Solidarity 171, 16 April 2010

Network Rail and courts stop rail strike: abolish the anti-union laws!

Published on: Fri, 16/04/2010 - 17:10

Darren Bedford

Network Rail bosses’ successful use of anti-trade union laws to undermine a planned strike by signallers was the latest in a recent spate of actions by employers (particularly in the rail industry) that have seen High Court injunctions become a default bosses’ response to any big strike.

The first planned strike by British Airways cabin crew workers was also declared illegal in a similar way.

In both cases, employers cited “irregularities” with the balloting process as their reason for seeking the injunctions, and the courts agreed that the ballots had indeed been “irregular”. But what does

Unite Against Fascism gives platform to anti-semites

Published on: Fri, 16/04/2010 - 16:58

David Kirk

On 30 March in Bradford there was a Unite Against Fascism meeting organised by a SWP member called “Muslim Youth Against EDL, BNP and Islamophobia”.

The advertised speakers included some from the Lib Dems, Respect and the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (MPAC).

For those unacquainted with MPAC this sounds like a pretty bog standard line up for a UAF event: ruling class politicians and unelected “community leaders” who have nothing to say about the poverty and unemployment facing working class youth in Bradford.

However, despite its bland name, MPAC is not just another conservative,

Why won't the SWP and Socialist Party join the SCSTF?

Published on: Fri, 16/04/2010 - 16:48

Martin Thomas

Why won’t the SWP and the Socialist Party join the Socialist Campaign to Stop the Tories and Fascists? The SCSTF links a Labour vote, to keep out the Tories, with a fight for the labour movement to assert itself for working-class policies against the New Labour gang.

SCSTF says plainly that we want Labour to win this election, but we also want the unions and working-class activists to fight Brown and create the basis for a government which will be accountable to the labour movement and serve the working class as the Tories and New Labour have served the rich.

Don’t the SP and the SWP agree?


Poll Tax anniversary: why Dukes pay more than dustmen

Published on: Fri, 16/04/2010 - 16:37

The “poll tax” — a flat rate system of taxation designed to replace local government rates — was introduced by Margaret Thatcher's government in Scotland in April 1989, a year before its introduction in England and Wales. By the election of 1992 the Tories had withdrawn the tax. Because thousands of working-class people could not, or would not pay the tax, some going to jail because of that refusal, the Tories were forced to back down. One important turning point in the anti-poll tax movement was a clash between demonstrators and police in London on Saturday 31 March 1990.

The poll tax had

Debate: The Irish Workers Group: the "national question" and the test of the Provo war

Published on: Fri, 16/04/2010 - 16:18

Sean Matgamna

I want to make an addendum to my article on the “Irish national question” in the last issue of Solidarity (3/170).

Statement of Workers' Fight, a forerunner of the AWL, after our offices were raided by the Special Branch in 1973.

One implication of Rayner Lysaght’s story that “the national question” was a major, remote or immediate, cause or precipitant of the break-up of the Irish Workers’ Group is that our side in the final dispute — the one for which I acted as spokesman — was somehow remiss in its commitment to the cause of Irish freedom. Not so!

We were, or at least some of us were,

Phyllis Jacobson

Published on: Fri, 16/04/2010 - 16:00

Phyllis Jacobson died on 2 March, aged 87, after a protracted illness. She was a veteran of the socialist and Trotskyist movement in the US. Together with her husband Julius Jacobson she was a member of the Workers’ Party (later the Independent Socialist League). Later in life she helped produce the New Politics journal (both the first series which ended production in 1976, and when it was revived ten years later).

Tributes will shortly appear on the New Politics website:

The life, times and ideas of Antonio Gramsci

Published on: Fri, 16/04/2010 - 15:55

Martin Thomas

Antonio Gramsci arrived as a student at Turin University in 1911 and joined the Socialist Party in 1914. He had had a difficult struggle to get to university — his family was poor — and while at university suffered very bad health.

Turin was one of the foremost industrial cities of Italy. Its population had increased from 338,000 to 430,000 between 1901 and 1911, with the growth of the great car factories such as Fiat.

Turin and a few other northern cities were, however, the exception in Italy. Overall Italy was not much more industrialised than Russia. Only about 12% of the employed

Was Brecht a misogynist and fraudster?

Published on: Fri, 16/04/2010 - 15:41

Peter Burton

Bertold Brecht is well known for his plays, poems, short stories and contributions to theatre theory and practice. His influence is also extensive in the films of Lars von Trier, Werner Fassbinder, Nagisa, Oshima, Ritwik, Ghatak and Jean Luc Godard.

Yet since the publication of John Fuegi’s biography of Brecht in 1994 — Brecht and Company — a debate has raged about whether Brecht was a fraud, with perhaps as much as 80% of “his” writing being the work of others, most notably three women — Elisabeth Hauptmann, Greta Steffen and Ruth Berlau.

Fuegi’s central argument is that Brecht had neither

Sixties radicals and the Holocaust

Published on: Fri, 16/04/2010 - 15:27

Stan Crooke

Stan Crooke reviews Utopia or Auschwitz – Germany’s 1968 Generation and the Holocaust by Hans Kundnani.

Kundnani argues that the wave of radicalism which swept through (parts of) Germany in the mid to late 1960s had an “ambivalent relationship” to the country’s Nazi past, and that this “ambivalent relationship” also found expression in the “Red-Green” coalition governments elected in 1998 and 2002.

German radicals of the 1960s differed in some basic aspects of their politics from their counterparts in other European countries. They were more influenced by the writings of the Frankfurt School

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