Statement By Unite on article in The Times, January 16th.

Unite have issued the following statement today.

“The reports in The Times are an extremely crude attempt to smear Unite and its leadership through a disgraceful attempt at guilt-by-association.

“They attempt to create an impression of a connection between Unite and the criminal investigations taking place in the City of Liverpool on the basis of what even the newspaper is forced to admit is no evidence whatsoever.

“There is absolutely no link between the union or any of its officials with those investigations.  Merely coming from Merseyside is not an offence save in the outlook of the Murdoch media, which long has form in this respect.

“The reports are riddled with inaccuracies concerning the construction of Unite’s education, hotel and office facility in Birmingham and they include figures that are wildly erroneous, presented without source or verification.

“The facility in Birmingham also contains a 1000-capacity state of the art conference centre.  Independent auditors have confirmed that the hotel, education and conference centre is as an asset to the union to the value of the union’s investment.

“At every stage of this project there have been clear and consistent tendering requirements, with progress reported regularly to the union’s Executive Council.

“Unite’s Birmingham complex is a world-class facility, built to the highest standards using unionised workers and it will help to regenerate a derelict area of England’s second city.   Those who seek to misrepresent this project do so to advance their own agenda relating to the election for General Secretary which will take place this year.

“They have an established disregard for the truth.

“Unite is focussed solely on protecting its members during the current pandemic crisis.  It does so effectively because its financial strength and democratic governance is second to none in the trade union movement.

“These smears and innuendos will not divert the union from its purpose but they do signify the further decline of a once-respected newspaper.”

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WAPPING – ‘THE WORKERS STORY’

At last the  film is now available online and on DVD!

Chris Reeves of Platform Films has produced a marvellous film which has taken several years to complete as Chris is heavily engaged in making and producing films on many workers struggles – present and historic – but he has been at pains to ensure it is a reflection of the story of the bitter News International Dispute from the point of view of those involved and the unions.

‘Wapping – The Workers’ Story is a film about the momentous year-long industrial dispute which began in 1986 when Rupert Murdoch plotted to move production of his newspapers overnight from central London’s Fleet Street to a secretly equipped and heavily guarded printing plant at Wapping, a docklands district in East London.

5,500 union men and women lost their jobs and centuries of trade union and industrial tradition in one of London’s last manufacturing industries came to an end.

Military-style police tactics, the use of anti union laws which shackled the unions’ hard won freedoms and strike breaking organised by the then right wing electricians union led to a Murdoch victory.

The dispute had international ramifications for Murdoch’s expanding press and broadcasting empire in the United States and around the world. It enabled him to finance his expanding empire including satellite TV.

It took place as the UKs Thatcher government embraced monetarism – deregulating finance, privatising key industries and undermining local democracy.

The story is told by sacked print workers of the NGA, Sogat, AEEU and the ‘refusenik’ NUJ journalists who joined them.

The film was made with the News International Dispute Archive group whose publications, website and travelling exhibition have given a voice to the sacked workers and their families.

The film is 70 minutes long and the DVD has subtitles in: German, English, Spanish, French, Italian and Polish.

The details of how to view the film online and to purchase on-line and DVD copies are contained in the message below from producer Chris Reeves:

“A new documentary about the Wapping dispute by platform films in association with the News International Dispute Archive is now available.

The film can be viewed on-line at: http://vimeo.com/ondemand/wappingtheworkersstory for £2.25.

A DVD version with extras is available from Platform Films, 37a Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0DU.

To purchase a copy or copies of the DVD please e-mail: platform.films@virgin.net with your details.

The DVD price is: £8.00 + £1.00 P&P and cheques should be made out to Platform Films.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/wappingfilm

Read the review of the DVD & Film in The Morning Star by clicking on the following link https://morningstaronline.co.uk/…/real-story-wapping…

Tony Burke (UNITE Assistant General Secretary)

“Unite are proud to be associated with this film to tell the real story of the workers’ struggle with Murdoch, the police, the Tory Government and the right wing media.”

Ken Loach (Film maker)

“We need to know the story of the print workers’ battle against Murdoch. We can understand our enemies and see our strengths. Chris Reeves is a fine film maker and a true friend of the workers movement.”

Ann Field (retired UNITE print sector national officer and a founder member of the News International Dispute‎ Archive)

“From the 1980s conspiracy to get rid of an entire workforce of 5,500 workers to the notorious phone hacking and corruption scandals 30 years later – this film exposes the deep-seated and enduring immorality at the heart of the Murdoch-led News International empire.”

