WORKERS' WEEKLY Vol. 29, No. 1, January 9-16, 1999

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Newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA. Phone 0171 627 0599


Article Index

Entering the Final Year before the New Millennium

Condemn the Continued Aggression against Iraq!

Announcement on the Third Congress of RCPB(ML)

No to British Interference in Sierra Leone and the Rest of Africa!

Commentary - Tony Blair's New Year Message: A Declaration of the Intensification of the Anti-Social Offensive

The Prospects for Workers’ and Communist Movement in 1999

Bloody Sunday March

Safeguarding the NHS - Further Intensification of Labour’s Anti-Social Offensive against the NHS

Fight to Save the K&C Goes On

Workers' Movement - Post Office Announces Takeover of German Parcel

Danger as Europe of the Monopolies Further Strengthened

NEW YEAR 1999 - Hail the Cuban Revolution! Joint editorial published on New Year in the DPRK: Let This Year Mark A Turning Point in Building A Powerful Nation

Condemnation from DPRK on Aggression against Iraq: No to High-Handedness!

CASWI: Britain Once again Backs Illegal US Actions in Gulf

Public Meeting: Iraq : For Peace and Justice

Russia Calls for Swift Update of CFE Arms Treaty

Turkey: Freedom of Press Denied Once More


Entering the Final Year before the New Millennium

FOR THE FORCES OF PROGRESS AND DEMOCRACY, for the working class and all those forces working and aspiring for the emancipation of humankind, the eve of the 21st century, 1999, presents great challenges. When so many problems demand to be solved in the political, economic, social and other spheres, the bourgeoisie, far from addressing them, is doing its utmost to turn back the clock and deny and undo the gains made by progressive humanity in the 20th century. This is presently at the nub of the struggle in society: on the one hand there is the denial of the gains made by progressive humanity; and on the other there is the necessity to solve the objective problems that are mounting up nationally and globally by building a new society which has the concerns of the vast majority of the people as its basis.

It is the struggle to resolve this contradiction, at the base of which is the necessity to socialise the ownership of the means of production and thereby control the direction of the economy on a planned basis to serve the needs of the people, which will open the path to taking society into the 21st century on a new basis. This new basis is a socialist basis. The challenge is to work to bring about this new basis. It is a challenge to tackle the great problems of how the rights of each are to be recognised and guaranteed, how to renovate society from top to bottom, how to resolve the problem of democracy so that the people are truly sovereign, how to sweep away all the backwardness and chauvinism which comes from what is outdated and superfluous, how to democratise international relations and end the barbarity stemming from globalisation, how to develop a new culture which is built in opposition to all that is self-serving. These and a myriad of connected issues to do with humanising the natural and social environment are the great challenges as the new millennium approaches.

As a historic stage in its forward march, our Party, RCPB(ML), is preparing to meet these challenges by holding its Third Congress in March of this year. It has put forward its rallying cry to the working class to take centre stage and lead the people in uniting around the programme to Stop Paying the Rich – Increase Investments in Social Programmes! It thereby emphasises the necessity to develop an independent pro-social programme in opposition to the anti-social offensive of the bourgeoisie and its governments as the necessary fighting programme to move towards the transformation of society from capitalism to socialism, a transformation which is long overdue. The Third Congress will be held with the orientation being to prepare to transform society and to enter the new millennium, to prepare to the utmost to take advantage of the coming inevitable revolutionary storms and bring about a socialist society.

Implicit in our Party’s general line and its draft programme for the working class is the importance of giving a profile to socialism, the necessity of our times of working to bring the vision of a new society arising out of, and as a negation of, the objective conditions of the old into sharper and sharper focus, to give confidence to all progressive forces in its realisability. Generation after generation of the labour aristocracy and social democracy in Britain have tried to reduce this socialism to a phrase. When Tony Blair organised New Labour to remove all vestiges of anything “socialist” from the Labour Party, this space has otherwise been occupied by only those who have reduced socialism to a phrase.

But the historical traditions of the British working class, one of the oldest, most organised, and practical, points to the need to advance by occupying this space and giving socialism a content, imbuing the movement with revolutionary theory. This new content begins from a society which guarantees the rights of each and all by virtue simply of being human, and it is this which the working class must now inscribe on its banner.

The National Consultative Conferences which RCPB(ML) held in July and November 1998 are very significant in this respect. They declared that the working class can and must challenge the bourgeoisie on all the fronts on which it is determined to resist sorting out the problems and maintain the status quo. They declared that it is up to the communists to articulate the alternatives on behalf of the working class and people, at their head and along with them, and organise them to take up this challenge, so that it is their deed.

This is the content of the struggle as Britain prepares to enter the new millennium. The significance of the Party’s Third Congress is that it will be instrumental in opening up these historic vistas, pointing the way forward with confidence into the 21st century, into the new millennium.  

Article Index


Condemn the Continued Aggression against Iraq!

US WARPLANES are still striking at sites in Iraq and at Iraqi jets, arrogantly continuing their Hitlerite aggression against Iraq that they had once again launched on December 16. The British government is once again playing the role of lickspittle and partner in crime of the US imperialists to the anger and shame of all the justice- and peace-loving people of this country.

