Solidarity 059, 7 October 2004

Labour Party conference: Unions let Blair off Iraq hook

By a delegate to Labour Party conference

At this year’s Labour Party conference there were major debates on rail renationalisation and extending council housing. Both arose from “minority reports” coming out of the National Policy Forum (NPF).

Sharon aide says “No Palestinian state”

In an interview due to appear in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Friday 8 October, the senior adviser to Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has said bluntly that Sharon's plan to withdraw from Gaza — while reinforcing the Israeli presence in the West Bank — is aimed to prevent a Palestinian state.

“The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process,” says Dov Weisglass in an excerpt from the interview published by Haaretz on 6 October. “And when you freeze that process,” Weisglass added, “you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state...

Letter: Iraq solidarity: neither pro-war nor anti-war, but post-war

Congratulations to the sharp-eyed Colin Foster for spotting the existence of the Labour Friends of Iraq (LFIQ) (Solidarity, September). There was indeed a LFIQ website which we withdrew after only a few days. As Colin says, we promise to be back online soon at, and may even be so by the time of your publication. But there Colin’s forensic skills end.

He is wrong about the ownership of the successful fringe meeting at Party Conference that attracted more than 100 delegates.

What we say: Labour after Brighton

The Labour Party conference at Brighton reflected the political state Britain is in now. The question is: did it offer any way forward for the labour movement and the working class?

The simple answer is: no. The longer-term answer is: maybe.

The atmosphere now is one of chronic, prolonged, irresoluble political crisis. The Iraq war and its aftermath form the eye of the political storm that continues to rage around Tony Blair.

Keep taking the tablets?

By Mike Fenwick

A recent Panorama programme exposed the growing concerns over the procedures by which drugs are licensed for use in Britain.

It has been long known that the pharmaceutical industry and medicine have close links. You can’t go into many GP surgeries without noticing the free stationery, calculators, pens, “educational” posters and leaflets adorned with the logo of a particular drug or company.

Indonesia: new president offers nothing to workers

Former Suharto-era general Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono and former Golkar official Yusuf Kalla have been elected as president and vice-president in the second round of Indonesia’s first direct presidential election. Yudhoyono won 61% of the vote against outgoing President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s 39%.

The psychopath

Mark Osborn reviews The Corporation by Joel Bakan

“The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power” is the subtitle of The Corporation, a new film and book, released in the UK at the end of October.

The book’s author points out that corporations have similar legal rights to human beings and asks: if corporations are like people, what sort of people are they? He concludes that, as they are legally obliged to put the interests of shareholders first, and place profits above all else — a pathological compulsion — the corporation is a psychopath!

Brazilian strike wave

Workers’ strikes across Brazil are winning wage rises after years of declining purchasing power.

More than 100,000 metalworkers in ABC, an industrial district in Sao Paulo where major steel, auto and other heavy industry is located, have begun to hold a series of stoppages in companies that refuse to agree to a 9.57% pay rise.

Bank employees are continuing their two-week-long work stoppage, and pilots working for Brazil's VASP airline went on strike to demand the payment of back wages. Court workers in Sao Paulo returned to work last week after a 91-day strike.

Casual workers can organise!

December 2000 saw the first “hamburgrève” in Paris, when the young, mostly casual workers at the McDo (McDonald’s) restaurant on Boulevard Saint-Germain went on strike. The next fast food chain hit by worker unrest was Pizza Hut. A leading figure in these conflicts was Abdel Mabrouki, now aged 31.

Hong Kong: worker activist elected

Last month veteran workers’ democracy activist Leung Kwok-Hung was elected to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council — the administrative zone’s quasi-parliament.

Leung, known as “Long Hair”, won more than 60,000 votes, 14% of the votes in his constituency. Leung first fought for workers’ rights and democracy in Hong Kong from the previous British colonial government; more recently the fight is against the Beijing-appointed government. He has been jailed four times for his campaigning.

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