‘Wapping The Workers’ Story’ Winner – Best Director, Best Documentary, Hollywood Hills Film Awards, November 2020

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Workers Can’t Wait – Without Support, Millions Face Poverty

Unite’s Len McCluskey

By Len McCluskey

With poverty and unemployment skyrocketing before lockdown, the government must act urgently to avoid a disaster – and support millions of workers who are already on the breadline.

In the end, it took Boris Johnson just eight minutes to tell the country it was being locked down again. He didn’t address his government’s dangerous and shambolic handling of this virus, or offer additional help to our NHS firefighting a level five threat ripping through the system, leaving staff exhausted as they deal with the human costs of his government’s dither and delay.

Frankly, it is far from prime ministerial as can be imagined that the people of the country were told to brace themselves for further months in an economic coma but with no attendant support for incomes and health.

There are huge milestones on the footpath we must now follow, and they are coming at people fast.

On Monday, the ban on landlords in England evicting their tenants ends. Later this month, the deadline for applications for the third grant under the self-employed income support scheme passes. And the last day of January brings the deadline for mortgage holidays and the end of the ban on home repossessions.

These imminent cliff-edges are swiftly followed by the closure of the government-backed ‘bounce back’ loan schemes, withdrawal of the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift – a lifeline for many struggling families – and the April end of the job retention scheme.

Rishi Sunak has announced £4.6 billion worth of grants for the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors. Astonishingly though, the chancellor, whose initial enthusiasm for fast and vast action has been replaced by a tendency to last minute limited fiscal crisis-responses that have to be dragged out of him, had nothing to say on jobs and livelihoods. For that, we must await his 5 March budget.

Well, workers can’t wait. The millions on benefits, the low-paid, the self-employed and precarious workers, and their children, cannot wait for springtime stock-taking to know if they will receive longer term income support or be pushed further into poverty.

Fix the furlough scheme for parents and make it clear to employers that they can and should use it.  Deliver the long-promised laptops and internet access, and act to increase statutory sick pay to the level of the real living wage and available to all, Chancellor. If you do not, then you ignore the plight of millions – and with that the recovery of our country.

Almost one year ago Unite first called for emergency legislation to ensure that workers not entitled to SSP receive it from day one if they can’t work because of coronavirus. Nothing has changed, other than the virus has mutated and become even more infectious. And it remains the case that poor workers can’t isolate, and if they can’t isolate the virus can’t be beaten back. A TUC survey has found that one in five people forced to self-isolate and unable to work from home have received no sick pay or wages confirms this.

This virus feeds off inequality, targeting the poor and the vulnerable, sadly to be found in shameful levels in the UK, the fifth richest economy on earth. But this government is making deliberate choices. Its failure to provide sick pay that people can live on and where all workers who need it can receive it is a conscious, ideological act but this pandemic will not be defeated until the diabolical choice between health and income has been removed.

Those of us in the union movement who know from our members exactly the struggle they face were, of course, disappointed that Keir Starmer followed the PM on air last night with a comment that there were ‘no absences’ in his speech. I sincerely hope that this is just a failure to think on his feet rather than a genuinely held belief. I prefer to regard Anneliese Dodd’s media round calling for genuine and full income support as the more accurate representation of where HM’s official opposition stands.
Tomorrow’s debate in parliament must not be hijacked by the few on the Tory benches who have all too readily had the ear of the PM in which to pour their lockdown scepticism. No, this must be where the Prime Minister and his Chancellor talk to the people of the country and for the people of this country, not a self-interested faction that will lead us to greater despair.

Speak for the industries that have gone without long-promised help, supply chains that are trying to get to grips with Brexit, and SMEs trying to figure out how to make workplaces secure amid an airborne disease and need urgent support if they are to keep people in work.

Help them by giving them the certainty that the JRS will extend for as long as needed and in line with a vaccine programme that can see the safe re-opening of the economy. And workers sick with fear need to know that they will not lose their homes and that their incomes will not be destroyed.
The signs so far are not great. For those who still have jobs in our hardest-hit industries, many furloughed on below minimum wage levels – which has to be addressed, now – and terrified of what those cliff-edge January dates will bring, the new package offers no hope. They are, as ever, the forgotten victims of a shuttered high street.

