Nazi thugs gain
Any thoughts that the BNP might be in retreat should be completely dismissed. In a Dagenham council by-election on 15 July the BNP got 31% of the vote.
This gave them more than the Tories, Lib-Dems and Greens put together.
The BNP put out leaflets claiming that the Barking campus of the University of East London (soon to be closed, this massive building has a swimming pool, halls of residence, etc) is to be turned into a home for asylum seekers.
The election was held on the same day that a BBC documentary about the BNP was broadcast. The programme showed BNP leader Nick Griffin - who claims to be an expert on the Koran! - attacking Islam as a "vicious, wicked faith". And a BNP council candidate confessing to squirting dog shit through the letterbox of an Asian takeaway.
The ten-party system?
The George Galloway/SWP coalition has won a council by-election in east London, and scored 12.7% and 6.3% in two parliamentary by-elections. According to Galloway, those results for Respect mean that "we have established ourselves as the fourth party in British politics..." Not "can establish" or "may establish", but "have established" ...
On our arithmetic, Respect's results so far might just get it into 10th place, behind New Labour, Tories, Lib Dems, Greens, UKIP, BNP, SNP, Plaid Cymru, and SSP.
Moreover, all nine ahead of Respect can cite a reasonably long record, not just a few by-election results in a short period.
The best Respect can hope for on current showing is to consolidate a 10th place as a niche 'Muslim party'. Whether it can even do that must be doubtful: if a solid body of Muslims shapes up, wanting a 'Muslim party', then they are likely to go for a real Muslim party rather than one run by self-proclaimed atheists.
And if it does? Some of the election scores may look good by the standards of previous left candidates, but the comparison will mean nothing, because these are not 'left' scores.
Apartheid's final surrender?
In what must count as one of the strangest political events of recent years the New National Party, the direct successor of the party that created and dominated the apartheid regime, is to merge into the ANC.
The NNP was reduced to 1.7% of the vote in April's general election; its decision to cease operating as an independent entity by September 2005 is interesting mainly for what it tells you about the politics and class character of the ANC.
The Observer's description of the NNP's move as "Apartheid's final surrender" really misses the point. Clearly the solidarity of South Africa's bourgeoisie comes above the ANC leaders' dislike for repackaged white supremacists - and clearly South African workers need their own, independent political voice more than ever.
Breaking with the Democrats?
Andrew Stern, the head of the US union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has broken ranks with much of the rest of the US labour movement by criticising the Democrats. He said another four years of Bush policies might be less damaging because a Kerry presidency may stifle reform within the party and the labour movement.
Four or five unions have been talking of breaking away from the AFL-CIO to form some kind of new workers' movement. Their agenda is mainly about stopping the decline in union membership, the need for a new organising drive.
Stern's union had originally backed anti-war Howard Dean for the Presidential nomination.
This is hardly revolutionary, and it does not represent a break from labour movement loyalty to the Democratic Party, but, in US terms, it represents an important shift in attitudes.
Along with corruption and the deaths of workers killed in its massive building project, the Athens Olympics will also be remembered for its massive security operation - much of which will be directed against the city's Muslim community.
With a budget of $820 million and 50,000 police and troops standing by, deportations of Muslim immigrant workers, and arrests and surveillance of Muslims are set to rise.
There are about 130,000 Muslims in Greece, out of a population of around 10 million. In Athens, immigration from Albania, Pakistan, Sudan and Lebanon has boosted a community of around 10,000.
Many of these people provided a cheap workforce for building the Olympic Village. It is believed that this community has furnished the workers - 13 in total - who have lost their lives.
In line with practices across the rest of Europe (including the UK), police are expanding screening and profiling of Muslims in Athens in an attempt to detain any people who are in the country without papers.