Solidarity 138, 11 September 2008

Privatising gains and socialising losses? Socialise the gains!

The massive state involvement in desperate social action on behalf of the capitalist classes to avert the collapse of their financial system is making the basic case for working-class socialism more forcefully, unanswerably, and urgently than it has been made for a very long time. The nationalisation by the conservative George Bush administration of the two giant US financial corporations known as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae has made the case for working-class socialism more forcefully, unanswerably, and urgently than for a long time. In Britain recently, the same case for socialism was made in...

A workers’ plan for the crisis

In moments of desperation, capitalist governments reveal themselves. Take these two examples: Alistair Darling’s prognosis for the British economy and the recent bail-outs of US mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Darling’s admission that the economic crisis will be worse than most people thought, his slashing of growth forecasts and comments about voters being “pissed off” with New Labour paint a pretty picture of the turmoil at the heart of government. Couple this with his intransigent stand at the TUC and we’re reminded that the concerns of this government lie not with the working...

Universities move towards higher fees

This academic year will see a review of the ÂŁ3,000 cap on top-up fees, most likely resulting in new government policy of allowing universities to set much higher variable fees. Much more than anything New Labour has done so far, this will mean a move towards a US-style system of pretty much unrestricted free markets in higher education. Yet the Blairite-led National Union of Students plans, pretty much, to do nothing. In 2005, the year that the original proposal for variable fees up to ÂŁ3,000 passed through Parliament, by a majority of just five votes, NUS cancelled its national demonstration...

Nationalise gas and electricity

You don’t have to be a financial genius to understand the following rule: increase your prices and you increase your profits. Even better if your competitors do the same, then there’s no risk of you losing business. And so it is with the big three energy companies. Shell, BP and British Gas all employ legions of economists to maximise their profits but in this instance the PR people play a more important role. Shell made £4 billion in the first quarter of 2008, up 4.6%. BP made £3.4 billion, up 6%. Centrica, the company that owns British Gas, reported profits of £992 million in the first half...

Union news in brief: Unison LG, First Buses, Karen Reissman

UNISON: activists in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are angered by news from the national office on progress on pay negotiations. Scottish Unison stated they are preparing for further action; they oppose multi-year deals, and state that "talks are welcome but not a means in themselves", Unison in England and Wales thinks differently. Members are told that Unison wants to resolve this dispute as soon as possible, but that the framework for talks is until end of December We have gone into open ended discussions, calling off all action for negotiations, with the employers putting nothing on...

Back Steve Hedley!

Steve Hedley is a candidate in the election for RMT London Regional Organiser. As the RMT in London is facing a big political and industrial fight against Tory mayor Boris Johnson and a potential Tory government intent on breaking the union and imposing pay cuts, this an important election. Steve spoke to Tubeworker, the bulletin produced by AWL tubeworkers. Q: How do you see the role of Regional Organiser? A: The London Transport region of the RMT covers everybody that was once employed by “London Transport”. The organiser should set up organisations of workers in the region to strengthen the...

Teachers: strike in November, go on to win!

On Friday 5 September the NUT Executive voted unanimously for a new strike ballot to continue our campaign for decent levels of pay. The ballot will open on 6 October and close on 3 November. our last ballot sought support for only a one day strike, despite an earlier decision by the Executive to go for discontinuous action. This time union members will be asked to support discontinuous action so we will not be restricted to a one-off protest strike. That is very good, though a lot of time and momentum has now been lost. The strike on 24 April was a tremendous demonstration of what is possible...

No class politics: student stop the war conference:

About one hundred student activists attended the Student Stop the War meeting on 6 September — not a bad turn out, but unfortunately that was the best thing about the meeting. Most of those present were from various socialist groups with the SWP — who organised the event — in abundance. The politics promoted by the SWP were very far from socialist, and the meeting failed to develop any real strategy for action. Of a two hour meeting, seventy minutes were taken up by speeches from the top table — not much time for discussing anything. Tony Benn delivered a version of the speech he always makes...

For democracy not “consensus”

The fragmented left faces a new situation in the light of the blocking off of any possible challenge to Brown through the Labour Party; the failure of Respect; and the Socialist Alliance and the rise of the BNP. The Convention of the Left is an attempt to bring together those on the left opposed to the Labour government’s attacks on the working class and to debate and formulate alternative anti-capitalist strategies. Initially there will be a five day event in Manchester from 20-24 September running in parallel with Labour’s own conference. This will consist of a number of themed meetings...

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