Solidarity 065, 20 January 2005

Get religion out of our schools!

Published on: Sun, 24/12/2006 - 17:40

Religious indoctrination and religious segregation has no place in schools. Children should be able to learn and work out their ideas without officially imposed or sponsored indoctrination from priests, imams, or rabbis. There should be no faith schools. Schools should deal in inquiry and reason, not faith.

That is the basic issue highlighted by the outcry against the mild comments on faith schools made by the Chief Inspector of Schools, David Bell, in a speech on 17 January. Trevor Phillips, the head of the Commission for Racial Equality, has endorsed the comments.

Keith Porteous Wood of the

Iraq debate 4: an analogy with the USSR in 1928/9

Published on: Fri, 28/01/2005 - 18:27

A postscript to the discussion in Solidarity of the politics of our former comrades who now purvey a stupid right-wing caricature, a reductio ad absurdum, of AWL politics on Iraq.

They think that our common solidarity with the Iraqi trade unions necessarily implies support for Bush and Blair; they counterpose to the popular front of the “reactionary anti-imperialists” (the SWP, George Galloways, etc.) with the political-Islamists, Sunni-supremacists, and Ba’thists of the Iraqi “resistance”, not independent working-class politics but a popular front with Bush, Blair, Shia clericalists, the

Labour's election manifesto: Profit, Profit, Profit

Published on: Fri, 28/01/2005 - 18:25

In the Guardian on 15 January, Alan Milburn, Tony Blair’s chosen general election coordinator, set out New Labour’s prospectus for the general election likely in May.

Through the fog of buzzwords and spin-jargon in Milburn’s article, the message emerged: more privatisation, more marketisation.

One major element, not specified by Milburn, but reported as a New Labour plan by the Guardian and Financial Times on 27 December, is to replace direct care home and meals-on-wheels provision for the elderly by vouchers or cash with which pensioners would then make “consumer choice” between different

Iraq’s missing oil billions

Published on: Fri, 28/01/2005 - 18:23

The effective economic policy of the US occupation in Iraq has been: confiscate Iraq’s oil revenues; hand out the cash to the US administration’s American and Iraqi cronies, with minimal supervision; justify this in the name of the virtues of privatisation; and impose decrees mandating privatisation as the only way Iraq’s economy can develop in future.

A United Nations audit published on 14 December, though cautiously worded, paints a devastating picture.

Up to 28 June 2004, the US occupation authority spent $20 billion in Iraqi money — mostly oil revenues, either new or unfrozen from the

The 1905 Revolution

Published on: Fri, 28/01/2005 - 18:13

On Sunday 9 January 1905 — according to the calendar that was then in use in Russia, which was 13 days behind that in use in Europe — troops in St Petersburg opened fire on a peaceful procession of workers, led by a priest, Father Gapon. The demonstration was marching to deliver a humble petition to the Russian aristocratic ruler, the Tsar.

Hundreds were killed.

This massacre and the reaction to it triggered the Russian Revolution of 1905. It has been described as the “dress rehearsal” for the October 1917 revolution.

Analysis of the 1905 revolution had educated the Marxists who led the 1917

An appeal by the Federation of Workers' Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI)

Published on: Fri, 28/01/2005 - 18:09

Since November we have witnessed a marked increase in activities and the formation of a number of branches of FWCUI in many workplaces and factories.

Such developments have attracted the attention of the authorities in the cities of Baghdad, Basra and Saharaban. Labour activists have been threatened by the authorities and prevented from joining FWCUI.

Now a new wave of heroic strikes have swept industries like textiles in the city of Kut, in which the workers were suppressed and shot at by the authorities, also the strikes of the Electricity Power Station in Nassiriya, the chemical, and

Just say "yes"?

Published on: Fri, 28/01/2005 - 18:07

Cathy Nugent reviews “Cocaine”, Channel Four, and “If… drugs were legal”, 12 January, BBC2

In the Peruvian Andes, a young woman dances in a seedy night club. Little by little she is slipping towards becoming a sex worker. Her father is a coca farmer, but lately his precious leaves have been damaged by US-financed crop-sprayers. He can no longer afford to pay for his daughter’s education. She must find money where she can.

The pink fungus spray that kills the coca crop also sometimes kills children. And damages the “alternative” crops, avocados and bananas, that the farmers have been told to

Reactions to Racism

Published on: Fri, 28/01/2005 - 18:07

Dan Nichols reviews “Yasmine”, Channel 4

Channel Four’s drama, Yasmine, was an intelligent look at the tensions that exist among today’s British Muslims. The programme followed a young Asian Muslim woman from Yorkshire as she struggles to fit in to both the conservative world of her family and the very different world of her workplace.

The drama was Ken Loach/“kitchen sink” in style, and written by Full Monty writer Simon Beaufoy. He based his script on interviews he had done with residents of Bradford. The drama was a lot heavier than The Full Monty, but with a few light touches, such as

Challenging consensus on Islamophobia

Published on: Fri, 28/01/2005 - 18:05

Sacha Ismail reviews “Are Muslims hated?”, Channel 4, 8 January

In the 1980s, writer and broadcaster Kenan Malik was a member of a peculiar left group called the Revolutionary Communist Party, which always, for reasons one could not trust, took up what they would have called “iconoclastic” views. Perhaps it should be no surprise how sharply the ideas he develops on racism, religion and the idea of “multiculturalism” are in conflict with the conventional wisdom of much of today’s left. But that does not necessarily mean he is wrong.

From the official anti-racists of the Commission for Racial

The future of the Socialist Alliance

Published on: Fri, 28/01/2005 - 18:04

An AGM for the Socialist Alliance has been called for Saturday 5 February, 2pm, at ULU, Malet Street, London. If the SWP have their way it will be the last ever conference of the Socialist Alliance. They are proposing resolutions to wind up the Socialist Alliance and donate its remaining funds to Respect. Nine current or former members of the SA Executive have written a letter of protest.

Open letter to the Executive Committee of the Socialist Alliance.

We are current or former Executive members or officers of the Socialist Alliance. We recognise that since the launch of Respect, the SWP and

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