Sunday, March 31, 2024

A step in the right direction

US imperialism, after five long months of genocide, finally bowed to world public opinion this week by refusing to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. But the Americans soon made it clear that they weren’t going to do anything about it,
If the Americans were truly concerned about the plight of the Palestinians they could have cut off all military supplies to Israel to force the Zionists to open up their check-points to allow humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, accept a permanent ceasefire and to withdraw all Israeli troops from the Palestinian Arab enclave. Instead they’ve rushed to tell the world that the UN resolution was “non-binding” to assure the Israelis that the flow of American arms to Israel will not be suspended. 
This clearly wasn’t enough for the rabid Zionist leaders enraged at the further isolation of Israel on the world stage. Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the resolution as betrayal. He cancelled an Israeli delegation to Washington. “Israel will not cease fire,” Israeli foreign minister Israel Katz said. “We will destroy Hamas and continue to fight until the last of the hostages return home” while another minister said that “the Security Council decision proves that the United Nations is antisemitic, and its secretary general is antisemitic and encourages Hamas”.
Without sanctions the American abstention is in itself a meaningless gesture – a sop to the Palestinian solidarity movement that is sweeping across the United States and the rest of the world. Nevertheless it is a step in the right direction. Equally significant is the fact that  the Sunak government broke ranks with Washington on this issue – joining France, Russia and People’s China in supporting  the modest call on the Security Council for  “an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan respected by all parties leading to a lasting sustainable ceasefire”.
The Israelis thought that they could crush the Palestinians and drive them out of Gaza to clear the land for more Zionist settlers. They never imagined a war like this that has closed their Red Sea port of Eilat and forced over half a million Israelis to flee the country. They never expected such fierce resistance. Not just in Gaza. In the West Bank many Palestinians have joined the partisans to defend themselves against marauding settler gunmen. In the north Israeli incursions are paid back in kind by the Lebanese resistance on a daily basis. 
Now the anti-war movement is growing even in Israel. Former Israeli Chief of Staff Dan Halutz says Netanyahu is leading Israel “from bad to worse”. A junior minister has resigned in the first public crack in Netanyahu’s emergency grand coalition while demands grow for Netanyahu to step down and call fresh elections.
While the Palestinians and Yemenis take on the Zionists head-on the millions on the Arab street and the millions upon millions throughout the world who have taken to the streets in support of their just struggle must step up the campaign to stop the Israeli slaughter and force the Zionists to recognise the just demands of the Palestinian Arabs. 

Monday, March 25, 2024

A landslide for Putin

 Vladimir Putin was swept back to the Kremlin in the Russian presidential elections last week. In a 77 per cent turn-out an overwhelming 88 per cent of the electorate voted for Putin, the leader of the ruling United Russia party, in last week’s poll much to the dismay of the Western media that routinely dismisses all elections that Putin wins as rigged.
Despite the best efforts of imperialist intelligence their fifth column inside the Russian Federation failed in its feeble attempts to disrupt the ballot while the Ukrainian raid across the border ended in yet another spectacular defeat for the fascist regime in Kiev. Putin now has a renewed mandate to lead the country in its confrontation with the United States and the rest of the imperialist pack.
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) candidate came second with just over four per cent of the vote followed by two other candidates from right-wing parties in the Duma, the Russian parliament as people closed ranks around their veteran national leader in times of war. But the communists ran a good campaign that they believe will lay the future foundations for Party growth throughout the Russian Federation.
The party did a great job,” the CPRF said.”We participated in all debates, presenting our programme in all the constituent bodies of the Russian Federation and understood that the party and our patriotic union have great support. Our candidate was backed by one million supporters and we believe that’s a big deal. As a result, the CPRF candidate came second and the party confirmed its status as the country’s main opposition party”.

