‘BUILD the Workers Revolutionary Party and the Young Socialists and the Fourth International.’
That was the message from the News Line/Trotsky Anniversary rally attended by 250 youth and workers at Queen Mary College in east London on
Opening the rally, Workers Revolutionary Pa’rty General Secretary Frank Sweeney said the banking collapse was leading to the collapse of the whole infrastructure of capitalism.
Speaking about the collapse in Dubai, he said: ‘There are literally hundreds of Dubais as far as the financial sector is concerned.’
He warned that the entire focus of the capitalist class was ‘to make the working class and middle class pay’ for the mountain of debt that the banks have accumulated.’
He warned: ‘It’s going to be impossible for people to live without getting rid of the capitalist system.
‘The only solution is for the working class to expropriate capitalism and go forwards to socialism.’
He concluded: ‘We’re looking to an enormous growth in News Line circulation and in the growth of our party in the coming year.’
Billy Colvill, a CWU rep from south-east London, spoke out against the decision of his union’s leadership to call off the national postal strike.
He said: ‘For us the only way forward to defend ourselves against our employer was national strike action.
‘The national ballot for strike action was won with a huge majority.
‘After two days of national strike action we were winning. . . we were absolutely solid and our strike was gaining notice from other unions.
‘And what happens, our leadership calls the strike off.’
He added: ‘Now I think it’s a matter of record that there is a general mood of discontent among CWU members over the leadership that’s been given by Hayes and Ward.’
But he concluded: ‘Despite the betrayal of our leadership, our members are not beaten.’
He called for the building of a new leadership in the trade union movement ‘that will not cave in under pressure and that puts at its heart the defence of our jobs and conditions and will do whatever it takes to achieve a decent life for our members.’
Mrs Selva, of Tamil Women for Justice and Peace, told the rally that the Tamil people of the Vanni region in Sri Lanka ‘have been compulsorily held in camps, surrounded by barbed wire and guarded heavily by the army.’
She said the people detained in the camps received only one meal a day and ‘not even enough water to drink’.
She added that sanitation in the camps was ‘horrendous’.
‘Old people have been dying, young children have been starving . . .’ she said.
She added that any humanitarian aid workers who want to visit the camps are required to sign an agreement first that they will not tell the world what is happening inside the camps.
She said those areas where the army has taken control after bloodily suppressing the Tamil Tigers are ‘closed to journalists and aid agencies.’
She concluded: ‘The oppression is not over, it is getting worse.
‘Thank you for giving me the time to tell the world what is going on there.’
Nash Campbell, Young Socialists National Secretary, said: ‘I’m speaking on behalf of the Young Socialists.
‘The News Line is a fighting paper, fighting for millions of workers around the world.
‘In today’s society millions of workers are losing their jobs and in Royal Mail workers face job cuts, wage cuts and all these attacks.
‘It’s not right, and all these jobs they destroy, it’s young people’s inheritance. If these jobs are destroyed there will be no jobs for us.
‘That’s why we fight to get rid of capitalism,’ he said.
He added that young people are now getting attacked by the government and the state ‘just for what they’re wearing.
‘It’s discrimination,’ he said.
‘They are not giving us a future, so that’s why we have to fight to get rid of this system.
‘They’re increasing tuition fees – millions of young people won’t be able to go to university under this system.
‘Education is a basic right.’
He said the government was continuing to spend millions on wars like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, money that could be spent on education, proper training for youth and youth facilities.
He concluded: ‘We’re going to put our party on the map, tell young people what’s going on, that in this capitalist state there’s no future for them.
‘Workers and students unite – one struggle, one fight!’
Consultant surgeon Anna Athow, a member of the BMA council, addressed the News Line rally in a personal capacity.
She said that ‘having led the world in the bail-out of the banks – ‘this government is now billions of pounds in debt’.
She warned: ‘Gordon Brown’s solution to the economic crisis is: cuts in the public sector.’
She said Health Secretary Andy Burnham was planning £20 billion cuts ‘or a fifth of the NHS budget’.
She continued: ‘NHS London has been divided into six acute commissioning sectors.
‘In north central sector, they propose only two acute major hospitals.
‘In east London again, the “reconfiguration’’ is designed around two PFI hospitals.
‘The closure of King George Ilford’s A&E was announced in October.’
