Solidarity 166, 4 February 2010

Britain 2010: social attitudes

The latest figures from the British Social Attitudes Survey show that while people have become more liberal on social issues such as gay rights, there has been a rightward drift on economic questions.

• Whereas, in 2002, 63% of people surveyed thought that governments should increase taxes to fund greater public spending, that figure is now down to 39%. The majority believing that both taxation and spending levels should be kept as they are (which will make neither the Tories nor New Labour, both of whom have extensive cuts projects, particularly confident).

Higher Education cuts: the fightback begins


Ed Maltby

On Monday 1 February the higher education funding body, the HEFCE have announced the details of how the budget cuts imposed by Peter Mandelson back in December 2009 will fall. The headline cuts is one in the universities' teaching budgets — £215m in the acedemic year 2010-11. This cut will lead to a the loss of 6,000 student places. Up to 300,000 university applicants will be turned away this summer. The lecturer's union UCU is warning of over 6,000 teaching job cuts although this number is almost certain to rise. New Labour's higher education cuts amount to £950 million over three years.

Zionism, anti-semitism and the left

Martin Thomas

Moishe Postone is a Marxist academic based at the University of Chicago. As well as writing extensively on Marx’s political economy, he has also been central to the development of theories of “left anti-semitism”, which look at ways in which positions taken by left groups, particularly on Israel/Palestine, can feed into, or be based on, hostility to Jews.

Martin Thomas spoke to him. Click here to download this interview as a pdf.

Socialist Workers Party: leading dissidents expelled


Clarke Benitez

At the conference of the Socialist Workers' Party which took place on 9-10 January, the expulsions of dissident members Clare Solomon and Alex Snowdon were confirmed.

Both members were expelled for "factional behaviour" — a charge which was backed up with evidence provided by emails that the SWP Central Committee got hold of by hacking into their accounts. Solomon and Snowdon were members of the minority “Left Platform” within the SWP.

Election coalition launched


Gareth Munro

The Socialist Party has launched a “Trade Union and Socialist Coalition” (TUSC) for the general election. Seeing itself as a successor organisation to the “No2EU” slate, TUSC has so far failed to achieve significant trade union backing: Bob Crow is involved in a personal capacity, but the RMT Executive decided to concentrate on re-electing its sponsored MPs. Although the SWP have said they want to participate, the SP remains the only significant force formally involved.

Sussex students against Israel boycott


Patrick Rolfe

As we reported in Solidarity 3/164, the University of Sussex Students’ Union recently passed a policy committing it to a boycott of Israeli goods. Workers’ Liberty opposes such boycotts because we believe they cut against what is objectively necessary — international working-class solidarity to help Palestinian and Israeli workers build unity around a programme of mutual respect and equal rights — and create the potential for an anti-semitic backlash by exceptionalising Israel.

French burqa ban: socialists defend women’s rights and fight racism

Following a law passed in 2004 banning the hijab (Muslim headscarf) and other symbols of “religious affiliation” in state schools, the French government is now discussing a proposal to ban the wearing of the burqa (the full body veil) in various public spaces, including on public transport. It takes place as part of a concerted government campaign to assert a secular French “national identity”.

Urgent need for rape crisis centres


Becky Crocker

The Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into the case of rapist black cab driver John Worboys has highlighted again the criminal justice system’s appalling handling of rape allegations. It does nothing to inspire confidence in an already mistrusted system, which contributes to the low rape conviction rate, currently 6%. Small comfort too was the IPCC’s advice to contact “third parties” i.e. Rape Crisis Centres if nervous about the police, as underfunded centres continue to fold and funding is increasingly dependent on partnership with police.

Britain 2010: the sick pay

A Labour Party plan to scrap prescription charges for people with long-term health conditions has been shelved, and is now expected to reappear as a manifesto pledge in this year's general election.

The move, which was first announced at the Labour Party's 2008 conference, would have affected up to 15 million people and has provoked anger from health service campaign groups and charities.

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