We salute the struggle of the Palestinian people – General Strike Now! – Frank Sweeney tells News Line 54th Anniversary Rally

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Workers Revolutionary Party General Secretary FRANK SWEENEY addressing the News Line 54th Anniversary rally on Saturday

The News Line Rally of 200 people took place at the Hargrave Hall, in north London on Saturday.

Chairman, Tony McEvoy, said the struggle for the Palestinian revolution is centre stage of the current world situation. It is critical to defend the Palestinian struggle.

Chris Anglin, lecturer at CONEL college in NE London and chairman of the UCU branch said: ‘There is a huge battle being fought out in higher education.

‘This is a very important time for the world’s working class, as Hamas and the Palestinian people rise up against the Israeli regime and it’s imperialist backers. There have been huge changes in the last four months.

‘The Palestinians are vilified as terrorists by the capitalist press, whereas it is the Zionists and the Israeli occupation forces who are the terrorists.

‘Millions of workers have marched for Palestine in capital cities throughout the world.

‘The Palestinians are resisting genocide and the seizure of their land and robbing of their oil.

‘Keir Starmer also supports Israel in this war and is discredited.

‘In the UK, the war on the working class continues. The national debt is £2.5trillion. Debt interest for the year 2023 was £117bn.

‘The government is cutting funding to state education, the NHS and local councils to stave off its own bankruptcy.

‘My union, the UCU has called for a one-day general strike to demand an immediate ceasefire.

‘However, when the union leaders joined the main march, they called only for “free free Palestine” with no mention of the general strike.

‘The UCU says: “rebuild the universities in Gaza”.

‘At the last TUC annual congress, a vote was taken for increased military spending.

‘At the big march today, the unions say Solidarity and Free Palestine. But nothing is being organised to confront the Tory government.

‘The TUC leaders say only that they won’t cooperate with the new anti-union laws.

‘British university students have to pay £9,600 year tuition fees, which have dropped in value. They used to have to pay back the tuition fee loans over 30 years.

‘The Tories have changed this to over 40 years. The Tories are banking on the over 38,000 overseas students who pay up to £30,000 a year in tuition fees to bankroll universities. This is a developing market in overseas students.

‘At the same time, the government is cutting funding to universities. Half of the staff are on zero hours contracts.

‘My union supports Dr Miller, who was sacked by his university for “antisemitism”. When he explained to the tribunal that he found the Zionists to be pro-imperialist, colonialist and racist, they ruled that he had been discriminated against. In other words, his opinions were true. So its now legal to state these things in law.

‘The News Line paper was fought for and built by members and the young socialists. It is a lively paper which leads the fight and brings to youth a consciousness of what needs to be done.’

Aabhinav Tyagi, Young Socialist Editor, thanked the audience and speakers for coming to the rally, which he said was of great significance.

He said, ‘There has been a fundamental shift in the world over the last five years and a rising revolutionary movement cannot be stopped.

‘There has been the largest transfer of wealth from the poorest 99% of the world to the richest 1%

‘The money that was handed out to the rich corporations during the Covid crisis is equivalent of £61,000 per person.

‘This wealth is taken from the working class and transferred to those in charge of the means of production. They have so much cash they don’t know what to do with it. The inflationary crisis increases. Only a revolution can stop it.

‘There has been nothing but colonial wars all over the world.

‘The imperialist powers function under the mantle of “human rights” and the “rules-based order”. But they make the rules and we are left to follow their orders.

‘People’s relation to the media has changed. A recent survey showed an historic low of trust in the mainstream media. Most young people rely on information changes.

‘As capitalism enters its death agony, their propaganda becomes most dangerous.

‘The BBC and bourgeois media highlight certain crimes. But they are trying not to say what’s actually happening.

‘The Palestinians are not human beings for them. People’s faith in the media is eroded. This is an opportunity for us.

‘The News Line covers every single labour dispute and international struggles.

‘We have very few resources, but every day we want to make it bigger and broader. It’s not just a revolutionary tool but a recording of working class history.

‘We must build a movement in the working class internationally.

‘We have to let go of the fantasy – that the answer is hierarchy-free organisations with no leaderships.

‘We organise in the working class with the News Line and Young Socialist papers at picket lines and where workers go.

‘We need a general strike where workers set up councils of action.

‘The cost of not having socialism is getting too high.

‘We urge News Line and Young Socialist readers to take an active part in the movement. This revolution is coming and the party must take become truly transformative.’

Ian Hodson National President of the Bakers Union, said: ‘News Line does report the actions of our union. Congratulations to News Line for supporting us.

‘There was a massive march today. They were demonstrating that it is not right that babies, children and mothers are being slaughtered in the most intensely occupied land by the richest army in the world. Palestinians are people like we are.

‘The politicians have ideas about conscription. We were told that nuclear weapons were to stop war. They were never a deterrent. We need the health service, schools and housing. We should not have to rely on food banks.

