News

The “Bernie Blackout” is now over

A few weeks ago, the mainstream media narrative about Bernie Sanders ran like this: Sanders appeals to a very limited audience in the Democratic Party and therefore cannot win the nomination. In the early caucus and primary states he leads the pack nowhere. Mayor Pete Buttigieg could win Iowa, and Elizabeth Warren may take New Hampshire, but Joe Biden will win all the rest. So little attention was being paid to the Vermont Senator that Sanders’ supporters began to talk about a “Bernie Blackout”.

Fast forward to the first weeks of January 2020 and everything has changed.

Gantz backs annexation

Benny Gantz, the leader of Israel’s Blue and White coalition and the main rival to incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has announced his support for the annexation of the Jordan Valley, ahead of the Israeli elections on 2 March.

The valley is situated on the eastern edge of the West Bank, part of the Palestinian territories which, while under Israeli military occupation, are not formally part of the State of Israel. Gantz has described the area as an “eastern defensive wall in any future scenario,” and said it was “an inseparable part of the State of Israel.”

The most incoherent suicide note in history

The "Scottish Labour Open Letter"

The Scottish Labour left has been presented with a new hero of the class struggle: Alison Evison.

Evison is the sole Labour member of Aberdeenshire Council. She is also Deputy Leader of the Council Opposition Alliance (consisting almost entirely of SNP councillors), President of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, and Secretary of the COSLA Labour Group.

Bushfires burn holes in climate change denial

The current fire season, and drought, in Australia are expected to continue for months.

When the fires do end, rainforests and animal habitats may never regenerate fully, and animal populations may never recover.

The seeds of a socialist political response to climate change might grow out of the opposition to the government, if climate activists can develop a clear set of demands, and broaden support for a just transition.

Free Our Unions plans renewed campaigning

The Free Our Unions campaign has made plans to renew its activity in 2020, following an organising meeting in London on 8 January.

It is circulating a new statement, calling for united resistance across the labour movement to the threat of new anti-strike laws. Signatories include Michelle Rodgers, president of rail union RMT, Ian Hodson, president of the Bakers’ union, UCU general secretary Jo Grady, and Labour MP Nadia Whittome.

Left antisemitism is a form of racism

Left antisemitism has long used tropes popularised by Stalinist “anti-Zionist” campaigns against the Jews, where “Zionist” was a proxy for “Jewish”.

This commonly includes tropes about Jews being manipulative, powerful, and wealthy, saying Jewish people tend to be imperialist capitalists, and to associate and collaborate with Nazis and the far right. This language, these tropes, group Jewish people together as a group to be hated in the same way that other forms of racism do.

Postal workers to strike in Bootle

Royal Mail workers in Bootle, Merseyside, will strike from 18-20 January, to protest the victimisation of a local union rep.

There had previously been wildcat action at the same depot in October, when workers struck to defend a Muslim workmate against racist abuse from a manager. The strike subsequently spread to an office in Warrington after a driver from that office was suspended for refusing to cross the Bootle workers’ picket line. The strike lasted for a week, until workers were forced back to work by a court order.

Sponsor our Sheffield-Manchester ride!

Hannah Thompson and Dan Rawnsley from Sheffield will be doing a sponsored bike ride to raise funds for Workers’ Liberty on 15 February 2020.

The ride will be from Sheffield to Manchester, a slightly shorter distance but, because of the hills, a much harder ride than the one from London to Cambridge which raised £1250 in October.

We’ve set £1917 as a provisional target for total sponsorships this time, and it has raised £140 in the first few hours of the website going live. Add your contribution here.

Tories: prepare the fightback!

Boris Johnson has talked of ending austerity, bolstering public services and appealing to the working class, but on all the evidence so far that is a threadbare velvet glove on an iron hand.

NHS spending is set to increase, but by nothing anywhere near what is needed to fill the shortfall from its 2010-20 cuts. The tide of privatisation will continue to roll forward.

The NHS is probably the best protected part of the public sector. The Institute of Fiscal Studies estimates that by 2024, non-NHS spending will be 14% lower than in 2010.

Make Labour councils centres of resistance!

In the cacophony of post mortems of Labour’s defeat, the role of Labour councils is being overlooked or at least understated.

