Solidarity 099, 28 September 2006

With Hitler on the road to Samara

By Sean Matgamna

Of course you know the story. A man is in the market place, and he sees Death, and Death looks at him intently, recognising him.

In a panic, the man runs to his horse and gallops away desperately, taking the road to the city of Samara.

As he gallops off, Death turns to his companion. “Strange,” he said, “that was so-and-so. I was surprised to see him here, because I have an appointment with him, tonight, in Samara.”

Death is all-powerful. There is no escape when he reaches your name on the list.

Who's left at Labour Party Conference?

Labour Party conference featured plenty of fringe meetings such as Kraft Foods making the case for Dairylea to be included in school meals, tobacco companies telling delegates to remember that “smokers are voters too”, and BUPA setting the agenda for how to improve healthcare standards. But away from the lobbyists and spin doctors, outside the ring of checkpoints, barriers and hundreds of armed police, was an alternative fringe. David Broder reports.

Debate: Shoot the Messenger

The BBC’s programme Shoot the Messenger caused a bit of a furore. When I sat down to watch it I was already aware that its working title had been Fuck Black People. To say the least I felt somewhat uncomfortable, not least because this a story about a black IT worker whose idealism leads him to become a teacher — which is also a remarkably accurate description of me (though my idealism is of a different brand). Although I didn’t get to relax during the course of the programme, the nature of my discomfort changed.

When school students fought the system

By Colin Foster

From the Blairites, and from further to the right, we hear more and more about “restoring discipline” and “restoring old-fashioned standards” in schools.

The real chaos generated in some schools by social decay and by incessant “restructuring” from above is being used as a springboard for the re-imposition of more punitive, authoritarian regimes in schools.

Maybe we will have to fight again some battles fought in the 1960s and 1970s. And they were real battles.

Gordon Brown: power to the people?

“Power to the people” is the unlikely new slogan of New Labour, of Gordon Brown and his supposed “Blairite” rivals alike.

Brown himself impressed the Guardian’s political editor, Patrick Wintour, with “the scale of [his] plans to shift power away from politicians” (Guardian, 25 September).

Specifically, Brown would set up a “NHS board to run the NHS day to day management”. “The Chancellor... argued that [such] reforms chimed with his historic decision to hand control of interest rate-setting to the Bank of England in 1997”.

Unions vote down Blairites

By a Labour Party Conference delegate

DESPITE the bureaucratic exclusion, for the first time ever, of a majority of resolutions from Constituency Labour Parties, this year’s Labour Party conference has surpassed last year’s record by inflicting five significant defeats on the government.

Grunwick 30 years on

Faryal Velmi reports on the Grunwick commemoration event held by Brent Trades Council on 17 September.

About 200 people heard Grunwick strike leader Jayaben Desai relive some of the proudest and the most disappointing moments of that battle. Desai now well into her seventies, spoke of what she saw as a sense of duty. “It was what I had to do, and I hope that you would do the same.”

What we think: Eastern European workers welcome

Having admitted eight former Stalinist states in central and Eastern Europe, as well as Malta and Cyprus, to enlarge to 25 countries in 2004, the EU will admit Romania and Bulgaria in January 2007. However, Romanian and Bulgarian workers will be denied the right to migrate to Britain, with New Labour ministers arguing for “managed migration” and “gradual access”, which could mean controls for up to seven years.

Coventry City council workers fight single status

OVER 18 months after Coventry City Council voted to break off negotiations with Unison over the imposed Single Status ‘deal’, the union looks set to add to the three days of strike action which it has already taken to defend members’ wages. In the face of the Tory-controlled council's attempts to use anti-union legislation and its team of solicitors in the High Court, the union ballot unanimously endorsed selective strike action.

Democracy and the workers movement

This explanation by HW Benson of the relationship of the working class to democracy and the fight to widen, expand and defend democracy, appeared 50 years ago in the American socialist weekly Labour Action. It was a time in the USA when socialists and even liberals were under tremendous pressure from the anti-communist “McCarthyite” witch hunts. We too live in a time when democratic liberties are under attack. We must resist this attack, as Labour Action and The Militant, the two US Trotskyist papers of the time, did, alongside others.

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