WORKERS' WEEKLY Vol. 28, No. 12 , May 1, 1998

Newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA. Phone 0171 627 0599,

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Article Index


Northern Ireland Multi-Party Negotiations: Condemn Labour Government Manoeuvres over Ireland!

One Year of Tony Blair

London Decides?

May 4 London Talks: End All Foreign Interference in the Middle East!

AGM of Northern Regional TUC Passes Motion against Anti-Social Offensive of New Labour

North East: Support the Just Struggle of the Shipyard Workers on Tyneside

Government's "Radical New Direction for NHS"

Workers Memorial Day

Letters: On the Problems in School Education, The Youth Are Not the Problem!

Disabled People Oppose Reactionary "Centre for Life"

For Your Information G8 Summit and its Opposition

Successful Holding of 7th Congress of CPC(ML)

Message from Chris Coleman, RCPB(ML), to 7th Congress

Meeting to Commemorate 86th Birthday of Kim Il Sung

Message by Chris Coleman on behalf of RCPB(ML)


Paul Robeson Centenary Conference

May Day 1998


Image of May Day Flags

ON THE OCCASION OF MAY FIRST, 1998, RCPB(ML) salutes the workers of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and workers throughout the world who are struggling against the cuts in social programmes and the whole anti-social programme of the financial oligarchy and the reactionary bourgeoisie. This struggle is the most vital struggle against privatisation, neo-liberalism, and "success" in the global market at the expense of national industries and agricultures. It is a struggle against the dismantling of the welfare state, the cuts in health, education, public services and other social programmes. It is a struggle against imperialist interference and warmongering and trampling underfoot the sovereignty of the peoples who are struggling to assert their rights and demand that their claims on society be met. It is this vital struggle in which the working class and people are working to open the way for a new and socialist society in which recognition of the rights of all is the starting point. On this May Day, RCPB(ML) hails the unity of the workers of all countries in struggle against the common enemy and against the attempts by international finance capital to establish its dictatorship everywhere in the globe.

In the face of the anti-social offensive of the bourgeoisie, the working class must put forward its own independent pro-social programme. It must fight for this programme to open a way out of the crisis, and rally the youth, the women and all progressive sections of society around this programme, and elaborate and give content to this programme in the course of the struggle. This programme is summed up in the slogan to STOP PAYING THE RICH – INCREASE INVESTMENTS IN SOCIAL PROGRAMMES! All the demands of the working class and the masses of the people for their right to a livelihood, for the renewal of the political process, for the people's empowerment and the recognition of their sovereignty, for a society in which the people's well-being is put at the centre of all developments, revolve around, flow from and are summed up in this independent programme. Such a programme is one to unite the vast majority of the people under the leadership of the working class to break the block to the progress of society and open the way out of the crisis.

One year of the government of New Labour is revealing that the issue in finding a way out of the crisis was not a change in government. New Labour has consolidated and accelerated the anti-social and anti-democratic agenda of ensuring that the whole of society is run to pay the rich and making the claims of the financial oligarchy the one and only priority. Its programme to "Make Britain Great Again" is the most chauvinistic and backward one characteristic of the English bourgeoisie, and is one which the working class rejects and opposes. It is an insult and attack not only on our class sisters and brothers around the world fighting for their sovereignty, independence, social and national rights and against the values of the Paris Charter – against Eurocentrism, against the global free market economy and against the conception of human rights based on private property – but first and foremost to the working class and people of Britain, their internationalist traditions and their aspirations for socialism and equality, and is an attempt to make them give up their independent class and national programmes.

To lead the way out of the crisis, the working class must demand that an end be put to servicing and repaying the national debt to the rich, so as to enable funds to be invested in social programmes as part of developing a planned economy serving the interests of the people and their welfare.

The programme of the working class must also demand the democratic renewal of the outdated political institutions and processes so that the people may be empowered; it demands no election without selection of candidates by the people. A crucial demand in this context is for a modern constitution which vests sovereignty with the people. The working class demands that the national rights of the peoples of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland for modern sovereign states be recognised and respected, and it condemns all attempts to compromise these national rights.

The working class must put forward the demand for the withdrawal from and dismantling of the European Union and the NATO military alliance, and condemns the secretly conducted Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) as well as all big power blocs and all the schemes of international finance capital which are causing devastation to the people. It calls for the democratisation of international affairs and condemns the monopolisation of the United Nations by the big powers and its misuse and manipulation to impose their will and trample on the sovereignty of nations and peoples. In particular, it utterly condemns the US imperialist drive for a unipolar world, and the Anglo-American warmongering and threats against the sovereign state of Iraq and the continued sanctions against that country as well as the criminal US blockade against Cuba.

On this May Day, we extend our warmest and most heartfelt greetings to the working class and peoples of all countries fighting for their rights and for a new society. Our Party greets especially the workers of the Republic of Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and elsewhere who are fighting to build socialism and defend their independence against all the hostile attempts of the imperialists to undermine and extinguish them.

Hail May First, Day of the International Working Class!

Stop Paying the Rich!

Increase Investments in Social Programmes!

Workers of All Countries, Unite!

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Northern Ireland Multi-Party Negotiations:

Condemn Labour Government Manoeuvres over Ireland!

ON APRIL 10, an Agreement was reached in the multi-party negotiations on the future of the north of Ireland.

The proposals in the Agreement include the establishment of a devolved Assembly in Belfast with authority over matters now dealt with by the Northern Ireland Office, and with a built-in power-sharing mechanism so that it operates on what the Agreement calls a "cross-community basis", referring to what it calls all sections of the community, that is "nationalist, unionist or other". The proposals also include a North-South Ministerial Council drawn from and answerable to the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Irish Parliament, a British-Irish Council drawn from those two bodies as well as the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, and a British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference. In addition, the proposals include constitutional changes by which British legislation will accept a United Ireland with the consent of a majority in the north of Ireland and Irish legislation will no longer lay claim to the territory of the north-eastern six counties but will make a United Ireland an aspiration dependent on the same consent. Measures concerning rights, decommissioning of paramilitary weapons, policing and justice and release of prisoners are also included.

