Solidarity 166, 4 February 2010

Britain 2010: social attitudes

The latest figures from the British Social Attitudes Survey show that while people have become more liberal on social issues such as gay rights, there has been a rightward drift on economic questions.

• Whereas, in 2002, 63% of people surveyed thought that governments should increase taxes to fund greater public spending, that figure is now down to 39%. The majority believing that both taxation and spending levels should be kept as they are (which will make neither the Tories nor New Labour, both of whom have extensive cuts projects, particularly confident).

The latest figures from the British Social Attitudes Survey show that while people have become more liberal on social issues such as gay rights, there has been a rightward drift on economic questions.

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Higher Education cuts: the fightback begins

Author: 

Ed Maltby

On Monday 1 February the higher education funding body, the HEFCE have announced the details of how the budget cuts imposed by Peter Mandelson back in December 2009 will fall. The headline cuts is one in the universities' teaching budgets — £215m in the acedemic year 2010-11. This cut will lead to a the loss of 6,000 student places. Up to 300,000 university applicants will be turned away this summer. The lecturer's union UCU is warning of over 6,000 teaching job cuts although this number is almost certain to rise. New Labour's higher education cuts amount to £950 million over three years.

Students have responded to the cuts in education with demonstrations and occupations. Staff are balloting to strike. Student demonstrations at campuses in Birmingham, Leeds, Sussex and London have drawn in hundreds of student, with more action being planned at dozens of campuses.

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Zionism, anti-semitism and the left

Author: 

Martin Thomas

Moishe Postone is a Marxist academic based at the University of Chicago. As well as writing extensively on Marx’s political economy, he has also been central to the development of theories of “left anti-semitism”, which look at ways in which positions taken by left groups, particularly on Israel/Palestine, can feed into, or be based on, hostility to Jews. Martin Thomas spoke to him.

An interview with Moishe Postone, a Marxist academic based at the University of Chicago, who has been central to the development of theories of “left anti-semitism”, which look at ways in which positions taken by left groups, particularly on Israel/Palestine, can feed into, or be based on, hostility to Jews.

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Socialist Workers Party: leading dissidents expelled

Author: 

Clarke Benitez

At the conference of the Socialist Workers' Party which took place on 9-10 January, the expulsions of dissident members Clare Solomon and Alex Snowdon were confirmed.

Both members were expelled for "factional behaviour" — a charge which was backed up with evidence provided by emails that the SWP Central Committee got hold of by hacking into their accounts. Solomon and Snowdon were members of the minority “Left Platform” within the SWP.

At the conference of the Socialist Workers' Party which took place on 9-10 January, the expulsions of dissident members Clare Solomon and Alex Snowdon were confirmed. Both were members of the minority “Left Platform” within the SWP.

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The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Election coalition launched

Author: 

Gareth Munro

The Socialist Party has launched a “Trade Union and Socialist Coalition” (TUSC) for the general election. Seeing itself as a successor organisation to the “No2EU” slate, TUSC has so far failed to achieve significant trade union backing: Bob Crow is involved in a personal capacity, but the RMT Executive decided to concentrate on re-electing its sponsored MPs. Although the SWP have said they want to participate, the SP remains the only significant force formally involved.

The Socialist Party has launched a “Trade Union and Socialist Coalition” for the general election with a platform made up of unobjectionable and largely worthwhile reformist demands, but notable for the absence of anything positive on migrant workers’ and asylum seekers’ rights or European workers’ unity. Whether it will have any real, independent, democratic life on the ground also remains to be seen.

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The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Sussex students against Israel boycott

Author: 

Patrick Rolfe

As we reported in Solidarity 3/164, the University of Sussex Students’ Union recently passed a policy committing it to a boycott of Israeli goods. Workers’ Liberty opposes such boycotts because we believe they cut against what is objectively necessary — international working-class solidarity to help Palestinian and Israeli workers build unity around a programme of mutual respect and equal rights — and create the potential for an anti-semitic backlash by exceptionalising Israel.

An interview with a student at Sussex University involved in the campaign to overturn the student union's policy of boycotting israeli goods.

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Around the world: 

French burqa ban: socialists defend women’s rights and fight racism

Following a law passed in 2004 banning the hijab (Muslim headscarf) and other symbols of “religious affiliation” in state schools, the French government is now discussing a proposal to ban the wearing of the burqa (the full body veil) in various public spaces, including on public transport. It takes place as part of a concerted government campaign to assert a secular French “national identity”.

An article from the journal of France's New Anti-capitalist Party on government proposals to ban the wearing of the burqa in public.

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Urgent need for rape crisis centres

Author: 

Becky Crocker

The Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into the case of rapist black cab driver John Worboys has highlighted again the criminal justice system’s appalling handling of rape allegations. It does nothing to inspire confidence in an already mistrusted system, which contributes to the low rape conviction rate, currently 6%. Small comfort too was the IPCC’s advice to contact “third parties” i.e. Rape Crisis Centres if nervous about the police, as underfunded centres continue to fold and funding is increasingly dependent on partnership with police.

As the voluntary sector has professionalised and charities compete, organisations with larger resources are better placed to win funding bids. Small volunteer organisations, without professional fundraisers, are left behind: nine Rape Crisis Centres have closed in the last five years due to lack of funding and resources.

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Britain 2010: the sick pay

A Labour Party plan to scrap prescription charges for people with long-term health conditions has been shelved, and is now expected to reappear as a manifesto pledge in this year's general election.

The move, which was first announced at the Labour Party's 2008 conference, would have affected up to 15 million people and has provoked anger from health service campaign groups and charities.

A Labour Party plan to scrap prescription charges for people with long-term health conditions has been shelved, and is now expected to reappear as a manifesto pledge in this year's general election.

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