Solidarity 084, 17 November 2005

Why you should be a socialist


Sofie Buckland

In Britain today, one child in three grows up in poverty, in a household with less than half the average income; in 1968, the figure was one in ten.

Thousands are homeless on the streets, while 600,000 homes stand empty.

Hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions are unemployed, while those with jobs have to work harder, for longer hours and for more of their lives. Health, education and other public services are being trashed by New Labour’s cuts and privatisation, while inequality, like the wealth of the rich, snowballs.

Use union link to force change

Alan Johnson, the Blairites’ favourite ex union leader, has made a call for the unions’ influence in the Labour Party to be curtailed.

Johnson, once general secretary of the post and telecom union CWU, and now Industry Minister, has proposed that the union vote at Labour Party Conference be cut from 50% to 15% (Times, 14 November).

As Tony Woodley, general secretary of the TGWU, put it: “It is no coincidence that the Blairites want to change the make-up of the conference and party since they’ve been losing votes.”

Civil partnership brings benefit cuts

By David Broder

The Civil Partnership Act coming in to force on 5 December comes with the pretensions of offering gay couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples. They will be able to take advantage of transferred pension rights and inheritance tax will be waived as it is for married couples.

Class politics in Israel

Eric Lee comments on the election of Amir Peretz to leader of the Israeli Labour Party

When I interviewed Amir Peretz, the leader of the Histadrut, Israel’s national trade union federation, back in June, I mentioned to him that I thought it was pretty unusual for a trade unionist to announce his candidacy for the post of prime minister. “I actually know of several additional examples of workers’ leaders who became heads of government,” he responded, “such as Bob Hawke in Australia, Lech Walesa in Poland, and Lula in Brazil.”

Slaughter on the Somme

Rosalind Robson reviews The Last Tommy (BBC1), and The Somme, (Channel Four)

For socialists the two world wars of the last century are of tremendous importance. These events gave birth to massive class struggles.

In the First World war, workers who had been conscripted to fight the bloody battles, were to turn against the ruling class, the brass and the politicians, who had pushed them to slaughter. In Russia, in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, workers made revolutions. Revolutions which were to shape the course of revolutionary Marxist politics up to the present day.

The Day Lady Died

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday

three days after Bastille day, yes

it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine

because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton

at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner

and I don’t know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun

and have a hamburger and a malted and buy

an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets

in Ghana are doing these days

I go on to the bank

and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)

Funny but empty

Michael Wood reviews The Brothers Grimm

Terry Gilliam’s latest fantastical extravaganza has all the usual exemplary production values and quirky characters. But is there anything more to it?

The short answer is no. It all looks incredibly impressive and ridiculous in equal measures, but it doesn’t offer the bite we’ve come to expect from Gilliam. The story is rather half-hearted, and the film attempts to make up for this by giving the execution 110% in frenetic energy. Ultimately, this just leaves it feeling insubstantial, and more than a little confusing.

1000 rally to defend pickets

By Cynthia Baldry, Workers’ Fight, March 1973

In Shrewsbury on 15 March, 24 building workers appearing in court were met by a show of solidarity from other workers, meeting outside the court and then marching through the town. They were also met by a massive attempt at intimidation by the forces of ruling class “law and order”.

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