Acceptance or rejection of the entire Agreement will be put to the voters in the north in a referendum on May 22. On the same day the voters in the Irish Republic will vote in a referendum to accept or reject a Bill of the Irish Parliament concerning the proposed changes to the Irish Constitution.

The settlement has been pushed through principally by the British government, in the interests of English and other capital, no serious discussions actually having taken place over all the years of so-called negotiation. Some of the participants have yet to speak to each other even to this day. The main protagonist advocating an end to partition and British withdrawal, Sinn Fein, was excluded for much of the time. Especially in the last year, an atmosphere of fear and tension was created, not least by the murderous activities of the most dubious forces, which rendered any serious and sober consideration of the issues impossible. Most importantly, the vital question of the sovereignty of the Irish people over their territory, the right of self-determination of the Irish people as a whole – acknowledged at the outset by the Major government and supposed to underpin the entire process – was deliberately obscured or not addressed in the negotiations.

Now, to add insult to injury, all manner of interference is to take place to further cloud the issue and to pressure the voters in the north of Ireland to vote Yes to the Agreement. Blair, Hague, Ashdown, Major are all to go over and campaign. It has even been mooted that the US President will personally intervene. Tony Blair has worked particularly closely with US chieftain Bill Clinton over the settlement of the troubles. Both former Senator Mitchell, the chairman of the talks, and Clinton himself are reported to have put pressure on the participants to meet the deadline, with what threats and cajoleries one can only imagine, but which are bound to be revealed in the course of time.

The IRA has now stated that it considers the Agreement a major development but that it fails to end British rule in Ireland, and that the Referendums on May 22 are not an expression of the Irish national right of self-determination. It also says that it alone will decide when it decommissions its weapons. Meanwhile, Sinn Fein have yet to give a final view on the Agreement. Their final decision will be taken at a special congress on May 10. Meanwhile their leaders have suggested that the Agreement could serve as a stage towards their openly declared aim of an end to partition and British rule over the six counties.

The working class in Britain must take its own stand. It is not for the working class in Britain or its organisations to tell the Irish what they should or should not do. Nor is it for them to simply echo the views and applaud from the sidelines the tactical positions of an organisation of the Irish people manoeuvring with some skill in the complicated circumstances of the Irish polity under massive foreign interference. In their own interests and in solidarity with their fellow workers in Ireland, British workers must condemn the Blair government for its cynical manoeuvres to push through a settlement designed to block any progress towards Irish self-determination and maintain British rule over part of Ireland, however much the tide of history will ultimately sweep such reactionary attempts aside. The further institutionalisation of such 19th century colonialist rule, and of the divisions deliberately created by it over the centuries, can only serve to maintain similar divisions at home as well as justify all manner of attacks on the rights of people in Britain. The working class and all progressive people in Britain must demand that the British government declare its intention to end Britain's rule over part of Ireland and end its interference in the affairs of the Irish people.

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One Year of Tony Blair

MAY FIRST marks one year of Tony Blair's government. It was on May Day last year that the financial oligarchy, having carefully over several years prepared New Labour to be its government, staged what amounts to an electoral coup by which they brought Tony Blair to power. This was engineered to carry through the anti-social offensive against the people in a situation where the crisis of credibility of the parliamentary system and of the way the country was governed – a crisis of the capitalist system itself – had become identified with the Tories. So much so, that the struggle against them was bound to grow into a powerful movement. The bourgeoisie could also envisage that this movement could be transformed into a conscious movement for a new society. The financial oligarchy knows that such a movement can only go towards socialism unless subverted or blocked. At the same time, the bourgeoisie wanted to press forward with its Thatcherite policies, indeed take them further in the developing situation. In other words, the fortress had to be taken from within. It was time for a change.

The experience of one year of Tony Blair's government amply demonstrates that New Labour in power have not only carried on the anti-social offensive against the people, under the guise of modernisation, reform, a fresh approach and so on. They have actually embraced the system of paying the rich with enthusiasm and with no effective parliamentary opposition, and have intensified the onslaught and brought about attacks on the people's interests which go beyond what Thatcher in her prime accomplished. Not for nothing does Blair shamelessly uphold all the main Thatcher "reforms", but boasts that he is taking things further.

One could give a whole catalogue, and itemise how the Labour government is acting on behalf of the rich.


For instance, in the economy, the cutting of social programmes and the robbing of the state treasury, plundering and destroying the national assets, natural, material and most importantly human, in order to finance the monopolies to compete for success in the global market has not only gone on apace but accelerated. All manner of new privatisation initiatives, designed to make facilities developed from public funds into new sources of maximum profit for the rich, have been introduced. By giving debt repayments priority over all other expenditure and in a thousand and one other ways, they hand billions upon billions over to the rich while services for the people's wellbeing continue to deteriorate. Rather than modernising, moving things forward, they are hell-bent on going backwards, on abandoning altogether the concept that society has overall responsibility for all its members. To bring about and to justify further cuts in social provisions such vulnerable sections of the people as single mothers, the disabled and the youth have been subjected to the most vicious attacks going as far as wholesale criminalisation. No amount of bluster from the likes of Gordon Brown that such policies will be of benefit to all can obscure the plain fact that under Labour the society is being further devastated, that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer.


On the constitutional front to give one example, the growing crisis that saw a burgeoning national movement in Scotland as well as in Wales confronting a Tory government dedicated to preserving the status quo posed a threat to the whole system. Only the policy carried through by Labour of establishing a Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly while maintaining all sovereignty in Westminster was capable of heading off the demand for national self-determination and alleviating the crisis for the time being. The fact that the establishment of these institutions will only fuel the movement and lead to greater demands only further exposes the reactionary role of the Labour government. The proposed reform of the House of Lords, the election of a Mayor and Assembly for London, and other constitutional proposals all show Labour attempting to head off the growing demand for empowerment with adjustments which the Tories could not have made but which leave the essential 19th century character of the political institutions intact and preserve the rule of the financial oligarchy they both serve.


