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Year 2001 No. 213, December 13, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

Jack Straw’s Speech on "Europe after 11 September"

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Jack Straw’s Speech on "Europe after 11 September"

Former Afghan President Condemns Interference in Afghan Affairs

Independent MP Speaks to Health Campaigners:
Patients Are Treated As Second-Class People

Letter to the Editor:
Local MP Grovels before Labour Government Line

Day of Music by Cornelius Cardew To Be Held

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Jack Straw’s Speech on "Europe after 11 September"

On December 11, the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, gave a keynote speech entitled "Europe after 11 September", at the Centre for European Reform in London. Jack Straw used this speech to highlight the future role that the government envisages for the European Union following the events of September 11, and on the eve of the Laeken European Council meeting at the end of this week.

One of Jack Straw’s main arguments was that recent events have demonstrated more than ever that "isolationism cannot work in the modern world" and that based on this premise he went on to draw the conclusion that "by pooling sovereignty" in such institutions as the EU, a people may end up with "more, not less, control over their lives." This is the case, Straw argues because "in an interdependent world, our security and prosperity depend on our ability to influence events in the rest of the world, not on out ability to stop others from influencing us". What is left unsaid is the fact that sovereignty in Britain, and elsewhere in Europe, does not reside with "a people" – the people are not empowered to govern, to exercise "control over their lives", nor to take decisions about a country’s foreign policy. Rather such an argument is simply a means to justify the predatory interests of the big monopolies in Britain and elsewhere, the continued interference in the affairs of others and intervention throughout the world which do nothing to bring prosperity to the people of Britain, Europe or elsewhere, but rather lead to greater instability and tension and the prospect of greater conflicts in the future.

For the government then, the EU allows Britain "to magnify and strengthen" its influence on the world stage. He even refers nostalgically to how in the 19th century the European imperialists "carved up much of the globe between them" and of how the legacy of the past has become a strength in the modern world, as each power can draw on its colonial and neo-colonial links for the benefit of their "common and global interest". What today draws the big powers of Europe, Straw states, are their "fundamental interests and values", precisely those neo-liberal values enshrined in the Paris Charter. While the big powers of Europe share the same fundamental values as the US, the EU allows them not only to act as the ally of the US but also to contend with it and to maintain "a distinctive voice", as their interests dictate. The EU has provided the collective means for the big European powers to exploit favourable economic and political conditions, and Straw clearly envisages the EU playing similar leading role in the economic and political future of Afghanistan.

For Jack Straw then, the EU "has yet to realise its full potential as a global actor", it is not yet "pulling its full weight in the world". With such phrases Straw indicates that in the future it is intended that the EU itself will play a much greater interventionist role, that it too must become a power in the world in contention with the other major powers and blocs including the US. Thus Straw speaks of its role in "upholding human rights" and "promoting good governance" as well as combating the threat of "terrorism" – euphemisms for blatant interference in the sovereign affairs of other countries. In particular, it is clear that the EU’s so-called "development assistance programme" will be more greatly utilised to assist the economic exploitation of even the world’s poorest countries. It is clear that last week’s Anglo-French initiative is intended to provide the EU with a greater military capacity for intervention in order that it may "shoulder a greater part of burden of regional and global security". Further steps in this direction will be taken at this week’s European Council meeting at Laeken.

Far from giving the peoples of Europe more sovereignty, prosperity or security, the big European powers are intent on developing the EU into a major military as well as economic power. In Straws words, it should become "one of the most powerful tools" for "re-shaping the world". The peoples of Britain and of Europe must raise their voices against such a prospect which will create even greater dangers in Europe and throughout the world.

Article Index



Former Afghan President Condemns Interference in Afghan Affairs

Leader of the Northern Alliance and former president of Afghanistan has criticised foreign interference in Afghanistan’s affairs and described the recently concluded Bonn conference as a "humiliation of the nation" through which foreign powers had imposed an unrepresentative government on the Afghan people. Speaking at a press conference in Kabul on December 12, Burhanuddin Rabbani, declared, "If the interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan continues in this way, it will increase the problems of Afghanistan in the future."

Article Index



Independent MP Speaks to Health Campaigners:

Patients Are Treated As Second-Class People

Dr Richard Taylor was elected as an independent MP for Wyre Valley at the last election after fighting a campaign against the downgrading of the Kidderminster hospital. On November 30, Dr Taylor spoke to health campaigners in Canterbury, where the local Kent and Canterbury (K&C) Hospital is threatened with an almost identical reduction in services as the Kidderminster was a victim of.

In his address, Dr Taylor said that Kidderminster patients are now treated as second class people in their nearest acute hospital in Worcester, saying, "It is absolutely appalling."

He said that the picture in east Kent is much the same as that in the Worcester area, which also had had three acute hospitals. The health authority is using the Private Finance Initiative to replace one, but when the costs jumped from £49 million to £116 million it could not afford it and decided one of the three hospitals, Kidderminster, had to go.

