Solidarity 252, 11 July 2012

Rendezvous in Northern Ireland?

Published on: Wed, 11/07/2012 - 14:16

In a hugely symbolic moment on 27 June, during a royal visit to Northern Ireland to mark her jubilee, the former commander of the IRA shook hands with the Queen.

The man who commanded the force responsible for, amongst other things, the death of the Queen’s cousin Lord Mountbatten, exchanged a handshake with the woman whose armed forces murdered 14 innocent civil rights marchers in his hometown of Derry. This was, all proportions guarded, a real life instance of David Low’s famous cartoon “Rendezvous” in which Hitler (“the bloody assassin of the workers”) greets Stalin as “the scum of the

Syriza and "Plan B"

Published on: Sun, 15/07/2012 - 15:44

Miltos Ikonomou, a leader of Syriza in Thessaloniki, spoke to us in the Syriza office in the city, a set of rooms above a cafe, while other, mostly young, Syriza members hurried about and phones rang repeatedly.

How, we asked, does Syriza explain that Greece will be better with a left government?

“With our social programme. We want the people to support us and get involved. We want something like the Popular Unity in Chile”.

A reforming left government, with wide popular mobilisation behind it, held office in Chile in 1970-3. It was overthrown by a bloody military coup in September 1973. So

Whose Olympics?

Published on: Wed, 11/07/2012 - 15:59

The London Olympics will begin in just under three weeks, but the accompanying security measures and marks of privilege in the city have been visible for some time.

Be it the 17.5km electric fence around the Stratford site, the warnings about travel delays, or markings appearing to identify specific roads for Olympic traffic only during the event, one thing is clear — the Games have come to town.

Activist groups covering a range of issues have come together to form the Counter Olympics Network (CON), stating in a press release that “CON helps to provide a co-ordinated voice for a wide range

Setbacks for Islamists in Libya's elections

Published on: Wed, 11/07/2012 - 15:55

The results of Libya’s first parliamentary elections since the fall of the regime indicate a victory for the National Forces Alliance (NFA) led by former interim prime minister Mahmoud Jibril.

The NFA is a loose conglomeration of parties (58 of them) centred around a liberal programme of economic transformation and political moderation, and is largely a product of the old National Transitional Council (NTC).

The heartland of the NTC was the original liberated zones of Benghazi and Cyrenaica, which makes it all the more surprising that hostility to the elections was most apparent in those

Trade union news in brief

Published on: Wed, 11/07/2012 - 15:50

More 500 members of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) on Virgin Trains’ West Coast line are balloting for strikes to win the reinstatement of sacked colleague Martin Hodges.

Martin was summarily dismissed by management, who allege a “poor timekeeping record” dating back to 2010. But TSSA officer Tom Condon said the sacking “was the first we had heard about [the timekeeping problem] — he has been our rep for five years.”

Activists believe Martin was sacked because of his union work. TSSA leader Manuel Cortes said: “Our rep, Martin Hodges, was fired for simply carrying out his

Tube cleaners frozen out of Olympic bonuses

Published on: Wed, 11/07/2012 - 15:24

While many transport workers will now be receiving payments for the extra workload they will face during the Olympics, some are being frozen out — and, not surprisingly, many are those who are already overlooked and super-exploited.

Cleaners on three contracts — ISS and Initial on London Underground, and Carlisle on the Docklands Light Railway — are voting in an RMT ballot for industrial action. ISS and Initial are refusing any Olympics payment, while Carlisle is refusing to pay even the barely-adequate London Living Wage. The ballots close on Thursday 19 July, the same day that the union will

Sheffield strikers discuss workers' control

Published on: Wed, 11/07/2012 - 15:17

Recycling workers and their supporters met in Sheffield on Thursday 5 July to discuss the status of their dispute, after workers suspended their indefinite strike action on Wednesday 4 July.

Scab labour and strike-breakers were employed during the strike. Whilst no-one was willing to speak on-record, there is an allegation that SOVA, the private company which runs the recycling centres for the council, made use of its charity division which works with ex-prisoners.

Some of these may have been used as used as scabs, with the suggestion that their normal positions were under threat if they didn

How Unite plans to change the Labour Party

Published on: Wed, 11/07/2012 - 15:12

At its 2012 policy conference, the Unite union ratified a strategy from its Executive for changing the basis on which the union relates to the Labour Party.

Dave Quayle, Chair of Unite’s National Political Committee, spoke to Solidarity about what that strategy means for working-class political representation.


The consensus in the union was very much that if we were going to remain part of the Labour Party, the relationship had to change.

We give millions of pounds to a party we have little control over, and we get nothing back. The Labour Party in government did absolutely nothing for the

Franz Mehring: The Second International's lost revolutionary

Published on: Wed, 11/07/2012 - 15:06

In an ongoing series, Micheál MacEoin looks at the lives of some of the revolutionary socialist tradition’s heroes. This week, he explores the ideas and activism of Franz Mehring.


Franz Mehring (1846-1919) was a German Marxist journalist, theorist and historian. After almost thirty years in the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) he opposed the leadership’s support for the First World War and founded the Spartacus League along with Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.

Mehring was born in Pomerania to well-off parents and studied at the universities of Berlin and Leipzig. As a young man,

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