WORKERS' WEEKLY Vol. 29, No. 10, May 8, 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


Step Up the Opposition to NATO Aggression against Yugoslavia!
Stop the Bombing! No to Ground Troops! NATO Get out of the Balkans!
Britain Get out of NATO! Demand that NATO be Dismantled!

National Demonstration: Stop Bombing Yugoslavia

Prospects Opened Up by the May 6 Elections in Scotland and Wales

MAY DAY 1999 {London March} -{Newcastle March}

London Bombings – Crimes against the People

MESSAGES TO 3RD CONGRESS OF RCPB(ML)
União Democrática Popular - Portugal
Communist Party of Denmark/Marxist-Leninist
Finsbury Communist Association
Message from Keith Bennett
Message from Japan
From Journalist Ian Morrison

CORRESPONDENCE
Teachers in the West Midlands Continue to Face Attacks
New Labour’s Health Policy

South London Activists Start New Series of Discussion Meetings

Alex Salmond's Statement on Kosova

SNP RESPONSE TO COOK STATEMENT

The anti-war movement has a legitimate point of view

Statement by the Chairman on the Conclusion of the Meeting of the G8 Foreign Ministers

Boris Yeltsin Condemns “Naked Aggression against a Sovereign State”

Russian Foreign Minister against Sanctions

Igvar Carlsson’s and Shridath Ramphal’s Condemnation of NATO Bombing

Progressive Publication of Mentally Ill People Releases Special May Day Issue

DPRK Calls for Stop to Military Action against Yugoslavia

DPRK Condemns US Military Strikes against Yugoslavia

Cuba Denounces NATO Aggression

Fidel Castro repudiates aggression to Yugoslavia and offers humanitarian aid


Step Up the Opposition to NATO Aggression against Yugoslavia!

Stop the Bombing! No to Ground Troops! NATO Get out of the Balkans!

Britain Get out of NATO! Demand that NATO be Dismantled!

THIS WEEKEND thousands of people will be taking part in the national demonstration in London protesting against NATO’s war of aggression against Yugoslavia.

Nato continues criminal air strikes

This week, in the face of this and the growing opposition and condemnation of the world’s people, US President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have been touring Europe to try and bolster NATO’s war campaign. Britain along with the US and other NATO powers are further intensifying their criminal air strikes against Serbia and Kosova and further setting in motion their plans to invade with ground forces. At the same time, they are stepping up the diplomatic pressure on Russia with the same aim as the military campaign to impose a “peace plan” on Yugoslavia. The UN Security Council is to be called on to “legalise” the “compliance” of Yugoslavia to the occupation of Kosova by NATO forces under UN “control”.

THE BATTLE FOR TERRITORY AND SPHERES OF INFLUENCE

In his lightning visit to the refugee camps on Monday, using the big lie technique in the manner of nazi style propaganda, Tony Blair claimed that NATO’s war was “not a battle for territory” but that it was a “battle for humanity”, that it was a “just cause” and a “rightful cause and we will make sure that the people here are returned to their homes”.

Tony Blair in the cockpit of fighter bomber

But the battle for territory and spheres of influence is the main reason that the US, Britain, Germany and other powers are interfering in the Balkans and carrying out their war of aggression against Yugoslavia. They have already brought Albania, Bosnia and Croatia under their influence and will stop at no atrocity to make Yugoslavia submit to their demands. Clinton has spoken about the implementation of a new Marshall plan for south eastern Europe which is aimed at bringing these countries under the economic and political control of US imperialism’s drive for a “unipolar world”, and to use its dictate over Europe as a springboard in its expansionist plans towards Asia and Africa. The highly staged antics of Tony Blair in shedding crocodile tears for the refugees and saying the issue is that “we will make sure that the people are returned to their homes” is one of the pretexts that is being used to justify the war. The aim of the big powers is to occupy Kosova and gain territorial control of this important strategic area. Firstly, NATO powers serve their ambitions by launching their criminal bombing campaign against Serbia and Kosova, forcing people to flee for their lives and hurling the people against each other, and causing this mass exodus and misery for the Kosovan and Serb people. Then they use the pretext of making sure that the people are “returned to their homes” to continue the war and justify their aim to occupy Kosova with the forces of the NATO powers.

NATO’S “NEW STRATEGIC CONCEPT” AND THE GRAVE DANGERS IT POSES FOR PEACE AND SECURITY

These pretexts to justify the unjustifiable reveal how grave and dangerous these actions of NATO are for European security and peace.

The NATO powers have adopted a “a new strategic concept” where “human security” takes precedence over the rights of nation-states. Such a concept that NATO is trying to impose is one which seeks to legalise the violation of the principle of the sovereignty of all nations, and that peoples have the right of self-determination. In other words, with the drive of the monopolies and mega-monopolies for world domination, with the huge arms monopolies who have flooded the world with weapons of mass destruction, NATO has declared that it wants to impose a new legality. This new legality is one where the rights of nations to sovereignty and self-determination are cast aside and the actions of the big powers are justified in the name of “fighting terrorism”, “opposing ethnic cleansing” and “human security”. The Rambouillet “peace agreement”, which demands that Yugoslavia allow 30,000 NATO troops in Kosova, was such pretext for the bombing of Yugoslavia and aimed at inciting Serbs and Kosovans against each other.

Facts have shown that the NATO powers were fully aware of the tragic consequences of such air strikes in terms of the mass exodus of Albanians and Serbs. Since that time seven weeks ago they have continued to step up the bombing of Yugoslavia using this pretext of “human security” and “putting a stop to ethnic cleansing”. They are continuing the most systematic destruction of Serbia and Kosova, preparing for an invasion, preparing to impose a “peace” with the same aim so that the imperialists can tighten their grip on Yugoslavia and the Balkan countries.

