Solidarity 108, 15 March 2007

Rich? Then why not tell the poor what to do...

By Jill Mountford

David Freud’s a banker, a big banker and, it goes without saying, he’s very wealthy. So the Government (the Department of Work and Pensions) chose him to write an “independent” report on welfare reform, him being independent and all — entitled “Reducing Dependency, Increasing Opportunity”.

Gordon Brown, on the other hand, is not “independent”. He’s set to be the next Labour Prime Minister and he likes what David Freud, the rich banker, has to say. For Brown, Freud’s report is the “first stage of a new decade of welfare reform” that he will “champion.”

Government announces new “crackdown” on asylum and immigration - All immigration police now?

By Stan Crooke

It is a sign of how debased the political “discussion” about immigration has become that Home Secretary John Reid can so proudly set out his plan to make life “constrained and uncomfortable” for illegal immigrants. He wants to stop them getting “housing, healthcare or work”. Put another way, he wants to make them homeless, ill (or perhaps dead) and unemployed. It is the kind of stuff that the BNP would welcome.

What’s the detail of the plan?

United trade union protest stops deportation

By THE No One Is Illegal campaign

For the first time an alliance of trade union General Secretaries have come together in support of a refugee in detention and under threat of deportation. The refugee is Alphonsus Uche Okafor-Mefor.

Pushed out with a flak jacket

By Karen Johnson

The Coalition to Stop Deportations to Iraq was formed in early 2006 following the deportation of 15 Iraqi Kurdish asylum seekers back to Erbil Airport in Iraqi Kurdistan.

They were returned on something the Home Office calls a “voluntary return order”. In fact the asylum seekers had been both threatened and bribed to return to Iraq after being held in detention centres for many months.

Iran: support women, students and workers

By Rhodri Evans

Despite its oil riches, Iran is a country of huge economic inequalities, huge corruption, 20% unemployment, and 12% inflation.

The Islamic regime which came to power in a dramatic revolution/counter-revolution in 1979 is discredited. There is increasingly wide resentment against its obscurantist, sexist impositions on everyday life.

Since 1979 women have been compelled to wear the “chador” — a head-to-toe, loose-fitting black overcoat and veil that covers their hair and hides their shapes.

Teachers on the streets

Teachers and other education workers last held mass protests in 2001, demanding equal pay with other state employees. Their action resulted in the drafting of a “Pay Parity Bill” which promised to lift salaries above the poverty level.- More than five years later the Bill has not been enacted and Parliament looks set to repeal the measures. The arrest of six key activists from various teacher organisations failed to halt a 7,000 strong demonstration on Thursday 8 March.

Egyptian secular activist jailed - Free Kareem Amer!

By Amina Saddiq

22 year old Egyptian blogger and former law student Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, or Kareem Amer as he is known online, was arrested by the authorities in Alexandria on 22 February and charged with the following offences:

• Spreading information and malicious rumours that disrupt public security;

• Defaming the president of Egypt;

• Incitement to overthrow the regime based upon hatred and contempt;

• Incitement to hate Islam and to breach public peace standards; and

The abolition of slavery: Britain’s first mass working-class campaign

By James McKinney

On 25 March 1807, the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act was passed, which began to put an end to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Socialists should too should be celebrating this bicentenary because of the black slave resistance which accompanied the abolition and the opening it provided for the growth of mass working class campaigning in Britain.

Northern Ireland: the fault-lines “haven’t gone away”

Ian Paisley calls himself the “Leader of the Ulster People”. By that he means, leader of the Protestant-Unionist 56 per cent, or thereabouts, of the people living in the Six Counties. Now Paisley looks set to form a Six-County coalition government in partnership with Sinn Fein-IRA.

Paisley is capable of shying away when the moment comes to take the big jump. But all the signs suggest that the “Leader of the Ulster People” is, at the age of 81, about to become First Minister of Northern Ireland, with Martin McGuinness as his Deputy in name and co-equal in practice.

Curb the police!

by Sacha Ismail

Toni Comer, the 19 year old woman whose beating by Sheffield police was captured on CCTV, says she remembers nothing about the night of the incident. But the cameras show her being hit, held down by four people, hit five more times and then pinned down with a foot on her body. Other officers arrived, with a police dog, and then she was dragged to their van with her trousers around her ankles.

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