Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker


Issue: 1944

Dated: 26 Mar 2005




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Respect’s challenge to New Labour

Left to Tony Blair and Michael Howard we have six weeks of rancid reaction ahead.


International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other

News

Basque activist detained in Belmarsh prison for four years

Iñigo Makazaga, who was on hunger strike this week, is one of Britain’s forgotten political prisoners. A Basque activist, he has been locked up in Belmarsh prison for four years because the Spanish government has applied to extradite him. His lawyer, Gareth Peirce, says evidence against him has simply been fabricated — and warns that Iñigo could face torture if he is returned to Spain.

Michelin workers standing up to the rubber barons

Workers at the Michelin plant in Stoke-on-Trent held a three hour lunchtime demonstration on Tuesday of last week in protest at a paltry pay offer by management.

Marshall Aerospace strike

One hundred and eighty fitters at Marshall Aerospace, Cambridge, struck for 24 hours over pay on Tuesday of last week.

Reports in brief

Holiday pay row derails Central Over 500 conductors on Central Trains struck solidly for 24 hours on Sunday in a dispute over compensation for working on bank holidays over the Christmas period.

Imerys pension cut is thrown out

Senior executives of the pottery company Imerys have refused an offer by the T&G union to negotiate an alternative to pension cuts.

Heathrow baggage handlers’ Easter strike is called off

The T&G union has called off a planned strike by baggage handlers working for Aviance at Heathrow airport.

Row over Lambeth racism inquiry

Instead of acting to implement the findings of a public inquiry into institutional racism, a south London council is trying to use inquiry evidence given by a victimised black worker against him.

Anger as London fire authority moves to cut service

Firefighters in London are to continue their campaign against cuts following a decision by the fire authority to press ahead with closing a station and removing ten pumps from the centre of the city.

Lecturers’ action

Swansea University Lecturers the AUT union are organising protests at the suspension of Colwyn Williamson from Swansea University. The university vice chancellor has used discretionary powers to push through what union activists see as a case of victimisation. Colwyn has been banned from entering university premises and denied access to his university e-mail account.

Defend Council Housing

The ballot papers are out and tenants and leaseholders are beginning to vote on the Arms Length Management Organisation (Almo) proposal for council housing in Haringey.

Defend Asylum Seekers

Some 30 supporters of Bristol Defend Asylum Seekers Campaign, Student Action for Refugees, Respect, Bristol NUT teachers’ union branch and other organisations protested outside Downing Street on Monday.

Strikes off as government retreats on pensions

The threat of a strike by 1.25 million workers this Wednesday, escalating to involve others across the public sector, has forced a climbdown by the New Labour government over pensions.

Michael Rosen: ‘Hold thy bloody hand’

In Shakespeare’s play King Lear we see the old king speaking some incredible sanity just at the moment that he appears to be going mad. He is having visions and sees "the great image of authority" as a "dog obeyed in office".

We’ve marched – now let’s vote to punish Tony Blair

There was a deep feeling on last Saturday’s demonstration that people should use the expected general election to punish Tony Blair.

Voices on the election from the anti-war demo

‘I’m here today with people I work with. It’s about supporting the whole anti-war movement and about being a leftist. This is supposed to be a democracy, but none of the parties are really left wing any more. I voted Labour last time, but this time round I’m definitely voting Respect. It’s a working class vote.’Gus Jakhu, postal worker from Leicester

Anti-war protest round-up

Students occupy their school Hundreds of school students staged a sit-in against the war on Iraq, and to demand the right to protest, at Alexandra Park School, north London, last week.

Huge London protest shows war remains the key issue

The scale of last Saturday’s Stop the War demonstration, which marked the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, far exceeded the expectations of many.

MPs critical of city academies plan

A damning report by a committee of MPs has called on the government to back off from its drive to break up state education through the introduction of city academies. The academy scheme, which is at the centre of New Labour’s education policy, allows private sponsors to take over a school and largely determine its curriculum and ethos.

Black pupils still face exclusion

African-Caribbean children are more than three times as likely to be excluded from school as white pupils, according to independent research done for the government.

Prepare for pensions battles to come after the election

No one can seriously doubt that it was the threat of united strikes in the course of a general election that knocked back New Labour’s attack.

The bottom line in pensions talks with Prescott

New Labour has given way over talks, but it is clear what it wants out of them.

Pensions confrontation has reinvigorated unions

"NUT delegates are to discuss pensions at our conference this weekend," says Kevin Courtney from the NUT in Camden, north London.


International

Torture, murder and resistance in Egypt

Before daybreak on Friday 4 March, police intelligence units arrested men, women and children in Sarandu. They violently beat residents, sparing nobody.

Guatemalan protesters take to streets over Cafta trade deal

Police in Guatemala have shot dead two protesters and wounded others during a demonstration against a new trade agreement. The men were killed on Tuesday of last week, following six days of mass protest.

Political crisis deepens in Nepal

On 1 February the king of Nepal declared a state of emergency. The country was cut off for several days from the outside world as the Royal Nepalese Army severed all telecommunications links.


Comment

Paul Wolfowitz: laughing all the way to the World Bank

In late 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War, US president Lyndon Johnson appointed his secretary of defence, Robert MacNamara, as president of the World Bank.


Features

Britain’s state of war in Northern Ireland

To mark St Patrick’s Day last week, George Bush welcomed the sisters and partner of Robert McCartney to the White House. Robert was the Belfast man murdered outside a bar in January after falling foul of a group of people, including members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

George Galloway’s uncommon view of the House of Commons

I greet visitors to the House of Commons by saying, "Welcome to the scene of many crimes," and then conduct what you could call a "Guy Fawkes" tour of parliament. That’s not because it is some kind of nihilist walkabout — interesting and important things have happened within those walls. It’s because it is a subversive tour, a look at the history that all too often remains hidden.

The 1981 Lee Jeans occupation: women showed how to win

BBC Scotland's recent television programme The Factory brought back wonderful memories of the Lee Jeans occupation of 1981 here in Greenock.

It was all set in motion by Isaac Newton

One hundred years ago Albert Einstein published four papers that began a revolution in science. There are many reasons why socialists might be interested in Einstein. He was a lifelong opponent of militarism and oppression, and he became a committed socialist.

Coming events

Thursday 7 AprilLaunch meeting of ASBO Concern, 7pm, Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London (Euston station).


Reviews

Maria Full of Grace: the reality behind the ‘war on drugs’

Maria, a 17 year old living in rural Columbia, has a monotonous factory job, stripping the thorns off roses which her friend Blanca then packages into romantic bouquets. She shares a cramped concrete house with her sister, infant nephew and mother who demands she hand over her pay.

Remembering Kirsty MacColl’s work and campaigns

Kite, Electric Landlady, Titanic Days and From Croydon to CubaKirsty MacColl

Reviews round-up

The View from Manchester, Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, until 3 April Don McPhee’s exhibition The View from Manchester reflects the lives of ordinary people, encapsulating the world but focusing on the north west of England. What really struck me was the humanitarianism and compassion of his work.


What We Think

Condoleezza Rice rachets up the tension in the Pacific

We caught a glimpse of the real face of the Project for the New American Century last weekend when Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, sent a sharp warning to China.


Other Categories

Letters

Defending a woman’s right to choose Are we going to sit back and watch as politicians, the state and the church use our bodies as an election issue?

Who says?

"There are concerns about the rise of Chinese military spending, and potentially Chinese military power."Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state

Forums, events and film showings

Meetings And Events



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