New Worker Online Archive
Week of 25th October 1996

1) Lead story - Queen's speech. Tory threat to Education for All.
2) Editorial - An immoral society.
3) Feature - Eradicating poverty throughout the world.
4) International news - Week of Action for Cuba.- NHS learn from the Cuban health system.
5) British news - Pay gap between managers and workers widens.

1) Lead story

Queen's speech

Tory threat to Education for All

The body of this item has been lost. It will be added at a later date, or
when requested.


An immoral society

FOR ALMOST 18 years successive Tory governments have managed to widen the gap
between rich and poor, to rob organised workers of their hard-won rights, to take virtually
every utility and service away from public ownership and into private hands and to slash
spending in every area of social provision.

 They have waged bloody war in Ireland, gone to war against Argentina and Iraq and insisted
on upgrading Britain's nuclear capability despite the ending of the Cold War in Europe.

Creeping privatisation in the health and education services are creating two-tier systems
which leave worldng class families holding the short straw of under-resourced and under-
staffed facilities. Thousands of hospital beds have been scrapped and many hospitals closed.

It is to the shame of this government that we learned the other week that patients over 75
years would no longer be admitted to one west London hospital.

 Now, with a general election expected in a few months, members of this sleaze-ridden,
union-bashing, pit-closing, hospital-closing and warmongering government, want to
pontificate upon morality.

 Home Secretary Michael Howard says he wants to institute a good citizenship award for
young people. Education and Employment minister Gillian Shephard says she intends to put
lessons in citizenship on the curriculum for schools to promote the moral development of

 Politicians and religious leaders are positively bursting with ideas to give us moral uplift, to
curb anti-social behaviour and tackle violence.

 Of course, none of the ideas put fonvard require the government to increase social
provision, restore any of the swingeing cuts that have taken place or seek to create decent

 They stress the important role of parents and teachers but offer no respite in the increasing
workload of the country's teachers and recommend no improvement in wages or working
hours which would enable parents to spend more time with their children.

 There is no suggestion that extra curricula activities for children should be restored, no
refunding of leisure services for young people, no increased spending being proposed for
local authority social workers and no plans being made to provide adequate support services
for schools.

 But above all there is not a word said about the capitalist system we live under or the nature
and ethos of that capitalist society.

 Capitalist society is one in which a minority of wealthy people own the majority of the
country's wealth and the means of production. It exists on the basis of exploitation and has
no other driving force but that of making ever-increasing levels of private profits for the ruling
capitalist class.

 Morality doesn't even come into it. The needs of people are only met to the extent that the
organised working class fights for those needs, to protect the ruling class from facing civil
unrest and to ensure: the worldng class can continue to fulfil its other function as consumers
of the products it has created.

 Such a society is inherently divided, unjust and harsh. There is no tenderness or love in
such a system. That tenderness exists at all is a tribute to the worldng class which has to
struggle against the brutality of capitalism to uphold humanity and decency in such a cold
social climate.

 We don't need lessons in morality from this government ot from any of those who serve
imperialist oppression and institutionalised inequality.

 It is not surprising that in this barbarous and inequitable society, crime, violence and anti-
social behaviour occurs. Thankfully, it is still the case that the vast majority of people do not
commit acts of violence against others and do not pose a threat to the peace and safety of
our communities.

 Indeed, most people have been deeply saddened and distressed by the tragedy of Dunblane
and are appalled by reports of other violent incidents such as the fatal stabbing of a London

 There is, quite rightly, a widespread agreement with the parents of Dunblane that handguns
and semi-automatic weapons should be outlawed.

  But we should beware of allowing over-sensational crime  reporting to make us feel we are
living in some kind of Mad Max film. That is the road to isolation, staying inside our  fortified
homes afraid to venture out, and increasing social  alienation -- all leading to more tension
and anti-social  behaviour.

  What is needed is to bring to an end the long years of Tory  rule and to step up the struggle on behalf of the 
working class  to redress the ravages of the Thatcher and Major

 Above all we have to tell it like it is -- that only a socialist society is concerned about meeting the needs of the people. Only socialism, in which the working class holds the reins of state
power, can offer a bright, just and fulfilling future for our children and the generations that are
to come.

3) Feature

Eradicating poverty throughout the world

by Daphne Liddle

THURSDAY 17 October was theUnited Nations World Anti-Poverty Day, when governments
and their people were urged to take note of the levels of poverty in their own countries and
throughout the world and to discuss programmes for the elimination of poverty.

 And the UN has designated 1996 as the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty.
 In London, Anti-Poverty Day took the form of a day-long demonstration by campaigners,
mainly initiated by the French based Christian organisation ATD Fourth World, with a march
across Westminster Bridge -within full view of the House of Commons -- at 17 minutes past
each hour.

 Each time, a huge banner was unfurled at the centre of the bridge, saying: "Poverty can and
must be eradicated".

 Throughout the day, leaflets were distributed and petition signatures collected. Also on
display was a hand-cart full of elaborately decorated used cans, prepared by children, to
emphasise the message that poverty is not inevitable, it is a product of our society and
people can do something about it.

 The message of ATD Fourth World, founded in Paris by Joseph Wresinski, a worker priest,
on October 17 1987, is that: poverty is a denial of human rights and is not acceptable;poverty
is not inevitable, it is the result of people's actions, it is the responsibility of all people;
poverty is a waste of people's potential; poverty particularly affects families and
compromises the future of children; the poorest should be the first partners in any and-
poverty initiatives; and the government should set out a national strategy to address all
aspects of poverty and exclusion.