Stop the slaughter 

Israel has now killed over 31,000 Palestinians in its genocidal assault on Palestinian Arabs in the Gaza Strip. Many more are trapped beneath the rubble of their own homes. We must keep taking to the streets in solidarity with Palestine.
The Israelis want to drive the Palestinian Arabs out of the Gaza Strip to make room for Zionist settlers. Starvation is being used by Israel as a weapon of war. The Palestinians in the besieged enclave are desperately short of food, water and other essential supplies and UN experts warn that Gaza is facing imminent famine.
But the partisans stand firm. No street or alley is safe for the Israeli marauders in Gaza or indeed for the Zionist settler gunmen whose reign of terror has fired a new wave of armed resistance in the occupied West Bank.
The Establishment, which as a whole does whatever the Americans say, has been rocked by a wave of protests that has turned into a mass movement demanding an end to British support for Israeli aggression. That’s why the bourgeoisie demonise the demonstrators and want to stop the demonstrations.
But nothing can silence the cry for justice for the Palestinian Arabs. We will keep demanding an immediate and permanent ceasefire and an end to the UK-Israel arms trade. We will keep protesting until Palestine is free. Let them hear it in Tel Aviv! Let them hear it in Washington!

No ordinary tale

 by Ben Soton

The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman; Penguin, London 2024 Pbk £9.99 432 pp

The Last Devil to Die is the fourth instalment in Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club series based around a group of elderly crime-solving amateur sleuths.  Once again Ron, Joyce, Ibrahim and Elizabeth are brought together to solve the murder of an antique dealer.  Meanwhile a hundred, thousand pounds worth of heroin goes missing; naturally the two events are closely connected.  The plot of the novel revolves around various and often fatal attempts to locate the box. 
As one might expect elderly characters have a limited shelf life and it appears that Osman is preparing for life’s most definite certainty by bringing in new characters.  In this case a computer expert known as Computer Bob and Mervyn, a septuagenarian who appears to be a victim of an online dating scam – who, at face value, may not make the best of detectives.  However, this character might be in the novel to remind us that not all pensioners are as street wise as the main characters. 
 Mervyn’s tragic situation provides an interesting side story to the main plot of the novel whilst at the end of the novel we hear of the arrival of a new resident – Edwin Mayhew.  Meanwhile the relationships between the secondary characters continue to develop.  Bogdan and Donna consider marriage and Ibrahim, a psychiatrist, visits the convicted criminal Connie Johnson in prison.  
The Last Devil to Die also shines a light on the tragic and delicate issue of dementia.  We see Stephen, Elizabeth’s husband, entering the final stages of the illness.  For many years he has been a keen chess player and often plays it with the local handyman, Bogdan.  However, as his memory fades, he now believes that Bogdan is going to teach him how to play the game.  The question arises as to what point to you lose a loved one when they have the condition –  there will come a point when Stephen is no longer aware who Elizabeth is.  
This aspect shows the darker side to old age. Not everyone in their seventies and eighties is as mentally active as the main characters.  However, the main characters; Ron, Joyce, Elizabeth and Ibrahim are as mentally astute as ever.  Whilst unlike Agatha Christie’s somewhat implausible Miss Marple, a seventy something spinster who has barely set foot outside her West Country village, this gang of four actually has a wide-ranging set of life experiences.
The question is has Richard Osman come up with an ultimately unique idea?   A group of pensioners, living in a Kent retirement home have become the new amateur sleuths of the twenty first century.  Perhaps more plausible than Miss Marple, Poirot or even Sherlock Holmes.  

