Margaret Thatcher and the Wicked Witch
So the first fruits of the Leveson Inquiry’s push for press censorship turn out to be a BBC ban on playing ‘Ding Dong! the Witch is Dead’.
How successful this belated attempt to starve Judy Garland of the oxygen of publicity will be in suppressing unseemly public glee at the passing of Baroness Thatcher is doubtful.
But if Sunday’s unlikely victim of nervous self-censorship is just a musical theatre child prodigy from the thirties, we can be sure that future victims will include those with the ‘bad taste’ to speak out against the criminal wars and domestic repression engineered by our ‘democratic’ rulers.
With the NUJ busy patting Leveson on the back and the BBC jumping into self-censorship without waiting to be pushed, only journalists of unusual courage can be expected to resist the big freeze that’s coming.
Who can doubt now the urgent need to build a movement of collective non-cooperation with the war plans of our masters, at home as well as abroad?
On Saturday 18th August, CPGB-ML and Red Youth joined the march and rally to commemorate the anniversary of the Llanelli rail strike of 1911. The strike was memorable both for the slaughter of two workers by the British army, and for the heroic and steadfast spirit of resistance which animated the strikers and their many supporters. Our contingent was proud to support this event, distributing our literature as we marched through Llanelli.
At the rally many spoke about the spirited local campaign to prevent the downgrading of the Accident and Emergency service at the local Prince Phillip hospital. Sadly, a number of speeches seemed more concerned with point-scoring between Labour and Plaid Cymru, with each blaming the other for the threatened cuts coming down the line. A speaker from our party was invited by Llanelli Trades Council to say a few words, a welcome opportunity to put the historical events of 1911 in the context of today’s crisis of capitalism and the tasks facing the working class. The comrade spoke as follows:
“On behalf of the CPGB-ML I would like to thank Llanelli Trades Council for inviting me to say a few words on this day of commemoration.
When we recall the murder by the British army of John John and Leonard Worsell, we do not comfort ourselves with the false idea that this was the last time workers were slain by the British state. It is sufficient to recall
- the fatal battering of anti-Nazi campaigner Blair Peach in 1979;
- the judicial murder of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005, shot seven times in the head whilst pinned to the ground in Stockwell tube station;
- the killing of bystander Ian Tomlinson at the G20 demo in 2010, now revealed to have been the subject of a criminal cover-up by the official pathologist;
- and the public execution of father-of-three Mark Duggan in 2011 on the streets of Tottenham.
All four were victims of state violence. In their case, the instruments of the state wore police uniforms. The army in recent years has been reserved for the slaughter of workers in faraway places – though we note that the Irish murdered in Ireland by the Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday (to mention but one of the myriad crimes against the Irish nation) were said by the colonisers to have met their deaths on “British soil”.
In remembering the events which took place in Llanelli one hundred years ago, we are inspired by the fighting spirit shown by working people resisting capitalism, by the spirit of non-cooperation which erupted even within the army itself, and by the electrifying effect this resistance had throughout the whole community. So far from being merely a historical footnote, the events of the 1911 Llanelli rail strike have real and urgent lessons for all those workers today who are fighting to prevent their living standards being ground down by a capitalist system in crisis.
The uprisings triggered last summer by the assassination of Mark Duggan revealed a depth of anger amongst young workers deprived of a decent future by the crisis of capitalism, and a willingness to fight back against a system that is effectively declaring war on the entire working class. Those uprisings were closer to the true spirit of 1911 than anything the TUC has yet come up with by way of “coordinating resistance”, despite the proven willingness of local government workers, doctors, construction workers, teachers, transport workers, students and Occupy activists to make a fight of it. All that is missing is the political leadership.
It is time to stop lying to the working class about the character of this crisis. The choice which faces us all is not “destructive cuts” versus “humane cuts”. The choice is between a warmongering capitalist barbarism spinning out of control – or socialism. The best commemoration of the martyrs, strikers and fighters of 1911 will come when the red flag is hoisted over Wales, Scotland and England. Bring it on! Join the struggle! Long live the spirit of 1911!”
After the rally, we marched up the hill to the cemetery where our two fallen comrades are buried. We laid one floral tribute (from the CPGB-ML) on the grave of Leonard Worsell, and a second (from Red Youth) on the grave of John John.
More photos of event (Flickr)
1911 special: Working-class struggles in Britain
Uprisings terrify the ruling class
YOUTH UPRISING SUPPLEMENT: Rage against capitalism
The following email was sent to us for promotion and we ask all anti-war and civil-liberties campaigners to spread it far and wide.
I know our MPs are a shower of spineless crooks and opportunists, but what is going on here is a serious attempt by the UK state to criminalise non-support for OurHeroes(TM), and we should all be very very worried about this.
We all need to make as much of an uproar about this as possible, and that includes writing to our MPs in droves — there are LOADS of people out there who are with us on this, and we need to do everything in our power to stop these people being cowed into silence by the state, by politicians, and by the media.
