Thursday, June 21, 2007

Len Aldis honoured by Vietnamese Association

THE VIETNAM Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) held a ceremony on 12th June to admit Len Aldis, secretary of the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society as an honorary member.
Len Aldis expressed his pleasure to join the association. He stressed that the active efforts of VAVA helped to attract increasing concern from people at home and around the world about the consequences of Agent Orange and its serious effects on the environment and people in Vietnam.
“Supporters of Agent Orange victims find VAVA a good way of expressing their concerns and raise aid to help them,” he said.
Len Aldis, 76, first came to Vietnam in 1989. Since then he has carried out many activities, even “more active than many Vietnamese people” as noted by VAVA Vice President Nguyen Trong Nhan, to help Agent Orange victims in their daily lives and in the struggle for justice.
He is the author of a website petition, which is designed to collect signatures of those who want to support Vietnamese Agent Orange victims.
Nguyen Trong Nhan said that it would take a long time to list the initiatives worked out by Len to support the victims.
Len has visited colleges in Britain, giving speeches and showing films about Agent Orange victims in Vietnam. He has also mobilised British MPs for support towards the victims.
His website petition has been signed by over 700,000 people around the world, much more than expected. This shows that his patience has helped many people to gain an understanding of Agent Orange and its serious consequences.

Len is the founder of the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society which since its foundation in 1992 has, and will continue with its work and projects in raising awareness and funds for the Vietnamese people, especially those suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. BVFS campaigns seeking justice for the victims of Agent Orange has led to Len Aldis being invited to speak at a number of universities in Britain and in Vietnam. He has also spoken on the issue at public meetings in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France and Vietnam.In addition, the Society has shown international award winning documentary films on Agent Orange such as Battle’s Poison Cloud and Path to Justice in which Len appeared. Another film Agent Orange, a personal requiem” by Masako Sakata, has recently been released as has The Last Ghost of War by an American company, Janet Gardner Group.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Perspectives for Scotland


by London Scot

Communist Party of Scotland: Perspectives for Scottish Independence, Glasgow: CPS, April 2007 pp.31. £1.50 plus 50p P&P. Available from the Communist Party of Scotland 4th Floor, Room 3A, 52 St Enoch Square, Glasgow or from Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX.

THE COVER of this pamphlet states that it "reflects the views of some comrades in the Communist Party of Scotland. We do not offer this pamphlet as anything more than a modest contribution to the debate". However this does not discuss the pros and cons of independence for Scotland, but instead forcefully argues the case for Scotland’s independence. It was written before the recent elections to the Scottish Parliament saw Labour lose control to a minority Scottish National Party administration and it is already showing its age.
For those not familiar with the ins and outs of Scottish politics it is worth noting that the CPS was founded in 1992 by a number of veteran members of the old Communist Party of Great Britain who remained within the party until the CPGB dissolved itself the previous year.
There are three main sections to the pamphlet. In the first CPS general secretary, retired architect Eric Canning denounces the present "neo-imperialist" state British state and the "fractured British left" who seek to capture it rather than break it. One wonders why a body which calls itself a Communist Party refrains from making even the mildest criticism of the economic policies of the main pro-independence party the Scottish National Party. The SNP has been has been promising lower corporation tax to benefit big business. The same party has been bank-rolled by several leading businessmen including Brian Soutar, the notoriously homophobic owner of the ruthless bus company Stagecoach. It is reasonable to conclude that many promoters of independence see it has heralding in a future Scotland very different from that promised here. While the pamphlet makes repeated and justified attacks on Labour Party policies it might be worth remembering that it was the same Labour Party which brought the Scottish Parliament into being.
It is worth noting that some sections of the Scottish trade union movement have toyed with left-wing Scottish nationalism as recommended here. Some branches of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union did indeed affiliate to the Scottish Socialist Party. It is not clear what the RMT gained as a result of this dalliance. As a result they were automatically disaffiliated from the Labour Party, thus losing any formal influence. In the event the SSP split as a result of a colourful court case involving their former leader and were wiped out in last month’s elections.
Secondly Maggie Chetty offers "Reflections on an Independent Scotland" in which she finds space to applaud the absurd "Tartan Day" initiative aimed at persuading rich Americans with Scottish sounding surnames to take their holidays in Scotland. The great Scottish communist poet Hugh MacDiarmid rightly poured scorn on that sort of nonsense. Modern Scottish communists should follow suit instead of welcoming it.
The final major article by Rhona Fleming takes an unbelievably rosy view of the Scottish economy, present and in an imaginary future. The author starts by welcoming the fact that Glasgow is a "Fair trade city". This means little more than ensuring that only fair trade tea and coffee is served in the City Chambers. Charity mongering does next to nothing for the tea-pickers of the Kenya and India. The main beneficiaries of such policies are the latte drinking classes who invariably gain a warm feeling of self righteousness. Claims that Glasgow is a presently a "lively vibrant city which has reinvented its image" merely regurgitate the purple prose of glossy tourist brochures. While there are now plenty of trendy wine bars in central
Glasgow, they invariably have homeless Big Issue sellers outside them.
There can be no doubt that Scotland could, if it were carried in a referendum, hold its own as an independent state.
Support for independence can be found among sections of the ultra left and those on the free market. But the CPS assumes far too easily that such a rearrangement of the constitutional furniture will inevitably have progressive consequences.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Stop the deployment of new US bases in Poland and the Czech Republic