Monday, March 18, 2024

Another brick in the wall

Moves to curb democratic protests and solidarity movements were announced this week under new government definitions of “extremism” that will be used to blacklist groups the ruling class deem to be seeking to undermine what they call Britain’s “liberal democracy”. 
The new rules will, of course, not affect the Zionists or the racists who see the Tory party as their natural home following the collapse of the BNP and the National Front. What they will do is  prevent public bodies from providing platforms for those spreading “hateful anti-British” ideas that “poison community life”. Though the definition will have no effect on the existing criminal law  as it only applies to the operations of government itself, its intention is clearly to isolate and marginalise the massive Palestinian solidarity movement and climate change campaigns that have swept the streets and challenged the bourgeois consensus in recent years.
The Sunak government would dearly like to ban the demonstrations outright but it simply doesn’t have the public support to do so. So now it is stepping up the harassment of demonstrators and smearing the organisers as merchants of hate. But who believes their lies these days?
London hasn’t become a “no-go” area for Jews. In fact many members of the Jewish community have joined the massive Palestinian solidarity marches that have rocked London over the past five months and have all ended peacefully – despite the dire predictions of “mob rule” in the Tory media. 
Hundreds of thousands of people have supported the recent cycle of demonstrations calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Millions more support the demand for justice for the Palestinian Arabs and an end to fighting in the Gaza Strip. This is an attack on democracy, not a defence of it. The right to protest must be defended.

Keep up the fight

International efforts to stop the fighting in Gaza have come to nothing in recent weeks. The Palestinian resistance have rejected the Americans’ worthless Ramadan cease-fire “pause” that would clearly not have led to a lasting truce given Israel’s declared aim to re-occupy the Strip and wipe Hamas off the face of the earth. The Palestinians want a permanent cease-fire, the total withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip and internationally guaranteed pledges to speedily work towards the establishment of the independent Palestinian state that the imperialists accept when they talk about a “two-state” solution.
Air-drops and floating piers aren’t going stave off starvation in Gaza. If the Americans really want to help they should just tell the Israelis to allow food and medical convoys cross their border into the enclave. If the Americans really want to see the release of the Israelis in Palestinian captivity they should accept the Palestinian offer of a prisoner exchange. If the Americans really want to see an end to the fighting they should stop vetoing truce proposals at the United Nations that have the support of all the members of the Security Council as well as virtually all the countries in the entire world.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Robbing the poor

Though the Tories care little or nothing for the working people they exploit to keep the bourgeoisie in clover they have to pose, like virtuous Roman Senators, as impartial governors of the state machine  –  especially in the run-up to the general election. When the going is good the bourgeoisie will sacrifice a tiny fraction of their immense wealth to maintain the health service and what’s left of the “welfare state”. When times hard – and they certainly are now as we enter the 16th  year of a recession that still shows no sign of recovery – they will try to pass the entire burden onto the backs of the workers with austerity measures that they call the “national interest”.
This week’s Spring Budget was no exception. Jeremy Hunt tinkers around income tax and national insurance contributions but at the end of the day it was as Keir Starmer said "just another short-term cynical political gimmick”.
This is a budget for the wealthy drawn up a government that represents the ruling class. People on low incomes or benefits will be hit by cuts in the social wage. Pensioners face an average £1,000 hit to their incomes because of the tax changes. The Labour leader says the Tories “give with one hand and take even more with the other" and "nothing they do between not and the election will change that” – and on this occasion he’s quite right. But Labour has nothing to offer in exchange. 
The renationalisation of all the utilities, industries and services that were once in public ownership would pour billions back into the Treasury. The health service could be rescued by restoring the wealth and profit taxes of the Wilson era and scrapping the Trident nuclear arms system could easily provide the funds to end the homelessness crisis. But the Starmer leadership is committed to maintaining the tax-break regime that began after the Tory come-back in 1979  
Paul Nowak, the General Secretary of the TUC slammed “a deeply cynical budget” packed with “wishful thinking on productivity and pre- election gimmicks”.  We need a government that will take responsibility for growth, Nowak said, with stronger public services and strengthened public infrastructure not least to meet the climate crisis. For working people up and down the country a change of government cannot come to soon.
Indeed. We will all be glad to see the back of Sunak. But we’ve also got to defeat the class collaborators and bureaucrats who run Labour and most of the unions these days. If we don’t we can only expect the same again from Starmer & Co.

