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Volume 45 Number 34, November 29, 2015 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

No to Military Intervention in Syria!

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :

No to Military Intervention in Syria!

Don’t Bomb Syria! Many Thousands Protest against Proposed Military Intervention

Long Live the Memory of Our Comrade John Buckle

More Austerity Is Still the Theme of Osborne's Autumn Statement

For Your Information - Irish News:
The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan

Message to the Annual John MacLean Commemoration, 2015

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No to Military Intervention in Syria!

In the wake of recent events in Paris and elsewhere and following a UN Security Council resolution, Prime Minster David Cameron has presented to Parliament a new justification for the bombing of Syria. On this occasion the government is claiming that its target is the so-called Islamic State/ISIL, but it must remembered that two years ago Cameron and his coalition government were demanding parliamentary support for a military attack on the government of Syria. On that occasion the government were defeated, not least because it was clear that there was widespread opposition throughout the country to the government’s warmongering and stated policy of regime change and because of the consequences of previous military intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

On this occasion too there is widespread opposition to the government. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, has written to all Labour MPs to make clear his strong opposition to further military intervention. Plaid Cymru and the SNP have also voiced their opposition, while the Conservative chair of the Select Committee on Defence has put forward that ISIL can only be defeated if Britain forms an alliance with the government of Syria.

Cameron’s thirty-six page justification for the bombing of Syria was in part a response to a similarly lengthy document published by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons at the end of October. That Conservative-dominated body rejected any extension of Britain’s current bombing of IS targets in Iraq to those in Syria. The Select Committee found no evidence to suggest that Britain’s bombing of such targets would “have anything other than a marginal effect”. In particular the Select Committee made much of the international nature of the conflict in Syria, in which the British government has interfered from the start. It pointed out that its nature is such that more intervention by Britain would be unlikely to lead to any lasting resolution. It concluded: “We consider that the focus on the extension of airstrikes against ISIL in Syria is a distraction from the much bigger and more important task of finding a resolution to the conflict in Syria and thereby removing one of the main facilitators of ISIL’s rise.”

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What is clear is that the conflict in Syria cannot now be considered just a civil war, nor a regional conflict, but has become almost a global conflict in which many external forces are involved. The recent attack by Turkey on a Russian military plane shows the great dangers which exist of an even wider escalation of the conflict. It also highlights the fact that even those external forces that claim to be united in opposition to ISIL are in fact at odds over the future of Syria. Britain and its allies remain focused on regime change, while Russia, Iran and others are fighting to preserve the sovereignty of Syria and at the request of that country’s government. It appears that the military intervention of Russia and Iran in recent months has enabled the Syrian government to regain the initiative against both ISIL and those rebel forces that are supported by Britain and its allies. As for ISIL itself, it appears that this sinister organisation had not been “downgraded” as a result of military attacks by those forces under the leadership of the US but on the contrary the evidence suggests that it has been directly or indirectly aided by these forces. Thus intervention by Britain and other NATO powers in Syria must be opposed as being less about the need to combat ISIL, which exists as a consequence of their interference in Iraq and Syria, and more about the continuing contention in the region and their stated policy of regime change for geopolitical advantage.

The recent UN Security Council resolution calling on members of the UN to take “all necessary measures” to combat the threat posed by ISIL, Al-Nusra Front and Al-Qa'ida in Syria and Iraq also reflected this contention and was immediately interpreted in varying ways by those who had voted for it. The US took the lead in demanding that what was required to resolve all the problems in Syria was regime change, a view supported by Britain and reiterated again at the conclusion of the G20 Summit. Other delegations, most notably those from Venezuela and the Russian Federation, placed more emphasis on removing “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations”, specifically the financing, arming and training of “terrorist groups”. The representative of the Russian delegation spoke of the need for “the creation of a broad anti-terrorism front aimed at eradicating root causes”. Noticeably absent from the resolution, and the speeches of delegates, was any mention of state terrorism, the most significant of such root causes.

