The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 5th October 2001

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Editorial - Globocops.
Lead Story - No to war!
Feature - London Underground hit by two disputes.
International - An Ireland of equals!
British News - Capitalism flexes its muscles.
More news and Diary



 BLAIR'S keynote speech to last week's Labour Party Conference began as a call to arms against those responsible for the 11 September attacks on the United States.

 He repeated what everyone already knew, that the British government was going to back the US government and underlined Britain's support by warning the Taleban regime in Afghanistan that they would lose power if they failed to surrender Osama bin Laden and his associates.

 After issuing the war threats he launched into a diatribe of humbug. He said he wanted Britain to play an active role in bringing about international justice, seeking peaceful solutions to conflicts like that in the Middle East, to fight against world poverty, tackle climate change and heal the scars of Africa.

 It was in effect a prime example of "third way" politics applied to foreign affairs. It peddles the illusion that the peoples of the world can enjoy peace, prosperity, safety and justice with the capitalist system still intact.

 It is an idea shared by social democrats and liberals who hope for some kind of nicer capitalism -- a capitalism that has the worst of its evils outlawed and a few more reforms thrown in.

 But we need to be clear. Whatever nice thoughts some might have, those who preach these fairytales know perfectly well there is no such thing as humane capitalism. These storytellers are masking their real purpose -- to keep public opinion on side while more dirty work gets done on behalf of big business and the capitalist class.

 The arrogance of this globocop mentality is staggering. Here we have Blair saying, the international community has a "moral duty to uphold democracy, peace and stability". He says that Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world which needs the attention of the world.

 It is staggering to listen to because it has been a tactic of the imperialist powers for decades to arm and back the most reactionary elements in the developing world. At the same time national leaders with a with a wider vision of peace and development in their continent and those with a socialist perspective have been bitterly opposed by the West.

  Worse than that, a number of the very finest people, like Patrice Lumumba, were actually assassinated by  agents of imperialism. Countries that resisted the will  of imperialism were targeted for sanctions or war.

  Neo-colonialism carved out by imperialism has sucked untold wealth out of Africa. Throughout the world the  interests of big business have sought to control all trade, the flow of raw materials at a cheap price to the  West and the right to penetrate local markets with western goods.

  Many countries have been forced by economic pres sure to abandon food crops for the people and to turn their land over to cash crops for western markets. In short there is far more wrong with the developing world than just the iniquity of debts.

  Imperialist foreign policies are nothing more than the military and political arms of the wealthy elites. The big banks, the giant monopolies, the transnational  companies, the oil empires of the western world, these  are the forces that operate the arms of foreign policy. When it is boiled down it is politics for profits, armies to rake in dollars.

  This relentless drive for profits is the motive force of capitalism. It impels the system along paying no heed to the consequences for humanity nor listening to the pleadings of well-meaning, nice folk.

  And it is the system itself that has to be brought to and end. Changing the guard simply will not do since the crimes of capitalism are not committed because some capitalists are especially evil people. It is because all capitalists are forced to go for the maximum return on their money or find themselves overtaken by others who then push them to the wall.

  Blair and Bush are in no position to pontificate about morals, democracy, peace or justice. The world has suffered too long from the policing and interference of the United States and Britain.

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Lead Story

No to war!

by our Arab affairs correspondent

THE IMPERIALIST WAR MACHINE is in top gear amid increasing fears that an Angle-American onslaught against Afghanistan is only days away. While peace protests grow throughout the world the diplomatic and military offensive against Afghanistan continues relentlessly.

 At Labour Party Conference this week Tony Blair warned that the Taleban regime must "surrender the terrorists or surrender power" and Nato ministers rubber-stamped the military preparations which are being done in their name.

 The Pentagon has confirmed that US Special Forces are already operating inside Afghanistan while denying an Arab report that Taleban forces had already captured three US servicemen. Reports that British SAS scouts had also landed received the usual no-comment MOD response.

 And Taleban leaders have rejected further Pakistani appeals to hand over Osama bin Laden, whose Islamic order is blamed for organising the deadly attacks on the Pentagon and New York last September.


 Back in Washington US President Bush has temporarily withdrawn from the limelight while his emissaries struggle to keep America's Arab and Muslim clients on-side. And he's left it to Britain to drum up support and public opinion in Europe.

 Blair obliged, stepping centre-stage into the world crisis with a war-mongering speech at Labour Party conference also designed to boost British imperialism's claim to be the chief running-dog of the United States.

 Meanwhile American diplomatic efforts to build the grand coalition needed to mask the strategic and economic aims of the aggression to come continue to stumble on the reticence and often down-right opposition of much of the Third World.

 People's China and many other non-aligned countries are calling for a United Nationscentred policy to define, as well as deal, with the problem of "terrorism".

