Solidarity 178, 29 July 2010

Unemployment: no fairy tale endings

Published on: Thu, 29/07/2010 - 17:21

Cath Fletcher

Out of work? Stuck on benefits? Not any more, thanks to Channel 4’s Fairy Job Mother. This latest contribution to the new TV genre of ‘’austerity chic’’ aims to get people off the dole and into a job. With the help of a spot of life-coaching and a new haircut. Yes, that’s what you need to beat unemployment in the world of Con-Dem cuts.

This is, more or less, Supernanny for grown-ups, and sees loud Yorkshirewoman Hayley Taylor (previously on that other Channel 4 recession’s-topical-isn’t-it series Benefit Busters) descend on a different household each week, for a three-week period. She even

Christoper Hitchens: never one of us

Published on: Thu, 29/07/2010 - 17:07

Tom Unterrainer

Any number of questions popped into my mind whilst reading Hitch-22 – Christopher Hitchens’ recently published memoir – but two in particular kept coming back. The first: was Hitchens really ever “one of us”? The second: would it be easier to convince a Hitchens admirer or one of his mortally hostile “left wing” critics of my politics? Why did these questions keep coming back?

There’s an enviable amount to admire in Hitchens’ journalistic and other written output; some of the positions he defends overlap with most rational socialists’ instinctual sympathies and there are few public figures who

Labour leadership contest: why we shouldn't support Diane Abbott

Published on: Thu, 29/07/2010 - 16:59

The AWL’s national committee thought we should argue for a critical vote for Diane Abbott in the Labour leadership contest. But not everyone agrees.

“We should propagandise for a spoilt ballot”

No-one in the AWL is claiming Abbott to be a decent or even passable candidate. We recognise her candidacy was in some way a buffer to stop a serious class-fighter like John McDonnell getting on the ballot. But we over-estimate any advantages in using her candidacy as a propaganda tool; and she doesn’t talk about the things we use as reasons to support her.

One of the main arguments in her favour in Vo

Private public service providers: making a killing

Published on: Thu, 29/07/2010 - 16:32

Darren Bedford

This government, made up of parties with an historical, ideological commitment to the rule of markets has come to power against the backdrop of an economic crisis. They will make cuts and it is inevitable that they will try to expand public sector privatisation and outsourcing under the cover of this crisis.

Contracting out provision of public services — waste management, housing or education, for example — is an easy way to cut without seeming to cut and to absolve central or local government of responsibility for the quality of service or the working conditions of those who provide those

Black people in the US: inequality rising, workers' solidarity needed

Published on: Thu, 29/07/2010 - 16:18

Dan Katz

Dan Katz looks at the impact of the economic crisis on black people in the USA and the political response of the Obama administration.

The terrible legacy of slavery, and the Jim Crow segregation which followed, still weighs heavily on black America.

In June 2010 the Equal Justice Initiative issued a report on racial discrimination in US jury selection. 135 years after the 1875 Civil Rights Act was supposed to eliminate such practices the EJI found:

“Prosecutors have struck African Americans from jury service because they appeared to have ‘low intelligence,’ wore eyeglasses, walked in a

Germany: "A perfect time for a working-class offensive"

Published on: Thu, 29/07/2010 - 16:12

Daniel Randall

Wladek Flakin, of the German section of the Revolutionary Internationalist Organisation, discusses opportunities and obstacles facing the German working class with Daniel Randall of Workers’ Liberty.

What austerity measures does the government plan?

They plan to cut 80 billion from the federal budget over the next 10 years. The cuts effect different sections of the working class in different ways. There are supposed to be 15,000 job cuts in the federal bureaucracy, combined with a wage freeze. There are also massive attacks on unemployed people: unemployed workers will no longer be eligible

Unite General Secretary election: we need a union fit for purpose

Published on: Thu, 29/07/2010 - 15:57

Branches and workplace reps’ committees of the union Unite are holding meetings to decide whom to nominate to take over as Unite General Secretary. Nominations have to be made by early September, and the election itself will take place in late October/early November.

Unite is Britain’s biggest union (with a claimed membership of two million). The result of the election will impact not just on Unite but also on the broader trade union movement and — as Unite is Labour’s biggest union affiliate — on the Labour Party as well.

Les Bayliss

One right-wing candidate is Les Bayliss. Backed by the

Labour leadership election: vote Miliband for torture!

Published on: Thu, 29/07/2010 - 15:23

Ann Mack

Your grandfather fought in the Red Army in the years immediately following the October Revolution. Your father was a Marxist academic renowned for his critique of the Labour Party as a party obsessed with parliamentary politics which always prostrated itself before the capitalist status quo when in power. So what do you do to maintain the family tradition?

Well, if your name is David Miliband, you stand for election to the position of Labour Party leader as the standard-bearer of the Blairite right-wing, you say nothing about how to combat Tory/Lib-Dem attacks on the working class, and you

Labour Executive moves to limit review of party structures

Published on: Thu, 29/07/2010 - 15:18

Rhodri Evans

The Labour Party’s National Executive has moved to limit the review of Labour Party structures which is promised to start from October 2010 to a mere consultation on details of the existing ultra-undemocratic structures, pushed onto the party by Tony Blair after his election victory in 1997.

Despite all the talk from David Miliband, and even more so the other candidates for Labour leader, about “moving on” from New Labour, the Labour Party machine is clearly still as “New Labour” (i.e. undemocratic, bureaucratic, manipulative, distant from the labour movement) as ever.

The widespread feeling

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