The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 23rd April, 1999

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Workers of all countries, unite!

Welcome To Our Weekly Digest Edition

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Editorial - Build the protest.
Lead Story - Stop NATO terror bombing.
Feature - Coming elections lead to pulled punches on PFI.
International - Indian government falls.
British News - Racist motive behind Brixton bomb.


Build the protest

 THE governments of the Nato Alliance are going along with the war against Yugoslavia at present with varying degrees of enthusiasm. But the alliance is neither equal nor democratically accountable -- it is dominated by Nato's nuclear powers and Germany and driven by the vested interests of Wall Street, and European capitalism.

 In Italy and Greece there, is such strong opposition to Nato's war that the governments of these countries are struggling. The US on the other hand is leading the pack and setting the political, strategic and military agenda. Britain, France and Germany are close at heel and keen to get their noses into the trough of another imperialist war.

 Nato's precise war aims are still unclear -- at least as far as the general public is concerned. But we do know the Yugoslav offer of a ceasefire, made two weeks ago, was tossed aside by Nato leaders within hours and Germany's suggested peace plan, which included a temporary halt to the bombing, was also spurned.

 US diplomacy, if it can be called that, amounts to pushing Nato propaganda at the Yugoslav people -including U S Secretary of State Madelaine Albright doing her bit as a latter-day Tokyo Rose.

 Left to Nato the air attacks will go on without let-up until a Pax Americana can be imposed. By then the infrastructure of Yugoslavia will be in ruins, much of the Balkans will be dangerously polluted and dislocated and countless more people will be dead or injured.

 And the refugees, far from being helped by the bombing have seen their numbers soar since it began.

 The victims of Nato's war are not confined to the Balkans -- it is against the interests of all working people. After all the working class of the Nato countries get to pick up the bill now running at an estimated £40 million a day for the air campaign alone and some US sources put the figure at £60 million a day.

 At the same time our government says it can only provide schools and hospitals by putting us in hock to the PFI investors. It says we can't afford decent pensions or state benefits. The sick and disabled are being squeezed and all social spending is underfunded -- but it seems we can pour money into the war chest without a second thought. We can also be sure that none of the Nato governments will turn to the rich for funds through higher taxes on top incomes.

 This war is also an exercise in capitalist class control -- not just military control of a region in Europe but of Nato's ability to dispense with whatever bits of the UN Charter it doesn't want, its assumption of super-leadership over the national parliaments of the Nato countries and its clear demonstration of new world order power over the former socialist states of Europe.

 The greatest need of our time is for the cause of peace to succeed. The peace movements everywhere are on the move and must be supported.

 The peace, labour and progressive movements in Britain have a crucial task ahead because Britain is a key player in Nato's war and absolutely essential to the US-led Nato war drive.

 It is vital to build the protests against the war and to strengthen the work of local peace committees throughout the country. This can only be done by activists working together from the many organisations that make up the broad movement.

 There are of course different views among activists both about the war and about political positions in general. But this makes it more important than ever to work for the greatest possible unity in action and co-operation in organisation.

 This can be achieved by focusing on the main issue of the moment -- to demand an end to the Nato bombing -- a demand that everyone involved supports. Though this might be seen as just a first step, it is a very big step! This one, straightforward and clear demand will in itself require everyone's tireless efforts.

 We are up against wall-to-wall Nato war propaganda. Many people believe the lies of Blair, Cook and Robertson because they seem to be backed up by everything in the media, politicians of other parties and Nato reports themselves.

 Visible opposition in the form of demonstrations, pickets and letters in the press are essential in underlining this perception of "everyone says it so it must be true".

 The lies and distortions must also be countered and argued and this paper will do all it can to provide information and support for the cause of peace.

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Lead Story

Stop NATO terror bombing

by Andy Brooks
 NATO warplanes are pounding Yugoslavia every night as the Balkan war enters its first month. Now they've been ordered to begin terror bombing in a desperate attempt to break the resistance of the Yugoslav people. And in Washington Nato leaders and their generals are gathering this weekend to prepare for an invasion of Yugoslavia.