PASS IT ON.
Azhar Ahmed's post on Facebook
Dear [insert MP or other 'representative's' name here]
I should be most grateful if you would consider giving your support for the following.
Petition to Mr Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, Crown Prosecution Service.
Yorkshire Police have brought a charge against Azhar Ahmed for “a racially aggravated public order offence” for his comments on Facebook, which can be seen here: http://www.sabotagetimes.com/life/azhar-ahmed-and-scott-mchugh-a-tale-of-two-states/.
His comments amount to rage about civilian deaths that Nato and ISAF forces, including British soldiers, are seen as responsible for. There is nothing ‘racially aggravated’ about the comments, and they are not a direct plan for violence or incitement to violence. They are rage expressed in symbolic form, in terms of hell.
I believe this kind of charge brings our justice system into disrepute in the public conscience, is not in the public interest, and that this case should be urgently reviewed by the Director of Public Prosecutions himself, to consider whether it is a sensible interpretation of the law and whether bringing a charge is in the public interest.
In support of the above, I would like to remind you that the right of peoples to defend themselves against foreign invasion is enshrined in the UN Charter. Just as the French, Russian, Yugoslav, and other peoples had the right to defend themselves against German soldiers, and the Vietnamese people had the right to defend themselves against American soldiers, so too do the Afghan people have the right to defend themselves against British soldiers.
[Your name here]
By KCNA, 23 November 2011
Riot police are hurled to put down the protests but only fell short of blocking the masses’ advance.
This has stoked fears among the rulers of the capitalist countries.
This proves capitalism is reactionary system and ailing society where the rich get ever richer and the poor ever poorer as a 1 percent tiny handful of exploiters oppress toiling masses making up 99 percent of the population.
A recent opinion poll conducted in the U.S. showed the majority of Americans voiced resentment against the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor. In the poll jointly conducted by the Washington Post and ABC TV, over 6 out of 10 respondents said the rich-poor gap is widening in economic aspect. The income disparity between the people in the upper brackets of income and the rest of Americans is now all time high since the great depression about 70 years ago.
The income of wealthy people grew about 275 percent for the past 28 years. In 2010 the number of the poor increased by 7 million from 10 years ago.
The widening gap between the 1 percent rich and the 99 percent poor is an inevitable result of the structural contradiction of capitalism.
The history of capitalism is characterized by the accumulation of wealth by monopoly tycoons. In this course a crucial change took place in the relations of class forces, sharpening contradiction and conflict.
In the capitalist society the well-to-do people get ever richer while the poor are reduced to extreme poverty. The rich take to itself products and almost all wealth of the society, wallowing in luxury while the toiling masses languish in hunger and poverty. The people are degenerated, becoming slaves of money and the broad masses suffer from unemployment, hunger and poverty.
It has become frequent occurrences in the capitalist countries for even the middle classes to lose properties due to bankruptcy and unemployment and join the poor.
A big group of the unemployed are in the making in the Western countries bogged by financial and debt crises.
The rulers and monopoly capitalists are talking rhetoric about “class cooperation” and “welfare policy” to calm down the daily worsening socio-class contradiction in the capitalist countries.
Cooperation between the exploiting class and the grassroots people in the capitalist society is sheer sophism little short of a wolf and a sheep living in the same pen as friends.
It is an inevitable process of the historical development that the people intensify their actions to win the right to existence and democracy against the arbitrary practices of the monopoly capitalists.
The widening gap between the rich and the poor will escalate the people’s protest against it.
Capitalism can never solve its socio-class contradiction by itself but will meet a final ruin by the people’s actions for independence.
From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 1 October
The United Nations published a report on 2 September (the Palmer Report) finding that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is legal and that the Israeli commandoes who boarded the Mavi Marmara had a perfect right to defend themselves against the “organised and violent resistance” which it claimed a group of passengers had put up.
It is not clear how the universally unarmed passengers, shot from the air before the commandos had even landed, had been able to put up organised and violent resistance, and this was not explained. The report did, however, admit that the force used by the Israelis was “excessive and unreasonable”. Nevertheless the report put blame on the flotilla for “recklessly” running the blockade, and on Turkey for not persuading them to keep away.
The finding that the blockade of Gaza by Israel was a legitimate security measure designed merely to prevent armaments being supplied to Palestinians, rather than a deliberate collective punishment of the people of Gaza that is contrary to the Geneva conventions, is also outrageous. There are plenty of ways Israel could monitor the cargoes of ships headed for Gaza without actually blockading the Strip and preventing any ship from entering or leaving, even those carrying only humanitarian aid.
This hugely biased report has of course infuriated Turkey, which has expelled the Israeli ambassador and announced that it is freezing military ties with Israel until Israel both apologises and compensates the victims. Obviously, there is no chance of that happening any time soon! Furthermore, Turkey has announced that it will be providing future aid convoys to Gaza with naval escorts to guarantee their safety.
