MORE than 200 workers, trade unionists, students and youth marched through Whitechapel to Bethnal Green in central London on Saturday to the News Line Anniversary Rally.
The march and rally to mark the 45th anniversary of the Daily News Line and the 74th anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky was a great success.
The first speaker was Paul Lepper, Editor of the Young Socialist newspaper, who said: ‘This was a powerful march. Whenever we march, it’s like dynamite.
‘This is an important anniversary – 45 years of the daily News Line and 74 years since Trotsky’s assassination. Across the planet young people are standing up, they won’t accept what’s going on.
‘Scores of young people have been shot for the crime of being black and young.
‘When they shot Trayvon Martin there was an uprising, then look at Ferguson in America, where they shot Michael Brown, a continuous uprising. It’s the same with the Tottenham uprising after they shot Mark Duggan. Don’t let them tell you it was riots. It was a youth uprising.
‘The Tories have announced they are bringing in a youth slave labour chain gang, where young people are going to be forced to work for £2.68 an hour.
‘We think it’s time for a change. We’re part of a worldwide movement. In Palestine to exist is to resist. It’s a daily revolutionary act. It’s the same in Greece.
‘The ruling class in this country do all sorts of dirty tricks to try to divide us, but every struggle is connected.
‘This government wants to smash everything. But things are moving. Even in Scotland with this referendum, it was like an uprising of 16-year-olds.
‘We’ve inherited the NHS and the Welfare State and if it takes a revolution to defend our NHS, then we’re a revolutionary generation and that’s where we’re going.
‘We marched from London to Liverpool, we’re building our YS and we’re going to make the TUC call a general strike to bring this government down.’
Steve Gillan, General Secretary of the Prison Officers Association, and a member of the TUC General council said: ‘It’s great to see youngsters stand up with such enthusiasm and we were proud to support the Young Socialists march to the TUC in Liverpool this year.
‘We believed the Young Socialists should have been invited in to speak to the TUC, rather than Bank of England governor Mark Carney. It’s a disgrace they were kept outside.
‘In 1994 they made it an offence for any prison officer to take industrial action, but in 1997 we took national action. The anti-union laws mean you’ve got to jump through so many hoops to take action.
‘But action has to be taken. What they are trying to do is be divisive. They are attacking our pensions. A pension is an absolute right; it’s deferred pay. But they are putting the retirement age up to 68, then it will be 69, then 70.
‘The trade union movement has the moral responsibility to look after the mentally ill, the exploited and the elderly.
‘In today’s News Line, on page 2, it reports that prison suicides are up 64% – that’s no surprise. After Mark Duggan was killed, we saw kids getting locked up for six months for taking a bottle of water. Also, they are locking too many people up with mental health problems. You have two prisoners sharing a cell designed for one.
‘They say they’ve got no money, but they’ve got money for war. Never a decade has gone by when the British haven’t been involved in a war. I’ve been out to Palestine and it’s an occupation.
‘We will continue to fight for what’s right. We are fighting against the retirement age rising to 68 and we are prepared to strike against it.’
Jasmin Parsons, from Our West Hendon, said: ‘We’re fighting for the rights of our community. We are trying to protect all the people on our estate.
‘We were pledged we’d all have homes in West Hendon and a real say in its regeneration. But not one of their pledges has been kept.
”These estates were built in the 60s and 70s, a spacious, clean environment. They are after it because they can build two to three properties on one plot.
‘There are 680 dwellings, known as a garden estate, which they are trying to replace with 2,000 dwellings, including huge towers. We’ve got some people on temporary tenancies for 17 years. That’s disgraceful. They should be on secure tenancies.
‘We’ve got one of the worst councils going at Barnet Council. We’ve been called parasites. They say they want us out. It’s not just our estate, it’s going on throughout the borough. They are raising the rents and driving people out of the borough. We’re third, fourth generation in the borough and we are all going to be evicted. It’s real social cleansing. And it’s not just our borough, it’s happening throughout London.’
Cerith Griffiths, Wales FBU Secretary, said: ‘Looking back over the miners strike, one of the things that struck me was the generosity from the people of London. It’s clear that things haven’t moved on. We’re facing attacks on pensions and attacks on pay.
‘This modernisation agenda has resulted in 5,000 fewer firefighters, dozens of station closures and engine cuts. Since modernisation, fatalities have increased. People are being made to work a 96-hour shift.
‘In Mid and West Wales they removed 18 engines and replaced them with a parcelforce van. It was too heavy, so they took a firefighter out of it!
‘Budget cuts are so severe. This Westminster government has a cuts and privatisation agenda far more severe than any of us have seen in our lifetime. And it doesn’t matter if the Tories or Labour are elected next May, the cuts will continue. So we have to band together and organise a united fight.
”And we will band together, in solidarity comrades.’
All Trades Unions Alliance National Secretary, Dave Wiltshire, said: ‘Leon Trotsky said that the capitalist system is not just rotten, it’s rotten ripe for revolution. The Welfare State was fought for and wrung from this ruling class. The working class came back from the war and elected a Labour government with a massive majority and forced them to bring in a welfare state.
‘Today, capitalism is in its worst crisis in history and it’s going to get worse. It’s not just a couple of hospitals they are closing, it’s the complete privatisation of the NHS.
‘The debt time bomb is about to explode. What they are preparing is class war, to take on the working class. Cameron says he’ll go into the next general election promising to make strike action virtually illegal. They plan to drive the unions into the ground.
‘But what is the response of the TUC? At the march last month, when 150,000 marched in London, Glasgow and Belfast, all they called for was the election of a Labour government. But Labour is planning the same Tory attacks.