The government is using the recent events in France and elsewhere and the UNSC resolution not in the interests, or for the security, of the majority of people in Britain, but to further the geopolitical interests of those it represents. The Prime Minister has for example also recently announced, as part of the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review, that around £180 billion will be spent on military equipment in the next decade. This will enable the deployment of three new RAF fighter squadrons, the replacement of four nuclear submarines, at least fifteen other new naval vessels, as well as the enlargement of the country’s rapid deployment forces. In addition a further £2.9 billion is to be spent on strengthening the secret services with nearly 2,000 new personnel, as well as on additional surveillance drones and other measures for intervention abroad and the curtailment of rights at home. In this regard there was no mention of austerity or the needs for cuts. The government has also seen no need to cut what it refers to as overseas “aid”, a euphemism for the money that is used both for economic intervention in the affairs of poorer countries, many of them former colonies, which is then employed as subsidies for the big monopolies and financial institutions.

All the evidence shows that the government is intent on pursuing the same course that has created the conditions for the tragic events in France, as well as equally tragic events in Britain and other countries. It is intent on further military intervention around the world, still following its reactionary mission to Make Britain Great Again, and in this specific case its aim of armed intervention is that of regime change in Syria.

Recent history has shown that stability and security in the world have not been produced by the military intervention of Britain and the other big powers; quite the contrary. The danger of even greater crimes against the people looms large. What is required is an end to all foreign intervention and interference by Britain in the affairs of other countries. There must be no further military intervention in Syria or in other countries. We call on the movement against Britain's intervention to redouble its efforts to establish an anti-war government.

Article Index


Anti-War Movement

Don’t Bomb Syria! Many Thousands Protest
against Proposed Military Intervention

Mass protests took place yesterday, Saturday, November 28, in London and many other cities across the country in a national day of action demanding that the government not conduct air-strikes against Syria.

The London demonstration was a sea of “Don’t Bomb Syria” placards, as from five to ten thousand protesters took to the streets to make their voices heard in a rally organised by the Stop the War Coalition.

The demonstration took place in Whitehall opposite Downing Street, and was a very serious and considered gathering. As well as condemning the government, the rally called on all MPs to vote against war when the government's motion is put before Parliament.

“We are very much opposed to David Cameron’s plans to have a vote in Parliament to bomb Syria. The bombing has already been going on for more than a year by other forces. ISIS is as strong as it was before the bombing started and also we have the record of 14 years of bombing, and every single country we have bombed, the wars are still going on there,” said Lindsey German, Convenor of Stop the War, during the demonstration.

Labour MP Diane Abbott addressed the demonstration, saying that Prime Minister Cameron was too busy trying to phone Labour MPs to get them to vote in favour of bombing Syria to make a concrete case for undertaking military action.

Musicians, politicians, academics and artists, including Brian Eno and Frankie Boyle, had written a letter to David Cameron urging him not to bomb Syria, saying a bombing campaign would not help in the fight against terrorism, but would rather aggravate the situation.

“Rather than ignoring this recent history by joining the long list of countries that have bombed Syria in the last year, we urge the government to stop arming reactionary and aggressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and Qatar that sponsor terrorist groups and look for political solutions as the only viable way to end the conflict,” the letter read, which was delivered to 10 Downing Street.

Brian Eno told the demonstration, “We've created a system which gives the biggest rewards to the greediest and worst to the most generous.” He also condemned Saudi Arabia and Turkey for helping to fund Islamic State. George Galloway pointed out that Turkey admitted being a supporter of ISIL and a main purchaser of oil from them. Britain is the main arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia, he said, who are financiers of ISIL. Two young women from NUS spoke eloquently, particularly on opposing increasing Islamophobia and racism. Chair of CND Kate Hudson spoke on the importance of supporting Jeremy Corbyn and the anti-war movement. Other speakers condemned the use of violence to resolve political problems.

