Solidarity 084, 17 November 2005

Why you should be a socialist

Published on: Wed, 20/12/2006 - 17:45

Sofie Buckland

In Britain today, one child in three grows up in poverty, in a household with less than half the average income; in 1968, the figure was one in ten.

Thousands are homeless on the streets, while 600,000 homes stand empty.

Hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions are unemployed, while those with jobs have to work harder, for longer hours and for more of their lives. Health, education and other public services are being trashed by New Labour’s cuts and privatisation, while inequality, like the wealth of the rich, snowballs.

The gross poverty and inequality which exist in Britain are repeated

Use union link to force change

Published on: Sat, 19/11/2005 - 14:23

Alan Johnson, the Blairites’ favourite ex union leader, has made a call for the unions’ influence in the Labour Party to be curtailed.

Johnson, once general secretary of the post and telecom union CWU, and now Industry Minister, has proposed that the union vote at Labour Party Conference be cut from 50% to 15% (Times, 14 November).

As Tony Woodley, general secretary of the TGWU, put it: “It is no coincidence that the Blairites want to change the make-up of the conference and party since they’ve been losing votes.”

Labour’s affiliated unions should rise to the challenge. Ideological arguments

The Iraqi labour movement comes first!

Published on: Sat, 19/11/2005 - 14:14

Sean Matgamna replies to Barry Finger’s On anti-war slogans: lessons from two wars (Solidarity 3-81)


Almost all the the likely scenarios in Iraq are in varying degrees unfavourable for the labour movement. They will go on being unfavourable until a strong labour movement emerges and can create new possibilities; begin to make the working class the subject of politics and history rather than what it is now, their object and their victim. For that the Iraqi labour movement must survive and develop, organisationally and politically.

Socialists do not just

Civil partnership brings benefit cuts

Published on: Sat, 19/11/2005 - 14:11

By David Broder

The Civil Partnership Act coming in to force on 5 December comes with the pretensions of offering gay couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples. They will be able to take advantage of transferred pension rights and inheritance tax will be waived as it is for married couples.

However, Outrage! and the Leeds disabled LGB group Rainbow Ripples have revealed that many poorer LGB couples will lose out. While the government is making concessions to wealthier LGB people, those on low incomes or who are disabled or elderly could have their benefits cut.

For example, two

Class politics in Israel

Published on: Sat, 19/11/2005 - 14:10

Eric Lee comments on the election of Amir Peretz to leader of the Israeli Labour Party

When I interviewed Amir Peretz, the leader of the Histadrut, Israel’s national trade union federation, back in June, I mentioned to him that I thought it was pretty unusual for a trade unionist to announce his candidacy for the post of prime minister. “I actually know of several additional examples of workers’ leaders who became heads of government,” he responded, “such as Bob Hawke in Australia, Lech Walesa in Poland, and Lula in Brazil.”

In other words, in normal countries, trade union leaders sometimes

Slaughter on the Somme

Published on: Sat, 19/11/2005 - 14:04

Rosalind Robson reviews The Last Tommy (BBC1), and The Somme, (Channel Four)

For socialists the two world wars of the last century are of tremendous importance. These events gave birth to massive class struggles.

In the First World war, workers who had been conscripted to fight the bloody battles, were to turn against the ruling class, the brass and the politicians, who had pushed them to slaughter. In Russia, in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, workers made revolutions. Revolutions which were to shape the course of revolutionary Marxist politics up to the present day.

Strange then to think

The Day Lady Died

Published on: Sat, 19/11/2005 - 14:02

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday

three days after Bastille day, yes

it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine

because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton

at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner

and I don’t know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun

and have a hamburger and a malted and buy

an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets

in Ghana are doing these days

I go on to the bank

and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)

doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life

and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine

for Patsy

Funny but empty

Published on: Sat, 19/11/2005 - 14:01

Michael Wood reviews The Brothers Grimm

Terry Gilliam’s latest fantastical extravaganza has all the usual exemplary production values and quirky characters. But is there anything more to it?

The short answer is no. It all looks incredibly impressive and ridiculous in equal measures, but it doesn’t offer the bite we’ve come to expect from Gilliam. The story is rather half-hearted, and the film attempts to make up for this by giving the execution 110% in frenetic energy. Ultimately, this just leaves it feeling insubstantial, and more than a little confusing.

In early 19th century French

1000 rally to defend pickets

Published on: Sat, 19/11/2005 - 13:58

By Cynthia Baldry, Workers’ Fight, March 1973

In Shrewsbury on 15 March, 24 building workers appearing in court were met by a show of solidarity from other workers, meeting outside the court and then marching through the town. They were also met by a massive attempt at intimidation by the forces of ruling class “law and order”.

All 24 (and not only six, as wrongly stated by the capitalist press and by the Morning Star) were up on a conspiracy law of 1875. There are also charges of damages, and added 14 days later, unlawful fighting and causing an affray. The police are using conspiracy law so

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