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Year 2001 No. 201, November 23, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE


Successful Communist Joint Public Meeting

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

STOP THE WAR! Successful Communist Joint Public Meeting

Tony Blair Speaks at German SPD Congress:
Who Is the Medievalist?

15 Labour MPs Vote against Government

Britain’s North-South Divide Worsens

Grants not fees:
Students Issue Stern Warning To Government over Funding Review

German Economy Contracts

No War in Our Name: No to Attacks on Civil Liberties Anywhere

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Successful Communist Joint Public Meeting

The New Communist Party of Britain and the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) jointly organised a successful public meeting to Stop the War! The meeting was held on Thursday, November 22, at the historic Marx House on Clerkenwell Green in London. The main speakers were Andy Brooks, General Secretary of NCP, and Chris Coleman, National Spokesperson of RCPB(ML). Mohammad Iqbal, an anti-imperialist activist of Pakistani origin, also spoke from the platform.

The chair, as did the main speakers in turn, emphasised that this was the first of what would no doubt be a number of joint meetings of the two parties. This reflects the increasingly friendly relations and political co-operation between the communists in London, nationally, and in the workers’ and people’s movements.

Chris Coleman, in his speech, condemned the aggression against Afghanistan on behalf of the two Parties, and emphasised that the problems of the Afghan people can only be solved by the Afghan people themselves. The aggression, he said, has been accompanied by an attack on the rights of the people at home. He referred to the reluctance of the British government to define terrorism internationally, while widening the definition domestically in "emergency legislation" which then becomes permanent. The aggression is being directed at what were called "rogue states", he said.

The speaker traced the history of the attempts by Anglo-American imperialism to impose a "New World Order" in the past decade. This was being done on the basis of reversing the progressive experience of the first half of the 20th century, and under the medieval signboard of "Might Makes Right". He pointed out that the issue for the working class and people, in addition to ensuring that the unity of all is built to stop the war, is to build the opposition to the whole Anglo-American "New World Order". He linked this to building the workers’ opposition to the neo-liberal agenda and Tony Blair’s "Third Way" in Britain.

As the joint statement of the two Parties declares, a new socialist world is possible where the people are at the centre of all decision-making. In such a society, the rights of all people as human beings will be acknowledged, irrespective of nationality, religious background, or any other characteristic. The communists, Chris Coleman said, have an important role to play in providing a vision and a programme to bring about such a society.

The speaker pointed out that the movements among the people against aggression and against neo-liberal globalisation are growing and that the Anglo-American imperialists are not succeeding in knocking them off course. He was sure that the communists, the working class and the people would rise to the challenge of achieving the aims which they themselves set for society.

Andy Brooks in his presentation stressed that the war in Afghanistan is not in fact over. Anglo-American imperialism is working to impose its agenda, to establish direct imperialist control, and establish a base in Central Asia. He emphasised that the Afghan people do not want foreign troops in their country. He denounced the crude lies of US imperialism and the British government, and stressed that the demands for an end to outside interference in Afghanistan are in fact growing in the peace movement and the fight must continue until these demands are met.

Andy Brooks hailed the achievements of the peace movement, which had refused to be taken in by the government’s propaganda campaigns. The movement is, he said, taking on a mass character. He pointed out that imperialism has the blood of millions upon millions of people on its hands. However, not only are people fighting for their liberation, but people are campaigning in the imperialist heartlands for an end to aggression, as well as working to bring about a new and better world. The speaker emphasised that it is important for the communists to raise that there is an alternative which will end all wars.

A lively discussion session followed, in which many important points were made, and the speakers elaborated their positions and answered questions. Participants denounced the turning of the "war against terrorism" into official state policy, and drew attention to the important relationship between working to stop the war and to present and work for the alternative in society. The role of the communists and the need for the leadership of the working class was also stressed.

In a call for funds to finance the joint work, it was pointed out the important step that had been taken in developing the joint work was part of the work to restore the unity of the communists in Britain, and tribute was paid to the leadership of the two Parties. The issue of the communists stepping up their work to put an end to war and to create a new society was profoundly important, and it was incumbent on all who support that work politically to also support it financially.

It can be said that the joint work which has been taken up, and which has been worked for for quite a number of years, has the aim both of restoring communist unity and developing the campaigning unity of the communists. In fact, the two are inseparable. They represent the advanced forces uniting in a concrete way against the forces which are organising imperialist aggression and the anti-social offensive. They represent the forces of the communist and workers’ movement working out questions of revolutionary theory and practice in the course of the work to create the subjective conditions for revolution. This is a matter of great joy to the communists and workers in every circle throughout the communist and workers’ movement.

