‘Working class must follow example of October 1917’

A section of the audience at Saturday’s News Line Anniversary Rally
A section of the audience at Saturday’s News Line Anniversary Rally

A POWERFUL News Line 47th Anniversary and 76th Anniversary of Leon Trotsky’s Assassination Rally, with 200 workers, students and youth in attendance, was held at Cambridge House in Camberwell, south east London on Saturday.

Jonty Leff, News Line Assistant Editor told the rally: ‘We are living through a period of great shocks and changes. Trotsky called this period the Death Agony of the Capitalist System when society is being driven backwards over the abyss and people’s lives are being destroyed.

‘In this period it becomes clearer to large numbers of workers that their whole future rests with overthrowing this outmoded and backward order of society. We are in a situation where the productive forces are so advanced that communism (‘From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs) is a modest demand that must be achieved if humanity is to survive and to go forward.

‘This is the nature of the situation we are living in. Capitalism is driving backwards, whereas humanity must go forwards! The best example of the backward nature of the system, and the revolutionary movement of the working class that it is producing, is the crisis of British and American capitalism, whose ruling classes for tens of decades ruled the planet.

‘The 2008 banking crash, which began in the United States tore the guts out of US capitalism and reduced Detroit, the once capital of the motor car industry to rubble. There are no motor car factories now in Detroit, in fact there are farms in its centre, and thousands of homes that are unlivable in, because there are no jobs.

‘What happened to the US motor car industry is what happened to the steel and coal mining industries in the US – reducing the working class to poverty in the richest country in the world, so that bankers could become even richer.

”This contradiction has now become unbearable, to the point where it produced a huge movement of workers and youth in America for change. In the struggle for the Presidency, Bernie Sanders represented these workers and youth, but the Democratic establishment would not have him despite his massive support, despite the fact that his campaign had collected millions of dollars for the fight against Trump and the Republicans. The Democrats opted for the most corrupt section of the US capitalist class, the Clinton gang, that serves the bosses and bankers 100%.

‘The immediate result of this is the victory of Trump by default. A very clear message is now being hammered out that the US trade unions must break with the Democrats, form a Labour Party to fight for the working class and build a section of the Fourth International, to mobilise the working class to carry through the American socialist revolution. This is the only way forward.

‘It is a burning indictment of capitalism that the end product of American capitalism, the richest and the most powerful section of world capitalism is a pauperised and desperate working class which must go forward to socialism by revolutionary means if it and its children are to live.

‘In fact the dress rehearsal for the US events came in the UK. There workers who had been smashed by the banking collapse in 2008, and had been pulverised by the export of their jobs, the freezing of their wages, the drive to privatise and close their NHS, saw the education system being destroyed by £9,000 plus tuition fees and mass academisation, rose up during the June 23rd referendum.

‘Their uprising took the ruling class and their Tory, and Labour representatives by surprise. Cameron called the referendum to put the right wing of the Tory Party in its place, absolutely confident that there was no prospect of defeat. He had the support of the banks, the major industries and the leaders of the Labour Party and the trade unions, with the honourable exception of the RMT, Bakers and Aslef unions.

‘This package was wrapped in “project fear”, the notion that you had to agree that you had to remain in the European Union or your life would come to a sudden end. However, the unthinkable happened, no amount of black propaganda could upset the masses, in fact the more that they were told that they could not do it, the more they came together to do it . . . and they did!!!

‘Just before the votes were counted, even the UKIP leader Farage was intimidated by project fear and announced on the radio that all was lost. But the masses had other ideas and a huge victory was won which presents the ruling class with a situation that to remain in the European Union they have to defy the referendum and fight it out with the working class, using the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the judiciary against the masses of the people.

‘As the renegade Blair said: “We are the insurgents now!” And they will do their worst, as they force the working class to take the revolutionary road! Not just in the US but in the UK and throughout western Europe, the ruling order is in a desperate crisis and in a situation where we are on the brink of a new banking disaster and crash. The Bank of England Governor Carney has already announced that this crisis will be met by the expropriation of depositors’ cash!

‘Thus the ruling class has got no alternative policy but to turn the screws on the working class to destroy its NHS, with hundreds of A&Es to close, to destroy the education system, with grammar schools to come in for a new elite, while the rest are thrown on the rubbish heap. Meanwhile, benefit cuts are being driven through, treating the disabled as scoundrels.

