WORKERS' WEEKLY Vol. 29, No. 7, February 27, 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

The Racism of the British State Must Be Brought to an End

THE PARTY AND ITS WORK: Workers’ Weekly Journalists Prepare for Third Congress

The Bullying and Threats of the Big Powers Cannot Bring Peace to Kosova

Budget 1999: The "Debate" about Budget Surplus

Northern Regional Committee Reports on its Preparations for the Congress


Improve by the Spring or else!

Fighting Similar Battles

Euromarches against Unemployment, Job Insecurity and Social Exclusion

South Korean Release of Unconverted Long-Term Prisoners

News in Brief: Southwark Strike Moved to Coming Tuesday

Rally against Immigration and Asylum Bill

The Racism of the British State Must Be Brought to an End

Stephen Lawrence THE MACPHERSON REPORT into the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the conduct of the police investigation, and the proposed measures announced by the government, were heralded as a “watershed” by Jack Straw, the Home Secretary. Together with the saturation media coverage, they constitute a massive campaign to divert attention from the fact that it is the racism of the British state and its government itself which must be condemned and brought to an end. They also constitute a diversion from the demand that the state and its government end their opposition to bringing about a society in which the rights of all are guaranteed and recognised as inviolable, and in which all nationalities and minorities take their place as second to none. They actually seek to entrench “racism” as a problem, to define people on the basis of their skin colour, and further marginalise all nationalities as well as other sections of the people from participating in the political affairs of the country and opening the door to progress.

The “institutionalised racism” belongs to the British state, which was founded and continues in existence on the basis of a racist and religious division of the polity. The government makes no attempt to escape from the deliberate and malicious confusion of nationality and citizenship which permeates and corrupts the fabric of the British polity. This mixing up has been codified in all the racist laws which define citizenship of this country, and finds it most worked out expression in the British Nationality Act of 1981, with its definition of “patrials” and “non-patrials”, of different classes of citizens based on national origin.

No modern society can tolerate such a racist division, which encourages divisions amongst the people on a racist basis. No modern society can tolerate a society where minorities are ghettoised, where people of different national backgrounds are not given every encouragement for their cultures to flourish. Yet to Tony Blair, “We should confront as a nation honestly the racism that still exists within our society. We should find within ourselves the will to overcome it.” Not only is the Prime Minister attempting to blame the people for racism, calling also for a “new era in race relations”, but he appears blind to his own racist and chauvinist use of the concept of “nation”.

Such an outlook actually encourages such murders and racist attacks as against Stephen Lawrence and others to continue. This is proved by the fact that no one has been convicted for his murder, despite the fact that six years ago the then government stated that it was “totally committed to bringing those involved in Stephen’s death to justice”. In other words, a murder was not treated as a murder, and the government is condemned by its own words.

It is for this reason that we sympathise with the words of Stephen’s mother, Doreen Lawrence, when she said of the police officers who looked on while Stephen bled to death: “They treated the affair as a gang war and from that moment on they acted in a manner that can only be described as white masters during slavery.”

Doreen Lawrence said: “I was looking forward to the report, thinking that it would be a watershed for centuries to come but instead it has only scratched the surface and has not gone to the heart of the problem. Nonetheless, this report represents an opportunity not to be missed by this society as a whole. It is a time for change.”

To bring about this change, all citizens of Britain must together take up the fight for the inviolable rights of all as their own, irrespective of their colour or origin, they must fight to end the racism of the British state and its government. As a component part of this struggle to open the path to a new society, they must fight for a modern constitution in which the rights of all are recognised and guaranteed. Such a constitution would define a citizen on a modern basis with no reference to national origin. It would embody their rights on the basis of the equality of all citizens of the polity, guaranteeing all the right to life, to a livelihood, to education, health care and housing at the highest level, irrespective of any such characteristic as colour of skin, national background, religion or any other such discriminatory criteria.

