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Year 2001 No. 96, June 5, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

Answers from Election Candidates in South Shields

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Answers from Election Candidates in South Shields

SLP Candidates in London

£100,000 Fine for Magnox

Solidarity with Palestinians

Statement from the Revolutionary Prisoners

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Answers from Election Candidates in South Shields

The local newspaper for Jarrow and South Shields in the North East of England, The Shields Gazette, on May 31 published profiles of the Labour and Independent candidates for South Shields. Answers from the two candidates on Unemployment, Cammell Laird, Health and Petrol were contrasted on facing pages. We reproduce below the answers of Roger Nettleship, Independent, and David Miliband, Labour.


The candidates were asked: Unemployment has fallen in South Tyneside since the 1997 General Election, but still remains relatively high, particularly in parts of Jarrow and South Shields. How would you ensure the dole queues in South Tyneside do not increase?

Roger Nettleship: Unemployment in South Tyneside has been and remains one of the highest in the country and there has been no change in that. People have a right to a livelihood and in fact in my view this should be guaranteed in law. The most urgent thing is for the working class movement to raise the right of all to a livelihood as a political demand, and organising with the unemployed to eliminate dole queues once and for all.

David Miliband: The keys to lower unemployment are, first, economic stability, second, top-quality personal help for those who are unemployed, and third, special help for regions and communities with high unemployment. Labour has delivered all three since 1997.

I will support economic policies that keep interest rate and inflation down. I want to see the New Deal expanded to help more people.

We must use public policy to support the development of new businesses. Wards like Rekendyke, in South Shields, with the highest unemployment, need special help, and I will press national and local authorities to develop the programmes appropriate to their needs.

There is no question on education in this survey, but I believe it is the number one priority for our nation and our community – for children and adults. A good education is the passport to higher earnings.


The candidates were asked: Crisis hit Cammell Laird, Hebburn, faces closure unless a buyer can be found soon. Would you favour a management buy-out, a take-over by a rival ship-builder or would you allow venture capitalists to take control of the yard?

Roger Nettleship: The issue for the shipyard workers is that the big parties give no consideration to the consequences of such vital industries running into difficulties.

The government of the day may express its concern, make a phone call, but the devastation continues and it underlines that these parties do not represent the interests of society or of the workers who remain marginalised.

The most important question is ending this marginalisation and taking up politics on our own account.

David Miliband: I want to see a thriving, working river. We have the natural advantages of a deep sea river, as well as the skilled people. Cammell Laird and its employees have shown that they can win orders and deliver high-quality work, so whoever takes over needs to be committed to the shipbuilding and ship repair industry. At a national level we need to maintain the economic policies that foster growth, regionally and locally we need to support the new owners as part of a vision for the future of the river.


The candidates were asked: Tony Blair has achieved his 1997 commitment to cut waiting lists by 100,000, but so far has had little impact on the length of time people wait for operations. Mori has published a poll which shows 49 per cent of people think the standards of treatment for NHS patients has stayed the same; that 44 per cent think hygiene standards have worsened; 37 per cent the time patients must wait for treatment has increased and that 49 per cent believe the service provided by GPs or family doctors has stayed the same. How would you make improvements in each of these areas and across the whole of the NHS?

Roger Nettleship: There has been a huge effort on behalf of staff at our hospitals to cut waiting lists and keep hospitals clean in spite of the fact that they are doing more with less staff.

Government priorities for investment are financing big business and the city, not waiting lists. It is a scandal that the Government has continued to take £1bn a year out of the NHS in ‘efficiency savings’, which amount to £1m a year from the South Tyneside Trust.

The preferred policy seems to be one of using the waiting lists and bed shortages as a justification to privatise operations and hospitals. The issue is that health care is a fundamental human right and should be provided at the highest level as a fully-funded public service with staff paid for the value of their work.

The real issue about these different areas is that there should be no restrictive considerations on resources and the economy should be directed at meeting people’s needs.

