The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 6th October 2000

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Editorial - One up for the Danes. & Israeli terror must stop.
Lead Story - Arabs defy Israeli might.
Feature - TGWU leads fight against vouchers.
International - Chilean Communists to sue US government.
British News - Pensioners keep up the pressure.


One up for the Danes.

THE DANISH people said no to European Monetary Union last week -- good news for the working people of Denmark and good news for the rest of us in the European Union. It was a slap in the face for the Danish ruling class and the social-democratic elite.

 Their drive for speedy full EU integration has been stopped in its tracks. Of course they'll lick their wounds and live to fight another day. There will be another referendum in a few years time and as far as they are concerned they will campaign for as long as it takes to get their own way.

 Danish workers have won a breather. They too will also have to continue to campaign against the threat to their welfare state posed by greater integration. The long-term campaign against the whole concept of the capitalist union has to be maintained against the barrage of propaganda from the Danish establishment who console themselves with the belief that time is on their side. But the impact of the Danish vote goes far beyond Denmark.

 It has immediately created a two-tier EU, with the core founder members of the Treaty of Rome pressing ahead with plans for a single European capitalist state while others remain outside EMU, or "Euroland" as they say in the City. The Danish 'No' has stiffened the resistance to EMU in other parts of Scandinavia and encouraged the growing opposition in Britain to the single currency.

 At Labour Party conference last week the big-wigs tried to play
down the significance of the Danish referendum in almost a dismissive way. Others conceded that Blair & Co will have to tread carefully after the next election -- assuming they win -- with plans for a British EMU vote.

 Well they might but this doesn't mean they are going to give up on it. Though the ruling class is divided on the issue, the dominant trend is in favour of full integration. They see no future for themselves outside full partnership with Germany, France and the other core members of the European Union. Whether Denmark goes in or not is irrelevant to the needs of British imperialism and the capitalist class as a whole.

 The lesson they'll have learnt from the Danish experience is the need to step up the pro-EU propaganda even more to convince working people that there is no life outside Euroland.

 That may seem a tall task today. But the real EMU campaign has yet to begin. When it does we will see a grand coalition of the great and the good -- led by the Labour leadership and the TUC -- working to get Britain into EMU. The opposition will be dismissed as "little Englanders", cranks, bigots, extremists, racists and neo-nazis.

 Of course, some are. What communists must do is ensure that the anti-EMU campaign is based on working class demands -- not the current Tory slogan of "saving the pound" or the agenda of the racist and fascists who dance to the same tune.

 The capitalists' European Union is neither democratic not genuinely federal. It is going to be exactly what they want -- a European superstate directly controlled and solely for the benefit of the exploiters with minimal rights for working people. But it's working people who will pay for it if it goes ahead in higher general taxes and duties and overall lower wages. This has been the reality of the Common Market since its foundation. We must say no to EMU. The Danes have shown us the way.

Israeli terror must stop

ONCE AGAIN Israel shows its true face -- Palestinians butchered in the West Bank by rampaging Israeli troops trying to quell Arab anger at an occupation which goes on and on and on.

 We can only admire the heroism of the Palestinian Arabs ready to defy Israel's tanks and guns with catapults and stones. We can only despise Israel's rulers who talk of peace but reach for their guns at the first sign of defiance.

 Israel's ruling Labour coalition say that the trouble began when right-wing opposition leader General Arik Sharon chose to enter one of Islam's holy sites in Jerusalem with his thousand-strong police guard. Sharon, a well-known Arab-hater, wanted to send a message to the fanatical Zionist settler constituency in advance of the upcoming Israeli election. He sent a message to the Palestinians and all the Arabs as well.

 But it's the Israeli Labour government which has ordered the troops to try to drown the protests in blood. And it's that same government which refuses to meet even a fraction of the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people.

 Israel is a colonial settler state established through a monstrous crime in 1948. Nearly a million Palestinians were driven out of their homes and land to make way for Zionist settles. In 1967 Israel seized the rest of Palestine which it occupies to this day.