Article Index

Tony Blair Speaks at German SPD Congress:

Who Is the Medievalist?

Tony Blair addressed the congress of the ruling German Social Democratic Party in Nuremberg on November 20, setting forth once again what have emerged as consistent themes in his recent speeches.

Central to his speech was the notion of values, which he identified as being linked to social democracy for the last 100 years and which he defined as "social justice, solidarity, commitment to democratic means, tolerance and opportunity for all". He further declared that New Labour had tried to put these values into practice since coming to power in 1997 and that Germany’s role in Kosova was evidence of its "commitment to the values and responsibilities of the international community". For him, the "menace of terrorism and its sponsors in the Taliban state" are "an all out assault on the values that underpin our hopes of social justice in Europe today".

Once again, Tony Blair has taken up the reactionary 19th century doctrine of the "white man’s burden". The "values of the civilised west" of private ownership of the means of production and the organisation of society to suit the needs of private capital must be taken up by all and those who fail to do so will be targeted for attack. That is the sum of Tony Blair’s doctrine.

Responding to the broad opposition to the war of aggression against Afghanistan, he declared that he knew there were those who were against the use of force in Afghanistan, including members of his own party, and that he "sincerely respected the position of the genuine pacifist". But he "believed we needed to show solidarity with the United States". This is a distorted and self-serving rendering of the issues. To oppose violence in any circumstances is a matter of conscience, and is the pacifist position. Nor can "showing solidarity with the United States" justify anything, least of all military intervention abroad. What Tony Blair does is to skate over the notion of international law which governs relationships between states and the Charter of the United Nations, which calls for the peaceful settlement of disputes between states, as being not worthy of mention. By implication he is writing off the broad opposition to the war of aggression against Afghanistan in which so many ordinary people have been killed and maimed and in which the sovereignty of that country counts for nothing as "ungenuine". Tony Blair is attempting to drag the world back into the 19th century when the colonialist powers could "despatch a gunboat to teach the natives a lesson". It is a most reactionary turn in world politics, of which Tony Blair is one of the keenest advocates.

Touching on other international matters, he defended the recently concluded Doha Development Round of the world trade talks, thereby extolling the "benefits of free trade" (actually the dictate of the monopolies), the imposition of which is and has been causing so much devastation and violation of sovereignty. He called for Germany to take a seat on the United Nations Security Council in order to "make the instruments of international governance more effective", thereby evading the issue that the UN should be democratised and not be utilised as the instrument of the big powers. He called for the settlement of the Middle East problems on the basis of "two fixed points of principle", thereby refusing to condemn Israel and support the rights of the Palestinian people, on the grounds that while the Palestinian people must have justice, Israel must be "freed from terror". And he declared that he wanted the "G7/8 to put forward firm proposals for a new partnership with Africa" because according to him that continent had been neglected. This despite the ever raging attacks on Africa by the big powers for the last four hundred years!

Tony Blair’s speech to the German SPD congress was delivered like that of a colonial governor of the whole world who holds the destiny of all in his hands and who dispenses "justice" and "punishment" in a paternalistic manner so that the backward natives may come to understand and adopt "his civilised values". Any dispassionate person glancing through the speech would reach that conclusion. Despite this, Tony Blair describes himself as a "moderniser".

The speech also has the character of staking a claim for Britain and Germany to emerge together as the leaders of Europe. Their commonality, for Tony Blair, is the shared values, which are becoming "more relevant, not less, in this increasingly interdependent world". Tony Blair declares: "I am a social democrat." But the fact is that he has been in reality eliminating the content of social democracy ever since the crisis of social democracy deepened in the years of Thatcherism and Reaganomics. It could be said that this elimination while "modernising" social democracy is the essence of the "Third Way". And this "Third Way" has brought aggression and intervention abroad, elaborating all kinds of justifications for the unjustifiable, while fascising the state and attacking fundamental rights and freedoms at home.

While Tony Blair at the heart of his speech attacks the Taleban regime for being "medieval", he declares of the values that the "social democrat" believes in that they are themselves "constant, timeless". It was in the Dark Ages that men decreed that their values were god-given and eternal, and were prepared to put heretics to the sword and burn women at the stake. Who is the medievalist?

The working class and people must reject this reactionary outlook and persist in their own efforts to bring a different world into being in which they make their own history.

