Socialist Party | Print
New Labour is a capitalist establishment party and cannot be 'reclaimed' for working people and their families.
Only a new political party representing workers' interests can tackle the problems the bosses' system creates. Join the Socialist Party and our campaign for a new workers' party.
"YOUR RECENT election, and the election of other left-wing general secretaries, has raised the hopes of many in the labour movement that a meaningful fight against this government's Tory policies can be launched.
"As you said in your speech to the Transport and General Workers' Union's Biennial Delegate Conference, your election was a mandate for change in the way the union does its business.
We would have little quarrel with the points you make with regard to campaigning against the bosses. TGWU members have been at the sharp end of redundancies in manufacturing industry.
The ruthless lust for profits of the new owners of privatised utilities has also meant job losses and our members have been affected, particularly in the transport industry where TGWU membership remains strong.
Our members in local government face cuts and privatisation from councils every day, including Labour-led ones. Meanwhile, the pensions of workers are being robbed, as clearly as if Dick Turpin had been responsible.
This onslaught on the working class has received an inadequate response from leaders of trade unions up to now.
BUT THINGS are changing. Your election, and that of others in the so-called 'awkward squad', is a reflection of the anger of union members that exists against the bosses .
Many would support your belief in a union that "expresses, rather than damps down, the aspirations of working people and always meets the members before it meets the managers when a problem arises", "a union that gets right behind [our members] 110% and fights to win".
Many would agree with your sentiments that sometimes trade unions can be seen as "too close to the gaffer". These opinions and more lay the basis for the TGWU becoming once more a "fightback union".
You rejected the false division between industrial and political work; as you said, the TGWU has "been involved in politics and will continue to do so".
We would welcome that. But where is that political involvement to take place? You have committed the union to "reclaim the Labour Party".
The days of New Labour are "numbered", you said. Many would like to believe that the destruction of New Labour could be possible from within the Labour Party.
Sadly, we have to disagree.
WE BELIEVE that there is very little chance of changing the Labour Party today. New Labour is a different beast even to previous right-wing Labour governments.
Many of us participated in the Labour Party in the 1970s and 1980s when left-wing policies were adopted and big reforms were won in party democracy. However, all of those reforms have gone and more.
Even you admit that policy is now "handed down from the top with no room to challenge or question it".
While you say that another look has to be taken at party democracy, a huge campaign would have to be launched inside the Labour Party to force changes.
Even when union policy is carried at conference, as for example, the resolution on PFI last year, it is simply ignored.
How are you going to reverse this? How are you going to force the party to actively oppose Foundation Hospitals, which the union has said it will fight, alongside other unions including GMB and UNISON?
A serious campaign to reclaim the Labour Party, to end PFI and privatisation, to repeal the trade union laws, to stop the imperialist foreign policy and get rid of the Blairites, would require a determined struggle involving the mobilisation of large numbers of workers into the party.
You propose that five major unions should affiliate to every Constituency Labour Party, send delegates and that within two years they could take over the party because they are so small at the moment.
If this were possible, what does it say about activity inside the Labour Party now? The problem with this is finding enough branches and enough trade unionists and who are Labour Party members to fill the positions.
Many Labour Party members have left in disgust at the pro-capitalist policies of Blair, New Labour ministers and their acolytes in councils up and down the country.
Rather than staying in the Labour Party, many members are tearing up their cards; instead of joining, many union members, such as firefighters who came under the cosh in their recent dispute, are filling up the forms to end paying the political levy because it goes to New Labour.
Fewer workers are voting for New Labour. Only a quarter of the electorate actually voted Labour in the 2001 general election.
Just 59% bothered to vote at all. Huge sections of the working class have been politically disenfranchised because no party, including New Labour, represents what they want.
IN THAT vacuum, unless the labour movement organises a radical, socialist alternative, there will be support for parties which seem to oppose the system.
In particular, the racist BNP has gained because the major parties have failed to address the needs of ordinary people. This is something which the union has pledged to counter.
But it can't do this so effectively while it is tied to New Labour.
In your reply to the debate on the link to the Labour Party at the BDC, you used the example of Annie Besant's paper The Link. We think there are similarities today with the period of the late 19th century when Annie Besant and her newspaper helped the matchgirls'strike - the prelude to a huge wave of militant strike action by previously unorganised workers.