David Miliband: Labour has shown how to improve the health service; waiting lists are down, nurse and doctor numbers are up. In South Tyneside, waiting lists have fallen by over 19 per cent. Now we face a choice – to make cuts as recommended by the Conservatives, or to invest in 20,000 more nurses and 10,000 more doctors with Labour.

Labour’s vision is of high-quality services close to home, with local doctors and nurses offering expanded family services, and specialist care offered in district hospitals and regional centres. I support Labour’s proposal to give budgets to ward matrons to raise standards of quality and hygiene.


The candidates were asked: Petrol and fuel protesters almost brought Britain to a standstill last September. Where do you stand on demands for big reductions in both the price of petrol and diesel?

Roger Nettleship: I think the most important issue was that the Government just ignored the genuine concerns of the fuel protesters and that is what led to this crisis.

Then, once the blockade started, the issue gets treated as a law and order issue and not a political one like so many things in society.

David Miliband: Labour has cut 3p off the price of petrol, and introduced cut-price road tax for 9m cars. But government is about saying no as well as yes: reckless tax cuts would throw our economy into a tailspin, push up interest rates and land us back in the cycle of boom and bust.

Article Index

SLP Candidates in London

The Socialist Labour Party will be standing 114 candidates throughout England, Scotland and Wales. The SLP General Secretary Arthur Scargill will be standing against Peter Mandelson in Hartlepool. In London, the SLP is standing 14 candidates. Among them are the following:

Iris Cremer

Candidate for Brent East

Iris Cremer: With years of teaching in "bog standard comprehensives" (what a contemptuous term) I know that Tory and Labour have devastatingly destroyed education facilities for the vast majority of working-class children. No short term hand outs and bids for private finance can be a substitute for fully financing quality schools for all our children. I oppose the introduction of competition between schools, which results in better education only for the privileged.

Education and health can be properly financed. Instead of vast profits lining the pockets of a tiny section of the population, we could pay for all the facilities that the SLP believe working people are entitled to.

In the 1997 election we warned that Labour would dismantle the welfare. The Labour Government has destroyed more than the Tories dared to do. Now that the election is due, we are expected to "rejoice" in a few miserly handouts.

The Labour Party is clearly a party with a capitalist agenda. It represents a corrupt and vicious system that thrives on division here (intensifying racist asylum legislation) and abroad (with bombing and interference preventing Palestinians, Irish, Yugoslavia, Sierra Leonians, etc., from determining their own futures).

As the gap between rich and poor grows ever wider, nationally and internationally, the evils of capitalism are obvious and the need for socialism is urgent. The SLP of James Connolly was reborn to bring together all those who want to make a real change in Britain.

Rod Finlayson

Candidate for East Ham

Rod Finlayson is a veteran trade union activist and anti-fascist campaigner. He has worked for 30 years at Ford's in Dagenham, where he has been a TGWU shop steward.

Sukant Chandon

Candidate for Hackney North & Stoke Newington

Sukant Chandon: The NHS should be available to all free of charge, at the time of need and upon demand.

Pensioners have contributed all their life to this society and so have a right to retire with a pension that allows them to retire in happiness. As the first step the SLP is calling for restoring the link with annual wage increases, which will mean an immediate rise of £30 per week and £48 per week for couples.

We demand free universal education where students are financed by the government so as to enable students to take maximum advantage of education. It is unjust that the children of the rich can go to private schools whereas the working class are left to receive a second-class education in "sink" and "bog standard" schools.

We want to get "out of the EU and back into the world". The EU is a Europe-wide capitalist club that has no benefits for the people of Europe. We demand immediate withdrawal from NATO.

Candidate Information

I have been active for working class rights since the age of 15 in London. I have been involved in campaigns for justice workers such as for the Hillingdon Hospital workers who struggled to get their jobs back after they were sacked for strike action against massive pay cuts.

I have always championed the rights of oppressed peoples to fight against attacks such as the attacks on the Turkish and Kurdish people for their national and social rights and the rights of the Palestinian and Yugoslavian people.

As in the words of that great US artist, admirer of the socialist world and working class leader Paul Robeson: "The hands that oppress the people of the world are well known to us, they are the same hands which exploit and oppress us in this country."