The bias in the report is readily understood by observing a number of factors. Three of the four members of the Palmer enquiry team were appointed only on Israel approving them. They included that arch violator of human rights Alvaro Uribe, former president of Colombia.
Moreover, the team heard no evidence at all from the survivors of the attack. It took for granted that the Mavi Marmara carried weapons when in fact it was well established that it did not. As to suggesting that the boarding of the Mava Marmara was legal because of the threat it posed to Israel, this argument would have been completely inappropriate even if it had been true, since even then it would not have been legal under international law to board a ship in international waters, as happened in this case.
In truth, the Palmer Report makes a mockery of justice – and of the United Nations as a credible international organisation.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian bid to be recognised as a state by the UN has caused major upheavals. Israel has been backed 100 percent by Barack Obama in its opposition to such recognition, which cannot have failed to open the eyes of those who had pinned all their hopes of justice for the Palestinian people on his sense of fair play.
Threats and bribes were proffered to try to persuade Abbas to withdraw the bid, but his hands were tied by the fact that his followers, against a background of mushrooming jewish settlements all over the West Bank at the cost of Palestinian homes and livelihoods, would simply not allow him to abandon, compromise or postpone this basic demand and entitlement of the Palestinian people.
It is clear that the US can and almost certainly will exercise its veto in the UN Security Council to prevent full recognition of Palestinian as a state within the pre-1967 boundaries. What they will have much more difficulty with is preventing the Palestinian Authority from having its status elevated by the General Assembly of the UN from non-voting ‘observer entity’ to ‘observer state’, a status equal to that of the Vatican.
This status would give the Palestinians not only the right to observe but also to submit resolutions and join other United Nations bodies and conventions. It would also give them status to pursue legal cases in the International Criminal Court, something that alarms Israel and the United States in particular.
For the moment, the issue has been postponed insofar as it is tabled to be discussed by the Security Council some time next spring. Only after the Security Council reaches its decision will the General Assembly have the chance to cast its votes. Between now and then one can expect heavy US pressure on various UN members – pressure that has already commenced – to vote as directed by the US or else face various highly pernicious and damaging unilateral sanctions.
For the moment, even France has broken ranks with its co-imperialists to express support for recognition by the General Assembly of the Palestinian state, as has Russia.
Finally, the High Court in the UK has ruled that British government’s detention of Sheikh Raed Salah was illegal and that he is entitled to damages in respect of this illegal detention.
Evidence before the court showed that the detention was prompted by pressure put by the notorious lobbyist for zionism, the so-called ‘Community Security Trust’. This outfit made all kinds of unfounded allegations against Sheikh Salah, which the Home Secretary took just 17 minutes to investigate. The zionists’ aim, in which they were successful, was to prevent Sheikh Salah attending and speaking at a meeting scheduled to be held in the House of Commons.
Sheikh Salah’s appeal against the deportation order that was made against him is still pending.
Via Global Research
Fires blaze on Tottenham High Street, north London, on the night of 6 August
After a conflagration of arson attacks, riots and looting in several British cities, including the capital, London, there is a sense of order having been restored from a massive mobilisation of police forces.
There now follows the tracking down and prosecution of individuals involved in the mayhem. Conservative Prime Minister Cameron is leading “the fight back” to punish anyone who has inflicted damage and destruction on Britain’s society.
The events have visibly shocked the political establishment of all parties, police chiefs and the mainstream media. But what should be more shocking is the myopic and incredibly banal commentary that is being offered to ‘explain’ the outburst of street disturbances and violence.
As pundits sit in comfy television studios trading inane insights about the ‘evils’ of individual immorality, criminality, dysfunctional families, gang culture – in the background, so to speak, are the glaring signs scrolling across the screens of the cause of this societal breakdown. And yet the preponderant signs escape the mental radar of pundits and politicians alike.
The fact that the capitalist economic system is in worldwide meltdown is not even registered in the mainstream commentary. This is the system that the mainstream political parties have facilitated and fawned over, whether Labour, Conservative or Liberal, and which has resulted in social devastation across Britain while the corporate and financial elite has ransacked economic resources. This system of legalised looting has been going on for decades, but certainly took on a precipitous dynamic starting with Cameron’s Conservative predecessor Margaret Thatcher in the early 1980s. Labour’s Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were merely purveyors of the same dynamic.
In surveying today’s Britain, Karl Marx words are so right: “An accumulation of wealth at one pole of society indicates an accumulation of misery and overwork at the other.” That is the hallmark of capitalism in today’s Britain, the US and Europe.
All other problems are largely secondary in causation. Crime, racist policing, disorder, the lack of police budgets to restore order (so ironic), alienation and self-destruction, and so many other ills including the mobilisation of resources to fund illegal wars – most of our present day problems flow from the tap root of dysfunction that is the capitalist economy.
