‘We hail the struggle of the Palestinian workers and youth’ editor Jonty Leff tells 52nd News Line Anniversary Rally

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The platform at the News Line 52nd Anniversary Rally at Haggerston School in Hackney on Saturday

NEWS LINE Editor Jonty Leff told the News Line 52nd Anniversary Rally on Saturday: ‘We hail the struggle of the Palestinian workers and youth.

‘We urge the workers of Europe to overthrow the EU and join hands with UK workers to establish the United Socialist States of Europe and we urge the US workers to take the power and put an end to bankrupt US capitalism.

‘The victory of the Taliban showed the weakness of US and UK imperialism and now we must organise the working class of the world to bury both US and UK imperialism.

‘Today we celebrate the News Line paper and we celebrate Trotskyism.

‘We celebrate 52 years of a daily revolutionary paper that speaks out for workers and youth, that speaks out against the government, that gives a clear lead that the only way forward is for the entire class to come out in a general strike to bring the government down and go forward to a workers’ government and socialism, to nationalise the banks, the energy companies, the land, services and industries and put the lot under public ownership, under workers’ control.

‘And we celebrate Trotskyism, the struggle for world socialist revolution, to get rid of capitalism and overthrow the capitalist rulers in every capitalist country in the world.

‘Trotsky led that struggle along with Lenin and built a party, a revolutionary party, that in 1917 led the working class to take the power in Russia, that led the first socialist revolution in the world, that liberated the Russian working class and peasants from the backwardness of the Tsar and the feudal regime.’

Leff continued: ‘The revolution in Russia in 1917 catapulted society forward to the first national free health service, the first social housing programme, nationalised transport system.

‘The Revolution in China in 1949 broke China from being under the heel of imperialism and launched it forward. Today it has the most advanced production, industry and technology in the world.

‘Its industrial capacity has outstripped the capitalist world. Its socialised nationalised production is light years ahead.

‘And while the capitalist world, reeling from its debt crisis, reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, in the midst of a gas and energy crisis, cannot make its profits and has launched war on its own working class to claw back the debt, the nationalised industry of the Chinese economy and the nationalised gas industry in Russia are surging forward, so much so that the EU is on its knees begging China to help with production and begging Russia for more gas.’

He added: ‘The scene is set for a massive strike wave and a struggle for workers’ power and a workers’ government in the UK.

‘58 universities have voted for strike action over pensions, pay and conditions. In Scotland the ScotRail workers refused to accept their union deal and went out during the COP26 and won their struggle. Now you have the great train robbery with the HS2 cancellation.

‘The Tories boasted about how they were going to “level up” and invest in the north of the country where workers with gritted teeth lent Johnson their votes just to push Brexit through.

‘Now they have unceremoniously kicked not just the workers in the north in the teeth but the entire working class.

‘The Tories have shown that they are willing to spend billions to try and get support when in fact the railway system in the north is to remain neglected and privatised. This is an attack on the whole working class to build up a massive privatised rail network.

‘The way forward is for the trade unions to take united action to defend the interests of the working class.

‘That means a general strike to bring down the government, to bring back a state planned rail system and to unite the working class in the struggle for socialism.

‘The stage has been set for an almighty battle between the classes which has already begun. The burning issue of the hour is leadership.

‘Left to the Labour leaders and the trade union leadership of the TUC, the struggle will be betrayed. The urgency to build a revolutionary leadership is decisive.

‘The Labour Party under the leadership of Keir Starmer has moved further and further to the right. Starmer was chief prosecutor against Assange. After his witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn, Starmer has set about expelling supporters of Corbyn and driving the party closer and closer to Johnson’s Tories.

‘We heard from the Bakers Union leader Ian Hodson earlier about how disgusted his members were at the Labour conference, when, despite conference voting for a minimum wage of £15 an hour, Starmer simply said that Labour leaders are not obliged to carry out what conference votes for.

‘Their union has broken their affiliation to the Labour Party and they are not alone. The CWU, Communication Workers Union have now voted that they will not be handing donations to the Labour leadership. There is a massive shift, a change, a break from reformism.

‘Capitalism cannot be reformed, the police cannot be reformed, the banks cannot be reformed, the big bosses and landowners cannot be reformed. Parliament cannot be reformed.

‘The only way forward is for the working class to take the power, for a workers’ government to nationalise the banks, the land, the services and put all the wealth of society under workers’ control.

Chris Anglin, UCU Chair, CONEL, told the rally: ‘The Deliveroo drivers get paid a couple of quid for each delivery and whether they get the delivery or not means whether they starve or not.

‘Next week UCU members at 58 universities are striking against losing a third of their pensions. The mass of lecturers are now on zero hours contracts.

‘Where I work management unilaterally sacked 13 staff and said you can come back one week later on zero hours contracts. It’s casualisation, it’s slavery, it’s rife throughout FE and especially universities.

‘Students are being targeted for repayment of loans and they’ve dropped repayment levels from £27,000 to £22,000. They are driving people to breakdowns.

‘They are bringing in casualisation to balance their books. In 1889 workers formed the first dockers’ union against casualisation.