 This week the headquarters of Serbia's ruling Socialist Party in central Belgrade was hit by Nato warplanes leaving the 25-storey building in flames. Nato has now admitted responsibility for the slaughter of 70 Kosovan refugees trying to escape the war in a motor convoy.

 Other civilian targets have included bridges, radio and television centres and commercial factories in all the major cities in the country. Over 600 civilians have been killed and 5,000 wounded since the imperialist offensive began. Yugoslav media say their air-defences have inflicted a punishing toll on the aggressors.

 Yugoslav peace plan

 Vladislav Jovanovich, the head of the Yugoslav mission at the UN HQ in New York said that a halt to the bombing was an essential pre-condition of a political solution to the Kosovo crisis.

 "We are not a country opposing a political settlement. Just the opposite. We are a country endorsing the political settlement. We are open to a political settlement".

 The Yugoslav diplomat and former foreign minister said a settlement should be based on the full respect of the independence and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia and the guarantee of equal rights for all citizens and national communities in the province of Kosovo. This could only be achieved through direct talks between the Yugoslav government and the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo.

 But Yugoslavia would not accept the presence ofan international military force on its soil. "What Nato is doing is to put the only remaining part of the Balkans under its direct military control. That's the real policy of Nato,"

'a new Vietnam'

 Russian Communist Federation leader Gennady Zyuganov is calling for Russian military and humanitarian aid for Yugoslavia. At a conference sponsored in Cyprus by AKEL (Progressive Party of the Working People) he said Nato was preparing for a ground campaign and warned "if they do so then there will be a new Vietnam".

 Back in Moscow Alexei Arbatov, deputy head of the Russian parliament's defence affairs committee compared the Balkan warto the Cuban missile crisis in the 60s. Speaking at the Atlantic Council he warned the West that the longer the bombing goes on the greater the pressure on President Yeltsin to send arms and volunteers to Yugoslavia. "If the bombing campaign continues, and if ground operations start, then the flood of volunteers to Yugoslavia would reach tens of thousands. Fatalities would be horrifing and Russia would be drawn into the war,"

 In the Kremlin Yeltsin is floundering -- one moment issuing dire warnings of "world war" and the next saying Moscow's role can only be to mediate to end the conflict. Demonstrations outside the American embassy have been banned but public anger at the scenes of destruction seen every night on their television is growing.

EU rifts

 Greece is still refusing to join the imperialist attack despite immense pressure from Washington and the Italian Dembcratic Left government is expressing increasing doubts about the wisdom of Nato's strategy.

 Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said in Rome last Tuesday that at the end of the day Nato would have to talk to President Milosevich.

 But Clinton and Blair are leading the chorus for escalation, preparing the public for the ground war to come. American Apache helicopters and A-10 Warthogs are on their way to spearhead the invasion to come.

mounting protests

 Labour MP Alice Mahon has recently returned from Belgrade where she saw with her own eyes the horror of the bombing and the determination of the Yugoslav people to resist.

 "Houses were demolished, huge craters in their gardens, a whole house sliced off. I really don't think it is credible to think that the Serbs did that to themselves," she said.

 One resident told her: "This is war and it is going to get worse. We know that Nato wants to take over our country, but the Serbs will fight". She felt the anger of workers at a car factory in another town which had been hit by 25 Cruise missiles injuring 160 people.

 "We talked to them and we encountered some real bitterness there. There were people who didn't want to talk to us. A man said to me: 'Could you tell everybody this is what we'll do -- we will fight."

 All over the world the anti-war movement is mobilising to stop the bombing. In Britain protests are taking place all over the country and every day in London. Thirteen Labour MPs took the principled stand against the war during the Commons debate last Monday.

 Some Tories are also publicly challenging Nato propaganda. The bigger the protests, the bigger the movement will grow to stop the carnage. This war can and must be stopped.

  *Daily vigil outside Downing Street by the Serb community in London. National Demonstration in London Saturday 8 May. Protest outside BBC Centre for free speech and accurate war reporting -- 24 May.

