News

Making space for diversity

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 12/06/2019 - 10:45
judy singer

Judy Singer, the writer who coined the term “neurodiversity”, will be speaking at Ideas for Freedom, 22-23 June, about how society can and should make more and better space for the “neuro-divergent”. She talked with Martin Thomas from Solidarity about some of the issues.

This is not a verbatim transcript of the conversation, but a summary checked with Judy.

Brexit and the Tory schisms

Submitted by martin on Wed, 12/06/2019 - 14:29
Tory leadership candidates

Andrew Gamble is emeritus professor of politics at Sheffield University, and author of many books on Marxist theory and studies of the Conservative party. He talked with Martin Thomas from Solidarity.


Q. There are at least three relatively longstanding strands of division in the Conservative Party now in play:

• US orientation vs European orientation

• English-nationalist orientation vs UK orientation

• Ideological orientation vs traditional pragmatic small-c conservative orientation.

What roles do you think they are playing?

Bridgend: fight the closure!

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 12/06/2019 - 08:52
Ford

On 6 June, Ford said it would close its Bridgend engine plant in 2020. Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of the Unite trade union, declared: “Unite representatives across all of Ford’s UK sites have previously stated if any plant in the UK is faced with closure or compulsory redundancies that they would all move to a ballot for industrial action.

The left in Israel

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 12/06/2019 - 11:00
march for peace

Maya Ilany is the deputy director of Yachad, which campaigns for a two-state settlement to the Israel/Palestine conflict. Eric Lee is the editor of LabourStart, and when living in Israel in the 1990s ran the BibiWatch website. On Saturday 22 June, they will participate in a panel on “the future of the Israeli left” at Ideas for Freedom, alongside Tom Harris. Maya and Eric spoke to Solidarity (in their personal capacities) about the context for the discussion.

There’s still a majority for two states

The rise of Salvini

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 12/06/2019 - 12:55
salvini

The ascent of Matteo Salvini’s Lega in Italy has no equal in Europe in its astonishing progress — from 17% in Italy’s March 2018 election to 34% in the May 2019 Euro-election. In May 2019, the Lega got three million more votes than in March 2018, though seven million fewer votes were cast overall.

Losing the “climate election”

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 05/06/2019 - 12:07
stop adani

The Australian Labor Party’s climate action platform for the May 2019 Federal Election was the most ambitious yet. Pre-election polls showed climate change was a high priority for voters.

The Liberal-National coalition was divided on climate action. Climate-change deniers controlled the party room, and had elected Scott Morrison as leader, an MP who had famously cradled a lump of coal in parliament to show his support for coal-fired power. Yet Labor lost the election.

Reinstate the “auto-excluded”!

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 05/06/2019 - 11:35
labour

In November 2016, Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) got a report that during that year’s leadership election, 618 members had been “auto-excluded”, and 1,038 members had been and were still suspended. We know no definite figures for the similar purge during the 2015 leadership election, but surely many more were “auto-excluded” or banned from membership then.

Markets, cuts, and education

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 05/06/2019 - 11:59
students

The Augar review into post-18 education and funding, commissioned by Theresa May last year, was released on 30 May.

As yet the government says only that it will “take very seriously the report’s proposals”. The report presents its aim as a more “accessible” system of higher and further education that provides “value for money” for both students and taxpayers and is more responsive to labour market demands.

The Willsman affair

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 05/06/2019 - 12:26
Willsman

On 31 May, Pete Willsman, a veteran of the Labour left and a current member of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), was suspended by the Labour Party on charges of antisemitism. The suspension followed publication of comments made by Willsman at a chance meeting with a journalist. How should the left respond? Simon Nelson and Sean Matgamna present different views.

A victim of panic
Sean Matgamna

Chinese workers will rise again

Submitted by Anon on Wed, 23/06/2004 - 12:35
tanks

(Article written in 2004)

On 4 June 1989 the Chinese Communist Party savagely repressed the Tiananmen Square democracy movement that had grown to threaten its rule over the previous three months. The student-based protest had occupied Tiananmen Square at the heart of Beijing.

