Solidarity 134, 26th June 2008

Why the left should not back Obama


Barry Finger

The enthusiasm among the progressive wing of the Democratic Party for Barack Obama, a compelling writer, an inspiring speaker with a story that seems to define the American experience, is understandable. Indeed, the symbolic significance of an African-American so close to the presidency in a country whose politics is so fundamentally scarred by racism cannot be underestimated. This enthusiasm seems to have upturned the usual justification on the part of progressives and leftists for voting Democratic.

Fight for wages to match prices!


Tom Unterrainer

Inflation increased by one-tenth from May to June. The leap from 3% to 3.3% is the largest increase since 1997. The increase prompted Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, to write to Chancellor Alistair Darling explaining that the “rise can be accounted for by large and, until recently, unanticipated increases in the prices of food, fuel, gas and electricity”. No kidding Mr King!

Good for the environment? Good for us?


Colin Foster

The activist left, being heavily concentrated in city-centre areas with relatively copious public transport, may be liable to underestimate the impact of fuel price rises.

Even in Britain, probably the majority of the working class live in outlying areas of cities and in small towns: they have no choice but to drive a car to get to work. About two-thirds of all journeys to work in Britain are made by car.

Now Is the Time To Fight the Anti-Union Laws!



Rising inflation and the government policy of wage cutting by keeping wage increases below inflation, is reviving active, militant trade unionism.

Workers are being faced with the choice to either fight or docilely let their living standards be forced down by a government whose pandering to the rich was a already, even before it adopted a policy of “fighting inflation” by cutting the real wages of low paid workers, a scandal and an obscenity.

Who really defends freedom?

David Davis, the ex-Tory MP soon to stand in a by-election for his own constituency on a platform of opposing 42 day detention without charge and defending civil liberties, is a hard-line right-winger. He supports the restoration of the death penalty. He has voted repeatedly in Parliament against lesbian and gay equality: against the repeal of Section 28, against an equal age of consent, against adoption rights. He voted to cut back women's access to abortion. He wants to abolish the minimal protections of the Human Rights Act.

Zimbabwe: Only mass action can stop the dictator

This is abridged from a statement by the International Socialist Organisation Zimbabwe written before MDC candidate Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the election, and followed by a postscript concerning the withdrawal. It is worth restating our opposition to the comrades' electoral support, however critical, for the MDC; we printed a critique in the last issue of Solidarity and hope they will reply when they are able to.

A member of the ISO will be speaking at Ideas for Freedom on Saturday 12 July (see page 12).

Reign of terror

Union news in Brief

• Unison Conference: Good news, the left at Unison conference mangaged to beat the leadership in vote after vote. But there were not many big debates as Standing Orders had ruled anything controversial (and 47% of motions) out of order. However we won a lot of symbolic victories.

How to strike for better pay


Elaine Jones

Drivers who work on a contact for Shell Oil were offered a 14% pay increase over two years after four days of strike action. The increase may be worth 9% in the first year and 5% in the second, taking average annual earnings to £41,750 — it’s not clear because contracts are due to be renewed in a year.

The sucessful strike was well supported with drivers from other companies, like BP, who are also Unite members refusing to cross picket lines and even the independent drivers who aren’t in the union supported the strike.

Get back to first principles


Andrew Fisher

The left in Britain is in crisis. Recent years have seen the tensions caused by this crisis tear through the Socialist Alliance, the Scottish Socialist Party and Respect. Other projects have been even less successful.

Within the Labour Party orbit, all left organisations are facing tensions between the Party and the movement — often to be found diametrically opposed. Even the amorphous quasi-left Compass grouping has divided recently.

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