“Human security” cannot take precedence over the human rights of the people and conditions must be there to realise such rights. For the people of the Balkans their human rights, the rights of the Kosovars and other peoples to self-determination cannot be realised through violation of the sovereignty of Yugoslavia by NATO. The peoples must drive the imperialists out of the Balkan countries and turn NATO’s reactionary war of aggression against Yugoslavia into an anti-imperialist liberation war of the Balkan peoples so that the people of the Balkans can solve their problems themselves without outside interference.

Under such conditions the people will be able to deal themselves with reactionary forces such as great Serb chauvinism and once the prop of imperialism is removed such reactionary forces will not find an internal or external basis for their activities.

THE SHARPENING OF THE CONTRADICTIONS BETWEEN IMPERIALISM AND THE PEOPLES

On this weekend when the people of Britain are taking to the streets in their thousands to oppose NATO’s criminal aggression against Yugoslavia it is vitally important that the working class and people analyse the situation, discuss it widely and step up their organising and protests on this basis. With this war in Europe for the conquest of the Balkans the contradictions between the imperialist powers are sharpening and it reveals that the war for redivision onfthe world has started in earnest. At the same time it is not an expression of the strength of US, Britain and other imperialist powers when they resort to such violence against the peoples of Iraq, Yugoslavia and other countries of the world because the situation is sharpening the contradictions between imperialism and the peoples. It is sharpening the contradictions in the imperialist heartlands; as they go to war they increase the reaction at home. In Britain the most reactionary anti-social measures are being taken against the people and every kind of diversion is and will be perpetrated to place the blame on the people themselves or on some “extremists”.

The peoples must respond by uniting in action against the danger of fascism and imperialist war. The working class and people must fight for a society that recognises the rights of all, that ends Britain’s interference in the internal affairs of other countries, that withdraws from NATO and stands for democratisation of international relations, the sovereignty of peoples, and the equality and rights of all nations big and small.  

Article Index


National Demonstration:

Stop NATO Bombing Yugoslavia

The second national demonstration against NATO bombing Yugoslavia will take place in London today, Saturday, May 8. Speakers include Labour MPs Tony Benn, Tam Dalyell and Alice Mahon, Conservative MP John Randall, Green Party representative Jean Lambert, Matthew Pelling from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Bruce Kent from Pax Christi, Lee Jasper representing the National Black Alliance and writers Germaine Greer, Mark Steele and Felicity Arbuthnot.

The demonstration is organised by the Committee for Peace in the Balkans and sponsored by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. It will assemble at 12 noon at the Embankment and march through central London to a rally in Hyde Park. The demonstration follows a 900-strong meeting of media workers and peace activists in London on May 5, protesting at media bias and censorship in reporting the NATO action and opposing bombing of Yugoslav television stations and transmitters. On the eve of the demonstration, the Committee for Peace in the Balkans has accused NATO of a campaign of systematic terror against the civilian population of Yugoslavia.

It said: “More than 60 per cent of Serbia was still without electricity three days after NATO bombed electricity generating stations with graphite bombs leading to cuts in water supplies, loss of power to use to heat and cook in millions of civilians’ homes, paralysis of inner-city transport and telephone systems, loss of television, radio and emergency services to the civilian population. The International Committee of the Red Cross has pointed out that under International Humanitarian Law ‘military actions must not be targeted at civilians or civilian objects’ and, in particular that ‘objects essential to the survival of the civilian population … cannot be attacked.’ Deliberately cutting power supplies to Yugoslav cities clearly breaches these rules.”  


Forthcoming Action

Thursday 20 May “Call for Truth from the Ministry of Lies” Mass protest outside Ministry of Defence, Whitehall, London

Called by the Campaign for media accuracy and free speech on war.

Article Index


Prospects Opened Up by the May 6 Elections in Scotland and Wales

The elections to the Scottish Parliament and to the Welsh Assembly have shown that the people have not been taken in by the Labour government’s propaganda that the issue was to reject “separatism”. This “separatism” is a spectre of the government’s own making. It is put forward with the aim of diverting the people from moving forward on the basis of affirming their sovereignty and that the future lies with modern sovereign states for all the peoples of Britain. In addition, it has the aim of creating divisions among the people as to whether they stand for the “break up of the United Kingdom” or not, not least among the workers and other sections of the people in England.

The Labour government is aiming to set up the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament as arrangements which will quell the growing aspirations of the peoples of Scotland and of Wales. These aspirations are to affirm their national identity and sovereignty and to take control of all matters which affect their lives.

However, these aspirations not only remain, but the bodies set up in Scotland and Wales may also yet provide focuses to further the movement to affirm national sovereignty and empower the people. In the case of the Scottish Parliament, opportunities present themselves for serious debate on constitutional questions. In the case of the Welsh Assembly, it may become the focus for the discontent that the aspirations of the Welsh nation are being thwarted, since the Assembly is notable for its lack of powers. Scotland’s parliament has power over areas like education, health and criminal justice, as well as having tax varying powers, while in Wales, the Assembly cannot even pass its own laws. Meanwhile the Act setting up these bodies makes absolutely clear that sovereignty remains in Westminster. As regards the ScottishParliament’s legislative powers, Westminster retains control of foreign affairs, defence, the economy, the currency, energy, road transport and even activities in outer space. In its project to become the leading class of the nation, the working class in England must also take a stand to affirm its own sovereignty, while in the struggle to open the door to a socialist Britain, the working class of all the peoples of Britain ensures that the interests of all the people are served.

Workers’ Weekly will report on the final results to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly next week.  

