Solidarity 141, 30 October 2008

Transitional demands today

Author

Cathy Nugent

In the aftermath of the First World War, and the betrayal of those sections of the socialist movement who supported that war, revolutionaries formulated the idea of a different kind of policies for workers’ struggles.

They rejected the old focus on minimum, “enough for now and maybe forever” reform demands, and began to do something different. Their policy now comprised demands which intersected with the living struggles of the workers but also pointed the way to the revolutionary transformation of society.

New Labour cuts grants and student numbers

Author

Daniel Randall, Education Not for Sale steering committee

On Wednesday 29 October, the Government confirmed to the Guardian that it plans to slash eligibility for student grants, and cut student numbers by up to 10,000.

Higher education minister Jim Denham denies that this has anything to do with the economic crisis, but it is a clear indication of how New Labour plans to cut back as things get tight. Its shows how we need to take social wealth out of the hands of the bankers and capitalists so it can be used for social need. That goal is a long way off; but we begin now by fiercely resisting every cut, and demanding what students need.

Talking about workers' candidates

Author

Colin Foster

On 15 November the Labour Representation Committee meets for its annual conference. The rail union RMT has called a cross-union conference on working-class political representation for 10 January 2009.

And Nottinghamshire Trades Council is planning a local trade unionists' meeting on workers’ representation in February 2009. East Midlands RMT branch is involved in this plan, which, like the calling of the 10 January conference, is in line with a resolution carried at the RMT’s conference in June 2008.

Spiced-up vice

Author

Cathy Nugent

From the start this programme’s commentary promised “spiced up” footage and propaganda. And I was hoping to see a proper documentary. “We look at the dark and dangerous netherworld [of London’s sex industry]” the programme makers said. And, “We look at the work of the Clubs and Vice Squad... who have become a byword for integrity and honesty.”

As far as the dangers of the sex industry go, we get to hear just a few facts, but not their true implication; we get to see some dangers faced by sex workers, but not the total story.

The Groan of Destiny

Author

Dale Street

In 1950 four young Scots stole a lump of rock from Westminster Abbey and took it to Scotland. It was the “Stone of Scone”, reputedly used in the coronation of kings of Scotland, but taken to London in 1296. The piece of rock was eventually abandoned in the grounds of Arbroath Abbey, and police took it back to Westminster Abbey.

General strike against privatisations, for better wages and pensions

Riot police fired tear gas on Tuesday 21 October to disperse demonstrators amid a nationwide general strike that brought air, rail and ferry traffic to a halt.

The general strike by millions of workers also crippled urban, rail and sea transport and kept schools, banks and public offices shut. State hospitals and utilities, including the partially privatized OTE telecom company, operated on skeleton staff while journalists staged a media blackout.

Italian students tell government: we are not paying for your crisis!

Author

Hugh Edwards

“They are pissing on us, but the government tells us it’s raining”. These words on a banner in Rome on 18 October say it all: the five-month post-electoral honeymoon between the right-wing racist government and large sections of the Italian masses is unravelling.

London buses

The strikes set to shut down most London bus companies on 22 October were suspended following an injunction gained by TfL against the union.

There is talk of the strike being re-scheduled to 5 November, but the whole balloting process may have to be restarted.

The pretext seems to be that the union had failed in certain garages to display the results of the strike ballot and that the union’s membership records are not up to date.

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