The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 30th April, 1999

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Editorial - Celebration of murder.
Lead Story - Stop NATO terror bombing.
Feature - Bias at the BBC.
International - Arafat backs down on statehood call.
British News - Teachers threatened with fines for striking.


Celebration of murder

NATO'S 50th anniversary was marked by a summit meeting in Washington last weekend. The participants celebrated the event by announcing Nato's intention of stepping up the bombing of Yugoslavia!

 Nato has tossed aside its original claim to be a defensive alliance -- resorting to air attacks on a country that posed no military threat to any Nato member state. Since then it has abandoned any pretence at limiting its attacks to military targets.

 Civilians are being murdered out of hand and civilian targets such as waterworks, power stations, factories, chemical and petrol plants are being systematically destroyed. Last week's outrageous and deliberate attack on a Yugoslav TV station, occupied at the time by scores of workers, showed Nato has not the slightest concern about killing civilians -- indeed it is the start of terror bombing and is designed to create fear and dismay among the people.

 Aerial bombing is not just a form of warfare developed this century from the advances made in aviation. It has been a favoured method of slaughter employed by the leading capitalist states.

 The former Soviet Union declined to use bombing raids during the Second World War on the grounds that it was a barbarous assault on civilians and would not in any case bring victory -- wars they believed were won on the battlefield.

 Bombing has been the bloodthirsty preserve of the West and in the past half century or so includes Hitler's policy of Blitzkrieg, Britain's bombing raids on German cities, America's blanket bombings of South East Asia and Iraq, the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and now the air war against Yugoslavia. The common factor is aggression and imperialism.

 In the space of one month United States imperialism has used the conflict in Kosovo -- a conflict Washington and its allies set up -- to sideline the United Nations, place itself at the top of the table in Europe and station more troops and military hardware on this side of the Atlantic than at any time since the Second World War, and it has subsumed Nato as an adjunct of its military power -- but an adjunct the people of Europe are helping to pay for.

 It has escalated US imperialism's drive for global domination and has thrown down the gauntlet to the rest of the world. The US is demonstrating its military power and its ruthlessness in dealing with any country that will not dance to its tune.

 This situation is another example of the "new world order" that George Bush spoke of and is a direct consequence of the loss of Soviet power to act as a counter weight on the world stage. It is, by the way, all the more disgusting to read reports that the traitor Gorbachev has made pronouncements of concern about the suffering in Yugoslavia!

 The current Balkan War and the aims of US imperialism it reveals are in reality class war on the intemati onal arena. The beneficiaries of imperialism's wars are the ruling capitalist elites. The losers are the working class majorities in every country of the world.

 No worker anywhere will gain from this terrible suffering -- not even the Kosovan Albanians whom Nato purports to be helping. How will the Kosovan Albanians benefit from a war that is poisoning Kosovo with depleted uranium and chemical pollutants? How are the Kosovan inhabitants of Pristina being helped by the bombing of their city? What can be their future if the region becomes a battlefield for Nato?

 And how will the working people of America, Britain, Germany and France benefit from having the crimes of bombing committed in their name?

 Above all the working class and oppressed peoples of the world are forced to struggle against the exploitative system of capitalism -- whether it is consciously regarded in that way or not. In that fight we need solidarity with workers everywhere -- fellow workers in the factories of Yugoslavia are not our enemies.

 The Labour leaders who are among the hawks of the Nato camp are a disgrace to the labour movement. We must speak out, we must demonstrate to end the bombing and there has to be vigorous support given to the peace movement and to those in the Labour Party and trade union movement courageously making a stand against this imperialist war!

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Lead Story

Stop NATO terror bombing

by Andy Brooks

YUGOSLAVIA remains defiant in the face of a new Nato blitz aimed at breaking their spirit of resistance. But as Nato bombs rain down on the cities and towns of Serbia and Montenegro the people remain defiant and as determined as ever to preserve their independence.