This struggle will ensure that the racism of the British state will be put an end to, which will also ensure that the racist outlook of authorities such as the police will be brought to an end, and that all perpetrators of crimes, including murder, will be brought to justice.  

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Workers’ Weekly Journalists Prepare for Third Congress

AS PART OF the ongoing work to strengthen, consolidate and regularise Workers’ Weekly as an integral part of preparing for the Party’s Third Congress, a basic organisation has been formed comprising Party members who are part of the journalistic staff of the newspaper. The basic organisation has been authorised by the Central Committee, and is in line with the Party’s policy of establishing basic organisations where the work is.

The establishment of this basic organisation is also part of the implementation of the resolution on the consolidation and strengthening of Workers’ Weekly which was passed at the November 1998 National Consultative Conference of RCPB(ML). The resolution reads in part: “This conference resolves to do its utmost by the time of the Congress to have a fully rounded, fully focused regular Party newspaper, partisan to the working class, with a strengthened editorial board, backed by a journalistic staff and fully functioning apparatus, which is at the focus of all the work politically, and which all comrades read, write for, discuss and disseminate on a regular basis, as a matter of course and as a matter of discipline.” Measures have also been taken since the beginning of the year to strengthen the editorial board as well as the technical base.

The basic organisation in the journalistic staff of Workers’ Weekly has already met to decide that it is in good standing, that it has taken up its work in the context of implementing the Party’s tasks, and that this work is being carried out in a responsible manner. It is clearly integral to the work of preparing for the Congress. Having established that, the militants of the basic organisation assessed their credentials, their stands, in relation to the Party and its work. This was understood to be a profound and fundamental step in the life of the basic organisation. The journalists have already begun in earnest the serious study of the documents of the November 1998 National Consultative Conference, whose deliberations took place in the context of considering the themes and agenda of the Congress. A number of issues have already been discussed in depth, as well as the overall significance of the study, and these deliberations are set to continue.

The Third Congress is taking place from Friday, March 19, 1999, to Sunday, March 21, 1999, inclusive. To apply for credentials to attend the Congress, please get in touch with the Party contact in your area, or write to the Central Committee of RCPB(ML) at 170 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2LA, telephone 0171-627 0599, fax 0171-498 5407 or e-mail 

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The Bullying and Threats of the Big Powers Cannot Bring Peace to Kosova

THE THREAT of NATO air strikes and other attempts at bullying by Britain, the US and the other big powers have not led to a political settlement between the Serbian and Yugoslav governments and representatives of the Albanian population of Kosova.

Negotiations in France which were forced on the participants by the threat of military action and other measures by the big powers of the so-called Contact Group have ended in deadlock. The big powers had arrogantly demanded that an agreement had to be signed before the deadline on February 20, and had threatened that if the Serbian leaders refused to agree to the invasion and partition of Yugoslavia by 30,000 NATO-led troops, then NATO would launch air strikes. But this deadline came and went and no agreement was reached. They then imposed another deadline of February 23, and in the days and hours leading up to it representatives of the Kosovars were pressurised and bullied to accept the proposals of the big powers, so as to create the pretext for military action.

Whatever claims Britain and the other big powers might make however, neither the Kosovars nor representatives of the Yugoslav and Serbian governments could be forced to accept their diktats. Instead more talks, requested by the Kosovars, are now planned for March 15. Despite the demands of the big powers, both sides in the negotiations have put forward their own proposals. The Kosovars are demanding a referendum on independence, something opposed by the big powers, while Belgrade argues that any international “peace-keeping force” must be made up of troops from friendly countries such as Russia, which has been opposed to NATO airstrikes and the occupation of Yugoslavia.

The proposals of the big powers, which allow for the autonomy of Kosova within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for a limited period of three years, fall short of the self-determination which is the right and demand of the Kosovan people. During that three year period NATO forces would occupy Kosova, something which is totally opposed by the representatives of the Serbian and Yugolsav governments. At the end of that time Kosova’s status will be reviewed under “international auspices”, a proposal which allows for further meddling by the big powers and shows that they mean to continue to intervene in this important strategic area whatever agreements might by reached.

