Solidarity 043, 9 January 2004

The Blairite Ken

By Colin Foster On Tuesday 6 January, the Labour Party readmitted London mayor Ken Livingstone to membership. He had been expelled in 2000, when he ran against Labour for mayor and won, after being denied the Labour nomination despite being the majority choice of Labour Party members and trade unions in London. Is this a triumph for the left? Or a sell-out by the previously "red" Ken? Neither. Ken Livingstone was a left-wing local Labour councillor in the late 1970s. One of many, alongside, for example, David Blunkett and Margaret Hodge. Elected leader of the old Greater London Council in May...

Scrap all fees! Tax the rich!

Alan Clarke, NUS National Executive (personal capacity) and Campaign for Free Education co-chair As Solidarity goes to press, the Government is preparing to publish a detailed final version of its plan for Higher Education student funding. Since Tony Blair and Charles Clarke have repeatedly refused to bow to disquiet among Labour MPs, the plans are almost certain to mirror the essentials of last year's White Paper: 'freedom' for some universities to set higher fees, with the pill sugared by the reintroduction of a tiny, heavily means-tested maintenance grant. By the end of 2003, more than 150...

Privacy, poverty and putrefaction

By Michaela Collins Just before Xmas I passed a television camera crew going up my street. I felt a little frisson of interest and went on about my business. Next day I was a little more excited when the pictures aired on the lunchtime news and the camera lingered on my window. Well, Andy Warhol, it was only 15 seconds, whatever! The news item was about an elderly couple who were found dead, one from hypothermia, after their gas had been cut off. I detail my reaction to the news because it highlights a certain ambivalence about privacy and publicity, and it is this ambivalence that is played...

Civil Contingencies Bill

Meeting to discuss and plan action against the Civil Contingencies Bill. Saturday 17 January, 11am, Friends Meeting House, Manchester. A day of discussion with concerned individuals and organisations. Organised by Manchester Social Forum

Blair out! How and by whom?

This month the Hutton Report on the Government's dossier for going to war in Iraq will be published. This month or next, Parliament will vote on the Government's plans to have students charged extra "top-up" fees for selected courses, or for posher universities. The Hutton Report will add fuel to the fire of anger at the Iraq war still burning under Blair's feet. The top-up fees vote could turn overheating into large and open flames around central pillars of the New Labour edifice. Many of the Labour MPs who oppose top-up fees are weak and may buckle under Government pressure. But a defeat for...

Press Gang: The trials of Google

By Lucy Clement The dubious accolade of topping Google's UK chart in 2003 went to Prince Charles. His name was the website's most searched-for term of the year. When the newspapers were banned from printing the allegation that dare not speak its name, the nation temporarily abandoned its searches for Britney and Beckham and tried to find out what the fuss was all about. You might well ask why anyone would care what Charles did or didn't do with his valet. I suspect a lot of people bothered to try and find out because they were told they weren't allowed to know, and therefore thought there...

See 'Bread and Roses', raise money for Mexican unions

6.30-9pm, Thursday 22 January, The Other Cinema, 11 Rupert Street, London W1 To raise money for union organisers at the Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador in Mexico, No Sweat has organised a special screening of Ken Loach's film Bread and Roses (2000) on 22 January at the Other Cinema in London. Ken Loach will be present for a Q&A session after the film. The film is set among Mexican immigrants to Los Angeles, who work for low pay and in poor conditionsÂ…and decide to do something about it! The heroine Maya gets involved with 'Justice for Janitors', a campaign organised by the Service Employees...

No Sweat news in brief

No Sweat steering group No Sweat + Haiti Support Group tour H&M No Sweat steering group Meets on Saturday 17 January, 12-4 pm, at University London Union, Malet Street, Euston, London. All activists welcome. No Sweat + Haiti Support Group tour A British speaker tour for a sweatshop union organiser from the militant Haitian union organisation Batay Ouvriere will take place during the last two weeks of March. More details from No Sweat: admin@nosweat.org.uk H&M The cheap chic fashion store with their HQ in Sweden are aggressively moving into the US market. The US union, Unite, is attempting to...

China's slave system: Jailed union activists refused medical parole

By Mick Duncan Chinese prison officials have refused a request by the families of jailed Liaoyang union activists Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang to grant Yao and Xiao medical parole for severe health problems. Family members recently visited the two men in Liaoning Province's Lingyuan County No. 2 Prison, and found them in alarming physical condition. Yao has previously been sent to the prison hospital after losing consciousness twice due to a heart condition. He is also suffering from hearing loss and partial paralysis. Xiao is suffering from pleurisy and is almost entirely blind. Yao and Xiao's...

Inside America: Miami students acquitted

by Jim Byagua After three hours of testimony by prosecution witnesses, Judge Lyons dismissed all charges against Miami University Fair Labor Coalition activists Nicolle, Nick, Ian and Jon because of a lack of evidence. The four students were arrested back on 10 October 2003 by the Miami police during a protest in support of a strike by AFSCME Local 209, the union representing nearly 900 service workers at Miami University in Southwest Ohio. The charges against two were that they were "tampering with a salad bar". One was "throwing food and/or drink". The fourth was "dumping food on a table" at...

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