Friday, December 08, 2017

Rochester: Kent’s other city

By Carole Barclay
the cathedral from the castle wall

Rochester was once overshadowed by Gillingham and Chatham, whose Naval Dockyard, along with the navy base and army garrison, employed thousands during the hey-day of the Royal Navy. The navy left in the 1980s and all three towns are now part of Medway, a unitary authority with powers much like the old ‘county boroughs’ that were abolished in 1972.
Rochester is the oldest of the three towns. The settlement by an ancient crossing place on the River Medway goes back to Celtic days. The Romans built a bridge and a small walled town to guard it in their time, and their defences continued to define the parameters of the medieval town that followed.
Medieval Rochester was dominated by the Norman castle whose keep still looms above the bridge and the medieval cathedral that lies in its shade. The cathedral is the older of these. It was founded in 604 by Ethelbert, king of Kent, the first English Christian ruler, who was converted to Christianity in 597. The king was baptised by Augustine, whose mission to convert the pagan English came directly from the Pope in Rome. Nothing remains of the early church apart from the outline of its walls marked out on the floor and grounds of the mighty Norman edifice that replaced it.
The cathedral was closed during the Civil War by the Puritan parliamentary authorities who abolished the Anglican church and proclaimed the short-lived Republic of England or Commonwealth in 1649. It re-opened when the monarchy was restored in 1660 and it remains the seat of the Bishop of Rochester today.
The building of the Norman cathedral was overseen by Gundulf, a monk from Normandy, who also designed and directed the construction of the nearby castle whose ruins still tower over old Rochester.
The castle survived two epic medieval sieges, but the last battle on its grounds was in 1381 when it was seized and looted by Wat Tyler’s army when they marched on London during the Peasant’s Revolt.
There’s plenty to remind us of feudal days in the old town bound by a defensive wall whose strength can still be seen in the north of the city. But this is also the home of one of the Victorian era’s greatest novelists, whose characters have been popularised on screen and TV and whose works are still part of the school curriculum.
Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth but his early childhood was spent in Chatham. He later returned to Kent, finally moving to Gads Hill Place, a house originally built for the Mayor of Rochester in 1857.  Dickens features Rochester more than any city apart from London in his works and many of the buildings mentioned can still be seen today. Dickens died in the house in 1870. His last work, which remained unfinished, was The Mystery of Edwin Drood, set in a thinly disguised Rochester called 'Cloisterham'.
There’s plenty to see in Rochester. It’s close to London. There is a good rail service and good road links. But beware the festivals that are held in the old town throughout the year. The city gets swamped with visitors and parking is almost impossible within the vicinity of the major attractions!

Friday, December 01, 2017

God’s Wonderful Railway

By Andy Brooks
The King George V with the ‘Bristolian’ route headboard

STEAM –  the Museum of the Great Western Railway, also known as Swindon Steam Railway Museum – is a must see for anyone interested in Britain’s railway history. It is located at the site of the old railway works that was once the heart of the old Great Western Railway (GWR). Modern Swindon is largely the creation of the GWR, whose works, at its peak in the 1930s, directly employed over 14,000 workers to build and repair the locomotives and carriages of the railway dubbed “God’s Wonderful Railway” during the Victorian era.
The inevitable rationalisation following the nationalisation of the railways in 1947 and the decline of steam led to the scaling down of the plant, which eventually closed in 1986. Although the first GWR museum opened in another part of Swindon in 1962, the replacement that opened in 2000 is housed in a Grade II listed building that was part of the original Swindon Works.
The exhibition is essentially a tribute to the old GWR, its first chief engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and the men and women who built the railway and kept it running from 1833–1948.
There are plenty of hands-on exhibits and interactive displays, as well as steam engines, rolling stock, and reconstructions including a period signal room as well as a local platform, waiting room and booking office, to interest the casual visitor. Trainspotters and the railway buffs known as 'gricers' can, meanwhile, immerse themselves in the immense collections housed in what was once one of the largest railway industrial complexes in the world.
There’s a lot of old nonsense said about the ‘romance of steam’ by those who have never worked in the industry. It is, indeed, true that working on the railways isn’t just a job – it's a way of life. But what that really means on the operating side is that life is just one big shift.
Whilst the displays give us a glimpse of that world, the daily life of the workers who kept the trains rolling is barely touched upon. The images of the GWR’s bosses beam down on us in the lobby and the monuments to the workers who died in the First World War form part of one display. But there is no mention of the role of the transport and engineering unions that built the GWR and, indeed, led the demand for its nationalisation in the 1940s. Nevertheless what is on show certainly justifies the admission fee.
STEAM, the Museum of the Great Western Railway, is located in the Rodbourne area of Swindon in Fire Fly Avenue (SN2 2EY). It is approximately 10–20 minutes walk from Swindon Town Centre and is open daily, apart from 24th–26th December and 1st January. The museum is fully accessible – with disabled toilet facilities, lifts and ramps giving wheelchair and pushchair access throughout the museum. There is an in-house café and shop, and a near-by shopping mall. Admission is £8.90 with the usual concessions for students, senior citizens and children.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Solidarity with the peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean, Balkans and the Middle East

