Solidarity 263, 7 November 2012

Abortion rights under attack

Conservative anti-abortion zealot Nadine Dorries MP is pushing for a Parliamentary showdown on abortion time limits “in May or June next year”.

She got a debate in the House of Commons secondary debating chamber on 31 October, intended as a dress rehearsal for next year’s full debate and vote in Parliament.

The 1967 Abortion Act legalised abortion up to 28 weeks. The time limit was eroded to the current 24 weeks in 1990.

The current goal of Women’s Minister Maria Miller, Home Secretary Theresa May and Dorries herself is 20 weeks.

Ford Transit closure: unions should fight

Shop stewards and convenors at the Ford Transit Van plant in Southampton have voted to back a campaign to keep the factory open as Ford threatens a jobs massacre that could see 1,400 workers axed in Southampton and Dagenham.

Ford is attempting to buy off the workers in the Southampton plant with handsome severance packages of up to £80,000 and more.

The packages also include a bonus for “uninterrupted production” — that is, a direct incentive for workers not to take part in any industrial action against the closures.

Teachers strike against Academies

Teachers in Worthing (near Brighton) and Leytonstone (east London) have struck to stop their schools becoming Academies.

At Connaught School for Girls in Leytonstone, teachers struck on 16 and 24 October, and, as Solidarity went to press, were due to strike again on 7 and 8 November. The vote for Academy conversion on the school's board of governors was extremely close, with eight backing the proposals, six opposing, two abstaining, and two absent. The local council has accused the school's consultation on the conversion of containing "misconceptions and inaccuracies".

Striking for pensions and travel pass equality

Tube Lines maintenance and engineering workers held a lively picket line at the Stratford Market Place depot in east London as they struck to win pensions and travel pass equality.

Workers said that there was a strong mood to fight now that the dispute had resume after being on hold over the summer.

North East councils plan cuts assault

Newcastle City Council Leader Nick Forbes has warned the government cuts could mean failure to meet even statutory duties of care for vulnerable children and adults by 2020.

Council treasurer Paul Woods has told the Newcastle Journal that, according to projections from the Local Government Association, there would be no funding for central services, democracy, highway maintenance, parks, leisure or libraries by 2018. A council announcement on 6 November promised:

• complete axing of youth and play services;

• closure of short break centre for young people;

North Korea by the Acropolis

John Grahl (Professor of European Integration at Middlesex University) reviews Crisis in the Eurozone by Costas Lapavitsas et al.(Verso 2012)

Costas Lapavitsas, professor of economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London University, has become well known recently as the most prominent left-wing advocate of “Grexit,” Greek departure from the eurozone.

Eugene Debs

One of the greatest revolutionary socialists America has so far produced was Eugene V. Debs who stood as a candidate of the Socialist Party for US President five times. The last time was in 1920, while he was serving a 10 year jail sentence imposed on him, when he was 63, because he had opposed the First World War.

Why no American Labor?

Watching the US presidential elections is a dispiriting experience for socialists.

American workers are once again forced to choose between a capitalist Democratic party, firmly tied to the ruling class and over which the trade unions have no control, and a Republican party that is even worse.

In most developed capitalist societies, major parties based on trade unions — however reformist, uninspiring or however treacherous their role — have emerged. But in the US, this has never happened. Why not?

Help the AWL raise £15,000

Nadine Dorries, the MP who is leading a new campaign to cut abortion time limit, has been suspended from the Tory parliamentary party over her decision to appear on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

Dorries has said that she has no ambitions, and that all she wants to do is God’s work. Getting at least £40,000 as an appearance fee for hanging out in the Outback means nothing to her, then.

It will take more than a dressing down from a Tory whip to keep Dorries in check. Defending abortion rights will be one the central focus of the AWL's work in the next period.

Enforce the living wage!

According to Labour leader Ed Miliband, “Almost five million people in Britain aren’t earning enough for the living wage” — now £8.55 an hour in London, and £7.45 outside.

Those rates are estimated by the Greater London Authority (for London) and the Centre for Research in Social Policy (for outside London).

Even the Tories play lip-service to them. Labour should do more.

But Ed Miliband’s latest suggestion is that bosses be coaxed into paying these rates by offering them tax cuts if they do.

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