Exeter, in the south west of England, is the kind of Middle England town so beloved of Tony Blair and New Labour. Labour won the seat from the Tories in 1997, with a swing of nearly 12 percent. Many cheered when Labour's Ben Bradshaw, who is openly gay, beat Tory bigot Adrian Rogers.
Carolyn Leckie is branch secretary for North Glasgow Hospitals UNISON union and the Scottish Socialist Party's health spokesperson. She is a single parent with two children and will be an SSP candidate in the general election:
Socialist Worker spoke to some of the people on last Saturday's demonstration against privatisation in Birmingham about why they're supporting the Socialist Alliance. STEVE GODWARD is the divisional secretary of the West Midlands Fire Brigades Union:
The Socialist Alliance launched its general election campaign this week. People across Britain now have the chance to say a resounding no to Tony Blair's pro-market, pro-privatisation policies, and to vote for a socialist alternative.
High profile figures like playwright Harold Pinter are backing the Socialist Alliance. He says, "There has to be positive and practical resistance to 'big business' government, and the Socialist Alliance has to be it. This country is doomed if we can't organise and support an energetic and determined alternative force, for which social justice is an aspiration which will not be surrendered." Film director Ken Loach is also offering his support.
Instant camera firm Polaroid plans to sack 235 workers at its Dumbartonshire factory in Scotland despite soaring profits. Polaroid's profits jumped from £5.2 million to £22 million last year. One worker facing the axe said, "They are throwing people on the scrapheap so the bosses can rake in cash." One of those who could be handing out redundancy notices is "human resources" director Alistair Liddell, who is married to New Labour Scottish secretary Helen Liddell.
Teachers in London and Doncaster voted by nine to one this week for action to end the scandal of teacher shortages. They will not cover for vacant posts and long term absences. There is a national shortage of supply teachers, who are meant to fill gaps caused by full time vacancies.
Multinational car firm Peugeot is telling workers at its plant near Coventry to work harder, and is refusing to give them a decent pay rise. Yet Peugeot has just announced a leap in profits, up 80 percent to a huge £818 million. Last week Peugeot workers showed what they thought of that by throwing out the company's pay offer by an 82 percent majority.
Two Socialist Workers Party national delegate meetings last weekend discussed the huge challenge posed by the election. Both were brimming with enthusiasm at the prospect of the biggest and broadest ever left wing challenge to Labour.
Over 220 people attended a meeting in Conway Hall in London on Tuesday of last week to kickstart Globalise Resistance's mobilisation for the G8 summit in Genoa, Italy. Everybody who was there is planning to travel to Genoa on 20-22 July to protest at the summit, where leaders from the world's eight richest countries will gather.
The Daily Record, a Labour-supporting tabloid in Scotland, has organised a march against drugs on 1 April as part of its "war on drugs" campaign. Brian Souter, the anti-gay millionaire owner of Stagecoach, is supporting the march.
Over 500 people packed a meeting last Saturday to look at what has changed two years after the Macpherson report into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence. Labour MP Diane Abbott spoke, condemning Jack Straw's decision not to sack Paul Condon, head of the Metropolitan Police, after the Macpherson report. The number of people at this year's meeting rose sharply from last year. But many felt frustrated that their high hopes for change in the wake of the Macpherson report have not been realised.
"Next time there's an unofficial strike in the post we will sack those who have led it and encouraged it." That is what Post Office bosses warned leaders of the CWU union at the end of last week.
Vauxhall workers struck for the day last week against the closure of the Luton plant by giant US multinational General Motors. Luton strikers were joined by workers at the Ellesmere Port plant who also had a solid one-day strike. Socialists, the media, two local Labour MPs and the regional TGWU official swelled the small number of pickets at Luton. Workers argued, "You won't have a job if you keep on doing what management tell you to do!" with workers who crossed the picket lines, mainly MSF members who voted against action.
Protests are to hit the clothes chain Gap next week. Why Gap? Why next week? Because next Thursday, 8 March, is International Women's Day, a day established nearly 100 years ago, inspired by women workers in the New York garment industry, many of who were immigrants. They struggled to survive the horrible sweatshops but they also fought back and organised.
Mobile phone companies all over Britain are taking part in a mad scramble to throw up transmitter masts before laws are passed which might inconvenience them. Soon they will need to apply for planning permission and-to their horror-possibly face some measure of democratic control over their activities.
The following resolution was passed at last Sunday's national meeting of delegates from SWP branches:
A liverly, noisy demonstration of over 400 people took place in Greenock near Glasgow on Saturday of last week against the possible closure of the Rankin Maternity Unit at the Inverclyde Royal Hospital. The march, which took place despite freezing weather, was the culmination of six weeks of well organised activity by a group of committed members of the local community.
Maureen Brennan confronted Michael Meacher, New Labour MP, as he arrived at a conference over safety on construction sites in central London on Tuesday. She is the mother of Michael Brennan, who was killed on a construction site ten years ago. She is still fighting for justice. Maureen joined other victims' families and construction workers in an angry 100-strong lobby.
There will be a national policy conference for the National Network of Socialist Alliances on Saturday 10 March. The meeting will decide the Socialist Alliance's election manifesto. All members of the National Network of Socialist Alliances are urged to attend.