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No to the EU of the Monopolies!:
The Steel Crisis and the Myth of "Chinese Steel Dumping"
No to Imperialist War!:
The British Government and its Allies Continue their Dangerous Contention with Russia
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In a 48-hour strike which started on Wednesday, April 6, the Junior Doctors continued their fight against the contract that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt dictated should be imposed in England. Once again the strike was solid showing that the Junior Doctors are not going to accept government dictate on a contract that is neither safe for the patients, nor fair. What was further noticeable in the strike, on the picket lines and on the demonstrations that followed was the cool determination to not be intimidated and the resolve to break the attempt of the government to impose its dictate on them.
At the same time, over these days what was also evident is the increasing support from the people and a sense that this fight of the doctors is also synonymous with protecting the NHS against further attacks from the government and its further privatisation agenda with thousands taking part in demonstrations in London, Newcastle and elsewhere. The conclusion that is being drawn is that enough is enough. The whole direction that the NHS is being driven in is at fault and a new direction is needed based on a government where people constitute the public authority to guarantee the right to health care.
Today, the government see the Junior Doctors as a block to their plans to impose a business model on the health service and they are prepared to jeopardise the lives and health of the public in its fanatical pursuit of imposing this contract on the Junior Doctors. In order to hide its real aims the government claims this is for achieving a 24/7 NHS. Yet, unbelievably it is attacking the very human factor that the health service relies on. The government is assaulting front-line medical staff who have the social consciousness that provides and sustains in the real world the NHS 24-hour service under the very difficult circumstances that successive governments have created in the NHS. Also, successive governments have not funded the training of sufficient doctors, nurses and other health staff for the existing services for many years let alone training more medical staff for increasing those services as the government claims it will. In fact, the government's whole attempt to cut pay, pensions, worsen conditions and overwork staff in the NHS is having the opposite effect and increasing the exodus of vital medical staff from the NHS.
At the same time, Jeremy Hunt and government ministers, whilst saying they will impose the new contract in August and facing further strike dates on April 26-27, still continue to refuse to make any concessions, or even negotiate with the British Medical Association (BMA). Dr Johann Malawana, Chair of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, has emphasised that the BMA is the one seeking to find a negotiated settlement, and that the way for Jeremy Hunt to avoid strikes by the Junior Doctors is to abandon the imposition of a contract and negotiate. Speaking at a demonstration and rally of over 1,000 on April 9 in Newcastle he said: "As citizens of this country no one wants this. We want a health service that genuinely is there to look after us all when it matters and stands up and catches us when we fall. If we can't have that kind of service what is the point of government. Why do we even have this government if they can't be bothered to look after the most vulnerable and sick people out there."
In other words, what is becoming increasingly exposed is this neo-liberal way of government by dictate. A government which imposes the will of the monopolies and the ruling elite and their state cannot be tolerated. A modern society needs a public authority that functions in the interests of all, including upholding the right to health care. It is the neo-liberal dictate by successive governments that has led to the staffing levels crisis and the financial crisis in the hospital trusts. In fact it was why the NHS was divided by previous governments into a "purchaser/provider" split and hospitals were turned into "Trusts". In this so-called internal market in health they could then declare NHS hospitals and community services that should be fully funded as "over-spending" so they can put them under financial investigation with an eye to involving private sector financial consultants and private health care companies who receive lucrative contracts. When these contracts fail, which so many inevitably have, then there is no problem ensuring that the private sector gets paid again and again for failure, while NHS hospitals are continually "monitored" and their finances relentlessly cut every year in so-called "efficiency savings".
WWIE calls on the whole working class and people to step up their support for the junior doctors. The whole polity must oppose the government's attack on the public good and its promotion of a direction for the NHS that champions health cuts, private market interests and attacks the pay and conditions of health workers. The working class and people must fight for a new direction and a publicly-controlled health care system based on fulfilling the right of all to health care. We call on the working class to inscribe on its banner that health care is a right. This is the way forward.