Article Index

15 Labour MPs Vote against Government

Fifteen Labour MPs have rebelled over government plans to detain foreign terrorist suspects without trial. An order to opt out of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights was backed by 331 to 74.

But those opposing the move included Chris Mullin, Labour chairman of the Home Affairs select committee, and Labour former minister Mark Fisher.

A similar order was backed by the House of Lords, despite strong opposition from Liberal Democrats who wanted to delay it until the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill had completed its passage through Parliament.

The derogation order, part of the battery of proposals put forward by ministers after September 11, will enable foreign terrorist suspects to be detained indefinitely without trial in cases where they cannot be deported. MPs debated it after giving a second reading to the Anti-Terrorism Bill.

Article Index

Britain’s North-South Divide Worsens

Britain's north-south economic divide has worsened since Labour came to power in 1997, a report has found.

The second UK Competitiveness Index showed that only Britain's "Big Three" regions – London, the south east and the east – had improved their competitive performance since 1997.

The findings of the report, put out by consultancy Robert Huggins Associates, go against the claims of Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has played down the significance of regional imbalances in the country despite demands from Labour backbenchers for greater assistance to the poorer regions.

The country's worst performers – the north east, Wales and Yorkshire and the Humber – lagged 30.5 percent behind the top three. London outperformed the north east by 36.1 percent.

The report criticised the government's regional development agencies for providing inadequate funds to the poorest regions.

The growing divide has also been exacerbated by the uneven distribution of industries across the country.

The UK Competitiveness Index, published yearly, ranks regional economies based on measures including gross domestic product, average earnings, productivity and unemployment.

Article Index

Grants not fees!

Students Issue Stern Warning To Government over Funding Review

A massive student demonstration involving many thousands took place in Birmingham last week. On the march the students held placards demanding an end to fees and re-instatement of the grant. Some placards said, "Grants not fees! " and "End Fees Now!". One person told our correspondent, "This is the biggest demonstration of students in over 20 years. What you are seeing is political activity among students not seen since the sixties on issues that affect themselves and others like against the war in Afghanistan. You are going to see students getting more vociferous."

The students have sent a warning to the government not to backtrack on their promise to help the hard-up, many of who come from working class backgrounds. A review was promised by the government but a decision has still not been reached.

Local NUS Secretary, Nick Parrott said: "We wanted to send a message to Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, with a big event right on her doorstep." Speaking about financial constraints Nick said, "that doesn't mean he should take money from students!" He pointed to how vital it was that ministers implemented promises at once.

Support for the demonstration has even come from city university bosses and local MPs, including Perry Barr's Khalid Mahmood. The demonstration is part of a whole series of activities organised by the NUS around the country.

The NUS said that the issue was very big in Birmingham because of the numbers of people from deprived backgrounds who want to and deserve to go to university.

Students are bound to increase their activity in the coming period. Recently they have been holding meetings against the war on campuses in the Midlands and taking part in workers' public meetings such as in the Longbridge area. The vibrant and militant participation in the people's movement by students against war and globalisation are going to be seen as very important, particularly in the presentation of a viable alternative to the imperialist world order.

Article Index

German Economy Contracts

According to official statistics released in Germany, the economy of that country contracted by 0.1% in the third quarter of the present financial year, leading to expectations that it may go into recession. The Finance Ministry accepted that the economy would be down in the last two quarters of this year and commented that the figures showed that economic risks had intensified. The government has lowered its official growth forecast for 2001 from 2% to 0.75% and for 2002 from 2.25% to between 1% and 1.5%.

Article Index

No War in Our Name:

No to Attacks on Civil Liberties Anywhere

The following leaflet, produced by the Gulf Crisis Group, was distributed on the Stop the War demonstration on Sunday, November 18. Gulf Crisis Group is based in Milton Keynes and was originally formed to oppose the sanctions on Iraq.

The illegal bombing and occupation of Afghanistan continues as we speak. In the wake of the carnage of September 11 the US and British Governments, ignoring domestic and international law pronounced themselves to be de-facto judge, jury and executioner without regard for the consequences.

The crimes by the US and Britain include: Genocide – the indiscriminate bombing leading to murder of men, women and children in their homes, in violation of the Geneva Convention. The crimes also include the arming, inciting and bringing to power of forces whose crimes against humanity are infamous; the shooting of prisoners and bystanders without charge or trial. This is what has been unleashed against the population of Afghanistan in our name.

