Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 45 Number 9, April 11-18, 2015 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Say No to the Coalition!
Defeat the Austerity Agenda!
Vote for Candidates Who Oppose Austerity
and Stand for the Rights of All!

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :

On May 7: Say No to the Coalition! Defeat the Austerity Agenda!
Vote for Candidates Who Oppose Austerity and Stand for the Rights of All!

Electoral Anti-War Forum in South Tyneside:
The Necessity for an Anti-War Government Is an Election Issue

The Right to Housing Is an Election Issue

Demonstrators Take Fight against the National Homelessness Scandal to Downing Street

Widespread Opposition to Cameron’s “Right-to-Buy” Promise

Representatives of the DPRK Visit the North East of England

The 103rd Anniversary of the Birth of Kim Il Sung

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Say No to the Coalition! Defeat the Austerity Agenda!
Vote for Candidates Who Oppose Austerity
and Stand for the Rights of All!

This past week has seen the parties who are standing candidates in the General Election on May 7 release their manifestos.

Not a few pundits have commented how the party which is nominally the party of labour is presenting itself as a party of austerity and reducing the deficit, while the party which champions austerity, opposition to the workers’ movement and promotes the rights of private property and the monopolies is presenting itself as a party for working people. The conclusion that many have
drawn is that these manifestos are meaningless, and consequently we should hold our noses and vote for the least worst of these parties.

Other parties have launched manifestos which take a stand for the public good and paint a vision for the future or defend the rights of the people. The Green Party, for example, launched its manifesto under the title “For the Common Good”. The subtitle of the election manifesto of the National Health Action (NHA) Party is: “A new politics. A healthy NHS. A better Britain.” It underlines, among other things, that a strong economy is predicated on a strong NHS. Arthur Scargill’s introduction to the Socialist Labour Party (SLP) manifesto ends with the words: “We want to see the dreams and aspirations of all those who fought for rights and freedoms become reality; a world where leaders are answerable to the people as a whole. These demands are not excessive; they are most moderate. We only want the earth!” A sizeable number of independent candidates are also standing and are emphasising the necessity for governments to be held to account.

In the leaders’ debates, where the leaders of the SNP (Scottish National Party), Plaid Cymru and the Green Party took part, there was a passionate opposition to austerity demonstrated. These women political leaders voiced an effective opposition to the Coalition government, with Nicola Sturgeon, for example, challenging Ed Miliband to form an alliance that would defeat the
Tories' austerity agenda. The debates manifested not only the opposition to austerity, but opposition to a warmongering agenda as well as to the scapegoating of immigrants and for the defence of their rights as human beings. All three emphasised the necessity for the alternative, reflecting the sentiment of the overwhelming majority of the electorate. They brought out that to have a strong economy means planning for strong public services, and that it is a fraud to speak of “protecting the NHS” when what is meant is to cut social programmes and the budgets of local authorities.

The May 7 election is presenting the opportunity to develop the movements of the working class and people against austerity, and to turn this opposition into a movement for a pro-social alternative. The mood is to say No to the Coalition government and all that the Conservatives and Lib Dems represent in terms of the attacks on social programmes and public services, the attacks on the rights of all human beings, and in terms of the promotion of monopoly right over public right and their outright hypocrisy, two-facedness and callousness. WWIE calls on everyone to go all out to defeat the Coalition parties, which will be a defeat for the austerity agenda. To do everything possible to ensure that the next government is not pro-austerity, we call on the electorate to seriously consider the words and deeds of the candidates in their constituencies. RCPB(ML)’s call is to vote for candidates who oppose austerity and stand for the rights of all.

The Party has produced posters which we call on everyone to put up in their windows and distribute to their friends and colleagues to do the same. RCPB(ML)’s call can be used as a basis to develop discussion on the way forward, and most importantly to go all out to vote on May 7 for anti-austerity, pro-social candidates. This is a crucial opportunity to contribute to turning things around, to fighting for a change in direction for the economy and for society.

Say No to the Coalition!
Defeat the Austerity Agenda!
Vote for Candidates Who Oppose Austerity and Stand for the Rights of All!

Article Index


General Election 2015

Electoral Anti-War Forum in South Tyneside:

The Necessity for an Anti-War Government Is an Election Issue

On Tuesday, March 24, South Tyneside Stop the War Coalition (STWC) organised an anti-war forum in South Shields as part of highlighting the necessity for an anti-war government as an election issue and also of building the anti-war movement to hold the new government to account after the May election.

Opening the meeting, Chair Roger Nettleship thanked the participants for taking part in the discussion organised by the STSWC. He said that over the recent period the anti-war movement has taken a stand against NATO and its interference in Ukraine, the bombing of Iraq, the threat of Britain extending air strikes to Syria, and against any further open and covert military operations there, or in Ukraine, Africa and Asia with troops, or other forces.

However, tonight, he said, we would like to explore the vital need for a lasting peace, the ending of all foreign military and other interventions by Britain and an end to hostile actions by NATO in which Britain is a leading member. He emphasised that the need is for an anti-war government in Britain and all that means for the people going into the General Election.

He said that the STWC has invited South Tyneside anti-war candidates to take part in this discussion. One is from South Shields – Shirley Ford, the Green candidate – and two are from Jarrow and Hebburn – Dave Herbert, the Green candidate, and Norman Hall, candidate for the Trade Union Socialist Coalition (TUSC). Nader Naderi, one of the founder members of South Tyneside Stop the War Coalition, was also speaking on the necessity for an anti-war government in Britain.