Then, the general unions, alongside socialist groups, fought to establish independent political representation for the labour movement, in opposition to the old labour aristocracy's policy of 'Lib-Labbery', which tied the working class to the Liberals, a capitalist party.
Measures like this are needed today. The Labour Party has a similar character, consorting with big business and its pro-capitalist policies.
You would say that it is necessary to get the trade unions to reclaim the party from 'New Labour'.
We say it is time for the trade union movement to take the bold step of breaking with New Labour, not to go into 'non-political' trade unionism, but to use its political strength to form a new workers' party that could gain the ear of the disenchanted, the poor and all the victims of the capitalist system by putting forward socialist policies.
That would give a real alternative to New Labour.
Please consider our proposal seriously. There have already been too many false starts from socialist formations.
But a serious lead from one or more trade unions would be of a different dimension entirely. We need the trade unions to take bold action now.
There is not a moment to lose."
NEGOTIATIONS OVER the Devon Stagecoach Bus drivers' modest demand of £6.50 an hour with no strings, have started and a strike scheduled for 23 July has been suspended.
The mood of the workers was more determined after one picket got his ankle broken as a scab driver drove at the pickets in Torbay. A two hundred-strong crowd of strikers protested in Exeter on 15 July, gathered to hear RMT general secretary Bob Crow.
He referred to his nightmare six-hour train journey to Exeter in 32 degree heat with no air conditioning and no water or food - yet another example of the degeneration of public transport at the hands of private companies like Stagecoach.
He pointed out that secondary picketing was still illegal thanks to Blair's failure to repeal Tory anti-trade union laws, yet it was legal for Stagecoach to bring in scabs from all over Britain to break the strike.
He pledged that there would be no sell-out by the union executive or the RMT leadership: "When they take on the RMT, they aren't just taking on two branches in Devon but all 60,000 members of the RMT in Britain"
He promised that the RMT was committed not just to their current fight but to winning a 35-hour week for all bus drivers in Britain with no reduction in wages: "If it's good enough for managing directors - it's good enough for the workers," he said.
Socialist Party members, along with other socialists and trade unionists in Devon have formed a Bus Drivers' Strike Support Group.
We will work with the strikers in any way we can to ensure their victory, as a blow in the fight against low pay in the West country.
If no agreement is reached, four more days of strike action will begin on 25 July.
GORDON BROWN has warned his fellow ministers to abandon any hopes of big rises in next year's public spending round. Latest figures say that the government is in the red by almost £14 billion in the first three months of the financial year.
That compares to £10 billion in the same period of 2002.
Capitalist commentators say that Brown's forecasts of a £27 billion deficit for the year were wildly optimistic. They think weaker economic growth will reduce tax receipts and push the deficit over £30 billion - £20 billion more than Brown predicted a year back.
Mervyn King, the new governor of the Bank of England, says the economy is in for a bumpy ride as the consumer boom winds down. That boom has been fuelled by debt.
Household spending has risen faster than output for the first time in history. The Bank of England encouraged this - it brought growth of sorts.
But now household debts, after their most rapid growth since 1990, have hit an all-time high of just under 120%.
People are now tightening their belts noticeably - if banks, credit cards etc. stop lending so much money to consumers like us, some economists fear a new recession.
Whether that happens or not, the government will definitely need to borrow more. Brown hints that health and education spending would be unaffected but economists calculate that every percentage point reduction in economic growth below the government's over-optimistic target would add £6 billion to £8 billion to the 'hole' in the budget forecasts.
To fill this hole Brown is likely to cut public-sector spending and increase job loses as well as increasing borrowing and raising taxes. The crisis in the capitalist system is preparing a big shock for its most trusting defenders - New Labour.
BRITISH AIRWAYS (BA) staff at Heathrow airport walked out in a wildcat action on 18 July to prevent the company imposing an automated time management scheme (ATR).
Check-in staff were furious when their senior union reps told them on Friday that the company was determined to impose the scheme at noon on 22 July.
"Everybody felt we might as well walk out now, rather than wait until Tuesday," a GMB member told the socialist. Once the strike took effect, the frustration and anger of staff was shown as action spread from shift to shift and across the terminals.
Every time a shift came on and found the previous shift had walked out, they walked too.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled, affecting tens of thousands of passengers.
