Solidarity 140, 16 October 2008

We need a workers' government!

“The markets rule the world. Maybe that’s why your conspiracy theorists make up all those crazy things. Because the truth is so much more frightening...”

So a top US businessman told the journalist Jon Ronson for his book Adventures with Extremists. It was a frightening truth like death is frightening — something scary that was, however, the way the world had to be.

Anything less than free-fire for “the markets”, would spell stagnation and collapse. So they said.

We need social regulation — but by a workers’ government, based on, loyal to, and accountable to the working-class majority.

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Government cops out on smacking

Author: 

Cathy Nugent

“A smack is parents trying to hit you, [but] instead of calling [it] a hit they call it a smack.” — A seven year old (from It Hurts You Inside, Children’s Rights Alliance)

A proposed amendment to the Children and Young Person’s Bill, which would have outlawed the physical punishment of children, will not now be discussed or voted on in Parliament.

A proposed amendment to the Children and Young Person’s Bill, which would have outlawed the physical punishment of children, will not now be discussed or voted on in Parliament.

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Sex work: Government clampdown will endanger women

Author: 

Feminist Fightback

Last month Jacqui Smith announced at the Labour Party Conference that from October the government will be taking steps to clamp down on the sex industry in the UK.

The new measures will give police new powers to prosecute those paying for sex, to shut down “brothels” and force sex workers into compulsory rehabilitation.

She announced that the government would “start work to outlaw paying for sex with someone forced into prostitution at another’s will, or controlled for another’s gain”.

A new government "clampdown" on the sex industry is likely to make things worse, not better, for sex workers.

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De Menezes inquest: Why no accountability?

Author: 

Darren Bedford

Anyone who has ever taken part in direct action will have some first-hand experience of why the police force exists. Liberals and right-wingers may argue that battering Climate Camp activists or striking miners over the head with truncheons are unfortunate anomalies; stopping old people from being mugged is the real essence of the role of the police.

The reality is precisely the other way around; the police force fundamentally exists to defend, violently if necessary, the interests of the ruling-class; and any useful community defence function it may play is almost a by-product.

Why isn’t Ian Blair, for instance, elected, or appointed by an elected, accountable authority, and why can he sacked by that same democratic control at any time?

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Short industrial reports

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: On 20 August and 24 September Scottish local government workers staged two successful 24-hour strikes demanding a 5% pay-rise or £1,000, whichever is the greater. The employers’ improved offer was 2.5% rise this year.

The strikes were to have been followed up by longer selective action.

Scottish local government workers; Scottish rail signallers; Nottingham Trent University; Unite left

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SATS: Time to end "teaching to the test"

On 14 October the Government abolished SATS exams for 14 year olds. The decision seems to have been prompted by the fact that the private contractor (of course) which ran the SATS this year fouled it up and had to be sacked, and the Government had trouble finding a replacement in time for 2009.

But it is good that the 14 year old SATS are gone. The National Union of Teachers responded with a call for the suspension pending review (why not the abolition?) of 11-year old SATS too.

On 14 October the Government abolished SATS exams for 14 year olds.

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Striking on different days in November

Author: 

Gerry Bates

Civil servants (PCS) and teachers (NUT) are set to strike in November against the Government’s two-and-a-bit per cent limit on pay rises — but on different days.

How the foul-up happened is a mystery. Both unions now have avowedly left-wing Executive majorities and top full-time officials. Both union leaderships make a big deal of wanting united action by public sector workers against the Government's wage-cut plans.

Civil servants (PCS) and teachers (NUT) are set to strike in November against the Government’s two-and-a-bit per cent limit on pay rises — but on different days.

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Free education: demonstrate in 2009!

A coalition of student activists, in a campaign initiated by Education Not for Sale, is planning to organise a demonstration at the start of 2009 against all fees and for a living grant.

The demands are:

* No raising of the cap on top-up fees; halt and reverse the growth in international students’ fees; abolish all fees in higher education and further education – free education for all;

* A living grant for every student over 16 — at least £150 a week; and a living wage for nursing and other students who have to work as part of their course;

A coalition of student activists, in a campaign initiated by Education Not for Sale, is planning to organise a demonstration at the start of 2009 against all fees and for a living grant.

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No deportations to war zones!

Refugee rights and anti racist campaigners took to the streets of Sheffield on Saturday 3 October to protest against the inhuman treatment of asylum seekers by the authorities in Britain.

In particular they wanted to highlight the policy of locking up asylum seekers, sometimes for long periods, in detention centres — in some cases along with their young children. Over 100 people marched from Sheffield City Hall to the Peace Gardens to call for asylum seekers to be given the right to work and for an end to deportations to war zones.

Amongst those on the protest were:

Demonstrators marched in Sheffield on 3 October to demand no deportations to war zones.

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