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Socialism Today 91 - April 2005


Socialism Today 91 - April 2005

Britain’s no choice election

The general election campaign has started in earnest. With so little to choose between the main parties, however, the election is already marked by vitriolic personal abuse and dirty tricks, as well as the early use of the immigration race-card.

Since the introduction of universal suffrage, the gap between the world of Westminster and the reality of people’s lives has never been greater. In mid-February, when New Labour launched its election campaign, the country was seized by a feeling of leaden gloom at the thought of another three months of election propaganda. Tony Blair has talked about the danger of the nation ‘sleepwalking into a Conservative victory’, but it is not apathy that is hanging like a pall over the general election, but alienation from all mainstream parties.  HANNAH SELL writes.

Lebanon assassination triggers crisis

The assassination of former prime minister, Rafik al-Hariri, sparked the largest demonstrations in the Middle East since the 1978/9 Iranian revolution. While 8 March saw up to a million protesting against US, Israeli and French interference, six days later a possibly bigger protest demanded the withdrawal of Syrian troops. It also gave George Bush the chance to push more of the US neo-conservative agenda in the region. ROBERT BECHERT reports.

Lessons of the UNISON general secretary election

LAST MONTH’S election for the general secretary of the public services union, UNISON, Britain’s biggest trade union, revealed a lot about the state of the unions and the union left. The sitting general secretary Dave Prentis, as widely expected, won with 184,769 votes (75.6%). Socialist Party member, Roger Bannister, polled 41,406 votes (16.9%). But the ‘United Left’ (UL) candidate Jon Rogers, a UNISON branch secretary in Lambeth and a recently elected national executive member, received just 18,306 votes (7.5%). BILL MULLINS reports.

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