Dated: 19 Jun 2004
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THE 10 JUNE election results are a mass rebellion against the major parties in British politics. The Labour Party got its lowest ever vote, after over 100 years of promising ordinary people that it would make their lives better.
ACCUMULATED BITTERNESS with Labour and alienation from the main parties burst out in last week's elections. For the first time more than half of those who voted did not back one of the two main parties.
The Respect vote around the country Lindsey German, Respect candidate for London mayor, wins fifth place-beating the British National Party and others London mayoral elections (first preferences)
Respect was launched just 20 weeks ago. It was almost totally excluded by the media. Yet it scored some big successes.
Grassroots campaigns that built an anti-war alternative to New Labour
In Birmingham and other areas Respect got a significant vote. Activists explain why
"ELECTIONS 2004. The year we break through." That was the boast on the Nazi British National Party's (BNP) website throughout the election. Instead they suffered a big setback last week. The BNP's leader Nick Griffin had invited the French Nazi Le Pen over to Britain in April to plan how they could work together when Griffin became MEP for the north west of England.
"WHY IS this still going on so many years after the case of Stephen Lawrence? I don't think the police have learned the lessons. It's been swept under the carpet." So says Michael Abatan, brother of Jay, a black man who died after being attacked by a gang of white men in Brighton on 24 January 1999. The family have spent the last five years trying to get justice for Jay. Jay's death came two months after the inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
Stop the BNP Corey Johnson
IMMENSE AND dogged pressure by firefighters has forced their union leaders to stop a headlong retreat in the face of employers' demands to slash conditions. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) executive last week voted unanimously to reject the employers' wording on new arrangements for night shifts and bank holidays.
RMT MEMBERS on the Mitcham Belle bus company in south London struck for union recognition on Monday of this week. They are also set to strike on Monday and Tuesday of next week. Union members voted by 69 to four in favour of strike action after management refused to negotiate with the RMT.
NEWHAM COUNCIL has been forced to back off again over its attacks on the Unison union. Workers have been fighting against council bosses' attempts to derecognise Unison. The New Labour-run council evicted the union from its offices, banned us from putting out our own publicity materials and stopped union officers having any facility time.
DO YOU fancy working until you are 72...or even 86? That's the prospect for young workers according to research released last week. Consultants Hewitt, Bacon and Woodrow found that the low level of the state pension and huge cuts in pensions which companies have pushed though have created a poverty time bomb.
THE LECTURERS' union Natfhe has called a boycott of links with London Metropolitan University after management issued dismissal notices to 387 academic staff. The boycott, called by Natfhe's higher education national committee, is the first step in what union activists hope will be determined resistance. Other university bosses are looking to see if LMU is able to get away with its bullying tactics.
AMBULANCE WORKERS in the north east of England are threatening to take industrial action over management plans to stop paying them during meal breaks. The threat of action, which could take the form of an overtime ban, is another blow against Agenda for Change-New Labour's planned shake-up of the NHS. Under Agenda for Change every NHS worker would be put on a new contract. The North East Ambulance Service is one of 12 Early Implementer sites testing the scheme.
THE CONFERENCE of the CWU post and telecom workers' union began on Sunday-but bureaucratic manoeuvres immediately forced off the agenda the issue which many activists regard as crucial. The question of the union's relation with Labour and the possible democratisation of the political fund were due to be discussed on the first day.
THE CONFERENCE of the PCS civil servants' union last week saw complete opposition to the New Labour government's plans for pay, job cuts and pensions. Over the last year the union has grown to 310,000 members from 292,000 last July. That's because we have fought over issues such as pay. The left overwhelmingly won recent elections to the national executive.
OVER 200 laggers and engineering workers were on unofficial strike at the beginning of this week at the Aberthaw power station in South Wales. They walked out on Friday 4 June after their employers said they would not be employed on national "blue book" terms and conditions.
MEMBERS OF the journalists' NUJ union struck on Friday of last week at the Blackpool Evening Gazette, the Fleetwood Weekly News and Lytham St Anne's Express over pay. They are protesting at a new pay structure that would leave fully qualified senior journalists earning only a little over £16,000.
STALL HANDLERS in the TGWU union have forced their RaceTech bosses to back down over cuts in their allowances and expenses. The stall handlers, who work on race courses, struck two weeks ago, hitting several race meetings including Royal Ascot.
THE ELECTIONS across Europe showed the same phenomenon-people punishing the government, whether it was centre right or centre left. In France the opposition Socialist Party took 30 percent of the vote as the right wing governing party of president Jacques Chirac slumped to 16.8 percent.
A catastrophe is unfolding in western Sudan Charlie Kimber explains why
WHY SHOULD right wing commentators froth at the mouth over one decade? They certainly did so last Saturday night, during the second of BBC4's series of weekends devoted to the 1960s.
TONY BLAIR is trying to explain away Labour's humiliation in the 10 June elections by portraying it as a passing "protest vote" against the war in Iraq. He had been trying endlessly to "move on" from Iraq. Now New Labour is prepared to talk about the war-but only to dismiss the views of its opponents. Nevertheless, the government is now admitting that the Iraq war is a major reason for its unpopularity.
THIS WEEK'S Socialist Worker is a must for everyone who has been involved in the Respect campaign or who voted Respect. It gives the results, the analysis and the arguments about the future that you will not read anywhere else. You can't rely on the BBC-they switched from the elections to Top Gear just as the European results were coming out!
VETERANS OF the Second World War rightly remembered this month the suffering in the D-Day landings 60 years ago. But the official D-Day celebrations peddled a double myth. First, that the leaders of Britain and the US were driven by principled opposition to fascism. Second, that it was the intervention of the British and the US military that was decisive in beating Germany.
On 2 March, over 270 Iraqis were massacred in a series of horrific bomb attacks in Kerbala and Baghdad. The BBC's Six O'Clock News devoted less than ten seconds to the atrocity. By contrast, the Madrid train bombings on 11 March, which killed around 200 people, received continuous, impassioned coverage for more than two weeks.
TONY BLAIR has always sought his "place in history" and now he has achieved it-by steering Labour to one of its worst ever electoral perfomances. In last week's council elections Labour came third with just 24 percent. The European elections were, it is true, different. They were even worse. Here Labour polled only 23 percent.
Trade unionism is among the earliest and longest lasting forms of working class organisation. It arises from workers' need for mutual solidarity to deal with the twin pressures of a competitive "labour market" and employers' power in the workplace.
Support kept our strike going strong GLASGOW'S NURSERY nurses returned to their workplaces on Monday of last week, heads held high and retaining the dignity they have shown throughout their 14 weeks of strike action. Many were in tears, some were relieved, but the overwhelming emotion was one of anger at having been bullied and starved back to work by a Thatcherite Glasgow city council threatening to sack us with anti-union laws!