No to the Imposition of a Contract on the Junior Doctors!
No to the Privatisation of the Health Service!
Health Care Is a Right! For an NHS Based on Fulfilling this Right!
Left: Whipps Cross, East london Right: Demonstration by Barts Health Trust
Junior Doctors outside Hackney Town Hall, April 7
Left: Demonstration in Newcastle on April 9 in support of the Junior Doctors
Right: Junior Doctors have begun a 24/7 vigil outside the Department of Health,
waiting for Jeremy Hunt, who declared his willingness to meet Junior Doctors at
any time, to occupy his chair and talk
Left: Lewisham Hospital Right: Royal United Hospital, Bath
Left: Bristol Royal Infirmary Right: Calderdale Royal Hospital
Left: Royal Free Hospital, London Right: Homerton University Hospital
Left: Addenbrookes Hospital Right: Dewsbury, Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
Left: Doncaster Royal Infirmary Right: Hull Royal Infirmary
Left: William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, Kent Right: St Pancras Hospital, London
Left: Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital Right: Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton
Left: Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne Right: Junior Doctors
from Kingston Hospital at Clapham Junction, South West London
Left: York Hospital Right: Huddersfield Royal Infirmary
The British steel industry is going through a crisis that threatens its very existence. Rather than take either practical emergency measures or make longer term plans to safeguard the present and future of this essential part of the national economy, the government is essentially claiming that nothing can be done. This is despite opposition calls to bring the important plants threatened with sale and closure under at least temporary national control, as was done at the height of the financial crisis for the banking sector. The government, and much of the media, are promoting the view that the British steel industry is struggling to be "competitive" against "cheap imports" of Chinese steel.
On this view, the decision by steel monopolies such as Tata to sell off or close plants in Britain is simply business, a commercial decision. The problem is that the market is not a level playing field, so goes the argument. The blame is then laid with China, market conditions such as weak demand or the strength of the pound, or the "costs" of production in Britain.
These markets are dominated by the monopoles and the big powers in which they are based, and are used not only for making quick scores but also for control and for geopolitical ends. The call for a "level playing field" is a call for the steel monopolies to be able to compete freely in world markets. These monopolies should be free to do whatever it takes to make a quick score, come what may. The contrast with the bailout of the banking sector could not be more evident, when the schemes of the monopolies to make a quick score themselves came crashing down. It is also a call directed at China to block it from its programme to develop its national economy with a degree of independence from Britain, the EU and the US.
It is therefore said that the problem facing the steel industry is one of overproduction of Chinese steel, which is allegedly "dumping" steel on the European market. Responding to the accusation, Spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, Shen Danyang, cited the falling price of iron ore as the underlying cause of falling steel prices. In the first eight months of 2014, the price of importing iron ore into China had dropped sharply from $110 to $63 per tonne, he said.
In fact, Britain exported 8.6 million while at the same time importing 7.4 million tonnes of steel that year. More than half, 4.7 million tonnes, of these imports come from Europe. Only a small fraction, 690,000 tonnes, came from China. It is therefore the trade relation with Europe that should receive attention. Indeed, just two years earlier in 2012, Mexican steel industry association Canacero made similar accusations against the EU as are now being made against China, expressing its concerns at rising imports to Mexico from Europe.
Britain, exporting more steel than it imports, has the potential to produce all the steel required by the national economy. Any surplus or deficit in production could be traded with other countries in a planned and controlled manner to the benefit of both Britain and its trading partners. In conditions of unrestricted monopoly-controlled trade, with local production competing with global production, to import such large quantities leaves the industry and the economy as a whole exposed to the full brunt of the markets. Furthermore, the closure of plants seriously erodes the self-reliant potential of the economy.
The root cause of the British steel crisis is the lack of any control over the economy and its direction by the workers and people of Britain. National chauvinist cries that Britain is under the dictate of foreign interests are a smokescreen to hide this fundamental issue and for Britain's own imperial motives.