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Workers’ Weekly vehemently condemns the US imperialists for their Nazi aggression against Iraq. We vehemently condemn the British government for its base and criminal support and participation in this aggression, which lowers the name of Britain in international politics to the maximum. That Tony Blair should link Britain with this Nazi-type aggression and participate in it like a lap dog of the US and Bill Clinton demonstrates the utter reactionary nature of the “Make Britain Great Again” programme on the world scene, and that Anglo-American imperialism cannot be considered just a phrase but remains under New Labour a dangerous force which is the target of opposition and condemnation world-wide.

It is a Nazi logic to conjure up pretexts to justify aggression and war. Tony Blair has followed such logic in going to great lengths to spin out pretexts for his and Clinton’s actions, with talk of “non-compliance” and “non-cooperation” by Iraq and Saddam Hussein. But such pretexts cannot alter the fact that brazen aggression and barbaric militarism is being used to bludgeon Iraq into submission, nor that the sanctions in place against Iraq which have caused over one million deaths amount to genocide against the Iraqi people, especially targeting children and the most vulnerable.

The US and Britain created the pretext of Iraq’s non-compliance with the Security Council’s resolutions on Iraq and put forward as their “moral duty” to protect its neighbours from the Iraqi danger. Tony Blair recently flew to Kuwait where RAF aircrews are based to further threaten Iraq with the danger of “reprisals”. Before the December bombing, Clinton and Blair claimed that non-cooperation and even obstruction to the work of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) were reasons which justified aggression. But no amount of self-serving statements on the part of imperialist gangsters changes the fact that Richard Butler, the Executive Chairman of UNSCOM, was an imperialist stooge who merely did what the United States told him. More than one member of UNSCOM, including senior members, resigned in protest. Iraq’s concerns have repeatedly been dismissed out of hand. UN humanitarian personnel have provided their own testimony which verifies Iraq’s concerns, as have many many other people from all walks of life, including international diplomats, businesspersons, journalists and others. There are consistent accusations that Butler and his teams were utilised by American intelligence for espionage purposes.

Nonetheless, the monopoly-owned media in the Anglo-American world, acting in concert with the likes of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, keep attempting to give credence to the Nazi logic about “non-compliance” and “non-cooperation” as justification for barbarity. They have been churning out a steady stream of disinformation in this regard to assist in the manipulation of public opinion.

Since the Gulf War in 1991, the US imperialists and countries allied with them, particularly Britain, have been systematically breaking down the norms of international democratic conduct so that whenever the US imperialists so decide, they can strike out against any country or region and the entire world on the basis of their own hegemonic plans, either on their own or in alliance with others. It is abundantly clear that the US imperialists and Britain have no regard for the norms of international democracy and merely seek to impose their own dictate onto the entire world. They think they can bring any regime to power which serves their interests and then act to topple any regime which goes against their interests. And they do so under a cloak of self-serving propaganda.

It is ominous that Pentagon officials have declared that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is another target. The US imperialists and their allies are trying to create public opinion for intervention against the DPRK, and want to embroil all of Asia in a conflagration which will take on world-wide dimensions. It must be stressed that the basic requirement of international democracy is that every nation is sovereign and equal, and the peoples of every country should decide their own affairs. The flaunting of these norms of international democracy is tantamount to creating the conditions for a cataclysmic world war, in which it is the peoples of the world who will pay the price.

Workers’ Weekly calls on the working class and all peace- and justice-loving people to take an active stand against the war crimes being carried out by the American imperialists, the British government and others. We particularly condemn Tony Blair and the British parliamentary system for backing these crimes up to the hilt and for flying in the face of all progressive public opinion.

Down With US Imperialist Aggression!

Demand an End to British Aggression and Interference!

No British Troops on Foreign Soil!

Demand the Lifting of Sanctions against Iraq!

For a Peaceful and Just Solution! 

Article Index


Announcement on the Third Congress of RCPB(ML)

The Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) is very pleased to announce that the Third Congress of the Party will take place from March 19-21 inclusive. The decision to convoke the Third Congress in this period of the work of RCPB(ML) was taken by the Central Committee in May 1995. Since that time, the Party launched its most important programme to Improve the Content, Extend the Readership of the organ of RCPB(ML), Workers’ Weekly. The success of this programme, consistent with the needs of the present period, has been integral to creating the conditions for the Third Congress to be held. By resolutions of the two National Consultative Conferences held in 1998, the necessary preparatory work for the Congress was initiated, strengthened and taken forward. The content of the work of RCPB(ML) in these weeks before the Congress consists of bringing this preparation to fruition in the Third Congress itself. The opening day of the Congress, March 19, 1999, marks the fifth anniversary of the release for discussion of the important draft document, There Is A Way Out of the Crisis, which embodies the Party’s general line for this historical period. Everyone concerned with taking Britain forward into the 21st century, building a new and modern society fit for human beings and organising for the working class as a contingent of the international proletariat to play its leading role in this respect, is encouraged to apply for credentials to attend the Congress.

For further information and for further details of application, please write to the Central Committee, RCPB(ML), 170 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2LA, or phone 0171-627 0599, fax 0171-498 5407,

or e-mail office@rcpbml.org.uk  

Article Index


No to British Interference in Sierra Leone and the Rest of Africa!

As turmoil and conflict rage in Sierra Leone, the British government announced that it is again stepping up its meddling in the war-torn country, as well as elsewhere in West Africa.

The Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, has announced that the government has sent “a very firm message” to the neighbouring country Liberia ordering them not to involve themselves in the conflict in Sierra Leone. At the same time the British government has called on its allies in Europe and the US to intervene as much as possible whether through the auspices of the UN or by supporting the Nigeria-led intervention force in Sierra Leone. A Ministry of Defence representative announced that the government had also sent the Royal Navy frigate HMS Norfolk to the area, allegedly for the purpose of “monitoring events”, and as “a precautionary measure”. The Ministry of Defence claimed that “no decision has been taken yet on what, if anything, to use the Norfolk for”. However, representatives of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council/Revolutionary United Front (AFRC/RUF) which is fighting against the government of President Kabbah, have claimed that the Norfolk plans to land mercenaries in the capital Freetown, and have announced plans to resist should this occur.

The current government of President Kabbah came to power in 1996 but was overthrown in a military coup in 1997. The British government then did all it could to restore Kabbah to power, flouting all international norms as it did so, involving itself with arms dealers and mercenaries, and further interfered in Sierra Leonean affairs through the Commonwealth and the UN Security Council. However, although President Kabbah was returned to power by means of the Nigeria-led West African intervention force in March 1988, his government has again been threatened by the AFRC/RUF, which has seized part of the capital Freetown, where there are reports of heavy fighting. Since March 1988 the British government has continued to do all it could to support Kabbah’s government, including some £30m to finance the Nigerian forces supporting Kabbah and to “reconstruct the economy”.

The fact is that the British government has no business interfering in the affairs of the people of Sierra Leone or those of other African countries. The interference of Britain and the other big powers is reminiscent of the activities of the imperialist powers at the end of the last century, as they carved up the African continent for their own strategic, political and economic interests. Indeed the problems which have been confronting the people of Sierra Leone all stem from the colonial and neo-colonial policies of the big powers. Foreign monopolies play havoc with the economies of the African countries and infringe their sovereignty, attempting to put the political leaders in their pockets.

Sierra Leone was one of Britain’s first colonies in Africa. For nearly 200 years British governments and the monopolies have been interfering in that country. Yet while it is extremely rich in minerals and other natural resources, one of the world’s leading diamond producers, its people are some of the poorest in the world. Only eight other countries have a lower GDP per head of population, all of them in Africa. Sierra Leone was a British colony until 1961. Since that time, as a consequence of the neo-colonial interference of Britain and the other big powers, it has had a series of unstable governments, has relied on “aid” and is heavily in debt to the World Bank and IMF.

Whatever claims it might make that such support for the government of President Kabbah is part of its “ethical foreign policy”, the Labour government has no business interfering in the affairs of Sierra Leone or dictating to its people which should be their government. It is clear that the intervention of Britain and the big powers has not created stability in Sierra Leone, or brought peace to the people of that country. Their intervention in Sierra Leone and other African countries in the past has created many of today’s problems and created an unstable situation which the imperialists continue to exploit for their own strategic and economic advantage. In the past progressive forces in Sierra Leone have called for the immediate withdrawal of ALL foreign forces from the country. This must also be the demand of the working class and all democratic people in Britain. At the same time the working class must demand that Britain cease all interference in the affairs of other countries, whether in Iraq, the Balkans or in Africa. The working class must reject the very notion of an “ethical foreign policy” or the government’s alleged humanitarian concern, which are simply means to line the people up behind a foreign policy which is in the interests of the monopolies and their competition for global markets, strategic advantage, redivision of the world and even war. The working class must struggle to establish a modern foreign policy for Britain which recognises the rights of all peoples to determine their own affairs.

Article Index


C O M M E N T A R Y

Tony Blair’s New Year Message:

A Declaration of the Intensification of the Anti-Social Offensive

TONY BLAIR has begun 1999 with declarations to the British people that the Labour government will not be deflected from its “Third Way”. This Third Way is supposedly neither pro-worker nor pro-capitalist. Indeed Tony Blair has gone to such ludicrous lengths as declarating that “we are all middle class now”. In concrete terms, the Third Way is an intensification of the anti-social offensive in the conditions of globalisation and impending world recession, where the working class is marginalised. It is a exhortation to the workers to abandon their rights and interests and pull together with their exploiters, the rich, so that the whole of society pays tribute to the rich.

This was the context of Tony Blair’s “New Year Message”, as well as his elaboration of the “Third Way” on his visit to South Africa in the New Year. Thus he is carrying forward the programme he put forward at the Labour Party Conference in October, as well as elsewhere, whatever the consequences for the people at home or abroad, whatever the growing opposition to its policies. In October Blair brazenly stated that his government would not be deterred by any accusations of destroying the economy, betraying the poor, or affronting civil liberties. In the New Year Message, he reasserts that they will carry on the same road whatever the difficulties for the people.

They will carry on their policy of cutting social provisions, robbing the state treasury in all manner of ways in order to finance the monopolies, and encouraging huge mergers, all with the aim of making Britain number one in a globalised economy. This is a recipe for disaster, for conflict and eventual war, which the creation of the euro in direct competition with the dollar will only exacerbate.

The attacks on the poor and disadvantaged sections will continue under the guise of “welfare reform”, with Blair listing further measures to be pushed through affecting benefit claimants, the unemployed, the disabled, single parents and pensioners. The criminalisation of the youth and the attacks on their rights will be intensified under what Blair describes as “the toughest attack yet on young offending”, unashamedly adding that his measures will be “harsh and authoritarian”.

In the face of growing demands for sovereignty of the people in Scotland and Wales, the government will push ahead with the plans for elections this spring to a Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, bodies which subordinate sovereignty to Westminster and will not resolve the continuing and intensifying constitutional crisis. In the north of Ireland they will continue to attempt to push through the Good Friday Agreement which, whatever the possibilities it opens up, denies sovereignty to the Irish people and institutionalises British rule and the divisions resulting from it.