Article Index


MAY DAY 1999

London March

OVER THREE THOUSAND PEOPLE set off from Marx House in Clerkenwell Green in London on a march to celebrate May Day 1999, International Day of the Working Class. The march was headed by a banner proclaiming the rights of workers to organise in trade unions, and opposing the anti-trade union laws of the last two decades.

On this day when the working class around the world upholds its right to resist all forms of exploitation and injustice, workers in struggle in Britain were militant participants in the march. On the march were workers with their banners from Lufthansa Skychefs, Hillingdon Hospital, Liverpool Dockers and Magnet Workers. Branches of the Transport and General Workers Union, the National Union of Miners, National Union of Journalists, local TUC delegations, the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education and public sector workers represented by UNISON were also present. Britain’s role as an imperialist power with a multi-national working class was seen in the large contingents of people representing organisations of Turkish, Kurdish, Greek and other workers resident in Britain.

The march culminated in a rally at Trafalgar Square, where speeches from representatives of Turkish, Kurdish, Chilean and other international organisations were given. Also speaking were two representatives of a march on the same day protesting the fascist bombings on the communities of Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho. Other speakers including Bob Crow from the RMT, one of the unions affiliated to the United Campaign for the Repeal of Anti-Trade Union Laws, demanded the repeal of all anti-trade union legislation and the building of a movement which unites workers in struggle nation-wide. His call was echoed by MP Tony Benn who referred to the long tradition of working class struggle in Britain and the need to continue these traditions into the 21st century.

A contingent of supporters and activists of RCPB(ML) also participated in the march behind a banner bearing the slogan Stop Paying the Rich – Increase Investments in Social Programmes. The Party contingent also militantly shouted the slogans Workers of all Countries Unite! Working Class: Take Control of What Belongs to You! Stop Paying the Rich! and For a Socialist Britain! The aim of these slogans was to raise the issue that for the working class May Day must be a day when the class affirms its own cause and vision of a future society that guarantees the rights of all. It must end the situation where it is just fighting for reforms or for immunities under the law which leave intact capitalist ownership and exploitation. Instead it must put forward its own independent programme, take control of what belongs to it, have power in its own hands and empower the people in order to establish a new socialist society. Many people in the march supported the Party’s slogans. Over 70 copies of the May Day edition of Workers’ Weekly were disseminated and lengthy discussions were held with those who wanted to know more about the Party’s work.  

Article Index


Newcastle March

THE MAY DAY MARCH set off from Forth Street Newcastle at 11.30am and marched through the city centre to Exhibition Park where the Rally and May Day celebrations were held at 12.30pm. About 500 working people and their families took part in the march, which was headed by a colliery band and the traditional May Day banner declaring peace, homes, jobs, and health. Contingents from the Newcastle Trade Union Council and many trade unions carried their banners on the march into Exhibition Park and the march was warmly supported by the people of Newcastle. The rally started at 1.00 pm and was addressed by Roland Biosah, Chair of the TUC black workers Conference, Jim Cousins MP for Newcastle Central, Hilary Wainright Editor of Red Pepper, Alan Simpson Secretary of the Campaign (Against the NATO Aggression in Yugoslavia) Group of Labour MPs, Xifa Zefa from East Timor and Jimmy Barnes from the Trade Union CND and Martin Levy from the Stop the Bombing campaign in Newcastle.

One of the main characteristics of the rally was the way in which the speakers denounced the domestic and foreign policy of New Labour. The rights of working people to health care, education, welfare and so on are under attack whilst the Labour government’s criminal involvement in NATO’s aggression against Serbia and Kosova was denounced by a number of the speakers. They demanded that the bombing stop, and there was a call to support the national demonstration on May 8 in London. In his remarks, the Chair of the Rally, Kevin Flynn, Secretary of the County Association of Trade Union Councils, hailed the tradition of the Newcastle May Day celebrations and all the different political forces that took part and the serious discussion and exchange of opinions that took place. He thanked the speakers and said that we should organise to make the event next year bigger and better. He said that May Day is about one thing – international solidarity to bring the working class together for socialism to get rid of the rotten capitalist system. That is the way forward. Go forward comrades, he declared at the end. During the march and rally and celebrations Workers’ Weekly was widely sold and warmly received by the participants and over 40 papers were sold. People engaged Party activists in vigorous discussion at the bookstall of the Party, and many people warmly approved the stands taken by the Party, the call that workers should take control of what belongs to them and on NATO’s criminal aggression against Yugoslavia and their interference in the Balkans. A number of back issues of Workers’ Weekly were sold.  

Article Index


London Bombings – Crimes against the People

Workers’ Weekly joins with all decent people in totally condemning the recent spate of bombings in Brixton, Brick Lane in Whitechapel and in Soho which have injured so many and resulted in three tragic deaths. It extends its sympathy and condolences to the injured and the bereaved. These cowardly acts have all had a thoroughly anti-people character and have been intended to indiscriminately attack any person in their vicinity. Whoever is behind such crimes, whether it is an individual, an organisation, the state or a combination of these forces, these crimes must be condemned as an attack on all.

It is a fact and history has often demonstrated that the state can mobilise extremely backward elements to commit such crimes and create the conditions for them to take place. This is how the state attempts to imbue society with its own anti-people values, to terrorise people and create a diversion from its own criminal activities, especially at a time it is itself raining down death and destruction on a sovereign country and defenceless people in the name of humanitarianism.

Whatever the case, the state and the media have done their utmost to use the consequences of these criminal activities for their own purposes. Attempts have been made to sow divisions amongst people through the ceaseless propaganda which has followed the attacks. It was said that the bombings were racist attacks directed against the “black community” or the “Asian community” or the “Gay community”. But whatever the particular location for the attacks it is clear that they were directed against all and injured, maimed and killed indiscriminately.

