Editorial - Reverse the trend
Lead Story - End the cover-up!. Bloody Sunday murders exposed.
Feature - Selling off our Grannies.
International - South Korea's workers force review of anti-labour law.
British News - Divided neo-Nazis in letter bombs campaign.
Reverse the trend
THAT small minority of the population who are extremely wealthy have a peculiar problem -- what to do with their vast fortunes to bring them in even higher profits. These big players in the world of finance capital are constantly seeking lucrative channels for investment. Much of this capital is exported to developing countries and the so-called "tiger economies" in Asia where labour costs are relatively low and the markets large. And one of the motivating factors in the drive to privatise everything in sight has been the desire of this wealthy elite to create other new opportunities for making money. But even as the very rich are grubbing about looking for places to invest their fortunes they are stepping up their selfserving propaganda aimed at keeping direct taxes down. And a climate of opinion is also generated to persuade us that the country cannot afford the current level of public spending on health, housing, education, pensions, benefits, social services, and local government services. They never propose reducing public spending by scrapping Trident nuclear weapons or making reductions in Britain's vast military budget -- only the working class, who have created all of this wealth in the first place are earmarked for belt-tightening and cutbacks. Since the Tories were retumed in 1979 huge changes have been introduced in taxation. The top income bracket -- the capitalists with so much wealth they worry where to put it next -- have seen dramatic cuts in the taxes they pay. The majority of people, apart from some of the higher paid who have gained a little from cuts in income tax, have suffered from the extension and raising of Value Added Tax, which everyone has to pay however small their income. At the same time social provision has been cutback to a point where hospital patients have to play musical beds, unemployed workers have to jump through hoops to get an inadequate benefit and parents hold bring and buy sales to provide necessary school equipment. It is patently obvious that the wealthy should pay higher taxes and the whole direction of Tory tax policies be turned around. But the pre-election billboards and the thrust of many newspaper articles show the extent to which the electorate are being encouraged to regard taxation in the same way as the wealthy ruling class -- as a bad thing. This is despite the fact that direct taxation is the means of providing pensions, schools, hospitals, benefits and the public services we all need. A similar ploy of the capitalist class is to constantly portray social spending as the product of a wasteful, socialist dogma that encourages idleness and dependency. They carp on and on about so-called "spend crazy" Labour councils and "scroungers". The Labour leadership completely fails to fight back against this outrageous and distorted propaganda onslaught -- which is one of the reasons it never gets booted off the park as such rubbish should. Worse than that, Labour allows itself to be kept on the run by this bourgeois propaganda and seeks all the time to appease It came as no surprise therefore to hear Shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown announce to an audience of business people last week that Labour would abandon "tax and spend" policies and that the basic and top rates of tax would not be raised. The wealthy could sleep easy in their beds. It's clear from this that if the Labour leadership does not intend to mise taxes on the richest sector they do not intend either to restore the swingeing public spending cuts we have suffered under the Tories. All this will no doubt lead some to wring their hands and declare the Labour Party to be no different to the Tories or the Liberal Democrats. But this argument not only ignores Labour's unique roots in the trade union movement, it capitulates to the right wing of the Labour Party, elevating it and treating Messrs Blair and Brown as if they and their coat-tailers were the Labour Party itself. It is also defeatist in that it fails to recognise that the right in the Labour Party does not hold sway because it is possessed ofsome special power, butbecause the left and the organised working class movement is, at this moment, still relatively weak The answer is to step up the pressure on the Labour leaders, not to throw in the towel without a fight and let the Tories step up their pressure on us.
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End the cover-up!.