 The sixth week of the war opens with diplomatic talk of "compromise" , unrelenting imperialist air-raids and the threat of a Nato naval blockade to stop oil-imports to the beleaguered Yugoslavs.

 Russia says it will defy any attempt to stop their ships trading with Yugoslavia. And the Nato summit closed last week in a sombre mood and official unanimity amongst the West which is clearly masking deep divisions within the Atlantic Alliance.

 In Greece opposition to the war covers the entire political spectrum from left to right. In Germany anti-war feeling within the Greens threatens to bring down the Socialist-Green coalition. And now its spreading following the publication of the details of Nato's Rambouillet "agreement" whose rejection triggered the imperialist onslaught.

 One clause would have given Nato forces "free and unrestricted passage" throughout Yugoslavia -- not just Kosovo. Another would exempt these Nato forces from any duties, taxes or customs inspections on Yugoslav territory. A third would have given Nato the right to hire "local personnel". The document also provided for the establishment of a "Civilian Implementation Mission" appointed by Nato which would have the authority to issue binding orders to "the Parties" -- one of which is the Yugoslav government itself.

 Left social-democrat Leader Oskar Lafontaine is heading an anti-war move within the ruling German party. Some social democrats are now saying that if they'd know this at the start they would never have agreed to the bombing in the first place.

 But the attacks continue and not one part of Yugoslavia has been spared in bombings and missile attacks which far surpass the raids of the Second World War or the Vietnam conflict. Industrial plants, airports, power stations, telecom facilities, railways bridges and fuel depots have been hit again and again. Schools, hospitals, government buildings, television stations, housing estates and cultural landmarks have also been singled out by Nato, led by the air-might of the USAF and the RAF.

 While the imperialist lie-machine in Britain and America floods the air-waves with endless, unproven tales of "Serbian atrocities" nothing is said of the devastation of Kosovo by the Western attacks, which have plainly forced most of the ethnic Albanians to flee. Nothing is said of the 100,000 or more ethnic Albanians who live in Belgrade peacefully with the Serbs and the other peoples of Yugoslavia. Nothing is said about the danger of the war spreading throughout the Balkans and beyond.

 In Britain the peace movement is growing despite the barrage of propaganda coming from the Blair government and paid media. Support every peace initiative in your locality. The bombing must stop!

  London Rally. Wednesday 5 May. 7pm Central Hall, Westminster.

  National Demonstration. Saturday 8 May. Assemble 12 noon Embankment. Rally 2.30pm.

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Bias at the BBC

by Renee Sams

"STAND UP" for peace -- write not only to your MP but also to the BBC governors, presenters and broadcasters as a matter of urgency," was the call made by Jeremy Corbyn MP to the several hundreds of protesters outside the BBC headquarters in Portland Place last Saturday.

 They were there to protest at the BBC's lack of reporting of demonstrations and meetings of all those who are in opposition to the bombing of Yugoslavia.

 Mr Corbyn also warned of the use of depleted uranium which, as he said, "does call into question that this is a humanitarian war . .. and will of course damage the lives of people in the region for generations to come."

 Tony Benn MP, a former BBC journalist himself, referred to the Nato bombing of the Yugoslav TV station and said: "If you believe that a TV station is part of the war machine, then if we were on the other side we are standing right next to a prime target!"

 The Committee for Peace in the Balkans has also condemned the bombing of Yugoslav television, saying: "The bombing of a working television and radio centre in Belgrade changed the nature of the Nato bombing campaign in Yugoslavia.

 "Previous civilian casualties could be dismissed as accidental, 'collateral' casualties. In this case however Nato was aware that it was bombing a television station which was on the air and that such action was likely to kill and injure journalists and other media workers.

 "Ten days ago Nato promised the International Federation of Journalists that it had no policy to strike television and radio. That promise has now been broken.

