Solidarity 115 19 July 2007

Smoking ban: New Labour doesn’t care about workers' health!

Published on: Sat, 25/08/2007 - 00:51

By Sofie Buckland

Sunday 1 July saw the introduction of the controversial “smoking ban”, outlawing smoking in “enclosed public spaces” (train station platforms as well as buildings, for example) and workplaces. As a smoker it’s a little irritating to no longer be able to enjoy a smoke with a pint, but there’s little justification socialists can give for not supporting a ban — passive smoking is really quite obviously harmful, whatever the tobacco company sponsored research might say, and workers shouldn’t be subject to it on the job.

The “liberal” left view, characterised by Christopher

Organising Starbucks

Published on: Wed, 22/08/2007 - 11:40

Over the summer anti-sweatshop group No Sweat will be running a campaign highlighting the highly exploitative conditions for workers at Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee chain, particularly their anti-union record. On Saturday 18 August there will be a national day of action — get in touch with admin@nosweat.org.uk for details of how to get involved. Here, Harriet Parker gives some background.

Starbucks was founded in the early 1970s. Last year its annual global turnover was $7.8bn (£3.9bn). Starbucks announced in October 2006 its long-term expansion target of 40,000 outlets around the

Socialist pioneer Tom Mann part 3: the struggle for free time

Published on: Thu, 16/08/2007 - 00:43

Cathy Nugent continues a series on the life and times of Tom Mann

  • For part 1 click here
  • For part 2 click here
  • For part 3 click here

    Soon after Tom Mann joined the Social Democratic Federation he proposed to a packed meeting of his Battersea branch that they launch a campaign for an eight-hour day. The SDF had already made the demand part of its policy, but it was a paper policy, not something to agitate about, or fight for.

    John Burns opposed the motion on the grounds that the “capitalist system was on its last legs and that it was our duty to prepared at once to seize the whole of the

  • Aristocrat Of The Purse: Conrad Black

    Published on: Tue, 31/07/2007 - 20:38

    Parables For Socialists 8

    Isn’t it the Hans Christian Andersen story of the ugly duckling, the despised little duck among other ducks who turned out to be a swan — but here in reverse, and with an unhappy ending? This duck swanked around like a swan but he was a swan only in his own mind.

    Poor Conrad Black, the runty little multi-millionaire, thought he was a billionaire.

    A mere baron (since 2001) in Britain’s near-expiring House of Lords, he sometimes thought he was a pre-French Revolution nobleman. As he put it himself, defending what he thought were his prerogatives: “I am not prepared to

    Engage: a mixed gathering

    Published on: Tue, 31/07/2007 - 15:51

    Sacha Ismail and Chris Marks report on the anti-boycott meeting called by ‘Engage’, 11 July 2007

    Something like 250 or 300 people attended the meeting on opposing boycotts of Israel called by the Engage campaign on 11 July. The main room in which the plenary sessions were held was packed — despite the £5 entrance fee.

    The audience was mostly quite old, very posh and, it seemed, Jewish. This last fact is, of course, quite understandable: it is British Jews who will be the primary victims of the anti-semitism the boycott campaign is whipping up. However, it confirms the suspicion that Engage,

    US Congress votes to withdraw troops

    Published on: Tue, 31/07/2007 - 00:44

    By Martin Thomas

    For the first time since the US/UK invasion of Iraq in 2003, US withdrawal from the country looks like a short-term prospect.

    On 12 July the US House of Representatives voted to set a deadline of April 2008 for the withdrawal of almost all American troops from Iraq. The next day two senior Republican Senators, John Warner and Richard Lugar, tabled a bill that would reduce the role of American forces in Iraq to the protection of Iraq’s borders and of American bases.
    Andrew Sullivan, who, though he is a hard-line neo-con and a supporter of the 2003 invasion, has long advocated

    As we were saying: lessons of the 1971 postal strike

    Published on: Mon, 30/07/2007 - 20:46

    In 1977 postal workers struck over pay, conditions and mechanisation. Solidarity’s forerunner, Socialist Organiser, printed these articles about the lessons of the previous dispute in 1971.

    How the job was changed

    By Pete Keenlyside

    IN 1971 members of the UCW (then called the UPW) [the postal side of today’s CWU] went on strike for seven weeks. They returned defeated, sold out by their own Executive.

    After that, most postal workers said they’d strike again. Every time you got up to oppose some lousy pay deal or other, the cry went up “Remember 1971”.

    The membership are now more willing to

    Black oppression is more than the N-word

    Published on: Sun, 29/07/2007 - 16:04

    Darren Bedford comments on the recent NAACP demonstration in Detroit, USA

    A recent NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) demonstration has breathed new life into a perpetual debate surrounding offensive language in hip-hop music. It’s a debate that, for socialists, touches on issues of state censorship, racism, homophobia, misogyny, the link between politics and art and of course the power of language itself.

    The demonstration itself was a “mock funeral” for “the N-word” – that is, “nigger”. Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm said that the demonstration was about

    John Pilger: Writing the workers out of the plot

    Published on: Thu, 26/07/2007 - 00:59

    Ed Maltby reviews the War on Democracy

    John Pilger has created a film which is informative, shocking and timely. The sheer amount of footwork involved in the production is impressive — he has travelled the length and breadth of Latin America to film it — and the constant stream of interviews Pilger throws at the viewer gives the film a fresh and authoritative feel. And yet somehow, despite it all, Pilger has managed to snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory. He has taken solid research, verve and wit and put them together to create a flabby, directionless disappointment of a film.

    Pilger’s

    "Marxism 2007": SWP suppresses debate

    Published on: Thu, 26/07/2007 - 00:15

    By David Broder

    "Shutting down free discussion in order to allow carefully stage-managed “debates” where all of the contributors from the floor simply parrot the line of the top-table “expert” speaker..."

    Featuring dozens of sessions on each of its five days, the Socialist Workers Party’s “Marxism 2007” event (5-9 July) is somewhat impressive insofar as it attracts large numbers of young people interested in socialist ideas. However, the SWP hardly provide the ideal atmosphere for giving activists a political education, shutting down free discussion in order to allow carefully stage-managed

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