Joint statement of European communist and workers' parties

Stop the deployment of new US bases in Poland and the Czech Republic,
Romania and Bulgaria

We, the undersigned European communist and workers parties, express our strong protest on the deployment of the US " antimissile " bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, as well as so called ”ordinary military bases” in Romania and Bulgaria.

These plans, emphatically rejected by the peoples of these countries but also by a growing movement in all European countries are in break with the international agreements on troupes and nuclear arms reduction and with the broad demand for disarmament, collective security and peace.

We reject the official reasons given for this "National missile defense system" as pretexts and its projection as a "defensive" one, as pure propaganda.

The real goal of the NMD project is to further strengthen the military position and supremacy of USA by creating new facilities for attack on other countries without treat of retaliation.

Already the USA is the biggest world producer and owner of weapons of mass destruction. Its aggressive policy, with the support of NATO, causes wars, imperialist interventions and instability. With the doctrine of the "preventive wars" and labeling nations opposing its policy as "rogue states" and "axis of evil" the American war machine is the biggest threat to world peace.

The eventual realization of the "anti-missile shield" will lead to new efforts of the US Administration to strengthen the position of the "sole global superpower" implementing the imperialist ambitions as persecutor, judge and executor in the international relations.

Some initiatives by other European governments, by Nato and the EU in support of these plans are relevant for the dangers in face of all the European peoples, resulting from the same aggressive policy, no matter if it's rooted in the US or EU global ambitions.

From now it's more than obvious that the new US bases will accelerate arms race and militarization, foster the antagonism between the imperialist powers and lead to more massive attacks on democratic and social rights.

This is the reason for the legitimated broad opposition to this policy.

We salute and express our solidarity with the large and effective actions developed by the communists, progressive forces, organizations and anti-war movements in Poland, in the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria and other countries against the deployment of the US missiles and imperialism.

This courageous protest is an important contribution to the growing resistance in Europe and in the world against war, foreign military bases and Nato.

Expressing our strong determination to enhance our struggle, cooperation and solidarity we demand:

Immediate stop of the plans regarding the deployment of the new US missile and radar bases in Poland and Czech Republic, as well as the military bases in Romania and Bulgaria.

Immediate stop of any move by national governments, European Union and NATO facilitating the implementation of the US plans.

Ratification of the treaty on troops reduction in Europe and the total ban of all nuclear weapons.

Broad support to all actions against the legitimization and the deployment of the US missiles and bases.

The parties:

1. Communist Initiative of Austria
2. Communist Party of Belarus
3. Workers Party of Belgium
4. Workers' Communist Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina
5. Communist Party of Britain
6. New Communist Party of Britain
7. Party of Bulgarian Communists
8. AKEL, Cyprus
9. Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia
10. Communist Party of Denmark
11. Communist Party in Denmark
12. Danish Communist Party
13. Communist Party of Finland
14. Unified Communist Party of Georgia
15. German Communist Party
16. Communist Party of Greece
17. Hungarian Communist Workers Party
18. Communist Party of Ireland
19. Party of the Italian Communists
20. Socialist Party of Latvia
21. Socialist Party of Lithuania
22. Communist Party of Luxembourg
23. Communist Party of Macedonia
24. New Communist Party of the Netherlands
25. Communist Party of Norway
26. Communist Party of Poland
27. Portuguese Communist Party
28. Socialist Alliance Party (Romania)
29. Communist Party of the Russian Federation
30. Communist Workers¹ Party of Russia
31. Communist Party of Slovakia
32. Communist Party of Peoples of Spain
33. Communist Party of Sweden
34. Swiss Communist Party ­ les communistes
35. Communist Party of Turkey
36. Labour Party of Turkey
37. Communist Party of Ukraine
38. Union of Communists of Ukraine
39. New Communist Party of Yugoslavia