Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker

Issue: 2100

Dated: 10 May 2008

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Backlash hits New Labour

Simmering anger at years of New Labour policies that promote war, privatisation and inequality boiled over last week as Gordon Brown presided over his party’s worst local election results in decades.

International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other


May Day marches round Britain

Thousands of people celebrated International Workers’ Day with marches taking place in towns and cities across the country.

Frome demonstration for sacked Butler and Tanner print workers

A demonstration in support of sacked print workers took place last Saturday in Frome in Somerset.

US dockers strike against war

Tens of thousands of dock workers across the west coast of the US struck on 1 May in protest at the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

US air raids fuel Somalia's flames of resistance

Somalia exploded in a wave of riots on Monday in protest at rocketing food price rises.

Reality of the unwinnable war in Afghanistan

The US has announced it will deploy an additional 7,000 soldiers to Afghanistan to plug the gap left by its European allies. This brings the number of US troops in the country to 40,000—the highest since the invasion in 2001.

Death toll rises in Sadr City siege

Over 800 people are feared dead in the poor slums of Baghdad following a brutal month-long siege by US forces and their Iraqi allies.

Anger at Usdaw conference

Delegates gathered at the Usdaw shop workers’ union conference in Blackpool last week. There was notable anger against Labour, especially around Gordon Brown’s removal of the 10p tax rate.

BMA employees to strike over performance related pay

Members of the GMB union who work at the British Medical Association (BMA) have voted overwhelmingly for strike action over an imposed system of performance related pay.

March in defence of union activist Eddie Fleming

Up to 100 people marched through Hastings last Saturday to protest against the sacking of Eddie Fleming, a PCS civil service workers’ union rep, by management at the Hastings Child Support Agency office.

Single status round-up

Leeds Some 200 refuse workers in Leeds took a second day of strike action last Thursday over the implementation of a single status pay deal.

Get behind Shelter workers

Shelter workers struck across the country for 48 hours last week in defence of pay and conditions as well as against dismissals and management bullying.

Michael Rosen: New Labour's private degeneration

As I watched Ken Livingstone’s eyes water at the sight of Boris Johnson giving his victory speech, my feelings of sympathy were halted by the thought of some new signs that have gone up near me. One says, "A stunning new development at the heart of the regeneration of Dalston" and the other says, "Dalston Square – marketing suite open".

Reports round-up

Wybone workers bin their bosses Some 26 workers at the Wybone bin factory in Barnsley have begun striking on Fridays over pay.

Teachers at Withins School in big vote for action

Members of the NUT teachers’ union at Withins School in Bolton were set to strike on Thursday of this week, after a 94 percent vote for action.

St Andrews students protest for affordable accommodation

Students at the University of St Andrews protested on Friday of last week against the closure of Fife Park, one of the university’s two budget halls.

Health workers must throw out pay deal

After two consecutive years of pay cuts the government is telling more than a million health workers that we must tighten our belts yet again with our new pay deal.

Debating the pay fight

Delegates to the PCS civil service workers’ union conference in two weeks’ time will discuss the next stage in the union’s fight for decent pay.

Teachers' union must capitalise on momentum

Teachers in the NUT union are debating their strategy in the fight against Gordon Brown’s pay limit, following their hugely successful national strike on 24 April.

Further education unions reject pay offer

The six further education unions – UCU, GMB, Unison, Unite, ACM and ATL – have rejected a 2.5 percent pay offer.

Birmingham Fujitsu workers to ballot for fight against plant closure

Workers at Fujitsu’s Birmingham site are balloting for action ballot over the company’s plan to export production to Texas.

Pete Doherty and Jon McClure speak out against the BNP

Two of the musicians who played at the recent Love Music Hate Racism (LHMR) carnival attended the Tuesday evening protest against the BNP held outside London’s City Hall.

London anti-Nazi protesters vow to drive BNP out of City Hall

Around 300 people rallied at short notice outside City Hall in London on Tuesday evening to protest against the fascist British National Party (BNP) grabbing a seat on the London assembly in last week’s elections.

Crucial abortion vote on 20 May - mobilise for the demonstration outside parliament

On Tuesday 20 May the first vote on abortion law in 18 years will take place in the House of Commons. Anti abortionists are using the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill to table amendments that attack a woman’s right to choose – including cutting the legal time limit for abortion, imposing a compulsory "cooling off" period and counselling for women seeking abortion and removing the right of women who are carrying a foetus with severe disabilities to have access to abortion.

Packed meeting in parliament backs sacked nurse Karen Reissmann

More than 200 health workers, trade unionists, service users and MPs packed into a room in the House of Commons yesterday to show their support for Karen Reissmann, the Manchester psychiatric nurse and leading union member who was sacked for speaking out against cuts and privatisation.


South Koreans protest on May Day

Some 15,000 people participated in the May Day demonstration in Seoul, the capital of South Korea.

Farmer suicides rise in India

Shocking statistics reveal that the rate of farmer suicides in the Indian state of Maharashtra has gone up in recent years despite continual pledges of state assistance.

Bangladeshi workers win rice

Garment factory bosses in Bangladesh have been forced to hand out sacks of subsidised rice to workers in response to a growing strike wave in protest at rising food prices.