 Israel can only do this because it is armed to the teeth by US imperialism with the tacit support of the rest of the pack of wolves including Britain. Israel is a huge military camp for the West, part ofimperialism's strategic plan to keep Middle East oilsafe for.the monopolies and frustrate the Arabs hopes for unity and genuine independence.

 But the lesson of the four major Middle East wars and the countless minor conflicts since 1948 is that there can be no peace in the region as long as Palestinian rights are denied. Israel must withdraw to the pre-1967 war armistice line. Israel must recognise the right of the Palestinian Arabs to have their own independent state and above all, Israel must recognise the right of the millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

 Israel can have Arab land or it can have peace. It will never have both.

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Lead Story

Arabs defy Israeli might

by Our Middle East Affairs correspondent

FIERCE FIGHTING continues throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip as the Palestinian masses take to the streets to defy the tanks and guns of the Israeli army. United Nations Secretary-General has described the situation as close to "all-out war".

 In Paris the Americans are trying to broker yet another of their ceasefires while across the Arab world huge protests are taking place. Arab leaders are calling for an emergency Arab summit, frustrated at their predictable failure to get the UN Security Council to intervene due to American pressure.

 Over 60 Palestinians, nearly all civilians and some just boys, have been killed in a week of clashes with the Israeli army and Zionist settler gunmen. Over 1,300 have wounded in battles which are raging throughout Palestine. They resist with stones and petrol bombs. Palestinian police and Palestinian guerrillas are returning fire and at least three Israeli soldiers have been killed and 60 more wounded.

 Back in Paris Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli premier Ehud Barak are holding proximity talks through the office of the US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. Arafat is demanding an international inquiry into the outbreak of violence triggered by the provocative visit by the Israeli opposition leader, General Ariel Sharon, to one of Islam's sacred sites in Arab Jerusalem last week.

 Sharon's stunt, aimed at winning Zionist settler votes in the forthcoming election, enraged the Palestinians who took to the streets as soon as the news broke. Israel's response was to unleash its army on unarmed civilians.

resistance grows

 But terror has failed to break Palestinian morale. The more the Israelis kill, the more the resistance grows. Now its spread to Israel's million-strong Arab minority in northern Galilee and the Negev -- Palestinians who managed to cling on to their homes during the 1948 war and who are, at least on paper, Israeli citizens.

 In Galilee Israeli-Arab leaders called a general strike in solidarity with the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. Thousands marched demanding the dismissal and trial of Israeli Army Chief of Staff Shaul Moufaz for ordering his troops to open fire and kill Palestinian children.

 Israeli flags were burnt and barricades set up once the same troops opened fire with rubber bullets and live ammunition. Six were killed and many were injured. The Israeli police tried to enter the towns of Umm al Fahem and Tamra but held back after Arab members of the Israeli parliament warned that this would lead to a full-scale uprising inside Israel itself.

China condemns Sharon

 At the United Nations HQ in New York the Palestinian representative, Nasser al Kidwa, called on the Security Council to act to end Israel's brutal repression. He accused the Israeli army of warcrimes and called on the Council to use its authority to put an immediate end to Israel's "brutal campaign".

 "The Council has to bring an end the violations by the occupying power under the fourth Geneva convention," Nasser al Kidwa said.

 Speaking for People's China, Wang Yingfan condemned Israeli violence. "It is appalling that Israeli military police used helicopters, rockets and tanks against Palestinian civilians, causing deaths and a large number of injuries among civilians, in particular children," Wang said.

 The Chinese UN ambassador called for an immediate end to the fighting and added: "The Sccurity Council shoulders the primary responsibility for maintaininginternationalpeaceandsecurity. It has an unshakable responsibility for protecting civilians in Palestine. The Security Council should send out the strongest possible signal to put an end to the bloody incidents in which innocent civilians are subject to violence".

 Wang Yingfan singled out General Sharon for blame and said: "The Israeli opposition leader made a sudden visit to al Haram al Sharif and made a controversial statement. This is a very irresponsible and provocative act which should be condemned by the Council".

 "At this very crucial juncture, it is China's strong hope that parties concerned exercise ultimate restraint and stop all talk and acts detrimental to the peace process and create the necessary conditions for resuming and accelerating peace negotiations," Wang declared.