Most shamefully, in the face of isolation and worldwide condemnation of the recent barbaric bombing of Iraq as the loyal junior military partner of the United States, the Blair government makes clear that, under the guise of having “rebuilt a position of strength and influence in the world”, it will continue such collaboration and other acts of aggression and blatant interference in the affairs of various regions like some 19th century colonial power.

Tony Blair, in his New Year message, asserts that his government’s programme is one of reform and renewal, which provides a clear vision for Britain of a world class economy and a just society. Nothing could be further from the truth. Blair’s programme is a programme to preserve the rule of capital under modern conditions and in the face of demands for a modern society.

It only underlines the need for the working class to develop its own independent programme, its own clear vision of a new, socialist society, on behalf of all the people.  

Article Index


The Prospects for Workers’ and Communist Movement in 1999

AS WE START the last year of the 20th century and stand on the brink of the 21st century, it is important to reflect on the prospects for the workers’ and communist movement. In Britain the New Labour government stands increasingly discredited both nationally and internationally. It is increasingly rocked by scandal and corruption and has been roundly condemned by the worlds’ people for its Hitlerite bombing of Iraq and its ambition to revive Britain as a world power with its call to “Make Britain Great again”. The “prospects” that it holds out for the peoples of Britain in the new year are the demands that the clock be turned back on the gains made over medievalism for the provision for public welfare and that the interests of society and all individuals are subordinated to those of the financial oligarchy and monopolies to compete in the global market. Such attacks and cutbacks over the previous year have given rise to the opposition of the working class and people such as the struggles of health workers and other public service workers against the Private Finance Initiative, the militant struggles waged by the unemployed, pensioners, students and others against proposed cuts in social programmes and benefits and the struggles of the workers to defend their interests in many sectors have never ceased over recent times.

But what of the prospects for the workers’ and communist movement? It is true that such attacks are bound to give rise to further opposition and class struggle, but where will these struggles lead, when in Britain the greatest crisis in political theory exists and where the incoherence of all the bourgeois political forces refuses to acknowledge and does not respond to those who want to establish a democratic society in modern terms. Also, what prospects are there for the struggle against this anti-social offensive when the greatest diversions are being created in the workers’ and communist movement? The forces that previously called for “Thatcher Out” and “Major Out”, supported Blair and New Labour and called for “Unity of the Left with the Centre”, now shout “Down with Blair” and demand that New Labour modify its policies. Is this the sum total of working class and communist political theory for the creation of a modern democratic society where the people are sovereign! Such a political understanding disarms the working class and places them on the sidelines at the mercy of yet another new scheme of the bourgeoisie such as a new national coalition to replace New Labour. Any backward worker can see that when an attack takes place Blair is responsible and before him Major and so on, and will demand that the government modifies its policies but at the same time this same backward worker will also oppose the workers’ and communist movement. So, how on this basis will the workers’ and communist movement be able to create a new coherence, a new understanding so that society can escape from the disaster of capitalism, which has brought two world wars in the 20th century and today is literally giving rise to the prospect of setting the world ablaze again in the new millennium?

In 1999, the task remains for the workers’ and communist movement to take up and elaborate an alternative programme that provides relevant solutions to all the major problems of the society, that places the workers’ and communist movement at the head of a broad movement to bring about the fundamental changes needed in society, changes which will transform society from capitalism to socialism. Such a task requires new arrangements that involve the most conscious and active elements in the workers’ and communist movement in the elaboration of the independent and all-sided programme of the working class. Our Party has put forward the programme Stop Paying the Rich! Increase Investments in Social Programmes! as a contribution to this work and central to such a programme is the demand for a renewal of the political process and the demand for a modern constitution.

At the same time, in taking up this task in 1999, the advanced sections have to recognise and support the work of the Party in preparing for its Third Congress as an important political event in the life of all working people and in particular the need to consolidate the Party’s press Workers’ Weekly and organise to study, write for and disseminate the paper. The significance of this work for the workers’ and communist movement is that the task to Improve the Content, Extend the Readership of Workers’ Weekly is of vital importance in providing the movement with consciousness on the line of march and the theoretical and ideological considerations in elaborating such an alternative political programme. What has to be appreciated is that such political work around Workers’ Weekly has no sectarian aim but is aimed at facilitating the development of worker politicians and the alternative programme for the entire workers’ and communist movement. Such work has the prospect of the development of new arrangements that will end the political marginalisation of activists in the workers’ and communist movement and the widening of the discussion around a programme for society that meets the needs of the working class and people for the new millennium. For the workers’ and communist movement working to such a plan is the only way to advance the present opposition to the anti-social offensive and to give this movement perspective and the coherence it needs. By carrying through this work the prospect for the workers’ and communist movement in 1999 is a movement for a pro-social programme that directly isolates and vigorously challenges the bourgeoisie and places the workers’ and communist movement centre stage in the political arena.  