This pandemic will subside, thanks to the genius of our scientific community and heroic efforts of our health workers. But the seeds of a new crisis are already being sown – that of endemic, generational poverty and unemployment.

This government is now commonly referred to as the worst in living memory, riddled with cronyism bordering on corruption and stuffed with incompetents. We need an opposition that turns the spotlight on them, exposing them as unfit for office.

So, I appeal to Keir and his team: take off the gloves. The public will respect you for being strong and decisive, a welcome contrast to the shambles in No 10.

The people of this country have been put through hell by this government. They need a strong and confident alternative. Workers can’t wait.

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ETUC On EU-UK Brexit Agreement

Luca Vincentini, Genera; Secretary of the ETUC

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) believes there is no Brexit that will benefit working people. In the circumstances, we welcome the European Union’s efforts to stop no-deal, guarantee the Good Friday Agreement and avoid a hard border in Ireland.

However, the ETUC is concerned that the deal appears to have further watered down already weak commitments to workers’ rights, although further scrutiny is essential.

There is no longer any reference to a level playing field in the withdrawal agreement. Instead there is only an aspiration to maintain current social and employment standards in the non-binding political declaration. The only deal fair for working people would guarantee that employment standards in the UK keep pace with those in the EU27.

ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini said: 

“We welcome the fact that there’s finally agreement on how to protect peace and respect the Good Friday Agreement by avoiding a hard border in Ireland. 

“But there’s no good form of Brexit and this deal appears to have watered down already weak commitments to workers’ rights.

“Leaving social and employment standards for future negotiations will inevitably mean workers and their rights end up being used as a bargaining chip.

“Business interests are routinely put before those of working people in free trade negotiations and this deal gives no guarantee that this won’t be the case with Brexit.

“This deal shouldn’t be rushed through the European institutions in order to get Brexit out of the way. Clearly a new extension is needed to properly consider its consequences.”

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UK-EU Brexit Agreement: “A Thin Deal” Says David Bailey

Blog by Professor David Bailey

Birmingham Business School 

That a trade deal has been at been agreed at the last minute between the UK and EU comes as a huge relief for manufacturing sectors like automotive, which would have faced tariffs of 10% on exports and imports in the event of no deal – an outcome widely viewed as potentially ‘devastating’ for the sector. BMW for example recently stated that a no-trade deal scenario would push up costs by several hundred million euros, and that longer term it would look at where to make the Mini model.

It’s hoped that the deal now gives a green light to major investments in the UK that had been stalled amidst Brexit uncertainty, such as that by PSA in assembling the Vauxhall/Opel Astra at Ellesmere Port, and Nissan starting Qashqai production in 2021 at Sunderland. If so, that’s genuinely good news in securing a new round of model assembly at two plants at least.

But – and this is a big but – this is still a thin deal with major implications and costs for automotive. There are many ways in which UK manufacturing is deeply intertwined with the EU through complex supply chains. Even with the deal, Brexit will create additional costs for auto makers: think of tariffs, customs declarations, certification costs, audits to prove that rules of origin requirements are met, border delays disrupting just-in-time systems, EU customers switching to other suppliers, visa costs for EU workers, and so on.

“Non-tariff barriers will be quite substantial”

And so despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson claiming that the deal ensures “no non-tariff barriers”, this is clearly not the case. In fact, non-tariff barriers will be quite substantial. Various estimates have put the cost of completing customs declarations alone at around £15bn for the UK economy as a whole, for example. And that’s before we get to complying with rules of origin rules.

And even with the deal, automotive firms will want clarity on a range of areas like data flows and the timescale for setting up UK regulatory agencies to take over work from their EU counterparts and so on. On data flows there is a temporary six-month agreement to keep the current rules in place for six months until a new ‘adequacy decision’ is sorted.

Some of the final sticking points in getting a deal over the line were over Rules of Origin in the auto sector and on batteries for electric vehicles in particular. On this there is good news in that there is full bilateral cumulation, allowing UK and EU parts to count towards local content rules in enabling goods like cars to avoid tariffs.

Although the UK’s ask for diagonal cumulation with third countries like Japan, China and Turkey was rejected by the EU, what’s been agreed will be enough for most car makers in the UK to avoid tariffs unless they are importing lots of high value components from, say, Japan.

Interestingly the UK government summary document refers to “modern and appropriate rules of origin” – what this actually means is not clear at this point. What it may imply is more flexibility over how such rules are applied.

