‘THIS ISN’T a general election, it’s a general strike building up,’ News Line editor Jonty Leff told Sunday’s powerful over 100-strong News Line Anniversary Rally at the Indian YMCA centre in Fitzroy Square, central London on Sunday afternoon.
‘People are saying shut Parliament down. Well, let’s build the WRP up, across the country. Let’s overthrow the capitalist system,’ he urged the audience. ‘A revolution in Britain will be a decisive step in the world socialist revolution.’
Chairing the rally and opening it, Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) Central Committee member Frank Sweeney said: ‘Today we celebrate 50 years of production of the daily News Line, which is a great achievement.
‘The News Line is the daily paper of the Workers Revolutionary Party, British section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, World Party of socialist revolution. Throughout its history it has come under strong attack from the bourgeoisie, but we have always fought and beaten them on the basis of our fight for socialist policies in Britain and a strong internationalist position.
‘Today, 11 years after the financial crisis of 2008, the whole of capitalist system is teetering on the brink of collapse. Around the world millions can’t live and can’t eat. And it’s the same in Britain, even amongst those in work.
‘Also today we are marking the 79th anniversary of the assassination of comrade Leon Trotsky. Trotskyism is at the heart of our paper and the fight for the unity of Marxist theory and practice as the essence of building the revolutionary leadership for the working class to overthrow the capitalist system and bring in a socialist society.
‘Never before has there been a crisis like today. Now, like never before is the time to build our party to lead the successful socialist revolution.’
The first speaker was WRP Central Committee member Dave Wiltshire, who said: ‘Revolution is breaking out all over the world. In France the Yellow Vests have been rising up for over one year now, while there are also mass revolutionary movements across Latin America.
‘In Britain, where there was a huge vote amongst postal workers for strike action, there is a national debt of £1.8 trillion and a huge crisis in the NHS due to austerity cuts.
‘The working class delivered an almighty kick in the teeth to the ruling class in the Referendum, with every union except the rail unions and the Bakers Union (which are to be congratulated) instructing their members to vote Remain. The Labour Party wrote to all its members saying you must vote Remain. But the working class defied them.
‘The Labour Manifesto, which was launched last Thursday, presented some attractive policies including nationalisation. But it doesn’t even mention socialism, and how are they going to finance it?
‘McDonnell was clear – borrow £400 billion. He came out and said we can borrow this because of low interest rates. This is reformist lunacy. There is a lot of pressure for interest rates to go up. And are the bankers going to invest this money in a Corbyn government?
‘Allende in Chile was crushed by the bankers and Corbyn had better watch it or he might be facing his own Allende moment.
‘Even minimal socialist measures like are contained in Labour’s manifesto can only be brought in by socialist revolution. We say that workers must expropriate the bankers and take over the banks, bringing in a workers revolutionary government which will actually take the necessary action. The real urgent task here is to build the party.’
Dr Bob Gill GP, of Great NHS Heist, said: ‘I have seen the rise in preventable harm and deaths in my patients because of the cuts, while the passivity of the CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) etc, is complicity.
‘It’s taken 30 years to get where we are today in the onslaught on the NHS. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown carried on the Thatcher plan, which was to rip out the core of hospital leaders and replace them with a huge bloated bureaucracy which removed power from the people responsible for delivering care.
‘Once you have a bloated bureaucracy you can introduce market reforms and normalise the completely bogus buying and selling of healthcare.
‘The cost of the running of the market in the health service is estimated at 10% of the NHS budget in this country, while in America it’s an estimated 35% of their health budget.
‘The IMF (International Monetary Fund) and World Bank have been going around the world seizing “assets”. In this country we had PFI (Private Finance Initiative), which every new government blames the last one for. PFI has saddled the NHS with un-repayable debt. Under PFI the NHS has borrowed £11 billion and will have to pay back over £80 billion, at the end of it you don’t even own the asset!
‘It’s all about grabbing various assets. To you and me the NHS is doctors and nurses looking after patients. But to them it’s about acquiring assets – land, patient data, budgets, which are £120 billion a year.
‘The final trick they are pulling off is doctors being hoodwinked into signing a deal to accept all of this. What we will have is a dumbed down service and in the future when you seek an appointment with your GP you will be met by a receptionist who will decide who you see.
‘It has been estimated that 120,000 people have died in excess of expectation in this country. For three years in a row now infant mortality has gone up, the first time this has been observed outside of wartime. We have to stop this nightmarish trajectory.’
Joe Brack from the Julian Assange Defence Committee, said: ‘First I want to say thank you to the News Line which has been incredibly supportive of Julian’s case.
‘Many years ago WikiLeaks revealed what our government was doing in Iraq and around the world. Unfortunately the UK justice system has said Julian is not a journalist but a thief and he is facing a living death sentence of 175 years.
‘In Belmarsh Prison, where he is in isolation 23 hours a day, with no access to documents or a computer, his father, who visits him regularly, says his physical and mental health is deteriorating each visit.