Regarding the north of Ireland, they have been engaged since the first week of office in pushing through a new arrangement which will maintain the interests of English and other capital and frustrate the legitimate demand of the Irish people to end British interference in their country, end partition and sort out their own problems on the basis of their right of national self-determination acknowledged by the previous British government but never made reality then or now.


Coupled with New Labour's slogan to Make Britain Great Again and the shameless lauding of 19th century imperialist values which Margaret Thatcher herself would have hesitated to proclaim so openly, Blair's government has outstripped the Tories in the reactionary nature of its foreign policy. Not for nothing does Robin Cook uphold the memory of Ernest Bevin, one of the most belligerent and reactionary of all post-war British Foreign Secretaries. The Labour government has attached itself to the coat-tails of US imperialism as no previous post-war government. It has acted, for instance, as the most loyal junior partner in the recent war threats against Iraq, in the strengthening and expansion of the scope of the warmongering NATO alliance and in all manner of brutish and dangerous manoeuvres. It has resolved the Tory conundrum of US versus EU by cynically arguing that strong links with the USA presuppose a strong presence in the EU. It brought to a close the direct colonial control over Hong Kong but openly proclaimed that interference of a new type would continue. Its whole overall policy of calling on the workers to get behind their particular monopolies to make Britain Number One in the global market is a recipe for conflict and war.

In short, Blair's government has carried forward, indeed intensified, the programme of the rich where the Tories left off.


However, the matter cannot be left at such a catalogue. What will happen when disillusion with the Labour Party reaches crisis point? The Tory Party is hardly in a fit shape at this stage to pull the bourgeoisie's chestnuts out of the fire as did the Labour Party in May last year. It may be a national government which comes to the fore that urges all to pull together for Britain, a coalition to overcome the crisis. Or some even more draconian measures may be put in place. Whichever way, further disasters for the people will be heaped up.

The point here is that the working class must work forthwith to capture the initiative. The answer to the deeds of the Blair government is for the working class to develop its own independent political programme on behalf of the entire people. This is the only way the initiative can be taken away from the bourgeoisie and the block to finding a way out of the crisis overcome.

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London Decides?

THE WHOLE EXERCISE of the Referendum on May 7 to answer the question, "A Mayor and Assembly for London?" has a touch of the bizarre about it. Not least because the people of London will on May 7 decide nothing, despite the motto "London Decides".

Those who go to vote in the London Borough elections on May 7 will be given a second ballot paper for the referendum. The question on this paper will be: "Are you in favour of the Government's proposals for a Greater London Authority made up of an elected Mayor and a separately elected Assembly?"

The holding of this referendum was linked by the Labour government when they came to office with the referendums on the elected bodies for Scotland and Wales, in the context of giving the people a greater say in the running of their lives. That the London referendum and the proposals for a Mayor and Assembly for London in the government's White Paper so evidently do no so thing is an exposure of the government's intentions with regard to the national rights of the Scottish and Welsh people rather than giving any credibility to the London referendum.

Not only is it clear that the proposals for London have nothing to do with solving the people's problems nor are centred around the people's welfare, they will increase and make more rigid the domination of the big parties on political life and on people's affairs. Not only do the proposals provide for 11 out of the 25 members of the Assembly to be voted for on party political lines, but already the jockeying for the nomination for mayor is also taking place solely as a party affair, though the proposals do not specify such. Any conception that the people have a right to control their own affairs on a regional, national or any other basis is conspicuous by its absence. Indeed, like the national electoral law, the White Paper on the Mayor and Assembly for London singles out the danger of "frivolous candidates" who champion "obscure causes", and proposes financial and other hurdles to candidates from amongst the people.

All in all, the proposals which the people of London are supposed to vote Yes or No to on May 7, where they will change anything, will ensure that London is run more directly as a business entity and benefits will accrue insofar as the needs of business are served, and will also ensure that a further tier of government is put in place to keep the people further away from their empowerment.

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May 4 London Talks:

End All Foreign Interference in the Middle East!

PALESTINIAN leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have agreed to attend talks with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in London on May 4, which, it is said, are aimed at reviving what is know as the Middle East peace process. The invitation was made by the Prime Minister Tony Blair following his own recent visit to Egypt, Israel and Gaza and the visits of the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook and other European Union and government officials.

Although there is much talk of the need for peace, the invitation by the British government, which appears to be acting partly as the agent of US imperialism in this matter, cannot hide the fact that Britain and the EU are fishing in troubled waters for their own strategic and economic interests. According to Robin Cook, the EU has already invested more than twice as much as the US in so-called aid to the Palestinians, is concerned to invest in and develop the Palestinian economy in Gaza and has agreed to establish a joint "Security Committee" for improving "counter-terrorist capabilities".

The activities of US and British imperialism in the Middle East have never been designed to bring peace and stability to that region. The invasion and threats against Iraq, the arming of Israel as a gendarme in the region, the Suez invasion of 1956, and the infamous Balfour Declaration of 1917 have all been dictated by the economic and strategic interests of the major imperialist powers and directed against the interests of the peoples of the Middle East.

It is the major imperialist powers that have created and maintained instability in the Middle East throughout this century, and exploited the region for its oil resources, and their meddling will not bring peace and stability in the future. In this regard, their policy is to keep a situation of "No War, No Peace" in the region. The actions of the British government must also be seen in the context of its aim to "make Britain great again" in the global arena, and are not designed to bring peace and security to the Palestinian people either, nor other peoples of this region. Britain, the EU and US imperialism have no business interfering in the Middle East. A lasting peace and stability can be brought about only by ending all foreign interference and leaving the peoples of the Middle East to settle their own affairs.