‘They are demonising people who can’t work. Many have disabilities. The state controls the way we live.

‘We have a common goal. We want decency in society, equality and justice for all. We must organise together to make sure it is possible to do that.

‘We have to take back control of the NHS and re-nationalise it – also the banks, water, energy and the railways.

‘We surveyed our membership and what was most important for them was having food on the table, low pay, lack of housing and poor management. Stopping small boats was not an issue.

‘United we can defend our NHS and kick out the anti-union laws. We want a Palestinian state. The UN should be able to govern and make sure there is no a “never again moment”. We can’t have a veto on genocide.

‘We are against war, and anti-union laws. We must control our communities and come together as a class.

‘The only reason we got the NHS, council houses and the welfare state was because we fought for it after the Second World War and didn’t let what happened after the first world war.

‘There is nothing stronger than our class when we stand together.’

Cheryl Sanchez from the Julian Assange campaign pointed out that the Australian Prime Minister has called for Julian Assange to be returned to Australia.

She said: ‘The court case against Julian will be at the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday (tomorrow) and Wednesday, starting at 9am.

‘The defence team will be bringing all the articles they want brought to court. If he loses, the case will have to go to the European Court of Appeal.

‘He is being held in prison not for crimes he committed, but for crimes he exposed.

‘He grew up in an anti-war circle. He came up with the brilliant idea of an electronic publication. His WikiLeaks was totally electronic. He also provided a drop box so people could give information privately.’

She continued: ‘We did not realise how much states are using cyber viruses. The surveillance state was exposed. … Investigative journalism is becoming a dangerous job.

‘He was under constant attack since 2008 when WikiLeaks was born.

‘Obama started the war against him which has continued ever since, He went into prison in 2019. He spends 23 out of 24 hours in his cell. His children have to go through all the security checks to see him.’

She said: ‘The UK has thrown in its lot with the US. The UK seems to answer to laws of the US, since 2001. It’s called “extraterritorial reach”. Obama brought life to laws used against Assange.

‘We have a picket at Piccadilly Circus on Saturdays from 4 to 6pm, in front of the Australian embassy from 3 to 5 pm, and from 12 to 2pm at Belmarsh prison.

‘We need to get off the phone and join the WRP. We must not support genocide. There must be a Palestinian state.’

Frank Sweeney, General Secretary of the WRP said: ‘The daily News Line paper is an enormous achievement. It answers the lies of the capitalist class. There have been six attempts to close it down because it stood firmly on the side of the working class

‘We salute the struggle of the Palestinian people. Despite the deaths and destruction rained down on them, they’ve stood up and remained steadfast.

‘Israel operates on behalf of the imperialist powers and is in effect a garrison of imperialism in the Middle East. Imperialism keeps it well supplied with weapons. They want the oil rolling in.

‘Israel is very good at killing people using weapons fired from aircraft and ships. It is easy killing people with unmanned weapons

‘It is much harder fighting on the ground where it is a bit more equal, where the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have been driven back in parts of Gaza.

‘The US and the UK have particular responsibility, and the working class see what they have done.

‘The object of the current Zionist war is to kill civilians – and inflict a bloody defeat so that the Palestinians don’t hold their heads up for several decades.

‘The UK is complicit and supplies the US and Israel with intelligence.

‘Both France and the US has volunteer forces in the IOF.

‘The brutality used in this war is nothing new. Between 1946 and 1949 after the UN partition when the Israeli state was recognised by the UN, the Palestinian population was decreased by 3% in three years by the Israeli army.

The imperialists today talk about stopping the war. And not wanting it to spread.

‘In fact, they merely want to control the war, not stop it. Although Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world, it has supported Gaza more than any other Arab country. It now takes container ships 10 or more days longer to reach Europe from the East.

‘We support the Palestinian and Yemeni people and the armed struggle of the Palestinians to defend their country against occupation. Hamas is not a terrorist organisation but a National Liberation organisation.

‘Hundreds of millions of people have demonstrated for Palestine. The imperialists talk about “the day after”. The Palestinians are not going to give in.

‘The driving force behind imperialist war is their economic crisis.

‘The US national debt is 34 trillion dollars. Their only solution is to make the working class pay and the plundering of other countries.

‘They are cutting wages and benefits and aiming for tax cuts for the millionaires.

‘The Tories have now lost four by-elections. However, Starmer is a Tory in all but name.

‘Lots of members of the Labour party are expelled. If you mention the S word – i.e socialism – you are out.

‘The UK is building up to a huge revolutionary crisis. The gains workers made from the struggles of previous generations are being taken away.

‘This is a country with a strong trade union movement. The current TUC leader Nowak is begging the Tories to change their minds.

‘For a successful revolution we need a revolutionary party, with members to participate in activities in their branches. Now is the time to fight!’

The meeting ended with the singing of the Internationale.