The workers, members of GMB, TGWU and Amicus returned to work on Sunday, when the company promised "full and frank negotiations" on Monday. But clearly, unless BA withdraws the imposition of ATR, the staff will walk out again.
ATR is linked to a computer system (iArm) which would allow the company to track workers' hours on an annual basis, using swipe cards. BA want to cut costs by making staff come to work when it's busy and go home when it's not.
This would mean working more in the summer and less in the winter. But BA staff want to go on holiday in the summer, like everybody else.
This scheme, adopted in some US airports, would open the door to further cuts in working conditions, like split shifts and would adversely affect other things like overtime payments.
As we went to press, talks had adjourned overnight. BA agreed to delay their imposition of the new system by 24 hours for talks to continue.
Meanwhile some groups of workers have been taking supportive action, including working to rule. This has spread to the engineering staff.
Unless talks reach a satisfactory agreement, there will be ballots for industrial action. But as these ballots take two weeks, further walkouts are likely - this time affecting more staff, across all terminals.
The deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons has not stopped the attacks on coalition forces. Some 77 US armed forces personnel have been killed in Iraq since George Bush declared the war was over on 1 May. The total death toll of US service personnel since the start of the war has now surpassed the 1991 conflict.
Last week the head of US central command, general John Abizaid, admitted that his troops were facing a "classical guerrilla-type campaign".
Describing the current situation in Iraq as a "guerrilla campaign" is a blow for Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the political standing of the Bush administration, which has consistently refused to use the term for fear of conjuring up the spectre of the Vietnam war - a guerrilla war which proved unwinnable for the US ruling class.
But this volte-face is seeking to cover up the growing opposition amongst Iraq's various population groups. Far better from the US administration's point of view to blame the continuing attacks on its forces from 'rogue Baathist elements' than admit to the difficulties of pacifying an increasingly resentful Iraqi population.
Hardly a week passes without a large anti-US occupation demo taking place, not only from the minority Sunni Muslim population (from whom the Baathist leadership were drawn) from but also from the Shia Muslims, by whom the US and British occupiers expected to be greeted as 'liberators'.
With lawlessness gripping most of Iraq, including the capital Baghdad, and with the collapse of services, a shortage of electricity, and no sign of 'democracy', the demise of Saddam's regime has brought little cheer to most people.
As a Basra coffee shop owner told a BBC reporter: "Liberation has brought insecurity and crime to Basra - robbers, mugging, kidnappings for ransom. And they can't even provide us with reliable electricity.
"The Americans and the British do not bring safety, they are here only for oil, not for the people," he said.
Little wonder then that Paul Bremer the US 'pro-consul' in Iraq is trying to embroil the United Nations into the country's reconstruction projects and in a new departure he is offering a greater UN role in establishing a central government and in security matters.
Despite 150,000 US troops, such is the anarchy of post-war Iraq that the Pentagon has been in talks with the private security firm Kroll to train former Iraqi soldiers to guard up to 2,000 sites - government buildings, pipelines, etc.
Winning the war is a different matter to 'winning the peace'. US imperialism may have the whip hand militarily but its failing capitalist policies cannot reconcile an increasingly embittered Iraqi population.
Blair has admitted that people don't trust him or his government. At a press conference full of evasion and condescension, Blair appeared unrepentant about the death of Dr Kelly - then jetted off to Barbados for a holiday few of his electors can afford.
Only 24% of people still trust New Labour, putting the hated Tories three points ahead of Labour in a YouGov poll (25 July 2003). No wonder the government, led by Alistair Campbell, virulently attacked the BBC, normally an obedient servant of the establishment, hoping to create a diversion from their problems.
Now an unelected Judge, Lord Hutton, is beginning his enquiry into the apparent suicide of Dr Kelly, and the web of deceit that it exposed.
But meanwhile the deceit goes on. Blair no longer talks about finding actual Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in Iraq - the excuse for the war - but only of finding "programmes," meaning intentions to build WMD.
But Iraqi scientists still maintain that even the programmes were abandoned before the war.
A secretive US inspection claims to be uncovering "surprises" but will only talk about the Iraqi "deception programme" to bury these WMD programmes in the desert!
Of course, no one is asking why in the past the British and US governments secretly sanctioned providing Iraq with chemical and biological weapons capability; why the US sent intelligence and advisors to help Iraq use its weapons, or why the CIA backed Saddam coming to power in the first place!
