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Year 2001 No. 93, May 31, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

London Political Forum: The Work to Plant the Alternative

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

London Political Forum: The Work to Plant the Alternative

CPB Launches Vision of "Security for All"

Indian Government Presses Ahead with Privatisation Programme

10th Anniversary of the Establishment of Peace and Democracy in Ethiopia

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London Political Forum: The Work to Plant the Alternative

Last night, May 30, the London Political Forum held the third of its three weekly meetings during the election campaign.

The topics under discussion were the imperialist programme of globalisation and the struggles against it, and the stand of the national minority communities to uphold their dignity in the context of the struggles of all the people in defence of their rights, and in particular the struggles of the youth to control their own future in which they are also having to fight against globalisation and the attempts to devastate their lives.

Among the main speakers was Robin Smith, London District Secretary of the New Communist Party, who spoke on globalisation, among other issues, giving the NCP’s analysis on this topic. Other speakers included Jim Brann, of the London CND Executive, as well as a youth active in the campaign of Salvinder Dhillon, the Independent Community Candidate Empowering Change for Ealing Southall, and a representative of the African and Caribbean Progressive Study Group.

These gatherings of the London Political Forum, organised by RCPB(ML) in London, have been held as part of the work to plant the seed of the alternative on Britain’s soil. This has been the theme of RCPB(ML)’s participation in the election. It has supported candidates who represent the alternative to the party-dominated system of governance and taken up the work to build the workers’ opposition to New Labour’s "Third Way" offensive against society. RCPB(ML) in London took up making the London Political Forum a success as the focus of its election work. As a representative of RCPB(ML) explained at the Forum, the Political Forums, in raising the level of political discussion and actually putting on the agenda the discussion as to how to challenge and build opposition to the anti-social offensive, and give coherence to the forces in motion against it, are in practical terms planting the alternative, are the expression of this alternative, of bringing into being the new society in opposition to the status quo.

The participants at the end of the meeting unanimously adopted a proposal to continue the London Political Forums on a monthly basis after the election, appraising the Forums as being very successful in achieving their aims. The gathering responded enthusiastically to the call to vigorously mobilise for the future meetings of the London Political Forum.

A full account of the discussions of last night’s Forum will appear in a subsequent issue of WDIE.

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CPB Launches Vision of "Security for All"

WDIE is reproducing the following article by Daniel Coysh on the Communist Party of Britain’s election manifesto for the information of our readers. It appeared in the Morning Star of Wednesday, May 30, 2001.

The Communist Party of Britain launched its general election manifesto in London on May 29, demanding "dignity and security for all".

Party chairwoman Anita Halpin introduced two of the six Communist candidates who are contesting the election on June 7.

CPB general secretary Rob Griffiths is standing in Newport East in Wales and Ivan Beavis is contesting Hackney South and Shoreditch in London.

Mr Griffiths said that the party’s manifesto could be summed up by its headline slogan, "People’s need before corporate greed".

He said that the need for this was clear when just 10 per cent of Britain’s population owns and controls half of the wealth.

Mr Griffiths argued that the priorities for this election had to be protecting jobs and increasing investment in public services and industry.

"There is an ongoing crisis in manufacturing," he said, noting that latest figures showed that 2,000 jobs in the sector were lost every week.

He added that the Communist Party would boost manufacturing investment and nationalise companies that failed to protect their sector.

Public transport, steel, coal and the utilities would also be restored to public ownership.

Mr Griffiths said that the CPB opposed joining the euro, because it would "lock Britain into a European capitalist superstate.

"The EU intention is to form a capitalist, military United States of Europe, from which there would be no escape from free-market deflationary policies," he declared.

Ms Halpin said that the choice of just six candidates was deliberate, as the aim was to rebuild the left within the labour movement and the Labour Party.

Mr Beavis added: "We don’t believe the Labour Party should be written off. We don’t believe Tony Blair should be allowed to hijack it."

The Communist Party’s other four candidates are John Foster in Glasgow Govan, Martin Levy in Newcastle East and Wallsend, Glyn Davies in Alyn and Deeside and Andy Chaffer in Birmingham Northfield.

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Indian Government Presses Ahead with Privatisation Programme

India’s Privatisation Minister, Arun Shourie, said on May 26 that a militant strike by workers at the newly privatised aluminium firm BALCO had only served to stiffen the government’s resolve to press ahead with its "reforms" agenda. The Sterlite group has been sold 51% of BALCO’s shares. This is despite the fact that Sterlite Industries is one of the companies which has been proved guilty by the Securities and Exchanges Board of India (SEBI) of price-rigging and manipulating the stock market, and banned from the capital market (that is, issuing new shares) in India for a number of years.

Arun Shourie said in an interview, "All obstacles like BALCO strengthen the process (of privatisation). In the end the government’s commitment to the process has become clear and I think nobody can be in doubt about that now."

He said that he was optimistic that despite the political opposition to privatisation, the government would be able to complete the sales of stakes in a majority of the 27 state-run enterprises scheduled for the current financial year. Major companies which the Indian Central government plans to privatise include Air India, Indian Airlines, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd, CMC Ltd, Hindustan Copper, Hindustan Zinc, Maruti Udyog and National Fertiliser. The Hinduja group, which has become notorious for its business scams, is one of the bidders for Indian Airlines, the national carrier, the other being Videocon International, another of the three companies found guilty by the SEBI.

