Solidarity 082, 20 October 2005

An open letter to Tony Benn - let Tariq Aziz rot in hell!

Published on: Mon, 28/05/2007 - 00:25

Tony Benn is a former British cabinet member.

Dear Tony Benn
You have put your name to a petition on behalf of Saddam Hussein’s deputy Tariq Aziz.

You have by now probably seen the newspaper reports that Tariq Aziz will give evidence against his old boss at Saddam Hussein’s trial — evidence that, among other things, Saddam Hussein gave orders for mass murder.

Tariq Aziz had to be there, that is, complicit in Saddam Hussein’s crimes against the peoples of Iraq, in order to be able to testify to such things. We will see what happens at the trial. But no-one has to wait for the trial to know

What is left anti-semitism?

Published on: Wed, 21/03/2007 - 18:04

Sean Matgamna

What is “left-wing anti-semitism”? Where is it manifested? What is to be done about it?

There are three difficulties, three confusions and obfuscations, that stand in the way of rational discussion of what we mean by “left-wing anti-semitism”.

The first is that left-wing anti-semitism knows itself by another and more self-righteous name, “anti-Zionism”. Often, your left-wing anti-semite sincerely believes that he or she is only an anti-Zionist, only a just if severe critic of Israel.

The second is that talk of left-wing anti-semitism to a left-wing anti-semite normally evokes indignant,

A tale of two cities

Published on: Fri, 21/10/2005 - 19:29

In an autumn of demonstrations in France, Saturday 15 October saw a small demonstration of a few thousands in Paris demanding, “Homes for all, end the expulsions”.

The demonstration was a response to the fires in slum dwellings that have killed more than 50 people, and to the lack of affordable housing for many of Paris’s poorest inhabitants.

The fires included a blaze in April in a one-star hotel used as temporary accommodation by the Paris municipal authorities, in which 26 people died; a fire in a hostel on 24 August that killed 17 people; and a fire on 30 August that killed seven people.

Workers need solidarity as Iraq votes yes to new constitution

Published on: Fri, 21/10/2005 - 19:27

by colin foster

Last-minute tweaks to Iraq's constitutional referendum on 15 October had the desired effect.

According to unofficial figures, as of 18 October, the constitution got a 65% majority across Iraq, and was rejected by two-thirds majorities in only two provinces, Anbar and Salahuddin. A third heavily-Sunni province, Nineveh, may have had a majority against, but not two-thirds.

In the few days before the referendum, the government, under US pressure, changed the rules so that the constitution could have been defeated by two-thirds majorities of actual voters against it in three

Space for German left to fight

Published on: Fri, 21/10/2005 - 19:26

by david broder

Over three weeks after the German election which left both the Social Democrats (SPD) and the conservative CDU with too few seats to form a government, the two parties finally agreed on 10 October to form a “Grand Coalition” for the first time since 1969. The SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is one casualty of the coalition, since the deal gives each of the parties 8 of 16 cabinet posts, with the Chancellorship going to the CDU's Angela Merkel. What the deal really indicates is the need for a rebellion against the neoliberal SPD leadership by trade unionists and the left within

Musharraf and his rivals

Published on: Fri, 21/10/2005 - 19:25

It is too early to know what effect the earthquake will have on the volatile political conditions inside Pakistan, but it is certain to exacerbate existing trends. Cathy Nugent reports

Before 9/11 Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, had supported the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, believing it could help Pakistan’s regional interests and be a bulwark against the other major regional power, India.

It was only when the US made it worth their while — with debt relief and a rescheduling of interest payments worth $3 billion — that the Pakistani government dropped the Taliban, joined the “war on

Solidarity with Pakistani workers

Published on: Fri, 21/10/2005 - 19:24

According to socialists and trade unionists, current Pakistani government estimates of casualties (40,000) from the 9 October earthquake are far too low. The figure could rise to 100,000 or more. Kashmir is the worst affected area —70 percent of all housing was destroyed by the earthquake. Northern and tribal areas of Pakistan were also badly affected, but are so cut off from the rest of Pakistan no-one knows the scale of the deaths and destruction.

Reports of the appalling gaps in medical, food and other kinds of aid are all too accurate.

The situation is made much worse by the fact that

Benefits and Jobcentre staff to strike over jobs

Published on: Fri, 21/10/2005 - 19:20

Charlie McDonald, PCS Department of Work and Pensions East London branch secretary

Public and Commercial Services Union members working in Jobcentres and dole offices in London have voted for a series of strikes. The first is due to take place on 16 November.

It is still possible the the PCS DWP Group Executive, dominated by the Socialist Party and their fellow travellers, will find some excuse to cancel the strike, possibly by arguing that it should be merged into proposals for national action on jobs at a future stage (which, contrary to the report in the 22 October edition of Socialist

Workers’ news round-up

Published on: Fri, 21/10/2005 - 19:02


The Brazilian Workers’ Party (PT) candidate Lula da Silva was elected president in 2002 but without a majority in Congress. To gain support for the election and then in power, the PT formed alliances with other parties.

In its first two and a half years in power, the government has implemented neoliberal reforms that the PT historically had fought against, such as the partial privatisation of social security and bankruptcy reform. It is working for other unpopular reforms of education, workers’ rights and unions.

Now a series of corruption scandals have further rocked the PT’s

The “military road to socialism”

Published on: Fri, 21/10/2005 - 19:00

Paul Hampton reviews Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution by Richard Gott (Verso, 2005)

Richard Gott the journalist is like a courtier who rides round in a stretch limo to visit the poor before returning as a “privileged visitor” to the presidential palace. And for Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, he has nothing but admiration.

There is nothing Gott’s book about workers’ factory occupations or about the “co-management” schemes in some workplaces. Despite dramatic changes in the Venezuelan labour movement over the last five years — including the involvement of the old union federation,

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