The Tiananmen movement has been remembered as an overwhelmingly student-based protest movement, well summed up by the iconic image of students defying the tanks of the Chinese army.

Unofficial protest in Cuba

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 29/05/2019 - 08:30
cuba lgbt

On 11 May, an unofficial Pride protest in Cuba was disrupted by the Cuban police, with some violence, and several activists were detained at the protest or in the run-up. Nevertheless, around 300 people, many of them young, joined the protest with slogans including “Viva gay marriage”, “A diverse Cuba”, and “Yes, we can.” It was the first time in many years that a civil society protest has gone ahead in Cuba without a permit.

Public ownership and workers control of British Steel

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 29/05/2019 - 07:27
save steel

The British Steel crisis, says Labour for a Socialist Europe in a statement calling for public ownership of the steel industry, “is yet another reminder of the sheer irrationality of Brexit, attempting to reverse important elements of the integration of the European and global economy – even when that means putting vast numbers of livelihoods and whole communities at risk.” And “of the irrationality of a capitalist system where decisions about livelihoods, communities and vital social production are placed into the hands of a tiny number of profit-seekers

The shape of politics after 23 May

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 29/05/2019 - 09:11
brexit party

In the 23 May Euro-election, Labour, by not putting their lot in with the Remain parties, muddied the waters and stopped a clear Remain vote emerging.

The Labour leaders also allowed the Lib Dems to detox. For the first time since the 2010-15 coalition government, lots of people are willing to vote for them. That is damaging for Labour (though also for the Conservatives).

Euro elections: left is still floundering

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 29/05/2019 - 09:27
German Greens

In the 23-26 May 2019 elections to the European parliament, social-democratic parties and left-of-the-left parties floundered in the face of rising nationalism.

The mainstream social-democratic group in the European Parliament lost 45 seats; the left-of-the-left grouping lost 13. The mantle of “left” opposition to the rising right seems to have gone to the Greens and Liberal Democrats, who gained 19 and 42 seats respectively across the continent. At the time of writing, it seems likely that the European Parliament will remain dominated by parties of the mainstream right.

Sack the 3 Ms

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 29/05/2019 - 12:10
milne

It wasn’t just Alistair Campbell types, Blairites, who defected from Labour to the Lib Dems or the Greens in the 23 May Euro-elections. Many left-wing Labour supporters defected too, or didn’t vote, disgusted by Labour’s equivocation on Brexit.

Israel: a bit more time?

Submitted by martin on Tue, 28/05/2019 - 18:47
Odeh on 25 May

Around 100,000 - the equivalent, proportional to population, of over 700,000 in Britain - turned out for a protest against Israeli prime minister Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on 25 May.

Their target was Netanyahu's plan for a new law which will limit the Supreme Court's right to override government actions, abolish its right to vet laws - and secure Netanyahu's own immunity from prosecution on multiple and long-standing charges of corruption.

Conflict sharpens between Trump and Congress

Submitted by martin on Tue, 28/05/2019 - 12:48
Trump

More and more journalists and politicians in the USA are calling for the Democrats in the House of Representatives to start impeachment proceedings against president Donald Trump.

As Congress went into recess on 23 May (it reconvenes on 4 June), Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Reps, said she didn't want to start on impeachment.

But she did declare Trump incompetent by calling on his "family and staff" to stage an "intervention" to assess his psychological "well-being" - "for the good of the country".

Two-and-a-half cheers for neurodiversity

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 22/05/2019 - 11:30
brain

Since autistic activist Judy Singer coined the term “neurodiversity” some twenty years ago, it has facilitated a great enlightenment and a progressive new approach to the experiences and rights of autistic and other neurologically atypical people. It is now facing a backlash, much of which is reactionary but some of which has been helped by flaws in some presentations of neurodiversity. Here, I examine some of these issues.