After the speakers made their contributions there was a question and answer session. During the contributions and discussion, issues were highlighted such as the ending of the Trident nuclear programme in Britain, reforming the UN so as to enhance its role for peaceful solution of conflicts rather than a tool of the US and other big powers, the withdrawal of British troops from foreign soil, and the ending of Britain's membership of NATO. Also discussed was the importance of opposing the attack on the Muslim community and defending the rights of all from the attack on them by the ruling circles in Britain.

The speakers also elaborated some of their views on taking this anti-war stand into the General Election and how to take forward the anti-war movement post-election should they win their seats.

Whilst there were different views expressed, what characterised the focus of the forum was a common theme of the need to end the activities of the imperialist warmongers and their war machines once and for all. As one speaker said, “The urgency for an anti-war government in Britain has never been as great as it is today.” The issue for the people was determining their right to be, now and in the future, without the threat from the warmongering elites that have unleashed such barbaric and devastating wars against the peoples and countries all over the world.

What the speakers said at the forum

Dave Herbert, Green Party candidate for Jarrow and Hebburn said the Green Party's policies start with “peace and defence”. Peace is the first word. From that it follows that the Green Party is committed to peace-making and to resolving conflicts by negotiation rather than actual physical force.

The Green Party would focus any forces on peace-keeping and trying to engender mutual respect between peoples rather than hostility between peoples. They would look at reforming the UN because the UN is quite ineffectual in preventing conflict across the globe. The UN should become a peace-keeping force. The Green Party has got a long history of opposing the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Syria, and urges negotiation, opposing boots on the ground to resolve issues through force.

The Green Party would reform the defence force and bring it down to the lowest required for defence of the country but they would also want to use it for peace-keeping where there was a UN resolution, for humanitarian aid. In instances like the flooding, they would see armed forces equipped more for humanitarian and emergency aid than just fighting capability.

Dave Herbert also outlined the Parliamentary record of the Green MP Caroline Lucas in opposing military intervention and wars. He said that she had called for a constitutional convention with a view to abolishing the whipping system in Parliament so that MPs could look at the facts objectively and vote with their conscience. The aim would be to eliminate the pressure to vote for war and to make diplomacy the first resort so as not to commit armed forces abroad in an aggressive manner.

The question can be asked as to what is going to drive conflict in the future – climate change is one factor as it would lead to shortage of resources that are fundamental to people’s lives. It follows that there is a need to improve people’s lives across the globe as an answer to the inequality and the problems that exist. The global corporations are plundering the natural resources of and exploiting the under-developed world. This is another factor driving conflict in many areas of the world.

Norman Hall, Trade Union Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate for Jarrow and Hebburn said his view was that whilst it was possible for individual conflicts to have temporary solutions they are in effect temporary as long as the system of capitalism exists on the planet. This exploitative system by its very nature is competitive. There is competition between imperialist states for resources, for access to markets and for all the measures which making maximum profit necessitates leading to conflict. Inevitably that conflict becomes open warfare at times.

For instance, today there is a debate regarding the strengthening of the “defence” systems on the Falklands. Conflict could once again break out as the issue over the sovereignty of the Falklands is for Britain about access to the potentially rich oil fields around Antarctica and for fishing rights, and so on. Another area of conflict which may be on the agenda in the near future is the North West passage and who controls it once the ice is melted.

At present, proxy wars are taking place in the Middle East. The US has been responsible for so much confusion and warfare taking place with the doctrine of “my enemy's enemy is my friend”. It is this which has led to the creation of ISIS. Another saying that the US uses is that “something must be done” when referring to the chaos they have created throughout the Middle East and the countries they have invaded. It may sound good, but the issue is what is being done.

TUSC upholds that was is needed is not to send troops into countries but to support the movements of the working class and people so that the people of those countries are the ones who are in control of their destiny. The position of TUSC is that a genuine anti-war government can only exist when a radical transformation to a socialist government takes place.

Shirley Ford, Green Party candidate for South Shields said she was really pleased that STWC had organised this meeting because taking a stand against war has to be addressed as a really serious election issue. We have to raise our voices against the clamour of pro-military expansion and spending that is coming at us relentlessly though mainstream media. US generals come over to say that all countries have to have a spending minimum of 2% of GDP on “defence”. The issue of the Falklands is just the latest appalling incarnation of the way that argument is being whipped up.

Shirley Ford said that at the time she became active in CND, things were about to be escalated to the extent that a global war could have broken out. At the end of the Cold War there was the chance for peace and ending all the spending on the war industries. But rather than that happening, there was the First Gulf War and others followed. This has shown that there is a need to address the fundamental causes of war.

The anti-war movement has carried out incredible work since that time to expose and take a stand against these wars and against the huge arms industry which has never been fully tackled. After the illegal invasion of Iraq, which was opposed by the people, a whole new mantra was promoted to justify more wars: “Responsibility to Protect” and “Pre-emption”. This process has gone on and on, and they try to find a different justification each time.

The movements of working peoples represented by the “Arab Spring” have been utilised by the West in a very hostile way in their own favour and to block the peoples’ aspirations for democracy.