We condemn the imperialist wars and interventions
in the Middle East and Northern Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Balkans
We express our solidarity with the peoples of the region

The Communist and Workers' Parties participating in the 19th International Meeting of the Communist and Workers’ Parties and who sign this resolution:

Note that the intra-imperialist contradictions and antagonisms for the control of gas, oil, energy pipelines, and more generally, resources and markets, are the basis of imperialist wars and are directed against the peoples.

We condemn the imperialist wars and interventions that have marked the developments in the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans, under the responsibility of the US, NATO and the EU, in the context of intra-imperialist rivalries, as witnessed by the many years of warfare against Syria, Iraq, Libya, the presence of NATO forces in the Mediterranean, the Aegean Sea, and in the wider Balkan region.

We express our internationalist solidarity with the people of Syria, Iraq, Libya and the other peoples of the region.

We demand a just solution to the Cyprus issue, which remains unresolved 43 years after the invasion – occupation by the Turkish bourgeois state.

We support the just struggle of the Palestinian people to end the Israeli occupation.

We stand by the side of refugees and immigrants and at the same time we struggle against the causes that give rise to this phenomenon.

We condemn the involvement of the Greek government of SYRIZA-ANEL, as well as all other NATO and EU governments, which provide troops, bases and other military facilities as a base for imperialist designs in the region.

We call on the peoples to strengthen their struggle against imperialist wars, to eradicate the causes that give rise to them, to escalate the struggle against NATO and the EU, against imperialist alliances.
No involvement of our countries in imperialist plans, no involvement of our country's military forces in imperialist missions. We demand the removal of American-NATO and other foreign military bases from each country. NATO out of the Mediterranean, the Aegean, the Balkans, from every region of the globe.

Neither land nor water to the murderers of the peoples

Signed by:
  1. PADS (Algeria)
  2. Party of Labour of Austria
  3. Communist Party of Bangladesh
  4. Communist Party of Belarus
  5. New Communist Party of Britain
  6. Communist Party of Bulgaria
  7. Party of Bulgarian Communists
  8. Communist Party of Canada
  9. Communist Party in Denmark
  10. Communist Party of Denmark
  11. Communist Party of Ecuador
  12. Communist Party of Esthonia
  13. Communist Party of Finland
  14. Communist Party of Greece
  15. Hungarian Workers Party
  16. Communist Party of India
  17. Communist Party of India [Marxist]
  18. Workers Party of Ireland
  19. Communist Party (Italy)
  20. Communist Party of Jordan
  21. Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan
  22. Socialist Party of Latvia
  23. Communist Party of Mexico
  24. Communist Party of Norway
  25. Palestinian Communist Party
  26. Communist Party of Pakistan
  27. Paraguayan Communist Party
  28. Communist Party of Poland
  29. Philippine Communist Party [PKP 1930]
  30. Romanian Communist Party
  31. Communist Party of the Russian Federation
  32. Russian Communist Workers Party
  33. New Communist Party of Yugoslavia
  34. Communists of Serbia
  35. Communist Party of Slovakia
  36. South African Communist Party
  37. Communist Party of the People of Spain
  38. Communist Party of Sweden
  39. Syrian Communist Party
  40. Communist Party of Turkey
  41. Communist Party of Ukraine
  42. Union of Communists of Ukraine
  43. Communist Party of Venezuela