Reports of large Yugoslav troop movements around Kosova have created a further pretext for NATO to repeat its threat to launch military action. The build-up of NATO troops has already begun in the Balkans. The British government, which co-chaired the so-called peace talks, announced that it would lead and be the largest contributor to the NATO intervention force and that 2,000 British troops would be sent to Greece and Macedonia this week. Defence Secretary George Robertson stated that a further 8,000 British troops were on standby and made it clear that whether or not there was no agreement in Rambouillet, the British government needed to be prepared to act with its allies “to take whatever measures are necessary, to compel compliance with the demands of the international community”.

The “peace talks” imposed by threats and bullying of the big powers are paving the way for greater diasters for the peoples of the Balkans and of other countries in the future. They pave the way for further intervention by the big powers in the Balkans and throughout the world. 

Article Index

Budget 1999 

The “Debate” about Budget Surplus

GORDON BROWN, Chancellor of the Exchequer, will deliver this year’s budget to the Commons on March 9.

Reports in the media centre on the fact that the Treasury will have a “record budget surplus” of £10 billion compared with the Treasury’s pre-budget report projection of £4.3 billion. Centring on this prediction the speculation is that in spite of the “economic slowdown” the Chancellor will have enough money to introduce a 10p starting rate of income tax. However there is also speculation that the Chancellor will take it away in the other hand by abolishing tax allowance for married couples. Whatever this debate about budget surplus what is very clear is that the people will have no say in this debate, or even on what the debate should be on, and whatever budget plans are hatched up the burden in increased revenue will be shifted onto the people and the rich will benefit.

The bourgeois analysts raise this question of budget surplus as a diversion to what the issue is. New Labour has control of the entire resources of the state but only what is left over in the budget surplus is available for social policy and then everything depends on Gordon Brown the Chancellor, Tony Blair, the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers deciding in secret what is best for the economy and allocating the expenditure of this budget surplus. Of course their “golden rule”, both “first” and “second” rule, is that the financial oligarchy have first claim even on this in the form of massive payments to “eliminate the structural deficit” on the national debt whilst the claims of the people are not even a third, or fourth rule. At most, what the people can expect is maybe some small measure of wealth distribution in the next financial year provided there is substantial budget surplus and that people accept that they will have to pay for it in increased taxes in some form from six o’clock on budget day. This is the way the budget is promoted that it can make life heaven or misery for the people. Part of this deception is the whole way it is suggested that the budget can determine the direction of the economy. The source of wealth in the economy as being labour applied to nature is mystified, and panaceas such as “prudence”, “stability”, “low inflation” and “budget surplus” roll off the tongues of the pundits of the bourgeoisie. But “prudence”, “stability”, “low inflation” and “budget surplus” cannot be the aim of the economy. The budget, what ever its aim, can only be housekeeping, how the ruling class ties up appropriations with expenditures, a means to through which a policy is priced and expenditures set. But what determines the policies and by which means are they set?

The social policy of the government instead of being one of guaranteeing health care, education, pensions, social welfare and other social programmes is made merely a set of policy objectives. Those that protest are given a voice in the media only if they acquiesce to this status quo and put forward “submissions” on how the budget surplus should be spent, such as those of the TUC leaders asking for increased expenditure on “job creation”, and so on. In this way the illusion is created that the working class has a voice in this debate. But the policies are set behind closed doors according to the interests of the financial oligarchy. They determine that even the social policy itself should become a new source of paying tribute to them through the “modernisation of the welfare state” through Private Public Partnerships, PFI, stakeholder pensions and so on.

