The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 19th May 2000

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Editorial - Keep out of Sierra Leone. & Palestine ablaze.
Lead Story - Mandelson flies Euro-kite.
Feature - Bailiffs out of control.
International - Palestinian anger erupts.
British News - Justice for Ricky ... and Mumia.


Keep out of Sierra Leone

THE DESPATCH of a British task-force to Sierra Leone and the Government's refusal to clearly define the duration and purpose of its mission only heightens fears that behind all this lies a sinister imperialist agenda.

 First we're told that the paratroops and SAS men were simply in Freetown to evacuate British citizens caught up in the civil war.

 Now British soldiers are patrolling the streets of the capital and rumours abound that they will soon be supplying arms to government forces locked in battle with the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon assures us in Parliament that there is no question of Britain being drawn into the conflict but in the next breath he declines to give a time limit for the mission, simply saying that the troops "will stay no longer than necessary".

 What we can see is a daily media campaign to demonise the rebels as cut-throats and savages which can only be in preparation for direct intervention, while the Government's "human rights" gang trots out the usual "ethical" arguments to justify it.

 The civil war in Sierra Leone began in 1991. Tens of thousands have died and over half a million people have become refugees. The Sierra Leone army, the RUF and the other armed factions all accuse each other of atrocities, which plainly have taken place.

 None of this justifies British intervention. The British ruling class is not interested in the welfare of Africans or anyone else apart from themselves for that matter. When a million Rwandans were massacred a few years ago there was no call for outside intervention. Nothing is said when Britain's ally Turkey massacres Kurds, though the "human rights" gang have plenty to say about Iraq, which is Britain's enemy.

 No, the real reason that British troops are going in is to secure the diamond mines, now in rebel hands, for the Anglo-American mineral companies and prop up the Kabbah government, which does their bidding.

 The question of who rules Sierra Leone is a matter for the Sierra Leonian people alone to resolve. The problem of stability in West Africa is a matter for those African states to resolve. African problems can and must only be solved by Africans themselves.

 British troops can't bring real peace to Sierra Leone, nor is that their real intention. But their continued presence will only lead to further bloodshed and greater war. The peace movement must be mobilised to demand the immediate withdrawal of all British troops from the country before Sierra Leone is plunged into an even greater tragedy.

Palestine ablaze

THE true face of Israeli oppression was shown again last Monday when soldiers and police brutally suppressed Palestinian demonstrations throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

 More than 450 Palestinians were wounded and at least three killed in the fighting which ended only after the Palestinian police intervened to confront the Israelis gun for gun.

 For all the Arabs 15 May is a sombre day. On that day in 1948 the State of Israel was established. On that day Zionist terror was given the green light to grab as much Palestinian land as it could and drive out or kill as many Palestinians as stood in its way. On that day the first Arab-Israeli war broke out. Fifty-two years later it has still to be resolved.

 Palestinian President Yasser Arafat has many critics. His administration of the "autonomous" zones is accused of cronyism and corruption. The Islamic and progressive Palestinian resistance say he's made too many concessions to Israel already.

 But that's not why the Palestinian Arabs took to the streets on Monday risking their lives to defy the guns of their oppressors and tormentors. They were out there because they want the Israelis out of all the occupied territories -- not just the parts they can't control or don't want. They were out there demanding the release of all Palestinian political prisoners, the total evacuation of the occupied territories and the right for the millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in the West Bank and what is now Israel itself.

 They were out there because they are sick of a "peace process" which isn't proceeding and doesn't bring peace. And peace will never come to the Middle East until the legitimate rights of the Palestinian Arabs are recognised and restored.

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Lead Story

Mandelson flies Euro-kite

by Daphne Liddle

NORTHERN Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson last Tuesday told a conference of the GMB general union that British industry is at risk as long as we stay outside the common European currency.

 He said: "I fully accept that the pound is over-valuedand the euro is under-valued. The fact is that as long as we are outside the euro, there is little we can do to protect industry against the destabilising swings in the value of sterling as they affect Europe -- the largest market where we have to earn our living."

 Much of the press has seen this as evidence of a split in the Cabinet. Mandelson's current job has nothing to do with the Treasury -- that is the province of Chancellor Gordon Brown whose utterances are much more cautious.

 Brown insists that Britain cannot join the euro until after a referendum on the matter and five key economic conditions have been met.

 But others believe that Mandelson is in effect firing the first shot in a new campaign to soften the British public up to accept entry to the euro and has been chosen to make this statement outside his normal remit precisely because it will not be seen as official Government policy -- yet.

 Mr Mandelson's remarks also coincided with Prime Minister Tony Blair's address to the Confederation of British Industry.

 He told Britain's biggest bosses that the Government was not prepared to take action to artificially reduce the value of the pound compared to the euro.

