Solidarity 051, 13 May 2004

As we were saying, 2004: Respect woos the 'Muslim vote'


Gerry Bates

Originally posted 22 May 2004.
The campaign for the 10 June 2004 Euro and local elections by the Respect coalition, set up by the Socialist Workers' Party (SWP) in January, is descending into a shameful scramble to grab the 'Muslim vote'.

It is not an effort to win Muslim workers and youth over to socialist ideas while avoiding unnecessary offence to their religious beliefs. Rather the opposite: Respect is functioning as a means to convert the socialists who provide its active forces into advocates of Islamic communalism or Islamism.

Journalists resist racist proprietors

By a member of NUJ London freelance branch

At the start of the year, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) chapel at Express and Star newspapers (Daily and Sunday Express, and The Star) resisted the pressure of proprietor Richard Desmond to publish racist articles against asylum-seekers, particularly against the East European Roma people that the papers said would flood into Britain after the 1 May enlargement of the EU.

The chapel has called for the help of the Press Complaints Commission in standing up to Desmond, and passed the following policy:

Blair says "welcome to the UK - if you can make us rich"

By Joan Trevor

Migrants are welcome in Britain - so long as they can plug gaps in the labour force, says Tony Blair.

His 27 April speech on 'The positive case for controlled migration' was delivered, aptly, at a conference of the bosses' organisation, the Confederation of British Industry. They are, after all, the ones who want select groups of workers to come and make them rich.

If the title of the speech looked like an antidote to Home Secretary David Blunkett's racist attacks on asylum seekers, the text said otherwise:

Stop the torture! Support Iraq's labour movement!

Very soon after they took over Iraq a year ago, the British and US "liberators" of the country turned into torturers.
The British put their experience in Northern Ireland to use, and tied, beat, and hooded prisoners.

The Americans beat prisoners, set Alsatian dogs on them, put electrodes on them, made them do degrading sexual acts in public. Some male prisoners were, it seems, raped.

Defend the right to protest

Brian Haw, who has decorated Parliament Square for years with his protest first against economic sanctions on Iraq, then against the recent war, and now against the occupation, was arrested in the night on Sunday 9 May.

New Iraq solidarity network

An "Iraqi Workers' Solidarity Group" has been set up to provide a framework for communication and coordination between activists interested in assembling a broad campaign in Britain in solidarity with the new workers', unemployed, and women's movements in Iraq.
It came out of a meeting on 10 May called to discuss follow-up from the broadly-sponsored protest outside the Iraq Procurement 2004 business conference in London on 27 April. Activists from No Sweat, Unison, GMB, the Social Forums, the Green Party, Jubilee Iraq, and the Union of the Unemployed of Iraq were present.

When French miners took on the Nazis


Vicki Morris

Readers might know Emile Zola's novel Germinal, based on an early strike by French coal miners in northern France in 1884. Lots of socialists know at least the last lines!
"The sap was rising in abundance with whispering voices, the germs of life were opening with a kiss. Men were springing up, a black avenging host was slowly germinating in the furrows, thrusting upward for the harvests of future ages. And very soon their germination would crack the earth asunder."

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