One element of flexibility appears to come with the self-certification of rules of origin (according to the EU summary document). Here it appears that assemblers will need to collect and maintain information on the origins of components, but this appears to give assemblers some time to set up systems to collate this information. The same EU document refers to “specific facilitation arrangements” for automotive. The UK government summary document also points to “predictable and low-cost administrative arrangements for proving origin.” All in all, the auto industry will be keen to see what this means for them and whether there will be a grace period.

The UK government summary document highlights that the Rules of Origin agreed for batteries and electric vehicles “will ensure that UK-made electric vehicles are eligible for preferential tariff rates”. I am guessing that this refers to the six year phase-in of the requirement for electric cars (and hybrids?) to have a maximum of 45% content from outside Europe, reducing over time,  from 60% to 55% to 45%. The UK had asked for 70%, so this is a compromise. This could still be tight for some manufacturers when it comes to batteries or high value hybrid systems from outside the EU.

Toyota, for example, might struggle to qualify its UK assembled hybrids for tariff free export to the EU – although it has time to increase local content, such as via its UK engine plant. However, we don’t actually have figures on local content as they were – of course – not needed when the UK was in the single market.

What the deal means is that by 2027, there has to be 55% local content even for battery electric vehicles for these to qualify for tariff free trade between the two. This will pose a particular challenge for UK auto and industrial policy. The UK is lagging behind EU countries in attracting investment in battery making capacity and without a major effort to reorientate the auto supply change, UK car assembly will be increasingly dependent on imported components from the EU to meet rules of origin rules going forward.

Overall, UK automotive will welcome the deal in as far as it goes – after all this deal really is better than no deal for the sector. There will be extra costs for the industry in terms of non-tariff barriers but things could have been much worse. Much will depend on the degree of flexibility allowed and the degree of phasing in. The devil will be in the detail but on first inspection the deal will be welcomed by automotive manufacturers.

David Bailey works at the Birmingham Business School and is a Senior Fellow at the ESRC’s UK in a Changing Europe programme.  This blog was first published at The UK in a Changing Europe Blog site.

See also Unite Comment On The EU-UK Brexit Deal and Manufacturing

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TUC on EU-UK Brexit Deal: “Its better than nothing, but not by much”.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This deal is better than nothing, but not by much. It won’t protect jobs and puts hard-won workers’ rights on the line. As we come out of the pandemic, we’re facing a crunch point for jobs and living standards. This deal is on the prime minister’s head – it’s his responsibility to make sure working families don’t end up worse off.

“Now the Prime Minister must make good on his promise to level up Britain. And he needs to act fast. There can be no more pointing the finger at the EU. Government must deliver an industrial strategy for decent work, with investment in jobs and green industries in parts of the country that need it most.

“Ministers must also urgently build on this deal to overcome the barriers to trade and higher production costs many sectors will face which puts jobs at risk. And we will not accept a race to the bottom on rights.”

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UK-EU Brexit Deal – Manufacturing – “Government must not claim job done” says Unite

Commenting on the UK – EU trade deal Unite said the UKs manufacturing workers will be “relieved but the government must not claim job done.”

Steve Turner, assistant general secretary for manufacturing said: “The overwhelming feeling for the country’s millions of manufacturing workers will be one of immense relief. The months of needless uncertainty caused by the government’s reckless negotiating positions have forced thousands into unemployment, choked off investment and put a brake on job creation and innovation at the very time when our economy desperately needs to rebuild.

“This is a thin deal and we consider the deal to be the floor and certainly not the ceiling of our future trading relationship.

“We will continue to campaign with our members and work alongside industry to press government and Labour to build on it, particularly in the area of component supply as the sector is simply not in a position to insource and build in the UK overnight.

“The details around rules of origin and diagonal cumulation will be of concern to our auto sector in particular and we will look to discuss these with government as a matter of urgency.

“The government must not be allowed to put its feet up and claim job done.  Far from it.

“The new year will bring a need to roll up our sleeves in the national interest and build the broadest possible alliance to safeguard and advance the long-term interests of our manufacturing heartlands.

“A strong, confident future for UK manufacturing sector levels up the economy, providing secure, well paid, skilled jobs, and its high value exports help fund our public services.