I am, at present, SLP Youth National Student Organiser and have been recently elected as Sussex University Students Union Education Officer.

Steve Cook

Candidate for Islington North

Steve Cook is a teacher and linguist who writes on a wide range of political issues and fights against oppression at home and abroad.

Article Index

£100,000 Fine for Magnox

The operators of the Bradwell Power Station in Essex have been fined £100,000 following a radioactive leak into the Blackwater estuary. Magnox Electric plc, which runs the plant, was also ordered to pay £28,000 costs. At Taunton Crown Court, the company admitted six offences relating to unauthorised discharge of radioactive waste from plants at Hinkley Point in Somerset and from the Bradwell plant.

The Nuclear Installations Inspector had been informed in an anonymous telephone call in August that pollution was taking place.

Article Index

Solidarity with Palestinians

June 5 marks the anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War. The Communist Party of Israel Central Committee in Tel Aviv issued the following call to Communist and Workers’ Parties on May 27, 2001.

Dear Comrades,

Marking on June 5 the 34th anniversary of the June 1967 War and the Israeli occupation, our party, and other peace movements in Israel, launch a scale of protest activities all over Israel.

The Day of June 5 1967 is an opportunity to speak once again about the heavy price that the policy of war and occupation is extracting, and the destructive results that are caused, as a result of the policy of settlements, and the ignoring of the national and human rights of the Palestinian People.

In spite of the terrible bloodshed that is taking place in our region, caused by the attempt of the Sharon-Peres government to sabotage the perspective of Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, our party is engaged at present in exerting every effort for strengthening the co-operation of all the peace and democratic forces in Israel. We are struggling together for a peace solution based on ending of the occupation, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, alongside Israel, and an agreed solution for the problem of the Palestinian refugees, based on the UN resolutions on this issue.

We call you, dear comrades, to raise your voice of solidarity with the struggle against occupation, and according to your opportunities, to organise protest events particularly on June 5, in front of the Israeli embassy in your country.

With fraternal greetings

Mohammed Nafa'a General Secretary

Article Index


Statement from the Revolutionary Prisoners

"Until our demands receive a positive response our resistance will continue with the participation of new volunteers"

WDIE recently received this Statement of the Captives in the Turkish Jails who are on a Death Fast.


We began our death fast resistance on October 20, 2000, demanding the closure of the F-type prisons. After that, on December 9, 2000, the second team joined the first team on death fast. And it continued with the participation of our new death fast teams on May 11 and May 20, 2001.

Since the beginning of our death fast resistance we have lost tens of our friends, and again tens of them have been converted into the living dead because of forcible medical intervention and because of the practice of giving the wrong medical treatment on purpose.

Until our demands receive a positive response our resistance will continue with the participation of new volunteers. Either our dead bodies will leave the cells of the F-type prisons or we will leave them alive!

The justice ministry is in misery because of our death fast resistance. They estimate that our resistance will end spontaneously. This is a hopeless expectation. Our response to this was our fighters who joined the resistance on May 11 and May 20. The amendments to article 16 of the Anti-terror law only aim to deceive our people, not to end the isolation; on the contrary, it legalises the practices of confinement and the violations of our rights. The Sentencing Judges and the Council of Prison Inspectors are not legal bodies that are in our favour, they were only newly created to legitimise the violations of our rights and together with this, aiming to make us surrender our thoughts. As all of the political prisoners from all of the different trials, we declare that we will continue our death fast resistance until our demands receive a positive response.

Our Demands:

1 - Isolation cannot be considered abolished without architectural changes, the closure of cells for 1 to 3 persons and without enabling us to live together unconditionally. Isolation must be ended.

2 - All the restrictions and practices aiming to destroy our thoughts must be abolished.

3 - Our demands are humanitarian, right, legitimate and democratic.

4 - Forcible medical intervention is a form of torture. To leave us handicapped is a crime. Tens of our friends were left handicapped through torture. They cannot remember their past and are without the ability to think. The torture of forcible medical intervention must be stopped.

All the Resisting Political Prisoners

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