‘It’s not a question of waiting for a general election.
‘We have to clear this leadership of the TUC out of the way. We have to build the Young Socialists as a mass youth movement. We have to fight from today to build the leadership to go forward to revolution and socialism.’
Rob Bolton, CWU Rep South Central, said: ‘Just like the FBU we’re fighting to defend our pensions. We defeated Thatcher’s attempt to privatise Royal Mail, and then Blair and Mandelson tried and we defeated them. So how was Cameron able to do it? We got a massive vote against privatisation, but just at the moment when we were going into struggle, our union leadership accepted a few mumbles about no compulsory redundancies and waved it through.
‘My union branch passed a motion calling for a general strike and at the march in London two or three weeks ago a general strike was on everyone’s lips. This is what is needed and this is what is coming.’
Jonty Leff the deputy editor of the News Line told the rally: ‘Today we are celebrating 45 years of the Trotskyist daily paper. First of all the Workers Press from 1969-1975 and then the News Line from 1975 to today.
‘There is another very important anniversary coming up in October 2017 – That will be the 100th anniversary of the successful October revolution which not only ended the First World War but began the world socialist revolution – with the working class taking power in Russia and establishing the USSR.
Both Lenin and Trotsky were fighters for the world socialist revolution. They understood that capitalism had established a worldwide system, a world market of exploitation, and that although the capitalists could be defeated in one country, socialism could only be victorious on a world scale.
‘We see the truth of this today when the capitalist system is in the most gigantic world crisis with every part of the planet having to pay an enormous price to keep small gangs of capitalists and bankers in power. Every day it is being hammered home to workers whether they live in the United States, the UK, Palestine, Africa or Asia, that under capitalism the future is grim austerity and war.
‘It is only the victory of the socialist revolution on a world scale that can carry forward humanity to its real future by consigning capitalism to the museum of Natural History where the law of the jungle will be available for students to study.
‘It was Trotsky who pointed out that capitalism was in its Death Agony and would drag humanity into the abyss unless it was overthrown and replaced by socialism, and that it was necessary to build the Fourth International as the world party of the socialist revolution.
‘Today we are meeting in an extremely revolutionary situation. These are extraordinary times. You have the Bank of England Governor, Carney, warning of a new global collapse that could take place at any moment. He has stated that workers will not accept another massive banking crash and another massive austerity assault. He knows that another crash, that he has said himself the bankers could touch off at any moment, with their casino capitalism, would lead to revolution.
‘He has been reduced to threatening to jail reckless bankers and at the same time announcing that the banks which are too big to fail will not be bailed out but be left to their own devices. Of course bankers will ignore these idle threats. Capitalism remains capitalism, the law of the jungle, the survival of the fittest – it has to be put an end to by the socialist revolution, that our party must organise.
‘The situation is so grave that Bank of England Governor Carney found himself opening his last press conference by repeating the opening phrases of Marx’s Communist Manifesto, saying: ‘A spectre is haunting Europe,’ then adding: ‘It is the spectre of stagnation!’ In fact the spectre remains, that of Communism and revolution!’
He continued: ‘Every continent has been revolutionised by the crisis …
‘For the metropolitan workers the crisis means austerity, mass unemployment, huge speed-ups, massive wage cuts, privatisations and union-busting. This is the class war at work, with the ruling class determined to resolve the crisis of capitalism by smashing the working class and the youth.
‘The same capitalists who attack the working class at home with their class war are making war on the working people of the world to grab all the world’s resources and to return the masses who won their freedom after the Second World War to slavery.
‘They attacked Iraq in 2003 and reduced it to rubble, they attacked Libya in 2010-11 and reduced the wealthiest country in Africa with a very high living standard, free education and free health care to a pile of rubble over which gangs of Islamists that they employed and supported with their aircraft are now fighting.
‘In 2011, they attacked Syria using Islamist movements to try and overthrow the Assad regime as part of their struggle to have control over oil-rich Mesopotamia. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed, the country has been smashed, but the Syrian people have fought back. We give our full support to the struggle of the Syrian people. We give our full support to President Assad in the struggle against the imperialist powers …
‘The imperialists went from Syria into the Ukraine where they organised a coup to overthrow the Ukrainian government with a mind to laying the grounds for regime change in oil- and gas-rich Russia itself. We support the Ukrainian workers who will not accept the rule of the coupists. We support the demand for the restoration of Soviet Ukraine as part of the restoration of the USSR and as part of the struggle for the victory of the world socialist revolution.
‘It is the UK and the US ruling class who are responsible for this carnage and for the massive austerity which grips the whole world. This is why capitalism and imperialism must be overthrown and be replaced by socialism and a planned socialist economy in which production must be planned to satisfy people’s needs, not to satisfy the requirements of a bloated ruling class.’
He then announced: ‘We intend to have a big Annual General Meeting of the Young Socialist paper next February, have a big YS conference and then go directly into the election campaign where we will stand 10-20 WRP/YS candidates, some as young as 18, all around the country. We will be building the YS and many new branches of the WRP.
‘We want to get the Tories out and lay the basis for the mass revolutionary party to organise the working class to take the power.
‘Now is the time to use the News Line to build the party. We call on everyone in this room to turn out and join the campaign to build the YS and build our party.
‘Our message is, “Join this struggle.” The only future for youth, for students or for the working class as a whole is a socialist future.
‘It is this system that has to go and it has to go not just in Britain but all over the world. Let’s build the WRP, the YS and the Fourth International to smash capitalism and go forward to world socialism.’
The rally ended with a rousing rendition of the Internationale.
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