Solidarity with Catalonia

The undersigned, Communist Parties and Workers gathered in St. Petersburg at the XIX Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties condemn the repression that the police of the Spanish State exercised on October 1 against the people of Catalonia in their struggle for the right to self-determination , the right of expression, assembly and demonstration. They express their rejection of the application of art. 155 of the Spanish Constitution in Catalunya made by the PP Government, which has led to the dissolution of the Catalan Parliament, the removal of the President of the Generalitat de Catalunya, his Vice-President and all his Government, as well as intervention in all areas of the political rights of Catalonia.
We request the dismissal of the case open to Joan Josep Nuet, Secretary General of Communists of Catalonia and other members of the Parliament's Board of Crimes of Sedition, Rebellion, and embezzlement of public funds.
St Petersburg 2nd November 2017

Los abajo firmantes, Partidos Comunistas y Obreros reunidos en Sant Petersburgo  en el XIX Encuentro de Partidos Comunistas y Obreros  condenan la represión que la policia del  Estado espanyol ejercio  el dia 1 de octubre contra el pueblo de Catalunya, en su lucha por el derecho de autodeterminación,  el derecho de expresión,  reunión y  manifestación.   Manifiestan su rechazo a la aplicación del art. 155 de la Constitución española en Catalunya que hace el Gobierno del PP, y que ha supuesto la disolución del Parlament catalán, la destitución del President de la Generalitat de Catalunya, su Vicepresidente y de todo su Gobierno, así como la intervención en todos los àmbitos de los derechos políticos de Catalunya.
Solicitamos el sobreseimiento de la causa abierta a Joan Josep Nuet, Secretario General de Comunistes de Catalunya y otros miembros de la Mesa del Parlamentde los delitos de Sedición,  Rebeldia, i malversación de fondos públicos.

Signed by:
Communist Party of Bangladesh
New Communist Party of Britain
Communist Party of Canada
Communist Party of Denmark
Communist Party of Esthonia
Communist Party of Finland
Communist Party of Norway
Communist Party of Pakistan
Palestinian Communist Party
Philippine Communist Party [PKP 1930]
Romanian Socialist Party
New Communist Party of Yugoslavia
Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain

Turkey must withdraw its troops from Syria!

A call from the Communist Party of Turkey endorsed at the annual 19th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties in November 2017

Under the leadership of Erdoğan, Turkey has provided political and material support to terrorist groups in Syria, and has been an accomplice to all massacres perpetrated and humanitarian/economic devastation inflicted upon this country since the very beginning of imperialist intervention. Yet today, in defiance of all international agreements and rules, Turkey is carrying out military operations in Syria under the pretext of "counterterrorism".
We, the undersigned communist and workers' parties, hereby protest Turkey's military presence in Syria, and call for the immediate termination
of these military operations.
Erdoğan's foreign policy maneuvers, which solely aim to maintain his personal status and to satisfy the emerging pursuits of Turkish capitalist class, do not serve to the interests of the toiling masses of Turkey or the region by any means. As the undersigned communist and workers' parties, just as we do not sympathize with the pressure and blackmailing exercised by the US and other NATO countries against Erdoğan and oppose to any "color revolution" attempt to be staged in Turkey, we neither accept to label the reactionary and anti-people policies pursued by Turkish government as something positive or even anti-imperialist.
The workers will have the final word in Turkey, in Syria and all around the world. As the communist and workers' parties, we stand by this word and
we will do everything in our power to strengthen it.

Signed by:
  1. Algerian Party for Democracy and Socialism
  2. Party of Labour of Austria
  3. Communist Party of Bangladesh
  4. Communist Party of Brasil (PCdoB)
  5. Communist Party of Britain
  6. New Communist Party of Britain
  7. Communist Party of Canada
  8. AKEL, Cyprus
  9. Communist Party in Denmark
  10. Communist Party of Denmark
  11. Communist Party of Esthonia
  12. Communist Party of Finland
  13. Unified Communist Party of Georgia
  14. German Communist Party
  15. Communist Party of Greece
  16. Hungarian Workers' Party
  17. Communist Party of India
  18. Communist Party of India (Marxist)
  19. Workers' Party of Ireland
  20. Communist Party (Italia)
  21. TUDEH Party of Iran
  22. Communist Party of Israel
  23. Communist Party of Luxembourg
  24. Communist Party of Mexico
  25. Communist Party of Norway
  26. Palestinian Communist Party
  27. Philippine Communist Party [PKP 1930]
  28. Communist Party of Poland
  29. Portuguese Communist Party
  30. Romanian Socialist Party
  31. Communist Party of the Russian Federation
  32. Russian Communist Workers Party
  33. New Communist Party of Yugoslavia
  34. Communists of Serbia
  35. South African Communist Party
  36. Communist Party of Sri Lanka
  37. Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain
  38. Communist Party of Sweden
  39. Communist Party of Syria
  40. Communist Party of Syria (Unified)
  41. Communist Party of Turkey
  42. Communist Party of Ukraine
  43. Communist Party of Uruguay
  44. Communist Party USA
  45. Communist Party of Venezuela