 "What amounts to a decision by Nato to deliberately murder and maim working journalists will set a grave precedent which will threaten the lives ofjonrnalists in this and every future conflict. It is also a gross attack on freedom of speech."

 John Foster, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists warned this bombing would put the lives of journalists everywhere at risk and Alice Mahon MP described it as "sinister".

 The Committee for Peace in the Balkans also issued a statement last Saturday after being contacted by technical personnel from the Vinca Institute, Belgrade.

 Staff had been told to leave the building because it had been targeted by bombs. It is a research institute and contains a small 6.5 watt nuclear reactor.

 Bombing this facility risks spreading dangerous radioactive material all over the area.

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Arafat backs down on statehood call

by our Middle East Affairs correspondent

PALESTINIAN President Yasser Arafat has called on the Palestine Central Council to reconsider the unilateral declaration ofindependence planned for4 May and extend the peace talks with Israel for a further year.

 "We are going through a delicate period in the history of our people, a period in which we cannot afford to make any mistakes," he told 124-strong Central Council in Gaza this week. "We don't need to affirm out state because we are actually exercising statehood," he added, referring to the "autonomous" zones administered by the Palestine National Authority.

 The Palestinian leader had been urged by US President Clinton and other Western leaders to stall on the demand, which they feared would only play into the hard-line Zionist politicians fighting for re-election in Israel at this moment. Clinton's letter, which Arafat described as "more than positive" formally called for an extension of the peace talks, due to expire in May, until the year 2000.

 Outgoing Israel premier Benyamin Netanyahu warned that if Arafat went ahead with his plan Israel would formally annex parts of the West Bank and Gaza still under Israeli occupation.

 Arafat's rethink is based on the knowledge that such a declaration would have no impact on the world now focusing on the Balkan war. He also knows that it could easily play into Netanyahu's hands. The hardline anti-Arab Likud boss is running neck-and-neck with Labour in the opinion polls and the last thing Arafat wants is another Likud victory when the election takes place on 17 May.

 Labour, Arafat's partners in drawing up the Oslo peace agreement in the first place, have pledged to re-start serious negotiations with the Palestinians if they return to power in May.

 Though the delay will disappoint many of Arafat's supporters no-one is surprised at his change of mind. A unilateral declaration would be meaningless without international and particularly Western endorsement. And though the Palestinian leader has toured 23 countries in the last month he knows that expressions of support count for nothing without the approval of Washington and its European allies.

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British News

Teachers threatened with fines for striking

LOCAL education authorities last week warned teachers who are considering strike action against the introduction of performance-related pay that they will be fined for taking legitimate industrial action.

 Leaders of England's 150 local education authorities, who employ most of the country's 450,000 classroom teachers, say that staff who take industrial action of any kind will be breaking their contracts.

 The National Union of Teachers is balloting members for a possible one-day strike against the introduction of perlormancerelated pay.

 This means that teachers' pay rises will be linked to the exam results of their pupils -- a very crude measure of performance which will penalise teachers who spend time and attention helping poor achievers.

 The whole profession is united against the scheme. Other teaching unions a reconsidering lesser forms of action, such as refusal to co-operate with the appraisal system on which performance related pay will be based.

But Graham Lane, chairperson of the Local Government's Association, said even this will carry a risk of a fine.

 "If they withdraw their labour, we will deduct money from their pay as long as they refuse to work," he said.

 "It is the duty of employers to deduct pay from people who break their contracts and we will have no hesitation in doing so.

 "If people take industrial action of any sort, they will have to accept the consequences. We could not allow people to break their contracts without doing something about it."

 The NUT is expecting a large majority in favour of action.

 Meanwhile headteachers are warning that the shortage of teachers is reaching the point where they are unable to deliver the full national curriculum.

 John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association warned of a crisis of under-recruitment and said that a £1.5 million government advertising campaign to promote teaching had failed.

 Applications for teacher training courses due to start next September are lower even than last year's rock-bottom level.

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