 Though this is being sidelined by Washington the State Department is moving heaven and earth to buy-off some and neutralise other countries to clear the decks for war.

 In a surprise move the Bush administration has said it now accepts the eventuality of a "Palestinian state" once the conflict with Israel ends and peace is established. This, in itself, hasn't been enough to end the violence or keep the Saudi's -- America's main player in the region -- happy.

 Israeli forces are pounding Gaza again in revenge for an earlier resistance attack on a Zionist settlement in the north of the Gaza Strip.

 And the Saudis, fearful of being branded as Arab and Muslim traitors by their own people -- particularly the tribal and religious leaders who count in the oil-rich desert kingdom are ruling out the use of American bases on their soil for any attack on the Afghans.

Imperialist problems

 Anglo-American imperialism faces many military problems. Its land-locked mountains make an invasion from the skies wellnigh impossible.

 The anti-Taleban United Front has reached an accord with the pro-Western ex-king of Afghanistan but their offensive has been limited to the capture of one small town, and that by the defection of the chief of the 80-strong garrison to their ranks.

 Allies are needed but few can be found. Pakistan has been armed-twisted into opening up its air-space to the imperialists but the military government is fearful of allowing Western troops on its soil.

 Anti-American feeling is rising in Pakistan and the military leaders are rightly worried that a backlash triggered by their presence could easily topple their regime.

 Iran has repeatedly stated that its air-space is closed to Western warplanes and warned that Tehran would react "strongly" if its skies are violated.

 Russia, whose bases in the Central Asian republics could provide useful stepping stones for the Western offensive, is blowing hot-and-cold.

 President Putin hopes to get his full seat in the Group of Seven and block Nato's eastward expansion by making the right noises while senior aides back m the Kremlm publicly urge caution.

 The head of the intelligence services, FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev, in particular used the conference of intelligence heads from the former Soviet republics in Tajikistan to state that Russia and the 11 other republics "should not take part in military actions in Afghanistan, but join in the global fight against terrorism".

 Afghanistan's neighbours, no friends of the Taleban, are fearful that once the Americans land they'll want to stay for good.

 And all the leaders in the Islamic states know that if such a war does erupt it could trigger anti-American riots on an unprecedented scale not to mention the wrath of the organised Islamic brotherhoods like the one Bin Laden leads.

 UN agencies and humanitarian organisations are expressing their worries. Millions have already fled Afghanistan and millions are expected to seek refuge once the bombs start falling.

 In Britain the movement is mobilising behind the national Peace and Justice for All demonstration in London on 13 October. Similar peace protests will take place on that day in many other parts of the world. This war can be stopped before it starts. We must make it so.

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London Underground hit by two disputes

by Caroline Colebrook

WORKERS on the London Underground network are engaged in two long-running disputes that are set to culminate in strike days on Friday 12 October and Thursday 18 October.

 The first is over a pay claim and involves the RMT transport union which has about 8,000 members working for LU in a wide variety of roles, and Aslef, the main drivers' union which has 2,200 members employed by LU.

 Both unions are demanding a substantial pay rise to compensate for years of below inflation rises, which have seen pay values eroded.

 LU has offered four per cent, but with many strings such as poorer pension deals for newly employed staff, paid meal breaks, staff travel and so on.

  The workers want a decent rise with no strings at all.

  RMT assistant general secretary Bob Crow said: "Obviously we regret having to resort to strike action but passengers should know that London Underground's approach to these negotiations has been shambolic.

  "LU has made no effort to get around the negotiating table. Our members are not asking for the world, they just want LU to stop playing games and resume negotiations."

  And he warned that unless a better offer is made, "There will be nothing running on those dates"

  The second dispute dates back eight years and involves drivers. The staffing system was reorganised with heavy job cuts. Drivers were expected to start and end their shifts not necessarily at the main depots where they were based.

  This meant travelling in the very early ours of the morning to remote stations to pick up heir first tram or delivering a tram to such a station in the middle of the night.

  Few of these small stations are equipped with the staff facilities necessary. such as changing rooms. toilets, wash rooms, tea-making facilities and so on.

  The unions gave LU some time to remedy the matter but this has not happened and so now strikes are taking place. Dates have not been settled but they may coincide with strike dates for the pay dispute.

  Aslef is demanding that these stations be properly equipped for staff with lockers, changing facilities, separate male and female toilets with separate access, boilers for teamaking, cooking facilities such as microwaves, fridges and car parking.

  Aslef district secretary Steve Grant said: "The conditions for staff, particularly women, at some of the stations have to be seen to be believed.

  "We have instances where women have been told to go and change or use the lavatory of a local pub because there is nothing available for them at the station.

  "LU launched a successful campaign earlier this year to attract women but is not providing even the most basic facilities. This is 2001, not 1801. We have extended our deadlines time and time again for LU to improve the conditions but the company has not honoured agreements."

