The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 16th October, 1998

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Editorial - Western exposure .
Lead Story - Countdown to war halted but NATO threat remains.
Feature - Patients lose sight waiting for cataract ops.
International - Prodi gets second chance.
British News - Police chiefs admit racism.


Western exposure

 IN ALL the leading western countries the government and major opposition parties sing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to foreign and military policies. And to make absolutely certain that the big-business view of the world holds sway, the capitalist press, TV and radio stations all join the chorus.

 In this way the lies are repeated so often that they are widely believed, the grand scale of western hypocrisy is concealed and the real interests at stake are hardly ever mentioned.

 On the face of it the war-fighting policy of our government is based on a seemingly endless series of "humanitarian" missions. Every time British warplanes, ships and troops are dispatched we are told it is to defend the weak from some allegedly bullying regime which the leaders of the West want to restrain.

 Until the break-up of the former Soviet Union Yugoslavia was accepted as a sovereign state with a recognised place at the United Nations. It was also widely respected for its role in the Non-Aligned Movement.

 Once the balance of power in the world changed the break-up of eastern Europe got underway. The territory of the former Soviet Union broke into its constituent Republics. Czechoslovakia split into two countries and Yugoslavia began to crack apart.

 In part this was driven by right-wing nationalist elements looking to make their own deals with the United States and western Europe -- believing they could do better on their own. But it was also encouraged by the imperialist camp who saw it as an opportunity to weaken these "unreliable" countries politically and militarily as well as making them easier meat for economic penetration and exploitation.

 Yugoslavia, unlike the rest of eastern Europe, was not a member of the Warsaw Pact nor was it part of Comecon (economic organisation). It is not a communist country and was never regarded as such by the West. But it did have a sizeable publicly-owned sector of its economy and it does not meet the current imperialist demand for wholesale privatisation everywhere.

 The United States, Britain, Germany, Italy, Austria and (less enthusiastically) France did all they could to pull Yugoslavia apart. They encouraged the separatists in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia. They quickly offered full diplomatic recognition to the newly declared states -- even while Yugoslavia sat beside them at the UN.

 The sovereignty of Yugoslavia was just brushed aside. Our leaders should be made to explain why the "sovereignty" of the puppet state of Kuwait was a principle worth going to war over but the sovereignty of Yugoslavia is of no account at all.

 The Yugoslav government clearly does not regard the sovereignty of its state so lightly and sought to keep the federation together. For resisting it was accused of carrying out a policy of aggressive Serbian nationalism -- though in reality it was on the receiving end of the nationalist designs of others.

 Bosnia was eventually divided by an imperialist imposed settlement. And this too shows the inconsistent arguments used by the West since in dividing Bosnia no attempt was made to treat each community equitably and ethnic Serbs became separated from the rest of "Serbia".

 Now we are told the West must intervene in Kosovo -- a province within Serbia. This, it is said, is to force the "Serb" forces out of the area -- part of their own country -- and make the region safe for the many refugees fleeing the fighting to return to their homes before winter sets in.

 Of course if the West really cared about the civilians caught up in all of this they could have refrained from sending covert help to the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army in the first place. The guns that began the fighting in Kosovo came courtesy of western imperialism.

 Yes, we should all be concerned about the suffering of refugees. What a pity the moral crusaders currently beating their breasts about Kosovo don't show similar concern for the Palestinian refugees whose tragedy has been going on for fifty years.

 And while these hypocritical outpourings continue to fill our newspapers the cruel sanctions against Iraq go on killing children every day.

 We can't expect the shadow foreign secretary to take the government's policies apart -- its up to us to make a stink of our own.

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Lead Story

Countdown to war halted but NATO threat remains

 ANGLO-AMERICAN attack plans have been put on hold following a last-minute deal struck in Belgrade. But Nato war-planes and missiles are still targeting Yugoslavia, which has been given until Saturday to prove its "compliance" with Western demands.

 Details of the agreement were released by US special envoy Richard Holbrooke following days of intense negotiations with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevich.

 It provides for the establishment ofa 2,000 strong un-armed "verification force" to police a cease-fire in the Yugoslav region of Kosovo and the withdrawal of federal army and special police units from the province. Nato warplanes will monitor progress from the air.

 "Aid" agencies will be allowed to work unhindered. All Kosovan refugees, said to exceed 275,000 in the West, will be allowed to return and the Yugoslav government will be expected to step up its existing co-operation with the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague.


 The agreement was immediately denounced by the "Kosovo Liberation Army" who said they would accept nothing less than full independence for the mainly Albanian-populated Yugoslav province. And it clearly disappointed the new Albanian government which had offered Nato bases on its soil for a Western onslaught against Yugoslavia.