"Sadly, when you put the kiss of death on a hospital, key staff look for other jobs," Dr Taylor said. "On September 18 last year, Kidderminster closed to all acute inpatients in the casualty unit because it was no longer safe to go through the winter with those staff losses. This was an absolute disaster. It was a charter mark hospital, woven into the fabric of Kidderminster life, much the same as here."

Dr Taylor described the campaign mounted by local people to try to save their hospital, with letters to the government, marches and demonstrations outside Parliament and in Downing Street. He said it ended in March 1999 after an 18-month campaign when the then Health Secretary Frank Dobson cut the first turf for the new PFI hospital and said people in Kidderminster would have more local services. "This was absolute drivel," Dr Taylor said.

Since then, he said, similar downgrading plans had been announced for many acute hospitals in England, including east Kent and Cornwall. There was now an all-party group of MPs in the House of Commons who had joined forces to fight similar proposals.

Dr Taylor said: "The chaos at the two hospitals which remain in Worcester is terrible. We have experienced divide and rule. You give the other two hospitals enough to keep them quiet to get rid of the third and it works."

Dr Taylor told the campaigners against health cuts and privatisation in east Kent to carry on fighting.

Article Index



Letter to the Editor

Local MP Grovels before Labour Government Line

Eight activists of the Greenwich branch of the South East London Stop the War Coalition visited Nick Raynsford MP at his surgery on November 23. In condemning this totally unjust and illegal war against the Afghan people and the Blair government's disgraceful participation in it, we asked Mr Raynsford the following questions:

The ensuring discussion was very heated. Nick Raynsford angrily defended the government's position saying that "terrorism" had to be defeated at all costs without defining what he meant by "terrorism" in any way. He accused us as being "apologists for the Taleban"! Everything he said reinforced the Labour government's total backing of the US in its defence of "Western values" and "defence of our way of life against those forces who would destroy it" and so on. Mr Raynsford had no answers to the question as to why innocent Afghan people, who clearly had absolutely nothing to do with the September 11 attacks on America, should be massacred in their thousands.

One elderly woman in the Campaign quite rightly described this war, with the use of cluster bombs (which indiscriminately kill everyone and everything within a huge radius) as "obscene". Mr Raynsford vehemently objected to the use of the word "obscene" saying that "war is necessarily a dirty business".

The only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that, in its pursuit of "western values", i.e. American and British imperialist interests, any consideration of justice and humanity have to go right out of the window.

Article Index



Day of Music by Cornelius Cardew To Be Held

A concert is being organised on Saturday, December 29, at Conway Hall in London to celebrate the life and music of Cornelius Cardew. [see pdf format flyer for details ]

Cornelius Cardew was a leading British composer and member of the Central Committee of RCPB(ML). He was killed 20 years ago today on December 13, 1981, by a hit-and-run driver near his home in East London. His untimely death had a traumatic impact on the cultural work at that important period in history when the development of the leading role of the working class was the order of the day. That collective work, which was at a take-off point at that time, continues still at the present time, though the loss of Cornelius, struck down on the icy road of capitalist retrogression, was keenly felt by all.

In the peroration to his speech, The Question Is Really One of Word and Deed, delivered at the meeting organised by the Progressive Cultural Association (PCA) on the 15th anniversary of Cornelius Cardew's death, Hardial Bains, late National Leader of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), who was closely associated with the collective cultural work in which Cornelius Cardew militated, wrote:

"Cornelius Cardew will be remembered as a personality who was able to rise above the trivial, the narrow and the profane. He joined the collective and the collective work in which he found the greatest dignity and greatest satisfaction. He himself was a pathfinder, one who arrived at some important conclusions in his early life, especially the one in which he placed the musician and the performer right in the midst of the struggles of the masses for their rights. He joined work by placing his entire body and soul into it. In more ways than one, he lived one life, the life of a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary. Composing music, participating in the PCA/Canadian Cultural Workers' Committee collective, was one of the duties he took up and executed honourably. This was not all that Cornelius did. He had other duties, the most important of which was his membership on the Central Committee of the Communist Party. An accomplished musician on the Central Committee of a Communist Party?! Yes, because he was an accomplished communist, a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary, a man dedicated to the victory of the proletarian movement for emancipation in the first place. He was all those things which the prevailing wisdom demands that an accomplished musician, a celebrated composer ought not to be. Besides, he played second fiddle to the leadership which he followed with utmost devotion and loyalty. He was so fortunate in accomplishing so much in life until the anarchy and violence of the society he worked so hard to transform through revolution cut short his life.

"Our Comrade Cornelius Cardew will always be remembered as the militant revolutionary Marxist-Leninist he was. All the attributes, his skills and abilities were in the service of the proletarian movement for emancipation. He is a worthy role model for all who wish to make their contribution, a person who found the way forward."

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