The empire-building project that is the EU of the monopolies - itself in profound crisis - originated in the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) for control of European steel production for geopolitical ends, at that time in the context of the Cold War as well as in competition with US imperialism. It has always had this character and remains set against the development of self-reliant, sovereign local economies. Thus any serious emergency measures and long-term plans to safeguard and develop a national steel industry, particularly those that restrict the operations of the monopolies, are forbidden under EU competition laws.
This underlines that Britain should exit from all empire-building trading and geopolitical blocs such as the EU, not to "go it alone" and pursue its own imperial aims, or tie itself further to the US, but to develop a sustainable economy aimed at meeting the needs of the population in as self-reliant a manner as possible, with international trade conducted on a planned basis only where necessary according to the principle of mutual benefit. In such a situation, neither would the cheapest steel on the market, nor the imposition of tariffs, be an issue. To get drawn into rivalries between powers and monopolies over whether, say, it is better to buy Chinese or buy from the EU is a dangerous path beginning with national chauvinism and ending with open conflict.
March 30 marked one hundred and fifty-nine years since the end of the Crimean War waged in the 19th century by an alliance of Britain, France, Turkey and their allies against Russia. At that time the interests of the rulers of Britain demanded that Russian expansion into the Eastern Mediterranean region, at Ottoman Turkey's expense, as well as in Central Asia, must be prevented at all costs, since this threatened Britain's naval hegemony and posed a threat to its empire and especially to colonial India. As part of their contention both Britain and Russia encouraged, or suppressed, struggles for national liberation in Europe as best suited their interests. The immediate causes of the conflict leading up to the Crimean War were soon resolved and made war entirely unnecessary, so the British government engineered a provocation which resulted in war and led to the deaths of thousands, including over 20,000 British troops. However, when the Treaty of Paris was signed in March 1856 the Crimean peninsular was evacuated by Britain and its allies and returned to Russian rule.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond made no direct comment on that nineteenth century conflict but issued a statement in March 2016 demanding that Russia cease what he referred to as its "illegal occupation" of Crimea. According to the Foreign Secretary, Russia was guilty of "violating" the "territorial sovereignty" of Ukraine, "destabilising eastern Ukraine", and he alleged that Russia had "contravened international law and challenged the rules based international order". Hammond alleged numerous human rights abuses, defended sanctions against Russia, imposed by Britain and its allies, and concluded by stating "the illegal annexation of Crimea was an act of aggression. And in the face of this aggression, we must stand united in defence of our values".
Of course, Hammond and the government would not consider Britain's occupation of the north of Ireland, Gibraltar and the Malvinas as "illegal annexation" since the control of those foreign territories continues to suit the interests of the rulers of Britain. Defending the status quo in these cases is therefore for the British government not at odds with defending the values of neo-liberal globalisation and the right of might. While in the Ukraine it has been the actions of the the Anglo-Americans and others that have destabilised the country, brought self-declared fascist elements to power and created the conditions to incorporate the entire territory more closely into the orbit of both the EU and the NATO. The struggle between the big powers, the US and major EU countries, on the one hand, and Russia, on the other, over the future of Ukraine, has been going on for many years and created the conditions for the so-called Orange Revolution of 2004, as well as the coup of February 2014. It was in response to the coup that opposition developed in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine and in response to requests from the population in the Crimea following a referendum that Russia's intervention took place. The big powers, particularly the US and Britain, created all the conditions for what is now an ongoing civil war in eastern Ukraine in which over 9,000 have lost their lives and which has created an impasse. Loss of life and the displacement of many continues despite the ceasefire agreement reached at Minsk last year. The most recent UN report raises concerns about the deteriorating living conditions of some 3 million people as well as human rights abuses by the Ukrainian security forces.
