Simon Hester

‘Smash the National Front!’

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This month marks 40 years since anti-fascists took on the Nazi National Front in multicultural north London. Simon Hester recalls the events running up to the day that became known as the Battle of Wood Green.

On 23 April 1977, St George’s Day, roughly 1,000 supporters of the National Front marched in multicultural Wood Green, north London. Over 2,000 anti-Nazi activists confronted them, in what became known as the Battle of Wood Green.

Tantalising Egypt

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Simon Assaf’s glowing review of The Egyptians by Jack Shenker (March SR) is spot on. Shenker is totally committed and reports from the thick of the struggle. He brilliantly captures the shifting moods of the masses in the words of participants and provides a comprehensive historical analysis of the crises at the heart of the Egyptian neoliberal authoritarian state.

An inspector doesn't call

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Simon Hester looks at the government's attacks on health and safety laws

Forty years ago the Robens Report laid the foundations of modern health and safety legislation. 1972 was a highpoint of workers' struggle, and Robens, a former boss of the National Coal Board, sought to take health and safety out of the arena of industrial relations.

The subsequent Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 put the onus on employers to minimise risk, gave workers basic rights to consultation and representation and established the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Patrice Lumumba

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Leo Zeilig, Haus, £9.99

Patrice Lumumba, murdered at the age of 35 in 1961, was prime minister of newly independent Congo for just seven months. The Belgian imperialists, desperate to eliminate him from history, had him shot and his body dissolved in acid. As the news came out, weeks later, mass demonstrations shook capitals across the world.
Malcolm X described Lumumba as "the greatest black man who ever walked the African continent". Patrice Lumumba was a new icon of resistance.

Health and Safety: New Labour, New Danger

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Serious injuries such as scalpings, fractures and burns have been removed from the Health and Safety Executive's 'mandatory investigation' criteria in a pilot study in the north west of England.

Investigations into workplace accidents were reduced by 60 percent, while the number of inspectors was cut. The government wants to extend this scheme across the country - in order to free up resources to provide 'advice' to employers.

Already desperately coping with the Blairite deregulatory agenda, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is now being hit by massive budget cuts. HSE management is still waiting for the detail of chancellor Gordon Brown's spending review cuts, but it is now actively planning for 20 percent job cuts.

The lie Detector

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Your 'Alternative Dossier', (October SR) was a welcome demolition of the half-truths, fabrications and downright lies being used to justify slaughter in Iraq. It is essential we expose the hypocrisy of the warmongers at every opportunity.

A key plank of the allegations is that Iraq is 'within six months' of the ability to build and deliver nuclear weapons. It is surreal how Iraq has supposedly been 'within six months' of delivering a nuclear bomb--for at least the last ten years! This accusation is even more bizarre when you consider an event that Blair and Bush would be happy for us to forget. During the 1970s Iraq built a nuclear power station (despite having plentiful supplies of oil). In the wake of the 1979 Iranian Revolution its military significance was hard to ignore.

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