Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker

Issue: 2103

Dated: 31 May 2008

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The problem is New Labour

The knives are out for Gordon Brown. New Labour ministers are writhing around trying to explain their party’s deep unpopularity.

International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other


Embryology bill vote defeats threat to women’s rights

Pro-choice activists won a significant victory on Tuesday last week when amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill that sought to lower the legal time limit for abortion were defeated.

How union-sponsored MPs betrayed their backers in abortion vote

Three senior cabinet ministers – Ruth Kelly, Des Browne and Paul Murphy – voted to cut the time limit for legal abortions to just 12 weeks, the lowest limit stipulated in any amendment tabled last week. All three are sponsored by trade unions that are affiliated to the Abortion Rights campaign.

Tories prepare for new assault on abortion law

Many anti-abortionists are hoping for a Tory victory in a future general election in the belief that a David Cameron‑led government will back an renewed attack on abortion rights.

Reports round-up

Workers locked in pay struggle Some 50 workers at Link Lockers in Halesfield, Telford, struck for three days over pay last week – the second action in less than a month.

Local government round-up

Copeland Refuse workers at Copeland council in Whitehaven, Cumbria, were set to start an all out indefinite strike from Tuesday of this week.

Fourth strike at Wybone bin factory

Community union members at Wybone bin factory in Barnsley staged their fourth strike on Friday of last week.

Derby teachers fight academy

Members of the NASUWT teachers’ union at Sinfin Community School in Derby were out on strike on Wednesday of last week in protest against plans to turn the school into an academy.

York striking journalists' quest for real pay justice

A lively and enthusiastic 25-strong picket on Thursday of last week marked the start of a five-day strike over pay by 34 journalists at Newsquest York.

Stepping up the pressure over public sector pay

Over 270,000 members of the PCS civil service workers’ union are set to throw their weight behind the public sector pay revolt.

Blackburn council workers strike over wage cuts

Workers in the Unite union at Blackburn with Darwen council struck on Friday of last week in protest at plans to impose a single status pay structure that would cut some wage packets by thousands of pounds a year.

‘Everything’s going up except the wages we need to put food on the table’

Civil service workers, like all public sector workers, face endemic low pay – contrary to government and media propaganda. A quarter of the PCS union’s members are on £15,000 a year or less.

Schools, testing and myths of intelligence

So evolution "expert" Bruce Charlton has at last discovered why working class students are under-represented at top universities. Is it perhaps the elitist nature of the selection process?

Nottingham student arrested over research on Al Qaida

There is growing outrage over the arrest of Nottingham university student Rizwaan Sabir and staff member Hicham Yezza.

Another death in custody: 'How did my son die?'

Lee Donovan was arrested in Newport, South Wales, at around 10pm on Friday 25 April. He was taken to a police cell in nearby Pontypool at 10.45pm. By 1am the next morning he was dead.

New Unite executive meets

The first executive council (EC) of Unite, the new union formed from the merger of Amicus and the T&G, took office on 1 May and held its first meeting last week.

Gun and knife crime meeting held in Mitcham

Around 130 people gathered in Mitcham, south London, last Saturday, for a discussion and cultural event that addressed the issue of gun and knife crime.

Firefighters' union conference report

There was a strong mood of simmering anger against New Labour at the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) annual conference held in Southport, Merseyside, last week.

Island Homes demonstration

Angry residents’ reps from Island Homes on the Isle of Dogs in east London demonstrated against managing director George Sheerin on Wednesday of last week in protest at the sacking of the resident-led board.

PCS civil service union conference report

The conference of the PCS civil service workers’ union in Brighton last week reaffirmed the union’s commitment to the battles over public sector pay and against the fascist British National Party (BNP) – see pages 2 and 5.

Yunus Bakhsh: three ways to help

Every health worker knows their first duty is to ensure no harm comes to those they are caring for. NHS trusts have a duty of care that is enshrined in law.

Questions for Unison on Yunus Bakhsh

A shocking story is emerging from Yunus’s continuing battle to clear his name within his Unison union.

Let’s give the warmonger George Bush a warm welcome

George Bush is a dangerous and desperate man – and now he is coming to Britain.

US threats to Middle East oil producers backfire on Bush

Seemingly unabashed by his disaster in Lebanon, George Bush sauntered around the Egyptian resort of Sharm el‑Sheikh for the World Economic Forum on the Middle East demanding that Arab countries "mend their ways".

Labour's crackdown on "bad" teachers ignores real issues

Teachers were under attack once again this week. Jim Knight, the schools minister, said that every school has at least one bad teacher who should be "helped" to "move on" to a different job.

Plans to turn pupils into cheap labour

New Labour has found a new way to bring privatisation into education with its plans to scrap pupil referral units and leave young people at the mercy of private companies.

Children’s Commissioner is correct on youth crime

Children’s Commissioner Sir Al Aynsley-Green has come under fire for challenging the trajectory of New Labour’s policies on youth crime.

