Solidarity 098, 7 September 2006

Middle East politics after the Lebanon war

By John O’Mahony

A. For socialists in Britain, what are the most important political issues in relation to the situation in the Middle East after the Israeli-Hizbullah war?

B. • To oppose any American-British attack on Iran.

• To give solidarity to the beleagured Iraqi workers’ movement, and those fighting for secularism and women’s rights in Iraq.

• To reject and oppose both Jewish and Arab chauvinist approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Students and workers against Thai coup

By Paul Hampton

Students and workers have taken to the streets of Bangkok in protest at the military coup on 19 September, despite universal indifference from “democratic” bourgeois governments around the world.

Solidarity with migrant workers

By Stan Crooke

In May 2004 ten more states joined the European Union. Eight of these were the so-called “A8” states from ex-Stalinist Eastern Europe. Since then, around 470,000 workers from the A8 states have entered the UK workforce.

Although some of the tabloids have responded by whipping up more anti-immigration and anti-foreigner prejudices, employers and the government have generally welcomed their arrival. And it’s easy to see why.

Iraq: US/UK occupation creates “wasteland” - Down with the “resistance”! Up with the workers!

by Colin Foster

On 29 August, oil pipeline workers in Basra and in Nassiriyah, in southern Iraq, announced victory in their 48-hour strike of 22-23 August, which stopped oil supplies from the south to central Iraq.

The General Union of Oil Employees said that the strikers had won their demands:

1. Wages must be paid in due time.

2. Overtime work must be paid

3. Increase workers’ allowances

4. Ambulances at workplaces to transfer sick workers to hospital when needed.

Mobilise to save the NHS

The biggest privatisation so far of any part of the NHS is now underway.

The Blair government intends to transfer £3.5 billion worth of contracts from the publicly owned NHS Logistics, which organises the provision of half a million product lines, to DHL, a privately-owned German distribution company.

Don’t mourn organise! Rebuild the SSP!

By Elaine Jones, Dumfries and Galloway SSP

Saturday 2 September saw the launch of Tommy Sheridan’s new organisation Solidarity — Scotland’s Socialist Movement (sic). This new organisation has been set up not because of serious political differences, but because of personal differences over Tommy’s court case, in which he successfully sued the News of the World.

Pornography and free speech

We oppose the government’s decision to make the possession of so-called “violent porn” an offence. We do not oppose it because we like images that degrade women. Or because we are uncritical of violent imagery of all kinds (although not all depictions of violent sexual acts are also depictions of non-consensual acts — sado-masochistic sex for instance).

UN troops in Sudan?

Fighting is intensifying in Darfur, the western province of Sudan. The conflict began in 2003. Rebel groups demanding more autonomy for the area began attacking government targets. And the the Islamist-military government launched a brutal military campaign flanked by pro-government militias, the janjaweed.

More than two million people have fled their homes and many tens of thousands have been killed. Those who escaped the violence are now living in camps across Darfur. 200,000 refugees have crossed the border into Chad.

Sarkozy fosters war of the generations

By Joan Trevor
The French media, apparently, is dumbing down, becoming more like the US and UK, an obsession with celebrity and image — the French call this “pipolisation” — is growing.

This suits and doesn’t suit those politicians jockeying to be their parties’ candidate in the 2007 presidential elections. When you are plug-ugly, like Nicolas Sarkozy, president of the right-wing government party the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), it means you have got to work the crowd like never before. And that is what he has been doing throughout the summer.

NHS Logistics: strike against “biggest ever privatisation”

by Nick Holden

“The government will today announce completion of the NHS’s biggest ever privatisation”, (Guardian 5 September). If the deal goes ahead, £3.7 billion worth of contracts will be transferred from the publicly owned NHS Logistics to German distribution company DHL and its Texas-based partner Novation. The provision of 500,000 product lines need by the NHS, including everything from bandages and syringes to hip implants and ambulances, will be removed from public control and put into the hands of profit-hungry multinational corporations.

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