Bloody Sunday murders exposed
SINN FEIN'S National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin called last week on all political parties in Ireland to join together in demanding the establishment of an international, independent public inquiry into the Bloody Sunday murders that took place in Derry 25 years ago. There was an official inquiry at the time, under Lord Chief Justice Widgery, into the fatal shooting of 13 civilians by British Army soldiers during a civil rights march in the city. But this inquiry cleared the Army and the Parachute Regiment soldiers. Now Channel Four News has said that previously unacknowledged Army gunfire was involved -- coming from sniper positions on the City Walls. The television report is based on tape recordings of Army radio messages which were recorded by a radio ham. The tapes show that soldiers other than the Parachute Regiment were stationed along the walls and that they shot and hit civilians. A new book by Don Mullan, Eyewitness Bloodv Sunday, has just been launched and this also backs up the Channel Four report. Mr Mullan's research revealed some 50 statements from eyewitnesses saying there were soldiers along the walls and there was gunfire coming from them. Altogether the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association collected 500 witness statements in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday and presented them to the Widgery inquiry. According to Mr Mullan only 15 of these statements were ever looked at by the inquiry. evidence He also reports that the post mortem evidence showed that three of the murdered victims had been shot from an angle of 45 degrees in a downward trajectory, consistent with a sniper firing from above ground level. Mitchel McLaughlin congratulated Don Mullan and Channel Four and said: 'It will of course come as no surprise to Irish peopie in general and Derry people in particular. "We have always known that the so-called Inquiry set up by the British government was never interested in uncovering the facts of what happened on that tragic occasion. "Widgery, the Inquiry chairperson was briefed by the then British Prime Minister, Edward Heath and reminded that they were not only fighting a military war here but a propaganda war as well. "The cover-up was then set in train. During the farce which passed as an inquiry the dead and injured were deliberately vilified in a carefully orchestrated British government propaganda exercise to make the world believe that what happened in Derry was not mass murder, sanctioned at the highest level of the British cabinet." Don Mullan is quoted in the Irish News as saying: "We have got to understand that not only did the Parachute Regiment and another regiment through a sniper on the walls, inflict great pain and great hurt on the families and community on that day, but what Lord Widgery did when he published his inquiry report was to basically murder the truth."
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Selling off our Grannies
By Caroline Colebrook
FOR DECADES it's been a joke remark: " They're so mean they'd sell their grandmothers". But its a joke no more. Kent County Council -- controlled by a Labour and Liberal democrat coalition -- last week announced that it is pioneering a policy to privatise its home care services for the elderly and disabled. And the move comes just as Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell is preparing a govemment White Paper -- which he says will be published before the general election -- on introducmg compulsory competitive tendering in local authority social service provision. Already local authorities have been told they could raise an extra £264 million a year for home care by putting all the work out to contract. Such savings could only be made by cutting jobs and the already low pay of the home care workers. Cost cutting is the motivation behind the Kent County Council's decision to privatise care for the elderly. Councillors face a £79 million shortfall in overall spending and are looking to cut £24 million from the social services budget. The council blames a government cap on its spending. Up to 2,000jobs will be threatened. Government ministers believe the privatisation of social services will be an election winner because it will appear to deliver better value for money. Stephen Dorrell wants to see all 32,000 field social workers hived off to independent agencies. Kent's own domiciliary services cost £10.83 an hour, compared to £7.49 an hour in the private sector. The county employs 1,200 staff in 120 homes. Other savings will be made by increasing the charges for home helps or use of council day- centres by up to 400 per cent, dosing ten residential care homes and cutting 85 management jobs. In all,between 1,800 and 2,000 jobs are at risk. The county's director of social services, Peter Smallridge, expressed regret at the need for the measures. "The impact of the savings which I recommend in this paper will be devastating to the lives of many of the department's service users and their families." The government is likely to seize on this council's policy as evidence thatsavings can be made by contracting out various functions of social services departments throughout the country. Health Minister Gerald Malone has already said that it has been proved that privatisation is a successful principle. "It would be ludicrous to suggest" he said,"that we shouldn't be looking for opportunities in all sorts of policy areas to extend it where it is sensible to do so. "It brings a lot of public benefit that the public recognise." Bob Lewis, the president of the Association of Directors of Social Services, said that wholesale privatisation will lead to a "quick and certain" fall in standards. The Labour leadership has also come out surprisngly against the policy. Shadow health secretary Chris Smith commented: "What's not needed is a diktat from Whitehall, saying that every director of social services has to put out virtually every single service they provide."