“We are a proud, innovative, manufacturing nation and we want to stay that way.  Unite will certainly continue to lead the fight for every job, apprenticeship, investment and opportunity as we lead the world in the race to green and clean our towns, cities and skies.”

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KCK statement on the arrest of MP Leyla Güven


The arrest of Leyla Güvenexposes the reality of the Turkish State

Tens of MPs and mayors, hundreds of leading HDP members and thousands of democratic politicians find themselves imprisoned in Turkey. The arrest of tens of thousands of politicians demonstrate the hostility against the democratic forces and the Kurdish people. Such a high number of politicians have only been thrown into prison at times of fascist military coups or under fascist governments.

For the first time in Turkish history, we witness such a vast number of imprisoned politicians. Turkey has broken the global record when it comes to the number of political prisoners in relation to the country`s population as a whole. This alone shows how fascist and genocidal the Turkish state is.

The Turkish state tries to deceive Turkish society and the international public opinion by claiming that they are going to make reforms. At the same time, there is an increase in the number of political prisoners. The arrest of Leyla Güven, co-chair of the DTK (Democratic Society Congress) and MP for the Hakkari district, has once again exposed the reality of the Turkish state in all its clarity. These kinds of arrests signify what they mean by ‘reform’.

Their reform means passing new fascist laws. It is very likely that they will try to cover up this fascist pressure by taking certain deceiving side-measures afterwards. By arresting 100 people and releasing just five of them, they will claim that they have made a justice reform. Turkey is by all odds number one  internationally when it comes to injustice. Even Turkish authorities themselves are afraid of the possible dire consequences of such injustice. That’s why, from time to time, they make some claims about reforms and try to raise the expectation of the domestic and  international public opinion.

The AKP government is waging a special psychowar against everybody. It threatens everybody to either legitimize and support the current government or face more pressure. It pressures the HDP and all democratic politicians and tries to force them to surrender. Since they don`t give in, the arrests and the pressure increase.

Leyla Güven has been arrested because of her free spirit and her insistence on democratic politics. Everybody who comes out against AKP’s anti-democratic and anti-Kurdish AKP policies soon becomes a target for this  government. Today, they want to punish Leyla Güven for her determined participation in the indefinite hunger strike that took place in 2018 against the isolation and solitary confinement policy in Imrali prison island against the Kurdish people’s Leader Mr. Abdullah Öcalan. This arrest is a total act of revenge. She had only been released from prison before, in order to arrest her again at the right time. In order to pave the way for her arrest, they revoked her parliamentary immunity.

Shortly after her detention, an arrest warrant was issued and she was put into prison again. Leyla Güven was imprisoned because of her commitment to the Leader of the Kurdish people and because of her struggle for his freedom. Thus, her imprisonment represents a threat to all Kurdish women and to society as a whole because of their commitment to our Leader.

Turkey`s justice institutions and courts don’t follow the social and universal standards. People are being arrested and punished solely on the grounds of Tayyip Erdogan’s need for revenge and Devlet Bahçeli’s desire. It is well known under which circumstances Selahattin Demirtaş and Osman Kavala are being held in prison. When the European Court of Human Rights ruled for the immediate release of Selahattin Demirtaş, Tayyip Erdoğan openly said that they would take their own counter-measures and keep him in prison.

This is the story of all political prisoners in Turkey. Thus, Tayyip Erdoğan has confessed that the universal standards of law, the constitution or the current laws are not applicable, but the only applicable laws are their very own standards.

They have made clear to Leyla Güven what they will do to her, if she speaks out against the isolation on Imrali and embraces her Leader. Therefore, all women, democratic forces and the Kurdish people need to take responsibility for Leyla Güven and increase their struggle for the end of the isolation – this most important motivation for Leyla’s struggle.

Without the struggle against the isolation on Imrali this political genocide won’t be prevented and all those revenge attacks won’t be stopped. The imprisonment of Leyla Güven needs  to lead to the intensification of the struggle for an end to the isolation policy in Imrali.

Unless fascism and isolation policies are abandoned, it will be impossible to achieve freedom for the Kurdish people and all prisoners. Therefore, it is time to step up the struggle against fascism and isolation and thus achieve freedom everywhere. Freedom and democracy will be achieved together in Turkey. Neither individual liberation, nor a one-sided solution will be possible.

The democratization of Turkey and the solution of the Kurdish question will be the result of the struggle against fascism and isolation that will lead to the collapse of the AKP-MHP fascism. Without toppling this government, not a single problem in Turkey can be solved. Expecting only the smallest reform from this government, would mean nothing else but self-deceit.