She continued: ‘The government is carving up the NHS as a public service and massively shifting what funding there is to private businesses in public-private partnerships.
‘If they have their way, this is the end of the NHS as we know it and opens the way for a future of minimal care, and patient charges.’
She concluded: ‘At last the BMA has officially supported the national march and rally in London to defend the welfare state and public services, called by the National Pensioners Convention, for April 10 and supported by many other unions.
‘However, it is only a start, and serious united industrial action and occupations are what is required to defend jobs and public services.
‘The North-East London Council of Action has been campaigning to mobilise staff, patients and other union members to keep Chase Farm Hospital open. This must be done in every area where hospital closures are threatened.’
GMB National Officer Sharon Holder addressed the rally.
She said: ‘I wouldn’t describe myself as a revolutionary but I have championed socialist views and ideas amongst mainly public sector workers as a trade union official in the GMB and championed self-determination, especially for women.’
She added: ‘This government really needs to rethink what it means to be socialists and consider the effects of its policies that benefit business before workers.
She said that ‘we have to think seriously’ about how the working class can achieve a better government.
She warned that behind the government’s proposals on elderly care, there was a massive expansion of private provision at the expense of public sector provision taking place, just as it was in the NHS.
‘What we want is a socialist democratic party that fights for working people, but we don’t have one sadly,’ she said.’
She added: ‘I’d like to see the Labour Party fight for working people before it fights for business.’
She concluded by calling for ‘a government that works for our values and our interests. Make sure we fight for our right, which is a democratic Labour Party.’
Parmjit Bains, leader of the sacked Gate Gourmet workers, said: ‘Our union leaders knew Gate Gourmet were going to bring in casual workers, and they all went off site. They left the workers at the plant to fight alone.
‘Woodley promised we would all return to work together.
‘We got a standing ovation at the TUC and they all said they would fight for us, but they had already done a deal behind our backs.
‘We want Tony Woodley to resign. We will not give up until we win.’
Steve Blewett, RMT west London busworkers convenor, said: ‘Six months ago I was angered by the way I was being treated.
‘I went to Unite and they just wouldn’t do a thing.’
He said that a struggle was going in the bus industry for a union that would represent the bus drivers and not be yes men for the management.
Lucette Mandarin, from the Chagos Islands Community Association, spoke about the struggle of the islanders to regain their islands and to gain recognition of their rights here in Britain.
She said: ‘We came from Diego Garcia.
‘The British government threw all our people away from our island and they gave our island to the Americans for a base, and they took us to Mauritius.
‘Our families have been divided’ she said.
‘Now they are saying they want to create a marina on our islands. What will they do? They will use it to make money.
‘Next year we will have a big march, I hope that you will come and help us with this.’
News Line Editor Paddy O’Regan told the rally that historic changes had taken place which had completely undermined British capitalism.
He said that the world crisis meant that the class struggle in Britain would now be fought to a finish, and that to maintain its gains the working class will have to build a new leadership in the trade unions prepared to take the power.
He warned: ‘Led by the TUC bureaucracy, the working class can be strong and heroic, but under that leadership it can’t win.’
He turned his attention to the recent state exhibition about the life of Leon Trotsky in Leningrad, which was titled ‘Lion of the Revolution’.
He said this was an ‘extraordinary development.
‘The Stalinist bureaucracy killed Trotskyists,’ he said.
‘The Stalinist bureaucracy rejected the struggle for world socialism and said you could build socialism on a single country.’
Trotsky warned this outlook would pave the way for an attempt by the bureaucracy to restore capitalism.
‘He was proved correct,’ said O’Regan.
‘Now workers in Russia want to restore the Soviet Union,’ he said.
This is why Trotskyism is now emerging inside the area of the Soviet Union as a material force that will lead the political revolution to overthrow the bureaucracy and expropriate the new bourgeoisie, restoring Soviet power, as part of the world revolution.
O’Regan warned: ‘The banks have gone bust worldwide’. The ruling class is preparing ‘gigantic cuts’, to force the working class and the middle class to pay for the crisis.
He added: ‘In this situation we won’t have to tell the working class to rise up.
‘But there must be a different revolutionary leadership that will organise the taking of power to get rid of capitalism.’
‘This struggle is taking place all over the world.
‘We call on you to go forwards – to build the Workers Revolutionary Party and the Fourth International to lead the British socialist revolution and the world socialist revolution to victory.’