Speaking in the House of Commons Thursday, Prime Minister Cameron’s ‘explanation’ for the outbreak of street disturbances across England demonstrates a total ignorance and poverty of understanding on his part of the nature of the breakdown in his society. He blames it on “criminality pure and simple” and “pockets of sickness” and “lack of individual morality and responsibility”.
This view is largely echoed in the British political establishment of all parties and the media.
The looting, thievery and lawlessness that Cameron so condemns is but the reflection at the street level of British society of what is taking place on a much greater scale at the upper echelons of government and the economy.
Despite the appearance of pinstripe suits and well-groomed accents, we can, if we are honest, see decades of looting and thievery of economic and financial resources by corporate elites aided and abetted by Labour and Conservative governments. The taxpayer bailout of corrupt banks initiated by Labour PM Gordon Brown and now overseen by Cameron, paid for in large part by austerity in public spending cuts, is but the latest manifestation of official robbing of the majority to swell the already outrageous wealth of the ruling elite class.
Cameron and his gang of plumy-accented thugs are gunning for $150bn in public spending cuts to pay for the criminal enterprise known as British banking. This is racketeering that a street gang in London’s east end can only marvel at … and indeed, in a very real way, only emulate.
Combined with that looting by the elite we see the total lawlessness and criminality of British governments who have worked hand in glove with other criminal governments to launch wars of aggression (Nuremburg standard war crimes) in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya, resulting in the deaths of over one million civilians. Where is individual responsibility for that mass murder and destruction Mr Cameron?
This social decay and necrotism is a symptom of the collapse of capitalism, an economic system that enriches an elite at the cost of the majority. It polarises political power beyond democratic accountability to the point where, among other deformities, wars and planetary looting are being carried out even blatantly against the consent of the majority public.
So when Cameron and his political cronies fulminate about pockets of sickness, looting, criminality, lawlessness, and the need for “consequences for actions” – his words and exhortations are richly ironic and benighted.
For he is inadvertently describing the very society and world that capitalism creates in its own image. The indoctrination of Cameron’s mind and that of the entire political establishment prevents them from seeing the inferno for the sparks. An inferno that the government of Cameron and his Labour predecessors, and in other western countries, have been dousing fuel on with their slavish policies aiding and abetting capitalist kleptocracy, both at home and abroad.
The real lessons from Britain will not dawn on, never mind be drawn on, by mainstream politicians or media. And the same can be said for the US and other western countries. To paraphrase a slogan used by former US President Clinton: “It’s the capitalist economy, stupid.”
Finian Cunningham is a Global Research Correspondent based in Belfast, Ireland.
(Post updated on 11 Feb 2011)
The following resolution was vociferously opposed by the Executive Committee of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign at its AGM on 22 January. Since a resolution containing many of the same points had been passed virtually unanimously at the Stop the War conference last year, this came as rather a surprise to the comrade who moved the motion.
We will be writing in more detail about this soon, but in the meantime, a few of the arguments posed against the resolution went like this:
- The list of actions is ‘too prescriptive’; we can’t agree to it.
Rather strange given that most of the other resolutions also had lists of actions attached, which related to the specific spheres of action they were looking at (ie, boycott and divestment, trade-union work, student work etc). In fact, resolutions are by their nature prescriptive. That doesn’t mean the movers expect the actions suggested in it to be carried out exclusively.
Quite clearly, in this case, the idea here was to be complementary to other work being done by the PSC. Equally clearly, this argument is just a cover - perhaps for reasons that the opposers don’t feel comfortable sharing with the rest of us!
- We can’t put resources into campaigning/fundraising for the Gaza protestors; it’s a diversion from what we do.
Unbelievable, considering that it was PSC who called the demo at which these young people were arrested. And crazy, given that if we launched a big campaign to have the sentences overturned, we could really draw attention to the British state’s role in supporting Israel. Not to mention highlighting islamophobia, bringing many more young people and muslims towards the PSC and generally highlighting the issue that people have been criminalised for merely objecting to war crimes!
- We can’t promise to support all those arrested for opposing Israel’s war crimes (including the Gaza protestors); we don’t know who they might be.
The clear implication here was that some of the people being targetted for their principled stand, whether direct action activists or newly politicised young muslims, might somehow be ‘asking for it’!
- We can’t ask workers to refuse to cooperate with war crimes in the current climate, when they’re worried about losing their jobs.
Not sure we really need to comment on this, except to say that you could make the same argument about concentration camp guards! Either it’s a crime or it isn’t. Either we’re against the British state assisting in Israel’s crimes or we’re not. The fact is that we can’t force anyone to do anything they don’t want to - but surely it’s our job to take the arguments to them and help them to make informed decisions? Why is it ok to campaign amongst union members as individuals around the boycott demands, but not to try to mobilise them collectively?
