Solidarity 160, 8 October 2009

Support the postal workers!

Published on: Thu, 08/10/2009 - 16:41

Daniel Randall

As postal workers await the results of their national ballot for strike action, due back on 8 October, regional strikes around the country have remained, in the words of one London postal worker, “very solid.”

“A resounding yes vote in the national ballot is very likely; the big question is whether that’ll force Royal Mail into serious negotiations in and of itself. There’s always the worry that national officers will settle for a deal far short of what people want at a local level.”

This worry is shared by many CWU militants. The current dispute is widely seen by rank-and-file activists as

Brown courts the Daily Mail

Published on: Thu, 08/10/2009 - 16:32

Elaine Jones

Gordon Brown used the opportunity of Labour Party conference to pick on a group of people who are poor, powerless and not much older than children.

Did it make him feel big when he announced “from now on all 16 and 17 year old parents who get support from the taxpayer will be placed in a network of supervised homes”?

Did he feel like a proper pillar of the establishment when he assured the tax paying public that “these shared homes will offer not just a roof over their heads, but a new start in life where they learn responsibility and how to raise their children properly”?

He knew that the

The GMB's amendment on "boycott Israel"

Published on: Thu, 08/10/2009 - 16:12

Martin Thomas

GMB official Richard Ashcough spoke to Solidarity about the GMB’s amendment to the FBU motion, which aimed to target the focus of the boycott onto goods produced in the Occupied Territories. This tactic has some precedent; left-wing Israeli peace campaign Gush Shalom runs a campaign to boycott goods produced in illegal settlements (in Israel, it’s possible to distinguish which goods these are by barcode numbers). GMB officer Richard Ascough said the amendment intended to add some “balance.”

“We were concerned that the FBU motion didn’t criticise Hamas as well as Israeli violence, and we weren

The Fire Brigade Union's case for "boycott Israel"

Published on: Thu, 08/10/2009 - 15:58

Martin Thomas

John McGhee, FBU National Officer, spoke to Martin Thomas about the FBU’s “boycott Israel” motion to TUC Congress.

We’re glad there was debate at the TUC about Palestinian rights. But we think that the boycott of Israeli goods which the FBU motion proposed as its main practical measure would be counterproductive.

British unions could do a great deal in the way of positive solidarity through making links, rather than boycotting. For example, the RMT, when it had a policy of solidarity rather than boycott, organised a demonstration to protest against Israeli Railways’ treatment of Arab workers

Ructions behind the scenes in election talks

Published on: Thu, 08/10/2009 - 15:10

Jack Yates

On 2 October, an internet report claimed that the Communist Party of Britain (Morning Star) had split. CPB general secretary Rob Griffiths and Morning Star editor John Haylett were reported to have quit and started forming a new organisation.

This move was said to have been prompted by a decision by the CPB executive to withdraw from the talks for a “son of No2EU” slate for the general election which have been under way since June, betweeen the CPB, leaders of the rail union RMT, the Socialist Party, and the Alliance for Green Socialism.

The post-No2EU attempt to organise a left challenge to

How the New Anti-Capitalist Party is progressing

Published on: Thu, 08/10/2009 - 14:51

Sacha Ismail

On 4 October, I attended the 70-strong Lille and district conference of the New Anticapitalist Party, the revolutionary socialist party founded in February by activists of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire and many other independent socialists.

The NPA now has about 10,000 members. The LCR had around 3-4,000 members. Discussions centred on the political situation — strike struggles against the Sarkozy regime have fallen away in recent months — and organisational consolidation and development in an organisation where the majority of members are new to socialist groups, with little political

Jack Jones a Russian Spy? Rotten Politics, Not a Spy Story!

Published on: Thu, 08/10/2009 - 13:25

John O'Mahony

According to the official history of MI5, Britain’s spy-hunters considered Jack Jones, the leader of the Transport and General Workers’ Union in the 1970s who died recently, to be a paid agent of the USSR.

What secrets did he pass on to Moscow? Brace yourself for the shock: he passed on secret... Labour Party documents!

Here the “official history” turns into an Eric Ambler or a Graham Greene spy novel. In Greene’s Our Man In Havana, a British agent there, a vacuum cleaner salesman by trade, is paid for what he says are photos of deadly Russian weaponry but are really parts of his vacuum

Workers unite, east and west!

Published on: Thu, 08/10/2009 - 12:58

John O'Mahony

In mid-1984, during the year-long miners’ strike, the Sunday Mirror printed an account of an interview with Solidarnosc leader Lech Walesa in which Walesa appeared to side with Margaret Thatcher against the miners. Socialist Organiser (forerunner of Solidarity) commented. A translation of this article appeared in the underground Trotskyist press in Poland in 1984.

The Sunday Mirror headlined the piece “Why Scargill is wrong — by Lech”. Quite a lot of Solidarnosc’s friends in Britain were shocked and its opponents, semi-opponents and outright enemies — of whom there are a very large number in

Whose city is it anyway?

Published on: Thu, 08/10/2009 - 12:26

Bruce Robinson reviews 'Ground Control: Fear and Happiness in the 21st Century City' by Anna Minton

A few years ago, some of us were leafletting for No Sweat outside the Doc Martens’ shop in the Triangle shopping centre in Manchester, which is pictured on the front of Anna Minton’s book.

After a few minutes, security guards emerged, pointed to metal studs in the pavement and told us we couldn’t stand inside that line as it was private property and part of the Triangle. What had previously been a normal piece of public pavement had been given to the owners of the Triangle as part of the “regeneration” of the area following the 1996 IRA bomb. Nothing which might affect business as usual was

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