Arun Shourie, a former World Bank economist, said that the government would use its experience from the privatisation of BALCO that these storms were unavoidable in its future stakeholder sales in state firms.

The 7,000 workers of BALCO (Bharat Aluminium Company) in Chattisgarh state went on strike and brought production to a standstill. They forced the management to shut off the power plants. The Supreme Court and the Central government declared the strike of the BALCO workers "illegal", despite the fact that the Chattisgarh state government also opposed the privatisation sale.

The Indian Central government is pursuing a course of facilitating maximum plunder of the human and material resources of India in the interests of the capitalist monopolies. In February, it set a target of raising 120 billion rupees (£1.8 billion) through the privatisation and sale of public assets. To emphasise the point that it is more serious about its privatisation target than others in the past, the Vajpayee government announced the BALCO privatisation deal to coincide with the opening of the Budget session of Parliament. This Budget announced the plan to increasingly make the flow of funds from the Centre to the states conditional on a package of "reforms" to be implemented by the state governments, especially their performance in the privatisation of the electricity supply. The government declared in parliament that the SEBI ban is "prospective" and not "retrospective". Thus while the Sterlite group cannot raise capital, BALCO itself as an entity can raise as much capital as it likes.

These examples show how the privatisation agenda is being pushed through in India, as throughout the capitalist world, in the interests of the monopolies and the financial oligarchy, despite the opposition of the workers and the broad masses of the working people. They emphasise the necessity for workers everywhere to get organised to bring about a new society where the workers control what they produce and where the people are the decision makers.

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10th Anniversary of the Establishment of Peace and Democracy in Ethiopia

Ethiopian Press Release on the Occasion of Ethiopia’s National Day, May 28, 2001

May 28 marks a new beginning in Ethiopia. It represents a new departure in the country's history and in the political life of the Ethiopian people whose aspiration for a meaningful change had been frustrated so many times in the past.

It is in light of this that what has been achieved in the past ten years contains a great deal of promise and hope for the people of Ethiopia. It is also with the firm conviction that the consolidation of the new Ethiopia and progress towards changing the economic, political and social situation in Ethiopia will continue without let up, that we celebrate this year the 10th anniversary of the establishment of peace and democracy in Ethiopia.

It should be stated quite clearly that never again will Ethiopia slide back into instability and into a form of governance that cares little for the vast majority of the people of our country. It is from this perspective that the latest developments in Ethiopia must be understood. The commitment of the new Ethiopia to democracy is genuine and no force will be allowed to derail the Ethiopian people from this path embarked upon by our people ten years ago. The same applies to economic development and to the solemn commitment that we have made for justice and equality to prevail among nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. We should reiterate again and again that Ethiopia is here to stay and that the renewal of Ethiopia will continue to grow unabated.

These generations of Ethiopians have demonstrated in no uncertain terms their commitment to the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. This has been reconfirmed unequivocally in the fight waged to reverse the Eritrean aggression. That struggle was by no means easy. Nor was the challenge related only to what Eritrea did and then to what it refused to do. The challenge was more than that and it raised a complex of issues connected with military, strategic, political and other issues which made the task before the Ethiopian people that much complicated and intricate. All these needed careful diplomatic handling and the juggling of the various limited assets we have, apart from the resolve and the patriotism of our people, so that the objective will be achieved through whatever means necessary, but without risking the isolation of our country. That was achieved, thanks to the sacrifice paid, to the patriotism of our people and to the care with which all potential dangers were handled.

No doubt, the Eritrean aggression and the crisis imposed on us by Eritrea did contribute to the slowing down of the progress we were making in economic development and in alleviating poverty – the major strategic enemy of our people. This was one of the major crimes committed against our people by those who imposed the crisis on us. But there is no reason why the lost momentum cannot be regained and why we cannot make up for the lost time. In fact, already we have indeed started to do that.

Some might feel that the latest development within the leadership may not be conducive, let alone for regaining the momentum in economic development, but even for ensuring that the peace and stability of the country is further consolidated. Some might also argue that even in the area of democratic governance, the situation is not altogether encouraging. References might be made to the latest developments with regard to the commotion surrounding university students and some tragic incidents that followed.

But all this should be viewed with a sense of proportion. Some of these issues are purely administrative matters that need to be handled as such and some might fall within the ambit of the mandates of other government institutions, including the police and related organs, as well as the courts. All these, we have absolutely no doubt, will be handled in accordance with what is provided for in the country's constitution and on the basis of legality. Ethiopians should have no doubt about the commitment of the Government and the leadership on this and related matters.

Thus, despite appearances, we have every reason to greet this year's Anniversary of the Establishment of Peace and Democracy in Ethiopia, with greater confidence than before in the possibilities we have for bringing about political, economic and social transformation in our country with greater speed and with a much more enhanced determination and resolve. This is also the meaning - if the truth is to be told - of the on-going process of renewal within the ruling party.

One thing should therefore be unambiguously clear to all Ethiopians as we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Establishment of Peace and Democracy in Ethiopia, that this is a time of new hope for our country. Hope for deepening the democratic process. Hope for widening and expanding the economic development, enabling us to further our struggle against poverty and under-development, thus opening up a new chapter for the prosperity and well being of our people.

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