No honest admission about the false claim that Iraqi missiles could be ready to fire at British bases in 45 minutes - Lord Hutton might not even examine this claim and the wider issues of the war on Iraq.
Meanwhile this war has lead to a guerrilla war in Iraq and impeded the fight against terrorism rather than helped it, as the Commons foreign affairs committee has just warned.
What about the wider issue of the denial of human rights to the captives in Guantanamo Bay in this 'war on terrorism' which even the President of the Law Society condemned? What about the wider issue of the continuing torture and killings in Iraq - not by Saddam and his sons, but by the US occupying force, which Amnesty International has recently condemned?
The socialist condemned Saddam's regime when Britain and the US considered it an ally, and we condemn the British / US occupation of Iraq now. Whatever the Hutton enquiry produces, it will not rebuild the trust in a war-mongering government which is based on lies and deception.
COMING ON top of the controversy surrounding weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), the death of scientist Dr David Kelly has brought about the most serious crisis that New Labour has faced since coming to power in 1997.
Before his suicide, Dr Kelly wrote in an e-mail about "dark actors playing games". In reality, he became a tragic pawn in New Labour's cynical gameplan to divert attention from the lies and distortions they had resorted to in order to try and justify going to war with Iraq.
Faced with a growing anti-war movement, both Bush and Blair used the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), in particular the claim that Saddam was ready to use them within 45 minutes, to mask their real reasons for attacking Iraq - oil, profits and maintaining the US's global dominance.
Three months on and no WMDs have been found in Iraq, the body count of soldiers increases daily and there is no peace and stability for ordinary Iraqis.
An opinion poll carried out prior to Dr Kelly's death found that 66% of people in Britain thought that Blair had misled them about going to war.
Distrust on this issue has combined with growing anger about foundation hospitals, underfunding of schools, top up fees and the many other anti-working-class policies that this New Labour government is pursuing.
It's against this background that the New Labour spin machine went into overdrive. To distract from the government's mounting pressures, spin master-general Alastair Campbell attacked the BBC and claims by journalist Andrew Gilligan that the government had 'sexed up' it's dossier justifying war with Iraq.
As the Financial Times pointed out in its editorial (20 July): "The spat between Downing Street and the BBC was abating when Mr Kelly's name was leaked as a possible source of Mr Gilligan's story.
"This helped keep the focus on the BBC story".
Journalists say that the Ministry of Defence went out of its way to ensure that they discovered Dr Kelly's name. According to The Independent (22 July), Whitehall officials admitted that No10 overruled keeping his identity secret.
Dr Kelly can be added to the growing list of thousands of casualties from the second Gulf War. In his speech to the US Congress (one of the few places where he can still get a warm welcome these days) Blair said that history would "forgive" him if WMDs were not found in Iraq.
But with every day that passes, cynicism towards New Labour is growing and the real reasons for war are becoming clearer. Far from forgiving Blair, war in Iraq could become his nemesis.
The voices calling for Blair to go are getting louder. These include the right-wing media but also voices from within his own party.
Former transport minister Glenda Jackson declared that Blair should resign, referring to Dr Kelly as a political sacrifice. Other Labour MPs are worrying that Blair could become a liability, risking their seats at the next election.
The Financial Times compared this crisis to the Westland helicopter affair in 1986, which claimed the scalps of two Tory Cabinet ministers and almost that of Thatcher herself.
However, it was the poll tax and the mass campaign of non-payment which eventually persuaded the Tory party leadership and sections of the establishment in 1991 that Thatcher had to go.
Like Thatcher, Blair might escape this immediate crisis, although this is not certain. He hopes that by agreeing to a judicial inquiry - which is due to report in the autumn (although these things can drag on for months and even years) - he will be able to buy a breathing space.
The remit of the inquiry will be extremely limited, carried out by a judge who is himself part of the establishment. The Socialist Party calls for a genuine inquiry, made up of workers' and community representatives, which would look not just at the immediate issues surrounding Dr Kelly's death but the wider question of Blair's reasons for going to war.
A Yougov poll for the Daily Telegraph found that 39% of people think that Blair should go now. However, the fact that the BBC has named Dr Kelly as the source for their claims that the dossier was 'sexed up' has given the government another opportunity to deflect the heat from themselves.
This has not just created a government crisis but a crisis for the BBC which, although it tries to maintain a veneer of independence, is part of the capitalist establishment.