All of this is showing that there is a need for Parliamentary campaigning. Electing anti-war MPs can make a difference if the anti-war movement is supported, as they did when they voted against the bombing of Syria. But the Green Party does also oppose the causes of war by challenging the political and economic mechanisms which are at the heart of these conflicts.

The Green Party is arguing for a very radical transformation of the economy, society and politics. The election is one opportunity, but there is a need for a political movement. In terms of Stop the War campaigning, the necessity is to take a stand against and to challenge and expose as much as possible the pro-war tide.

Nader Naderi, South Tyneside Stop the War Coalition, spoke on the necessity for an anti-war government. He said that the urgency for an anti-war government has never been as great as it is today. It is not just intervention that is going on, but bombs are being dropped in a wholesale brutal killing of people and beating them into submission. Old empires used to feed the Christians to the lions, but the new empires give you live bombing of Baghdad, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and so on during chat shows. We call it intervention, but they are raining death, destruction, despair, grief and anxiety on the people. Through their anti-people actions and methods they attempt to subjugate peoples physically and mentally and in every way.

A genuine anti-war government is a real “I am” people’s government – a genuine and real movement of the people. It is bringing sanity back into politics, bringing about what the vast majority of people and governments of the world want, which is that conflicts should be resolved peacefully. However, the push for war is phenomenal. For example, Chris Alexander, Canadian Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, who in a fund-raiser thrown by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress organisation in Toronto said that Vladimir Putin is only going to face his come-uppance “with every option on the table”. Nader noted that every option means nuclear too. This means even the lackeys of US policy are going back to the crazy notion of the first strike doctrine in the worst of the bad years of the Cold War. Yet those in charge of those powerful countries are telling us they are working for “peace, stability and freedom”.

These people are waxing lyrical about a war against Putin. The “war on terror” and against “Islamic extremism” still goes on, but in their aim of global domination they are treating Russia as a threat to world peace. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union they used the excuse of the nuclear missile gap, the bomber gap, and so on. Now the West has turned cities and towns into broken rubble in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and they would like to turn Putin’s Russia into a similar wasteland.

The government’s latest assessment claims that currently Putin is going to be spending $100 billion in two years. But what they are keeping quiet about is that the British government is participating in NATO’s aggressive moves in the Ukraine and attempting to throw a ring of steel around Russia. In the promotion of the austerity agenda, spending on social programmes is being cut with the victimisation of those on benefits who cannot find work, while there are always funds for any escalation in military spending. Nader Naderi concluded that this is why we need an anti-war government in Britain.

Article Index


The Right to Housing Is an Election Issue

Part 3 - The monopolisation of the housing market by big investors

(Parts 1 and 2 appeared in WWIE Volume 45, Numbers 7 and 8)

A recent article in the Telegraph [1] is indicative of the activities of the big property investors.

The article is based around a conversation with Guy Grainger, Chief Executive of the British section of multinational property services company JLL. JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle), which specialises in commercial real estate services and investment management, was formed from the merger of the British Jones Lang Wootton and the American LaSalle Partners in 1999, and has been rapidly expanding since then through a series of mergers and acquisitions [2]. This one company, which serves investors in and users of real estate, employs 58,000 people across 80 countries, and has published a 36% growth in pre-tax profits over the past three years [1].

After mentioning that real estate investment reached record levels in 2014, the article quotes Grainger as saying: “Fundamentals are as good as they get at the moment for property - with low interest rates, low inflation and a growing economy. But when we get to a point where quantitative easing is not the driving force that it has been and alternatives become attractive, things will change.”

JLL, which is mainly focused on commercial real estate, is therefore diversifying into other areas, mentioning for example, infrastructure and student housing.

Commercial - office, retail and industrial - property has been the traditional sector for investment. The move into alternatives expressed by JLL appears to be being reflected across the big investors.

The property market in Britain is potentially massive. Some relatively conservative figures published by the Property Industry Alliance (PIA) [3] published in 2014 show that the total monetary value of property of all types in Britain comes to some £5.5 trillion. Commercial property makes up barely an eighth of this total:

Value  % of total 
 Commercial property £0.683 tn  12.5% 
 Residential property:
 - Owner-occupied & social housing £3.831 tn  69.9% 
 - Private rented £0.839 tn  15.3% 
 Other property £0.127 tn  2.3% 

In other words, over 85% of property, measured in monetary value, is in the residential sector. (“Other property” includes buildings used for health care and education, for example.)

Furthermore, the amount households pay annually for mortgages and rents is itself a lucrative stream of money to tap into. Savills Estate Agents report for last year that this comes to £142 billion per year, broken down as follows:

Annual payments 
 Owner-occupier mortgages:
 - Capital repayments £37.6 bn 
 - Interest payments £32.9 bn 
 Private renters £47.5 bn 
 Social renters £19.5 bn 
 Other households £4.2 bn 

The British Property Federation [4], for example, points out that Britain has the largest real estate sector in Europe, with British pension funds being a major player, owning £116 billion of commercial property. Yet they are making inroads into the residential market; the BPF explain in particular that pension funds are investing in building homes to rent.

The Investment Property Forum recently published a paper on this issue of diversifying into other sectors [5]. In particular, they explain how residential and student housing are increasingly seen as mainstream by investors. They also quote IPD indices, which show investment in non-commercial areas between doubling and tripling over the period from 2003 to 2013.

Given that the big investors are traditionally based in commercial real estate and from this position are increasingly moving into residential property, it is relevant to look at the major types of investor in the commercial market.