It’s also worth bearing the student example in mind. Two years ago, students were occupying their universities in support of the people of Gaza. The confidence and experience they gained in these actions no doubt contributed to the militancy we’re seeing today in the anti-fees movement and occupations. Far from making working people nervous, encouraging them to use their power to stop crimes against Palestinians might actually help them to get more militant in using their power against the current cuts in benefits, pensions, wages and public services!
It’s clear the above arguments don’t add up, so we have to ask ourselves, just what is it that the PSC national executive is really afraid of? If we want to build a MASS movement in support of Palestine, why are we afraid to try to mobilise broad sections of the working class or muslim communities? And why are we avoiding the question of REAL, CONCRETE solidarity with Palestine?
Jeremy Corbyn’s closing statement blethering on about Early Day Motions in Parliament was a joke. Anyone who knows anything about how the House of Commons works can tell you that EDMs aren’t even relevant within its walls, never mind outside of them. They don’t even get debated!
We were sad to see that not only Betty Hunter, but also PSC deputy chair Kamel Hawwash spoke most shamefully against the resolution, causing much confusion amongst those present as to what could be the reason for so much opposition to something so seemingly innocuous, and so obviously fundamental to our work as actively opposing Israel’s war crimes.
We were also sad at the way the whole debate was handled. It was clear from the inconsistency and illogicality of the opposing arguments that the reasons being put forward in such a hysterial fashion weren’t the actual reasons for the executive opposing the resolution. Several speakers said that ‘while there were many good things in the motion, it was impossible to support it all because of [insert spurious objection to half a sentence here]‘.
But if that was truly the case, why not contact the movers of the resolution about changing it, so as to let the good stuff through? Why not put forward amendments that we would all have had time to read and think about before the conference? Why wait and hijack everybody with an unexpected and baffling ‘controversy’ that many present were simply unable to unravel in the time available?
One possible answer is that the executive is afraid of attracting too much negative attention from the state if it openly supports either the Gaza protestors or the various direct-action anti-war-crimes activists, despite the fact that well publicised campaigns along these lines could do much to broaden the appeal of PSC and to extend the reach of our solidarity message (all of which could make a direct difference to Palestinians).
Another possibility is that the executive is afraid to upset the cosy relationship it has built with various Labour party and trade-union officials by raising the question of direct participation in war crimes by British workers - and their power to withhold that participation - within the unions, many of which spend their time trying to squash the notion of collective power, substituting instead the idea of individual pleas to the better judgement of managers and employers.
This fits with the current PSC strategy of spending much time and resource on ‘lobbying’ to ‘change the minds’ of MPs and MEPs, who are then allocated ‘good’ or ‘bad’ status according to whether they’re happy to sign up to one of the aforementioned Early Day Motions or similar. Instead of mobilising the real power of the British people from the street and demanding that the British state withdraw its support from Israel, many in the PSC leadership would like us to confine ourselves to going cap in hand to parliamentarians and asking them to be nicer.
And if nasty MPs, like those unreasonable employers who say no to trade unionists, decline to sign up to a ‘please be nicer to the poor Palestinians’ request? Well, we tried. Come back next year!
On a more optimistic note, despite the bullocking from the Executive Committee and their trade-union and Labour party friends, around a third of those present voted in favour of the resolution, and many members went away determined to discuss the issue in their branches. We hope they will make the arguments in favour there and come back determined to change the organisation’s policy next year.
Full text of the resolution follows.
No cooperation with war crimes: step up the campaign
In the last year, many important developments have taken place, which on the one hand make the work of actively opposing Israel’s war crimes more urgent, and on the other have created an atmosphere that is more receptive to our message.
In this context, conference notes the passing at the Stop the War conference of a motion calling on the coalition to “take the line of non-cooperation into as many arenas as possible”. This resolution included a detailed programme of activities that could take this work forward, some of which the PSC has already been taking the lead in.
Conference notes the attack on those condemning war crimes that was embodied in the draconian sentences handed down to the Gaza protestors. Congress further notes that these sentences were aimed not only at discouraging muslim youth from political activism, but also at dividing the anti-war and Palestine solidarity movements along racial lines, and branding Palestine solidarity as a ‘muslim’, rather than a human rights or anti-imperialist issue.
Conference condemns the murder by Israeli commandos of ten solidarity activists (nine at the time and one who died later) aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May, despite the fact that the UN had called for the ships to be allowed to pass. Conference notes the UN’s recent findings that these murders were illegal – another war crime to add to the many being committed daily against the Palestinian people.
Conference commends the excellent work done by PSC in getting an enhanced boycott motion passed at the TUC following the flotilla attack, and notes that the acceptance of much stronger language than previously used reflects the sea change in the attitude of many ordinary British workers towards Israel.