It's likely that, following the inquiry, senior heads will roll.
It's also likely that Alastair Campbell and defence secretary Geoff Hoon will be forced to resign, although it's not certain that Blair himself will escape.
Even if Blair is not pressurised into resigning over this issue, his leadership has suffered yet another damaging blow. It's possible that he could be forced to step down before the next election.
But once again the question is posed - what is the alternative? Some Labour MPs and trade union leaders put their faith in Brown as an alternative leader to Blair.
However, Brown is as much a part of the New Labour spin machine as Blair. He is the joint architect of PFI and privatisation of public services.
While his tone might differ, in essence his policies are fundamentally in line with those of Blair.
The new left union leaders who call for the Labour Party to be reclaimed (see page 6) are wasting valuable time and energy that could be better spent campaigning for the setting up of a new working-class party.
War in Iraq, WMDs and related issues look set to haunt this government for some time to come.
How to build a credible alternative to the big business policies of New Labour and the other pro-capitalist parties is the vital issue of the day.
'OUT, PROUD and militant' is the Socialist Party Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Group message at this year's Pride. The first, in 1972, was a defiant celebration of LGBT life. Pride continued as a springboard for community action - not the dumbed-down big-business spectacle it is becoming.
Although important gains have been made, so much more needs to be done. A recent Sigma Research survey found that 34% of gay men in Britain experienced homophobic verbal abuse over the last year.
Nationally, 7% suffered homophobia-motivated assaults - 10% in South Yorkshire and 18.5% in parts of Wales.
Even 'pro-gay' legislation comes with strings attached. Take the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations to be introduced in December.
This is supposed to outlaw discrimination at work because of sexual orientation. But the Archbishops' Council wanted to retain the right to refuse to employ, and to sack, homosexuals.
Churches and other religious institutions employ tens of thousands, including care workers, teachers, secretaries and cleaners. Workers could be forced to 'prove' that they are heterosexual believers to keep their jobs.
The government backed the church in parliament. We must campaign to close this discriminatory loophole which applies to any workplace claiming an ethos or belief.
LGBT activists need to campaign in the trade unions. Mobilising the potential power of organised workers could ensure that everyone has full employment rights, free from discrimination.
This is not the only example of New Labour's right-wing, 'traditional' family-values agenda. The consultation document on partnership rights, which aims to legally recognise same-sex relationships, has some welcome proposals - on tenancy succession, next-of-kin recognition, pensions, etc.
But excluding heterosexual couples is divisive. New Labour believes that including them would undermine marriage - which it considers the best form of family.
Heterosexual couples will remain second-class, as will lesbians and gays.
And the tabloid press will try to whip up prejudice with claims that we are getting 'special treatment' over heterosexuals! All couples - gay/straight, married/unmarried - should enjoy full and equal rights.
Socialist Party LGBT Group is also taking up homophobic bullying in education by linking up with International Socialist Resistance (ISR - a youth group which came to prominence organising school student strikes against the war in Iraq).
We are highlighting the fact that bullying increases truancy, self-harm and suicide.
The Socialist Party believes that this class-ridden, profit-driven capitalist system fosters division and discrimination in all its forms. We're fighting for LGBT liberation and socialist change.
Join us at Pride.
Contact Marc: 07947 797 254; Manny: 020 8988 8772
COMBATTING ANTI-gay prejudice and discrimination and fighting for legal reform is a vital task for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Not least it will spare those lives that are being wrecked by convictions under unjust laws - 25,000 men have been convicted over the last 20 years under laws for which there is no heterosexual equivalent!
We have to fight such prejudice and show that it is not acceptable for the ugly head of homophobia to be raised in our day-to-day lives.
Homophobia in the workplace, in the school, the college, at home and on the street has to be removed from our lives - but how can we achieve this?
Members of the Socialist Party LGBT Group have fought for legal reforms, from the fight for an equal age of consent to getting rid of Section 28. On its own, however, legal reform is insufficient.
The Race Relations Act was passed in 1967, yet racial prejudice still exists today.
The Socialist Party believes that prejudice is an intrinsic part of the capitalist system. Capitalism's ideology is advanced to justify the privileged existence of an elite at the expense of the majority and thrives on the inequalities in society which it creates.
