‘WE ARE celebrating 44 years of the daily Trotskyist paper that fights for a revolutionary leadership that does not bend, capitulate or collapse at the first hurdle, like the trade union leaders do, but instead provides a clear lead for the entire working class and an entire generation of youth.’
Jonty Leff, WRP Assistant General Secretary, was speaking at Queen Mary University in Mile End, east London to mark the 44th Anniversary of the News Line and the 73rd Anniversary of the Assassination of Leon Trotsky.
The rally followed a lively 200-strong march through Bethnal Green, led by red flag-waving members of the Young Socialists.
Leff continued: ‘We are building a leadership that grasps that the only way to defend health, education, housing or jobs is to bring down this rotten capitalist system once and for good and go forward to a workers government and socialism, not just here but in every country across the globe.
‘Today there is a huge world crisis of the capitalist system.
‘The US is absolutely bankrupt, in debt to the tune of 17.1 trillion dollars, whereas Europe is in a state of economic collapse, where businesses, industries, banks and entire economies are bankrupt, where a country like Greece is in a state of permanent revolution, with a dual power situation as workers and youth are engaged in daily clashes with the state, this is the time to build the revolutionary leadership, the Fourth International, and bring an end to a system that can no longer provide people with even the basic things they need to live.
‘This is a world struggle. The imperialist response to the crisis is attacks on the working class at home and war abroad, to try to resolve the crisis at the expense of the workers and poor of the planet.
‘We send our revolutionary greetings to all those who are embattled against imperialism across the world.
‘To the Syrian people who have fought for three long years against imperialist-backed terrorists, who are armed to the teeth by the US and UK and other imperialist nations, and who have killed tens of thousands of Syrian men, women and children.
‘To the Palestinian people who are determined to win their state with Jerusalem as its capital and all Palestinians having the right to return.
‘And to the Libyan masses, whose government was overthrown by NATO-backed bandits and whose country is now being split up by those same forces, who are rapidly disintegrating.’
He continued: ‘The Tory coalition has thrown the gauntlet down, and has announced the closure of one in three hospitals, the closure of 10 fire stations across London, the end of disabled benefits, mass sackings and job centre programmes to drive youth into slave labour schemes where they work for free.
‘30,000 kids are facing homelessness this winter, as the elderly freeze to death because they cannot afford the fuel hikes, and childhood diseases like rickets and scurvy are coming back with a vengeance due to malnutrition and poverty.
‘The working class has responded accordingly with nationwide teachers strikes, firefighters strikes, university lecturer strikes, even the probation officers came out, and that’s all in the last few weeks!
‘The main prop of the capitalist system, the main tool which the capitalist class relies on, the main force stopping the working class from bringing this government down is not the police force, but the trade union leadership and their ever-present role as betrayers of the working class.’
He concluded: ‘Trotskyism is the Marxism of today. It is our weapon to build a fighting leadership that will do whatever is necessary to beat the ruling class and will not betray!
‘Marx said workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains, you have a world to win. We have entered the period for carrying out this task. Forward to the socialist revolution.’
The first speaker at the rally was Palestine Ambassador to the UK, Manuel Hassassian, who said: ‘It is a real pleasure to be here today and first I must commend your News Line paper for always supporting national liberation struggles.
‘Today the Middle East is suffering anarchy organised by the imperialist powers with their traditional policy of divide and conquer.
‘The Israeli occupation, there for many decades, is an ugly occupation, repulsive, building settlements, burning our olive orchards.
‘Gaza is still living under siege – 1.8 million people. Palestinians cannot cross by Egypt now. It is an open air prison in Gaza.
‘I represent the Palestinian Authority, but I have no faith in these negotiations with Netanyahu, I cannot see a two-state solution.
‘In the West Bank the Palestinian land is non-continuous, divided into islands.
‘Israel controls our borders with Jordan. How can we have an independent Palestinian state under these conditions?
‘The international community is subservient to the whims of the United States.
