Solidarity 105, 25 January 2007

Religious Backwardness, Gay Rights, Civil Liberties: An Open Letter to Cardinal Murphy O'Connor (2007)


Sean Matgamna

Dear Mr Murphy O’Connor,

Courage in “Defence of the Faith” is, I suppose, a requirement of your office. Even so, I find it hard not to admire your courage — or bare-faced cheek — in attempting to “lay down the law” to the British government and the people it governs on what legal rights gay people in the UK should have and what legal rights granted to others should be denied to them.

You are joined in this by your “brothers in Christ” Rowan Williams and John Sentamu, Archbishops of Canterbury and York respectively.

Radical raps

There are plenty of blogs out there which give a left wing analysis of news and current affairs — or, at least, try to — so Pete’s Radical Poetry Site is a refeshing change. Run by Scottish socialist Pete Burton, the site aims to gather together radical and anti-establishment culture, from poetry to music to prose, in one handy place.

Global heartache

Sofie Buckland reviews Babel

The latest effort from Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, is over two-and-a-half hours of intense misery. Which would be fine, had Iñárritu not made it such hard work to empathise with a single one of his characters. A tale of emotional heartache centred around miscommunication (hence the title), the film drips with anguished expressions, heavy music and lingering shots of the desolate landscapes it’s set in, but somehow still manages to come across as very cold.

Debate: A violation of human rights, TGWU-Amicus merger

I’d like to reply to Chris Leary’s article about Ashley X the severely disabled child who underwent radical medical intervention to keep body childlike (Solidarity 3-104).

The issue here is the violation of an individual; the denial of basic human rights to a human being. I disagree strongly with the use of the word “treatment” to describe what was done to Ashley — the procedure was not performed to “treat” an ailment but rather alter her state of being — to keep her small for the rest of her life.

New Labour and BAE

By Mike Rowley

The extent of the pressure put on the Serious Fraud Office by Tony Blair’s government to drop its investigation last year into British Aerospace’s alleged systematic bribery of Saudi Arabian officials has finally come to light.

Robert Wardle, the head of the SFO, was pressured at least seven times to drop the investigation before Tony Blair asked for an end to it, citing “national security” — Blair was afraid the corrupt Saudi dictatorship would be upset if it was revealed that they take bribes, and that they might stop secret service cooperation with MI6.

A national campaign to save the NHS?

By a health worker

Two hundred people from trade unions and community campaigns attended the second national conference of Keep Our NHS Public on 19 January. But apart from Amicus’s Gill George there were not official representatives of the trade unions present.

Many community based activists attacked the trade union leadership for lack of action, in particular the failure of NHS Together to call a national demonstration on 3 March.

Workers' News Round-up

By Pablo Velasco


Recently Hugo Chávez declared the nationalisation of telecom and electricity firms. Now the Venezuelan government has announced that this would not be the expropriation of capital without compensation. According to Steven Mather, writing on the Venezuelanalysis website: “The Finance Chairman of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Ricardo Sanguino, said… that his government would compensate those companies that are to lose out over the nationalisation plans of his government.”

Stop Oaxaca repression

The struggle in Oaxaca Mexico was one of high points of workers’ struggle anywhere in the world last year. Now the movement of teachers and others in APPO is facing savage repression.

BA cabin crew strike against management bullies

By Anne Mack

British Airways cabin crew are set to strike for three days from Monday 29 January, after 96% of TGWU members voted for industrial action over pay, pensions and sick leave.

On 15 January over a thousand stewards and stewardesses gathered at a Heathrow hotel to hear the ballot result. Jack Dromey, Deputy General Secretary of the TGWU, told the meeting that “defeat was unthinkable” adding, “That would give the management the upper hand for a generation.”

Trade union link still threatened

By Jack Haslam

The Hayden Philips inquiry into party funding may not now be proposing drastic cuts to trade union funding of the Labour Party. The idea of putting a £50,000 cap on donations and affiliations looks to have been shelved. According to reports a new deal will be based on voluntary self-regulation of party finances.

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