There has also been much speculation that the bombings were the work of various “nazi” organisations. There was suddenly large-scale promotion for such organisations, although even the bourgeois media was forced to admit that not only were they well known to the police, but even infiltrated by the state itself.

Whatever sinister forces and motives were behind these cowardly acts they have been seen and resolutely condemned by the masses of the people for what they were, crimes against the people. They must be and have been condemned on the basis that an injury to one is an injury to all.  

Article Index


MESSAGES TO 3RD CONGRESS OF RCPB(ML)

União Democrática Popular - Portugal

Lisbon, March 17, 1999
Dear comrades of the Central Committee of RCPB(ML):

We wish the best success to your Third Congress, hoping it will reinforce your Party and its leadership in the working class struggle.
Today in the EU of the Maastricht/Amsterdam Treaties, workers suffer the furious neo-liberal attack against all the gains of this century. The “socialist” governments, headed by Guterres, Tony Blair and similar, don’t hesitate to destroy even the so-called Welfare State erected by the social-democrats after World War II to avoid revolution. The “Third Way” is an openly capitalist option, whose only religion is the single currency and finance capital all over the world.
In this situation, entering the 21st century, communist and revolutionary parties must have a clear revolutionary strategy for socialism, but also fight to join forces to build large left fronts against neo-liberalism and imperialism, including “our own” imperialism, the EU, and all aggressive imperialist war games against the people of Iraq, Cuba and other countries.
In Portugal UDP is participating in a Left Block with other parties and independent persons, the lists of which will be presented both to the European (June) and parliamentary (October) elections. This Left Block is the first step to concretise the revolutionary tactics approved in our XII Congress (June 1998) - « People’s Europe against Imperialism », pointing to a large left front against neo-liberalism.
We’ll wait for good news from your Party.

Alberto Matos
International Secretary of the National Board UDP


Communist Party of Denmark/Marxist-Leninist

April 6, 1999
To the CC of RCPB(ML)
Chris Coleman

Dear comrade Thank you for the information you sent to us about your Third Congress.
We hope that it was successful and took the necessary decisions to further develop your Party and press.
You are always welcome in Denmark. We look forward to meet with you in Copenhagen.

Revolutionary greetings

Jorgen Petersen
Danmarks Kommunistiske Parti/ML


Finsbury Communist Association

20/1/99
Central Committee RCPB(M-L)

Dear Comrades,
The RCPB (M-L) has raised the correct slogan of “Stop Paying the Rich - Increase Investments in Social Programmes!”
It now remains for communists and the working class to create the conditions in which that slogan can be implemented.
The present system of government in Britain is the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie will never implement a programme under which the rich cease to be paid.
The dictatorship of the bourgeoisie needs to be overthrown and replaced by the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The dictatorship of the proletariat is not possible in a country which exploits and oppresses other countries.
Communists therefore stand for:-
1) An end to overseas exploitation
2) Self-determination for the Celtic nations
3) The dictatorship of the proletariat
4) Stop Paying the Rich - Increase Investments in Social Programmes!
Please accept our best wishes for a successful Congress and convey our heartfelt greetings to all delegates, observers and readers of Workers’ Weekly.

Yours fraternally
Finsbury Communist Association


Message from Keith Bennett

March 15, 1999
To: The Third Congress Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Dear Comrades
Thank you for your kind invitation to attend your Third Congress. As a long-standing friend of your party, and of its predecessor organisations, I deem it a great honour.
Your Congress is set to sum up the work of the Party, particularly over the last five years, when major steps forward have been taken in elaborating its line and developing its practice, and it will surely make a major contribution to arming the ranks of the party, its friends and sympathisers, to meet the certain revolutionary storms of the 21st century. As Comrade Hardial Bains taught us, the present period of retreat of revolution is certain to be followed by a new surge and upswing of revolution – and it this above all that imparts a sense of purpose, indeed a sense of urgency, to your Congress, meeting just months before we enter the new millennium.
Our own practical collaboration stems from the time of the Society for a Republican Spain, in the first half of the 1970s, through to the Korea Friendship and Solidarity Campaign, at the close of the 1990s. And what is most important, significant and abiding is that, through twists and turns of both the objective and subjective conditions, it has always been characterised by sincerity, honesty, the placing of the work itself in the first place, and regarding each other’s successes and failures, good times and bad, as collective property and collective experience in an anti-imperialist struggle in the spirit of active proletarian internationalism, advanced and personified by Comrade Bains.
At the time of your Third Congress, all friends of your Party also surely join with you in remembering with love and pride Comrade John Buckle and Comrade Cornelius Cardew. Perhaps the best tribute we can pay to departed comrades is that, when thinking through and trying to make sense of the great issues of the day, we ask ourselves what they might have thought and made of them. And how often do we all do that with Hardial, John and Cornelius!
The world has changed since the founding of RCPBML. But the need for a revolutionary party of the working class and people, based on modern definitions, has, if anything, only grown greater. In this spirit, your Congress meets with a great sense of responsibility and in high revolutionary morale. It is an important event for communists in Britain and for the entire international communist movement, as well for all anti-imperialist, progressive and democratic forces of enlightenment.
I will certainly follow its deliberations and conclusions with great and partisan interest and wish you every success. It is our common cause.
With comradely greetings

Keith Bennett
Chair
Korea Friendship and Solidarity Campaign (KFSC) (in personal capacity)

Message from Japan

March 18, 1999

Dear Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist),

Please accept my best wishes for a successful Third Congress of your Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist).
I would like to send my deepest regards to your Central Committee and all the militants and supporters of your Party. The growth of the Marxist-Leninist movement in Britain encourages progressive people throughout the world. The organising of proletarian revolution in the heartland of imperialism is a feat of Titans and a magnificent contribution to the international proletariat and all humanity.
The strengthening of your newspaper, Workers’ Weekly, is the most evident result of the heroic efforts to build your Party. Your newspaper sparkles with energy and enthusiasm for Contemporary Marxist-Leninist Thought.
Glory to Marxism-Leninism! Long Live the Third Congress of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)!
Long Live RCPB(ML)!