At times of economic and social crisis, sections of the capitalist establishment try to divert attention away from the way their system operates. By claiming society's "moral disintegration" or that "people from outside are eroding our traditional way of life", they seek to create a reactionary climate of opinion out of which to gain support.
Peter Tatchell and other members of gay rights group Outrage, who disrupted the Church of England's General Synod protesting at the Church's "withdrawing" the appointment of a gay bishop, help highlight this kind of reactionary opinion of the capitalist system.
Church of England bishops, who sit in the House of Lords, are probably one of the most reactionary sections of the establishment and have voted for anti-gay laws time and again, and should have their hypocrisy exposed.
NONETHELESS, more important to working-class LGBT people than whether or not the CofE promotes one of its own lower-ranking managers to bishop is the impending introduction of the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations.
These new regulations would allow religious organisations (and other employers claiming to have a particular religious ethos or belief) to "exclude people" on the grounds of their sexual orientation from working for them.
How many hundreds of thousands of working-class people work for "religious organisations" in this country? This could mean the lesbian teacher or the gay cleaner in a 'religious' school or charity could find themselves out of a job for being gay!
A mass campaign of LGBT working-class people, linking up with all sections of the trade union movement, is needed to combat this kind of attack.
Taking the arguments for LGBT liberation into the trade unions and workplaces, into the schools, colleges and youth clubs, into the communities and voluntary organisations, we could rally support behind the call for genuine equality that could stop these types of attacks.
Capitalism is a system which promotes the interests of a super-rich elite at everyone else's expense. In contrast to the capitalist system - which has a vested interest in fostering division and prejudice - a socialist society, with democratic working-class control and management of industry and society's resources, would promote unity and co-operation.
A socialist society would be run democratically by the majority, for the majority.
Under these conditions prejudice would begin to evaporate and personal relationships would be freed from the restrictions imposed by capitalism.
A strategy to achieve lasting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender liberation depends on linking the day-to-day battles against anti-gay and anti-transgender discrimination to the struggle to rebuild a mass movement for socialism and achieve a socialist society.
I HAVE been taking part in PRIDE for around 15 years. I am increasingly saddened to see the event become more and more depoliticised and profit-driven. This started with the separating off of the march from the festival, but continued to go full steam ahead when ticket charges where introduced.
To ensure the event's financial viability and success, the organisers claimed the heavy commercialisation of PRIDE was necessary. But this has led to greater and greater losses by the organisers, and companies going bankrupt.
The naked commercialisation of the event is exemplified by the exorbitant ticket prices, the confiscation of any food and drink as you enter the festival, and the high prices charged to stall holders (resulting in the exclusion of many non-profit organisations).
All this has helped gradually attack the loyalty and community spirit that built up over the years for PRIDE and exclude many working-class lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
In 1997, the last free PRIDE festival in London, I remember my flat being full of friends who'd travelled to London especially. None of these friends are coming down this year.
Many LGBT people living outside London are being excluded, as they can't afford the extra burden of £25 for a ticket, on top of the fortune they'd have to pay in travel costs.
The organisers are expecting 35,000 this year. Compare this with the 100,000 who attended the march in 1997 and the 300,000 who went to the festival.
In fact it's not just people from out of London who can't afford to go to the PRIDE festival.
I don't know anyone in London who can afford to buy a ticket! One friend explained to me, "I don't need to pay £25 to prove I'm proud to be a lesbian!"
Ironically this year the march's theme is "Our History, Our Future!" Pride began as a demonstration in London in 1972, as a political statement of resistance and a campaign for gay rights.
But it has become a major advertising opportunity for powerful multi-nationals such as Ford, Virgin, BT and Delta Airlines.
But despite this, many LGBT people realise the real importance of PRIDE and have been staying with it, and marching with their trade union and community banners, to help save PRIDE's political tradition, regardless of attempts by the organisers to turn it into a dumbed-down big-business spectacle.
The struggles waged by the LGBT community have achieved significant steps towards legal equality. Despite this, however, homophobic prejudice still persists.
And any rights we gain are constantly under threat.
That's why we believe in continuing to campaign against prejudice and discrimination through militant struggle and a socialist alternative. And it's vital that PRIDE maintains its place as an annual demonstration for equality and focus for campaigning throughout the year for the LGBT community.
If HLI's case had been successful, it would have meant a significant setback for defending women's rights. The court decided against HLI's accusations. THE SLP has been campaigning for two-and-a-half years to defend women's right to abortion against the anti-abortionists of HLI, whose supporters had been intimidating women at abortion clinics for years.