Conference further notes that in the atmosphere of international outrage that followed the flotilla murders, even Israeli-friendly politicians such as Cameron and Hague were forced to make statements condemning both the murders and the siege on Gaza.
Conference reaffirms its support for all those who have taken the lead in active non-cooperation over the past year, in particular for the EDO Decommissioners, for the Gaza protestors, and for the many British participants in siege-busting missions by land and sea to Gaza.
Conference notes that the landmark acquittal in the case of the Decommissioners can only facilitate more actions of this kind, since it not only sets a legal precedent, but is a reflection of the general sense of disgust against Israeli war crimes.
Conference reaffirms its belief that the majority of people in Britain are opposed to British imperialism’s support for the criminal Israeli state, and considers that the time is ripe to make active non-cooperation a central theme of our work. Conference therefore calls on the incoming steering committee to work with Stop the War and any other organisations that are willing in taking the line of non-cooperation into as many arenas as possible, including:
- Putting on a fundraising concert to draw attention to the Gaza prisoners’ plight and to raise money towards a campaign to overturn their convictions.
- Giving full backing, including maximum possible publicity, to all those groups or individuals, whether affiliated to PSC or not, who, like the EDO Decommissioners and the Raytheon activists, are targeted by the state for refusing to cooperate with, or for actively attempting to prevent the many crimes of the occupation, including: the frequent bombings and shootings of civilians; the destruction of Palestinian homes, farms, schools, hospitals, mosques and churches; the crippling siege of Gaza; the building of the apartheid wall, and the seizure of ever more land in Jerusalem and the West Bank for jewish-only settlement construction.
- Building on our existing campaign inside the unions to draw attention to Israeli war crimes, and the complicity of the British government and corporations in those crimes, with the aim of passing in each of them, and then at the TUC, motions condemning those crimes and calling on workers to refuse to cooperate in their commission, whether it be by making or moving munitions or other equipment, writing or broadcasting propaganda, or helping in any other way to smooth the path of Israel’s war machine.
- Building on the excellent PSC campaign to draw attention to pro-Israeli propaganda in Panorama and working with such groups as Media Lens (see, for example, their recent alert drawing attention to the media’s total bypassing of evidence revealing Israel’s starvation policy in Gaza) and others to draw in as many members and supporters as possible to an ongoing campaign to hold the media to account for their pivotal role in apologising for, covering up and normalising Israeli war crimes.
- Continuing and increasing the work already done to make Britain a place where Israeli war criminals can get no peace, through the campaign on universal jurisdiction, through holding protests, through citizens’ arrests and through all other available channels, including using local, national and international courts to file charges and draw attention to the crimes of Israeli military, government and corporate leaders – and those in Britain who back them politically or financially.
The following motion is being submitted by the CPGB-ML to the upcoming Stop the War national conference.
We believe that the proposed programme of action is both necessary and achieveable. We therefore call on all anti-imperialists and anti-war campaigners to give it the widest possible circulation in order to generate discussion and to mobilise support for this important work.
Individually, we may be powerless, but together, we do have the power to stop imperialism’s criminal wars.
CPGB-ML resolution to StW conference, October 2010
This conference notes the passing last year of a motion calling on the coalition “to do all in its power to promote a movement of industrial, political and military non-cooperation with all of imperialism’s aggressive war preparations and activities among British working people“.
Since that resolution was passed, many important developments have taken place, which on the one hand make this work more urgent, and on the other have created an atmosphere that is more receptive to our message.
Conference notes the attack on those condemning war crimes that was embodied in the draconian sentences handed down to the Gaza protestors. Congress further notes that these sentences were aimed not only at discouraging muslim youth from political activism, but also at dividing the anti-war and Palestine solidarity movements along racial lines, and branding Palestine solidarity as a ‘muslim’ issue.
Conference condemns the murder by Israeli commandos of nine solidarity activists aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May, despite the fact that the UN had called for the ships to be allowed to pass. Conference notes the UN’s recent findings that these murders were illegal – another war crime to add to the many being committed daily against the Palestinian people.
Conference further notes that in the atmosphere of international outrage that followed these murders, even Israeli-friendly politicians such as Cameron and Hague were forced to make statements condemning both the murders and the siege on Gaza.
Conference reaffirms its support for all those who have taken the lead in active non-cooperation over the past year, in particular for Joe Glenton, for the EDO Decommissioners, for the Gaza protestors, and for the many British participants in siege-busting missions by land and sea to Gaza.
Conference notes that the landmark acquittal in the case of the Decommissioners can only facilitate more actions of this kind, since it not only sets a legal precedent, but is a reflection of the general sense of disgust against Israeli war crimes in particular.
Conference reaffirms its belief that the majority of people in Britain are opposed to British imperialism’s wars, and considers that the time is ripe to make active non-cooperation a central theme of our work. Conference therefore calls on the incoming steering committee to take the line of non-cooperation into as many arenas as possible, including:
- Putting on a fundraising concert to draw attention to the Gaza prisoners’ plight and to raise money towards a campaign to overturn their convictions.
