Solidarity 093, 11 May 2006

Morales nationalises gas?

Published on: Tue, 16/05/2006 - 12:36

By David Broder

Bourgeois opinion was shocked on 1 May when new Bolivian president announced that he was going to nationalise the country’s gas resources. Troops were sent to occupy refineries and installations where the hydrocarbons are extracted as Evo Morales decreed, “The time has come, the awaited day, a historic day in which Bolivia retakes absolute control of our natural resources”.

This move surprised the multinationals — Petrobras, the Brazilian energy giant, and the Spanish government, both complained that Morales had earlier promised “negotiations” before he took any moves to

Iraq gets a new Prime Minister, but not stability

Published on: Tue, 16/05/2006 - 12:35

By Paul Hampton

Iraq has a new prime minister and the prospect of a new government after months of deadlock, but paralysis and sectarianism continues.

On 22 April, Nouri (Jawad) al-Maliki, a Shia and member of the Dawa Islamist party was appointed prime minister. He has 30 days to form a government and then parliament must approve each member of his cabinet by a majority vote.

Maliki fled Iraq in 1980 and lived in Syria. He returned to Iraq after Saddam was toppled in 2003 and was head of the de-Ba’athification committees that purged all former Ba’athists (mostly Sunnis) from government and

May Day repression in Iran

Published on: Tue, 16/05/2006 - 12:34

May Day rallies in Tehran and Sanandaj were attacked by the Iranian security forces, with 17 demonstrators, including members of the executive board of Tehran bus workers’ union, arrested.

In the rally in Tehran, called by the bus workers’ union and held outside the bus company’s headquarters, 13 people were detained. They included eight union activists and five students. They were released a few days later. In the rally in the city of Sanandaj four people were arrested.

Around twenty thousand demonstrators defied 2,000 members of the security forces in the rally in Tehran. According to

Fight for democracy in the labour movement!

Published on: Tue, 16/05/2006 - 12:25

Cassius: Why man, he doth bestride the narrow world

Like a Colossus, and we petty men

Walk under his huge leggs, and peep about...

Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed,

That he is grown so great? Age, thou art shamed.

William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act I Scene III.

AFTER the big Labour losses and Tory gains in last week’s local elections, there is a louder-then-ever clamour in the labour movement and beyond it for Blair to go, and go soon. But Blair refuses! He will, he says, go in his own good time.

The most important aspect of this increasingly grotesque Tony Blair saga is

Communication Workers vote on Labour leadership

Published on: Tue, 16/05/2006 - 12:23

AT this year’s Communication Workers’ Union conference, delegates will have an opportunity to lay down a marker for the next Labour Party leadership election. A motion proposed by London and Manchester branches calls for the CWU to “only nominate, support or encourage members to vote for candidates in the next Labour Party leadership election who support the principles of Trade Union Rights as outlined in the proposed Trade Union Freedom Bill and are also committed to keeping the Post Office in 100% public ownership”. It also calls for CWU-sponsored MPs to nominate a candidate who meets this

Respect makes gains as “Muslim party”

Published on: Tue, 16/05/2006 - 12:22

By John Bloxam

DESPITE losing seats, New Labour retained control of Tower Hamlets Council on 4 May, winning 26 seats and a bare majority of the total 51.

Significantly, many of the cabinet members most closely associated with the Tory policies pursued by the previous New Labour administration were defeated – notably the Council leader and lead member for Housing.

Although damaged by their record and incompetence, as well as national events, New Labour had pulled out the stops to retain control of the Council. This included a U-turn over Crossrail building works in the Brick Lane area, which

Students: Walking the walk

Published on: Tue, 16/05/2006 - 12:20

By Daniel Randall, national union of students executive

MY Labour Students colleagues on the NUS National Executive Committee (along with several of the “Independents”) spent much of their time during the local election campaigns in Tower Hamlets, trying to stop Respect from getting elected. Fair enough - Blairite activists will campaign for Blairite candidates, although why they thought fighting Respect in Tower Hamlets was a more important use of their time than fighting the BNP in Barking and Dagenham is somewhat beyond me.

I spent a lot of my time in Hackney, campaigning for Janine Booth

A strong socialist vote in Hackney

Published on: Tue, 16/05/2006 - 12:19

Janine Booth and Charlie MacDonald, Workers' Liberty members standing as Socialist Unity candidates in Hackney Central ward on 4 May, received 260 and 161 votes - roughly 11% and 7%, depending on how you calculate it in a three-seat ward. Despite a doubling of the Tory vote on the back of the national Tory revival, Janine beat all three Tory candidates. She received almost the same vote as in 2002, when she won 271 votes as a Socialist Alliance candidate.

In 2002, the SA campaign involved the whole of the organised left and stood candidates across Hackney; it was part of a nationally

Why the Tories were winners on 4 May

Published on: Tue, 16/05/2006 - 12:17

by Colin Foster

THE election-figures expert John Curtice reckons that the 4 May local government poll outcome “was not a disaster for Labour” (Independent, 6 May).

Labour got the equivalent of 26% of a general election vote. That was low, but exactly the same as what Labour got in 2004 — before its 2005 general election victory.

Governing parties, these days, can lose out heavily in mid-term local government elections, and still go on to win general elections.

“On average, Labour’s support increased on its 2004 vote in more working-class wards while falling in more middle-class ones.

AUT and NATFHE stand firm

Published on: Tue, 16/05/2006 - 12:16

by Sofie Buckland, National Union of Students executive member-EleCt

LECTURERS’ unions AUT and NATFHE are continuing their dispute over pay, demanding a decent national pay offer despite attempts by university bosses to defuse the dispute through local deals and drawn out national negotiations.

AUT members at St Andrews and Aberdeen Universities, the two institutions where the employers have made a local offer significantly more generous than what the University and Colleges Employers' Association was then offering nationally, have rejected the deal and demanded a national settlement (12.5%

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