Game of Thrones: A World on the Edge

Submitted by cathy n on Wed, 29/05/2019 - 08:25
Jon Snow

Screenwriter Clive Bradley (The Vice, A Harlot's Progress, Trapped) on why Game of Thrones was so good.
*This article reveals plot details*

Game of Thrones was produced by HBO, a company which made its name as a maker of ‘high-end’ TV drama with such shows as The Sopranos and The Wire. The Wire was a highly realist account of the police and drug gangs in Baltimore. GoT on the other hand has, well, an army of zombies and fire-breathing dragons.

Strike to stop bullying

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 22/05/2019 - 09:19
picket line

Workers at Harbinger Primary School on the Isle of Dogs in East London, members of the National Education Union, are on strike 21, 22, and 23 May against bullying and unacceptable behaviour by the headteacher.

Staff first officially raised concerns in November 2018, when 18 staff members submitted a collective grievance in the hope of resolving this issue. In their own words, the official complaints process “got us nowhere”. The union’s demands are a damning indictment of the headteacher.

From St George to Xi Jinping

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 22/05/2019 - 10:56
morning star

The Times (18 May) has splashed our denunciation of the wearing of the old Russian imperial emblem, the St George Ribbon, by some members of Lewisham Momentum. The incident is only a specially gaudy display of the general political trend of the section of the Labour supposed-left which gravitates around the Morning Star.

Socialism or extinction!

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 22/05/2019 - 12:49
bees

One million species are threatened with extinction, 23% of all land has suffered degradation, hundreds of millions of people are at greater risk of floods and hurricanes due to loss of coastal habitats, and a huge proportion of global food production is at risk due to pollinator loss.

Labour: lead fight against Brexit!

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 22/05/2019 - 13:18
farage

Comrade Corbyn!

Your wishy-washy politics on Brexit are usually explained as electoral manoeuvring in an attempt to attract both anti-Brexit internationalists and pro-Brexiters to the Labour Party. It is likely to satisfy neither. “Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth”, as somebody said a long time ago. But even should your calculation here prove to be accurate, your approach is wrong in principle.

Surprise victory for the right in Australia

Submitted by martin on Tue, 21/05/2019 - 13:56
Labor supporters after the results

The ruling conservative coalition won a surprise victory in Australia's federal election on 18 May.

People are asking: how could Labor lose on a platform with a bigger offer of reforms than any other in recent times?

Labor promised to turn government policy towards meeting some of the concerns of trade unions on workers rights, of climate activists on the need to reduce carbon emissions, and of the left more broadly on inequality.

But the underlying theme of class was not addressed by anyone other than the three Victorian Socialists candidates.

Against Farage, for Labour, against Brexit

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 15/05/2019 - 11:43
labour for socialist europe

Over 80 people turned out for a “Love Socialism Hate Brexit” meeting in Nottingham on 8 May, despite the Euro-election campaign being already underway. Many were students from the Nottingham Trent University, where the meeting was held. Every speaker from the platform, and almost every speaker from the floor, stressed their support for the post-2015 anti-austerity direction of the Labour Party, but deep concerned about fragmentation of Labour votes and Labour’s failure over Brexit to campaign against rampant nationalism.

Schools: learning not labelling

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 08/05/2019 - 14:26
protest exams

School worker activists in the National Education Union (NEU) are busily preparing for the consultative ballot about boycotting high stakes summative testing in primary schools. The ballot was decided at the union's conference in April.

The NEU says: "There can be no lasting solution to problems of children’s well-being, teacher workload, curriculum narrowness and teaching to the test unless our assessment system changes.

Debates on the Palestinian "Right of Return", 2018-19

Submitted by Zac Muddle on Tue, 07/05/2019 - 12:52
right of return

Articles linked by a common thread of a debate over the Palestinian "Right of Return", Israel-Palestine, and antisemitism. There are two more-or-less distinct debates, the newer one is the first below. But within each, articles are in chronological order.