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AGM of Northern Regional TUC Passes Motion against Anti-Social Offensive of New Labour

ON SATURDAY APRIL 4, the Annual General Meeting of the Northern Regional TUC took place in South Shields. Around 70 delegates from the constituent Trade Unions, Trade Union Councils and County Associations of Trade Union Councils in the northern region took part. One of the items on the agenda was a motion calling on the trade union movement to fight the continuing anti-social offensive of the new Labour government. The motion which was tabled by the South Tyneside Trade Union Council moved that the "Annual General Meeting of the Northern Region TUC views with growing concern the consequences of the strategy of the present government of reducing benefits to the most vulnerable sections of society and reducing the proportion of national wealth that goes into the NHS, education and other public services and continuing the programme of privatisation."

The motion pointed out that: "In essence the aim is to take society even further back along the road of dismantling what all in the workers movement would recognise as the hallmarks of a modern society. The workers movement should demand a reversal in this direction of the economy. The starting point for our vision of a healthy economy must be the meeting of the investments necessary to provide for all the needs of the people in society and it should not start from meeting the demands of the financial circles that society first and foremost is organised to pay its 'debts' to the wealthy. This can be seen clearly by the fact that at present society is forced to find around £26 billion in 'interest' a year on the 'national debt' to the Banks and other financiers." The motion concluded by "calling on the entire movement to join in a campaign of action to fight against the increasing cuts imposed against the most vulnerable sections of society and to demand increased investments in the NHS, education, social spending and other public services and reverse the privatisation of public services."

In moving the motion one the delegates of South Tyneside Trades Union Council highlighted that the people of South Tyneside were presently facing the most serious threat yet to their health service – £3.8 million cuts this year. This meant the permanent closure of the Charles Palmer Day Unit in Jarrow which provides 100 day care places to the elderly a week, the closure of Stanhope Parade clinic, the closure of the radiology unit at Palmer Hospital, the closure of 36 bed elderly care Deans Hospital in South Shields with the relocation of a reduced number of beds at the District Hospital, the cut back in contracted hours of porters at the District hospital and other "efficiency" savings, a reported cut back on children's hospital beds. He also spoke about the continued attacks on local authority services, the benefits to the unemployed, injured workers, disabled people, the sick and the pensioners. He contrasted this with the £10.4 billion record payment in "national debt interest" that the government paid the Banks and other financiers on February 17 and he called on delegates to support the motion. After a debate in which many delegates took part the motion was passed with only three delegates opposed.

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North East:

Support the Just Struggle of the Shipyard Workers on Tyneside

ON April 14, 258 shipyard workers were sacked and locked out of Tyne Tees Dockyard at Hebburn, Tyneside, when they went on strike in a pay dispute with STAG and ZETA contracting companies. These companies were contracted by Aker McNulty which operates a dockyard at another site on Tyneside at South Shields. The workers were working on a £17 million contract from Enterprise Oil to convert the tanker Berge Hugin into a floating production vessel. Aker McNulty had contracted out the order at the request of Enterprise Oil after a dispute in February with its own workforce where it sacked 600 workers and then took them back on after a strike of several days. The dispute started at Tyne Tees Dockyard because contractors STAG and ZETA were attempting to pay lower wages than those of workers at Aker McNulty.

The present dispute has led to unprecedented propaganda against the workers from industrialists and regional and local news media, while national media has so far ignored the situation faced by the workers. The shipyard workers are being attacked for "not having the region's economic interests at heart" and claims that it is the workers who "are damaging industrial relations on Tyneside". But it is the opposite that is the case. It is the capitalist bosses and their political representatives that do not have the interests of the shipyard workers and people of the North East at heart and are trying to force down their wages and are putting the workers in a situation where they cannot resolve their disputes without strike action and where the employers then sack the workers and lock them out. Over the last 20 years it is the financial oligarchy, along with the shipyard owners, that has destroyed the shipbuilding industry, that has withdrawn any job security of the shipyard workers ending their right to lay off pay and throwing tens of thousands onto the dole.

Today shipyard and offshore workers are hired and fired at will and consider themselves fortunate to get a few weeks, or few months work and many are killed and injured in accidents. The industrialists want to cash in on lucrative conversions for the North Sea Oil market but when the workers oppose their penny pinching cut backs on their wages, or the workers make demands for an increase in wages, or demands for improvements in working conditions, they claim the workers are damaging the economy in the North East. It is not the shipyard workers who destroyed the manufacturing base of the North East, the mining villages and communities, or who have closed so many hospitals and schools and created mass unemployment in the region. This has been carried out by the financial oligarchy and their anti-social offensive started by Margaret Thatcher and now being continued by the Blair government. These antics of the ruling class to blame the workers for problems they have caused will not wash. The progressive forces regard the struggle of the shipyard workers to improve their wages and working conditions as an important contribution to the struggle of the working class and people to defeat the anti-social offensive of the ruling class. The demands of the shipyard workers are just and should be supported.

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Government's "Radical New Direction for NHS"

ON WEDNESDAY APRIL 1, Frank Dobson Secretary of State for Health, announced that he was "setting a radical new direction for the NHS and social care". He announced a list of changes that were to start from April 1, such as a £1.7 billion increase in the NHS budget, "Health Action Zones", "Primary Care Pilots", "Commissioning Pilots", "promise to cut waiting lists" and "anti-fraud prescription forms".