The working class and people should break with this aim for the economy and for society. Social programmes cannot be determined by the fact that the financial oligarchy has first claim on the social product. Social policy should determine that budgets are set so that social spending meets the needs of the people. The people should demand a moratorium on these payments to the rich on the national debt so that the rights of the people to health care, education, pensions, social welfare and other social programmes should be guaranteed.

Stop Paying the Rich! Increase Investments in Social Programmes!  

Article Index

Northern Regional Committee Reports on its Preparations for the Congress

THE Northern Regional Committee has sent the following report to Workers’ Weekly on it preparations for the Congress:

Preparations are vigorously going ahead for the Third Congress of the Party. Comrades and friends of the Party have been involved in the study of the documents of the National Consultative Conference of November 1998 as well as the Necessity for Change pamphlet by Hardial Bains with the new preface written by him in 1997.

The main preoccupation of the activists in the region has been to do the utmost to contribute to the work to consolidate and strengthen Workers’ Weekly by the time of the Congress through the regular writing of articles, discussion and distribution of Workers’ Weekly among the workers, students and other active sections. Also, the Party in the region is calling on activists and friends to join Workers’ Weekly readers groups and there has been some initial progress in this work. One readers group has been set up among health worker activists and plans made to expand this work. Such work is part of the constant work to consolidate the links of the Party with the many activists in the working class movement who are associated with the Party in some way and combat the stranglehold of social democratic politics which is so prevalent in the region.

Among the issues raised in discussion in the readers group was how the workers should prepare for the coming revolutionary storms. It is not obvious to the workers what this means because at this time revolution seems a distant prospect. In the discussion it was highlighted that the issue raised by Workers’ Weekly is in the context of what the communists and class conscious workers should consider so as to present the agenda and themes for the Congress of the Marxist-Leninist Party. The need for the working class is to set out its immediate demands, its fighting programme, which is the stand the workers must take right now as the necessary step in preparing for the coming revolutionary storms.

Through strengthening our work in the area and by summing up of the concrete experience of the workers and other active sections of the people, the work to prepare for the Congress in the region will make further headway.  

Article Index


Improve by Spring or else!

Boss’s ultimatum on Rover car sales

I am sending you a direct copy of the article on the front page of the Birmingham Evening Mail of February 18, 1999.

BMW’s new boss Joachim Milberg today piled on the pressure at troubled Rover by ordering a springtime improvement in car sales.

In his first interview since taking over the reins of the German group less than two weeks ago, Professor Milberg said: “This is no longer a matter for discussion, but for urgent action. We must see some initial results before the end of spring.” And he demanded increased efficiency and productivity levels at Rover, which is facing projected losses of around £600 million for the current financial year.

Professor Milberg, who took over at the helm following the sudden ousting of previous chairman Bernd Pischetgrieder, said that the German parent group was committed to turning Rover round. Investment and the introduction of flexible working hours are just the beginning of a series of measures.

“We will do everything to ensure - as we have promised - that the Rover 75 meets BMW quality standards. We will also force the pace of sales, particularly of the Rover 200 and 400. It is generally acknowledged and agreed by all involved that this rigorous course of action is the right one. All of these measures should no longer be talked about but need to be implemented quickly,” he warned.

His get-tough message follows alarming sales figures for January, which saw Rover slide behind Peugeot, Renault and Volkswagen.

The UK car firm sold just 11,218 vehicles last month, more than 45 per cent fewer than the 20,588 sold in January 1998.

BMW press spokesman Jurg Dinner said today: “The people at Rover Group know what they have to do. At every level they have to act and improve. This is not a time for fear. It is a time for people to be motivated and take action. Professor Milberg is not a man who is interested in excuses. It is for people at Rover to reach these new targets.”

Birmingham Reader

Fighting Similar Battles

THE Kent and Canterbury campaign to defend their hospital and health services is an inspiration to others fighting similar battles. The hospital staff, health professionals and managers have joined with the local community and hospital users to form a powerful force against the plans to cut and close their health services. In the face of the Government and Health Authority’s decision to downgrade Kent and Canterbury Hospital they are fighting to protect local services.

