Solidarity 045, 5 February 2004

The Awkward Squad: New Labour and the Rank and File

a Socialist Worker pamphlet by Martin Smith

This pamphlet is a propaganda exercise. There is nothing wrong with that in itself. However, it also claims to provide an analysis of the Labour Party, the trade union bureaucracy, the Broad Lefts and members of the "awkward squad." It does not do any of that very well, relying on crass comments such as "bright flashes of a new mood" and "the gaps between the explosions are becoming shorter".

The Miners Strike

BBC2

"Thus were the working-men forced once more, in spite of their unexampled endurance, to succumb to the might of capital. But the fight had not been in vain"
- Frederick Engels, 'The Mining Proletariat', The Condition of the Working Class in England

A New Labour Nightmare: the return of the awkward squad

by Andrew Murray, Verso

This book is in two parts. The first is an analysis of the trade union movement past and present, and the second a series of interviews with "awkward squad" members who are asked to explain their politics and their own understanding of their role. Both sections were interesting, but the comments of Jack Jones and Ken Gill in the first section seemed more pertinent to a broad understanding of the current situation in the trade union movement and its relationship to the Labour Party than those in the second section.

Strike: When Britain Went to War

Channel 4

"Thus were the working-men forced once more, in spite of their unexampled endurance, to succumb to the might of capital. But the fight had not been in vain ..."
- Frederick Engels, 'The Mining Proletariat', The Condition of the Working Class in England

In 1984 Channel 4 was in its infancy and looking to bring a new seriousness to British television. Already it had screened a series analysing the Spanish Civil War. Its prime-time news programme had depth, thoughtfulness, integrity.

Press gang: The rehabilitation of Dyke?

By Lucy Clement

Union rallies in defence of the Corporation's independence have been called outside all BBC sites on Thursday 5 February, but it remains to be seen whether enough staff will still be feeling strongly enough to make the action a success.

In this, the collective memory of the media is barely longer than its soundbites.
One of the more bizarre consequences of the Hutton whitewash has been the transformation of Greg Dyke from Chief Dumber-Down to Chief Defender of Media Freedom.

Galloway, Face of SWP's "Respect": "a dishonest and dishonourable man".

Author

Parables for Socialists 19

Did the Emperor Caligula appoint his beloved horse a memher of the Senate of Rome? The very well-known story that he did sounds unlikely, apocryphal.

But it may be true. The horse's name is known: Incitatus. Caligula expressed not only his strange infatuation with a horse, but also his great contempt for the Senate and its members. The corrupt, demoralised, and terrified Roman senators did not dare protest.
And then? Did the equine senator sit in the Senate? Did he vote? Did he get up on his hind legs, waving his front legs for oratorical effect, and neigh and whinny?

Class struggles in China

A round-up produced by the China Labour Bulletin.

Teachers' protest in Guangdong Province is violently dispersed

From 1 to 3 December more than 800 community teachers protested in front of the municipal government offices in Leizhou, Guangdong. The protestors were demanding that the government fulfil the promise it made in 2000 to transfer them into the higher paid classification of public teachers.

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