Solidarity 133, 5 June 2008

Fuel Poverty

Published on: Fri, 06/06/2008 - 12:11

Tom Unterrainer

According to the Treasury at least 2.5 million British households (around one in ten) suffer from fuel poverty (Energywatch puts the figure at 4 million, 16% of all households). Households in fuel poverty are those that spend more than 10% of combined income on gas and electricity.

In February this year the Fuel Poverty Action Group accused government of not doing enough to meet its target of eradicating fuel poverty by 2010. In previous budgets the government increased winter fuel allowances for the elderly and took other measures to create "good news" by specifically targeting grants and

S&M isn’t a crime!

Published on: Fri, 06/06/2008 - 12:10

Cath Fletcher

Despite opposition from anti-censorship campaigners, on 9 May a new ban on “violent pornography” came into force. This wide-ranging ban not only criminalises photos of genuine consensual S&M sex, but also “realistic” illustrations, pictures posed by models and computer-generated images. The penalty for possessing banned material is up to three years in jail and entry on the Sex Offenders Register.

Until the law is tested in court, no-one will know exactly what is illegal. The definition is broad: it covers actual or realistic depiction of serious violence (or threatened violence) in a sexual

First black US President?

Published on: Fri, 06/06/2008 - 12:08

Sacha Ismail

Barack Obama's clinching of the Democratic presidential nomination raises a variety of issues for socialists.

On one hand, we should not be afraid to admit that the nomination of a black man for president represents a certain kind of social progress. This is particularly the case in a society as sodden with racism as the United States, in which a young black man is more likely to end up in prison than college and where most black people were denied the most elementary civil and political rights only a few decades ago.

In the 1940s, the Third Camp Trotskyists in New York had a default policy of

Union round up

Published on: Fri, 06/06/2008 - 12:04

Patrick Murphy, Mike Fenwick

TEACHERS: The Executive of the National Union of Teachers on 29 May considered alternative timetables for a ballot for discontinuous strike action to continue the pay campaign. The recommendation discussed was a ballot for the Autumn. The earliest date based on that timetable would be 12 November.

An amendment (objection) to that recommendation deleted autumn and replaced it with summer. A paper prepared for the Executive included a possible summer timetable which would allow action to start at the same time as a possible Unison local government strike on the same issue which would involve

Only the poor live too long

Published on: Fri, 06/06/2008 - 12:00

Simon Garner

Governments of advanced capitalist economies are coming to terms with a significant growth in the number of people living longer, which, combined with low birth rates adds to ageing populations. The poorest and most vulnerable are at greatest risk.

In May this year the government announced a root and branch review of how social care for older people is funded. The demand for social care support — help with dressing, washing, eating and shopping — is set to increase significantly over the next decades as the “baby boomer” generation moves into old age. Over the next 20 years the number of

Back to Old Labour? No

Published on: Fri, 06/06/2008 - 11:55

Martin Thomas

According to the Daily Mail, “the GMB trade union has already taken the extraordinary step of discussing at its last executive council meeting whether its two representatives on Labour's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) should be indemnified against financial loss in the event Labour goes bankrupt”.

David Pitt-Watson, a City financier whom Labour's Executive appointed as the party's new general secretary after immense pressure for the decision was applied by Gordon Brown, has already refused the appointment after looking at Labour's accounts and saying that he is worried that he might

Opposing Heathrow expansion

Published on: Fri, 06/06/2008 - 11:51

Robin Sivapalan

Over three thousand people opposed to Heathrow expansion marched on Saturday 31 May from Hatton Cross to Sipson, the village which would be destroyed were a third runway to be built. We were spared the travesty of Boris Johnson leading the march, though some near the front endured a dreary letter of solidarity from Archbishop Rowan Williams, who also couldn’t attend.

The demo, organised by a coalition of local and environmental campaigns, was smaller than expected, despite a rain free day. This was apparent when we were shepherded into a field for the planned aerial coverage — and could only

Activist attacked by far-right thugs

Published on: Fri, 06/06/2008 - 11:48

A supporter of Education Not for Sale in Huddersfield was attacked by the far right on Friday morning on her way to work. The comrade has been campaigning to no-platform the BNP at her campus and has obviously been targeted. They knew her name and route to work.

We need to make it clear to the far right that the comrade is not isolated. They cannot get away with targeting people who stand up to them. Publicise this in union branches, student organisations and anti-fascist groups.

This attack must receive the widest exposure we can give it. Messages of solidarity have started coming in. Send

Education Not for Sale relaunched

Published on: Fri, 06/06/2008 - 11:46

Sofie Buckland,

Despite the exam season, about 75 activists attended "Reclaim the Campus", a conference sponsored by Education Not for Sale on 17 May. There were workshops on marketisation, NUS democracy and fighting climate change, but the event was dominated by motions debate and the election of an ENS committee.

The conference rejected a proposal from Workers Power to change the name, and an attempt by the CPGB to have a "Marxist programme" adopted. It endorsed a new statement that sharpens up ENS's politics, while leaving space for cooperation between activists with a variety of left and anti-capitalist

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