Anger at Burma storm deaths

Storms in Burma had killed tens of thousands, with many thousands more still missing, as Socialist Worker went to press.

Pay struggles shake Egyptian regime

The government of Hosni Mubarak announced last week that all Egyptian public sector workers would receive a 30 percent wage increase as part of an effort to head off growing militancy. Egyptians who work in the informal sector are not included in the rise.

Fight for Bolivia’s future lies behind referendum

Bolivia is at a crossroads once again. A referendum last weekend on increased autonomy for the country’s largest state had one clear purpose – to undermine the democratically elected government of Evo Morales.



Socialists and history: a battle for the past

Why did you decide to write a book about world history?

Why anti-abortionists want to cut the time limit

A major debate on abortion will take place in the House of Commons on Monday 12 May, writes Farah Reza. Amendments to the government’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill will seek to limit women’s access to abortion and MPs have been given a free vote on them.

The beginning of organised violence and the origin of war

In the beginning there was no war. For millions of years, in the Old Stone Age, small bands of hominids (human-like species) roamed across the landscape seeking food by hunting, gathering, and scavenging.

Heathrow Airport expansion plan is big business for Gordon Brown

New Labour’s plans for a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow airport in west London are another example of how the government puts business before people and planet.

Stopping airport expansion

‘If a third runway is built at Heathrow, my house will be directly under the flight path. It would mean a massive increase in noise and pollution.

Haiti: occupation and resistance

The Caribbean country of Haiti has long been a centre of resistance to imperialism and slavery. It was the first black slave colony to rise up and overthrow its overlords, with a revolt led by Toussaint L’Ouverture beginning in 1791. The country declared itself an independent republic in 1804.

Right wing policies to blame for Gordon Brown’s rout

New Labour was thrown into disarray last week after polling its worst election results in 40 years in local council elections in England and Wales and losing the high profile election for London mayor to Tory candidate Boris Johnson.

Has David Cameron revived the Conservatives?

Many people across Britain are horrified at the apparent "resurgence" of the Tory party after last week’s elections.

Movement must counter the Nazis

The fascist British National Party (BNP) managed to grab a London assembly seat last week. The fascists also gained a net ten seats in council elections across the country.

Build the left for the battles that lie ahead

The rout suffered by New Labour on Thursday of last week and the defeat of Ken Livingstone as mayor of London have left millions of people fearful of the prospect of a return to Tory government.

Radical vote squeezed at the ballot box

The closely fought mayoral contest between Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson dominated the London elections – and seriously hampered the Left List’s ability to make an impact.

Ken Livingstone's long march to the right

The underlying assumption behind Ken Livingstone’s campaign for re-election as London’s mayor was that the votes of the left were in the bag, and that his key job was to capture the votes of the right.

Wales: more disaster in Labour’s heartlands

In an echo of the general trend, Labour lost over a quarter of the seats it was defending in the elections in Wales.

Eleven years on from Labour's 1997 victory - how hope turned to despair

The appalling election results last week have sparked a refreshing, if slightly panicked, debate inside the Labour Party.

Nature of Labour is at root of crisis

Every previous Labour government has provoked a major rebellion from the left after it betrayed the hopes that had led to its election.

The failed strategy of reclaiming Labour for the left

The alternative of "reclaiming" Labour has proved a dead end.

Who Says?

‘Labour has become the stupid party – dumb, directionless, depressing.’Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee gives her take on the election aftermath



Honeydripper is set in Alabama in the 1950s and stars Danny Glover. The film is a comic drama about a juke joint run by Tyrone Purvis during the beginnings of the rock and roll era.

The Birthday Party

The Nobel prize for literature winner Harold Pinter’s first full-length play returns to the theatre it made its debut at 50 years ago.

The Red Book

Meaghan Delahunt’s second novel is about the coming together of three very different characters in India.

Chinese Whispers: Exposing the exploitation of migrant workers

John Pilger recently edited a book of articles by investigative journalists including Martha Gellhorn, Robert Fisk, Seymour Hersh and Paul Foot, written over recent decades.

Art In The Age of Steam

Art in The Age of Steam is an exhibition at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool that shows the various ways in which steam train travel has captured the imagination of artists, from its early days in the 19th century through to its decline in the 1960s.

Review of Donald Freed's new play Patient Number One at the York Theatre Royal

It is December 2009. The American Empire's disastrous "war on terror" continues to fuel new terrorist attacks and in the name of "homeland security". The US itself is now under effective martial law.

What We Think

Tony Blair’s malign influence

Time magazine has just revealed a list of who it believes are the 100 most influential people in the world.

Storms and flooding aren't just natural disasters

Thousands dead and more than a million homeless – a grim statistic from Burma in the aftermath of the severe cyclone that hit the country last weekend.

Palestine: 60 years of violent oppression by Israel

Sixty years ago next week the state of Israel was founded through the violent theft of historic Palestine.

Other Categories

Ron Yates

Preston SWP are deeply saddened by the death of Ron Yates. Ron, who was 86, had been a left activist all his life.

Tim: 'playing for laughs'

Tim: Gordon Brown's meltdown


Price of food policies It is a sick irony to see leaders of the world’s trade and finance bodies expressing concern and calling for "action" over rising food prices and the threat of global hunger.

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