A reader of your web site in Japan


From Journalist Ian Morrison

I hope that your Congress is a success, and once again must express my regret at not being able to be there with all of you. With warm fraternal greetings,

Ian Morrison  

Article Index


CORRESPONDENCE

Teachers in the West Midlands Continue to Face Attacks

Once again the Labour Government’s fraud of supporting the education system in this country is exposed. Labour came to power using education as a key factor in its general election propaganda. The reality is quite different. The Government, and in particular, Blunkett are quite fond of quoting statistics as to, “how well we are doing” when talking up their contribution to education. The interesting thing is that the reality of the situation is becoming evermore apparent. Teachers in particular are becoming more convinced that the Government programme is not in their interests and also that it will not help their pupils either.

The Government have made play about proposals concerning investment in resources such as the provision of laptop computers for teachers. Teachers have already recognised how this con-trick will work. Introducing new technology, on the surface of it, would seem a fine thing but as we know, the hardware is becoming less of an issue and the associated products such as “internet” and “intranet” networking and associated software is the real issue. Under these circumstances schools are to be used to provide an exclusive market, thus serving monopolies such as “Microsoft” and other influential software providers. Communication companies, including BT are also interested in this lucrative programme. Teachers have been told the benefit of having such hardware as a laptop where they can get “hands - on” experience. What has not been said is that teachers will be expected to train themselves, work from home in their own time, mark work and have direct contact with their schools and pupils during holidays etc. adding to the existing encroachment on their lives outside of school.

The Government has failed to address the issue of class sizes, teachers’ pay and job security. The reality is that where I teach, class sizes in my school are going to increase under the guise of a temporary increase of forms for the next year. Schools are continuing to compete for pupils. In some areas, like Hereford and Worcester, I know of colleagues who have been involved in school amalgamations which has led on one hand to redundancies and on the other has put pressure on other schools who will have to accept more pupils.

The Government has not secured the provision for teaching English as a Second Language and many teachers in this area are now faced with redundancy. This provision has been run down for a long time and it looks as though this essential provision will be phased out. The Government’s policy on this can only be regarded as a cut in an essential social programme. Schools that rely on ESL provision are usually in the poorest areas where there are pupils from Asian background in particular. Pupils need this assistance if they are going to receive a proper start in life with none of the disadvantages associated with language difficulties. These cuts can only be seen as penny pinching and are in effect a racist policy aimed against the rights of a section of the people.

In all of this we have seen the side swipes and attacks on teachers who speak out against the government policies on education. Teachers who are opposed to programmes such as “Performance Pay” were lambasted as being retrogressive by Blunkett and his cohorts. Teachers refuse to be marginalised in this way and despite threats against their organisation they have forced their views out into the open. Teachers’ organisations have recently denounced plans for “Performance Related Pay” and will demand, contrary to the wishes of the Labour Government, to have their say on education and will not be marginalised.

Teacher in the West Midlands


 

New Labour’s Health Policy

As well as taking over the Conservative’s outline plans for progressive privatisation of the National Health Service (now actively denied by William Hague and Peter Lilley), a key feature of the “New Labour” health policy is the introduction of “easy access” primary care units based on US health maintenance organisations (HMO’s).

The government has been studying the operations of Kaiser Permanente, the US insurance group which controls the bulk of health services in California and in 17 other US states. Tony Blair’s recent primary health care initiatives (i.e. proposals for re-organising GP services) closely parallel the primary care operations of Kaiser Permanente. These operations are based on the building of city health centre clinics administered by “nurse-managers”, in which doctors are required to follow strict low-cost treatment protocols for each specific diagnosis. In the 7-days-a-week walk-in centres, requests for appointments with doctors are also closely monitored by such managers, who act as “gate-keepers” for the system.

While such changes are being sold to the public as improvements in the health system, clearly the objective of the 7-days-a-week centres is to maximise the use of resources, not to provide more health care to the sick. Most GP work currently involves treating chronically ill and often hopelessly depressed workers suffering from multiple symptoms secondary to work-related injuries and poor nutrition. The idea that such problems can be sorted out by doctors who are total strangers to the patients (working in a walk-in clinic like a supermarket) is a complete fallacy. Furthermore, the necessary bureaucracy will be in place to ensure that patients cannot obtain treatment based on their individual requirements, i.e. by breaking the doctor-patient relationship (which is already under severe strain in most GP practices). These proposals are based on the use of public sector resources to create structures within the NHS in which private health care can be delivered on a mass basis.

Reader in London

Article Index


South London Activists Start New Series of Discussion Meetings

ON TUESDAY, April 27, comrades and activists from South London met at John Buckle Books to discuss the very pressing issue of NATO’s aggression against Yugoslavia. A speaker was invited from CND (Campaign against Nuclear Disarmament) who spoke in great detail about the history and status of NATO as a world military organisation. He showed how the US and Britain dominate NATO and that NATO’s intentions underlying its aggressive actions against Yugoslavia reflect the competing interests of the main member states and the desire of the US to consolidate its New World Order. He also pointed to the reactions of countries such as Russia and China and the threat to world peace that any race for power and arms poses to the peoples of the world today.

