The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 18th April 2008

DPRK meeting at Marx House

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by Daphne Liddle

Jack Straw last week outraged union leaders by proposing that the political levy paid by members of unions affiliated to the Labour Party should be paid directly to Labour headquarters.

 This is a move that could prevent unions from using their political funds for other purposes, like campaigning against the British National Party or defending Remploy, the NHS and so on.

 Straw claims that the plan, which is supported by Gordon Brown, will appease Tory claims that union leaderships have too much control over Labour and that union donations should be capped in the same way that donations from wealthy individuals are capped.

 But many suspect that Straw’s proposal is so outrageous it is really intended to provoke unions to cut their link with Labour and disaffiliate. It has already spurred GMB general secretary Paul Kenny to threaten to ballot members on disaffiliation if the plan goes through.

 The Labour Party was created by the unions so that working people could have a party to represent them in Parliament in contrast to the existing Conservative and Liberal parties, which were funded and controlled by big business – as they still are.

 Naturally the ruling class – and the New Labour clique – would like to see the Labour Party also brought completely under ruling class control. Currently the party carries out ruling class policies but the party’s current dependence on trade union funding still leaves a possibility that the unions could force the party to follow more working-class friendly policies.

 Many on the left have despaired of Labour ever being reclaimed by the working class and either stopped voting or given their support to tiny, ineffectual and unstable social democrat parties.

 But clearly the ruling class still has a real fear of the link between Labour and the unions or they would not continually attack it and try to undermine it.

 Recent attacks date back to the “cash for honours” scandal when proposals for controls and curbs on donations to political parties were first proposed.

 Blair’s government responded to this with a proposal for Government funding for all the major political parties. This would effectively extend state control over those parties. Party members would have little or no say in policies and the leaders would not be accountable to their members.

 Furthermore it would be forcing taxpayers to fund political parties whether they agreed with them or not. Talks on this between the major political parties broke down last year after they failed to agree on a final version of proposals put forward by former civil servant Sir Hayden Phillips.

 Tory spokesperson Francis Maude has indicated to Straw he would accept the new proposals but would not accept this current situation. The Tories would prefer a £50,000 cap on union donations.

 Straw’s new proposals would increase labour funding from the unions by about £750,000 a year – all the money that is spent on other kinds of campaigning – but the unions would lose their democratic control on how that funding is used.

 Unions use their political funding in line with decisions made at their annual conferences by democratically elected delegates. Since the demise of internal democracy within the Labour Party itself, this is the only way that ordinary workers can now have any influence on Labour’s policy-making.

 Paul Kenny said: “The Government is going down the wrong road and taking the wrong direction. There is no way we are going to concede the right to allocate their cash to Gordon Brown and the party headquarters when not all our members support everything the Government is doing.

 “Not all our members support the Labour Party and they would not stand for their money being used in this way. They would want us to disaffiliate if the Government insists on doing this.”

 Unison is also angry about Straw’s plans.

 Labour MP John McDonnell, who heads the Labour Representation Committee, founded four years ago to reclaim the party for the working class, said: “This proposal will be opposed by MPs and rank-and-file members across the Labour Party. It gives Labour Party headquarters the right to take over control of all trade union money and is unacceptable.”

 Gerry Gable of the Searchlight anti-fascist organisation expressed deep concern at the idea that unions would be prevented from funding the Hope not Hate campaign against the BNP.

 He told the New Worker: “When we go out on the streets we’re not telling people to vote Labour, or for any particular party. We’re just saying don’t vote for the BNP and be sure to vote. This is outrageous. What is Straw thinking of?”



New dawn over the Himalayas

COMMUNISTS throughout the world will rejoice at the news of the overwhelming victory for the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist(CPN-M) in last weekend’s elections. The CPN-M has grown from strength to strength following the ceasefire that ended the civil war and brought the Maoists into an interim government that held this poll to elect a constituent assembly to decide the future of the mountain kingdom.

The CPN-M has won 111 seats out of the 201 contests declared for the 601-member assembly, well ahead of its closest rivals the Nepali Congress with 32 seats and the reformist Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist- Leninist) with 28, while the small Nepal Workers’ and Peasants Party (NWPP), a minor partner in the interim government, has held its two seats in its traditional bastion of Bhaktapur.

Final results should be known by the end of this month when all the seats chosen by proportional representation are tallied and preliminary returns show that the Maoists will take the lion’s share there.

The overwhelming demand of the Nepalese people for a democratic federal republic was reflected in the massive swing to the communists, who only laid down their guns two years ago after massive street protests forced the hated monarch to relinquish direct rule.

The Maoists will clearly be the leading force in drawing up the constitution and the new government that will follow but they are seeking coalition partners from other democratic parties to take Nepal into the 21st century.

The first step must be to ratify the decision of the interim parliament to abolish the monarchy and rid the country, once and for all, of its worthless feudal king whose family has kept the Nepalese people in bondage for decades. The next will be to end feudalism and meet the basic demands of the masses for social justice. The communists have already prepared a democratic programme of social and economic reform aimed at raising the annual per capita income from $300 to $3,000 in 10 years.

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and around 80 per cent of the population work on the land. Most of the peasants work for feudal landlords. Most earn less than a dollar a day and half the population live below the poverty line. Half the population are unemployed and many have been forced to emigrate to India for work. Half the children are malnourished and underweight. Only 15 per cent of the people have access to health services and most do not have access to basic needs such as food, health and education.

The new Nepalese leadership will face the hostility of the imperialist world whose “new world order” is crumbling day by day. The Americans, who continue to class the CPN-M as a “terrorist” movement are already bleating about “violence and intimidation” during the election campaign, though even they concede that voting was peaceful in most districts.

Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, formerly known as “Comrade Prachandra”, says democracy is not “an alternative to armed struggle but a logical conclusion” and throughout the world millions of oppressed people are once again turning to communism as the only way out of the capitalist crisis.

The Nepalese communist victory is a decisive blow to those who claimed that armed struggle was futile and that the communist ideal was irrelevant in today’s age. Their victory is our victory in the struggle for a new world free from oppression and exploitation – a new and better world — the world that Marx and Engels predicted and a world that will surely come to pass in the 21st century.
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