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Solidarity with Polish communists

The Communist Party of Poland, within the framework of the annual 19th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties, circulated a  Motion against the anticommunist persecutions at the expense of the CP of Poland

On March 31st, 2016 four cadres of the Communist Party of Poland were sentenced by the regional court of Dąbrowa Górnicza to 9 months of restricted freedom with obligatory social work and fines. The legal procedure at the expense of the CP of Poland and of its cadres that has been going on for two years will restart on the 27th of November with the charges of “dissemination of the communist ideology” in the Brzask newspaper and on the Party’s website. If the court finds them guilty, the charges are up to two years of incarceration.

At the same time, the CP of Poland is facing a new offensive from the Polish capitalist class and from the government party of “Law and Justice” (PiS), which is trying to illegalize the CP of Poland on the context that “the Program of the CP of Poland does not abide by the Constitution”.

The CP’s that participate in the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties condemn the attempts to outlaw the Communist ideology in Poland. We denounce the persecutions against our Polish comrades. These persecutions, as well as the persecutions in other EU member-states, go hand in hand with the intensification of the anti-popular offensive, aim at equating Communism with the fascist monster; they aim at erasing the achievements of Socialism from the collective memory of the peoples.

100 years after the October Revolution, the peoples can and must draw conclusions from the anti-communist political positions of the EU and of the bourgeois governments that are becoming more intense. They must trust the Communists and demand the satisfaction of their modern needs, organizing their struggle against the capitalist system, the monopolies and their power.

All charges against the CP of Poland and its cadres have to be dropped immediately.

Hands off the Communists of Poland, the Communist ideology and their unrestricted action.

Solidarity with the CP of Poland!

Anti-communism shall not pass!

  • Communist Party of Australia
  • Party of Labour of Austria
  • Communist Party of Azerbaidjan
  • Progressive Tribune Bahrain
  • Communist Party of Bangladesh
  • Communist Party of Belarus
  • Communist Party of Brazil
  • Brazilian Communist Party
  • New Communist Party of Britain
  • Communist Party of Bulgaria
  • Party of the Bulgarian Communists
  • Socialist Workers Party of Croatia
  • Communist Party of Cuba
  • AKEL, Cyprus
  • Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia
  • Egyptian Communist Party
  • Communist Party of Ecuador
  • Communist Party of Estonia
  • Unified Communist Party of Georgia
  • German Communist Party
  • Communist Party of Greece
  • Hungarian Workers' Party
  • Communist Party of India
  • Communist Party of India (Marxist)
  • Iraqi Communist Party
  • Communist Party of Kurdistan
  • Tudeh Party of Iran
  • Communist Party of Ireland
  • Workers Party of Ireland
  • Communist Party of Israel
  • Communist Party (Italy)
  • Jordanian Communist Party
  • Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan
  • Party of the Communists of Kyrgyzstan
  • Workers Party of Korea
  • Socialist Party of Latvia
  • Socialist Peoples' Front (Lithuania)
  • Party of the Congress for the Independence of Madagascar
  • Communist Party of Mexico
  • Party of the Communists of Republic of Moldova
  • Communist Party of Nepal
  • Communist Party of Norway
  • Palestinian Communist Party
  • Paraguayan Communist Party
  • Communist Party of Peru (Patria Roja)
  • Peruvian Communist Party
  • Philippine Communist Party (PKP-1930)
  • Portuguese Communist Party
  • Romanian Socialist Party
  • Communist Party of the Russian Federation
  • Russian Communist Workers Party
  • New Communist Party of Yugoslavia
  • Communists of Serbia
  • Communist Party of the People of Spain
  • Communists of Catalonia
  • Communist Party of Sri-Lanka
  • South African Communist Party
  • Sudanese Communist Party
  • Communist Party of Sweden
  • Syrian Communist Party
  • Syrian Communist Party (Unified)
  • Communist Party of Tadjikistan
  • Communist Party of Turkey
  • Communist Party of Ukraine
  • Union of Communists of Ukraine
  • Communist Party of Uruguay