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Sunday, 24 July 2011

Is the far right on the move in Europe ?

With the shocking attacks on a Norweigian Labour party youth summer camp this weekend where so far 92 youths have been shot dead on a remote island investigations continue of course. We pose the question is far right groups and feeling on the rise again in Europe. This may come as a surprise to many but not to me and many other socialists on the left right now. When a economic down turn happens and finances get squeezed as we are seeing right now people tend to either turn towards the labour movement or this other movement of trying to divide us and blame a lot of it on imigration and religious cults and extremeism.

Lets be clear none of these tactics to divide workers and the working class will work as at the end of the day the working class will know the difference between righta nd wrong. But is a stark warning to us in the labour and trade union movement to get a move on and offer a alternative to the pro captailist austerity we see today.

We will increasingly see workers pitted against other workers in order to divide the movement . Since the tories lost heavily on June 30th which has been conveniently forgotton by the ruling class due to other more pressing issues apparently like the phone hacking scandels an the murdochs grip on power. Which dont get me wrong is big news and spreads far and wide but ith as given the government a chance to get off from the June 30th sstrikes which they were beaten hands down on every arguement they came out with on that day.

It was a massive sign of strength from the organised working class and trade unions. Even if not labour affiliated unions it was still a big sign of strength and sign of things to come hopefully.

But further far right influence has been happening across Europe this month too after the ban in France of Muslim burka's worn by women we see now that in Belgium which i always considered a passive and tolerat country has enforced a similar ban on womens head garments .

This will only increase tensions in communities and marginilise communities unfortunatly.

A law has come into force in Belgium banning women from wearing the full Islamic veil in public.

The country is the second European Union nation after France to enforce such a ban. Offenders face a fine of 137.5 euros (£121; $197) and up to seven days in jail.

Two women who wear full veils launched an immediate court challenge, saying the law is discriminatory.

France, home to Europe's biggest Muslim population, enforced its ban in April.

Belgium's law bans any clothing that obscures the identity of the wearer in places like parks and on the street.

It was passed almost unanimously by the lower house of parliament in April 2010.

MPs voted with only two abstentions to back the legislation on the grounds of security, to allow police to identify people.

Other MPs said that full face veils such as the burka or the niqab were a symbol of the oppression of women.


Very few Muslim women actually wear full veils in France and Belgium But critics of the law say it could end up excluding women, leaving those who do wear the full veil trapped in their homes.

And they say the measures are over the top - estimates suggest only a few dozen women wear this kind of veil in Belgium, out of a Muslim population of about half a million.

"We consider the law a disproportionate intrusion into fundamental rights such as the freedom of religion and expression," Ines Wouters, the lawyer representing the two women challenging the ban, told the newspaper La Libre.

She has taken their case to Belgium's constitutional court, where she will request a suspension of the law, AFP news agency reported.


Only today after this attack in Norway on organised workers wanting to protest and oppose racism we hear of even more troubles in Luton wher a horrific incident has happened.

Racists have attacked a mosque in Luton, breaking windows and leaving spraypainted graffiti including a swastika and the initials ‘EDL’.

The incident is the latest in a string of arson and vandalism attacks on mosques in towns where the English Defence League – an organisation of racists and fascists – is active.

The EDL was formed after a mob of masked racist thugs ran rampage through Luton in 2009 and its leadership is based there.

The Madinah mosque in Oak Road, in Luton’s Bury Park area, was attacked in the small hours of Friday morning.

The mosque’s imam, Shahid Ahmed, told the Socialist Worker newspaper about the attack. He said:

We locked up the mosque at 11.30pm on Thursday night, everything was fine. When I returned at 4am for morning prayers I found the windows smashed.

The words ‘EDL’ were painted on both sides of the mosque and a symbol [swastika] was also painted on one wall.

Dave Barnes from Luton UAF went to offer solidarity to the mosque after the attack. He says:

We have to stand united against racism. This attack has made us even more determined to organise to get as many people as possible to Tower Hamlets on 3 September to take part in the national protest to stop the EDL marching through the heart of London’s Muslim community.

The picture shows plastic sheeting over one of the broken windows. The graffiti has been painted out (whiter area to left of covered window).


there has been further troubles this week

One year after the closure of Refugee Migrant Justice (RMJ) in June 2010, the other main UK provider of free legal advice and representation to asylum seekers and migrant workers has now also been shut down. On 11 July 2011, over 200 workers at the Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) were told that their employer was in administration.

IAS workers were organised by the GMB union. Tentative links had been made by RMJ union reps with IAS reps going back a number of years. The experience of our struggle to defend RMJ from closure was no secret. However, on 15 November the GMB announced that 82 jobs at the IAS were also at risk.

So why was no attempt made by GMB and some on the left to draw the necessary conclusions from the closure of RMJ? A potentially successful industrial struggle against the closure of IAS could have been waged.

RMJ closure
Following on from changes made in the way legal aid was paid under the Labour government, Ken Clarke, the Con-Dem minister for justice, completed the job and sent in the administrators to close the RMJ in June 2010. Eleven offices of the RMJ across the country were closed, with the loss of 343 dedicated and highly skilled workers leaving some 12,000 clients without legal representation. Many clients then disappeared through fear that they would be returned to their country of flight and to torture and persecution.

RMJ Unite reps organised a demonstration outside the offices of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in London. Calls were made at that demo by two RMJ Unite reps to occupy the RMJ head office, supported by the national Unite official, and also to forge links with the PCS union in the MoJ.

However, a call to organise a meeting of union reps to discuss this proposal was ignored. Due to a naive attachment to legal niceties a decision was made, during a meeting between lawyers with "experience of occupations" and some London-based union reps, to not occupy but instead "build a broad based campaign". This decision was made without the involvement of union reps and members in other offices.

Fight all cuts!
An occupation of the RMJ head office with the continuing provision of free legal advice, together with a call to the wider trade union movement and the refugee community itself for financial and other support, would have provided a beacon of resistance to cuts in legal aid. This would have been a concrete defence against attacks on the poor, vulnerable and dispossessed under the Con-Dem onslaught. Indeed, some not for profit organisations and charities also under threat were waiting in anticipation for a lead on how to fight anticipated cuts.

Our unsuccessful struggle to defend the RMJ was the first skirmish in a battle against a divided but intransigent Con-Dem government. But the lessons of our struggle must not be lost. No 'broad based' campaign can replace a determined working class struggle to defend our jobs and services.

If we learn the lessons of past struggles the question is not whether we can beat this government but with what do we replace it.
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On 9 July, the divisive, far-right English Defence League (EDL) planned to 'invade' several towns and cities to hold marches. Socialist Party members were part of the mass opposition that attempted to mobilise against the EDL's poisonous ideas. In Plymouth the Trades Council, which comprises local trade union branches, organised a 'festival of diversity' that attracted 500 people.

The Socialist Party marched under the slogan: "Jobs, homes and services not racism!" We aimed to show to the people of Plymouth that there is a real socialist alternative to the far-right politics of hatred.

In Halifax, where the EDL also 'invaded', socialists stood firm in arguing with EDL members who tried to accost them and managed at least to make some of the marchers consider what they were saying.

Unemployment, poverty, lack of decent social housing and the harsh effects of savage Con-Dem cuts to jobs and services are the breeding ground for people to be targeted by the racist EDL. The Socialist Party campaigns for policies of job creation, house building and investment in public services and aims to build a real socialist alternative.


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