- Approaching Joe Glenton to take part in a national speaking tour against cooperation with the Afghan war.
- Giving full backing, including maximum possible publicity, to all those groups or individuals, whether affiliated to the Coalition or not, who, like the EDO Decommissioners, the Raytheon activists and Joe Glenton, are targeted by the state for refusing to cooperate with, or for actively attempting to prevent, the illegal wars and bombings waged and backed by British imperialism.
- Stepping up the campaign outside army recruitment centres and at army recruitment stalls in schools, colleges and universities, drawing attention to the war crimes committed by the British armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Launching a full campaign inside the unions to draw attention to British, US and Israeli war crimes, with the aim of passing in each of them, and then at the TUC, motions condemning those crimes and calling on workers to refuse to cooperate in their commission, whether it be by making or moving munitions or other equipment, writing or broadcasting propaganda, or helping in any other way to smooth the path of the war machine.
- Following the excellent example set by PSC (eg, the campaign to draw attention to pro-Israeli propaganda in Panorama) and Media Lens (eg, alerts drawing attention to the media’s cover-up of war crimes committed in Fallujah) and working with these and others to draw in as many members and supporters as possible to an ongoing campaign to hold the media to account for their pivotal role in apologising for, covering up and normalising British, US and Israeli war crimes.
- Continuing and increasing the work already done to make Britain a place where war criminals, whether US, British or Israeli, can get no peace, through holding protests, through citizens’ arrests and through all other available channels, including using local, national and international courts to file charges and draw attention to their crimes.
Banners bearing portraits of Bloody Sunday victims are carried to the Guildhall in Derry, where relatives were able to read the first copies of the Saville report, 15 June 2010
By Eammon McCann via Sunday Tribune
Derry is still dizzy from the eruption of joy which greeted the Saville report’s recognition on Tuesday that all of the Bloody Sunday wounded and dead were unarmed civilians gunned down by British paratroopers for no good or legitimate reason.
But the report is not flawless. When it comes to the allocation of blame to the soldiers, it follows a pattern of convicting the lower orders while exculpating the higher command, and dismissing the possibility of political leaders having been even passively complicit in the events.
The individual paras who fired the shots that killed or wounded civil rights marchers are damned for the roles they played.
Additionally, Lieutenant Colonel Derek Wilford, commander of the First Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, is singled out for obloquy. It was his disobedience of orders, says Saville, which put the paras into position to carry out the killing. Had he followed orders, the massacre would never have happened. Thus, an undisciplined battalion commander and a small squad of kill-crazy foot-soldiers did it all.
The effect is to insulate the rest of the British army from blame. The report was brilliant for the Bloody Sunday families. It wasn’t a bad result for the British army either.
David Cameron might have found it more difficult to disown those involved in the atrocity so forthrightly had Saville included in his list of culprits, say, Major General Robert Ford, Commander of Land Forces, Northern Ireland, at the time, or General Sir Michael Jackson, second-in-command to Wilford on the day, later army chief of staff and Nato commander in Kosovo.
Ford, second in seniority in the North only to the General Officer Commanding, commissioned the Bloody Sunday battle plan, Operation Forecast, and ordered the paras to Derry to carry it out.
In the weeks before Bloody Sunday he had made plain his frustration at the failure of Derry-based regiments to bring the Bogside no-go area to heel.
In a document published by the inquiry dated 7 January 1972, Ford declared himself “disturbed” by the attitude of army and police chiefs in Derry, and added: “I am coming to the conclusion that the minimum force necessary to achieve a restoration of law and order is to shoot selected ringleaders amongst the DYH (Derry Young Hooligans).”
Ford took the decision to deploy the paras six days before Bloody Sunday, overruling a message the same day from Derry commander, Brigadier Pat MacLellan, indicating that he and local police chief Frank Lagan believed that any direct confrontation with the civil rights marchers should be avoided. Ford held to the plan in face of strongly-expressed opposition from other senior Derry-based officers.
On the day, although with no operational role, he travelled to Derry and took up position at the edge of the Bogside, shouting “Go on the paras!” as they ran past him through a barbed-wire barricade towards the Rossville Street killing ground.
Saville suggests that Wilford allowed his soldiers in the Bogside to exceed MacLellan’s orders “not to fight a running battle”.
But nowhere in the report is it considered whether Wilford and the paras might have believed or suspected that MacLellan’s orders need not be regarded in all the circumstances as binding. The possibility that Ford’s decisions in advance, and comportment on the day, played a part in the way matters developed is brusquely dismissed: Ford “neither knew nor had reason to know at any stage that his decision would or was likely to result in soldiers firing unjustifiably on that day,” Saville declares in chapter four of his report’s first volume.