In spite of claims to the contrary none of the UN Security Council resolutions passed since September 11 have explicitly given the US or Britain the right to bomb Afghanistan. The attacks on Afghanistan continue to be in violation of article 33 of the UN Charter which states that:

"(1) The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.

(2) The Security Council shall, when it deems necessary, call upon the parties to settle their dispute by such means."

Millions of dollars worth of cruise missiles and bombs have rained down on Afghanistan, making profits for the arms industry to which Britain is one of the world's largest providers. Millions of people have been displaced or are in danger of starvation in the severe winter. The country appears to be on the brink of Civil War with all its attendant disasters. The danger of this war escalating and other countries becoming involved or breaking up is increasing daily.

United States:

In the United States laws are being passed which are leading to serious infringements of democratic rights. On Tuesday, November 13, U.S. President George W. Bush signed an order allowing special military tribunals to try foreigners charged with terrorism. The order states that the president may "determine from time to time in writing that there is reason to believe" that an individual is a member of Al Qaida, has engaged in acts of international terrorism or has knowingly harboured a terrorist. In other words, it is the president himself who will determine who is an accused terrorist and therefore subject to trial by the tribunal.

" The American Civil Liberties Union is deeply disturbed by President Bush's executive order allowing special military tribunals to try non-citizens charged with terrorism The tribunals would even reach non-citizens in the United States, including lawful permanent residents. To our knowledge, the move to establish a military tribunal when Congress has not declared war is unprecedented." American Civil Liberties Union

In addition the US government has, this week, extended the policy of ignoring domestic and international law to give itself the right to detain, try in a "military court", and execute any other person anywhere across the globe with no recourse to any domestic or international law.


"Britain is to be placed under a state of 'public emergency' as part of an unprecedented government move to allow internment without trial of suspected terrorists." Observer November 11 2001

Not just there and them but here and us too!

The attacks on our civil liberties are being developed to include widening circles of people. First they were only after Bin Laden, then the Taliban, then other Muslim organisations, then people from Muslim countries, then asylum seekers, then foreigners. Claire Short, quoted in the Sun newspaper of November 6th, likened anti-capitalism demonstrators to Osama bin Laden's "terrorists". Unless we allow racism or bigotry to cloud our vision it is clear that the legislation itself affects us all. There is a direct connection between what is happening in Afghanistan and what is happening to us at home. It would be a serious mistake to ignore this fact.


In all the current dialogue about what should happen in Kabul now there is an absent voice, that of the people of Afghanistan themselves. In the scramble for power, there is talk of "setting up" a regime that will please the US, Britain, Russia, China, the rulers of the Arab countries, France, Germany, Pakistan. It seems that everyone is to have a say in who should govern Afghanistan except for the people themselves who may only speak via some tribal leader or other who may be invited to the feast! What has happened to the basic principle of democracy, which insists that the kind of government they have, must be up to the Afghani people and no one else? Where is the age old principle that one country should not interfere in the internal affairs of another? To cloud the issue the Afghani people are portrayed in various racist ways as "not quite fit to govern themselves." This question is the key to the real agenda. What we have here in fact is a big power scramble for sources of raw materials, cheap labour and markets reminiscent of the times leading up to both world wars. It is worth noting that it was this very situation that the UN Charter was designed to prevent in the first place:

".....to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind." UN Charter Opening Paragraph.

The difference is that this time it is even more ferocious, desperate and potentially devastating for the poor souls who happen to live in the areas concerned. It is also devastating for the sons and daughters of workers who are sent as cannon fodder. Britain still sends seventeen-year-olds into battle.

Break the silence

For the gullible, the war against Afghanistan is portrayed as some kind of liberating act, as a way of freeing women from oppression (by bombing them and killing their families!).

For others it is said that we must go to war to "sustain our lifestyle." Then there are many who want to believe that Tony Blair is carrying out some sort of restraining role by appeasing Bush, a perspective that has worn rather thin over the past weeks. It has even been said that the Afghani people are "used to being bombed." There is the notion that simply to "pause the war," deliver aid and then restart bombing again can be acceptable. These are some of the statements in which the reasons for this war have been clouded for the people in this country through the current media discourse.

It would seem that in a situation where it is at times difficult to even speak about the actual situation, it is important to start and develop the discussion. It is important to refuse to be divided along racial or religious lines, in the face of provocation. We have found it useful to use the Internet to investigate the situation and to keep in touch with each other. This has helped us to raise our voices in individual discussions, meetings or press releases and leaflets. We find that people feel it is important to keep up the vigils and actions against this war and to support those people already active.

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