‘Consign capitalism to the Natural History Museum!’ –Jonty Leff tells Anniversary Rally

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Young Socialists leading the march from Weavers Fields in Bethnal Green to the rally in Mile End
Young Socialists leading the march from Weavers Fields in Bethnal Green to the rally in Mile End

More than 200 workers and youth got massive support from residents and shoppers as they marched through east London on Sunday, to a rally at Queen Mary University to celebrate the 43rd Anniversary of the daily News Line and to mark the 72nd anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky.

Some spoke to News Line before setting off on the march from Bethnal Green to Mile End.

Adam Thornber from Sheffield Young Socialists said: ‘There’s no work. I left college in 2010. I did my education in Bradford and moved to Sheffield looking for work.

‘Workers are the ones who are producing all the profits. Even when I was on an apprenticeship I was doing a qualified person’s work, for £4 an hour.

‘Industry should be run by the workers. This is my first march. I’m basically interested in getting involved and making a difference.’

Marilyn Sylvester, from Wembley in north-west London, said: ‘Where I live they are planning to close down the A&Es at four of our hospitals – Central Middlesex, Charing Cross, Hammersmith and Ealing. Ealing Hospital was opened just 30 years ago, why close it now? We have to stop it closing.’

Oladayo Oyeloka, from London Bridge, said: ‘This is my first march. To be honest, I want to help bring down tuition fees and stop hospitals closing.’

Emmanuel Gashaija, Hackney Young Socialists, said: ‘We want to go to university for free. Education must be free for everyone. Also, EMA must be restarted for every student so they can live.

‘This government is making wars we don’t believe in against poor people in other countries and against Palestinians.’

Abri Berhane, a student at City and Islington College, carried the lead banner. He said: ‘We have to get rid of the government. There are a lot of problems here, for example, housing, education fees and unemployment. This government is the enemy of the working class.’

Edward Eruohwo, a student from south east London, said: ‘They should stop attacking benefits. Education should be free. How can anyone find £9,000? This system has to go. We all think the same way.

‘Also I want to stop them attacking ESOL (English as a Second Language) students. ESOL students must not have their benefits stopped.’

Then the march set off with Young Socialists members leading the slogans: ‘We won’t pay tuition fees – Education must be free! No cuts, no closures – Kick this government out! No Privatisation – Defend the NHS! Stop all hospital closures – Occupy Now!’

Other slogans included: ‘From the River to the Sea – Palestine will be free! One State – Palestine! Youth Demand a Future – Youth demand Jobs! Hands off Syria, Hands off Libya – Imperialism Out! Victory to the South African Miners – Socialism Now! and Victory to the Gate Gourmet workers – End Cheap Labour!’

Leading the march was the ‘News Line 43rd Anniversary – General Strike Now! For a Workers Government and Socialism!’ banner along with red flag-waving Young Socialists.

General Secretary of the Workers Revolutionary Party, Frank Sweeney chaired the rally, saying ‘The News Line has a history of struggle. We’ve never pulled our punches. We support the current struggles of the Libyan and Syrian people against the imperialists. This period is the death agony of capitalism.’

Dave Wiltshire, National Secretary of the All Trades Unions Alliance, said: ‘Everything Trotsky fought for is coming together now. When the banks go, everything goes. Ford announced this week that it is pulling out of Britain. Manufacturing is following banking in total collapse.

‘IMF chief Christine Lagarde described this generation as a lost generation. It’s not a lost generation, it’s a revolutionary generation.

‘In Greece it’s the youth that have been in the lead. The anti-austerity movement has taken off.

‘McCluskey said “do we want a general strike” and everyone said yes. They can’t contain this movement. A general strike poses point blank the issue of power. This coalition government is on its knees, it’s a shambles. The only thing it’s got going for it is the Labour Party.’

He concluded: ‘What’s decisive is leadership. This mass movement needs conscious leadership. Build the International Committee of the Fourth International.’

Dr Philip Howard, a member of the Consultants Committee of the BMA said: ‘On 5th July 1948, one day, everything changed. The NHS, the greatest social enterprise in British history, was founded.

‘Sixty-four years later we are facing an equally historic situation. We know we have the finest healthcare system in the world. We have a very fine healthcare system. It is a partnership between doctors and nurses and their patients.’

Dr Howard condemned the situation in south west London, where the hospitals are under attack and the government is planning to close the casualty, paediatrics and maternity units at St Helier’s Hospital in Carshalton.

‘A fair amount of privatisation has taken over already in the NHS,’ he warned.

Young Socialists National Secretary Joshua Ogunleye said: ‘One thing young people are not afraid of is struggle. They are in a life and death struggle for a future.

‘We demand a future. For society to go forward young people must be able to get jobs, housing, education. But that’s not possible today. Their system is going backwards.

‘This government is bringing in slave labour. McDonald’s and these A4e friends of Cameron have all chipped in to try to force young people to work for nothing.

‘We must prepare to take power. Smash capitalism, forward to a future under socialism.’

Rajab Algazaly, from the Libyan Students Organisation, said: ‘It’s little more than a year since the large scale action. Massacres are going on at the moment and there is no publicity about them.

‘The government is unable to control the militias, indeed it relies on them, Some detainees are being tortured to death. There are revenge attacks against former Gadaffi supporters. Bani Walid is under attack.

‘What’s happening in Libya now is beyond imagination. But people are rising up and will never stop the fight. We will get our country back.’

Former BMA Council member Anna Athow said: ‘The Health and Social Care Act was brought in with no organised opposition to it by the trade unions.

‘This government is outsourcing 6,000 different services, bringing £20 billion cuts. 27,000 NHS jobs have been lost since the election. They want to abolish national terms and conditions.