Having expectations in this government or blindly following it, will only prolong its life. Therefore, we call on all democratic forces in Turkey, the youth and women and the whole Kurdish people to step up their struggle and bring an end to fascism and isolation.

Co-Presidency
KCK Executive Council

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Urgent Appeal To Help War Graves Workers

Solidarity means helping each other out which is why your support for Unite members in industrial struggle is needed.

Workers who maintain and care for our commonwealth war graves in France and Belgium are Unite members. They need your help.

The government has given these workers a terrible choice; come back to the UK or accept a 50% pay cut, a threat being fast-tracked through because we are leaving the European Union on 31st December.

This is no way to treat the workers who preserve the memory of the 1.7m Commonwealth servicemen and women who died in the two world wars fighting for our country.

Please help stop this.

Please ask your members to email the Minister directly at www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/help-protect-commonwealth-war-graves-commission-cwgc-workers

The more emails and letters he receives, the greater the chance he listens.

The government accepts that these sudden changes were a mistake – so with your help we can win a fairer deal for our members. You can read more here https://unitelive.org/commonwealth-war-graves-commission-treating-staff-appallingly/

Thank you in advance for once again standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Unite members.

Bev Clarkson National Officer Unite 

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Venezuela’s National Assembly Elections – A Landslide For PSUV

Venezuela’s National Assembly elections: an important victory for Chavismo
Francisco Dominguez assesses the results of the vote.

Venezuela’s free and fair elections to the National Assembly, held on December 6 2020, produced a substantial political victory for Chavismo: out the 277 MPs to be elected, the PSUV-led Great Patriotic Pole (the governing coalition, GPP) won with a 69.43 per cent landslide (4,276,926 votes); the Alianza Democratica (opposition) polled 17.72 per cent (1,095,170); Venezuela Unida received 4.15 per cent (295,450); and smaller coalitions got the remainder of the votes cast.

That is, out of the 277 seats contested, the GPP got 177 with the remaining 97 going to the other coalitions. Altogether, 6,251,080 people voted which represents 31 per cent of the registered electorate. This was the 25th election since Hugo Chavez first became president in 1998.

It was the National Dialogue for Peace, integrated by the Bolivarian government and representatives of opposition parties that came to an agreement, which contemplated, among other things, the designation of a new National Electoral Council.

Additionally, as is the normal protocol, the National Electoral Council (CNE), as part of the consensus between government and opposition parties, introduced a number of changes and conducted some extra guarantees. The specifics were as follows:

The number of parliamentarians to be elected was increased from 167 to 277 out of which 144 (52 per cent) were elected by list, and 133 (48 per cent) by nominal vote; three seats for indigenous peoples also to be elected by nominal voting (held on December 9 2020).

A total of 16 audits to be conducted before, during and after the election, with full participation of all the parties involved, international electoral and computer experts, plus any observer proposed by any of the parties involved, including those invited by the governing coalition and the CNE. There were over 200 international observers coming from 34 countries, and also 1,500 national observers.

A total of 107 political organisations participated: 30 national, 53 regional, 6 indigenous organisations and 18 indigenous regional organisations. Ninety-eight of these fielded candidates against the GPP, only nine of the total supported the GPP. These parties fielded thousands of candidates and, as part of the transparency of the process, the CNE helped to organise 3,500 meetings in the country’s six regions with indigenous population.

There were more than 14,000 polling stations, and over 30,000 electoral tables. International observers could visit any polling station, anywhere, at any time during the election. With the exception of the number of parliamentarians, this election was identical to the election of the National Assembly in 2015 that the opposition won with a landslide.

The international observers from the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America (CEELA in its Spanish acronym) issued a statement though national television praising the quality, efficiency, transparency and auditability of the election process, pointing out that this was achieved under impressive conditions of bio-safety despite the enormous economic difficulties Venezuela confronts due the US regime of sanctions.

Among the international observers were Evo Morales, Rafael Correa, Fernando Lugo, Jose Luis Zapatero and a number of European MPs, who also vouched for the election’s transparency, with the former president of Spain publicly calling on the EU to recognise the results and stop supporting US President Donald Trump’s sanctions against Venezuela.