PIA figures [3] show how holdings in commercial property have changed between 2003 and 2013. We summarise the top four kinds of investor, which in 2013 accounted for three quarters of commercial property investment.

2013  2003 
 Overseas investors 24%  10% 
 British investors:
 - Insurance companies & pension funds 19%  23% 
 - Collective investment funds 16%  7% 
 - Common investment vehicles & listed property companies 14%  10% 
 - Other 27%  50% 

These figures in part indicate the concentration of the commercial property market into a small range of types of investor. But the most obvious change is the rise of the share held by overseas investors from a tenth to a quarter over the ten-year period.

This illustrates the globalisation of the commercial property market, which has also been occurring in the housing market.

According to Reita [6], globalisation of the property market has been a feature of recent years in particular. It lists the following facilitating factors: countries opening up allow foreign property ownership, the growth of common investment vehicles and the development of international reporting standards.

All three require the involvement of governments to make legislative changes and policy decisions on behalf of the property investors. Such state intervention has created the right conditions for the global investment reflected in the figures above. Reita also mentions the growth of global property funds that invest in property companies, rather than directly in property itself. As such levels of indirection come into play, adding liquidity into the market and new levels of profit-extraction, the pace of globalisation and the growth of big property will increase yet further.

The global property market is still, according to Reita, focused on commercial property, and it is currently dominated by the US, which forms half of this market. It is clear that we have only begun to see the beginnings of the globalisation of the far bigger residential market.

The various figures and snippets of information given here are just an indication of the current scale and potential future scale of big property investment. Various features are nevertheless apparent:

These various shifts are clearly drivers behind house price rises, and put the claim that the issue is simply one of supply and demand in a different light. The ordinary house-buyer is, particularly in some areas of the country, up against big global investors. The inevitable fierce and growing inter-monopoly competition in the housing market is only going to play further havoc with house prices.

The big property companies are clearly intervening in politics. The Telegraph article [1] states that a “sea of property bosses lobbying against a Labour win at the general election”, mainly because of their proposed mansion tax, while it quotes Grainger as saying he’s not seen a pre-election build-up in which “business is as nervous about a Conservative win”, owing to the Tories' pledge to hold a referendum on Britain’s EU membership. This is just a hint of the kind of influence that these businesses must be holding over the big parties, over policy on taxation, house-building, social housing, and so on.

Now is the time for the working class to make its own independent political intervention to ensure that the perspective on this important election issue is that housing is a basic human right. In order to recognise this right and provide it with a guarantee, the opening-up of the housing market and its plundering by big business has to be brought to an end and reversed. In building their opposition, workers need to elaborate the alternative of a modern public housing system, at the level required by a new national standard of living, which can become the new norm. Rather than being a cost, such a housing system, invested in by the state, will be a huge asset to the socialised economy.


[1] Anna White, “Is the General Election Result a No Win for the British Economy and Property Market?”, The Telegraph, April 12, 2015.

[2] JLL Press Release, published by Business Wire India, June 12, 2007. This release announces the merger of JLL in 2007 to create India’s largest real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj.

[3] Property Industry Alliance, “Property Data Report 2014”.

[4] British Property Federation Manifesto 2015 and other pages on

[5] Investment Property Forum, Research Programme 2011-15, Short Paper 23, “What Constitutes Property for Investment Purposes? A Review of Alternative Real Estate Assets”, February 2015.

[6] “The Personal Investor’s Guide to Property”, Reita, (administered by the British Property Federation).

Article Index


Demonstrators Take Fight against the National
Homelessness Scandal to Downing Street

Hundreds took part in a mass rally outside Downing Street on April 15, as part of March for the Homeless 2015, an international protest action to raise awareness of the treatment of homeless people in Britain, Ireland and beyond.

Homelessness has risen by a staggering 55 per cent since David Cameron became prime minister in 2010, with 742 people sleeping rough every night in the capital alone – a 37 per cent increase on 2013.

At the action in London – centred on the theme of “No more deaths on our streets” – grassroots campaigners, housing and homeless groups – directly involved in the fight against homelessness – came together to serve food and distribute essential items to the homeless in a carnival atmosphere, complete with speakers, music, performances and workshops. There was also a voter registration drive to encourage homeless people to register to vote on May 7.

Amid mounting concern that a number of London councils are criminalising homelessness by making rough sleeping illegal under Operation Encompass, demonstrators called on London mayor Boris Johnson to play his part in ending the national homeless scandal.

Pilgrim Tucker, Unite Community coordinator, said: “Unite is proud to support this important day of action. David Cameron’s coalition government has inflicted misery on millions and is now guilty of turning a blind eye to the horrendous plight of our society’s most vulnerable
citizens. Homelessness has risen by a shocking 55 per cent under Cameron’s watch. He can run but he can’t hide, we are calling on David Cameron and London mayor Boris Johnson to face up to this national scandal and to end the criminalisation of homelessness.”

Jon Glackin, Street Kitchen coordinator and Unite Community member, said: “People are dying on our streets, in hostels and because of homelessness, last year in London alone at least 149 people tragically died. We will be remembering all those that died and are calling on this government to end this national disgrace.

“People need support from society not to be kicked when they are down. They are being killed by the cold and indifference, and are running out of places to turn to as austerity hits the services they use.