The head of the Vienna abortion clinic "Lucina" received anonymous telephone death-threats. The clinic had been taken to court a year before - HLI had bought parts of the house in which the clinic is situated and tried to evict the clinic.
This previous case was decided against HLI as well.
When the right-wing Austrian government of the conservative People's Party and the far-right Freedom Party came into office in 2000, HLI stepped up their attacks on women.
HLI's original lawyer in the case against Claudia Sorger was from the law firm of the Freedom Party's minister of justice, Dietmar B-hmdorfer. However for the last court hearing HLI changed their lawyer to Alfons Adam, chief of the pro-life movement and therefore himself part of the HLI-network.
In his speech at the end of the trial he showed his ideological background by saying: "There is no right to abortion in Austria."
On an international scale HLI has close connections to the Catholic Church, various groups of the extreme right and the US government. Chancellor Schüssel of the People's Party had declared some weeks ago that "abortion is a threat that makes an intervention necessary".
Directly after the court decided against HLI, they said that they would move for a new trial. This shows how important this decision is for them, because through this trial it was proved that HLI methods include initmidating women, death-threats against clinic-staff and propaganda about abortion.
The SLP campaigns for a woman's right to decide both if and when to have children, and if so to bring up their children without worrying about how to support them.
The right to free contraception, to free abortion and to all necessary health care at the time of confinement should be guaranteed.
In capitalist society these rights are constantly endangered. This is why fight against women's oppression is intrinsically linked to the struggle for socialism.
The campaign will go on!
The first thing that made the teachers angry was the 'decentralisation' of education. This is a government project that aims to transfer education financing, management and recruitment from the state to the regions.
But there are big inequalities between the different regions, some are rich, some are poor, so there wouldn't be the same quality of education.
Even within the same region some schools could be favoured at the expense of others, particularly in what are often referred to as 'difficult' areas, for example where there is a high immigrant population.
Decentralisation would reinforce existing inequalities.
'Regionalisation' would also mean that businesses would be more involved in schools. Education would be geared towards the needs of local companies who could impose their agenda, given that much of the regions' money comes from them.
The government also wanted school support staff to no longer be state employees, but transferred from the state to the regions and local councils. This would mean losing rights, having their conditions and wages worsened - the first step towards privatisation.
So the movement was about saving a national framework for schools and education.
We started by holding meetings of teachers in each school to explain what was involved with these proposals, because not everybody understood the implications.
Thankfully, we had access to material in the government's own words which stated clearly what they were going to do. So is was relatively easy to convince the teachers to go on strike.
Britain was held up as an example of how bad things could be if these attacks went ahead and that helped convince teachers to take action.
As well as meetings in the local schools there were sector meetings involving teachers from all the schools and colleges in the same town.
This movement definitely came from below not from the tops of the unions. In my school I was the only union member.
Rank and file teachers were involved in taking the movement forward. It was so strong that the union leaders had no choice but to follow.
We saw the importance of involving parents in our struggle. We put out a leaflet explaining what decentralisation would mean for their children.
Parents were involved in operation "college mort" (dead college) when parents didn't send their children to school in support of the teachers. This was our first victory against government propaganda which tried to divide parents from strikers.
We also saw the need to link up the public and private sector 'tous ensemble' (everyone together). We met delegates from the CGT union in Renault and Sud Aventis, explaining that this strike was also their strike.
This public/private liaison was one of the most positive aspects of the strike.
The government has given some crumbs to some education support staff but it doesn't amount to a great deal. They've also deferred the implementation of decentralisation until 2004.
I don't know what will happen in September when the new term starts. The movement might not be as strong.
Teachers were on strike for several weeks and were suffering financially.
However, students were really frustrated that they couldn't join in the movement because they were doing their exams. And there are attacks against the universities, which would mean more involvement of private companies.
So we could see a big student movement developing.
Whatever happens, we intend to continue the work of linking up the public and private sectors. We need to maintain a strong movement from below to keep the pressure on the trade union leaders.
But we also need a political alternative. Workers went on strike to defeat government attacks, on education and on pensions, but many realise that what was needed was a change in society.
Replacing this government with a 'plural left' government won't make any fundamental difference. There is a political vacuum on the left which needs to be filled.