In a day of action in South Shields, north-east England, activists of South Tyneside Stop the War Coalition distributed hundreds of leaflets with the title Cameron Wants Bombing and War – Not a Solution to the Terrorism He Helped Create. A lot of discussion took place with people who wanted to express their anger at Cameron's plan to once again take Britain to war in the Middle East. The day of action was important as part of creating public opinion against military intervention, with many people saying they will lobby their MP.

Demonstrations also took place in Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Oxford, Bristol and other cities around the country.

Article Index


Long Live the Memory of Our Comrade John Buckle

Workers' Weekly is taking this opportunity to reprint RCPB(ML)'s tribute to John Buckle from 2013, the 30th anniversary of Comrade John's death on November 27, 1983.

Today, November 27, is the 30th anniversary of the death in 1983 of John Buckle, then General Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist). He was just 34, and had led the Party since its founding in 1979.

On this occasion, we honour John’s memory, appreciating more than ever the sacrifice of those who, like John, came forward at a crucial time in history to contribute to providing solutions to serious problems of the times.

John Buckle came forward as an anti-fascist fighter and leader at a time when the state tried to float a fascist movement as a respectable political organisation, and he led the movement to smash this. John had joined the work of the forerunner organisations of RCPB(ML) as a student, and from then on dedicated his whole existence to the cause of the revolutionary transformation of society, taking up the work in Britain which led to the founding of the Party in March 1979. He died in a terrible air crash in Madrid, Spain, while on his way to attend an international communist conference in Colombia, South America. Thus his contribution was so tragically cut short, but the cause to which he dedicated his life lives on in the work today to renew all the arrangements at the base of society, provide it with a new economic direction and ensure that the political and social institutions are human centred, not capital centred.

Today, at a time the ruling class is engaged in all-sided wrecking and is perpetrating wars of aggression, having absolutely no way forward for society, it is common to rehash Cold War anti-communist rhetoric and try to dismiss those who came forward in the sixties, seventies and
Seminar celebrating the 35th anniversary
of RCPB(ML), March 16, 2014
eighties, as well as the current generations, as extremists for believing that a better world is possible and working to bring about social change. It would be laughable if it were not so tragic to see virulently extremist and right-wing advocates of neo-liberal privatisation, and the rich who are becoming ever richer, blame others of extremism so as to give the impression that they themselves stand for something moderate. Furthermore, they criminalise those engaged in political activity and social action which upholds rights, so that no political movement of the people can coalesce. They commit horrible crimes in the name of human rights even as the world sees them trample the human rights of the most vulnerable the world over and say to hell with the human condition so long as they get richer and their private interests are served.

At the height of the time John Buckle became active, the US secret agencies launched Operation CHAOS in Northern America and Europe to create phoney “left-wing” groups which engaged in extremist activities, such as those of the Red Brigades, and then blamed the Marxist-Leninists. They also engaged in coups d’état such as that in Chile of 1973, and launched Operation Condor to commit horrible crimes against the people who demanded democracy and human rights.

It is important to study the work carried out by John Buckle and the Party which he led, in order to defeat the attempts of the ruling circles to use disinformation to bring down new tragedies onto the peoples, tragedies much worse than those committed by the Hitlerites in the thirties and forties because of the limitless power these ruling elites control today.

On this occasion, RCPB(ML) calls on everyone to channel the human power which is also without limitations so as to bring these reactionary forces under control.

May the life and work of John Buckle serve as an inspiration to the youth of today!
Long live his memory!
Long live his example!

Article Index


More Austerity Is Still the Theme of Osborne's Autumn Statement

March and rally in Newcastle on November 24
on the eve of the Autumn Statement. The march
and rally was called to fight for the alternative under
the title "It's Time for a People's Autumn Statement".
On November 25, Chancellor George Osborne presented his Autumn Statement and Spending Review, announcing large, sweeping cuts to social programmes, pressing ahead with austerity. The Spending Review also represented a furthering of the neo-liberal agenda for the economy in general, particularly in regard to the government's privatisation agenda and cutbacks in the funding of social programmes. At the same time, it reflected a determination to find ways to press ahead with the “austerity” programme in the face of the opposition of the working class and people.