 But it clearly met Washington's immediate requirements. Western troops get a foot inside the door of what's left of Yugoslavia under the guise of "verification troops" flying the flag ofa powerless Western-financed diplomatic forum, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The West demonstrates its power to dictate terms in the Balkans -- and all without firing a shot in anger.

 In Belgrade President Milosevich had little choice but to compromise to stave off massive Nato air attacks. But Yugoslavia still retains control of Kosovo and he can only hope that with the "KLA" threat out of the way -- their gunmen have been routed by the federal police and army -- negotiations with genuine representatives of Kosovo will take place in the future.

 While Holbrooke talked, a gun was pointing at Milosevich's head as Britain and the United States escalated the crisis with an open military build-up while filling theirmedia with anti-Serb hate stories.

KLA war-crimes

 Tales of Serb "atrocities" were dismissed as lies by the New Communist Party of Yugoslavia (NCPY), which regards Milosevich as a social-democratic representative of the Yugoslav bourgeoisie. NCPY Youth leader Ivan Pavlovich said "There were no massacres by the Serbian police in Kosovo. There was no dirty war. The first victims of the KLA were members of our party, the communists, so they can't be representatives of the Albanian working-class,".

 But the separatist gunmen themselves had committed massacres and he cited the example of the village of Klecka, where he said 36 unarmed Serbs and Gypsies had been killed by the KLA -- including a mother and her six-month old baby.

 Pavlovich, editor-in-chief of the League of Yugoslav Communist Youth magazine Glasnik-SKOJ-A, said that there was an amnesty for all KLA members not charged with killing civilians and the others were now held in regular prisons which anyone could visit.


 Not everything is going the West's way. Britain and America acknowledged last week that the Russian and Chinese threat to veto had halted all attempts to get a UN cover for a new war against Yugoslavia. Nato proved more amenable even though it has no international authority to wage war. But the Chancellries of Europe are divided over the crisis.

 The only Nato member that British and American imperialism can count on for certain is Turkey which is little more than an American protectorate. Greece is openly opposed to war, other Nato powers are indifferent and the current political uncertainly in Italy and Germany rules them out of any military support for another Balkan conflict.

 In Brussels, the home of Nato and the European Union, the Belgian Workers Party (PTB) is leading peace protests this Friday against Nato bombing of Yugoslavia, and for Belgian withdrawal from Nato.

 Here in Britain, with the RAF on stand-by and a squadron of US B-52 bombers at the ready to hit Belgrade the peace movement must move now to mobilise against Nato air-strikes.

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Patients lose sight waiting for cataract ops
by Caroline Colebrook
 PEOPLE with eye cataracts are having to wait up to 18 months for surgery to save their sight, and in that time some of them are going blind, according to a report released last week by the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).

 And the report reveals wide discrepancies throughout the country for wa iti ng times for this simple operation.

 The worst waiting lists -- 18 months -- are in the south London area covered by the Kings Healthcare Trust and the area covered by the Worthing and Southland NHS trust in Sussex.

 Speaking on behalf of the RNIB, Allan Murray said: "The RNIB wants to see long-term investment, so that it's not just the numbers on the waiting lists that go down.

 "The time people have to wait from the moment they are referred to the specialist by their general practitioner is crucial.

 "While people wait for the cataract treatment, they suffer increasing sight loss which has an enormously adverse effect on their lives."

 The RNIB says that around half of all people over 60 will develop cataracts and by the time they reach 80, nine out of ten will have some form of cataract.

 Cataract treatments take about half an hourand are successful in restoring sight in 90 per cent of cases.

 The RNIB is also urging the public, especially those over 40, to have regular eye checks. It estimates that nearly half a million people in Britain have some form of eye disease that they are not aware of.

 * The British Medical Association last week called on the government to be honest and admit that a comprehensive National Health Service can no longer be afforded and that rationing is a reality.

 BMA chairperson Dr Ian Bogle said that Health Secretary Frank Dobson must grasp the issue of rationing for the sake of both patients and GPs.

 "He must call it rationing and pronounce on exactly what the country can afford," said Dr Bogle. "Then we can work together and plan a system to develop pathways introducing new drugs and how we can handle them."

 In particular the BMA is concerned about the government directive to prescribe the drug viagra only in "extreme" circumstances because it is a "lifestyle" drug.

 "Where do we draw the line?" said Dr Bogle. "Are oral contraceptives lifestyle drugs? I wouldn't like to go down that path, it's very dangerous."

 Of course there would be no need for NHS rationing if a system of progressive taxation was introduced.

 Britain is a rich country and can afford a decent health service. But this requires a redistribution of wealth based on bringing to an end the Tory practice of letting the rich off the hook.

 The other measure is to cut out new spending on the useless and dangerous Trident missile programme and cancel the two new huge aircraft carriers that have just been commissioned.