Nowhere in the government's statement or in its budget allocation is even the question of guaranteeing the present level of NHS and social services addressed let alone guaranteeing the right of all to health care. The promise of replacement of the previous government's policy for an "internal market", formation of "NHS Trusts" and a "community based" NHS with the policy to do away with the internal market, merge NHS Trusts, and for a "primary health care"-led NHS does nothing to stop the present crisis in health care services. Nowhere does the statement declare its intention to defend and safeguard the NHS and social services in the face of the present savage cuts to services, hospital closures, and job losses and that will stop the NHS being privatised and put further in the hands of the wealthy through the Private Finance Initiative, etc. In the face of the opposition of health care workers, of organisations such as the BMA who are demanding billions of pounds of investment to safeguard only the present level of services, the government is determined to press forward with its anti-social offensive against the NHS and social services by labelling it as a "radical new direction for the NHS and social services" to try and deflect the opposition of the people. For example, one of its announcements is to end "prescription fraud". The real question however is that most working people are forced to pay £5.80 for each prescription item which is an anachronism in a modern society. The real fraud can be seen in the inflated price of these drugs and medicines and huge amounts of public funds in addition to the prescription charges which are handed over to boost the profits of the drug monopolies.

The starting point of a plan from government for the NHS and social services in a modern society can only be that it is planned to meet the people's needs and ensure that health services are equally available to all at the highest standard and that these rights are guaranteed by immediate enabling legislation. The huge debts and overspends hospitals and local authorities face in providing health care and social services should be written off and investments increased by demanding that the economy be planned to meet the health and other needs of the people by implementing a moratorium on debt servicing and repayments to the rich. The working class and people's movement must expose this fraudulent "radical new direction for the NHS and social services" of the Labour government and put forward a direction of their own, as just outlined, for meeting the health care and other needs of society.

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Workers Memorial Day

APRIL 28 was Workers' Memorial Day, when the thousands of workers who are killed and injured at work each year are mourned.

The death and injury inflicted upon workers is one of the most telling indictments of the capitalist system, where the sole motive of production is making maximum profit for the rich, and the health and wellbeing of the producers of wealth, the workers, is sacrificed to this all-encompassing motive. It goes on year in, year out, under this system, irrespective of government.

Workers Memorial Day is marked throughout the world. In Britain, a march took place from the offices of the manufacturing union MSF to the government's Health and Safety Executive to protest at the workers killed in the building industry by asbestos. Wreaths were laid at various places throughout the country to commemorate workers killed at work, including at Halesowen in the West Midlands, and Edinburgh, where a lecture was also given on "Piper Alpha – Ten Years After". Other commemorations were held in Bradford and other places.

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On the Problems in School Education

I am writing to you as a new English teacher, teaching in Washwood Heath, a deprived area in Birmingham. I have to say that I am not impressed by Labour's promises of "Education, education, education!" The school I teach in covers a catchment of children belonging to some of the poorest families in the country.

My school requires extra resources above and beyond what this government has promised to deliver to education. Instead, the school has to solve financial difficulties by various measures, such as making new teachers redundant. Other means of saving money are through restrictions on the budget affecting teaching resources and even schoolbooks. Established teachers are working under the threat of job losses if they do not accept various rationalisation proposals and further pressures on their workload. The practical realities include measures such as increased cover periods for teachers who are ill or on courses. Some of the measures have already affected pupil's essential learning. Many pupils have language and learning difficulties and require extra reading lessons and these have been encroached upon in order to maintain mainstream lessons. Teachers' workloads have already been increased because of the stress on some colleagues who have fallen victim to illness and in one case has been very nearly fatal.

Much of the pressure on the schools has come from outside and is linked to the requirement to perform. The teaching staff is dedicated but is being stretched to their limits of endurance. Teachers have added much value to the skills of the pupils but the reward for the school has been an inflexible and intolerant approach from inspectors. Recently a result of these inspections has been the extension of the working day and reorganisation of school timetables. Teachers overall are having to work many after-school hours. On the premises teachers have to attend many meetings and catch up on bureaucratic paperwork in their own time. Free periods are being eroded and so are lunch and break times. At home, marking and preparation reduces teachers' ability to relax and this work extends into weekends and holiday periods.

I would say that it is no wonder that there is an increasing difficulty to attract teachers into the profession because of the problems of pay and workload. Already teachers are due to take forms of industrial action, such as "limited work to rule", in order to allow teachers to teach properly. I am sure that these forms of expressions of growing discontent will break out into a deeper political crisis in education. All of those who have an interest in education will have to confront a government which has reneged on an important promise to the electorate, in order to gain a high quality service.

Birmingham teacher

The Youth Are Not the Problem!

IT IS shocking to read comments made on Radio 4 on Monday by Home Secretary Jack Straw that the most serious social issue facing the government is what he terms "delinquent teenagers". This follows other comments by him and by other government ministers in the past week, as well as a major article in the Sunday Times, depicting the so-called "attitude problem" of 16-25 year olds as one of the greatest problems of the society. Various measures are proposed to keep these troublesome youngsters in line.

Not content with selling off playing fields, cutting public funding for sports, cultural and other provisions for the youth to the bone, narrowing the scope of higher education to that of providing only those skills needed by the monopolies and making the students and their families pay even for that, condemning young workers to low-wage sweat-shop conditions and so on, and so on, Jack Straw and his ilk want to blame the recipients of all these attacks of the rich for all the ills of society and further attack them!

I think we should condemn these sordid attacks on the youth, which seek to isolate and marginalise them and block them from taking up for solution their own problems as well as joining with the workers, the women and other sections to resolve the problems of the whole society. The youth of the nineties are just great! Rarely has a younger generation been distinguished by such concern for such issues as racism, world peace and the environment as today's youth, allied to the vigour, the enthusiasm for what is new, the desire to build a better society, which characterises the youth of every period. I, for one, have every confidence that the youth and students of today will meet the challenge of the new century, will defend their own collective, and, taking up politics and providing themselves with a world outlook, will come to the fore, along with the other sections, in resolving the problems of the whole society.

From a youth of the sixties

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Disabled People Oppose Reactionary "Centre for Life"

IN JANUARY, Tyne & Wear Development Corporation (TWDC) organised a conference for the setting up of "The International Centre for Life" in Newcastle at a cost of £54 million, the building of which is presently under construction. The project is being backed by regional bodies including the NHS Executive, University of Newcastle, City of Newcastle-upon-Tyne as well as private investors. It is intended that £25 million will come from the millennium fund with matching funding from the TWDC, EU and private investment.