Article Index


Bloody Sunday March

March to Commemorate the Bloody Sunday Massacre

Demonstration Poster

“March for Justice, Time for Truth” Saturday, January 30, 1999

March from Victoria Embankment to Friends Meeting House

Assemble Victoria Embankment (opposite Temple tube station) at 12.00 noon, march at 1.00pm via Westminster, Downing Street and Trafalgar Square

Rally at Friends Meeting House, Euston 3.30pm

Invited speakers from Sinn Fein, SDLP, Bloody Sunday Relatives for Justice Campaign, Justice for Diarmuid O’Neill Campaign, Stephen Lawrence Family Campaign and the Labour Party

Organised by Bloody Sunday March Organising Committee, PO Box 10132, London SW2 3BZ, Tel 0181 442 8778 

Article Index

MOVEMENT TO SAFEGUARD THE FUTURE OF THE NHS

A body blow to the Kent & Canterbury Hospital:

Logo of Kent & Cantebury Hospital

Further Intensification of Labour’s Anti-Social Offensive against the NHS

THE Secretary for State, Frank Dobson, announced on December 22 that he endorsed the decision of the East Kent Health Authority (EKHA) to downgrade the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

This comes in the wake of a concerted campaign on the part of many thousands of people who use the Kent and Canterbury hospital and despite the vehement protests and warnings of nurses, doctors, hospital adminstrators, review boards, consultants and other health professionals. Since February, 1998, the struggle to save the hospital has involved marches on London and through Canterbury, the signing of petitions, widespread media reportage, the daily and tireless efforts of ordinary people who were totally and unequivocally opposed to the cutting of this hospital.

5,000 strong demonstration in 1998

The decision to downgrade the K&C hospital means that the number of beds will be reduced from 470 to 232, there will no longer be a Renal Unit, there will be no intensive care unit and so high risk patients will no longer be treated at K&C. Instead the K&C is to become a minor injuries unit. There will be only a reduced maternity service and the special care baby unit and cancer care will be severely hit instead of being left at K&C as campaigners had hoped. Further, people will have to travel further for care and it is projected that waiting lists will grow in the remaining hospitals which will be left to cater for a dramatically increased patient number. This decision is particularly bizarre as the population of Kent and Canterbury has been increasing over recent years.

The Royal College of Nursing was horrified by the Secretary of State’s decision. A steward, Catherine Plowright, commented, “Since 1996 more than 37,000 beds have closed. The closure of more beds in East Kent is another nail in the coffin of the NHS.” In another interview, Accident and Emergency nurse manager, Sue Edwards, said: “These proposals are not safe or sound. We don’t believe the population we serve has been taken into account. The staff feel vulnerable. The changes are likely to take place over the next three to five years, but the nurses are in fear.” Jim Smith, the chief executive of the hospital, said, “We have been struggling to keep the emergency beds open since October. God knows what it will be like when 200-odd beds are axed.”

Following the Health Minister’s decision, the campaigners have pledged themselves to continue the fight to save their hospital. But to whom can they appeal? One source suggested they might seek redress from the Ombudsman. But what measure could he take, even if he were favourably disposed towards the protesters, that would reverse the whole attack that has been levelled not just at this one hospital and community but at the entire NHS in Britain.

The issue is that the Labour government is committed to continuing the anti-social offensive of the previous period against health care provisions. In Labour’s White Paper of a year ago it talked of making “efficiency” savings such as “labour productivity” and cutting back on “bureaucracy” and of promoting “partnerships” between the government and private finance. This underpinned, in fact, Labour’s Third Way for the Health Service. But now we are beginning to see all too clearly what principle has been behind Labour’s thinking. They are committed to carrying out the demands and needs of the financial oligarchies, of turning the Health Service into a source of profit-making for the monopolies. The K&C and the fight to save it is not an isolated example. The closure and downgrading of some hospitals while concluding PFI-type contracts with others and ignoring the needs and wishes of the people for health care provision for all without discrimination, is the pattern across the country.

The questions posed are: What happens now? What are people supposed to be fighting for? And what conclusions should the people draw from their experience of struggle thus far and the persistent ignoring of the wish and will of the people clearly expressed to the govenment concering their health system? The clear answer is that the whole fight should be taken to its logical conclusion. While the fight goes on to save this or that hospital or health care unit the issue poses itself as to how the future of the NHS as a whole is to be safeguarded. The demand should be that the NHS is planned to meet the people’s needs which ensures that health services are equally available to all at the highest standard. It should enshrine the principle of rights to health care for all, guaranteed by immediate enabling legislation. The huge deficits of health authorities and hospitals and community services must be immediately wiped out and there should be investment, not cuts, in the health services. Further, the plunder of the health services by the private monopolies must be ended. The demand should be for a pro-social programme of the people that says Stop Paying the Rich - Increase Investments in Social Programmes!  

Fight to Save the K&C Goes On

THERE is a great deal of bitterness at the decision of the Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, to dismiss the wishes and needs of the people and to endorse the decision to downgrade the Kent and Canterbury Hospital. At the same time, this bitterness is being turned into a determination to continue the fight to save the K&C and to safeguard the future of the NHS.

Nurses have written an open letter to both Frank Dobson and Tony Blair. In it, they point out the conditions of extreme pressure under which they work to maintain high standards of care, and take the Health Secretary to task for not recognising them. They say: “How can we continue to give care with such a significant reduction in beds?” The nurses say they were appalled to read Frank Dobson’s comments that he expects standards to be raised by the proposals to downgrade. They challenge Tony Blair and the Health Secretary to explain how bed numbers can be reduced when there is continual pressure on them.

The Canterbury branch of the RCN has also written to the Prime Minister reminding him of a promise that no bed closures would be undertaken without consultation. It also asks: “How will patient care improve if 238 beds are lost?”