‘Israel does not want peace by returning Palestinian territories. There are 625 military checkpoints, a 700 kilometre wall.
‘Israel is economically, militarily powerful, Europeans are trading with Israel, not just in goods but in billions of euros of arms deals.
‘Everything for Israel is security. Security for Israel is an obsession. Israel is an apartheid country. The only solution we have is a one state solution.
‘I am proud to stand in front of you as a Palestinian. Palestinians are resisting and we will win.
‘I believe we will have a fully-fledged Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and no settlements.’
Fire Brigades Union member Colin Jones, from Holloway Fire Station told the rally: ‘We are in dispute for the third time in just over ten years.
‘The first dispute in 2002 was a pay dispute. We had a sort of result, but it was more of a sellout.
‘In 2006 we had a strike over shift patterns. The chief fire officer wanted to bring in 12-hour shifts for productivity.
‘It was an attempt to close down fire stations at night – a cost-cutting exercise.
‘Attacks on us in the press in the 2006 strike were unbelievable and it was only the likes of the News Line that told the truth.
‘In our current dispute they are trying to make us work to 60 when their own survey says 92% will fail the fitness criteria.
‘They are closing 10 fire stations in London, taking away appliances, following the holy grail of privatisation, privatising everything.
‘Now fire engines are privately leased from a contractor, our equipment, our uniform, even our training is leased from a private contractor.
‘The public sector has a big fight on its hands against privatisation. If we can oust this government and put in a proper government run by the working class it will be a better world.’
Salah Aldin Ben Amer from the Libyan Popular National Movement said: ‘After their failure to defeat the Libyan leadership over 40 years, they resorted to murder and terrorism.
‘Gadaffi was the enemy of imperialism. Gadaffi supported most of the liberation struggles.
‘The real picture is that Libya is now controlled by hundreds of militias, doing the worst tortures.
‘50,000 were killed during the war. A third of Libya’s population is outside the country now.
‘There are thousands of prisoners, many have died in prison under torture.
‘We have established the Libyan National People’s movement in order to prevent Libya from fragmentation and civil war.
‘The objectives of our movement are the defence of the freedom of the Libyan people, rejection of foreign intervention the fragmentation of civil war and a return of achievements of past into the future.’
Young Socialist Editor Paul Lepper said: ‘Young people are under attack, there is huge youth unemployment, no future under capitalism.
‘Zero hours contracts, work for free. We don’t accept this. We don’t accept that the struggles of our parents for a Welfare State should be taken away from us.
‘In America there are huge struggles. The only future for young people in whatever country is from socialism.
‘We support every struggle because these are our jobs for the future. These jobs, these conditions workers are fighting for are ours to inherit.
‘We want a general strike to kick this government out. We want Cameron out. Revolution in Britain will be a great victory for the whole world – Syria, Libya, Palestine.
‘They fear the youth. Capitalism is terrified of us. We want revolution and we’re not going to stop till we get it.’
Sharon Holder, from the GMB, said: ‘Why do trade unions need young people like you? I started working at 18, within six months I was a shop steward and then a convenor.
‘At that stage I said no to the employers and I still say no to the employers.
‘We need social and political policies to change tuition fees, to stop the privatisation of the NHS, education and for jobs.’
Tom Davies, past President Ealing NUT, said: ‘Teachers are not the most militant group of workers but what has brought us together in our two main unions, the NUT and the NASUWT, is the Tory government and its austerity programme.
‘To begin with, Cameron said there would be just a few years of austerity, but this week he said it would be permanent.
‘He says we’re all in it together, but they’re all millionaires.
‘We are striking again, the whole country, before the February half-term.
‘But we are also doing something really stupid – talking to Michael Gove. He’s not listening, he’s torn up our rights, he’s trying to privatise education and he’s halfway there.
‘He’s set up academies, which are privately run, and free schools, which are even worse. He says we don’t need qualified teachers, we can get anybody to do it, particularly the army.
‘Well we disagree. Parents want to know that if I am teaching their child I’ve got training.