Back to index


Coming elections lead to pulled punches on PFI
by Caroline Colebrook
 THIS YEAR'S Scottish TUC conference in Glasgow has heen dominated by the approaching elections next month for the first Scottish Parliament in 300 years.

 This has perhaps been behind a toning down of criticism of the Labour government on the crucial issue of the Private Finance Initiative.

 Last year the STUC came out firmly against this back-door method of privatisation. This year the pre-conference statement from the STUC general council implied that it accepted PFI as being here to stay and is now only seeking "proper framework agreements" to protect people employed in PFI-funded projects.

 Nevertheless, public sector unions such as Unison, whose members are most effected by PFI deals stood their ground in opposition to PFI.

 Eventually STUC president Annie Middleton had to make last-minute adjustments to her opening speech.

 According to press releases, she had planned to say that using PFI to fund schools, hospitals and housing "must be stopped". Then she added that opposition to PFI "should not be construed as support for so-called alternatives that have come from other political parties.

 "Discussions have revealed flaws in those alternatives equal to or greater than PFI."

 She was attacking the Scottish National Party who are opposing PFI.

 SNP general secretary Alex Salmond described PFI as "financial lunacy". Speaking at an STUC fringe meeting he said it would be better called Privatisation for Infinity.

 He went on to say: "The Tories have gone but their initials live on under PFI. Over the next 30 years the public of the Lothians, through their trusts. will be giving £900 million to the contractors for a hospital that is going to cost £180 million to build."

 And he wanted that the people of Scotland would have to pay £14 billion over 30 years if Labour were in a position to give the go-ahead for all the PFI projects in the pipeline.

 But the solution he put forward -- public service trusts backed by major financiers, seems little different.

 The next day Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar centred his speech to the conference on the "benefits" that PFI can bring, in terms of PFI-funded schools and hospitals.

 These things are needed to rebuild Scotland's infrastructure and PFI is a way of providing them without raiding the capital budgets of government bodies at either national or local level -- so it is tempting.

 But it leaves the public paying for these things over and over again as they rent them back from the new private owners and at the end the facility is still in private hands.

 Later in debate, John Lambie, Unison's head of health, confirmed the union's opposition to PFI. He compared Labour's position to the worst excesses of Tory policy -- instead of creating a comprehensive NHS, Labour is asking hospitals to opt out, just as the Conservatives asked schools to opt out.

 The SNP came under attack from John McGhee, speaking for the Strathclyde branch of the Fire Brigades Union.

 He warned that Scottish nationalism was divisive, prejudiced and racist. His motion -- which was passed -- did not mention any particular party but he said delegates had witnessed racism, including "white settlers out" slogans.

 "Scottish society cannot stand for that," he warned. "The link between elements of those favouring independence and a narrow nationalism is dangerous, and contrary to the objectives of the trade union and labour movement."

 The conference gave a full endorsement to ending the last elements of feudal landownership. Labour has committed to give communities the right to buy their land from the 500 landowners who own almost half the land of Scotland.

 As we go to press, the conference is still to debate the devastating effects of the decision of the giant construction company Kvaerner to withdraw from shipbuilding and close the Govan shipyard.

 A government task force to find an operator for the yard is due to meet Defence Secretary George Robertson to explore the possibility of transferring Ministry of Defence work from English yards to keep the Govan yard open.

 The leader of the taskforce, Sir Gavin Laird, has also been in talks with Swan Hunter which he said were interesting and constructive.

 There have also been speculations that Marconi Marine, a subsidiary of British Aerospace which owns Yarrow on the Clyde and the former VSEL yard, may be another bidder.

 The MSF general union has lodged an emergency resolution at the STUC conference calling on the government to set up a permanent task force in Scotland to deal with the gradual decline in manufacturing in Scotland.

 It warns that if left unchecked, the Scottish economy will be ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of globalisation and increased competition.

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Indian government falls
 INDIA'S REACTIONARY BJP coalition fell last weekend following the defection of one of its Tamil party allies and its defeat by one vote in the following no-confidence vote in parliament.

