Solidarity 045, 5 February 2004

The Awkward Squad: New Labour and the Rank and File

Published on: Fri, 06/02/2004 - 00:00

a Socialist Worker pamphlet by Martin Smith

This pamphlet is a propaganda exercise. There is nothing wrong with that in itself. However, it also claims to provide an analysis of the Labour Party, the trade union bureaucracy, the Broad Lefts and members of the "awkward squad." It does not do any of that very well, relying on crass comments such as "bright flashes of a new mood" and "the gaps between the explosions are becoming shorter".

On, for example, why the trade unions did not challenge Blair on the war at Labour Party conference, no real answer is given. There is no attempt to relate

The Miners Strike

Published on: Fri, 06/02/2004 - 00:00


"Thus were the working-men forced once more, in spite of their unexampled endurance, to succumb to the might of capital. But the fight had not been in vain"
- Frederick Engels, 'The Mining Proletariat', The Condition of the Working Class in England

Compared with Channel 4's programme, reviewed here, the BBC 2 account attempted more worthily to measure up to the historical and personal importance of the strike. It followed a similar set of stepping-stones across the turbulent months as had the C4 version: the call to strike, the buzz, high spirits and sense of license of the flying

A New Labour Nightmare: the return of the awkward squad

Published on: Fri, 06/02/2004 - 00:00

by Andrew Murray, Verso

This book is in two parts. The first is an analysis of the trade union movement past and present, and the second a series of interviews with "awkward squad" members who are asked to explain their politics and their own understanding of their role. Both sections were interesting, but the comments of Jack Jones and Ken Gill in the first section seemed more pertinent to a broad understanding of the current situation in the trade union movement and its relationship to the Labour Party than those in the second section.

Jack Jones stresses that the trade unions need to be

Strike: When Britain Went to War

Published on: Fri, 06/02/2004 - 00:00

Channel 4

"Thus were the working-men forced once more, in spite of their unexampled endurance, to succumb to the might of capital. But the fight had not been in vain ..."
- Frederick Engels, 'The Mining Proletariat', The Condition of the Working Class in England

In 1984 Channel 4 was in its infancy and looking to bring a new seriousness to British television. Already it had screened a series analysing the Spanish Civil War. Its prime-time news programme had depth, thoughtfulness, integrity.

Twenty years on its two-hour chronicle of the great miners' strike of 1984 and 85 demonstrated how

Indict Blair! Unions should move against the warmonger!

Published on: Thu, 05/02/2004 - 17:24

By Gerry Bates

The facts stare us in the face. And the Blair government tries to make us look away by conducting safe "inquiries" into incidentals.

Bush and Blair used lies to go to war. Probably they thought they would be able to find a few chemical or biological weapons in Iraq, enough to cover their stories. That had nothing to do with their real reasons.
They had supported Saddam when he certainly had chemical weapons, and was using them on Kurds and Iranians. They were sure that he did not have many such weapons by 2003, or it would have been too risky to wage the war they did.

They went

Press gang: The rehabilitation of Dyke?

Published on: Thu, 05/02/2004 - 17:24

By Lucy Clement

Union rallies in defence of the Corporation's independence have been called outside all BBC sites on Thursday 5 February, but it remains to be seen whether enough staff will still be feeling strongly enough to make the action a success.

In this, the collective memory of the media is barely longer than its soundbites.
One of the more bizarre consequences of the Hutton whitewash has been the transformation of Greg Dyke from Chief Dumber-Down to Chief Defender of Media Freedom.

When Dyke was appointed, he was slated as Tony's crony, a Labour donor and a Blair-friendly bloke to

Galloway, Face of SWP's "Respect": "a dishonest and dishonourable man".

Published on: Thu, 05/02/2004 - 17:24

Parables for Socialists 19

Did the Emperor Caligula appoint his beloved horse a memher of the Senate of Rome? The very well-known story that he did sounds unlikely, apocryphal.

But it may be true. The horse's name is known: Incitatus. Caligula expressed not only his strange infatuation with a horse, but also his great contempt for the Senate and its members. The corrupt, demoralised, and terrified Roman senators did not dare protest.
And then? Did the equine senator sit in the Senate? Did he vote? Did he get up on his hind legs, waving his front legs for oratorical effect, and neigh and whinny?

If he whinnied his horse

Jerusalem and Gaza

Published on: Thu, 05/02/2004 - 17:23

From David Merhav in Haifa

At least 11 Israelis were killed and 45 others were wounded in a suicide bombing on a bus in central Jerusalem on 29 January. The blast was very close to the official residence of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was not in the building at the time.
Israel's daily Haaretz reported: "The explosion came just two days after senior Egyptian officials made another attempt to win a pledge from Palestinian militants to halt attacks on Israelis. The attack was a further setback to international efforts to bring about a resumption of peace talks. The US-led road map peace

European Social Forum: Who put Ken and the SWP in charge?

Published on: Thu, 05/02/2004 - 17:23

By Vicki Morris

The third European Social Forum will probably be held in London, and probably in autumn this year. Preparations are underway. The timetable is very short for organising a successful ESF, but those who have put together the London "bid" - the SWP principally - have not let that bother them. Indeed, it is to their advantage, seeking to control the event, to railroad the process now, saying "we have to get on with organisation, no time for discussion". They are alienating many grassroots activists.
A social forum should be a place where many people meet, and its preparation

Class struggles in China

Published on: Thu, 05/02/2004 - 17:18

A round-up produced by the China Labour Bulletin.

Teachers' protest in Guangdong Province is violently dispersed

From 1 to 3 December more than 800 community teachers protested in front of the municipal government offices in Leizhou, Guangdong. The protestors were demanding that the government fulfil the promise it made in 2000 to transfer them into the higher paid classification of public teachers.

Some teachers said they had not been paid since June 2003. Others complained that the wages of public teachers in Leizhou were much higher than community teachers. For example, a public teacher

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