‘We were out on strike for three weeks at CONEL. We wanted a 3% pay rise. Management withdrew the 1% offer and said we’ll give you zero.

‘The issue is, university lecturers are striking next week. We can’t allow them to send us back to 1889 casualisation. We must have a general strike to bring down the Tories.’

BMA member Anna Athow said: ‘Like the rest of the world, Britain is heading into a banking crash with record inflation and towards world war with Russia and China.

‘To survive, the ruling class have to smash every vestige of the Welfare State that the working class won post-war and at the centre of this is the plan to destroy our publicly-funded and provided NHS, set up in 1948, to provide free healthcare for all, according to need.

‘Johnson is dedicated to this long-term aim of the Conservative Party and is secretly pushing through the Health and Social Care Bill to get the NHS legally abolished in April 2022.’

She accused the Tory government of ‘taking advantage of the pandemic,’ and having ‘dished out billions of taxpayers money to their friends in big business, through allocating them NHS contracts for PPE, a £37 billion disgracefully inadequate Test and Trace using dodgy private laboratories, largely by-passing NHS facilities.’

She warned that the NHS has ‘almost the lowest ratios of hospital beds and doctors and nurses per head of population in Europe, plus there are 90,000 staff vacancies.’

She said: ‘The pressures in the NHS are definitely unsustainable now. There is no spare capacity and there is a chronic shortage of the NHS workforce.

‘Nearly every hospital in the country has been on red alert for months and it’s not even winter yet. They are full. It’s one patient in as one patient goes out, and some patients are stuck in A&E for one, two, even three days before they get a hospital bed. The ambulance service is on its knees.

‘On 7 September, Johnson marched into Parliament and announced the government’s plan to raise £36 billion from 25 million workers and their employers over three years through a health and social care levy by hiking up National Insurance to 13% by April 2022.

‘He said it was to tackle the NHS backlog and to fix social care. What an outrage! We already pay for the NHS through our taxes and now we have to pay all over again, when billions have just been squandered on the Tories’ crony companies.

‘Social care will definitely not be fixed by the Tories. Their aim is to install private insurance for social care and the same is planned for the NHS. The entire plan depends on smashing the NHS.

‘We heard about the dangers that flexible rostering creates on the railways and it’s extremely dangerous in the NHS too. Anger and frustration is building up.

‘The RCN is demanding a 12-and-a-half per cent pay rise. Unite and the GMB want 15%. There must be concerted national action by all the health unions, together with the whole trade union movement to get rid of this Tory government.

‘The NHS and all public services must be renationalised and the private companies thrown out.

‘We must urgently expand the WRP into a mass party, to lead this struggle for a workers’ government and socialism as part of the developing world revolution.’

Frank Sweeney, General Secretary of the Workers Revolutionary Party, was the final speaker, saying: ‘The world is in revolutionary turmoil and the masses are under attack. Revolution on a worldscale dominates.

‘Yesterday in India prime minister Modi backed down following a year-long revolutionary response by the farmers to the three laws he was bringing in to force them to hand over the pricing of their produce to a few private companies.

‘There was an immediate revolutionary response by farmers with their tractors. The reason Modi backed down was because the farmers were going to escalate their action. Modi was forced to retreat, a huge defeat.

‘In Afghanistan the US spent $90 billion on the Afghan Army, but it ceased to exist in a matter of days this summer. There was a lot of corruption, but that’s capitalism.

‘Now 20 million people are facing starvation, not because of the Taliban, but because of the US.

‘That doesn’t take away from the fact that imperialism suffered a huge defeat.

‘They were defeated in Afghanistan, but that doesn’t mean the beast is dead.

‘Their solution to their crisis in 2007-8 was billions upon billions of QE, a fictitious house of cards, nothing inside, no labour in it to back it up. They can’t agree how to proceed, whether to increase QE or to taper it.

‘The capitalist system is in a huge crisis, desperately lashing out.

‘Imperialism has made life a living hell for refugees. The working class has no country. The US and British naval fleet in the Black Sea is a provocation and part of the encirclement of Russia.

‘Britain is the most crisis-ridden of all capitalist countries, the most bankrupt, the sick man of Europe.

‘Bank of England chief Bailey says he is uneasy about the rise in inflation.

‘The crisis has produced a revolutionary response in the working class. At Heathrow the leaders of Unite agreed fire and rehire, under which 20,000 were sacked and the rest had a 25% pay cut.

‘The Labour leadership is complicit in the Tory programme but the working class is not defeated in Britain or worldwide. We are confident about this revolutionary situation.

‘They are trying to destroy the NHS, but that is their weakness. Once the working class gains something it will not give it up and this especially applies to the NHS.

‘Today’s Britain meets Lenin’s classic definition of a revolutionary situation – when the ruling class can’t rule in the old way and when the working class can’t live in the old way.

‘The role of our daily paper, the News Line, is as the organiser, educator and agitator for socialist revolution.

‘In Britain the entire trade union leadership went along with zero hour contracts. That leadership has to go.

‘The future is socialism. We are proud that we are internationalists. Forward to the victory of the World Socialist Revolution.’

The rally concluded with everyone standing and delivering a powerful rendition of The International.