I think that a significant contributor to the erosion of Labour’s base has been councils which cut services, do the bidding of developers, and are generally bureaucratic, unresponsive and inaccessible to working-class people. They are seen as the establishment and are the first political institution that people see affecting their lives negatively.

Resist the Tories’ new anti-strike law!

In his government’s first Queen’s Speech, Boris Johnson has announced that he plans to introduce new laws to restrict strikes.There could be little clearer indication of the class loyalties of his government than this. Despite his wildly hypocritical appeals to “anti-establishment” feeling, here his government shows its true colours, in attempting to further restrict the ability of working-class people to take action to improve our lives.

Poor choices for Labour leader

Labour’s National Executive Committee has set a short timetable for the leadership election. MPs and MEPs have one week to nominate candidates (7-13 January).

Constituency Labour Party [CLPs] and affiliates have one month (15 January-14 February). Voting will run a month and a bit (21 February-4 April).

New members can vote if they join by 20 January. There will be a registered supporters system, in addition to affiliate supporters (eg people registered through their unions).

Tories plan new curbs on local councils

Johnson is likely to be the enemy of a democratic settlement in Israel-Palestine, shifting the UK further towards the Trump government’s anti-Palestinian position.

Although Johnson himself displayed little interest in the conflict as foreign secretary, his ideological lieutenant Priti Patel was forced to resign her international development post in 2017 after breaking diplomatic protocol in efforts to channel aid money towards the Israeli military. She defended herself by insisting that Johnson had been told about her activities.

The racism in “gang” panics

I want to start with a bit of a disclaimer. I first became deeply interested in the topic of crime and policing in response to a wave of gang violence that was plaguing the area of North West London I call home.

I say this to illustrate that there are instances where gangs are the culprit. It isn’t my intention to delegitimise or trivialise those situations. However, in the words of an unnamed senior Met officer talking to Amnesty International: “Gangs are, for the most part, a complete red herring… fixation with the term is unhelpful at every level.”

After the general election, what next?

Ruth Cashman spoke at the 17 December Workers' Liberty London forum: "After the general election, what next?"


We are not even a week from the election which did not go great for us. We are scared and disappointed at a victory for the Tories, especially for a Tory party which has been sharply moved to the right.

My shoes are still wet from election week, but we have to start this discussion now for two reasons. One, there is a real risk that many people attracted to politics by Corbyn and Corbynism might drop out, demoralised by the defeat.

Regroup! Fight the Tories every inch of the way!

Workers' Liberty activists worked hard, with our local Labour Parties and with Labour for a Socialist Europe, to win the 12 December election for Labour.

Like hundreds of thousands of other labour-movement people, we are dismayed by the victory for the Tories, especially for a Tory party which has been sharply ratcheted to the right twice in recent years, once when May took over and then again, more so, after Boris Johnson became leader.

We argue that the labour movement must:

Labour leadership: neither “LOTO continuity” nor “back to Blair”!

Labour Party general secretary Jennie Formby has written to the National Executive Committee proposing the process of electing a new leader and deputy leader should begin on 7 January and conclude by the end of March.

Under new rules agreed since the last leadership election, to get on the ballot paper candidates need nominations from 10% of MPs (21) plus either 5% of constituency parties (33) or 5% of affiliated organisations by conference voting strength, two of which must be trade unions.

Mass strikes in France

There have been mass strikes and a wave of working class protests since Thursday 5 December in France.

According to the police there were over 800,000 demonstrators on Thursday. The marches of strikers on 10 December – attended by 339,000 according to the Interior, or 885,000 in the unions’ estimation – is a show of continuing determination. The CGT, FO, FSU, Solidaires, MNL, UNEF and UNL have jointly appealed for further strikes on 12 December and on Tuesday 17.

China steps up coal

A study published this November by “End Coal” (bit.ly/coal-c) demonstrates the extent to which China is driving the continued growth of the world’s coal fleet.

2018, they note, marked the first time in decades that the coal fleet outside of China shrank; a decrease in capacity of 8.1 gigawatts (GW) over an 18 month period. This is due to an ongoing decline in commissioning of new coal power plants, coupled with steady retirements.

However, over the same period, China increased its coal fleet by 42.9 GW, five times the magnitude of the net decrease beyond China.

Why Labour slumped in Scotland

In the 2019 general election the SNP won more seats, more votes, and a higher share of the vote on a higher turnout than it did in 2017.