 He in turn was lectured by CBI chief Sir Clive Thompson of Rentokil about how legislation to protect workers rights is damaging British industry -- along with the high value of the pound.

 Blair responded reminding him that Britain still has "one of the most lightly regulated labour markets in the world", meaning that bosses are practically free to do what they please while workers' rights to take industrial action are severely curtailed.

 Sir Clive Thompson was expressing the fears of Britain's capitalist class that a revival of the left in the Labour Party, especially since Ken Livingstone demonstrated that the right wing grip on the party leadership can be successfully challenged, means that the Labour leadership will be anxious to appease its core voters more in the run-up to the next election.

 On the question of entry to the euro, Mr Blair did his best to reassure the bosses who are clamouring to get in, saying: "Our job as a government is not to resist change but to help people throught it.

 "Our duty as a government is to take no short-term risks with economic stability. Whatever the pressures, we will not change this policy.

 "There willbe no return to massive borrowing. to risks with inflation, to boom and bust economics. Nor will we pretend to people we can preserve very job or every industry in perpetuity."

boom and bust

 But Blair nor anyone else can stop the boom and bust nature of capitalism. Going into the euro may benefit some of the bosses but it will do little for the workers -- merely give the bosses more powers to exploit them.

 European Union membership has not protected British industries or jobs. Coal, steel, shipbuilding and now car making have all slid down the pan. Other European workers have seen their industries go the same way. Most of these commodities are now produced in the Third World. The European Union and its currency exist for the benefit of Europe's bosses, not its workers.

 There is only one defence for the working class and that is its own organised strength which will ultimately throw over the whole rotten capitalist system and establish socialism.

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Bailiffs out of control

by Caroline Colebrook

BAILIFFS are using threats of violence and imprisonment to force their way into debtors' homes to seize goods and they are charging excessive fees which only add to the victims' debt problems, according to a report published last week by the National Citizens Advice Bureaux (Nacab).

 The report, Undue Stress, claims that bailiffs are subject to few controls and the laws that do govern them are complex, arcane and irrelevant -- some dating back to 1267.

 These give little protection to their victims who mostly do not know what few rights they do have.

 For example, bailiffs are not allowed to seize goods after sunset. They may take only goods belonging to the debtor, if they take goods belonging to anyone else who happens to be at the same address, they are stealing.

 In theory, bailiffs are supposed to leave the debtor with a minimum needed for existence: a bed, a chair, a means to cook food and any tools they use to make a living. But many ignore these exceptions.

 Goods taken wrongly in this way can be difficult to recover and many victims do not get the legal advice they need to know how to go about it.

 One group of bailiffs told a woman they had the legal right to smash down her door with a sledgehammer. Bailiffs are not allowed to break in but once in they cannotbe stopped from seizing goods -- and they are allowed to interpret any unlocked door or window as an invitation to come in.

 And anything outside the house, such as a car or garden furniture, is fair game for bailiffs to seize. And some bailiffs are claiming that a statute of 1267 entitles them to break into someone's home.

 Nacab quotes one case where bailiffs' fees and charges escalated a £12 parking fine to £4OO. They seized the victim's car, which had been supplied under the Motability scheme so he could get to hospital three times a week for kidney dialysis.

 Bailiffs are supposed to hold certificates in order to seize rent, road traffic penalties and council tax -- though Nacab says the system is far from vigorous.

 Those who enforce magistrates' fines need no certificates and are not accountable.

 The report's author, Alison Green said: "Where no certificates are required, the bailiff is not subject to checks or regulations of any kind."

 Nacab has called for the whole bailiff system to be scrapped and fairer methods used to recover domestic debt it has called on the Government's social exclusion zone to examine the whole issue of debt and debt enforcement.

 Nacab chief executive David Harker said: "It's high time we moved away from a system that relies on intimidation and confusion as its main tools to one that is sensitive to the situation of those who struggle on inadequate incomes."

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Palestinian anger erupts

by our Middle East Affairs Correspondent

PALESTINIAN anger at decades of occupation with still no end in sight came to the boil on Monday when peaceful Palestine Day demonstrations ended in bloody clashes with Israeli troops and police. And sporadic fighting is continuing despite calls for calm.

 Four Palestinian Arabs were killed and hundreds more wounded when the Israelis opened fired on crowds marking the 52nd anniversary of the start of the first Palestine War.

 Tension was already in the air as rumours spread that the Palestinians were going to be forced to make more concessions at the secret talks between the Israelis, Americans and Palestinian negotiators in Sweden. That morning chief Palestinian negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo resigned in protest at the Stockholm talks, which he said were undermining Palestinian unity in facing the Israelis.

 The Israeli government hoped to defuse the situation by symbolically handing over three villages near Arab Jerusalem to the "autonomous" Palestinian Authority. But this was largely meaningless as the villages are already under Palestinian civil control and in any case the withdrawal was suspended when violence broke out.