“We are coming together to say: ‘enough is enough’, there is no reason for people to go without adequate housing, food and good health in the sixth richest country in the world. Today we say, there can be no more deaths on our streets.”

(Source: Unite)

Article Index


Widespread Opposition to Cameron’s “Right-to-Buy” Promise

David Cameron, in launching the Conservative’s election manifesto, pledged to extend the so-called Right-to-Buy policy to housing associations.

This policy does nothing to guarantee the right to housing, nor does it increase the availability of affordable housing. In fact it does the opposite, and is clearly in opposition to the need for social housing and the claim of all members of society for shelter.

David Cameron officially announced the policy in a speech on Tuesday, arguing that it could benefit 1.3 million families and turn Britain into a “property-owning democracy”. “We are the party of working people, offering you security at every stage of your life,” he said.

An exposure in The Independent pointed out that the Right-to-Buy is running down the supply of genuinely affordable housing. In 2012 the Conservatives promised to replace all council houses sold off under Right to-Buy, but this has not happened: in the period since the policy was announced the government sold off over 26,000 homes – and built only 2,298. 80% of councils say they are struggling to replace the homes.

In fact, huge numbers of the Right-to-Buy homes have been bought up by private landlords, who then charge much higher rents to tenants. In London 36% of homes sold under Right-to-Buy have found their way into the hands of private landlords; in some boroughs the figure is even higher.

Demand for council houses and housing association properties is far out-stripping their short supply and extending Right-to-Buy would make it worse. When Right-to-Buy was souped-up in 2012, 1 in 10 people in the capital were on council housing waiting lists, with 4.5 million waiting nationwide. Right-to-Buy reduces the number of properties these people can go into.

Councils facing a shortage of housing have been known to house homeless people in private rented properties that were once council homes. They have to pay rents to private landlords to use houses they were forced to sell off at under market value. Under this arrangement, council taxpayers have to build a house, sell it for far less than it’s worth, then pay well over the odds to use it.

The government has dramatically cut the amount of money it gives to housing associations – as a result they are more reliant than ever on raising their own money to build houses. One of the main ways they do this is by borrowing against their existing housing stock and the future rents they bring in. Right-to-Buy would both run down associations’ existing stock and also make it difficult for planned homes to pay for themselves through rent in the long run. Associations would find it much more difficult to get credit to build homes.

Associations build around 50,000 homes a year and if building ground to a halt the housing shortage would get even worse fast. Homes would become even more unaffordable for more and more people.

The Independent article points out that because housing associations are private not-for-profit businesses, forcing the sale of homes at below market value could be in contravention of Article 1, Protocol 1, of the European Convention on Human Rights which gives everyone the “right to the peaceful enjoyment of one’s possessions”.

Gavin Smart, deputy chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “Extending right to buy to housing associations is not going to tackle the housing crisis – in fact it could make things worse for people on lower incomes who are already struggling to access a decent home at a price they can afford.

“Individual tenants might benefit from the opportunity to own a home, but we would be very concerned that it would result in a dramatic loss of vital social and affordable housing. The Conservatives say that forcing councils to sell off their most valuable properties would fund this extension plus 400,000 new homes over five years – we fear the figures simply won’t stack up. And it could have a huge impact on councils’ ability to build new homes, particularly in more expensive areas like London and the south east, where it might actually make more sense for them to borrow against the value of these properties so they can fund more homes.

“The Conservatives say each home sold under the extended right to buy would be replaced on a one-for-one basis – but we know this is not happening under the current scheme. Our research has shown that most authorities only expect to be able to replace half or fewer of the homes they sell under right to buy. And government figures show that between April 2012 and last September councils started or acquired 2,298 homes using right to buy receipts – just one for every 11 sold.

“Right to buy has already had a huge impact on the supply of genuinely affordable homes, which is being cut at a time when more and more people are in need. The next government should be reviewing the way the policy currently works, not extending it.”

Tony Stacey, chair of a group of 100 housing associations and chief executive of South Yorkshire Housing Association, told trade publication Inside Housing when the policy was first mooted in March, “I would definitely challenge it legally. This is so fundamentally critical to us. It would shoot up to the top of our risk map if it was confirmed. We are duty bound morally to fight it in any way we possibly can.”

Other housing association chief executives are quoted as saying they “would be surprised” if a legal challenge did not happen because the policy would risk the viability of the entire social housing sector. Industry sources also say charity law would have to be changed to accommodate the move because charities, including many housing associations, are generally prohibited from selling off their assets at below market value.

Ruth Davison, policy director of the National Housing Federation, said: “We fully support the aspiration of homeownership but extending right-to-buy to housing associations is the wrong solution to our housing crisis. Following 40 years of successive governments’ failure to build the homes the country needs, soaring rents and house prices and the biggest baby boom since the 1950s, ensuring that there enough homes today and tomorrow must be our nation’s top priority.”

John Healey, a former Labour housing minister, described the policy as a “cheap Thatcher tribute act” and said it would worsen Britain’s housing shortage.

Article Index


Representatives of the DPRK Visit the North East of England

In April, the Northern Region Society for Friendship with Korea welcomed to north east England Thae Yongho, Minister at the DPRK Embassy, and Yu Kwang-Song, First Secretary, DPRK Embassy. The purpose of the visit was to strengthen the friendship between our two peoples and oppose the demonisation of the DPRK by the British government and media which is being done to try and isolate the country internationally and justify the hostile acts by the US and Britain that threaten the sovereignty of the north Korean people and their choice of social system.

