Solidarity 082, 20 October 2005

An open letter to Tony Benn - let Tariq Aziz rot in hell!

Tony Benn is a former British cabinet member.

Dear Tony Benn
You have put your name to a petition on behalf of Saddam Hussein’s deputy Tariq Aziz.

You have by now probably seen the newspaper reports that Tariq Aziz will give evidence against his old boss at Saddam Hussein’s trial — evidence that, among other things, Saddam Hussein gave orders for mass murder.

What is left anti-semitism?


Sean Matgamna

What is “left-wing anti-semitism”? Where is it manifested? What is to be done about it?

There are three difficulties, three confusions and obfuscations, that stand in the way of rational discussion of what we mean by “left-wing anti-semitism”.

The first is that left-wing anti-semitism knows itself by another and more self-righteous name, “anti-Zionism”. Often, your left-wing anti-semite sincerely believes that he or she is only an anti-Zionist, only a just if severe critic of Israel.

A tale of two cities

In an autumn of demonstrations in France, Saturday 15 October saw a small demonstration of a few thousands in Paris demanding, “Homes for all, end the expulsions”.

The demonstration was a response to the fires in slum dwellings that have killed more than 50 people, and to the lack of affordable housing for many of Paris’s poorest inhabitants.

Workers need solidarity as Iraq votes yes to new constitution

by colin foster

Last-minute tweaks to Iraq's constitutional referendum on 15 October had the desired effect.

According to unofficial figures, as of 18 October, the constitution got a 65% majority across Iraq, and was rejected by two-thirds majorities in only two provinces, Anbar and Salahuddin. A third heavily-Sunni province, Nineveh, may have had a majority against, but not two-thirds.

Musharraf and his rivals

It is too early to know what effect the earthquake will have on the volatile political conditions inside Pakistan, but it is certain to exacerbate existing trends. Cathy Nugent reports

Before 9/11 Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, had supported the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, believing it could help Pakistan’s regional interests and be a bulwark against the other major regional power, India.

Solidarity with Pakistani workers

According to socialists and trade unionists, current Pakistani government estimates of casualties (40,000) from the 9 October earthquake are far too low. The figure could rise to 100,000 or more. Kashmir is the worst affected area —70 percent of all housing was destroyed by the earthquake. Northern and tribal areas of Pakistan were also badly affected, but are so cut off from the rest of Pakistan no-one knows the scale of the deaths and destruction.

Reports of the appalling gaps in medical, food and other kinds of aid are all too accurate.

Benefits and Jobcentre staff to strike over jobs

Charlie McDonald, PCS Department of Work and Pensions East London branch secretary

Public and Commercial Services Union members working in Jobcentres and dole offices in London have voted for a series of strikes. The first is due to take place on 16 November.

Workers’ news round-up


The Brazilian Workers’ Party (PT) candidate Lula da Silva was elected president in 2002 but without a majority in Congress. To gain support for the election and then in power, the PT formed alliances with other parties.

In its first two and a half years in power, the government has implemented neoliberal reforms that the PT historically had fought against, such as the partial privatisation of social security and bankruptcy reform. It is working for other unpopular reforms of education, workers’ rights and unions.

The “military road to socialism”

Paul Hampton reviews Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution by Richard Gott (Verso, 2005)

Richard Gott the journalist is like a courtier who rides round in a stretch limo to visit the poor before returning as a “privileged visitor” to the presidential palace. And for Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, he has nothing but admiration.

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