Raytheon 9 anti-war campaigners on trial for ‘crime’ of solidarity

As Israeli forces were pounding Lebanon in the summer of 2006, nine anti-war activists in Northern Ireland occupied the offices of arms company Raytheon Systems Limited – the UK subsidiary of the US company Raytheon.

Unions throw their weight behind anti-fascist march

Firefighters in the FBU union are the latest group to get behind the national demonstration against the fascist British National Party (BNP) due to take place in London on Saturday 21 June.

Fascists attack students in Rome after university occupation

On Monday students at Rome's La Sapienza university occupied, and stopped Roberto Fiore, leader of the hard line fascist Forza Nuova from addressing a conference. Fiore spent much of the 1980s in Britain, having fled Italy after being sought for involvement in the 1980 bombing of Bologna station which killed 85 people.


Police raid Zimbabwe socialists

The Harare offices of the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) – The Socialist Workers Party's sister organisation in Zimbabwe – were raided yesterday morning by the police.

Class struggle may be the shape of things to come in Italy

The Mayor of Chiaiano called it "civil war". On the northern outskirts of Naples in southern Italy – the population of a town which, ironically, turned out a big vote for the right wing in recent elections – is going toe-to-toe with the new government’s hard-line "security" legislation.

French protests shake up Sarkozy

Nicolas Sarkozy’s election victory in France a year ago was interpreted by some as a neoliberal backlash against the left. But he now finds himself the most unpopular president since records began.

South Africans march against xenophobia

Thousands of immigrants, township activists, trade unionists and others took over the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa, last Saturday, carrying placards such as "Xenophobia hurts like apartheid" and "Zimbabwe is my neighbour".

Lebanon deal is a blow to US power

The lebanese peace deal, negotiated in Doha, Qatar, last week, has cleared the way for Michel Suleiman, the head of the army, to become president of Lebanon.


Don’t overstate gains of the right

Many people on the left are wrapped in gloom at the moment.


Are we seeing the rise of the right?

Voters in Crewe & Nantwich humiliated New Labour last week by handing the Tories their first by-election win over Labour since 1982. The Crewe result followed that of the London and local elections on 1 May, which also saw the Tories giving Labour a drubbing.

Heathrow airport's strange history of evasion and expansion

London’s Heathrow airport is an ever-expanding city state that sucks in workers in the pursuit of profit. It is the world’s busiest international airport and it grows constantly with an accumulation of land, wealth and pollution for the sake of commerce.

Promises to limit Heathrow expansion broken and broken again

Each expansion of the airport has come with a promise of no more. Each time it has been a lie.

Jonathan Neale: ‘We must change the system to stop climate change’

How serious is aviation in terms of climate change? Why is New Labour so committed to expanding it?

BA management and the ‘lighter side’ of job cuts

Socialist Worker has obtained footage of British Airways (BA) management relaxing at a meeting in 2006 that gives an insight into their attitude to their employees.

Luxury and poverty at Heathrow

"Heathrow lounges offer an environment that is elegant, calm and welcoming, a home-from-home which features deep, luxurious furniture in rich velvets and classic tailored herringbone...

Labour’s ‘Great betrayal’ led to the brink of collapse

The Labour Party is currently facing a deep crisis. This is not the first time it has faced such turmoil in its 100 years of history.


Harry Benson - A photographer’s journey

Harry Benson is a Glasgow-born international photographer. This exhibition brings many images from his 60 year career back to his home town.

Grayson Perry's Unpopular Culture exhibition

Curated by Turner‑prize winning artist Grayson Perry, this exhibition features paintings, sculptures and photographs from among the Arts Council’s 8,000 piece collection.

From Seeing To Showing exhibition

This collection of photographs was produced by young people who participated in workshops with photographer Adrian Wood and a team of volunteers.

New DVD releases: Films to make you laugh, sing along and cry

Four very good films have recently been released on DVD.

Satinder Kaur Chohan on her play Zameen about Indian farmers’ fight for land

"If I make one person think about the issues unfolding on the other side of the world, I will have achieved something," says writer Satinder Kaur Chohan of her new play Zameen (meaning "land").

What We Think

Living in New Labour’s bubble world

There is a topsy-turvy world where people seriously believe that the problem with Gordon Brown is that he’s too left wing. It’s a world inhabited by Blairites such as Phil Collins, who works for the pensions minister James Purnell.

UN’s intervention shame exposed

Liberal commentators are quick to demand "humanitarian intervention" by military forces whenever conflict breaks out – particularly in the Global South. They argue that the West has a "duty" to keep warring factions apart, and even to remove the governments of "failed states".

Labour’s ‘toff’ antics

First we saw New Labour attack rich "Tory boys" in the Crewe & Nantwich by-election. Then they rushed to drop the issue as soon as the press howled at them for stirring up "class war".

Other Categories

Tim: Stab vest



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