The Society arranged a meeting in Newcastle at which members of the society and the Korean guests spoke. In particular the society wants to highlight the dangerous situation created on the Korean peninsula with the massive military presence of the US which includes nuclear weapons and the carrying out of aggressive military exercises on the border of the DPRK which also has British military involvement. The meeting also highlighted the 103rd anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, legendary revolutionary leader of the Korean people which is being celebrated in the DPRK.

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Meetings were arranged by the Society in the North East with trade union activists and representatives as well as visits to significant sites that show the history of the working class and people of the North East. The Society was extremely pleased to meet with Dave Hopper, General Secretary of the Durham Miners' Association (DMA), who gave the society’s guests an inspiring tour of the DMA headquarters, Redhills, and in relating the history of the miners of the Durham area. The international work of the DMA is renowned in the working class and trade union movement and the society is very pleased that this meeting will enable contact between the DMA and the miners' trade union in the DPRK.

Article Index


The 103rd Anniversary of the Birth of Kim Il Sung

Platform of the meeting in London to celebrate the
Day of the Sun, organised by the Co-ordinating
Committee of Friends of Korea, April 13, 2015
The Co-ordinating Committee of Friends of Korea held a series of events marking the 103rd anniversary of the birth of the legendary leader of the Korean revolution, Comrade Kim Il Sung (1912-1994). Friends of Korea upholds the importance of developing the friendship and unity between the peoples of Britain and the DPRK to counter the hostile stand of Anglo-US imperialism towards the DPRK, and to expose the disinformation through information and activities that promote our friendship and unity. To this end it organised a friendship meeting on April 13 in London to foster that friendship with our Korean friends and to provide information about the DPRK and President Kim Il Sung.

The history of modern Korea is inexorably linked to the contributions of legendary leader Kim Il Sung. At every decisive moment in its history, Kim Il Sung provided leadership and ensured that the necessary organisation was put in place to carry out the tasks required.

Kim Il Sung was born into a revolutionary peasant family in 1912, in the midst of the military occupation of Korea by the Japanese imperialists (1905-1945). In his early years his family moved between Korea and China. In June 1926, he was admitted to Hwasong Uisuk School, in Huadian, China, where he organised the Down-with-Imperialism Union (DIU) and was acclaimed its leader on October 17 the same year. Later, while studying at the Jilin Yuwen Middle School, he reorganised the DIU into a more mass-based organisation the Anti-Imperialist Youth League on August 27, 1927, and founded the Young Communist League of Korea on August 28. By the time he was 18 years of age, he had already formed various mass organisations of the Korean people and was leading the anti-Japanese struggle.

At a historic meeting in Kalun, China June 30 to July 2, 1930, Kim Il Sung summed up the revolutionary movement’s experience, specifically the necessity for the revolution to be carried out on the basis of the Korean people’s social responsibility to one another, in accordance with their own needs, experience and thought material. He pointed out that all the problems arising in the revolution should be solved independently and creatively by the Korean people themselves. Thus, the Juche idea of self-reliance was first crystallised. The summation given by Kim Il Sung at this meeting is also where the Songun or military-first idea of national self-defence originated – that the revolution is pioneered, advances and wins victory by strength of arms.

Kim Il Sung formed the first Party organisation – the Society for Rallying Comrades – on July 3, 1930 in Kalun and organised the Korean Revolutionary Army, a political and paramilitary organisation to make preparations for an anti-Japanese armed struggle in Guyushu, Yitong County, China on July 6 the same year.

He formed the Anti-Japanese People’s Guerrilla Army (later reorganised into the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army), a standing revolutionary army on April 25, 1932 and led the anti-Japanese armed struggle, employing guerrilla tactics that put the Japanese on the run and ultimately defeated them, thus making a great contribution to the defeat of the Axis powers in World War Two. The country was liberated on August 15, 1945.

Shortly thereafter, Kim Il Sung and his fellow revolutionaries formed the Central Organising Committee of the Communist Party of North Korea and proclaimed the founding of the Party on October 10, 1945. The Workers’ Party of North Korea would later emerge from the union of the Communist Party and the New Democratic Party in August 1946.

After he returned to Korea, Kim Il Sung was elected Chairman of the Provisional People’s Committee of North Korea on February 8, 1946. At that time People’s Committees were present all over Korea with the aim of reuniting the country, which had been divided at the 38th parallel as a decision of the Moscow Conference of 1945 when the Soviet Union and the US agreed to receive the Japanese surrender and hold Korea in “trusteeship” for five years and pave the way for Korea to be handed back to the Koreans. This was resented by the majority of Koreans who felt that they were quite capable of running their own affairs. From 1945 to 1948, Kim Il Sung was active in leading the fight for Korean independence in the face of the brutal campaign of terror the US was waging to suppress the Korean independence movement and establish a permanent military presence in south Korea to launch its wars of aggression. Hundreds of thousands of Koreans perished or were imprisoned during this period. Fraudulent “elections” were organised to install the Syngman Rhee puppet regime in the south – all against the wishes of the Korean people.