‘The essence of the situation is that in the US and in the UK, two of the major capitalist countries, the crisis of capitalism is placing the socialist revolution on the agenda at a very rapid pace . And where the US and the UK are today, France, Germany and Italy will be there tomorrow.

‘What is required is the building of a new and revolutionary leadership in the working class, both in the UK and internationally – the Fourth International based on the theory and revolutionary practices of Marx, Engels Lenin and Trotsky. Its job will be to lead the world socialist revolution to its victory. That is to lead the struggle for a Socialist United States of America, and to lead the British and European socialist revolutions to replace the bankrupt European Union which is currently looting the working class of Europe from Greece to Ireland and thoroughly deserves to perish with the Socialist United States of Europe. . .’

He concluded: ‘This coming year is the 100th anniversary of the great October Revolution in which the working class of Russia led by the Bolshevik Party, after the masses overthrew Tzarism in the February Revolution, carried out the workers October Revolution, to take the power as the first workers state. . . This is the revolutionary example that we will be celebrating next year and that we intend to follow!’

The first speaker was Manuel Hassassian, Palestinian Ambassador to the UK who praised the News Line as ‘a wonderful paper, supporting the Palestinian struggle every day’, and adding: ‘I’m proud to be with you.’

The ambassador continued: ‘We are at a deadlock. Israel is not interested in peace, it seeks to fulfil the messianic dream of a greater Israel. I came to this conclusion after 22 years of negotiations, but we were not really in a process of negotiations, it was a political dictat constantly.

‘In Gaza and the West Bank there are five million civilians suffering atrocious crimes, living under siege constantly. This is ugly occupation, the longest occupation in modern history. We are suffering and struggling for basic human needs. Israel today is ruled by extreme right wing fascists.

‘We have no issue with Judaism – Judaism, Christianity and Islam complement each other. There are eight million Palestinians in the diaspora and five million in the occupied territories. They talk about a peace process and a diplomatic solution but there are 600 military checkpoints. Gaza is totally separated, there have been two major wars on Gaza, there is widespread demolition of houses, incarceration, hot pursuit, all under the banner of security. Israel is anti-Semitic, it is an occupying force. Don’t be scared of criticising Israel.

‘2017 is very important for us, the centenary of the infamous Balfour Declaration. Britain plans marking the Balfour Declaration, which is a badge of dishonour and we have a programme to raise hell in the UK.

‘Resistance and revolution will continue until victory. Imperialism created Islamic fundamentalism. We never trust the Americans. There will never be peace while occupation proceeds. There will never be security in the Middle East until the Palestinians have their state.’

Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennet from the United Family and Friends Campaign, said: ‘I’m the twin sister of Leon Patterson who died in the custody of Manchester police in 1992. He had truncheon marks all over his body. They kept saying he did this to himself. I could not recognise my own brother.

‘In the first inquest the custody sergeant’s wife was on the jury. Later I managed to get an unlawful killing verdict, but that was overturned. I only received his death certificate three months ago. It’s taken me 24 years. Since 1968 over 4,000 people have died in police custody. That’s one every six days. The United Families and Friends Campaign was started by Brenda Douglas, sister of Brian Douglas who died at the hands of Clapham police.

‘We are all demanding a Public Inquiry into how our loved ones died. The state seeks to deny their actions by vilifying the families. We were invited to America by the Black Lives Matter movement. In America one person every eight hours is shot by the police. The march on the last Saturday of October every year. Thanks to the News Line for all the support you have shown to us over time.’

Young Socialists National Secretary Joshua Ogunleye said: ‘Everywhere across the world young people are fighting, the capitalist crisis offers young people wherever they are no future. In France, Spain, Italy workers and young people are striking. In Britain there will be the biggest march of students next Saturday against tuition fees. Zero hours contracts are everywhere. British capitalism is in a crisis and insisting young people pay for it.

‘We want a future that isn’t bankrupt. The scrapping of maintenance grants has meant that most students at university are doing two or three jobs. This system is a divided society. There are revolutionary uprisings all over the world, like in South Africa. Refugees have a right to come to Britain. Military interventions and the pauperisation of workers everywhere means we are all in the same boat. Now is the time to build a revolutionary leadership to fight for socialism.