 And it soon did when the Israelis opened up with rubber tipped bullets and live ammunition. The Arabs responded with stones and in some towns the Palestinian police returned fire to protect the people. Fifteen Israeli troops were wounded but none killed.

 In Bethlehem protesters took over the roof of the Intercontinental Hotel to stone the Israeli troops below. In Gaza Israeli troops held back protesters trying to march on the Israeh settlement of Netzarim and in Ramallah and Jenin the Palestinian police returned fire on the Israelis to protect the demonstrators.

 Now the Palestinian police are busy trying to damp things down on orders from the Arafat leadership which wants to make at least some progress at the Stockholm talks. And, of course, so does Israeli premier Ehud Barak, who knows the peace movement at home is an important part of his Labour constituency.

 Barak and US President Clinton are keen on a show-piece Middle East peace summit with Arafat in the summer. Clinton wants anotherjamboree to help the Democrats win the presidential race in November, Barak
wants some movement to appease his doves and most of all so does Arafat.

 Barak will probably order the transfer of the three Arab villages near occupied Jerusalem within the next few days as a sweetener -- one after all is openly tipped to be the site of the new Palestinian parliament.

 But there's still no sign that the Americans or the Israelis are ready to make realistic decisions to reach a just peace in the region. A village here, a prisoner release there goes nowhere to meeting basic Palestinian demands.

 Over the decades the Americans and Israelis have believed that if they do nothing but keep the spoils of war the Arabs will eventually knuckle down and accept whatever is on the table -- no matter how small it is. Last Monday's events once again prove how terribly wrong they are.

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British News

Justice for Ricky ... and Mumia

by Anne Johnson

WHEN I was doing my weekend shopping last Saturday, I proudly explained why I was wearing a yellow ribbon. I said it was for Ricky Reel. Both white and Asian shopkeepers were very sympathetic and were with us in spirit at the demonstration to remember Ricky.

 This was, most appropriately, held outside Scotland Yard where about 100 people and a band assembled from 12.30 to 3pm.

 Ricky's body had been discovered in the Thames in 1997. The police did not actively investigate the case (in contrast to the murder of Jill Dando).

 They treated the family disrespectfully and refused to entertain the idea that it was a racist murder, even though Ricky was last seen alive being pursued by white racist thugs.

 They maintained that Ricky had urinated in the river and fallen in -- although his mother, Mrs Sukhdev Reel, pointed out the absurdity of this as Ricky was a good swimmer.

 The campaign, supported by the National Civil Rights Movement wants a public inquiry into the handling of the case. They also want to find out how Ricky may have died.

 At the inquest, the pathologist hired by the family said Ricky had sustained an injury to the back of his shoulder which occurred before Ricky went into the river. Mrs Reel said: "They are not giving us the answers."

 Simultaneous demonstrations were held in Birmingham, Plymouth and Dundee.

 For more information contact Sukhdev Reel, care of NCRM, 020 8843 2333.

 Following on from the Ricky Reel demonstration was another not far away in Grosvenor Square for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther and renowned journalist who is known in America as "the voice of the voiceless" for exposing police brutality.

 The London Mumia Must Live campaign collaborated with the Ricky Reel demonstration organisers so the two events would not clash.

 Events for Mumia were held simultaneously in other parts of the country, including Bristol and Newcastle, as well as throughout the world.

 It was the 15th anniversary of the bombing in the United states of the MOVE community, which had been living according to African culture and values.

 The demonstration had an extra edge as the results of Mumia's case will soon be known.

 He has been on death row since 1982, confined to a cell for 22 hours every day for a crime he did not commit.

 In 1995 he came within 10 days of execution, which was only dropped as a result of international outcry.

 Last Saturday around 300 people gathered outside the United States Embassy in London from 3.30 to 5.30pm.

 Invited speakers included Explo Nani-Kofi of the African Liberation Support Campaign and Jessica Huntley from New Beacon Books in Guyana. Mumia had interviewed her shortly before he was imprisoned.

 There was also a taped message from Mumia himself and music by Rage Against the Machine who have suffered attempts to silence them in the US.

 There was a free microphone and the atmosphere was festive despite the more than usual police presence at US Embassy demonstrations.

 Their numbers had increased when Sister Margaret Jones chained herself to the US Embassy from where she led the shouts of "Free Mumia".

 After a while she was forcibly removed and carried away to a police van.

 At the end of the demo the organisers, with about 30 supporters went to the police station where Sister Margaret was shortly released, pleased that her action and statements had gained some media coverage for Mumia.

 "It's something I've always wanted to do," she said, "to chain myself to the US Embassy."

 Contact Mumia Must Live BM Haven London WC1N 3XX,

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