‘Occupations need to be organised to stop them stripping out the A&Es. Councils of Action need to be set up everywhere.’

Young Socialist Editor Paul Lepper said: ‘There is no life for anyone today under capitalism. Millions of young people are not able to find a future. The only option open to young people is to fight for revolution.

‘The woman from the IMF said it’s a lost generation. No it’s not, it’s a revolutionary generation.

‘We’ve got a fantastic YS newspaper. We need to build our movement in this country and internationally. We’re going to do a job on them.’

Speaking on behalf of the Gate Gourmet sacked workers, Parmjit Bains said: ‘It’s seven years since August 2005 when our company brought in cheap labour agency workers to replace us.

‘We went to a meeting and 800 of us were sacked with three minutes notice.

‘Next day we had a picket and union leader Tony Woodley said don’t worry, all will go back together.

‘But the union leaders signed a compromise agreement accepting the sackings. But we didn’t sign.

‘The union leaders refused to accept any responsibility or even say sorry. We are going to the High Court now. We want leaders that fight for their members and not do deals behind their backs.

‘We are not just fighting for ourselves, but for all workers.’

Issa Chaer from the Syrian Social Club, said: ‘When we were talking a year ago, the deaths were at 10,000, now it’s over 35,000.

‘Syria is a country where imperialist countries are meddling, supporting armed militias bringing anarchy, violence, kidnappings, killings.

‘The EU won a peace prize three weeks ago. Now they have stopped 19 media channels that supported Syria. What double standards and hypocrisy.’

Nick Axarlis, Secretary of the Revolutionary Marxist League, Greek section of the ICFI, said: ‘The situation is characterised by the whole collapse of the capitalist system and uprising and revolution has broken out in Greece over the past two years. Make no mistake, it’s broken out.

‘55% of youth are unemployed, 25% of all workers. This is what forces people in Greece to rise up in revolution. But as history has shown over and over again, you need a revolutionary party.

‘Victory to the working class all over the world.’

A message was sent to the rally from Marios Lolos, President of the Greek Press Photographers’ Association, stating: ‘Congratulations on the 43rd anniversary of the News Line, the daily Trotskyist newspaper.

‘Your paper has been reporting with many photographs the struggles of the Greek workers to get rid of the austerities accords, the Troika of EC-IMF-ECB and of the reactionary coalition government.

‘All over Europe workers and youth are rising up against austerity and capitalism.

‘As photographers we are trying to capture the revolutionary struggle in Greece, but also the attacks of the riot police.

‘We hope that by photographing truthfully today’s events we are contributing to the victory of the working class.

‘Hopefully our photographs will be seen all over the world.’

Workers Revolutionary Party Assistant General Secretary, Jonty Leff was the final speaker.

He said: ‘In celebrating the News Line we celebrate Trotskyism, the Marxism of today.

‘Without that revolutionary outlook and method, which is our guide to action, we would never have been able to achieve our daily paper, nor maintain it and develop it, to the point where today this paper is going to be the organiser, educator and propagandist of the British revolution.

‘It will also inspire other comrades to do the same in their own countries, and because of the very revolutionary period we are living in, in a very much shorter time than it took us in the UK.

‘This is why today we are marking the 72 years since Trotsky was assassinated by Stalin.’

Leff added: ‘In South Africa, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the South African miners to resolve the crisis of leadership by building the section of the Fourth International.

‘The ANC, that was to lead the African workers and farmers out of apartheid and into a new world where all the people of South Africa share in the country’s wealth, has become the local agent of world capitalism

‘18 years after Nelson Mandela came to power, millions of impoverished African workers are still languishing in squalor, in tin huts with no electricity or toilets, where apartheid very much exists in the huge gap between the rich and the poor.

‘It is the same crisis of leadership that faces the Palestinian masses. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the embattled Palestinian fighters who have also gone way beyond their traditional leaders of Hamas and Fatah.

‘The working class in Palestine has gone beyond the bourgeois nationalist leadership of Fatah. It rejects the two state solution and wants one state of Palestine where Arab and Jewish workers will live side by side. It is seeking to build a new revolutionary leadership.

‘In Libya, we support those masses that fought the NATO backed invasion, and continue to fight the gangs of traitors who have sold themselves to NATO and the imperialist powers.

‘In Britain we are amidst a social explosion. Local residents are occupying libraries to stop their closure, disabled people are chaining themselves across roads, blocking the traffic against the massive benefit cuts, tens of thousands in every area pour onto the streets every weekend to defend their local hospitals, in the last year alone we have had teachers, tube workers, buses, council workers, lecturers even doctors have come out on strike, every section of society are rising up to defend the historic gains of the working class, council housing, a free national health service, pensions, a free education system and jobs.

‘Over a million youth are unemployed and youth have risen up again and again over police killings, the destruction of EMA and £9,000 university fees.

‘Last Saturday half a million took to the streets, from every town and city in the country delegations of workers came in what was the biggest march since the Iraq war.’

Leff added: ‘We have to build the WRP and its youth section the Young Socialists into mass organisations that will lead the working class to take the power.

‘We are building a party that will remove the rotten layer of union leaders, and replace them with a revolutionary leadership, that will build a mass Young Socialist movement and mobilise millions of workers and youth for the socialist revolution.’

He concluded: ‘We have to build a revolutionary leadership all over the world and build our party here to lead the working class to do its historic job, to bury capitalism and assign it a place in the Natural History Museum.

‘Marx called socialism the beginning of man’s real history and all before it his pre-history. Our task is to mobilise the working class and youth of the world to liberate humanity from the dying, dangerous and desperate capitalist system, so that it can advance forwards to build a socialist society, and not be driven backwards by capitalism and imperialism to some new dark ages.’