OVER 200 workers and youth marched to the 44th News Line anniversary rally yesterday afternoon with flags flying and slogans calling for the Tory-led coalition to be brought down by a general strike.
As they marched off from Weavers Fields, Bethnal Green, their slogans electrified the watching crowds who applauded them all the way to the rally at the Queen Mary University.
The main slogans were ‘Youth demand a future – Youth demand jobs!’ ‘No cuts no closures kick this government out!’ ‘Defend our hospitals occupy now!’ ‘One State Palestine!’ ‘From the river to the sea Palestine must be free!’ ‘TUC get off your knees call a general strike!’ and ‘No privatisation, defend the NHS!’
There were delegations of Libyans and Syrians on the march with a large Syrian flag confident that the imperialists will be beaten back in both countries.
The first speaker at the rally was the Palestine ambassador to the UK, Manuel Hassassian.
He said: ‘I must commend you on your News Line paper for supporting national liberation struggles.
Today we are suffering organised anarchy, organised by the imperialist powers.
‘It is an ugly, repulsive occupation, building settlements, burning our olive orchards. Israel does not want peace.
‘There are 625 military checkpoints, a 700 kilometre wall, everything for Israel is security.
‘Security for Israel is an obsession. Israel is an apartheid country with ethnic cleansing.’
He concluded: ‘I am proud to stand in front of you as a Palestinian. Palestinians are resisting and we will win and we will have our state with Jerusalem as its capital and no settlements, a country from the Jordan to the Sea.’
Colin Jones from Holloway fire station said: ‘They are trying to make us work to 60. Even though their own survey says that 92% of us will fail the fitness criteria.
‘They are closing 10 fire stations in London. Privatising everything including our kit, and our training.
‘The public sector has a big fight on its hands against privatisation.
‘We have to put this government out and put a proper government in, run by the working class.’
Salah Aldin Ben Amer from the Libyan Popular National Movement said: ‘After its failure to defeat the Libyan leadership over 40 years, they resorted to murder and terrorism.
‘Gadaffi was the enemy of imperialism. The real picture now is that Libya is controlled by hundreds of militias, carrying out the worst tortures,
‘A third of the Libyan population is outside the country now.
‘Thousands of prisoners have died under torture. We have established the Libyan National Peoples Movement in order to protect Libya from fragmentation and war.’
Bill Rogers, secretary of the North East London Council of Action, said: ‘For 466 days we have held a daily picket.
‘On February 2nd we organised an occupation of Chase Farm hospital and we were forcibly evicted by the police.
‘But the magistrates said that the police acted illegally.
‘On our march on 26 October we were confronted by a line of police and corralled onto the lawn.
‘This week just gone, we organised a march against the closure of the Maternity unit and they locked the hospital down completely.’
Rogers added: ‘We have got to stop the closure of our hospitals and our A&Es.
‘It is going to take the unions, and all of the unions acting together, to occupy hospitals and then bring the government down.
‘We will organise another march and occupation for December 8th ahead of the planned 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!’
Jonty Leff, WRP assistant general secretary, said: ‘The Tory coalition has thrown the gauntlet down.
‘It 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 lecturers strikes, even the probation officers came out and that’s all in the last few weeks!
‘The main prop of the capitalist system is the trade union leadership and their ever-present role as betrayers of the working class.’
He continued: ‘The Tories are going for broke because the working class has no leadership.
‘The truth is that the NHS and the Welfare State were won by massive working class struggles.
‘They will only be defended by a socialist revolution to smash capitalism and bring in socialism, as part of the world socialist revolution.’
Paul Lepper, Tom Davies, Sharon Holder and Mustapha Abdou also spoke.
There will be a full report in a special feature in tomorrow’s News Line.