Following the talk a lively discussion ensued and all those present were enthusiastic and keen that more such meetings be held. As a result, at the end of the meeting it was affirmed that regular fortnightly meetings will be held on Tuesdays at the Bookshop. These meetings will focus on a broad spectrum of subjects which either spring out of articles and themes raised in Workers’ Weekly or develop the political issues and concerns which those activists attending would like to raise. It was also decided that: 1) future meetings should be open to all those wishing to attend with the understanding that the meetings are to advance political discussion amongst those interested and attending; and 2) the content of the discussions should be in keeping with the spirit of the line of march of the Party to Improve the Content, Extend the Readership. In this context, the meeting resolved that it should report regularly to Workers’ Weekly giving the main thrust of its discussions each fortnight.

Anyone interested in coming to these discussion evenings is most welcome and should contact John Buckle Books to find out the exact details.  

Article Index


Alex Salmond’s Statement on Kosova

The following is the text of the statement of Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party, of March 29.

“A few nights ago, the Prime Minister asked us to do the right thing in Serbia and by the people of Kosovo. This evening, I want to suggest that the right thing to do is not for politicians to pursue a misguided policy and then ask our servicemen to implement it. Few people are in any doubt that President Milosevic bears the prime responsibility for the human tragedy in the Balkans. He and his supporters have subjected innocent civilians to daily assault, indignity and murder. However, if we are to sanction intervention in Serbia then the policy must be capable of achieving two things. It must be capable of weakening Milosevic, and helping Kosovo. A bombing campaign will achieve neither. Indeed, the chances are that it will make both worse.

“In virtually every country which has been blitzed this century, the reaction has been to steel the resolve of the civilian population. This is what happened in London in the Second World War. It is also what happened in Clydebank. Why should we believe that there will not be the same reaction in Serbia? The evidence from the much respected BBC correspondent John Simpson is that the bombing campaign has effectively silenced the Serbian opposition to Milosevic.

“Nor has the bombing campaign helped the people of Kosovo. The atrocities against them have intensified. The Prime Minister claims this is nothing to do with the NATO action. Does anyone at all take that opinion seriously? General Sir Michael Rose who commanded the UN Forces in Bosnia certainly does not. He argues that the Serbian militia, unable to do much damage to NATO forces 20,000 feet up in the air, will exact revenge on people who are much more vulnerable on the ground. Thus far the NATO action has consolidated the position of Milosevic, and further jeopardised the position of the Kosovo Albanians. It must be of little consolation to those being driven from their homes, or worse, to know that the campaign in the skies above is actually meant to be for their benefit.

“There are those who call for the intervention of NATO troops on the ground. This would at least have the prospect of helping those who we are meant to be helping. However, the NATO powers have set their face against it for the understandable reason that it carries the likelihood of substantial further loss of life.

“What then is the alternative to the present misguided campaign - accepting that there are no easy answers? Well, we could expend the billions of dollars currently being flung at Serbia in high explosives on stepping up our humanitarian efforts to help Kosovo. We could turn what has been a partially effective arms embargo into a full scale economic blockade of Serbia, until her leadership comes to their senses in the treatment of the people of Kosovo. We could also accept that if Milosevic were prepared to sign up to the Rambuillet accord then it could be policed by United Nations and non-NATO forces.

“Almost fifty years ago, NATO was formed as a defensive alliance against potential aggression from the Soviet Union. It achieved its primary purpose without firing a single shot. But now for the first time it is acting in an offensive capacity outwith any specific remit from the United Nations. It is an action of dubious legality, but above all one of unpardonable folly - an action which thus far has made matters even worse for the very people it is meant to help.

“All war is evil, but there is something deeply disturbing about warfare which can be so conducted by remote control - missiles and bombing which sanitise conflict - at least on our side. Our servicemen deserve support, but the politicians who sent them there are not above criticism or responsibility.

“Sometimes the right thing to do is to negotiate patiently even with those we find repellent, to recognise that economic influence is more effective than military might, and to accept the moral strength of relying on international law even when it seems frustrating and ineffective. The correct thing to do is not to substitute folly for wisdom, aggression for diplomacy, or might for right.”  

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SNP RESPONSE TO COOK STATEMENT

Commenting on the statement issued by Foreign Secretary Robin Cook on March 29, the Scottish National Party’s External Affairs Spokesperson Mr George Reid said:

“This is a tawdry and tasteless press release, which demeans the office of Foreign Secretary. Robin Cook has shown a serious lack of judgement. Such a grave matter demands mature political debate, not cheap personal invective. Would Robin Cook talk about Lord Healey or Lord Carrington in these disgraceful terms - two distinguished elder statesmen who have voiced serious reservations similar to the SNP’s? Right from the start, the SNP said that Milosevic would have to face the war crimes tribunal in the Hague for breaches of international humanitarian law.

“There is enormous concern that the bombing campaign is failing to alleviate the suffering of the Kosovan Albanians, and is actually making matters worse. The SNP are giving voice to these concerns, and offering a constructive alternative. Robin Cook’s panicked reaction to reasonable criticism demonstrates his own understandable lack of confidence in this bombing campaign, which is exacerbating a terrible tragedy for the people of Kosovo.”  

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The anti-war movement has a legitimate point of view

The Committee for Peace in the Balkans issued the following statement on April 21: ‘At the beginning of NATO’s bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, Tony Blair told us that this would be a humanitarian war for values like democracy and freedom of speech. However, as the failure of NATO’s strategy has become clear, and opposition has mounted alongside the growing number of civilian casualties – both Albanian and Serbian – the supporters of NATO bombing have become more and more wild in their attacks on those who point out that bombing Yugoslavia will bring neither peace nor justice.