A letter has also gone to Tony Blair from a family whose son was saved by the neo-natal intensive care unit at the K&C, which is to be transferred under the EKHA’s plans. The letter highlights “the human cost of such decision-making”.

The new chairman of the League of Friends of Canterbury Hospitals, Jean Byers, has also questioned the downgrading decision. She said: “There is a crisis in the NHS and the government is not doing anything to solve it.” She pointed out, “It can’t see the point of destroying what is so good.”

An extraordinary meeting of the Canterbury city council was sheduled for January 14, when campaigners were to give their views. A public meeting was also scheduled for Friday, January 15.

A protest march is to be held on Saturday, January 23, marching from the Westgate Towers to the Kent & Canterbury Hospital. It is scheduled to start at 10.30 am.

 

Article Index


WORKERS' MOVEMENT

Post Office Announces Takeover of German Parcel

THE POST OFFICE has announced that it has taken over German Parcel, one of the biggest parcel carriers in Germany, handling two million parcels for next day delivery. The private company also operates in thirty other countries. The take-over comes just one month after the government’s announcement on the future of the Post Office and the White Paper published this month.

Making the announcement, it is reported that Post Office Chief Executive, John Roberts described the deal as a “landmark” that was the first tangible outcome of the commercial freedoms which were announced by the government. Welcoming this announcement, it is reported that Communications Workers’ Union General Secretary Derek Hodgson said that: “It shows that the business has the ambition to be a first class global carrier and that the government is firmly behind an expanding public Post Office.” The union also supported the original announcement that allegedly New Labour had found the “Third Way” between nationalisation and privatisation and that the proposals would allegedly keep the Post Office in the public sector.

However, the real issue is that what is being put forward by the government and confirmed by this announcement is that the Post Office is being restructured to pay the rich with the opening up of the national postal service to global competition and restructuring the Post Office itself into an independent public company operating in the global market. Part of the proposal is for the government to halve the revenue paid by the Post Office to the Treasury to enable the Post Office to pay interest on borrowing from the private sector. Such a way does not represent the interests of the postal workers, or of the people for a postal service which meets their needs. In reality it is serving the interests of the financial oligarchy to turn the Post Office from a cheap service provided by the state to the monopolies into a service that provides a new source for debt interest by robbing the treasury and a new field in which to make maximum profits.

As Workers’ Weekly pointed out in the last issue, the “postal workers and other working people must be vigilant against the cruel deceptions of a New Labour government and its ‘Third Way’ that claims to be representing their interest by ‘keeping the Post Office in the public sector’.” In this situation the postal workers must continue to defend their interests and the general interests of society by demanding a stop to the Post Office being used as a means to pay the rich. They must put forward their own alternative programme for a modern communications system and a society based on their needs and the needs of the people who live and work in it. 

Article Index


Launch of Euro:

Danger as Europe of the Monopolies Further Strengthened

THE EURO was launched as 1998 turned into 1999, and the currencies of 11 countries of the European Union became locked together in the single currency. These countries are: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

The euro thus becomes one of the big trading currencies, vying with the dollar and the yen. The European Union of the monopolies (or, at least, 11 out of the 15) has acquired its own characteristic currency, consolidating it as a mighty economic and political bloc in contention with the US and Japan. Meanwhile, although Britain is playing a waiting game with respect to the single currency, the financial oligarchy in Britain gets its slice of the action by virtue of the fact that the City of London has the lion’s share of the global currency market, which has a turnover of around US$1.5 trillion a day. The London turnover is said to be around US$640 million.

It is significant that, according to European estimates, the eurozone of 11 countries will form the world’s greatest trading power, with 1997 exports 25 percent larger than those of the US and twice those of Japan. Their total annual output of about $6.5 trillion compares to almost $8 trillion in the US.

The move further compromises the sovereignty of the countries which form the euro zone, while being a further dangerous development in the contention of big power blocs vying for world hegemony, intensifying the competition to become the number one player on the global market. Even since the launch of the euro, there has been news of growing trade wars between the European Union and the US, for example on the question of the subsidies on the important trade on bananas, with the US accusing Britain and other European powers of utilising their old colonial connections to undercut the trade from Central America, which the US regards as its own back yard. The US is planning to retaliate by imposing sanctions on the import of certain goods from the EU. A similar trade war is growing with Japan, this time over cheap Japanese exports of steel. It is significant that it is reported that Japan’s tactics in this trade war include purchases in the currency market of US dollars.

These developments, coupled with the strengthening of the EU as a military power, the growing barbarity of the US in breaking all international norms in intervening and waging war wherever it pleases in the globe, and the growing international monetary, economic and political crises, should cause the working class and people to increase their vigilance on the growing dangers of a cataclysmic world war, and step up their opposition to all imperialist blocs of whatever character.  

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NEW YEAR 1999

 

Hail the Cuban Revolution!

JANUARY 1, 1999, marked the 40th anniversary of the victorious Cuban revolution.

Proclaiming the socialist nature of the Revolution

Four decades ago the Cuban people overthrew the Batista dictatorial regime through their heroic struggle, putting an end to the long-drawn-out imperialist rule.

Since the victorious revolution in Cuba, US imperialism and its allies have resorted to military pressure, political and diplomatic isolation, economic blockade and ideological undermining to attempt to extinguish Cuba and its socialist system.

The rallying cry throughout this period has been: “Socialism or Death! Motherland or Death! We will win!”

