Solidarity 452, 25 October 2017

Industrial news in brief Matthew Wed, 10/25/2017 - 15:55

PCS members at Eastern Avenue Jobcentre in Sheffield started a continuous month long strike on 23 October in opposition to the closure of the site. On the same day it was announced that members at Plymouth Processing Centre, another site marked for closure had voted 76% in favour of strikes to defend that site and would begin their strikes on the 6 November.

Where next for Momentum groups?

Submitted by Matthew on 25 October, 2017 - 3:49 Author: Simon Nelson

Since the general election, Momentum has grown substantially, and is, reportedly, now approaching 30,000 members. But are Momentum groups revitalising? Are the new structures — the constitution with its promises of online votes and oversight of the National Coordinating Group — producing fruitful results?

Profiting from the movement Matthew Wed, 10/25/2017 - 15:45

A report by the Certification Officer (a government body responsible for the conduct of trade unions) has shown Ian Lavery, the chair of the Labour Party, received £165,000 from the Northumberland area National Union of Mineworkers which had just 10 members, four years ago, before he entered Parliament in 2010. This makes sadly familiar reading.

Abortion rights: learning from the mobilisations of the past

Submitted by Matthew on 25 October, 2017 - 3:30

Thirty years ago, twenty years after the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act, there was a serious attempt to restrict the terms of that law. Liberal MP David Alton wanted to lower the upper limit for abortions from 28 weeks to 18.

That attempt failed but in 1990 the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act was used as a means to lower the legal limit to 24 weeks. This article from 1987 describes the campaign to stop Alton.

History as tragedy and farce

Submitted by Matthew on 25 October, 2017 - 11:16 Author: Jim Denham

Jim Denham reviews The Death of Stalin, released 20 October.


Stalinism, that murderous negation of Marx’s humanism and the emancipatory ideals of October 1917, seems to be making a minor comeback in British politics. It’s no secret that at least two of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest advisers are dyed-in-the-wool Stalinists. Since most present-day Stalinists and would-be Stalinists are (in my experience) not particularly interested in either Marxist theory or serious history, perhaps farce is the best way to begin to educate them.

Scrap GCSE. Reform assessment in schools

Submitted by Matthew on 25 October, 2017 - 10:56 Author: Patrick Yarker

This summer students in England sat the new-style “closed book” English Literature GCSE exam. This exam prohibits candidates from having the set texts with them to refer to. They cannot look in the book for material to illustrate, support and develop their thinking.

Trotskyism, Stalinism and the Second World War Matthew Wed, 10/25/2017 - 10:42

Barry Finger reviews The Two Trotskyisms Confront Stalinism: the Fate of the Russian Revolution volume two, edited by Sean Matgamna (Workers’ Liberty, 2015).


­Revolutionary socialism at its liveliest is always a vast theatre of ideological battlegrounds, a Permanent War of Questions, as Julius Jacobson — a one-time follower of Max Shachtman — so aptly put it.