 Premier Atal Behari Vajpayee has resigned and now Sonia Gandhi's Congress Party is trying to cobble together a deal with the left to try and form a viable coalition.

 Vajpayee's increasingly unpopular government which plunged the country into a disastrous nuclear arms race with Pakistan and angered workers, peasants and many of his own middle strata supporters by economic policies which favoured the rich, was doomed by the defection of Tamil leader Jayaram Jayalalitha.

 The move was long expected. Jayaram Jayalalitha, a former film star, had got all that she could out of Vajpayee, and was looking for a better deal from Congress. When she pulled her 18-strong AIDMK bloc out of the government last week the BJP was doomed. To make sure, the five-strong Downtrodden People's Party led by another woman leader, Maya Wati, also changed sides -- reminding Vajpayee that the BJP had betrayed her when they kicked her out of the post of chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1996.

 But Sonia Gandhi, the Italian born widow of Rajiv Gandhi, will have to do more than win these two to her ranks to get the working majority Congress needs in parliament to form an administration. And Congress leaders are now courting the left parties to see if they are now ready to come on board.

 Sonia has an uphill struggle. Congress has 140 MPs -- 127 seats short of a majority in the 545-strong lower house of parliament. In its heyday Congress never needed allies and the party has never formed a coalition government before. Now it has to and if it fails the country will have to go to the polls.

 Two small left parties, Forward Block and the Revolutionary Socialists, have said no, on the grounds that Congress's economic agenda differs little in substance from that of the BJP. The rest of the 48-member parliamentary Left Front, which includes the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), is more amenable. They argue that keeping the BJP out -- a coalition of extreme Hindu nationalists representing the interests of high castes, big landowners and capitalists -- is the first task.

 The Communist Party of India (Marxist), the biggest party in the Indian communist movement, says it will support Congress while ruling out a formal alliance.

 In a statement issued on 19 April it said Vajpayee's defeat was "a significant step forward in the struggle against communal forces. The 13-month rule of the Vajpayee government was marked by a serious and sustained onslaught on the secular character of the polity and the Constitution. The growing attacks on the minorities, particularly the targeting of the Christian community; the gross misuse of Article 356 of the Constitution twice to dismiss the elected government of Bihar; the growing economic difficulties and hardships faced by the people due to the economic policies of the BJP and the spoiling of relations with our neighbours due to jingoism have all contributed to a disastrous record".

 The Politbureau stressed that in the present situation the initiative to form a government will have to be taken by the Congress Party. The CPI(M) would support such a government on an issue to issue basis.

 The CPI(M) is calling on all secular political parties to assist in the formation of an alternative government and prevent a BJP comeback.

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British News

Racist motive behind Brixton bomb
by Daphne Liddle
 THE NAIL bomb planted in Brixton market last Saturday, which left 40 people injured, was almost certainly a racist act according to anti-fascist magazine Searchlight.

 On Monday a phone call to police claimed the bomb had been planted by the neo-Nazi outfit Combat 18 but police and antifascists are treating this claim with caution.

 Searchlight told the New Worker that C18 members have the capability to make such bombs -- the methods are posted on the Internet by various extreme right-wing groups -- but C18 has been under very close police scrutiny and there was no evidence of plans for a bombing campaign.

 Nevertheless the group, although tiny, is also deeply divided into factions who spend more time and energy fighting each other than anything else. It is quite possible that a splinter or even one individual member could be responsible without the rest of the organisation knowing. It is also possible that a member could have made the phone call after the event simply to get publicity for the organisation.

 Police now believe they know who did it but have not disclosed details.

 The scandal is that organisations like C18 have not been outlawed and that they are able to use the internet to propagate bomb-making methods.

 Former Searchlight editor Gerry Gable told the New Worker: "It's not a question of new legislation. Most internet servers will pull this sort of poison if you talk to them. It's a question of the authorities having the will to do this."

 Ken Livingstone MP and Lee Jasper, the secretary of the National Black Alliance, have both called for government action against racist groups.

 Lee Jasper himself has, since the bombing, pulled out of a speaking engagement in Scotland on police advice after threats from neo-Nazis which are being taken seriously.

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