‘This is the struggle of the working class across the world. That is why the building of the Young Socialists is the main issue. They absolutely vilify young people. The Trumps and the Clintons of this world have absolutely nothing to offer us. Next year marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution and we are fighting for world socialist revolution.

The revolutionary determination of this generation is clear, in Palestine especially. We are proud to be organising the leadership, fighting to build the leadership for the world socialist revolution.’

Julian Porter, from the Support Stafford Hospital Campaign, said: ‘First, thanks to the News Line and the Young Socialists for your support. You think you are alone, but when the Young Socialists March from London to Liverpool came over the hill to our camp at Stafford Hospital it was inspiring, it was a good feeling.

‘They said that 1,400 people died at Stafford Hospital and blamed the staff but it’s not true. At Stafford the staff were rushed off their feet, they were doing their best. They were trying to close our hospital, downgrade it, close our A&E. My family used that A&E a lot. My wife organised the campaign. She said “I’ve had enough! They’re planning to close our A&E.”

‘We are in a town of 70,000, in a catchment area of 170,000. 50,000 marched through the small town of Stafford. The local BBC man was on the line to London saying “This has got to go on the news!” But the BBC head office squashed it, kept it out of the national news.

‘We got 70,000 signatures which weren’t just email signatures, these were real signatures. They put our hospital into administration. We pitched our tents. We did six months camping outside the hospital, many brilliant people involved, and our fight continues.’

All Trades Unions Alliance National Secretary Dave Wiltshire said: ‘There are eight million trade unionists in this country wanting action to defend our NHS and all services, but the trade union leadership has done nothing. A huge world crisis is bearing down on Britain. The IMF announced last week that there is 158 trillion dollars of debt. They’ve printed money through QE and introduced negative interest rates in their desperation to find a policy to deal with it.

British debt is $1.5 trillion and growing. They want to privatise the NHS. Osborne said he wanted to shrink the state back to the size of the 1930s, when there was no NHS and there was abject poverty. Eighty MPs have said they are seeking to overturn the Brexit vote. Tony Blair describes them as an insurgency. They are pitting Parliament against the people. Oliver Cromwell led the bourgeoisie in their revolution and when Parliament opposed the people he closed down Parliament. We need to learn from the Bourgeoisie. Abolish the Commons and Lords.

‘A class war has been declared against the NHS and against our youth. The lesson that is coming out on this Trotsky anniversary is the demand that the trade union leadership steps up or gets out. Kick out the Tory government. Trotsky said that the historic crisis is the crisis of revolutionary leadership and it can only be resolved by building the revolutionary movement and the Young Socialists.

‘The ruling class is in disarray, the traditional parties are being destroyed. In America it’s the Republicans and Democrats, and it’s the same in Britain. The ruling class can’t rule in the old way and the working class can’t live in the old way. A general strike to bring down the Tory government is the immediate task in front of the WRP. We have to advance to the victory of the socialist revolution.’

Darren Yeo, a Deliveroo driver and member of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) said: ‘I’ve worked for Deliveroo for two years and I was the first driver to work for the company. The pay is dreadful, £3.75 an hour. We want a Living Wage, £9.48 an hour and sick and holiday pay. We are taking the company on on our own. We are fighting and we are holding a march on 22nd November.’

Anna Athow, Deputy Chair of the London BMA, said: ‘Prime Minister May is presiding over the biggest demolition plan in history to get the NHS destroyed by 2020. This is the Five Year Forward View of Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, now being pushed through by 44 separate STP boards set up in January behind our backs.

‘STP stands for Sustainability and Transformation Plan. Sustainability means working within massive budget cuts. The 44 new STP boards set up since last Christmas are nothing less than 44 devolution boards to make £22 billion of cuts and close most of the acute hospitals and GP surgeries.

‘NHS staff have huge allies amongst the public sector workers firemen, teachers, council workers, transport workers, train drivers in struggle themselves, all sections of society cannot live without the NHS. Every cut and closure and contract imposition must be opposed. Recruit and build the revolutionary leadership for the struggles ahead.’