The aim of the centre is to "celebrate and explore the genetic code – the secret of life", "promote international research into genetics through the Genetics Institute", "encourage people to pursue healthy lifestyles" and "nurture small companies in the field of Bio-science". However, the ideology behind the centre is to pose the question of finding the "recipe" for a human being: "What is individuality? How do genes influence behaviour – are there really genes for shyness or sexual orientation? How can we correct faulty messages ... Are there noble genes that endow us with pro-social instincts as if we were ants? And do the clues to heart disease, cancer of consciousness lie within those same genes?" The "International Centre for Life" intends to create a permanent "theme park" exhibition where it will promote these questions and issues such as, "Should we suppress analysis of the genetic components of intelligence? Should society be able to influence whether those with gene faults may procreate, as is now the law in China?" According to the organisers only the "crude" eugenic policies "will be exposed".

Addressing the conference from the platform, a representative of the organisation Disability Action North East (DANE), issued a statement calling on those present to dissociate themselves from the so-called "Centre for Life". The representative of DANE said that "disability arises not with the impairment of the individual, but is the result of social barriers that cause disablement". He pointed out that genetics as promoted by the "Centre for Life" "is not holistic, its analysis is based upon atomising the life of human beings into its crudest organic parts. Under the guise of 'making the world a better place' bio-technology offers, ultimately, to recompose all genetically-based life forms on this planet, including our species, into new pre-determined stereotypes." He argued that "by the sheer exclusiveness of its technique genetics raises itself above the control of society". And he pointed out that it places the manipulation and ownership of gene materials solely into the hands of the state and monopoly interests. "We have all seen, in the holocaust of Nazi Germany, just what such an unholy alliance can bring down on the heads of humanity."

The representative of DANE said that it is the "removal of the social barriers of disablement that should be being fully explored and funded today". And therefore, he said, it was an outrage that such gross amounts of finance have been siphoned into the Genome and its associated projects, all of which "bear the stamp of the Medical Model of disability". He called for such funds to be diverted into alternative projects – such as DANE's proposed Centre for Community Development and Independent Living, projects democratically controlled by and pursuing the real interests of disabled people. After delivering his intervention the representative of DANE left the conference, but the intervention has sparked off widespread discussion among the people on the issue.

This action of the disabled people's movement highlights the anti-human course on which natural and social science is presently set, in which science is put solely in the service of maximum profits for the monopoly capitalists and financial oligarchy. It underlines the necessity to work for a society where natural and social science is humanised and placed under the control of the people to meet their needs.

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G8 Summit and its Opposition

THE heads of state or government of the G8 countries, the so-called "leading industrialised nations", are to meet at a Summit in Birmingham on May 15-17. The G7 countries are Britain, France, Germany, Japan, the US, Italy and Canada. Russia has begun to participate since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but the meeting in May will officially be the first G8 Summit.

The British government, hosting the summit, has announced that the agenda will cover three central themes of "employability, crime, and the global economic situation". A "People's Summit" is to be held in Birmingham at the same time in opposition to the G8 Summit. The organisers say, "The People's Summit is an alternative forum to the G8 and is your chance to challenge the way these countries rule the world." The People's Summit is an informal alliance of over fifty organisations co-ordinated by the New Economics Foundation, with Jubilee 2000 Coalition leading work on debt relief. Workers' Weekly will report more fully on these Summits in future issues.

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7th Congress Image

Successful Holding of 7th Congress of CPC(M-L)

THE Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) held its 7th Congress in Ottawa from March 28-31. The Congress was attended by delegates and observers from all across Canada, as well as fraternal delegations from the Communist Party of Brazil, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People's Army (FARC-EP), the Communist Party of Cuba, the Communist Ghadar Party of India, the Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist-Leninist), the Labour Union of Mexico, the Committee for Defence of Human Rights in Puerto Rico, and the US Marxist-Leninist Organisation.

Below we reprint the text of the Communiqué issued by the National Office of CPC(M-L), April 2, 1998

On March 31, 1998, the 28th Anniversary of its Founding, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) successfully concluded the proceedings of its 7th Congress, held in Ottawa-Hull from March 28-31.

"The 7th Congress," said Pierre Chénier, Secretary of the National Office of CPC(M-L), "was the first Party Congress to be held without Comrade Hardial Bains, our National Leader who passed away on August 24 last year. The Congress was dedicated to Comrade Bains and honoured the work he carried out during the last 35 years of his life to defend the edifice of communism so as to open society's door to progress. The essence of this work is the affirmation of the human factor, social consciousness. The Party's 7th Congress, its highest decision-making body, marked the success of this work and took the necessary measures to turn it into final victory."

Picture of Session of 7th Congress of CPC(ML)

The 7th Congress of CPC(M-L) was held under the theme of the Party's Historic Initiative, Preparing for the 21st Century: Stop Paying the Rich Increase Funding for Social Programmes. The Report to the Congress, The Thinking Canadian – The Challenge CPC(M-L) Accepts, was presented by Sandra Smith on behalf of the Central Committee. It was then discussed and other agenda items were dealt with: the election of a National Commission to Transform CPC(M-L) into a Mass Communist Party, and the election of a new National Leader and of the new Central Committee. The Congress successfully completed its agenda.

The new 21-member Central Committee of the Party, its leading body between Congresses, is comprised of a majority of communist workers and a majority of communist women. "In itself, this shows how the Party gives pride of place to the workers and women and puts them in the vanguard of the society," Pierre Chénier pointed out.

The 7th Congress elected all Congress delegates to the National Commission to Transform CPC(M-L) into a Mass Communist Party and nominated Karen Naylor, a fifh-generation railway worker, to chair the National Commission.