 But the Security Council did nothing, under American pressure to accept yet another of their "peace initiatives"

in Paris

 In the French capital, Yasser Arafat has held talks with Madeleine Albright but he's re fused to meet Bara k face-to-face so far. Arafal is Furious at Tel Aviv's propaganda barrage, blaming him for the violence and calling on him to use whatever influence he's got in the Palestinian street to end the fighting. In fact the Palestinian leader has acted with considerable restraint. His Palestinian police have only returned fire after extreme provocation from the Israeli army and several have been killed in the weeklong clashes.

 Arafat is also under immense pressure from the progressive resistance and the Islamic movement not to make any further concessions to Israel. In Damascus, the Popular Front (PFLP) and Democratic Front (DFLP) for the Liberation of Palestine issued a joint statement urging him to stop negotiations. The Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, is calling for Arafat's resignation, to allow the Palestinian people to choose a new leadership which would back the uprising.

 In virtually all the Arab capitals, from Morocco to the Gulf, tens of thousands are marching to show their support for the Palestinians and Arab Jerusalem.

 And in Israel itself the peace movement is also mobilising to stop the carnage. Yesh Gvul (There is a limit), a movement inside the Israeli army for soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories, reports that one of its members has been sentenced to 28 days in a military prison for disobeying orders.

 Noam Kuzar, a 19-year-old conscript told his commanding officer that he could not in good conscience take part in putting down the Palestinian revolt. Yesh Gval believes that many more will be following Noam Kuzar's footsteps if the confrontation goes on for much longer.

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TGWU leads fight against vouchers

by Caroline Colebrook

THE GOVERNMENT last week agreed, under pressure from the TGWU general union, to hold an immediate and wide-ranging review of the system of giving asylum-seekers food vouchers instead of cash to live on.

 The union had tabled a motion to abolish the hated vouchers -- for which no cash change can be given -- at the Labour Party conference.

 The Labour leadership had already lost some important votes on pensions and on rail safety.

 TGWU general secretary Bill Morris was persuaded to drop the motion but only on the understanding that this review will lead to the end of the voucher system.

 Bill Morris has led a crusade against the vouchers and secured unanimous backing in his bid to get them abolished at the TUC conference in Blackpool three weeks ago.

 The scheme was introduced in April to appease the anti-asylum seeker furore being whipped up in the right-wing press.

 The vouchers can be spent at selected supermarkets but if the goods bought do not reach the full value of the vouchers, no change can be given.

 Bill Morris told the Labour conference to end "a degrading and inhuman system which creates new targets for racist attacks" and the "grotesque situation where taxpayers and asylum seekers are subsidising Sainsbury's and Tesco because of the "no change" rule.

 The TGWU issued a dossier of evidence it had gathered to lobby ministers on this issue, including leaked advice to the Government from Home Office officials which said "refusal to give change would present retailers with the opportunity for profit at the expense of the destitute," and would "devalue the financial support" and lead to "conflict between asylum seekers and retailers.

 This did indeed happen last weekend in Hull when a group of refugees, backed by about 50 demonstrators, blocked five check-outs at the local Kwik Save supermarket.

 The asylum seekers had bought tea bags and milk and demanded change from their £5 vouchers. They refused to leave when they were denied.

 Queues built up and many customers dumped their shopping and walked out of the shop.

 Outside, supporters carried placards demanding an end to the voucher system. One student Ham Zaide from Sierra Leone said: "As soon as you come here everyone knows who you are because you produce the vouchers at the till.

 "I lose about £l a week in here because I cannot spend the correct amount."

 Guy Cheverton, acting secretary of the Hull Asylum Seekers Support Group, said: "Asylum seekers should be given cash, not vouchers."

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Chilean Communists to sue US government

THE CHILEAN Communist Party is preparing a lawsuit against the US government for its involvement in Chile's military coup in the 1970s.

 The lawsuit, which will be filed in the US Federal Court, was based on documents recently declassified by the CIA, the party's secretary-general Gladys Marin said.

 The documents implicate the CIA in the 1973 military coup, during which the government of Salvador Allende was overthrown by General Augusto Pinochet. The CIA employed "conspiracy, espionage and sabotage to overthrow" the government, Marin said.