The Review announced a real-terms reduction in day-to-day departmental spending of 0.8% a year on average by 2020, which amounts to a cut of £20bn. Within that, the operational budget of the Department of Transport will fall by 37% (although capital funding of transport projects will rise by 50%, reflecting the continued demand for such infrastructure projects as a safe place to invest capital). The resource budget of the Department of Energy and Climate Change will lose 22%. The day-to-day budgets of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills will be cut by 17% and that of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by 15%. Though the Arts Council will receive additional funding, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will have its budget cut by by 5%. It should be emphasised that these are cuts upon cuts. For example, The Department for Culture, Media and Sport had its budget cut by 7% in the 2013 Spending Review.

The NHS in England is set to see further cuts over the parliament. Though the total budget for England is set to rise from £101bn to £120bn, this actually equates to 3.5% per year, leaving a much smaller change after factoring in inflation. At the same time, the NHS in England will be required to make £22bn additional “efficiency” savings, and the resource budget of the Department of Health will be reduced by 25%. Further, student nurse grants will be abolished in favour of loans.

The Health Service Journal (HSJ) pointed out:

“Documents published as the chancellor finished his speech revealed that much of the real terms funding increase promised for NHS England over the parliament will come at the expense of huge real terms cuts to other areas of Department of Health spending.

“The £15.3bn pot of DH funding that pays for health education, public health, capital projects and other arm's length bodies will be cut to £13.2bn by 2020-21. The Health Foundation calculates the real terms cut at 21 per cent.”

The HSJ added: “The NHS will be encouraged to create 'long term partnerships' with the private sector to develop new models of care and upgrade diagnostics services.”

Education spending will be geared to reorganising education on market and business-centric lines. “We're going to open 500 new Free Schools and University Technical Colleges... Our goal is to complete this schools revolution – and help every secondary school become an Academy. And I can announce that we will let Sixth Form Colleges become Academies too,” said Osborne.

Demonstration at Downing Street on November 24 on
the eve of the Autumn Statement, demanding
"No More Cuts" and "Hands Off Tax Credits"
Programmes relating to climate change are a casualty of the Review, with the ending of support for carbon capture development at power stations along with a permanent exemption for Energy Intensive Industries (such as steel and chemicals) from environmental tariffs. Though Osborne claimed that “support for low-carbon electricity and renewables will more than double”, he announced almost in the same breath that the Renewable Heat Incentive will be cut by £700m. The main focus is to be on new nuclear power, which has always been linked to the military programme in Britain, with “a major commitment to small modular nuclear reactors”.

Regarding welfare, much has been made of the U-turn on tax credits. The cuts to these credits met with such popular opposition, reflected in the Lords defeat, that the government thought better of imposing them outright. Instead, Osborne reinforced his commitment to deliver the planned £12bn in welfare cuts, delivered in various ways such as cuts to housing benefit. In particular, the planned Universal Credit will result in large cuts affecting millions of people. The Resolution Foundation has analysed that families in the lowest half of income distribution will lose on average £650 Universal Credit; the top half will suffer no average loss.

Further, the Department of Work and Pensions budget is to be cut by 14%. The Chancellor announced a rise in the state pension to £119.30 a week in 2016, which only amounts to 2.9%, barely enough to keep up with inflation, and is still at poverty-level.

Despite all of the above, the depth of the cuts was not what had been circulating in anticipation of the Review, and headlines have been dominated by its alleged U-turns. Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said:

“July's fiscal arithmetic implied average cuts of 27% to the resource spending of 'unprotected' departmental spending – that is to day-to-day spending other than that on health, schools, ODA and defence which was explicitly protected. The comparable figure after yesterday's announcements is 'just' 18%, one third less than implied in July. Yet the planned surplus for 2019-20 is largely unchanged.”

The explanation given for the supposed turnaround was that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) improved its predictions at the last moment: tax revenue up, national debt and interests payments down, giving the Treasury £23bn extra than predicted in July. Very convenient, and reinforcing the narrative that the government is ameliorating its attacks, and is demonstrating “responsibility” and making sure that public finances are “sustainable”.

