Solidarity 161, 22 October 2009

Against Islamism and Fascism — for Secularism and Workers' Unity (London, 31 October)

Published on: Thu, 22/10/2009 - 16:26

Ira Berkovic

Protest against "Islam4UK" and "EDL: St George's Division" - 1-2pm, Saturday 31 October, Edith Cavell statue, St Martin's Place, London WC2 (between National Portrait Gallery and St Martin's In The Fields).

Facebook event here

On 31 October, two groups of bigoted reactionaries will take to the streets of London to promote their racist, oppressive and anti-working class worldviews.

“Islam4UK”, a political Islamist organisation descended from the now-illegal Al-Muhajiroun, has called a “March for Sharia”. They will exhort Muslims to demand the “imposition” of Sharia law on the whole of the UK.

Stop the English Defence League in Leeds on 31 October. Learn lessons from Manchester.

Published on: Thu, 22/10/2009 - 16:00

A counter-demonstrator

On 10 October, the far-right English Defence League got more than 500 people onto the streets of Manchester, and had more or less a free run of the city centre. That set a very dangerous precedent.

Estimates of the number of anti-racist protesters differ. There were many outside the 400 or so cordoned into Piccadilly Gardens by police, but those outside were unorganised. Photographs taken from local skyscrapers make claims of 2,000 anti-racists difficult to credit.

There was little presence from trade unions, ethnic minorities, and even the Asian community. The anti-EDL mobilisation was mostly

Primary schools: another way of educating

Published on: Thu, 22/10/2009 - 15:29

Pat Yarker

For the past three years a team from Cambridge University comprising fourteen lead-authors and scores of researchers has undertaken the most comprehensive and thorough-going analysis of the state of Britain’s Primary education service since the ground-breaking Plowden Report of 1967. The team published their Final Report on 16 October. Democracy is its key theme.

It cannot be an accident that the Cambridge Primary Review is one of the most democratically-based pieces of academic labour ever carried out in Britain. The team produced 31 Interim Reports looking at, among other things, the primary

Egypt: the rise of the working class

Published on: Thu, 22/10/2009 - 15:15

Atef Said

In April 2009, a familiar scenario was repeated, as Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s police apparatus assaulted planned demonstrations and a Mahalla textile workers’ strike. A year earlier, many activists and ordinary people from Mahalla received sentences in politically charged criminal trials for “planning the 6 April strike in 2008.”

Despite the involvement of police personnel and government-led thugs in the destruction of the city in 2008, the emergency court sentenced 22 ordinary people from Mahalla to two- to three-year prison terms. This factor, along with the police occupation of

Italy: Berlusconi, Craxi and P2

Published on: Thu, 22/10/2009 - 15:03

Hugh Edwards

Over the last four months Italy’s right-wing government has been increasingly threatened by the fallout from the sex scandals surrounding Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi. Are we now seeing a serious political and constitutional crisis?

It all began with typically arrogant denials and outrageous lies about Berlusconi’s relationship with a 17-year-old model. Then one sordid detail followed another. A squalid bacchanalia furtively lived behind the walls of the baroque palaces of a government presided over by a man formally pledged to the public service of “God, Family, Country”.

Berlusconi has

Labour Representation Committee: a chance to regain momentum

Published on: Thu, 22/10/2009 - 14:50

The Labour Representation Committee, a Labour-left group sponsored by six trade unions and associated with John McDonnell MP, holds its conference on 14 November.

According to LRC: "The original Labour Representation Committee was formed in 1900 to fight for political representation for the Labour Movement. In Britain today we face a similar crisis of representation. The task for today's LRC, founded in 2004, is to fight for power within the Labour Party and trade unions and to appeal to the tens of thousands who have turned away from Labour in disillusion and despair".

Some LRC insiders,

Labour Party conference: "the best for thirty years"

Published on: Thu, 22/10/2009 - 14:44

Martin Thomas

A Labour Party activist long centrally involved in battles for democracy in the party spoke to Martin Thomas about the vote at Labour Party conference this year to have OMOV (direct election) for the constituency places on the National Policy Forum.

This was the best thing that has happened at conference for thirty years. The unions and the constituency parties united and took on the whole party machine and won.

That hasn't happened for a long time. It was fundamental if only as a symbolic issue: the constituencies and the unions united against the party machine.

What happens now depends on

Glasgow North East By-election: three contests underway

Published on: Thu, 22/10/2009 - 14:34

Dale Street

The Glasgow North East by-election, triggered by the resignation of the sitting Labour MP and House of Commons Speaker Michael Martin, will take place on 12 November.

There will be three contests in this election.

• To win the election (Labour is the favourite against the SNP).

• Between the “candidates of the left” and the BNP.

• And rivalry between the left candidates.

Michael Martin stepped down at the height of last summer’s scandal over MPs’ expenses, after facing sustained attack for his failure to be critical of MPs who had milked the Commons expenses system and after trying to

New row in the Socialist Workers Party

Published on: Thu, 22/10/2009 - 13:53

Tom Unterrainer

Isaac Deutscher made a career out of divining the twists and turns in the Stalinist Russian state apparatus. Alongside his much praised but flawed biography of Trotsky he produced several apologias — posing as rational analysis — for the USSR.

His success, his plausibility, was in large part a function of a certain literary flair combined with sufficient chutzpah to fabricate what he — and everyone else outside of the ruling clique of Stalinist Russia — could not possibly know. There’s a certain temptation to replicate his method when dealing with the latest manifestation of crisis in the

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