The US, Britain and their allies have continued to use the unstable situation in Ukraine, and Russia's intervention in the Crimea in particular, as a means to strengthen their encirclement and military offensive against Russia and they have continued to provide training and equipment to the Ukrainian army. Recently, for example, the US military announced that it was sending a dozen fighter jets and nearly four hundred military personnel to Iceland and the Netherlands in order to counter possible "Russian aggression", while earlier in the year six US jet fighters were sent to Finland for similar purposes. Only last month the Cameron government signed a fifteen year defence pact with Ukraine that involves training and "intelligence gathering" and will mean that British troops will engage in more joint exercises. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon commented that the government "will stand firm with Ukraine as they defend their territorial integrity". The new agreement revives an earlier pact that lapsed in 2006 because of the anti-EU stance of the then Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was removed from office by the 2014 coup. The Ukraine and Turkey have also been engaged in joint naval exercises directed against Russia in recent months, while NATO has again announced this year that it is in the process of strengthening its military presence throughout eastern Europe.
The situation in the Crimea and in parts of Ukraine remains unstable as the contention between the big powers continues. Ukraine is in the midst of an economic and political crisis and efforts to integrate it more firmly within the EU appear to be in disarray. Certainly the current situation is of no benefit to the Ukrainian people who appear to be used a pawns in a wider conflict between the big powers. What is evident is that the situation in Ukraine and the Crimea is being used by the British government and the other NATO powers as a means to justify the increasing encirclement and attempted bullying of Russia. A very dangerous situation has been created and the belligerence and warmongering of Britain and its allies must be brought to an end.
What is required for a lasting peace is the ending of all foreign intervention in the area and an end to hostile actions by the Britain and the other leading members of NATO and the EU. The dangerous situation in Ukraine and other parts of the world necessitates that all democratic and peace-loving people step up their struggles to establish an anti-war government in Britain, one that immediately withdraws from the warmongering NATO, ceases all intervention abroad and ends the deployment of British troops on foreign soil.
The British government through its Embassy in Kiev is funding a so-called "peace-building school" in Ukraine. This so-called "peace building" consists of sanitising and glorifying the historical role of the Nazi-collaborator, Stepan Bandera, whose crimes against humanity in World War Two - not least against the Polish and Russian peoples and Jews - are well documented.
Held in Krasnoarmiysk, 50 kilometres from the contact line with the forces of the Donetsk People's Republic, an event sponsored by the British Embassy in Kiev entitled "Stepan Bandera: Myths and Reality" brought teachers from the Ukrainian Peacebuilding School together with leading Ukrainian Army Officers, local citizens, teachers and children in an ideological lecture about Ukrainian Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera.
The Donetsk education project of the Ukrainian Peacebuilding School in Krasnoarmiysk is run by the infamous Nataliya Zubar, Chair of the Maidan Monitoring Information Centre, who has been linked with publishing a hit-list of pro-Russian activists. Both Zubar and her other project the Peacekeeper website and the OUN Battalion have also been linked to killing of Ukrainian anti-fascist journalist, Oles Buzyna. The guest speaker at the meeting was from "The Committee of State Ideology" an organisation run by the Executive Committee of the Ukraine Rada (national parliament).
The meeting opened with the speaker chillingly stating: "Today - probably not for the first time in Donetsk region - but for the first time in the town of Krasnoarmeisk - we are holding this kind of event. And during the event we should do our part to refute the myths - Soviet myths - about the fighters for the independence of Ukraine. We should do everything so that the truth about Stepan Bandera and those he surrounded himself with, their path of self-sacrifice, be known to every Ukrainian. We invited here not only local citizens, but also history teachers, school librarians - those who should convey to the children the real history, and not a mythology imposed by the Soviet government."
In May 2015, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the "de-communisation law" as a direct consequence of which Ukraine's largest political party, the Communist Party, has been banned and the Soviet history of Ukraine is being officially replaced by a false version of history based on the ideology of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera - with the assistance of the British government.
We call on the working class and people to condemn the British government's support for these historical falsifications, and for Britain to withdraw all military and economic assistance to the government of Ukraine.
(Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine)
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