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Prodi gets second chance

 ITALIAN Premier Romano Prodi has been asked to cobble together another coalition despite losing a no-confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies last week. Prodi was defeated by 313 votes to 312 on Friday following a decision of the 34-strong Communist Refoundation bloc to bring the Democratic Left-led coalition government down over attacks on workers' living standards in the 1999 budget plans.

 But when it came to the vote the majority of Refoundation deputies defied their leader Fausto Bertinotti and voted with the government which in the end was brought down by the single vote of a dissident Sicilian deputy in Prodi's own coalition who had fallen out with the leaders in his Italian Renewal party.

 And this has given Prodi, who has held the coalition together for a record-breaking 28 months. a new chance. President Scalfaro has asked to try and form a new government to avoid fresh elections and mathematically Prodi can do it if his one dissident returns to the fold and the Refoundation rebels remain loyal.

 And the split in the Refoundation ranks is deepening. Twenty-one of the 34 Refoundation deputies ignored Fausto Bertinotti's call to topple Prodi. Instead they followed the lead of Armando Cossutta. who resigned as Refoundation President in protest at Bertinotti's move.

 Cossutta now says he will launch a "New Communist Party" in time for next month's regional elections in Rome. Cossutta told some three thousand supporters at a rally in a Rome cinema on Sunday that their decision to back the social democratic coalition was right. And he launched a strong attack on his former comrade, Bertinotti who, he said, had "the grave tesponsibility for the crisis which opened the door to the worst forces of the right".

 Cossutta is expected to lead the New Communist Party of Italy and Oliviero Diliberto is widely tipped to become Party Secretary.

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British News

Police chiefs admit racism
by Daphne Liddle
 TWO POLICE chiefs within the last week have admitted that racism within the force is a serious problem and one has admitted that it is institutionalised.

 Last Monday Greater Manchester Chief Constable David Wilmot agreed that institutionalised racism does exist in his force.

 He was giving evidence to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry which is now touring the country to sensitive areas to investigate the relations between the police and local communities and how racist crimes are dealt with.

 Mr Wilmot, who controls the second largest police force in the country, said that "overt and internalised" racism has to be eradicated.

 "We have a society that has got institutional racism," he said. "Greater Manchester Police therefore has institutional racism.

 "Some of it is not of the overt type; it's that which has been internalised by individuals and it's our responsibility to try and make sure it is eradicated."

 His remarks are in stark contrast to those of Metropolitan Police Chief Sir Paul Condon who told the same inquiry the week before that although there is racism in the Met, it is not institutionalised.

 Derbyshire Chief Constable John Newing this week became president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

 He said he supported greater efforts to combat police racism and the setting up of more units to combat corruption.

 He also opposed the extension of curfews to teenagers, saying that it smackcd of "totalitarianism"

 Mr Newing said: "There is still overt racism in the police service. It's like an alcoholic -- you can't do anything about your problem until you acknowledge it. Unless we are clear that we do have racism within the police service, then we are riot going to introduce the programmes we need in order to deal with it.

 "To he absolutely frank, as a young police officer, I was guilty of racism because I used to stop black people driving particular types of cars because my experience was I would get driving offences out of it. I never attempted to stop white people to the same extent.

 "On reflection I was being racist."

 But, unlike David Wilmot he stopped short of admitting there was institutionalised racism.

 Neville Lawrence, father of the black teenager murdered by while racist thugs who have not been brought to justice because of police failure to take the murder seriously, welcomed David Wilmot's admission.

 He said: "It is good to see he's admitting to institutional racism and that they are willing to take steps to try and stop it.

 "Now I want to hear how he's going to do it and how to promote black officers up the ranks where they can make a difference.

 "I would like to know if Sir Paul is listening to some of the things up here and if he's prepared to look at his position."

 A Met spokesperson has said the difference arose because the two chiefs, Condon and Wilmot are using different definitions of "institutionalised racism".

 She said: "The commissioner was talking about institutional racism as being a matter of policy which means that all police officers go to work with a racist agenda."

 Mr Wilmot's admission is a big step forward. "As long as you deny the problem, you are not going to seek solutions," he said correctly.

 But he is still blaming influences outside the police force. "If you've got institutional racism in society, it's within every organisation, including the media, including Parliament, and it's even within the courts," he said.

 That is not the point. Even if every other aspect of society were deeply racist, it is the responsibility of police recruitment programmes to weed out all those who would treat one section of the community differently to others, whether deliberately or inadvertently.

 Imagine the outcry ifa school or social services department, found to be employing an active paedophile, were to say "it's common in society, there's not much we can do to prevent it".

 But, it is the experience of most ethnic communities, that levels of racism are far higher in the police force than in general society.

 There have been dozens of cases and millions of pounds awarded by High Courts in compensation for many many acts of police racism. But the guilty police officers are not even dismissed from the force, let alone charged with criminal behaviour as they should be.

 As long as police officers know they can behave in a racist way without fear of correction they will continue to do so.

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