The President of Cuba, Fidel Castro, celebrated the 40th anniversary of the revolution by speaking at Santiago de Cuba, known as the cradle of the revolution, and addressing a rally from the same spot on which, as a 32-year-old, he had proclaimed the triumph of the revolution on January 1, 1959.

“For the younger generations, the Revolution is just beginning … We will fight for our people and for humanity … Today’s battle is hard and difficult,” Castro said. He acknowledged the passage of time, saying he was “not exactly the same man” as 40 years ago. But he added proudly: “It’s just someone who’s much less young – who dresses the same, thinks the same and dreams the same.”

President Castro hailed the 1959 victory over Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship as “a military and political miracle”. In a detailed, personalised account of his war against the Batista forces, he marvelled at how such a small group of relatively untrained, poorly armed rebels could have taken on and beaten a large and well-equipped army. “They were men of iron,” he said in praise of his former guerilla comrades.

President Castro also recalled the “healthy, hard, pure life” of the guerilla fighter in the Sierra Maestra mountains. But he also took aim at US imperialism, praising “our heroic people of yesterday and today … who have resisted 40 years of aggresion, blockade, economic, political and ideological war from the most powerful and richest imperialist power that has ever existed in world history.”

President Castro passionately argued that the current world economic order was “unsustainable”, and urged: “Let there be an end to the tyranny of this order … which is leading humanity to the abyss.” Denouncing the “sectarian, fundamentalist, anti-ecumenical … theology of the market,” he warned of the potentially disastrous consequences of the current world financial crisis. He said that unbridled speculation in currencies and shares had turned the world into a casino. “The development of the world must be programmed. It cannot remain in the hands of the multinationals and the blind and chaotic laws of the market,” he declared.

President Castro also called for a more democratic United Nations, insisting that the “dictatorship of the Security Council”, whose five permanent members have the power of veto, must be brought to an end.

Fidel Castro hailed the achievements of the Cuban revolution in health and education, saying that they have “no parallel in this hemisphere or in the world”.

The People's Militia

Workers’ Weekly pledges its full support and warm sympathy for the just cause of the Cuban people’s revolution, and extends its congratulations to President Fidel Castro and the Cuban people on the 40th anniversary of their victorious revolution. Despite the plots of the imperialists and the inhuman embargo imposed by US imperialism, the Cuban people are emerging through this “special period” strengthened and more united in their efforts to ensure that the revolution emerges ever-more victorious.

“Socialism or Death! Motherland or Death! We will win!”  

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Joint editorial published on New Year in the DPRK:

Let This Year Mark A Turning Point in Building A Powerful Nation

Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Joson Inmingun, the daily of the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces, and Chongnyon Jonwi, the organ of the Central Committee of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, published a joint editorial on the New Year, 1999 (Juche 88), with the above headline.

The editorial touches upon the successes gained last year, describing 1998 (Juche 87) as a year of forced march which gave a sure guarantee for final victory and a year of struggle and progress.

It says last year witnessed the consolidation of the monolithic unity of the leader, the Party and the masses, together with the Korean-style political system, and a full demonstration of the might of socialist Korea.

It stresses the proud victory won by the Party, the army and the people in the forced march of socialism last year is the victory of the ideology, strategy, grit and will of leader Kim Jong Il.

It also describes the New Year, 1999 (Juche 88), as a new turning point in building a powerful nation under the guidance of the great Party and a year of general onward march.

It goes on:

As we built a socialist country, independent in politics, self-supporting in the economy and self-reliant in national defence, from scratch through the great advance of Chollima under the guidance of the great Kim Il Sung, we should push ahead with a second great advance of Chollima under the leadership of the respected Kim Jong Il.

“Let this year mark a turning-point in building a powerful nation” – this is the militant slogan that should be held aloft by the Workers’ Party and people of Korea.

The editorial calls for glorifying the DPRK as an ideologically powerful socialist state and fully demonstrating its invincible might as a militarily powerful socialist state.

The general onward march for this year is a continuation of the forced march and the final charge to bring the ’90s to a brilliant conclusion, the editorial says, and continues: A new breakthrough should be made in the building of a powerful nation in hearty response to the slogan, “Follow up the ‘arduous march’ with a cheerful advance.”

To put production on a steady footing in all domains of the national economy, put the economy as a whole on the right track and provide the people with stable and better living conditions is the cardinal task facing us in economic construction this year.

The editorial describes the New Year as an important year in which an epoch-making change should be made in the efforts of the Korean people for the reunification of the country, and calls upon all the Koreans at home and abroad to join hands under the uplifted banner of national reunification, irrespective of differences in ideology, ideal, religious belief, political views and class and social stratum.

Turning to external affairs, the editorial says: We will further strengthen unity and solidarity with the progressive people of the world and the anti-imperialist forces standing for independence, who aspire for socialism and to frustrate the imperialists’ moves towards aggression and war and work to build a new, peaceful and independent world, under the ideals of independence, peace and friendship. 

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Condemnation from DPRK on Aggression against Iraq:

No to High-Handedness!

THE FOLLOWING signed article appeared in The Pyongyang Times, December 26, 1998.

The US and British military action against Iraq came to an end under mounting protests from the world’s progressives and peace-loving forces.

This military action can never be justified and no act of high-handedness to violate the national sovereignty of a country allowed in the international community. This headlong recourse to arms is all the more intolerable as it may plunge mankind into a holocaust of war and as it runs counter to the contemporary trend moving towards peace, détente and negotiation.