The period following the US partition of Korea at the 38th parallel was a time of grave danger for the Korean people. The US was using the UN to organise a bogus election in south Korea to entrench the division of Korea. To oppose these aims, Kim Il Sung called a historic conference in Pyongyang April 19-23, 1948, which was attended by political parties and organisations from the north and south including many prominent political personalities from the south. At that Joint Conference of Representatives of Political Parties and Public Organisations in North and South Korea, he called on the entire Korean people in the south to rise up as one to thwart the US imperialists’ plans to use the UN to orchestrate a fraudulent election to establish a pro-US government in the south and divide Korea into “two Koreas” permanently.

At this conference Kim Il Sung reminded the delegates that the Korean people have a proud 5,000-year history, that they liberated their country from Japanese imperialism through their own efforts and that it is their sovereign right to establish a unified, democratic Korea, by their own efforts, uniting under the banner of the nation, setting aside political differences in order to secure the reunification and independence of their divided country.

He organised another conference of the Korean people in June that year to denounce the UN elections that were carried out illegally against the will of the Korean people on May 10, 1948, in the south and which installed the reactionary anti-communist Syngman Rhee as President of the Republic of Korea (ROK), which was declared in August 15, 1948. At this second conference, plans were made to carry out elections to the Supreme People’s Assembly of a united democratic Korea in September 1948 in which close to 80 per cent of the electors from the south and 99 per cent from the north voted.

On September 9, 1948, the DPRK with its unified central government of the Korean people was founded. This was done to guarantee the base for Korean independence, reunification and self-determination. Kim Il Sung was elected Premier. He organised the first democratic election and established the People’s Assembly of North Korea where he was elected Chairman of the People’s Committee of North Korea, the new central organ of state power, and set out the tasks for the period of transition to socialism. Under his leadership, the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army was transformed into the Korean People’s Army (KPA), a regular revolutionary armed force, in February 1948. He called the Joint Plenary Meeting of the Central Committees of the Workers’ Parties of North and South Korea on June 30, 1949, where he was elected Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

The US refused to recognise the sovereignty of the Korean people and undertook a campaign of mass terror and violence against the patriotic forces in the south who had taken up arms to liberate south Korea from US domination. It was Kim Il Sung who worked tirelessly to inspire and lead the Korean reunification movement at this critical juncture.

On June 25 1950, President Kim Il Sung and the Korean people were forced by the US imperialists into the Korean War. The US was overconfident about a quick victory over the nascent DPRK. Despite the US military attack across the 38th parallel at dawn June 25, 1950 which began the war, Kim Il Sung and the KPA were prepared and able to go on the counter-offensive moving steadily south. In a little over a month, the KPA liberated 90 per cent of the territory of south Korea and 92 per cent of its population.

The United States, attempting to “encircle and annihilate” the KPA units, called the troops of 15 other countries including Britain to the Korean front, as part of an infamous and illegitimate UN “police action”. In response, President Kim Il Sung ordered the KPA to make a strategic and temporary retreat, thus keeping the initiative.

The KPA, taking advantage of the mountainous terrain of the country, developed tunnel warfare and employed a wide range of tactics to frustrate and weaken the enemy forces. As Supreme Commander, Kim Il Sung adapted to the ever-changing situation, ultimately leading to the defeat of the US aggressors in July 1953, after three years of bloody warfare in which an estimated four million Koreans were killed – the vast majority civilians – by military massacres, napalm attacks, carpet bombing, germ-warfare and other crimes. General Mark Clark, commander of the US/UN forces, admitted in a surrender document that the KPA had emerged victorious thanks to General Kim Il Sung’s command.

The US imperialists’ spirit of revanchism and striving for global domination has meant that ever since the end of the Korean War, the US has refused to sign a peace treaty while it has continuously violated the Armistice Agreement. This means that technically there is still a state of war on the Korean Peninsula which requires the DPRK to expend great efforts to maintain the peace and make sure that never again will the US be able to rain death and destruction by occupying all of Korea as it attempted to do in the 1950s’ war. Meanwhile, the US has maintained a brutal economic blockade, continued to garrison troops in south Korea as well as various weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons. It has committed innumerable acts of espionage, military provocations and war games which continue to the present.

In the early 1960s, when the situation worsened owing to US schemes to ignite a new war, President Kim Il Sung made sure that the US did not achieve its aim of keeping Korea vulnerable. He led the people to simultaneously push ahead with economic construction and ensure that defence building projects were put in place while looking after the people’s well-being. The military was further strengthened and modernised and defence training provided to all citizens, thus turning the whole country into a veritable fortress against foreign aggression.

From the time that Korea was divided against the will and aspirations of the Korean people following their defeat of the Japanese military occupiers of their country, Kim Il Sung provided consistent, timely and decisive leadership, including advancing the three principles of national reunification (May 1972), the Five Point Policy for National Reunification (June 1973), the plan for founding a Democratic Federal Republic of Koryo (October 1980) and the 10-Point Programme of the Great Unity of the Whole Nation for the Reunification of the Country (April 1993).

The 10-Point Programme for National Reunification was elaborated by President Kim Il Sung at the Supreme People’s Assembly on April 6, 1993:

“1. A unified state, independent, peaceful and neutral, should be founded through the great unity of the whole nation.

“2. Unity should be based on patriotism and the spirit of national independence.

“3. Unity should be achieved on the principle of promoting co-existence, co-prosperity and common interests and subordinating everything to the cause of national reunification.

“4. All political disputes that foment division and confrontation between fellow countrymen should be ended and unity should be achieved.

