Solidarity 134, 26th June 2008

Why the left should not back Obama

Published on: Fri, 04/07/2008 - 09:27

Barry Finger

The enthusiasm among the progressive wing of the Democratic Party for Barack Obama, a compelling writer, an inspiring speaker with a story that seems to define the American experience, is understandable. Indeed, the symbolic significance of an African-American so close to the presidency in a country whose politics is so fundamentally scarred by racism cannot be underestimated. This enthusiasm seems to have upturned the usual justification on the part of progressives and leftists for voting Democratic. No longer is the zeal for the DP based primarily on the abhorrence for the Republican

Marxists on the capitalist crisis: 5. Trevor Evans - The Imbalances in the System are Unsustainable

Published on: Fri, 04/07/2008 - 09:26

Trevor Evans

Trevor Evans is a professor at the Berlin School of Economics, and has also worked in Nicaragua and other countries. He has written especially on the interrelation between finance and capitalist crises. He spoke to Martin Thomas.

After the 1929 crash the United States government introduced very tight controls of the financial system. From 1933 to the early 70s the financial sector was very tightly regulated. By the 1970s the banks were looking for ways to get round the controls. There was a political shift in the late 70s, after Ford became President of the US, and from 1980 onwards there was

Fight for wages to match prices!

Published on: Tue, 01/07/2008 - 10:36

Tom Unterrainer

Inflation increased by one-tenth from May to June. The leap from 3% to 3.3% is the largest increase since 1997. The increase prompted Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, to write to Chancellor Alistair Darling explaining that the “rise can be accounted for by large and, until recently, unanticipated increases in the prices of food, fuel, gas and electricity”. No kidding Mr King!

He goes on to explain that in the year to May: “world agricultural prices increased by 60% and UK retail food prices by 8%; oil prices rose by more than 80% to average $123 a barrel and UK fuel prices

Good for the environment? Good for us?

Published on: Tue, 01/07/2008 - 10:34

Colin Foster

The activist left, being heavily concentrated in city-centre areas with relatively copious public transport, may be liable to underestimate the impact of fuel price rises.

Even in Britain, probably the majority of the working class live in outlying areas of cities and in small towns: they have no choice but to drive a car to get to work. About two-thirds of all journeys to work in Britain are made by car.

In more sprawling cities in other countries — as, for example, in the vast stretches of suburb in western Sydney — reliance on the car is even more compulsory. It doesn’t matter what people

Now Is the Time To Fight the Anti-Union Laws!

Published on: Tue, 01/07/2008 - 10:33


Rising inflation and the government policy of wage cutting by keeping wage increases below inflation, is reviving active, militant trade unionism.

Workers are being faced with the choice to either fight or docilely let their living standards be forced down by a government whose pandering to the rich was a already, even before it adopted a policy of “fighting inflation” by cutting the real wages of low paid workers, a scandal and an obscenity.

The anti-union laws which the Thatcher Tories imposed at the beginning of the 1980s and Blair-Brown have kept on the statute books through 11 years of

Who really defends freedom?

Published on: Tue, 01/07/2008 - 10:31

David Davis, the ex-Tory MP soon to stand in a by-election for his own constituency on a platform of opposing 42 day detention without charge and defending civil liberties, is a hard-line right-winger. He supports the restoration of the death penalty. He has voted repeatedly in Parliament against lesbian and gay equality: against the repeal of Section 28, against an equal age of consent, against adoption rights. He voted to cut back women's access to abortion. He wants to abolish the minimal protections of the Human Rights Act.

Even on the issues he has claimed as his own, Davis'

Zimbabwe: Only mass action can stop the dictator

Published on: Tue, 01/07/2008 - 10:28

This is abridged from a statement by the International Socialist Organisation Zimbabwe written before MDC candidate Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the election, and followed by a postscript concerning the withdrawal. It is worth restating our opposition to the comrades' electoral support, however critical, for the MDC; we printed a critique in the last issue of Solidarity and hope they will reply when they are able to.

A member of the ISO will be speaking at Ideas for Freedom on Saturday 12 July (see page 12).

Reign of terror

The Mugabe regime has unleashed a reign of terror across the

Union news in Brief

Published on: Tue, 01/07/2008 - 10:22

• Unison Conference: Good news, the left at Unison conference mangaged to beat the leadership in vote after vote. But there were not many big debates as Standing Orders had ruled anything controversial (and 47% of motions) out of order. However we won a lot of symbolic victories.

Perhaps the most significant victory on conference floor was at the Local Government Service Group Conference with resolution to open up pay consultation in the autumn, submit a pay claim by January and, if unsuccessful, ballot for strike action in April 2009. This is a massive improvement on dithering in previous

How to strike for better pay

Published on: Tue, 01/07/2008 - 10:19

Elaine Jones

Drivers who work on a contact for Shell Oil were offered a 14% pay increase over two years after four days of strike action. The increase may be worth 9% in the first year and 5% in the second, taking average annual earnings to £41,750 — it’s not clear because contracts are due to be renewed in a year.

The sucessful strike was well supported with drivers from other companies, like BP, who are also Unite members refusing to cross picket lines and even the independent drivers who aren’t in the union supported the strike.

Workers on the picket line told Solidarity the dispute has been building up

Get back to first principles

Published on: Tue, 01/07/2008 - 10:12

Andrew Fisher

The left in Britain is in crisis. Recent years have seen the tensions caused by this crisis tear through the Socialist Alliance, the Scottish Socialist Party and Respect. Other projects have been even less successful.

Within the Labour Party orbit, all left organisations are facing tensions between the Party and the movement — often to be found diametrically opposed. Even the amorphous quasi-left Compass grouping has divided recently.

Those of us who are in the LRC should take no pleasure from any of these developments — our own organisation is divided on its orientation to the Labour Party.

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