The 7th Congress elected Sandra Smith as its new National Leader. Sandra joined The Internationalists, the precursor organisation of CPC(M-L), in 1968. A founding member of the Party, she has played a leading role in all its main work throughout the years. She is particularly known nationally and internationally for her work on the modern definition of rights and their defence. She has put forward the thesis that people have inviolable rights by virtue of being human, that modern definitions of economic, political, social, cultural and collective rights stem from this reality, and that society must harmonise the rights of the individual with those of their collectives, and those of individuals and their collectives with the general interests of society. This thesis is central to the call for the working class and people to open society's path to progress by recognising the claims of all its members upon it. On the basis of this work, she champions the recognition of the right of Quebec to self-determination, the hereditary rights of the First Nations, the affirmation of women and of the collective rights of youth and students, the working class, national minorities, the disabled, and others.

On March 31, the Party held the Closing Rally of the 7th Congress in Vanier. It was a festive evening marked by the same unbridled enthusiasm of the participants which had permeated the entire Congress proceedings.

The Congress received messages of greetings from 24 fraternal organisations abroad and from many Canadian organisations and individuals. Representatives of several Canadian political parties participated in the Congress proceedings as observers, some of whom also addressed the Congress. Individuals from other political parties were also present, as were representatives of organisations of students and workers.

Visit the Web Page of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)

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Message from Chris Coleman, RCPB(ML), to 7th Congress

Dear Comrade Delegates, Fraternal Delegates and Friends,

It is with the greatest joy that, on behalf of the Central Committee, our entire Party and its supporters, and the many friends and well-wishers in Britain of your Party, I bring the warmest greetings and heartfelt congratulations to this historic 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist).

As the 21st century approaches, the people of Canada, as do the people of all the nations of the world, look towards a fundamental change in their lives. They look for a vision of a new society that meets their aspirations. They look for a society in which the people themselves are sovereign and in which the needs of the people are made paramount. The Historic Initiative and Five-Year Plan launched by our beloved comrade Hardial Bains in 1995, the Party's Programme Preparing for the 21st Century: Stop Paying the Rich; Increase Funding for Social Programmes, and the Election of a National Commission to Transform CPC(ML) into a Mass Communist Party, which are being discussed and will be confirmed at this Congress, provide the working class and people with such a vision and open the way for such a new society.

In Canada today, as has been pointed out and as in virtually every other country, the bourgeoisie has as its aim for society only that of creating an environment for success in the global market, destroying all the material, natural and human assets of the nation in the process. The imperialist powers increasingly adopt the medieval concept of Might Makes Right, attempt to impose their will on all and sundry in the most brutal fashion, as with Cuba and other countries, and threaten the peace and security of the world. They offer the people only increasing poverty, disintegration of society, and war. They proclaim that there is no other choice. This 7th Congress offers the way forward. It is truly the most important event in the life of the polity in Canada.

We are sure we are not alone in finding it hard to grasp that such an event as this is taking place without our dear comrade Hardial Bains. Our sense of loss, as yours, is immense and it is difficult to find adequate words to describe it. But, as has been said before, his presence is everywhere. That this 7th Congress is going ahead with such success, as have all the programmes since his sad and so untimely passing, is testimony to the fact that, however towering a figure, in fact because of it, his leadership was never that solely of an individual. The great and enduring merit of the life and work of Comrade Bains was that he built a Party, he created a collective, he laid down a path, he released energies which have enabled the Party to follow his last instructions – to march on – with vigour, with optimism, and with great success.

We must also say that Comrade Bains was always an internationalist in the very best sense of the word, and that he built a Party that is and always was outstanding in its internationalism. The participation of the fraternal parties in this 7th Congress, as was the participation of those of us who were able to in the Party School and National Consultative Forum, is entirely in the tradition of proletarian internationalism in which Comrade Bains and our parties educated us. Our strength has always been in working in our own countries, in close exchanges of experience, and in our joint work, facing shoulder to shoulder the problems which arise, as we have over the past year with the unexpected illness and sudden loss of Comrade Bains. In turning our grief at his passing into collective strength, it is working together even more closely which will be the guarantee of turning success into victory in the years to come as in the past. And it is such proletarian internationalist relations we all strive to develop in this new period with the whole communist movement.

The work of this 7th Congress shows the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), as has all its path-finding work in the past, standing on its own feet and basing itself on its own thinking. This was the case with the work of The Internationalists in the 60's, with the formulation of radically new methods of work based on such principles as Understanding Requires the Conscious Participation of the Individual; an Act of Finding Out. It was the case with the analysis of 1985 that the world had reached a turning point and that no force could act in the old way. It was the case with the characterisation of the present period as one of retreat of revolution and the putting forward of the tasks of the communist and workers movement which arose from that; the formulation of modern definitions, of Contemporary Marxist-Leninist Thought, to meet the needs of this period and open the path to progress. We are sure that the decisions of this 7th Congress will also be of the greatest importance not only for Canada, but will be an important contribution for the struggles of the peoples of the world and to the international communist movement.

Once again, we offer our warmest congratulations to the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) on this important occasion of the holding of its 7th Congress, in which we are very honoured to participate. We wish you from our hearts all success in the implementation of its decisions, which have our full support.

Hail the 7th Congress of CPC(ML)!

To the Further Strengthening of the Relations between Our Parties!

Long Live Proletarian Internationalism!

Thank you.

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Meeting to Commemorate 86th Birthday of Kim Il Sung

A very successful and well-attended meeting was organised on April 11 at the Conway Hall, London, by the Korean Friendship and Solidarity Campaign (KFSC) to commemorate the 86th birthday of the late President Kim Il Sung. Kim Il Sung died in 1994, aged 82. Keith Bennett, KFSC chairperson, welcomed the participants, giving a special welcome to the newly installed Permanent Representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the International Maritime Organisation in London, Pak Jaong Il, and other Korean residents in Britain. He then spoke of the great achievements of Kim Il Sung in the service both of the Korean people and internationally.