In the same chapter, Saville insulates political and military leaders generally from blame: “It was also submitted that in dealing with the security situation in Northern Ireland generally, the authorities (the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland governments and the army) tolerated if not encouraged the use of unjustified lethal force; and that this was the cause or a contributory cause of what happened on Bloody Sunday. We found no evidence of such toleration or encouragement.”
This is remarkable. Numerous incidents over the previous year might have suggested toleration if not encouragement of unjustified force. The most egregious had happened six months before Bloody Sunday when the First Paras were involved in killing 11 unarmed civilians over three days in Ballymurphy in west Belfast.
Newspapers of the period, particularly nationalist newspapers, were carrying regular complaints, many of them plausible, of unjustified and sometimes lethal violence by soldiers against civilians.
Toleration of this behaviour might have been inferred from, for example, the fact that no inquiry had been held into the Ballymurphy massacre, nor any soldier disciplined, nor any statement issued expressing regret.
Saville’s dismissal of the suggestion of a “culture of tolerance” would be unremarkable if by “evidence” he meant testimony to the inquiry. He had at an early stage declined to examine prior events in the North on the reasonable ground that to subject the Ballymurphy incident, for example, to the same level of scrutiny as Bloody Sunday would have made the tribunal’s task impossible. But this makes the statement that, “We found no evidence…” puzzling: the tribunal had decided not to gather such evidence.
Many who read through the body of the report will be puzzled, too, by Saville’s acceptance of the explanation eventually offered by Jackson of his role in compiling the “shot-list” which formed the basis of the initial cover-up of the killings.
Jackson had provided the tribunal with a detailed account of his movements and involvement in the Bloody Sunday events and took the witness stand in London in April 2003.
Nowhere in his statement or his April evidence did he refer to compiling the shot-list or other documents giving a version of what had happened. His role emerged the following month during evidence from Major Ted Loden who described how, late in the afternoon of Bloody Sunday, he took statements from the shooters and plotted map references showing the trajectory of their shots.
However, when a number of documents including the original of the shot-list, were then produced, the list turned out to be not in Loden’s handwriting but in the handwriting of the now chief of staff of the British army.
Loden was asked how this could have come about. “Well, I cannot answer that question,” came the reply.
None of the shots described conformed to any of the shots which evidence indicated had actually been fired.
Some trajectories took bullets through buildings to hit their targets. All the targets were identified as gunmen or as nail or petrol bombers.
The other documents in the chief of staff’s hand were personal accounts of the day’s events by Wilford, the three para company commanders present and the battalion intelligence officer.
Recalled to the stand in October, Jackson explained that he had entirely forgotten these documents but had recovered a “vague memory” after they had been put to Loden.
It had earlier slipped his mind that he had produced, by his own hand, within hours of the massacre, a detailed version of Bloody Sunday in which no British soldier did anything wrong and their victims were all to blame for their own injuries or deaths.
Under questioning, Jackson was badly hampered by poor memory. More than 20 times he used phrases such as, “I cannot remember”, “do not recall”, “I have only a very vague memory”.
Saville resolves one contradiction by accepting both Loden’s original claim that he had written out the shot-list and Jackson’s subsequent explanation that he must have copied Loden’s script verbatim, although he could offer no explanation as to why he might have done this, nor could he recall who had asked or ordered him to do so. Loden’s own list has never been found.
In volume eight of the report, Saville rejects suggestions from the families’ lawyers that “the list played some part in a cover-up to conceal the emerging truth that some innocent civilians had been shot and killed by soldiers of 1 Para, although it is not explained exactly how this conspiracy is said to have worked”. He accepts Jackson’s claim that compiling the documents would simply have been standard operational procedure (which he’d forgotten about).
In their statements to the inquiry, none of the soldiers whose shots were included on the list recalled being interviewed by either Loden or Jackson about their firing.
Having suggested it was not clear how a cover-up based on the documents might have worked, Saville goes on to say that, “the list did play a role in the army’s explanations of what occurred on the day”.
He cites an interview on BBC radio at 1am the day after Bloody Sunday in which the army’s head of information policy in the North, Maurice Tugwell, used the list as his basis for explaining the “shooting engagements”.
Elsewhere, he finds that “information from the list was used by Lord Balniel, the Minister of State for Defence, in the House of Commons on 1 February 1972, when he defended the actions of the soldiers”.
Saville seems not to have considered the possibility that this was how a conspiracy might have worked.
Many in high positions in Britain will have been relieved to find that Jackson bore no blame for the Bloody Sunday events. The response of the families and their supporters to Saville’s report has been understandably and properly euphoric. Whether other finding of the tribunal will stand the test of time is less certain.
News just in is that the last two defendants in the EDO decommissioners trial have been found not guilty at Hove crown court.
Congratulations to all those involved in the campaign to stop EDO. Let others learn from their example. No cooperation with British, US or Israeli war crimes! Free Palestine!