‘We are striking against privatisation, over pensions and over pay. The whole privatisation programme has gone on without any consultation. Talks get us nowhere. The government is not listening.
‘We’re striking again soon. We’ve got to get this government out.’
Mustapha Abdou from the Syrian Social club said: ‘They used people to invade Syria. 100,000 people moved in from all over the world for their “revolution”. This is not a revolution. For 1,000 years 23 million Muslims, Christians and so many other religions lived together peacefully.
‘They say they are bringing us freedom. There are two million people who are refugees. They put them into camps when they have homes in Syria. Is this freedom?
‘Leave us alone and we will build our democracy.’
Bill Rogers, Secretary of the North East London Council of Action, said: ‘We’ve got to stop the closures of our hospitals and our A&Es. Now Keogh has announced a two-tier system.
‘At Chase Farm we have held a daily picket for 466 days.
‘This week just gone we organised a march against the closure of the Maternity Unit at Chase Farm and they locked the hospital down completely.
‘It is going to take all the unions acting together to occupy hospitals and then bring the government down.
‘We will organise another march and occupation on December 8th, ahead of the proposed closure of the A&E on the 9th.
‘The trade unions inside the hospital and outside must organise an occupation and strike action.
‘We need a general strike to bring this government down and bring in a workers government. This is the way to win.’
Greetings from the Revolutionary Marxist League, the Greek section of the Fourth International were read out, along with messages of support from trade unionists in Greece who appreciated the role that the News Line played in covering the struggles of the working class in Greece.
As the march was assembling, people spoke to News Line.
Kush, from Shepherd’s Bush said: ‘I am from Sudan and we have to increase awareness of the struggles wherever they may be. The separation of Sudan and the creation of South Sudan is extremely harmful. It’s classic divide and conquer.’
Steve Wakling, from Southall, said: ‘This government is privatising everything, selling off the assets.
‘It’s not just the policy of this coalition, but any capitalist government.
‘We need a whole different economic system. It’s got to the tipping point, a critical point where the young people in particular have no future. Having to pay for education is a disgrace. We need a revolution.’
Joe Loughrell, a retired caretaker from Lewisham, and his wife Christina, told News Line: ‘One thing we are particularly against is the Bedroom Tax. They shouldn’t move people from their homes.
‘There’s a man down the road terrified of being taken out of his home, away from all his neighbours who look after his welfare.
‘People need their homes to have their families visiting them. The next thing they are saying is they will cap the amount they will pay for looking after an old person. It will be back to the workhouse days.’
Ritch Patel, from Southall, said: ‘I’m here to protest against the capitalist system. It’s unjust, unfair, unequal, as they profit from the people and take advantage of the working class.
‘We have to fight for a revolution. It will take a big conscious movement.’
Mariessa Brown, from Orpington, said: ‘There are so many negative changes taking place, this country is on a path of destruction.
‘The destruction of the NHS and A&Es will cause many, many deaths. There will also be the loss of many thousands of jobs.
‘We must rise up. I am in favour of socialist revolution. The whole country needs to arise from their slumber.’
Tito, from Enfield, said: ‘I am marching to save my nearest hospital, Chase Farm, which is a good hospital and we must keep it.
‘The government is supposed to listen to the people. If they won’t listen we must make a revolution to meet the people’s needs.’
Morad, from Syria, carrying a big Syrian flag, told News Line: ‘I read the leaflet, which said stop imperialist intervention in Syria and I have to raise up my voice.
‘By supporting the rebels the UK government is supporting terrorism. What’s happening in Syria is terrorism.
‘I am an ordinary Syrian. I have lived for so many years in harmony with all religions. I have so many friends of different religions. I never asked anyone if they were Jewish, Muslim, Christian.
‘The solution should come from inside Syria. By sending money to the Jihadists, some charities are backing terrorism.
‘Assad is supported because he stands up for the needs of the Syrian people.’
At the end of the rally a collection for the News Line raised £1,214.