Dated: 27 Apr 2002
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Mass protests erupt to stop Le Pen's Nazis
THE NAZI British National Party is hoping to repeat the success of Jean-Marie Le Pen. Local council elections take place on Thursday of next week. Anti-Nazis in the areas targeted by the BNP are stepping up their campaign. They are appealing for support from across Britain. That support needs to flood in to isolate the Nazis.
A CARNIVAL of resistance to privatisation and war is set to take place on Wednesday of next week. That is the 1 May march through the streets of central London. The campaign to "Make May Day our day" has been taken up by thousands of trade unionists, anti-capitalists and anti-war campaigners.
THE SCOTTISH Trades Union Congress (STUC) met in Perth last week against a background of rising bitterness with New Labour. The conference opened with a stage managed attempt to paper over the cracks between the unions and the government.
"IT'S BEEN fantastic," was how one of the striking journalists in the Guardian Media Group in Manchester summed up the start of a round of strikes over pay last week. Some 27 journalists who work on weekly papers across north Manchester and Salford were on strike again on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
THE LEFT wing challenger to Sir Ken Jackson in the leadership election for the AEEU section of the Amicus union has already notched up 90 nominations from union branches. Derek Simpson is challenging Blair's favourite union leader Sir Ken Jackson to become joint leader of Amicus, Britain's second biggest union.
NEW LABOUR failed to push through attacks on internal democracy at last week's National Union of Students conference. It also suffered an unprecedented defeat when it tried to pose a graduate tax as an alternative to progressive taxation.
OVER 2,000 people marched in support of the Palestinians in Birmingham last Saturday. The march was organised by the newly formed Birmingham Joint Committee on Palestine. It was even bigger than the march and rally in Birmingham last December against the war in Afghanistan.
Victory against Labour flagship COUNCIL WORKERS at New Labour's flagship council in Newham, east London, were celebrating a victory on Monday of this week. The victory came the day before the 2,500 workers were set to strike because the council had derecognised their Unison union. But on Monday the council backed down and signed an agreement to negotiate with the union.
POSTAL WORKERS' union leaders were poised this week to call national strikes. The action will officially be over pay and conditions. But it will also focus the bitter anger against job losses, speed-up, harder working and privatisation. Delivery, sorting and driving workers voted overwhelmingly for national strikes over pay nearly three months ago.
PRESSURE FOR action over pay next month is spreading to major groups of workers. Council workers in the Unison union are balloting for strikes over London weighting, the payment to cover the extra cost of living in the capital. This would begin with a 24-hour stoppage on 14 May. Post workers are pushing for strikes in pursuit of their national pay claim (see left).
BOSSES OF three train operating companies have retreated after strikes or the threat of strikes. Silverlink, which runs trains in north London, upped its pay offer to 4 percent for this year, with a 35-hour week from this winter. Freight company EWS agreed to cut the length of its drivers' shifts.
SHOCK AT the election result in France has been quickly matched by a huge explosion of anger on the streets. The wave of demonstrations, hardly reported in British newspapers, shows how the Nazi Le Pen can be crushed. Established politicians were merely telling people to vote for the right wing Chirac.
FRANCE'S PRESIDENTIAL election was the result of mass disillusionment with five years of government by the Socialist Party and its coalition allies, the Greens and the Communists. The vote for Jean-Marie Le Pen was terrible, with just over four and a half million people backing the Nazi leader. But it was almost exactly the same vote Le Pen got in the last presidential election in 1995.
It is not just ordinary people who have been shocked by the French election result. Establishment politicians across Europe too have been shaken. These politicians agree the only solution to the danger of Le Pen is to unite behind Tory candidate Jacques Chirac in the election run-off on 5 May. Chirac is almost certain to be elected.
I CAME face to face with the global ruling class last week. Along with others from the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, I was sitting in the annual general meeting of Britain's biggest corporation, BP. We became BP shareholders to protest at the company's role in Colombia. Alongside the protest, the event shattered the myths that supporters of capitalism push about how their system works.
ISRAEL'S WAR on the Palestinians is spreading convulsions across the Arab world. Popular outrage from Morocco, on the Atlantic coast of North Africa, to Jordan, in the heart of the Middle East, is pouring out against the US and Israel. More worrying for the corrupt rulers of the Arab regimes, anger on university campuses and on the streets is turning against them too. This is all taking place in a region which the world's most powerful state, the US, sees as vital to its global domination.
IS NEW Labour retreating from an election pledge it made to introduce laws to stop bosses getting away with murder? Valerie Keating is the Home Office official in charge of the proposed legislation.
SOCIALISTS argue for people to break with the Labour Party. Yet at the same time they spend a lot of time seeking to work alongside Labour Party members. Why should we campaign with Labour Party MPs and councillors to defend council housing when it is the Labour Party that is attempting to push through privatisation?
HOW HAS the media failed to inform audiences about events in Palestine?
"WE discovered there were differences in the language used to describe Israeli and Palestinian actions. We found that words like "murder", "savage", "cold blooded killing" and "atrocities" were only being used by journalists to describe Israeli deaths, not deaths of Palestinians. So there was a clear difference.
THE SUN claimed that Gordon Brown's budget last week "smacks of red blooded socialism and redistribution of wealth". As ever, the paper was completely wrong. Brown made only the smallest move towards increasing tax to give more to the NHS.
Saturday 27 April No to war on Iraq, justice for Palestine. Demonstrate, 11am, George Square, Glasgow. Speakers include George Galloway and Tommy Sheridan. Called by Scottish Coalition for Justice Not War.
"EARTHQUAKE"-that was how French newspapers reacted to Jean-Marie Le Pen's success in the presidential elections. He came second with more votes than Lionel Jospin, the equivalent of Tony Blair. Le Pen is a Nazi. He described the Holocaust and the murder of six million Jews as a mere "detail of history".
Just a number to BT's bosses I AM one of BT's workers who is waiting anxiously to discover whether I will be included among the 18,000 jobs to go over the next three years. That is almost one in five of the workforce. It is at times like this that you really know you count for nothing, and are always capable of being sacrificed to the banks, the management and the gyrations of the international telecoms markets.
DIFFERENT ideas about how to change the system are being debated in meetings and on the streets. There is a fault line between different strategies for fighting back. It lies between those who seek to change things from above through the actions of leaders and those who look to change things from below through actively engaging the maximum number of people.
The US army helped the Venezuelan military to launch a coup against the country's democratically elected government earlier this month. A Mexican newspaper confirmed last week that US army officer James Rogers helped to lead the coup against the government of Hugo Chavez. The military operations were supported politically by a group of senior White House officials, all veterans of working with Latin American death squads in the 1980s.
"CONSPIRACY TO Murder". That's how Socialist Worker described the role of Sharon, Bush and Blair in the massacre in Jenin. The paper struck a chord across the country. A magnificent 1,105 copies of Socialist Worker were sold on Saturday's mass picket of the Israeli embassy in London, with 53 people joining the SWP.