 British organisations working with ATD Fourth World include Church Action on Poverty, the
Child Poverty Action Group, the EuropeanAnti Poverty Network, Family Service Units, the
Family Welfare Association, local governments, Oxfam and Save the Children Fund.

 World Anti-Poverty Day was also marked by the setting up of an all-party parliamentary
working group on poverty and its eradication.

 And many MPs turned up on Westminster Bridge to give their support to the demonstration.
They included Labour MPs Tony Banks, Jeremy Corbyn, Bill Etherington, Maria Fyfe, Alan
Howarth, Joan Lestor, Clare Short and Emie Ross as well as Tory MP Peter Botomley. 

Many others sent messages of support.

 Other supporters included media personalities Ben Elton, Phil Collins, Joan Bakewell and
Claire Rayner.

 ATD Fourth World director John Penet, when asked about the role of the World Bank,
International Monetary Fund and the Third World debt, told the New Worker that the
organisation's campaign in Britain was focusing on domestic poverty because British people
seem reluctant to take an interest in what is happening a long way from their home.

 He added that there is also a great lack of awareness of the extent of real poverty in Britain.
"Our biggest problem is overcoming apathy," he said.

 One of his colleagues pointed out that most people in Britain are unaware that there are
many inner city children who have: never sat on a beach.

 John Penet also said that he was used to working with communists in France but was
unaware that there were any remaining in Britain.

 He also said that his campaign was trying to persuade politicians of all parties to stop cutting
public spending, especially in areas that affect the poor.

 Workers in France used the day for a mass strike and demonstrations throughout the
country against proposed public spending cuts -- which would increase poverty. But this
meant that some members of ATD Fourth World who planned to travel to London to take
part in the demonstration could not do so.

 The organisation does not have a class perspective on the causes of poverty and is naive if
it thinks poverty call be eradicated without class struggle.

 But raising awareness of poverty and its: effects, combating apathy and challenging our
politicians to do something about the issue call only help.


4) International news

Week of Action for Cuba

NHS learn from the Cuban health system

by Theo Russell

"DELEGATION after delegation of British National Health Service staff are travelling to Cuba
to learn from that country's health system -- one of the few in the world organised on similar
lines to the NHS.

 "British health workers recently obtained (with great difficulty) and sent to Cuba blood-based
drugs worth 3,000 to save a 12-year-old Cuban boy, when the same drugs are readily
available in the US."

 This information was given by Bob Abberly, head of the health section of public sector union
Unison, to a packed solidarity meeting at London's Conway Hall last Thursday, held to
welcome Cuban student leader Alejandro Cuza Bianco.

 The emphasis of the meeting was on Cuba's incredible achievements in the health and
education fields.

 Labour MP George Galloway spoke of the vaccines against hepatitis-B and meningitis,
produced at far lower prices than those of the transnational drug companies, and currently in
use in Argentina, Brazil and other Latin American countries.


 Professor Theodore McDonald, an expert on Cuban health and education currently based at
Brunel University College in west London, said that despite being a developing countty and
victim of the US-led blockade, Cuba has an education system "as good as any in the world --
not just the Third World".

 "Cuba," he stressed, "stands for the principle that dignity is right."

 McDonald compared Britain -- where three and four-year olds are not guaranteed even half
day nursery care -- with "poor old Cuba", where 88 per cent of pre-school children receive full
time education from highly trained teachers.

 The meeting heard from George Galloway of a delegation of Cuba Solidarity activists to the
US Embassy in London to meet State Department official George Habib.

 Habib claimed that for 30 years Cuba had been an "anti-economy", receiving $3-5 billion
from the Soviet Union.

 Galloway compared this to the $8-11 billion given to Israel each year by the US.
 And Galloway compared Cuba's free education -- from nursery to university -- to other
developing countries, being forced by International Monetary Fund diktat to cut and cut
spending on health and education.

 "We in Britain," he said, "owe Cuba a debt for upholding the banner of socialism and
humanity, instead of money, profits and individuals."

5) British news

Pay gap between managers and workers widens

PAY AWARDS in manufacturing industry are continuing to fall while the gap between
workers' and managers' pay, accordingto statistics from two different sources published last

 The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that provisional pay awards in
manufacturing industry averaged 3.2 per cent for the three months up to September 1996.
 This is a drop from 3.5 per cent in the previous three months and 3.3 per cent in the three
months up to September 1995.

 Pay awards in the service sector over the same period have remained much the same all
year at an average of 3.6 per cent.

 While pay rises have declined, the manufacturers' expectations of growth have risen. In the
third quarter, companies reported productivity growth of 4.8 per cent over the previous year,
with expectations for it to rise to 5.2 per cent over the next year.

 Figures from a survey of executive pay in 1,076 companies by Sedgewick Noble Lowndes
show that the median base salary increases for British managers rose by 5.1 per cent last

 And figures released last week by the Labour Party show that the biggest rises are still going
to the bosses of the privatised utilities.

 The biggest increase -- 74 per cent -- took the pay of national Power chairperson Keith
Henry to 782,555 a year.

 Brian Staples, the chief executive of United Utilities, got a rise of 58 per cent, taking his pay
to 404,900 a year.

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