‘The latest targets are MPs who differ with the government line. Previous targets included the BBC and journalists like John Simpson. Clare Short’s outburst comparing opponents of NATO bombing to appeasers of Hitler has no credibility. Nazi Germany was the strongest military power in Europe intent upon conquest of the entire continent. Yugoslavia is a devastated country of 11 million people which has invaded no one. It is under attack by an alliance of some of the richest and most powerful states in the world.

‘Irrespective of the crimes of the Yugoslav government, the truth is that today it is NATO, not Yugoslavia, which is violating international law by attacking a sovereign state. As in the 1930s, that action, effectively destroying the United Nations, could have grave consequences for the future of world peace.

‘With thousands of lives and millions of peoples’ livelihoods at stake, what is needed is reasoned debate today not wild smears against those with the courage to disagree. ‘As the Daily Mirror editorialised on Wednesday: “Parliament would become a very unhealthy institution if MPs were never allowed to speak their minds” .’

Alice Mahon MP said: ‘There is a growing note of hysteria from NATO spokespeople. If they are serious about getting the refugees back to their homes and bringing peace to the region, the wild language they are now using simply won’t help.’

Tony Benn MP said: ‘The government’s objectives change everyday. If ground troops go in the situation will be infinitely worse and public opposition to the war will grow. It appears that the government realises this and is now getting seriously rattled.’  

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Statement by the Chairman on the Conclusion of the Meeting of the G8 Foreign Ministers

6 May 1999

1. The G 8 Foreign Ministers adopted the following general principles on the political solution to the Kosovo crisis:
- Immediate and verifiable end of violence and repression in Kosovo;
- Withdrawal from Kosovo of military, police and paramilitary forces;
- Deployment in Kosovo of effective international civil and security presences, endorsed and adopted by the United Nations, capable of guaranteeing the achievement of the common objectives;
- Establishment of an interim administration for Kosovo to be decided by the Security Council of the United Nations to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants in Kosovo;
- The safe and free return of all refugees and displaced persons and unimpeded access to Kosovo by humanitarian aid organisations;
- A political process towards the establishment of an interim political framework agreement providing for a substantial self-government for Kosovo, taking full account of the Rambouillet accords and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other countries of the region, and the demilitarization of the UCK;
- Comprehensive approach to the economic development and stabilization of the crisis region.
2. In order to implement these principles the G 8 Foreign Ministers instructed their Political Directors to prepare elements of a United Nations Security Council resolution.
3. The Political Directors will draw up a roadmap on further concrete steps towards a political solution to the Kosovo crises.
4. The G 8 presidency will inform the Chinese government on the results of today’s meeting.
5. Foreign Ministers will reconvene in due time to review the progress which has been achieved up to that point.

 

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Boris Yeltsin Condemns “Naked Aggression against a Sovereign State”

According to news agencies, Russian President Boris Yeltsin renewed criticism of NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia on May 6, and said the threat of war was hanging over Europe.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that despite some progress at Thursday’s meeting of his colleagues from the G8 major powers in Bonn, Moscow was not satisfied with the vague strategy they had approved to settle the Kosovo crisis.

The G8 — Russia, the United States, Canada, Italy, France, Japan, Germany and Britain — agreed on a strategy for placing an “international civil and security presence” in Kosova.

Before the G8 meeting had concluded, Boris Yeltsin issued a statement marking the 55th anniversary of the liberation of the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, now in Ukraine, from Nazi troops. He said:”Our peoples achieved lasting peace at the cost of huge efforts and sacrifices. However, the shadow of war is hanging over Europe today. NATO is carrying out naked aggression against a sovereign state — Yugoslavia. The bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, bringing death among the civilian population, cannot leave anyone indifferent, especially those who suffered all the horrors of war.” Yeltsin said that peace must be restored, based on the principles established by the United Nations.

Interfax news agency quoted a senior Russian diplomat as saying US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine were likely to visit Moscow soon for more discussions on Kosova.

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Russian Foreign Minister against Sanctions

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has stated that sanctions against a country can only be announced with United Nations approval. “Sanctions on oil supplies to Yugoslavia do not carry any weight for Russia, NATO sanctions are valid only for the 19 countries within NATO,” he said. Ivanov added that Russia follows and would continue to follow all international commitments.  

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Igvar Carlsson’s and Shridath Ramphal’s Condemnation of NATO Bombing

Igvar Carlsson, a former Prime Minister of Sweden, and Shridath Ramphal, the former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, have condemned the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. They say: “Might is not right. NATO’s act is one of aggression against a sovereign country. What price the UN now?”

“No person, no country can simply recite itself into a field of action whose gates are locked against it by superior law.

“The United Nations Charter is every country’s superior law; it prescribes that no country or group of countries shall resort to the use of force against another, save in self-defence, except under the authority of the United Nations.

“NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia have not been authorised by the United Nations. That authority was not even sought. They are therefore acts of aggression against a sovereign country; and as such they strike at the heart of the rule of international law and the authority of the United Nations. Because they are acts undertaken by the world’s most militarily powerful countries, that damage is incalculable...”  

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Progressive Publication of Mentally Ill People Releases Special May Day Issue

The publication UPSURGE released Issue No.7 as a Special May Day Issue. It carries the following article, “Make the ending of the monopoly capitalist system the primary reason for getting better”.

Lenin wrote in 1917 in State and Revolution “The question of the state is acquiring at present a particular importance, both as theory, and from the point of view of practical politics. The imperialist war has greatly accelerated and intensified the transformation into state-monopoly capitalism. The monstrous oppression of the labouring masses by the state - which connects itself more and more intimately with the all-powerful capitalist combines - is becoming even more monstrous...