All leaders of the participating opposition political parties stressed the importance of voting so as to elect a new National Assembly and condemned the sanctions and military aggression championed by Guaido, the extreme right, and Trump. They did take the chance to criticise government policies, especially in the economic field, but all favoured dialogue.

So, when the EU states that it doesn’t recognise the election results in Venezuela because it |failed to comply with international standards,” what does it mean?

The EU did recognise the 2017 elections in Honduras that not only took place under more or less dictatorial conditions but were dominated by fraud, which was condemned by the Organisation of American States (even Luis Almagro called for fresh elections).

The EU statement on Venezuela was issued on December 7 and has 198 words, whilst on Honduras the EU’s “report” is 43 pages long, and “regrets the deaths of at least 22 people during the post-electoral protests.”

At least the EU did not say it will continue with the farce of recognising the unelected Juan Guaido as president. But don’t hold your breath — the EU’s duplicity on Venezuela has become legendary.

It covered its back on the report on Honduras with the caveat “the contents of this report do not necessarily reflect the official position of the EU.” But it does, doesn’t it? The winner in the fraudulent election was Juan Orlando Hernandez, who in March 2020 was accused by US prosecutors of taking drug money, and a year earlier his brother was found guilty of drug smuggling.

Where is the EU’s ethical indignation about the electoral fraud and the criminal activities?
The electoral council did invite the EU to send an observer mission but, probably frightened and bullied by Trump and co, it informed Venezuela that three months “was not sufficient time” to prepare an observation mission. This from a bloc that in 2019 gave

President Nicolas Maduro eight days to organise presidential elections, or else they would recognise Guaido, again a kowtow to the US.

Guaido’s extreme right-wing current did not participate in this election following orders from its US mentors and because it is politically crumbling away.
Mike Pompeo, on behalf of the outgoing Trump administration predictably stated the US will not recognise the election results in Venezuela and “will continue to recognise” Guaido as “interim president.”

Dominic Raab, on behalf of the British government, parroted Pompeo’s stance, including going on with Guaido’s circus, and adding that Britain will continue to recognise him even as president of the National Assembly (whose old mandate ends in January 2020). This may change if the incoming boss, Joe Biden, takes a different view.

Venezuelans went to the polls under conditions of economic war, sanctions, international boycott, intoxicating media war, sabotage, US efforts to militarily blockade the import of food, health inputs and medicine, and an electoral boycott supported by a venomous global media demonisation campaign.

With Trump’s shenanigans about not accepting the US election results, the whole world can see how damaging, destabilising and unsettling such charges can be for any country or any government and how it sows dangerous domestic divisions, courting the most extreme elements (not to mention white supremacists) to take matters into their own hands.

In this regard the Venezuelan people’s resistance is heroic and despite the appeal of adopting strong-arm methods, President Maduro opted for dialogue, peace and democratic elections; this election represents a vindication of this approach.

After the election results were announced, President Maduro again called for a dialogue with the opposition to discuss a joint approach to address issues such as the US blockade, the perverse external attack against the nation’s currency, and the adoption of policies to recover the purchasing power of the population.

People can talk about the size of the election turnout, mention dozens of elections where the turnout was low, and speculate about what would have happened if this or that had taken place until the cows come home.

The fact of the matter is that Trump’s strategy of “regime change,” including the fictional “interim president,” has been defeated and the policy of dialogue and peace has taken another important step on the road to Venezuela’s institutional normalisation, badly dislocated by the aggression of US imperialism and its client Latin American governments (notably that of Ivan Duque in Colombia), and the EU’s complicity.

The road ahead continues to be littered with dangers, but it simultaneously offers fresh opportunities for the nation’s economic recovery so that the revolution strengthens the dynamic of social progress undermined in recent years by external aggression.
Guaido has been terminally wounded with this election, the Lima cartel is decomposing away, and Almagro and the OAS are massively discredited after the coup in Bolivia.
The US proxies that organise and maintain aggression are being neutralised.

Furthermore, the masses have defeated the right in Bolivia and Chile, and Mexico and Argentina now have progressive left governments. And Trump has politically suffered a rather humiliating defeat.

The international solidarity movement must redouble its efforts to support Venezuela’s national sovereignty, seek respect for the Venezuelan people’s vote in electing the 2020-25 National Assembly, and campaign for the British government, the European Union, European governments and the United States to develop a normal, constructive engagement approach with Venezuela.

Francisco Dominguez is secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.

This article first appeared in the Morning Star.

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