A slap in the face for Starmer

Galloway bagged almost 40 per cent of the vote in the Rochdale by-election last week that was dominated by the war in Gaza. Starmer and the sad-sack Blairites that surround him told us that the average Labour voter wasn’t interested in Palestine. Last week proved them wrong.
Though there is a substantial Muslim minority in Rochdale the swing to Galloway and his new Workers’ Party of Britain went far beyond the Muslim community. Disowning their own candidate for supporting Palestine and making remarks deemed to be “anti-Semitic” by the Starmer bureaucracy didn’t help Labour either.
Galloway says he believes his win will “spark a movement, a landslide, a shifting of the tectonic plates in scores of parliamentary constituencies”. But, of course, we’ve heard all this before.
The MP kicked out of Labour for opposing the imperialist invasion of Iraq in 2003 returned to Parliament on two previous occasion on his old Respect platform. But Respect never took off as a national party. Whether Galloway is third-time lucky this time round remains to be seen but without the mass support of the union movement that seems unlikely. 
Nevertheless George Galloway’s victory was a slap in the face for Starmer & Co. It augurs well for Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election in London and it was a warning shot to Labour to never take their traditional vote for granted. Now it’s their turn to look over their shoulder. Let them wonder where their slavish support for Israeli aggression and boot-licking the Americans is taking them...   

Friday, March 01, 2024

Hobson’s Choice

The American presidential election is being viewed with increasing trepidation in Westminster and the other chancelleries of Europe. Not surprisingly considering the choice facing the electorate – a senile old man in thrall to the most aggressive and venal sections of the American ruling class or Donald Trump, whose calls for trade wars and tariffs could easily trigger a global slump not seen since the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
Though Trump is ahead in the opinion polls at the moment that could easily change if the movers and shakers in the Democratic Party dump Joe Biden in favour of a new leader to face the challenge in November. Many favour Michelle Obama, a lawyer and author, whose only claim to high office is that she is the wife of President Barack Obama and served as the First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. Needless to say the views of bourgeois politicians this side of the Atlantic will count for nothing in their calculations.
Gone are the days when British politicians on both sides of the House could pose as equals to their American counter-parts and talk about a “special relationship” with US imperialism. Gone – like the dream of the Franco-German bourgeoisie of an independent European Union that could play off East against West or the nonsensical “Third Way” of the Blairites which, in itself, was just another version of the Keynesian economic model pioneered by Fascist Italy and the Third Reich in the 1930s. 
In the old days British imperialism bragged about the Empire on which "the sun never set" while the German imperialists talked of "world domination". United States imperialism has always been more subtle. After the Second World War it made a bid to control the economic development of the world through the Marshall Plan and its dominance of the fledgling United Nations. This was thwarted by the opposition of the Soviet Union and the new people's democracies. During the Cold War much of the world was divided between the rival spheres of influence of the United States and the USSR. However the end of the Soviet Union enabled the United States to reinforce its grip on Western Europe.
Western European leaders still pose as equals of the Americans in the NATO alliance but in reality they’ve been forced to accept the model of subservience imposed on Japan by US imperialism after its defeat in 1945.
Dependent on American protection to defend their own global interests they destroyed the Yugoslav federation and the Libyan Jamahuriya at Washington’s behest. They fan the flames of war in Ukraine and the Middle East and prolong the unhappy partition of many countries including Cyprus, Ireland, Kashmir and Korea.
Now all they can do is watch as the drama of the race to the White House plays out. Whether Michelle Obama can mobilise the same rainbow coalition that swept her husband into the White House in 2008 is another matter. Biden’s blanket support for Israeli aggression has alienated Arab-Americans as well as large sections of the Black and Muslim community that has traditionally supported the Democrats in the past. Whether they will return to the fold will ultimately depend on Biden’s departure and a more even-handed approach to the Palestinians in the run-up to the election.

