Socialist Worker

An attempt to strangle Respect at birth

Issue No. 1952

New Labour has infanticide in mind. Respect was born a healthy infant. Now New Labour wants it removed by any means.

Respect is a threat to Blair and the establishment. The great hope Blair offered the ruling class was to remove any idea of working class politics from the political arena. This is now at risk.

This is what lies behind the assault on George Galloway, and beyond him Respect. More is going to follow because it is the instinctive reaction of New Labour and their establishment chums on both sides of the Atlantic. Every radical force in British politics has had to weather such a storm.

Our one great strength is our ability to build at the grassroots. We must not be deflected from that task. Every Respect supporter has to act as an ambassador in their community, building support for the new party and recruiting members.

European opt-out

Blair’s sick effort to keep us working more

It was “the biggest diplomatic effort outside wartime”, according to European TUC general secretary John Monks. Tony Blair personally called European leaders to rally support.

What was this mammoth diplomatic effort in aid of? Not to write off Third World debt, not to bring food or shelter to people stricken by floods or famine, not to free political prisoners.

Blair’s unparalleled exertion was a bid to preserve Britain’s opt-out from the maximum 48-hour working week that is in force across Europe.

Despite Blair’s pleading, the European parliament voted to scrap the opt-out clause negotiated by former Tory prime minister John Major. The vote left Blair united with the bosses’ CBI organisation.

With the opt-out clause in place, bosses have been able to pressure workers to sign away their rights to a maximum 48-hour week. Many workers feel they have no choice — low pay forces them to work hours of draining overtime to get by.

We need a limit on working time and a fight for decent pay. Blair’s third term is about delivering for the bosses, not for working people.

Free Ocalan

Decision is recognition of Kurds’ oppression

The European Court of Human Rights has intervened to insist on a retrial for the Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan. Ocalan was kidnapped from exile in Kenya six years ago and brought to Turkey for a show trial.

His conviction was a foregone conclusion. Ocalan’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He has been held in isolation, the sole occupant in a high security prison.

At the time of his arrest the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which he leads had called a ceasefire in its guerrilla war against the Turkish state, and asked for negotiations.

Turkey seeks to deny the existence of its 12 million Kurdish population, prosecuting a vicious war against the Kurds. Its failure to take up the PKK’s olive branch has meant that war has resumed.

Turkey is a key US ally. The court’s judgement is a rare recognition of Turkey’s oppression of the Kurds. Since his kidnapping this paper has called for freedom for Ocalan. We repeat that call.

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What We Think
Sat 21 May 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1952
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