“5. The fear of invasion from both south and north, and the ideas of prevailing over communism and communisation should be dispelled, and north and south should believe in each other and unite.

“6. The north and south should value democracy and join hands on the road to national reunification, without rejecting each other because of differences in ideals and principles.

“7. The north and south should protect the material and spiritual wealth of individuals and organisations and encourage their use for the promotion of great national unity.

“8. Understanding, trust and unity should be built up across the nation through contact, exchange visits and dialogue.

“9. The whole nation, north, south and overseas, should strengthen its solidarity for the sake of national reunification.

“10. Those who have contributed to the great unity of the nation and to the cause of national reunification should be honoured.”

The Three Charters for national reunification consist of the three principles of national reunification, the ten-point Programme of the great unity of the whole nation and the proposal of establishing the Democratic Federal Republic of Koryo.

The Three Charters have reflected the actual conditions of the country and the nation’s unanimous aspiration and demand for reunification and comprehensively covered and systematised in an integral manner all the issues in realising national reunification, i.e. the charters have defined the fundamental principles and the driving forces for national reunification, clarified the mode and method of the reunification and even gave a complete picture of the reunified state including the ways of running the federal state and its administrative policy. It makes the Three Charters a perfect charter for reunification in the true sense of the word.

These principles and proposals created the conditions for the signing in Pyongyang of the historic June 15, 2000, North-South Joint Declaration between Kim Jong Il, Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, and President Kim Dae Jung of the ROK.

The north-south joint declaration opened a new era of national reunification movement by affirming the core of the three principles for national reunification-the spirit of national independence, the idea of by our nation itself and by achieving national consensus, for the first time in history, at the summit-level on the federal system as the way to achieve national reunification.

In the June 15 joint declaration, the north and south recognised that the proposal by the north for a low-stage federal formula and the one by the south for a confederal formula had points in common and agreed to navigate the moves for reunification in this direction.

This is the first method for reunification common to the nation that was agreed between the north and south in the history of national division marked with the traces of the vicious cycle of mistrust and confrontation.

This historical agreement on building a reunified state in the confederal formula is a great and historic national asset that opened a prospect for achieving the grand national unity, overcoming differences in the ideology, doctrine and systems and is the practical proof of the righteousness and vitality of the Three Charters.

The joint declaration on the development of the north-south relations, peace and prosperity issued at the north-south summit on October 4, 2007 is a practical programme for national unity since it is a comprehensive agreement reached at the summit level on the development of the north-south relations, peace and common prosperity of the nation embodying the idea of grand national unity of the Three Charters for national reunification.

This practical programme gives answers to all practical and immediate issues arising in achieving the great national unity including the facilitation of the legal and institutional mechanism to develop the north-south relations towards the reunification, ending the military hostility, easing tension and maintaining peace on the Korean peninsula, terminating the cease-fire state and establishing a durable peace regime, developing the national economy in a balanced way, economic cooperation for the common prosperity, consolidating national culture, broadening humanitarian cooperation, securing the rights of the overseas compatriots and so on.

In his 2015 New Year address, Comrade Kim Jong Un stated that the north and the south should refrain from seeking system confrontation while absolutising their ideology and system and satisfactorily resolve the reunification issue in the common interests of the nation transcending the differences in ideology as they had already agreed. He has upheld that in order to achieve national reunification in line with the desires and intentions of the nation, the Korean people have to reject foreign interference and firmly maintain the stand of “By Our Nation Itself”.

For these contributions to building a modern Korea and leading and inspiring the Korean reunification movement, and thus contributing to the independence of all nations, self-determination of all peoples and peace, Kim Il Sung is owed a debt by the Korean people and all humanity, a debt that will be paid when Korea is reunited as a modern democratic state.

On the front of international relations, far from permitting the DPRK to be isolated by the US imperialists, President Kim Il Sung did his utmost to build links with the peoples of the world on behalf of the Korean people. He met more than 70,000 foreign guests including heads of state and government and party leaders, and paid official or unofficial visits to 87 countries. In June 1994, he met former US President Jimmy Carter in Pyongyang and created favourable conditions for the opening of DPRK-US negotiations about the nuclear issue and for a north-south summit. His life-long efforts lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations with most countries of the world with the exception of the countries which committed aggression against the DPRK during the Korean War. To date, the aggressor states refuse to right historical wrongs or normalise relations on the basis of upholding the principle of the right to self-determination.

In recognition of his achievements, Kim Il Sung received more than 180 top decorations from more than 70 countries and international organisations, titles of honorary citizenship from more than 30 cities and honorary academic degrees from 20 foreign universities.

Kim Il Sung worked tirelessly for the Party and the revolution, for the country and the people, for global peace until the last moment of his life. Kim Il Sung died on July 8, 1994.

The great achievements of President Kim Il Sung are reflected in the revolutionary spirit of the people of the DPRK today in the work to build a bright future themselves, safeguard their independence and reunify their country. At a time when the peoples of the world are striving to defeat imperialism around the world, a great debt is owed to President Kim Il Sung and the Korean people for the incalculable sacrifices made to establish the DPRK which has been an implacable bulwark against US imperialism, and to reunify Korea so as to guarantee peace on the Korean peninsula, thereby contributing greatly to the peace and security of the region and the entire globe.

We salute the immortal memory of President Kim Il Sung!

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