Donbas communists speak

Boris Litvinov with RT's  Steve Sweeney in Moscow
by New Worker correspondent

Boris Litvinov, secretary of the Donetsk district of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, joined a Zoom meeting with members of International Ukraine Anti Fascist Solidarity (IUAFS) while on a visit to Moscow in February. This was our first contact with comrade Litvinov for some time as residents in the Donbas are still unable to access many applications including virtual meeting platforms.
It came at a time when the NATO-backed Ukrainian forces have massively stepped up deliberate attacks on places where large numbers of civilians gather with long range weapons. There have been two recent horrific attacks in Donetsk city and the town of Lisichansk in Lugansk in which almost 50 civilians died.
“Every day the situation in Ukraine is becoming more and more unpredictable. Now our forces, those of the Russian Federation and the local militias, are step by step gaining more positions in the fighting,” Litvinov said.
“After all the talk about the Ukrainian counter offensive it is now obvious that it has failed. Now both sides are preparing for offensives in the spring and summer.
“But there is a big difference between the conduct of the war on both sides. French, British and American long-range missiles and shells are being used indiscriminately against Donetsk and other cities in the Donbas. Civilians are being killed every day, and 50 percent of Donetsk city is without power. This has become a big problem.
“The Russian Federation and Ukraine are waiting for the other side’s ammunition to be exhausted, or for the other side to weaken.
“If we look back to the attacks on our country throughout history, in 1918 14 countries of the Entente Powers attacked Russia, and in the Second World War all [the Nazis led] the forces of Western Europe were brought together to fight our country.
“At the moment, you wouldn't believe it, 50 countries are participating in this military operation against Donetsk.
“What Western people can't understand about the Russians is our collective mentality and our internationalism. This is especially difficult for many Anglo-Saxons, for people in Britain and the United States, to understand.
“Yes, sometimes we take time and we don't take action, we are absolutely different from people in Western European countries, but when it comes to a huge threat, sooner or later we ull together, shoulder to shoulder, to resist.
“What is happening now, we are together, we are brothers, we are comrades. This is our country, this is our motherland. Maybe not everyone realises this, but in spite of this the majority of our people realise that when there is a huge threat we can come together to defend ourselves.
“Actually, this is a disaster which is threatening our country, and it is not just Russians by the way, it is also 130 different nationalities living in our country.
“For us this is very emotional for all of us. We can't understand why Europe doesn't resist. There are millions of people in different countries, we do understand that most of the people are brainwashed, but still ordinary people should understand that it is high time to stop sending money to kill people, instead of sending money on healthcare, education and housing.
“But people in the West have very short memories, they should understand never to mess with Russia, never to attack Russia. These people don't learn from history that we know how to fight, and sooner or later this will bring terrible results for many European countries.
“This time we will achieve victory, but at a terrible price. How many lives of young people, how many Russian people, how many Ukrainian people, do we need to lose?
“It's high time to stop it. We don't want to fight, please stop sending money to kill people. What can we do? We have to defend our people.
“Please remind your people, please read the history of Russia. Whenever Russia is attacked it has been rebuffed, and it has been our victory.
“The Ukrainians are Slavonic people, they are our brothers, so please make efforts to pressure your governments to stop sending money to kill people in Ukraine.
“Putin is not Russia, and Russia is not Putin. There are many people in Russia, including ourselves, who are against him. To a very large extent what is happening now is his fault. If he had taken the decision to recognise the Donetsk and Lugansk republics he should have done it in 2014.
“He waited eight years, and it is his fault that people are dying today. We in the Communist Party have called on Putin to do this for eight years, and during that time Ukraine acquired huge amounts of armaments and soldiers from abroad. So it is his fault that our guys are dying now in Ukraine, his fault personally and the government which he heads.
"The Communist Party is alive and our comrades now have a faction in the Donetsk parliament, the People's Council, with six people out of 90. They are working hard and actively, and actually more than any other faction in the parliament. There are four communists in Kherson, three communists in Zaporizhia and four communists in the Lugansk parliament”.