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by Ben Chacko at Maritime House
SHADOW chancellor John McDonnell roused a crowd of hundreds at the annual RMT Cuba Garden Party last night as he said a Labour government would be a “staunch ally” of the socialist island.
“When, not if, a Labour government is elected, we will be your staunch allies – we will support trade to stop any attack that Trump and the US try to make against Cuba,” he said to noisy applause.
Mr McDonnell pointed to a Telegraph poll that suggested Boris Johnson would defeat Labour in a general election, unlike other Conservative leadership candidates, because he would reunite the Leave vote, and challenged the Tories to put their money where their mouths were.
“We say to the Tories, believe the poll. Bring it on. Because we’re ready to bring you down.”
And he savaged the Tory frontrunner’s long record of vile remarks about black people, Muslims and gay people, saying Labour would pull no punches when it came to protecting Britain from a “racist prime minister.”
CWU leader Dave Ward challenged Brexit’s domination of political debate around the election, saying it was not the main dividing line in the country.
“Sometimes, people are so focused on the awful things that might happen in one or other Brexit scenario that they aren’t fighting back against the awful things that are being done already by the Tories,” he told the Morning Star, calling on the labour movement to shift the agenda beyond Brexit to a fight for workers’ rights now.
Partygoers paused their dancing to rally behind a giant banner reading “Trump, hands off Cuba!”
Cuban ambassador to Britain Teresita Vicente said that, with her country facing an increasingly harsh US blockade, solidarity was essential.
“The US think they are the owners of the world. We need to show them they are not. We are, the workers are,” she said.
“In three years, Trump has undone all the progress in relations with the US … overnight he has stopped US citizens being able to visit Cuba.”
The guest of honour, Cuban international medical volunteer Dr Enmanuel Fonseca, spoke of the country’s medical missions to some of the poorest regions of the world.
“We deeply believe that a better world is possible, and this is only possible by socialism,” he told the almost 500-strong crowd.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said he was proud of the union’s solidarity work with Cuba and pledged that it would step up its resistance to the US president’s aggression in the region.
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