  LU has promised separate toilet facilities only where more than 10 staff are employed; otherwise men and women will have to share. It had admitted, "As regards lavatories, in some areas the facilities are not as good as we would like"

 * RMT is also demanding breathing masks for staff employed underground after a survey revealed that levels of particulates in the air of the LU system are many times above even the worst at street level. The health implications for LU workers and for the travelling public are serious.

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An Ireland of equals!

by Theo Russell in Dublin

SINN Fein's 95th Ard Fheis met in Dublin last weekend in a spirit of soaring confidence and determination to move forward and revolutionise politics in the whole of Ireland.

 Under the slogans 'Saoirse. Siochain agus Ceart' -- Freedom. Peace and Justice -- and 'Building an Ireland of Equals,' the party outlined dynamic and well-prepared policies to confront the considerable problems faced in both parts of the island, from drugs. crime and health to policing and the peace process.

 There was of course concern at the state of the peace process, but this in no way dented the spirit of celebration of Sinn Feins electoral advances in the North, and confident expectations of sweeping gains in the next elections in both parts of Ireland.

 As party chairman Mitchel McGlaughlin pointed out in his opening address, "the rejectionists may be under the misapprehension that they have opened up the space to re-negotiate the Good Friday Agreement and to fatally undermine the peace process. Let me reiterate that the peace process is unstoppable and the momentum for peace is in train."

 Caoimhghin O Caolain TD (member ofthe Irish parliament) predicted that after the next elections in the republic, "room will have to be made beside me in the Dail (parliament) chamber for Sean Crowe TD, Martin Ferris TD, Arthur Morgan TD, Aengus O Snodaigh TD, Sean MacManus TD, and Nicky Kehoe TD. And theres more."

 He said that since another Sinn Fein-led victory -- the defeat of the referendum in the Republic on EU enlargement -- "we have seen a mounting campaign by the establishment parties against Sinn Fein.

 "Since the 1997 general election when we have really blossomed throughout this island. the alarm of the leaderships of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour and the Peoples Democrats is palpable. They can barely tolerate a resurgent Sinn Fein in the North, but now it is far too close to home.

 "We have challenged their cosy consensus politics and brought political leadership into disadvantaged communities abandoned by these parties. I say let us keep them on the rack by building our strength."

 And in a speech on the peace process, Martin McGuinness predicted: "Coner Murphy is now the undisputed MP in waiting for Newry/Armagh, and I am confident that Mitchel McLaughlin will join him as the MP for Foyle."

 McGuiness described the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) approach to decommissioning as "war by other means," but added: "it is incumbent on us to acknowledge that for many unionists the issue of decommissioning is a real issue. It is also an issue for us. So let me make the Sinn Fein position absolutely clear. We want the issue of weapons, all weapons, resolved."

"Threats. ultimatums and deadlines do not work. Politics does and that is what we are about."

 The British government, he said, "still views the north through the filter of unionism. They are only willing to introduce as much change as is acceptable to unionist politicians."

 But he stressed that "it is incumbent on us to reach out to the that section of the unionist community which feels uncertain of the future, to provide reassurances to grass roots unionists that whatever changes come about will not threaten them and their future as a valued section of our people."

 In his presidential address, listened to amongst others by the US Ambassador and president of the Friends of Sinn Fein in the United States, Gerry Adams said "our own peace process is in a mess, and it must now be obvious to everyone that the political institutions are going to collapse unless the Unionists work with Sinn Fein and the other parties."

 "Republicans are angry at a British government which underpins the UUP position and which has re-militarised nationalist and republican heartlands."

 Adams paid tribute to Social Democratic & Labour Party (SDLP) leader John Hume, whose resignation as party leader "marks the end of an era," and called on all political parties in Ireland to sign an anti-racist pledge and commitment not to tolerate racism in their party.

 Martin Ferris, Ard Comhairle (Executive) member, outlined the objectives of the republican struggle: "to realise an Irish republic as envisaged in the 1916 Proclamation and the Democratic Programme of 1919."

 Speaking on an emergency motion on policing, Northern executive member Gerry Kelly said the SDLP's support of the British position and decision to take seats on the Policing was "a mistake of mammoth proportions." "The British Government," he said, "are not honest brokers. The only party involved in the policing debate which has the power to do anything about this, is the British Government."

 The recent attacks in America were strongly condemned by the entire Sinn Fein leadership, as well as by the international guests. A minute's silence was observed, and it was announced that the proceeds of this year's Sinn Fein national draw would go to the victims' families.

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British News

Capitalism flexes its muscles

by Daphne Liddle

THE LEADERSHIP of the Labour Party came to this year's annual conference at Brighton well prepared to defend and extend the role of capitalism at home and abroad on all fronts: international terrorism, law and order, privatisation, asylum, Europe and world war.

