leyland was once a manufacturing giant owning nearly 40
manufacturing plants across the country. The process of asset-stripping
and sell-out began when it was still under state-control and continued
after BL was privatised by the Tories in 1988. But everyone who owned
Leyland’s, down to the rump MG Rover company which is its direct
successor, made fortunes except for the workers who built all the cars.
The vultures who bought the MG Rover Group for £10 five years
ago, in another “rescue” operation, milked it for around £160
million to cover their own pay and pension contributions. While there’s
pressure to get them to disgorge some of their loot to help the
company’s creditors, this is little comfort to the workers who have
been told that the most they can expect from redundancy is £280
for each year of service up to a maximum of 12 years.
The capitalists and their “New Labour” apologists claim that private
enterprise is for the good of the country and the workers. MG Rover
proves that all capitalism is good for is the capitalists themselves.
They make their millions out of the labour of others and the workers
just get their weekly wage to make a living and leave the factory no
better off than when they first clocked in.
Britain’s manufacturing base can only survive through massive
re-investment but the capitalist class as a whole see no purpose in
diverting their fortunes into this arena when there are much richer
pickings to be made through speculation and overseas investment.
Nationalising MG Rover would safeguard production and enable a new
public company to resume joint-venture talks with Shanghai Automotive
on a realistic basis. But nationalising the plant by itself would not
solve the long-term problems of the British manufacturing. Only the
nationalisation of the entire motor industry and the entire
manufacturing base, including the high-tech aerospace industry can
secure a future for the workers.
The restoration of the old public sector as it existed in 1979,
including the entire telecom industry would provide millions for the
modernisation of our factories, the restoration of the National Health
Service and the provision of a decent standard of living for every
worker in a country that we are constantly told is the fourth richest
in the world.
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