Regardless, the Director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies pointed out: “The first thing to say is that this is not the end of 'austerity'. This spending review is still one of the tightest in post war history. Total managed expenditure is due to fall from 40.9% of national income in 2014-15 to 36.5% in 2019-20. A swathe of departments will see real terms cuts. The 3% cumulative increase in health spending over the next five years is not far off the average annual increase in spending in the last 50 years.”

In other words, the objective remains austerity and the neo-liberal agenda. Privatisation and the transfer of responsibility from the government as the public authority to the private sector was a running theme of the review. One clear example was housing: the Review announced the removal of restrictions on shared ownership, opening up this market, while relaxing the planning system to favour the big building companies. Housing association tenants will to have Right to Buy extended to them, at the expense of housing associations, which are now subject to similar erosion as council housing.

“Localism” and “devolution” are being used to drive the shift of responsibility and power from central government to private interests. To “shift power”, said Osborne, “we have to give all local councils the tools to drive the growth of business in their area... So I can confirm today that, as we set out last month, we will abolish the uniform business rate. By the end of the parliament local government will keep all of the revenue from business rates.”

“We'll give councils the power to cut rates and make their area more attractive to business,” he said. “And elected mayors will be able to raise rates, provided they're used to fund specific infrastructure projects supported by the local business community.”

Councils will be “encouraged” to sell their assets, including housing. “Local government is sitting on property worth quarter of a trillion pounds,” said Osborne. “So we're going to let councils spend 100% of the receipts from the assets they sell to improve their local services.” When local government is the owner of property it is “sitting on” it; when the private sector deprives the people of affordable housing, it is dealing in “attractive” investment opportunities.

Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis exposed the funding pressure councils will be under:

“Today was a bad day for local government. The Chancellor grabbed another £1.9bn from council budgets, at a time when they needed more money, not less... Local councils have already had to cut billions from their budgets, and now they have to dig even deeper. The closure of more essential local services is inevitable, as councils are forced to lay off thousands of experienced staff over the coming months. The day is not far off when councils can only afford to run the services the law demands they do. Other services will either disappear or residents will have to pay much more to use them.”

“Our social care system is already in meltdown,” he said. “It needed a desperate injection of cash today, but all that happened was George Osborne passed the buck to local taxpayers.”

An area of state expenditure that benefited from the Review was the capacity for war and intervention. The combined “hard power of military might and the soft power of international development” is to be increased. The Defence budget is to rise by 18% by 2020 to £40bn and the overseas “aid” budget will increase to £16bn. The budget of the Foreign Office will be maintained in real terms. To protect the “hard power” at home, the Chancellor abandoned plans to cut the police budget in England and Wales.

In every way, the Spending Review is a continued attempt to push through the neo-liberal agenda, despite the growing anti-austerity movement. Now in the current conditions, it is also serving the drive for intervention and war. In the face of this manipulation, the opposition must not let up so that a complete change in the direction of the economy into the alternative can be realised.

Article Index


For Your Information: Irish News

The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan

An agreement was reached on November 17 between the British and Irish governments, together with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin of the Northern Ireland Assembly, after ten weeks of talks. The deal, comprised in a 67-page document, is called “A Fresh Start – The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan”.

The deal includes a new set of principles politicians will be asked to follow in relation to paramilitarism and a reworked financial package to help those impacted by the Westminster-imposed welfare and tax credit cuts.

The agreement was to overcome a recent political difficulty which had been sparked by allegations that Provisional IRA members were involved in the murder, in August, of a Belfast man. The political difficulty deepened when Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson stepped aside on September 10, along with all but one of the ministers from his DUP. For months the power-sharing executive at Stormont had also been deadlocked over budgetary matters. Underlying this disagreement was Sinn Féin's refusal to implement so-called welfare reforms introduced elsewhere in the UK.