Last year in our area in East London we fought £14.5 million of cuts across our services. Health staff, Community Health councils and the local community united in a campaign that succeeded in preventing a day hospital closing, and reducing cuts planned to community nursing, mental health and acute services. This year again our services are being further reduced, and the gap between funding required to meet local need and funding allocated has been made even larger, by government decision.

With huge changes in NHS configuration, with Trusts merging and splitting, and the change to Primary Care Groups the underlying issues can easily become obscured. In the Concern for Health in East Kent public meeting reported in Workers’ Weekly (February 6), the RCN representative said assessment of patient need in the area, and access to services must be the starting point of any decisions. This is very much at issue in our campaign. We have to be clear what the real issues are, decide our own agenda to fight for people’s right to healthcare. Healthcare is a right for people and the question is that the economy and society should be organised so rights such as these are met.

Health Worker, East London


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Euromarches against Unemployment, Job Insecurity and Social Exclusion

COLOGNE, Germany, in June 1999 will host the G8 World Summit and the European Union (EU) Summit. Both of these meetings, on June 1 and 19, provide a forum for the most powerful imperialist countries to define their strategy for continued exploitation and plunder of the world’s natural and human resources as the new millennium is ushered in.

During the proceedings, opposition to the imperialists’ plans will be represented by the continuing Euromarches Campaign. This Campaign has declared its opposition to the EU and engaged in a number of actions. In 1997, 50,000 people demonstrated in Amsterdam at a similar gathering of European Heads of State. In Cardiff in June 1998 a similar demonstration was seen at the conclusion of the European Council. The Campaign has also risen against the Maastricht Convergence Criteria, and the formation of the European Monetary Union, opposed the Schengen Agreement which marginalises many of Europe’s national minority communities and has denounced privatisations and the dismantling of the public sector. In December of 1998, the Campaign hosted a Counter Summit in Vienna, Austria, where delegations attended from throughout Europe and 200 demonstrated in a march for social justice. On May 29 and June 18, 1999, the organisers plan that large numbers of people will again ensure that the imperialists are aware that opposition to the European Union and to the plans of the G8 countries exists. June 18 has been designated as an International Day of Action, “a day of protest, action and carnival in financial centres across the globe”.

The main demands of the, campaign are set out as: a guaranteed individual income; improvement of the social rights of all of Europe’s citizens; a Europe free from racism, exclusions and expulsions and in which the rights of all regardless of origin are guaranteed; guarantees for the right to work and widespread debate on how to overcome the economic model which increases dependency on the market economy.

Together with street demonstrations the Campaigners, who are expected to converge on Cologne from Prague, Brussels, Hamburg and Berlin, aim to establish an Alternative Summit Conference and European Parliament of the Unemployed to exchange ideas and proposals on developing opposition to the EU. Trade unionists from Spain and marchers from Greece, Holland, Denmark, Poland, France and Britain have also declared their support and are mobilising people to participate; marchers from Korea and Brazil are also expected.

In a period where the European Union is being built by the European monopolies as an economic and military bloc contending with the United States and Japan for zones of influence and markets the Euromarches Campaign aims to ensure that the plans of the monopoly capitalists have an opposition.

In Britain a Co-ordinating Committee has been formed to mobilise people from this country to participate in the marches and ongoing campaign against the EU.

The Co-ordinating Committee can be contacted by writing to: Cologne 99, c/o Leeds TUC, 88 North Street, Leeds LS2 7PN. Further information can also be obtained from EuroMarch Liaison Committee, The Old Mill, 30 Lime Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NEI 2PQ.  