The number of SNP MPs increased from 35 to 48. It picked up a million and a quarter votes (as against a million in 2017), representing 45% of the popular vote (37% in 2017). And whereas voter turnout in the rest of the country fell, in Scotland it increased by 1.5%.

With only one exception, seats held by the SNP in 2017 with majorities of just a couple of hundred saw SNP MPs returned in 2019 with majorities of between 5,000 and 6,000.

Sanders, Debs and the lessons of 1920

Earlier this year, a photograph made the rounds on the Internet. It showed Bernie Sanders meeting a young supporter in Iowa. Bernie is smiling and pointing to the young man’s t-shirt. On the t-shirt, it says “Listen here, Bud, America deserved 9/11.”

The photo was a fake. In the real image, the photo on the young man’s shirt which brings a smile to the Senator’s face is one of Eugene V. Debs. And that makes a lot more sense.

Support the rail strikes!

South Western Railway (SWR) workers began a month of strikes on 1 December. West Midlands Trains workers are also continuing strikes every Saturday until the end of the year.

The workers are fighting to defend the role of the guard, resisting any erosion of the guard’s role towards “Driver Only Operation” (DOO), where trains could run without a second safety-critical member of staff on board, or where only the driver has ultimate responsibility for and oversight of dispatch from platforms and the opening and closing of train doors.

Why we're "paper-sellers"

Over the decades, pretty much every socialist effort of any substance has been organised round, and defined to the broader public by, a newspaper or magazine.

The movement’s chrysalis stage, in the 19th century, of secret societies and of attempts to establish utopian model communities in remote areas, was different, but the rule holds since then.

It is an oddity of today that there are socialist groups which have no regular publication, the SWP splinter groups Counterfire and RS21 for example. But they are small and not-very-active groups.

Slates in the Momentum election

Momentum, the Labour left organisation set up by people from the Jeremy Corbyn leadership campaign in 2015, will be running elections for its National Coordinating Group (NCG) in early 2020.

Momentum shut down almost all its internal structures in early 2017, and since then has been pretty much run by electronic communications “trickling down” from its office. It has focused heavily on mobilising people for internal Labour Party elections and the general elections in 2017 and this year, rather than creating space for political debate.

ISO: stirrings in the ashes

People from the leadership of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) which was in place before the ISO’s convention in February 2019, have launched a new website, the International Socialism Project (ISP), internationalsocialism.net, and some forums in Chicago.

The project also involves one or two former members of the “Orthodox Trotskyist” (in fact, semi-Assadist) Socialist Action group.

Israel-Palestine: potential for a future

By Daniel Randall

At a recent meeting at the London School of Economics (14 November), hosted by the campaign group Yachad and others, Alon-Lee Green and Sally Abed from the Israeli Arab-Jewish socialist movement Standing Together were asked their views on the argument that the possibility of a two-state settlement is dead.

Should progressives demand a “one-state solution”? This is an edited version of Alon-Lee’s response, published with his permission.

After 12 December, what?

If Labour wins a majority government, some activists will think or semi-think “job done”.

There will be a feeling we have navigated deadly rapids to a place of a safety. But in fact the struggle will likely intensify, and become harder.

Labour’s manifesto only moderate higher taxes on the best-off, and nationalisation with compensation of selected sectors, not a democratic seizure of the productive wealth currently held by the plutocrats. But we should not assume Labour’s manifesto will be implemented easily.

New "sardine" movement in Italy

In the past few weeks, as if from nowhere, a new movement, calling itself “the sardines”, has filled the squares of Italy, originating from Emilia Romagna’s capital city, Bologna.

25,000 came out in Milan on Sunday 1 December, and there will be a mass national demo of all groups and organisational conference in Rome on 15 December.

Drawing in thousands of the young, and often very young, the dynamic of the mobilisation is focused against the reactionary racist extremism of Matteo Salvini and his party, La Lega nationale.

Tories spread Stalinist smear

The far right blogger "Guido Fawkes" has taken up the story, first invented by the anonymous Stalinist Red London Facebook page, that Socialist Organiser (a forerunner of Solidarity) "published pro-paedophile articles". And the Express is recycling Fawke's story.

Fawkes and the Express aim to smear Jeremy Corbyn as well as us, complaining that Corbyn wrote frequently for Socialist Organiser in the 1980s.

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