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South Korea's workers force review of anti-labour law
by Steve Lawton
SOUTH Korea's workers, after three-weeks of huge and sustained nationwide strikes not seen since the 1987 struggles, have forced President Kim Young Sam to rethink the regime's new anti-labour law, which will now be subject to a new debate in the country's parliament. The laws were so threatening to workers that opposition quickly grew uniting many sectors of workers, institutions and Catholic church leaders against the regime. The President has declared that summonses for the arrest of over 200 union leaders will be lifted. Included are the seven leaders and president of the illegal Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) Kwon Young Kil camped in the grounds of Myongdong Cathedral. The massive strike waves numbering in hundreds of thousands upset not only the country's economy and international financial interests, but clearly also alerted the strategic concerns of the US which dominates the country. Opposition politicians, who said the December ruling was unconstitutional, declared they would organise a national petition campaign against the labour law. And even within the ruling party many had begun to get cold feet. As a result the President has actually been weakened on issues not directly related to the new law. He has also accepted that there should be a review of a law reintroducing a national intelligence agency. But trade union leaders know this is only a beginning. Outside the cathedral on Tuesday Kwon Young Kil said: "Talks today have not solved any of the basic problems."
repressionAt the Hyundai car plant during the strike one union official, Ha Poo Yong, said on Monday that: "The new law represses workers. If we don't strike now, the livlihood of the workers will suffer later on." He believed that social welfare would never be introduced, as a result: "Being fired is like capital punishment". The momentum built up since the anti-worker law was introduced and passed injust six minutes on 26 December last Year will therefore be maintained. The KCTU leader warned that all-out industrial action would resume on 18 February if changes to the labour law demanded by the unions were not carried through. Virtually continuous strikes have been eased down to nationwide strikes each Wednesday, which could mean upwards of 200,000 being called out. The unemployment labour and social affairs committee of the Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development (OECD) -- of which south Korea became a member last month -- meets next week to discuss Korea's labour law.
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Divided neo-Nazis in letter bombs campaign
DANISH police last week arrested seven suspected members of an international neo-Nazi network on suspicion of involvement in a letter-bombing campaign aimed at addresses in Britain. One of the targets of a bomb that was sent was the Olympic swimming medalist Sharron Davies -- reviled by the neo-Nazis for her mixed race marriage. Other leading sports personalities in mixed race relationships were Included on a two year-old list of potential targets. These included the boxer Frank Bruno. But most of the targets of bombs actually sent were fellow neo-Nazis. This follows deep divisions within the ranks ofthe ramshackle terrorist outfit, Combat 18, named after the first and eight letters of the alphabet -- the initials of Adolph Hitler. The group itself split from the British National Party in 1992, claiming the BNP was too soft. Since then C18 has tried to take over the lucrative fascist music outfit Blood and Honour, and leading members have fallen out over allegations of embezzlement and mutual accusations of being MI5 agents.
expelledThe former leader has been expelled from the group. At least two of its leading members are waiting trial on various charges relating to violence and incitement to racial hatred. Tony Robson from the antifascist magazine Searchlight told the New Worker:"The bottom line of this internal feud is money. Recently one leading member claimed he had taken "only £40,000" from the Blood and Honour music business, not like his former colleague who had taken £80,000. "But this letter bombing campaign shows just how serious the feud is getting" *An investigation into an alleged Nazi war criminal, Szymon Serafinowicz was dropped last week when an Old Bailey judge ruled that the man, now 86, was suffering from dementia and unfit to plead. He had been set to face charges of murdering Jews during massacres 55 years ago. But the government has said it is prepared to press on with the prosecution of other alleged war criminals.
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