Sinn Féin has welcomed the deal. Sinn Féin member of the Seanad of the Irish Republic, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, said:

“Now that agreement has been reached I am hopeful that we will be able to get on with the important work of building a fairer society for all the people on the island of Ireland. The agreement is as Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness described it, evidence of a common commitment to a better future. There are of course aspects of the agreement that we may not be overly happy with but there is enough in it that is positive and constructive and allows us to move forward. Our aim must be to focus on the positive aspects and look to the future.”

Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey said the recent agreement is not an end point and that the Westminster government will continue to try to impose their austerity policies on the north of Ireland. Paul Maskey is Member of Parliament for West Belfast but in line with Sinn Féin's policy of abstentionism he has not taken his seat in Westminster. He said: “Sinn Féin is opposed to the austerity policies of the Tories in London and Fine Gael and Labour in Dublin and their attack on public services and welfare supports. These policies are discredited and are unfair, undemocratic and economically counter-productive. The Tory government has made it clear that they will press ahead with their cuts. We will continue to oppose these policies. Over the past ten weeks we have negotiated a package of measures including an extra half billion in new money and also additional flexibilities to invest in public services and the economy. We have negotiated a fund of £585 million over four years to support the vulnerable and working families.”

Paul Maskey continued: “We have also reached an agreement that will deal with the issue of criminality and the continued existence of armed and active groups. The British government has failed to honour the Stormont House Agreement on full disclosure to meet the needs of victims. They continue to cover up the action of their agents, army, police and political establishment by using a so-called national security veto. This is unacceptable and means that no agreement was possible on dealing with disclosure and the past.”

He concluded: “This agreement is not an end point. The Tory Party, with Dublin on the sidelines will continue to try and impose their policies on the people. The campaign against these cuts must continue and must be won. The only safeguard against future Tory cuts is the executive having the full suite of powers to manage and grow the economy in a fair and sustainable fashion. It is clear that austerity is the cost of the union and that both should end.”

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called on Human Rights Commissioner Muižnieks to return to Belfast to investigate Britain's human rights abuses following their failure to address it in the “A Fresh Start” agreement. Speaking in the European Parliament, Ms Anderson said:

“Last week saw a significant agreement made between the two largest political parties in the north of Ireland and the Irish and British Governments. The six counties institutions are the only viable platform to give protection to the working poor and those on benefits.”

She continued: “Last week did not, however, see the British government address breeches of its Article 2 obligation under the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to life – which the European Court of Human Rights found Britain had violated during the conflict in Ireland. The British Government has covered up for State Actors, their agents, British army, police and the political establishment which colluded in countless murders and to this day the British Government continues to exercise a national security veto to conceal the role it played in Collusion in Ireland. The Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Muižnieks must return to Belfast to investigate Britain's human rights abuses, to bring them to book for acting with impunity and to work to get the full disclosure of information for victims and for their families.”

Article Index


Message to the Annual John MacLean Commemoration, 2015

The Central Committee of RCPB(ML) sent the following message to the Annual John MacLean Commemoration, taking place today, November 29, at the graveside of John MacLean, Eastwood New Cemetery, Glasgow.

John MacLean's speech from the dock, May 9, 1918
The Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) pays tribute to the life and work of John MacLean, on the occasion of the anniversary of his death on November 30, 1923. His life was dedicated to the revolution and to the cause of the working class in Scotland and internationally.

Of particular significance is John MacLean’s stand on the First World War, which he recognised from the very beginning was an imperialist war, in which the workers were slaughtered in the course of the redivision of the world by the rich of Britain, Germany, Russia and elsewhere. John MacLean recognised the criminal role played by Britain in the outbreak of World War One and pointed out: “Our first business is to hate the British capitalist system that, with ‘business as usual’, means the continued robbery of the workers.”

John MacLean was a passionate advocate for the independent thinking and programme of the working class. From the dock, he proclaimed his defence of the principles and morality of the working class. He proclaimed that he was loyal to his country because he was loyal to these values.

On the occasion of the 92nd anniversary of his death, we declare: Long Live the Memory of John MacLean, patriot and internationalist!

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