“The unheard-of horrors and miseries of the protracted war are making the position of the masses unbearable and increasing their indignation. An international proletarian revolution is clearly rising...”

The great V I Lenin wrote this in the midst of the first inter-imperialist world war. Now with the launch of the illegal military offensive against Serbia which is not in the interests of the Kosovan people - far against it - and is being waged with plundering economic interests, the possibility of another inter-imperialist world war is looming. How should the mentally oppressed react to this situation? Some say - such as many psychiatric nurses and doctors - that all they need do is to sit back and accept medicines. Whilst drugs - which have become quite sophisticated - are usually necessary for significant mental distress such as manic-depression, schizophrenia and serious depression they won’t provide any lasting liberation. Alone all they will do, in the main, is to keep the mentally distressed sick children or adolescents tied to the drugs companies. Other more enlightened doctors say that the oppressed should get part-time jobs, sheltered work, voluntary work and college courses. All these things are very useful in helping the resuscitation of the client into an adult. But even getting a part-time job or going to college won’t free the mentally oppressed from serfdom to the mental health industry. Only working class consciousness will do this - and this can be obtained from work, reading, love and especially from integrating as much as possible with the productive workers - such as factory workers - who after all pay the DHSS benefits of the oppressed.

An important realisation of the acquisition of proletarian consciousness is the sensing that most mental illness is directly or indirectly the result of the class system. Take eating disorders for example. How many anorexics would there be if the mass media of the monopoly capitalist system, especially the tabloid press, didn’t objectify very thin young women? Take psychosis. How many people have psychotic breakdowns because of bad housing, unemployment or unwarranted work stress? Isn’t schizophrenia trying to be on both classes at once, as the state, especially under Tony Blair’s New Labour Government pretends to be? How many suffer breakdowns because of the emotional turmoil created by television and film culture, especially, the soap operas? Isn’t manic depression the mania of false goals and expectations arising from the family, the educational system and the state leading to inevitable depression when they are unfulfilled? Isn’t paranoia the attempt to preserve the “egocentric I” in the midst of the terror and deliberate confusion of the state? And so on...

What the oppressed have to do is link up with working people - especially those freed from the worship of social democracy and Labour Party politics - and organise to bring to an end the main cause of their suffering, the monopoly capitalist system.

Who knows how long this will be before it happens?... but provided enough people get conscious and organised it will happen in the end. And rest assured that a genuine socialist system that will result would be kind to the sick not expecting the seriously sick to do any or only nominal work. We may not see these happy days in our own lifetime but the mentally oppressed and the entire working class must begin for future generations, if not their own!  

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DPRK Calls for Stop to Military Action against Yugoslavia

NATO should stop its illegal military action against Yugoslavia at once, a spokesman for the DPRK Foreign Ministry said in a statement on March 26 as regards the on-going military action between the Yugoslav army and the US-led NATO forces, which was triggered off by the latter’s air strikes against Yugoslavia.

NATO’s use of force against Yugoslavia is a wanton violation of international law and the UN Charter and a grave challenge to peace and security in the Balkan region, Europe and the rest of the world, the statement pointed out, and said:

Outsiders are encroaching upon sovereignty and territorial integrity of a sovereign nation by force on the pretext that it has refused to yield to their partial demand and pressure intended to impinge on its interests. Such illegal action can never be justified.

The Kosovo dispute is entirely an internal affair of Yugoslavia. It can never be solved by outsiders’ intervention and pressure and use of military strength, which will only aggravate confrontation, conflict and tensions.

It is our consistent stand that the issue should be settled peacefully and politically through dialogue and negotiations between the parties in dispute on the basis of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia.

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DPRK Condemns US Military Strikes against Yugoslavia

Pyongyang, May 4 (KCNA)

— The United States is a heinous criminal who bred and orchestrated the tragic crisis in Yugoslavia, observes Rodong Sinmun in a commentary on May 3. The commentary continues: Military strikes against Yugoslavia are part of the vicious and crafty moves of the United States to materialise its ambition for world supremacy.

Through the strikes the United States is intending to demonstrate its might as a “sole superpower” and further consolidate its control over Europe. Projecting itself as a “sole superpower” at the end of the Cold War, the United States demanded all countries and nations around the world act under its baton. It needed countries to fall prey to it in order to convince other countries that any countries defying its brigandish demands are bound to pay a “dear price”. Iraq and Yugoslavia were chosen as its victims.

It is the US strategy towards Europe to establish control over Europe taking hold of NATO. Hence, the United States has organised and spearheaded the current NATO’s military strikes against Yugoslavia. Military attack on Yugoslavia is also related to the political and economic crisis that has become worsened in the United States with each passing day. The United States is wholly to blame for the tragic situation in Yugoslavia.

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Cuba Denounces NATO Aggression

A Cuban government statement issued on April 7 reads in part: “… from the very moment when the present crisis broke out in Yugoslavia and NATO embarked on its brutal air strikes on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Cuba has strictly pursued a principled position and forcefully condemned the aggression to the extent of its very modest possibilities and far from any interest in publicity or in taking a main role in the issue, Cuba has sustained its conviction that the Serbs would stand up to NATO’s devastating attack.

“Also that no weapon system would crush the resistance of those who are assaulted by land and air but supported by their people willing to fight to the end using adequate tactics against the modern military technology.”

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Fidel Castro repudiates aggression to Yugoslavia and offers humanitarian aid

Cuban President Fidel Castro recently repudiated USA and NATO attacks against Yugoslavia and called them genocide, for causing death, fear and destruction of that country.

He spoke for a peaceful solution of the conflict and offered one thousand medical doctors as humanitarian aid.

 

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