Short speeches were then given to the meeting by Andy Brooks, General Secretary of NCP, Chris Coleman of RCPB(ML), Labour Councillor Mushtaq Lasherie, Mohamed Arif of British Afro-Asian Solidarity Organisation, veteran journalist Robert Govinder and others. Lila Patel, Secretary of KFSC, spoke of the work of the campaigning group and urged friends of Korea to work with it.

Messages of greeting were read to the meeting from trade union leaders Arthur Scargill of NUM, Ken Cameron of FBU, Mersey dockers' leader Jimmy Nolan and Kewal Purewal, President of IWA(GB). Messages from former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath MP, Dafydd Wigley MP, leader of Plaid Cymru, Labour MPs Harry Cohen, Keith Vaz, P.S. Khabra and Bill Etherington and MEPs including Mike Hindley, Alec Falconer, Alf Lomas and Stan Newens, were also read out.

The meeting concluded with a social that included the showing of a video on the celebration of President Kim Il Sung's 80th birthday.

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Message by Chris Coleman on behalf of RCPB(ML)

We consider it a great honour to participate with our Korean comrades and with other friends of Korea in this commemoration of the 86th birthday of the late President Kim Il Sung, which day is to be called the Day of the Sun.

The previous speakers have outlined the great achievements of Comrade Kim Il Sung, which make him rightly called the father of the Korean nation and one of the great revolutionary figures of the 20th century. His great legacy, it seems to us, is there for all to see. It can be seen in the brilliant society built in the DPRK from the very ashes of 1953, in the wonderful provisions made for the people's overall wellbeing, in the heroic stands taken by the DPRK to stick to its chosen path in the face of the most brutal imperialist pressure to fall into line. His great spirit is today embodied in the person of Comrade Kim Jong Il, who has led the Korean people without wavering since his sad and untimely passing along the path laid down by the great leader, the path of independence, of socialism, of striving for the reunification of the homeland.

The cause in which these two great leaders have led the Korean people is the cause of all progressive humanity. This is the basis of our solidarity. And we think it incumbent on all progressive forces in this country, regardless of differences, to demand that the British government change its stand on the DPRK, recognise it and proceed speedily to full diplomatic relations, and demand the withdrawal of the US and its nuclear arsenal from the south, which would open the way for the Korean people to achieve their cherished aspiration for reunification.

It is with this in mind that we celebrate the 86th birthday of the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung.

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The International Conference of Solidarity among Women was held in Havana, Cuba from April 13-17 with the participation of more than 3,000 women from around the world.

The Conference was held to discuss issues concerning women:

the economy and sustainable development; the political participation of women and access to decision-making; health, education, culture and social security; women and the means of communication; violence and discrimination, independence and peace, amongst other issues.

On April 15, Vice-president of the Cuban National Assembly, Carlos Lage, the President of the National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon, and the Minister of Science, Technology and the Environment, Rosa Elena Simeon addressed participants. The closing rally was held in Havana's Karl Marx Theatre.

Cuban President Fidel Castro delivered the closing speech to the Conference on April 16. He opened his speech by describing the conditions in which most of the world's people are living – of poverty, homelessness, illiteracy, lack of access to education, health care. President Castro pointed out that these problems are being made even more severe by the neo-liberal policies being imposed by the imperialists, who, he said, "are devouring the spirits of millions in order to enrich themselves from the blood, sweat, natural resources and exploitation of their victims." President Castro called for the unity of workers, professionals and peasants "as the only way to bring about the much needed changes in this globalised and neoliberalised world". President Castro received a sustained standing ovation from the women present.

The women unanimously adopted a final declaration which, among other things, condemns the blockade of Cuba and demands that it be lifted. The declaration calls on all participants to begin actions in their respective countries to demand the blockade be lifted and proposed that March 8th International Women's Day next year be a day of International Solidarity with Cuban Women. As well, the women decided to organise an International Women's March to Demand Social Justice and Against Poverty, which will take place in the year 2000.

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Paul Robeson Centenary Conference

A THREE-DAY CONFERENCE to mark the centenary of the birth of Paul Robeson, the outstanding American singer and actor, was held at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, from April 16-18. The conference included contributions from those who had known and worked with Robeson, especially during the time he spent in Britain, as well as discussions on his films and musical and stage performances. The conference also included an exhibition, rare archive film and sound recordings, including some of Robeson's speeches, and a moving performance of his songs by a young singer from Liverpool.

Drawing of Paul Robeson

The conference highlighted the fact that Paul Robeson was not only a great artist, but above all else one who put culture and his talent in the service of the people. Participants explained how he had made important contributions to the anti-fascist struggle and the International Brigade in Spain in the 1930s, to the anti-colonial struggles in Africa, the Caribbean, and India, and to the international peace movement. It was pointed out that Robeson not only contributed to the peoples' struggles but also learned from them, especially from the workers of Britain. It was in Britain, Robeson explained in his bookHere I Stand, that he came to believe in the oneness of humanity and to see that his life and work should be with the workers of all lands.

The main speaker at the conference was Lloyd Brown, co-author of Here I Stand and a close friend, comrade and biographer of Paul Robeson. He spoke of the attempts by the US government to persecute Robeson for his political activities and to eliminate his name and personality from history. He also gave examples of how today many people claim to speak for Robeson, and re-interpret and attack his life and work. He pointed out that Robeson had made clear his belief in the principles of scientific socialism and had set out his views on many other issues in his book and in his speeches and that these speak for themselves. He spoke movingly of Robeson's great love of the people and his selfless devotion to their struggles and with many examples made it clear that Robeson remained a man of principles and staunch in his convictions until the end of his life.

The conference showed that despite all attempts to denigrate his life and work Paul Robeson remains one of the titans of the century – a great artist who was a political activist, who lived and worked to serve the people and championed their rights, who saw that the artist must take a stand on the side of the oppressed.

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