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South Korean Release of Unconverted Long-Term Prisoners

ON FEBRUARY 25, marking his first year in office, South Korean President Kim Dae Jung granted an amnesty to 40 political prisoners, along with nearly 1,500 other prisoners. Included among them were 17 long-term prisoners of conscience who have been incarcerated for over 29 years. The released Woo Yong Gak had served 41 years in solitary confinement rather than sign an oath to respect the National Security Law, which violates the right to conscience. “As I walk out, I feel regret because many other prisoners remain in gaol,” he is reported as saying. Over 200 political prisoners remain behind bars.

Just prior to the release, Jang Jae On, chairman of the central committee of the Red Cross Society of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), sent a letter to Jong Won Sik, president of the South Korean Red Cross, as regards the remarks of the South Korean authorities about the release of unconverted long-term prisoners. The letter says: On January 30, the Ministry of Justice of Your Side announced that it would include unconverted long-term prisoners in the list of the “March 1st special amnesty” although it obtains no “law-abiding oaths” from them and that, accordingly, all of 17 unconverted prisoners who have been kept behind bars for more than 29 years would be released. Though belated, we think the announcement is fortunate. For man to espouse a certain ideology according to his faith is a matter belonging to an elementary human right.

Nevertheless, the unconverted long-term prisoners have been kept behind bars for scores of years for the mere reason that they refused to make “ideological conversion”. They have become cripples as result of long prison life and all sorts of persecution inflicted upon them. Worse still, all of them are at the advanced age of 70. Even if they are released, their piteous plight will not improve at all as they have no relatives to take care of and look after them in South Korea. On top of that, they will be placed under constant surveillance, control and persecution owing to the “Law on Supervision for Public Peace”, a second “National Security Law”. This is fully proved by the miserable life of old Kim In So, Kim Yong Thae and Ham Se Hwan, unconverted long-term prisoners of DPRK origin: Although they were released from prison, the release is nothing but their move from a small cell to a big prison called society.

In the final analysis, though unconverted long-term prisoners are set free with no “law-abiding oaths” taken, pains they suffered during their imprisonment for scores of years will not be healed, nor will they be exposed to less suppression, I think. A best solution to the unconverted long-term prisoners issue is an unconditional reunion of them with their families as demanded by unconverted long-term prisoners themselves, their families and people at home and abroad. If the unconverted long-term prisoners are kept in South Korea as ever and their safety is endangered, your authority and Red Cross will be held responsible entirely for failing to fully discharge its humanitarian mission.

Considering that if your side acquits and releases all of the unconverted long-term prisoners and, at the same time, sends them back to their families, it will be a landmark event in bringing in a thaw in the frozen inter-Korean relations and clearing the way for wide-ranging dialogue and contact, we expect that your Red Cross will take a step for an early repatriation of old Kim In So, Kim Yong Thae and Ham Se Hwan to the north in accordance with relevant provisions of international law on the repatriation of POWs and the Korean Armistice Agreement and, at the same time, send all of the unconverted long-term prisoners, who are to be released, back to where their wives and children live.  

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Southwark Strike Moved to Coming Tuesday

Workers at Southwark Council, South London, were due to take strike action on February 25, following the imposition of what the workers described as “master-servant conditions” (see Workers’ Weekly of February 20).

They have been forced to postpone this action to this coming Tuesday, March 2, because of a legal need to inform the Council seven days in advance. If the strike is well supported, they are planning a follow up on March 10 and 11.  

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Rally against Immigration and Asylum Bill

A RALLY in protest at the Immigration and Asylum Bill is to take place today, Saturday, February 27, in London. It is organised by the National Assembly Against Racism.

The government Bill will abolish all social security benefits for asylum seekers. Those seeking asylum will be placed in accommodation spread around the country with no choice as to where they are placed and offered vouchers or food. Opposition is centred around the racism implicit in the Bill, and to the fact that it will deny access to this country to many refugees in need of asylum. The government claims that its measures would contribute to “genuine” persons being dealt with more quickly while, on the other hand, powers for dealing with “other persons not entitled to enter or remain in the country” are to be strengthened.  

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