Solidarity 199, 30 March 2011

Endgame in Libya?

Published on: Wed, 30/03/2011 - 13:10

As we go to press, the key towns of Brega and Ajdabiya have now been taken by the rebels and Qaddafi forces are everywhere in retreat. Libyan rebel troops are surrounding Sirte, birthplace and symbolic heartland of the Qaddafi regime. Their siege positions in Misurata are also less under-threat than last week. The change of fortunes for the rebels is largely as a consequence of the international air strikes. And that action now seems to be directed at “regime change”. Germany, Italy and Turkey continue to argue for a softer option.

There is undoubtedly a huge amount of support in the liberated

Syrian regime lashes out at protests

Published on: Wed, 30/03/2011 - 13:06

The uprising which began in the southern Syrian town of Deraa on 18 March continues to shake the nasty, brutal regime of Bashar Assad.

Protesters have been demanding more political freedom and have targeted businesses run by Assad’s relations. On Monday demonstrators converged on a main square in Deraa chanting: “We want dignity and freedom!" and "No to Emergency Laws!” The protesters also want the release of thousands of political prisoners.

On Saturday, demonstrators set fire to the ruling Baath party’s local headquarters in Tafas.

Government thugs and gunmen have killed over 100 people and

Class war Budget deepens attack on the working class

Published on: Wed, 30/03/2011 - 13:04

Last week’s Budget was further proof that the Tory government and its Lib-Dem hand-raisers are waging a vicious class war against the working class on behalf of their wealthy friends and backers.

Dubbed a “Budget for Growth”, its lustre was diminished instantly when Osborne downgraded his own 2011 growth forecast from 2.1% to 1.7%. But they hope to turn the crisis into an opportunity. Restructuring British capitalism and reconfiguring the British state, making the system and its components fit for profiteering — that was the real rationale for this Budget.

This was clear from the favours Con

Taking action for language teaching

Published on: Wed, 30/03/2011 - 12:59

On Thursday 24 March the campaign Action for ESOL called a day of action against the cuts in funding for ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) courses.

Government plans will see full fee remission restricted to students claiming “active benefits”. All students claiming “inactive” benefits, such as income support, disability allowance and housing benefit will have to pay up to £1200 a year for their English classes. Students on low incomes, spouses of low-wage workers or benefit claimants and refugees and asylum seekers will also be obliged to pay.

Around 500 people attended a teach-in

College strikes across Britain

Published on: Wed, 30/03/2011 - 12:55

UCU members in around 500 institutions took strike action last week as part of a series of parallel disputes over pensions and pay.

UCU branches at many institutions turned out lively picket lines, particularly on Thursday 24 March which saw action across the further and higher education sectors throughout the UK. At Manchester Metropolitan University, management used university security to evict workers from their own picket lines! In a union statement, UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: “I was on the picket line at MMU today and absolutely astounded to have been told by the university's

More strikes at BA

Published on: Wed, 30/03/2011 - 12:51

For the fourth time in two years, cabin crew workers at British Airways have returned a huge majority for strike action on an enormous turnout. 83% of workers voted to strike, on a turnout of 72%.

Their union, Unite, now has a month in which to declare action, which has elicited predictable bleating from the tabloid press about potential disruption to Easter holidays.

Despite the impressive ballot result, the strike is one that sees workers on the back-foot. The current dispute focuses on reversing victimisations and attacks suffered during previous strikes around pay freezes and job cuts

Camden teachers strike alongside Tower Hamlets workers

Published on: Wed, 30/03/2011 - 12:49

As members of the National Union of Teachers and Unison in Tower Hamlets prepare to strike on Wednesday 30 March, NUT members in Camden will join them in a one-day strike as anti-cuts industrial action slowly begins to spread.

85% of Camden NUT members voted to strike, with 79% also voting for further action. Like Tower Hamlets, Camden has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the UK and faces devastating cuts to vital services. The borough is set to lose two children’s centres, its play service and the Cognition and Learning team. Local nurseries are also planning to introduce charges,

The Paris Commune of 1871: the first workers' government

Published on: Wed, 30/03/2011 - 12:40

The following text is from Karl Marx’s The Civil War in France. It is an account of the events leading up to and during the Paris Commune of March-May 1871 when a radical democratic government of the people (in the main working class) held power. It is a militant defence of the Paris Commune — it caused a stir at the time — and was written for the “First International” (the International Working Men’s Association), the socialist and labour movement grouping in which Marx was a leading member. The French members of the IWMA played important roles in the Commune. In this extract, Marx develops

Islamism and the EDL: our critique and theirs

Published on: Wed, 30/03/2011 - 12:32

The EDL blog “English Defence League Extra” has republished, with critical comments, a recent Solidarity article on David Cameron’s 5 February speech on multiculturalism. The EDL writer uses our article as a stick to beat the SWP.

We have heard reports that a few SWP students have leapt on this as evidence of the AWL’s alleged political closeness to the EDL. This is just sad. They should read Trotsky’s response to Stalinist accusations that, because right-wingers cited his attacks against the Soviet bureaucracy, he must be in league with them.

In fact a large element of the EDL commentary on

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