Solidarity 201, 20 April 2011

Misrata: our Guernica, our Srebrenica

On 18 April anti-Qaddafi rebels in Misrata — Libya's third-largest city, and the main city held by rebels in the west of the country — were reported as saying that without outside aid the city would soon fall to its month-long siege by Qaddafi's army.

They said that there had been no NATO air strikes on the siege troops for three days.

Cameron slaps Lib Dems, woos racist vote

On 14 April, David Cameron tried to firm up the Tory vote for 5 May with a hardline speech on immigration and on welfare cuts.

The speech was made to an invited audience of Tory activists in a small town, but pushed to the press so that it would get front-page headlines. (Daily Mail: “PM savages Labour's open-door policy”).

Lib-Dem leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said he saw the speech in advance and “noted rather than approved” it. Lib-Dem business minister Vince Cable, more irritably, told the BBC that the speech was “very unwise”.

Teachers set to strike on 30 June

If all goes to plan the conference of the National Union of Teachers (22-26 April) will vote to ballot union members on taking strike action to defend pension rights.

If they do there is every chance that they will be joined by college lecturers’ union UCU and civil servants’ union in co-ordinated strike action. The NUT may also be joined by other teaching unions, ATL and NASUWT.

"Forward to the past" is no answer for Labour

“Family, faith and flag” is being promoted as Labour’s new big idea.

Nostalgia for a time when men were men, the church had more social control, and England used to win World Cups is patently ridiculous. But nostalgia can be a strong political force — a negative one.

Students shifting left?

At the 2011 National Union of Students conference, 12-14 April, the minority votes against the leadership on a national demo and on universal grants were very strong.

Industrial news in brief

GMB members at Nottinghamshire County Council have voted 6 to 1 in favour of industrial action in an indicative ballot. A full ballot for strike action will now follow.

Workers at the council are facing a pay cut equivalent to 12%, comprised of several individual cuts. Many of these cuts are already in place.

BA strikes on hold

Unite has put the brakes on potential industrial action as it enters into new “exploratory” talks with British Airways management.

In late March, workers voted by 83% (on a 72% turnout) to take further strike action in a dispute which has stretched over two years. That most recent ballot gave Unite a mandate to call action by 15 April, but according to a union statement BA bosses have agreed to grant the union a month’s extension while talks take place.

Dublin 1913

The Dublin Labour War was one of the great battles of the working class. In 1913, under the leadership of Jim Larkin, the working class of Dublin was making Dublin one of the best organised cities in the world.

Dublin’s slums were officially admitted to be among the worst in the British Empire. Infant mortality was higher there than in Calcutta. During the 1914-18 war, a British Army recruiting leaflet would tell the workers of Dublin that the war trenches of France were healthier than the slums of Dublin! But now the workers were on the move.

The many sides of Malcolm X

Manning Marable, US academic and longstanding member of Democratic Socialists of America, died on 1 April, three days before the release of his book Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. Dan Katz looks at Marable’s account.

Malcolm X was gunned down by former comrades of the Nation of Islam (NoI) on 21 February 1965, aged 39.

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