 "Our aim is to seek compensation for all damage caused there from. including the assassinated and the missing people, not only For the sake of the party's suffering," added Marin, whose husband, Jorge Munoz, was among the more than 1,000 people who "disappeared" after they were arrested by the Chilean secret police.

 The documents referred to by Marin were found in the Hinchley Report, released by the US Senate last month.

 The report confirms that the CIA Funded a ring-wing extremist group in Chile, which assassinated Army Commander-in-Chief General Rene Scheider to prevent Allende from assuming the presidency. The documents also show the CIA was involved in other sabotage activities at that time.  Xinhua

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British News

Pensioners keep up the pressure

by Renee Sams

PENSIONERS picketed Parliament last Tuesday, angry that at the Labour Party conference, Prime Minister Tony Blair had definitely ruled out restoring the link between pensions and earnings.

 They gave a cautious welcome to Tony Blair's package of measures that promise some increase in pensioners' incomes but the fear is that it will not amount to very much.

 The Government claims that a link with earnings would be an enormous cost for future generations and points to the £6.5 billion it is allocating for the benefit of pensioners.

 But that is only one third of what has been taken from pensioners' incomes over the last 21 years.

 A report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation revealed that 15 million people are now so poor as to be unable to afford what a humane society would regard as the basic necessities of daily living.

 TUC general secretary John Monks has also attacked those who are just raking in "shedloads of cash" while millions of pensioners have to make do with crumbs.

 He pointed out the everwidening gap between rich and poor. In 1994 the highest paid directors voted themselves 15.7 times more cash than their employees and by 1999 the ratio rose to 20.7, with the average directors' pay rising by 72 per cent to £410,000 compared to 18 percent for the workers.

 These figures just underline that the 75 pence increase on the basic pension of £67.70 is just an insult to those who have spent their working lives paying National Insurance contributions in the expectation of a decent pension when they retired.

 After the picket of Parliament, pensioners attended a rally in Westminster's Central Hall with Mayor Ken Livingstone. This was the third meeting in a series: "Meet the Mayor" that Ken Livingstone is organising as part of the process of giving London the "most accessible and inclusive government ever seen in Britain".

 Although London pensioners have free travel on buses and trains within the Greater London area, bus travel guile often means long waits for buses held up in traffic jams, and the London Underground is becoming an absolute misery, especially for older people.

 London's transport is where the new Greater London Authority has the most powers and the Mayor aims "to create a transport. system that will increase Londoners quality of life and London's business efficiency".

 As Ken Livingstone pointed out, after the Tory Government in the 1980s forced his "Fair's fare" policy to be withdrawn, "fares have just gone up and up".

 The bus companies make a great play of "buses sticking to their timetables" but what is wanted is "a regular bus service".

 The audience clearly approved of the Mayor's plans for a "major expansion of bus services". He also emphasised the need for stronger measures to keep bus lanes clear. "We must fine those who park in them," he said.

 The Mayor is also determined to go ahead with congestion charges in London of £5 to take a car into central London, a plan that has come under fire from car owners and companies.

 There are also plans to extend the Docklands Light railway to improve public transport in both the north and south of London.

 The Mayor is also looking at ways of involving taxis and the dial-a-ride service to provide a comprehensive transport service.

 Pensioners also welcomed the Mayor's ideas on increasing the numbers of police and to "make the police service more accountable and responsive to win the confidence of all Londoners in the fight against crime".

 He would also like to see London "have its own police force", replacing the Metropolitan Police force which is under the Home Office.

 Extra police to improve the service would put only 50 pence on the council tax, which, he thought, "would be money well spent".

 One major problem of London is the high cost of living which is one cause of a shortage, not only of police but doctors and nurses who cannot afford the rents and mortgages.

 Property in London has got more and more expensive over the years and many young people are seeking housing outside the area. Commuting is also costly.

 Ken Livingstone calculated that it would need at least an other quarter more on the wages as a London allowance if key skilled workers are to be able to Live in the capital.

 He told the pensioners that he is "seeking a way of building affordable housing" to try to address the problem.

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