  Even so, it could not hide or escape from the growing resistance in its own ranks, in the trade unions and generally.


 Labour's behind-the-scenes strategy produced a split among the big unions, which had vowed to fight further privatisation of the public sector.

 The biggest union, Unison, withdrew from the battle after private talks with Transport Secretary Stephen Byers and Health Secretary Alan Milburn.

  They promised a three month review of the Best Value system under which private firms and council workforces compete for contracts. The unions complain that this favours private companies and lowers the wages and conditions of new employees.

  And they told Unison general secretary David Prentiss that private sector involvement in the NHS would be "a relationship, not a take over".

  Prentiss accepted this, with the warning: "Every public sector worker in this hall will hold you to account for delivering these commitments and delivering them quickly. I make no apology for being part of a composite that seeks to unite us rather than one that dwells only on the conflicts between us."

  John Edmonds, general secretary ofthe general union GMB reacted strongly to the news of Prentiss's defection from the opposition to further privatisation. After a five-hour negotiation session behind closed doors, he refused to fall in with the agreement.

   He told delegates: "I thought it was the Tories that privatised public services and Labour that defended them.

  "The time has come to stop demoralising pubic sector workers and start co-operating with them."

  One GMB official described the promised review of local government pay and conditions as "not worth the paper it won't be written on".

  He added: "There is no hiding the fact that here has been a big split between the unions."

 Just three weeks ago, at the curtailed TUC conference, Dave Prentiss had spoken of months of public sector strikes to prevent further private sector encroachment.

 In the event, Tony Blair was spared a humiliating defeat on this issue on the conference floor.

  Nevertheless, opposition to privatisation remains strong and a fringe meeting on the issue, addressed by London mayor Ken Livingstone, alongside Labour left-wingers, was well supported.


  Home Secretary David Blunkett used the conference to announce new proposals for an immigration and asylum Bill that would grant American-style "green card" work permits to selected immigrants with useful skills.

  He attempted to head off a revolt, spearheaded by the Transport and General Workers' Union over the asylum seekers' food voucher system and the disastrous dispersal system.

 TGWU general secretary Bill Morris described the vouchers as a system of "retailing apartheid".

 As we go to press, a TGWU motion that these vouchers should be redeemable for cash at post offices is being debated.

 And Blunkett agreed to drop plans to introduce identity cards in the wake of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. The administration of the scheme would be extremely expensive and use up an enormous amount of police time, not to say police cell space, dealing with people who have simply lost or mislaid their ID cards without aiding the fight against terrorism one bit.

  Blunkett's proposals include new measures to outlaw the propagation of race hate -- extending it to include hatred on religious grounds. This sounds promising but the details will have to be carefully scrutinised when published.

  He also proposed that anyone suspected of terrorism should automatically be denied asylum.

  This is very dangerous. It means that an oppressive regime has only to label someone escaping its clutches as a terrorist to ensure the British government sends them right back.

  An asylum seeker should be proved to be a terrorist, not merely suspected, before being denied political asylum.


  Tony Blair used the conference to speed up his agenda for getting Britain into the European single currency, indicating that he intends to hold the crucial referendum before the next general election.

  He argued that Britain needed to enter the single currency to avoid isolation at a time of growing globalism and a "new world order".

  He said: "Britain needs its voice strong in Europe and bluntly, Europe needs a strong Britain, rock solid in our alliance with the US yet determined to play its full part in shaping Europe's destiny."

  This could be interpreted to mean that US capitalism needs Britain as a strong cat's paw within its rival trading bloc.

  Senior ministers calculate the referendum is most likely to be held in 2003.


  Chancellor Gordon Brown last week hinted that Labour might be prepared to raise taxes to cover rising public spending costs -- including the costs of a coming war in Afghanistan.

  He said he was determined to press ahead with increased spending on schools, hospitals, the police and transport in spite of the deepening global economic downturn. Currently, capitalist experts are saying the global slum, could last until 2003. Socialist experts expect it to be somewhat longer.

  But he gave a warning there would be no state bail-outs for failing industries, such as airlines.

 He made his usual claim that Britain is in a good position to withstand economic hardship and that he has "conquered" the cycle of boom and bust that is endemic to the capitalist system.

  But, he added, no country could insulate itself from the global economy and slowing world trade will have an effect on people's livelihoods.

  He renewed the Government's election pledge of above inflation rises in public spending.

 But since government policy is to allow creeping privatisation of the public sector, much of this taxpayers money will end up in private pockets while the services will continue to deteriorate.

  Brown also renewed his promise to the rich not to increase the higher rate of income tax -- meaning that it is ordinary workers who will pick up the bill. He promised not to extend the scope of Value Added Tax but did not mention its level. Many tax experts expect him to opt for indirect forms of taxation such as this, which hit the poor disproportionately.

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