2019 debates around antisemitism, the Right to Return, and Israel/Palestine

Protesting for "two states"

Submitted by martin on Sun, 12/05/2019 - 09:46
11 May 2019

Activists from Workers' Liberty, the Worker-communist Party of Kurdistan, and others, held a protest for "Two nations, two states" in Israel-Palestine alongside the Palestine Solidarity Campaign demonstration in London on 11 May.

We displayed banners and placards, distributed leaflets, sold papers and pamphlets, and sought discussions.

Left needs clearer Euro-message

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 08/05/2019 - 12:18
maintenant le peuple

On 18 April, the European Parliament posted polling projections for the 2019 European elections. The projections show the European People’s Party (the big alliance of "centre-right" parties, though not including the British Tories) on track to remain the largest party in the Parliament – but by a slimmer majority. The figures had the EPP falling from 217 to 180 seats.

Making campaign wider?

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 08/05/2019 - 12:59
xr

Extinction Rebellion, after eleven days of ambitious, disruptive, relatively widespread, and extensively covered actions in their “International Rebellion”, (15-25 April), have moved into a “regenerative, resting phase". They have been celebrating wins so far: media coverage, politicians seeming receptive, changes in public narratives towards recognising the gravity of the situation; reportedly huge expansions of local XR branches.

The pro-Farage “left”

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 01/05/2019 - 12:32
Farage Galloway

On 17 April, George Galloway declared his support for Nigel Farage and his newly formed Brexit Party.

Farage is a former Tory, then Ukip leader. He is vehemently anti-migrant. He has called for the NHS to be replaced by “social insurance”, for laws against discrimination at work to be repealed, and for millions of public sector jobs to be cut.

Union to boycott high-stake school tests

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 01/05/2019 - 12:16
NEU

On 15 April, the first day of the National Education Union (NEU) conference, delegates voted to ballot primary members for a boycott of all high stakes summative testing, including Key Stage 1 and 2 SATs and the phonics tests.

An (electronic) consultative ballot will run from 4 June to 12 July or later. Disaggregated “real” ballots will follow at the end of 2019, in areas and schools where there has been sufficient response to the consultative ballot, and will conclude in January 2020.

Left movement surge

Submitted by martin on Wed, 01/05/2019 - 13:37
Standing Together

On 9 April, the Israeli left had the general elections. All together, the left parties have less than 20 seats, out of 120. This is the rock bottom of the Israeli left in its 70 years of history.

Around these left parties, the Knesset is filled with a massive majority of centre, right, and far-right parties. None of those are committed to progressing an Israeli-Palestinian peace, none of those are active in the fight for social justice, and none will try to cancel the discriminatory Nation State Law or to fight racism.

For Labour, against Brexit

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 01/05/2019 - 12:37
Labour for SE

The “build unions, not borders”, “socialist Europe”, “free movement” anti-Brexit left is organising to make an impact in the Labour campaign for the Euro-election on 23 May.

A model is the Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory (SCLV) initiated in 1978-9 by Socialist Organiser, a forerunner of Solidarity. It produced literature arguing for a Labour vote against Thatcher’s Tories, and also criticising the 1974-9 Labour government and proposing socialist alternatives.

Caring for the NHS

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 01/05/2019 - 11:29
NHS demo

Mark Thomas’ show Check Up: Our NHS at 70 is a whistle-stop and funny tour of what is wrong with underfunding, short staffing and the creeping privatisation of the NHS.

In some ways this is Mark Thomas at his softest, and probably on a topic on which he is on very safe ground.

But the takeaway message is that inequality, low incomes, poor housing, cuts to social care and local authority services have all combined with the dismantling of the NHS to make the health outcomes for the poorest significantly worse.

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