‘The status now is that we are very worried that Julian will not make the February hearing next year. On 13th and 19th December there are court hearings in Westminster and anyone who can make it will be welcome. We are demanding that UK laws apply and not US laws.
‘What they are doing is illegal and we are demanding that these ridiculous American extradition charges can be thrown back.
‘Julian Assange represents freedom of speech in this country and the world.
‘News Line is one of the few newspapers that speaks out for this.
‘I will only vote for Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott if they come out and tell us that they will give Julian Assange real support. I hope we can free Julian Assange before Christmas and not have to wait until February.’
Hassan Zulkifal, WRP general election candidate for Ealing Southall Constituency, said: ‘Last Monday, we confronted Tory Health Secretary Matt Hancock who came down to the front of Ealing Hospital to be filmed saying what a great success he’s had by the fact that the A&E is still there.
‘But it’s not his success! The Tories closed our vital maternity and paediatrics departments and we’ve been fighting for seven years against their NHS cuts plans under which these vital units were closed.
‘I asked him to sign our petition to reopen Maternity and Paediatrics, but he said he doesn’t sign petitions and he actually ran away from us while his minders tried to stop us from filming him as he ran.
‘I spoke to him and according to Matt Hancock, all the Tory NHS decisions are “clinically led”. But these are just buzzwords. They pay consultants millions of pounds to justify their cuts, closures and privatisation programme.
‘On our Friday morning pickets of Ealing Hospital we get great support from the public and health workers, especially nurses and they all sign our petition, but not Hancock.’
Zulkifal continued: ‘We’re fighting to build a youth movement. The younger generation know the politicians are liars. We’re on zero hours contracts and the youth have been let down again and again. The only way forward is to take over the means of production.
‘We’re all going to get old, but the care workers are paid absolute peanuts. There’s no difference between the war against the working class in this country and the wars around the world.’
Mayra Crean, Ecuadorian Citizens Assembly, said: ‘On 3rd October, people came onto the streets to protest against the government’s austerity policies.
‘Our previous government of Rafael Corea nationalised oil and gas, carried out a number of socialist policies and kicked the IMF out. But the new government returned Julian Assange to the British government out of London’s Ecuadorian embassy earlier this year, cut health and education and brought in massive unemployment. People have got very angry.
‘The new president blamed Corea and Venezuelan president Maduro for the crisis in Ecuador and the propaganda was massive. The government called for the police to come out, which has left 29 people dead, thousands injured and many illegally incarcerated.
‘The Minister of Defence said the police are too weak and didn’t use enough force. There is massive repression of people who used to work with the Corea government.
‘All of this is happening in Ecuador and it’s also happening in Bolivia and Chile too – all over Latin America. All this comes from the IMF, whose only aim is to steal our resources.’
News Line editor and WRP general election candidate for Hackney South Jonty Leff said: ‘News Line has played a pivotal role in the election, to organise, mobilise and recruit new members.
‘It’s three years since the referendum and the vote to leave the EU, but Parliament has been doing everything it can to prevent Brexit.
‘We’ve got to break with the EU now. This is a revolutionary struggle – a world movement of people rising up against this capitalist system to abolish the mountains of debt.
‘’We are proud of the role that our paper plays and firstly from News Line we send special revolutionary greetings to the Palestinian people. We demand the trade unions act after Trump gave full support to the illegal Israeli settlements last week. The trade unions must organise a boycott of Israel.
‘The EU has imposed austerity everywhere. 110 Yellow Vests came over to support the Julian Assange campaign earlier in the autumn.
‘In France workers are demanding Frexit – they want out of the EU. While in Greece, which has sold off hospitals, schools, everything – to pay for the loans from the Troika – they want Grexit.
‘In Italy there is 30% youth unemployment; in Spain it’s 37%.
‘We are for the unity of the European working class through the creation of a United Socialist States of Europe. That’s the only way forward.
‘The Italian banks are about to crash. When that happens it will spread like wildfire. The Brexit vote was revolutionary and our WRP candidates are getting huge support for their policies of a general strike to bring down the government, quit the EU now with no compensation and nationalise the banks and all major industries.
‘Build a revolutionary leadership. People are furious with Labour’s position. We demand that Labour deselects those right wing MPs who are working might and main against Brexit.
‘Step up our campaign. Contained within this election is the huge divide in Parliament and within that is the widening class divide. Lots of elderly people are being admitted to hospital with malnutrition. The gig economy is zero hours, zero pay and zero future.
‘The High Court judgement last week, ruling the Royal Mail strike illegal shows the huge fear of the working class by the capitalist state and the ruling class. This isn’t a general election, this is a general strike building up. People are saying shut Parliament down. Let’s build the WRP up across the country. Let’s overthrow the capitalist system. A revolution in Britain will be a decisive step in the world socialist revolution.’
The rally concluded with an enthusiastic rendition of The International.