Solidarity 144, 15 January 2009

Self-determination for the Sahrawi people!

Published on: Fri, 16/01/2009 - 22:01

Dan Katz

Following the 1884 Berlin conference where the big powers carved up much of Africa and distributed the parts among themselves, the Spanish state claimed a protectorate over a large part of what is now known as the Western Sahara.

The French grabbed most of the rest of Morocco, together with a vast chunk of north West Africa. Later the Spanish extended and amalgamated areas to form the “Spanish Sahara”.

The people that lived in the Spanish Sahara were largely nomadic Arab-Berber tribes speaking the Hassaniya dialect. They resisted Spanish rule. In 1957-8 there was a uprising encouraged by the

William Morris - Towards a socialist ecology

Published on: Fri, 16/01/2009 - 21:58

Paul Hampton

William Morris made a distinctive contribution to the development of Marxist ideas, for example on the nature of work and on the vision of a classless, communist society. But arguably his most significant contribution — and certainly one with great contemporary relevance - was his conception of a socialist ecology.

In this respect Morris was a pioneer and an innovator – he evolved from conservationism to integrate ecology within a Marxist framework. His views have much to teach us today in our age of climactic convulsion.

Morris made his name as an artist and as a poet, and his commitment to

The Working Class Self-Education Movement: The League of the "Plebs"

Published on: Fri, 16/01/2009 - 21:52

Colin Waugh

In October 1908 industrial workers who were union-sponsored students at Ruskin College in Oxford founded what they called the League of the “Plebs”. Former students who had returned to their jobs as miners, railwayworkers, textile workers and engineers, supported them.

From January 1909 they began to organise socialist classes in South Wales, the North East, Lancashire and other working-class areas. Under the umbrella of the National Council of Labour Colleges (NCLC), there were, by 1926-27, 1,201 classes like this across Britain, with 31,635 students.

Many classes that had begun in this way

Standing against Harriet Harman

Published on: Fri, 16/01/2009 - 21:47

Mark Osborn

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty plans to stand against the Labour Party’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, in the next general election. Harman is MP for the working-class constituency of Camberwell and Peckham in south east London.

As Secretary of State for Social Security, Harman fronted-up New Labour’s attacks on the welfare state following the 1997 election. She has slavishly followed Blair and then Brown, and voted for the Iraq war.

In 2008 Harman toured her constituency in a stab vest, with a police escort, neatly summing up her contempt for, and distance from, the people she is supposed

Workers need a political voice today!

Published on: Fri, 16/01/2009 - 21:44

Vicki Morris

120 people attended the RMT-organised meeting ‘to discuss the crisis in working-class political representation’, held in London on 10 January. The meeting agreed unanimously that workers need a new political voice, but could not agree on when — or, at least, on the next steps to create one.

Debate centred on 1. whether we should stand working-class candidates in elections soon; 2. the role of a charter in organising working-class representation – alternative to standing candidates, or a way to support them?

Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary, said he wanted a new working-class party, but could

The sad fate of Tommy Sheridan

Published on: Fri, 16/01/2009 - 21:42

Amina Saddiq

Former Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan’s appearance on Celebrity Big Brother is a pretty depressing business.

I only had to watch for a few minutes (doubling my total Big Brother viewing history) to feel queasy about a middle-aged man trying hard to sound interesting for the viewers while flirting with much younger women on the show. But that wasn’t the really depressing bit.

Nor was it the large amount of money Sheridan is being paid for his appearance — rumoured at £100,000 — violating his old worker’s wage principle, though he hasn’t disclosed the figure.

What really got me

Crisis: the impact on women. The pressures and the fightback

Published on: Fri, 16/01/2009 - 21:34

Rebecca Galbraith

Beyond boob jobs — how might the credit crunch affect women? is a recent article on The F-word (a feminist blog) by Carolyn Roberts. The writer makes an observation that I found true when researching this topic — that there is pretty much nothing written on the potential impact of the crisis on women.

At the time of writing the London socialist feminist reading group on this topic came up first on an entire google search — great, but pretty depressing.

Carolyn Roberts found three main articles: a story about an overweight woman who lost her job, started her own business and lost five stones;

Stop the BNP!

Published on: Fri, 16/01/2009 - 21:31

Heather Shaw

The financial crisis, offering nothing in the way of hope for working class people in Britain, also gives the British National Party dangerously big opportunities. Predictably the far-right party have been very vocal about what they can gain out of the thousands of job losses and financial insecurity of workers.

Speaking back in October 2008, BNP Deputy Treasurer David Hannam was blunt about how his party should approach the crisis; “economic meltdowns are one of the drivers of political revolutions and the BNP must be ready to take advantage of the mess all the other parties have made of the

International student movement: free education for all

Published on: Fri, 16/01/2009 - 21:05

Gemma Short

Recently I took part in an international webchat conference organised by activists, mainly in continental Europe, under the banner of the “international students movement — emancipating education for all”.

Despite the massive obstacles of organising with students from across the world, the core activists are somehow managing — with students from Australia, USA, Italy, Germany, Spain, Holland and the UK attending the web chat.

The main thrust for this co-ordination grew up around the “Bologna declaration” — a document set out by 29 European education ministers in June 1999 to reform the higher

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