The current Iraqi crisis has proved that the principled stand recently adopted by the DPRK revolutionary armed forces to defend its national sovereignty is absolutely correct.

Without a shadow of illusion over or concession to the enemy, our people are determined to counter the enemy’s arrogant war moves with an annihilating blow.

It is advisable for the United States to act with discretion, examining the situation soundly. The Japanese and south Korean authorities, which are actually conducting an ardent flirtation with the US, must know that they are doomed to merciless punishment.  

CASWI:

Britain Once again Backs Illegal US Actions in Gulf

Workers’ Weekly has received the following statement by Hugh Stephens, Coordinator of the Campaign Against Sanctions and War on Iraq (CASWI), dated January 6, 1999.

The governments of the US and Britain claim that the “no-fly zones” which cover much of Iraq are being maintained under the authorisation of the UN Security Council. This is not the case. Even less true is the claim that armed action can be legally taken to protect US and British planes flying in these areas of Iraq’s air space.

Russia and China have both repudiated the legality of the US and British armed actions, and France has withdrawn from the scheme. Without the concurrence of these powers, no claim of Security Council authorisation can be sustained, and without such authorisation the actions are quite simply contrary to international law.

The true motive lying behind the no-fly zone policy is to dismember Iraq and attempt to divide it into three areas, with the aim of bringing about its collapse into warring zones along the lines of Afghanistan in recent decades. With Iraq in such a weak state, the US and Britain would be able to keep control of the oil resources of the Gulf region.

The “ethical” foreign policy of “New Labour” is actually a dangerous attempt to turn the clock back to nineteenth century colonialism, and to undo the efforts that have been painstakingly made since the end of the second world war to establish an international legal and security order.

 

Public meeting:

IRAQ: FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE.

Stop the bombings — Lift the sanctions

Saturday January 23, 1999. 6.00 - 8.30 p.m.

Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1 (tube: Holborn)

Tony Benn MP

Denis Halliday, Former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq

With: Fattuh Benyamin, Iraqi doctor; Sukhdev Reel, mother of Ricky Reel; Liz Davies, Member of Labour Party NEC; Seb Wills, Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq

and

“FOR THE CHILDREN OF IRAQ”, a cultural event with Children of Britain’s Arab community with Alfred George, composer; Kids for Peace, choir of the Beechgrove Bruderhof School; and others

Admission £5; Children, concessions: £2.

Donations urgently needed; pay cheques to CASWI, and post to: CASWI, BM 2966, London WC1N 3XX

“It is time after years of humanitarian tragedy, we acknowledge that this conflict has brutalised the resolutions of the UN Security Council. It has sustained economic sanctions, in the full knowledge of their catastrophic impact on the people of Iraq, and represents the effective abandonment of civilised values.” Denis Halliday, after resigning from the UN in September 1998.


For further information, phone: 0171 436 4636

Campaign Against Sanctions and War on Iraq (CASWI) In association with the Institute for Independence Studies

Address: CASWI, BM 2966, London WC1N 3XX. Phone 0171 436 4636. Fax 0171 436 4638. E-mail justice@easynet.co.uk  

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Russia Calls for Swift Update of CFE Arms Treaty

ACCORDING TO news agency reports, Russia called on January 2 for swift progress in efforts to update the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) agreement ahead of NATO’s planned eastward expansion later this year.

Russia is concerned at the eastward expansion of NATO, which threatens and attempts to encircle and isolate Russia. This eastward expansion also aims to bolster the imperialist designs of the United States on Asia. In April, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic will be brought into the aggressive NATO alliance, timed to coincide with NATO’s 50th anniversary.

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, “The Russian side believes that decisive progress at the negotiations must be achieved before the official admission of NATO’s new members.” Without such progress, it said, Russia would not have the right to conduct full inspections of NATO forces on the territory of the new members. “This would jeopardise the very future existence of the present Conventional Forces in Europe agreement,” it said, adding that Russia would then have to take appropriate measures.

The CFE treaty between 30 states limits the number of tanks, artillery pieces, aircraft and other non-nuclear arms that the signatories can hold. The updated treaty would replace the bipolar conception of a balance between NATO and the now defunct Warsaw Pact. The updated treaty would instead set individual arms limits for the signatory states and “territorial ceilings”.  

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Turkey: Freedom of Press Denied Once More

FROM January 4, the distribution of Yeni Evrensel daily has been banned in the Southeast areas of Turkey under a state of emergency. No legal reason was stated by the officials concerned.

Yeni Evrensel stated: “This puts new pressure on our paper on top of the existing pressures such as bans, fines and intimidation of our journalists and this in turn also means a new blow against the freedom of the press… This unlawful decision will not succeed in covering up the brutal reality faced by the Kurdish people in the areas under a state of emergency.”

Meanwhile, the Contemporary Journalists’ Association (ÇGD) has condemned the decision and declared that the distribution of Yeni Evrensel should be allowed in every part of the country as well as in the areas under a state of emergency. Journalists Without Frontiers (RSF) has also condemned the decision in a latter of protest sent to the Turkish Ministry of the Interior. Many other national and international democratic organisations have condemned the attack.

For more information and details of how to protest, contact the Campaign for Human Rights in Turkey, Liverpool Dock Shop Stewards’ Committee, c/o Bishop Goss School, Rose Place, Liverpool L3 3AN, telephone: 0171 275 8440, 0151 207 9111, website:http://www.migranet.org/daymer/campaign/metin.htm 

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