News

Corbyn in the 1980s: "The level of hatred in British politics then was high - in both directions"

Submitted by martin on Tue, 09/07/2019 - 12:08
The Times on Corbyn

The Times of 6 July 2019 ran an article by Dominic Kennedy, "Corbyn's hard-left blueprint revealed", attacking Jeremy Corbyn for his links in the 1980s with Socialist Organiser, a forerunner of Solidarity. Sean Matgamna, editor of Socialist Organiser in the period described, talked to Solidarity.



We have serious political differences with Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.

HBO’s Chernobyl: a service to us all

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 03/07/2019 - 10:29
chernobyl

Chernobyl was a disaster — there is no doubt about that — but what lessons should we learn from it?

Though the catastrophic meltdown and explosion of the RBMK Reactor No 4 happened almost half a lifetime ago, when police states claiming to serve the workers ruled eastern Europe, the recent HBO mini-series Chernobyl has brought that time back to life.

Though partly fictionalised and sometimes wrong (according to survivors and experts), the basic facts are correct.

Israelophobia is Stalinist regression

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 03/07/2019 - 11:04
dyke march

Barry Finger reviews Paul Kelemen’s book The British Left and Zionism: History of a Divorce (Manchester University Press, 2012)

This volume, which joins the herd of independent minds in churning the same old depleted groupthink, purports to challenge the claim that changes over the decades in the left’s appraisal of Zionism and the Palestinian cause stem from antisemitism.

Climate campaigning, large and small

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 03/07/2019 - 12:27
recycle

A record breaking – and dangerous – heatwave swept much of Europe in the closing days of June, affecting the UK too, with a lighter touch.

For once, complaints of it being “too hot” seemed more than an excuse to grumble. But these unnatural temperatures are the benign end of repercussions of the global climatic instability caused by rising greenhouse gas levels.

Putin, liberalism, and the left

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 03/07/2019 - 12:50
putin and orban

In September 1847, before they had even written the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels declared:

“If a certain section of German socialists has continually blustered against the liberal bourgeoisie, and has done so, in a manner which has benefited nobody but the German governments... then the Communists have nothing in common with [them]”.

The record of Chris Williamson

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 03/07/2019 - 13:04
cw

The issue with the suspended Labour MP Chris Williamson is not, as some in the Labour Party think, one off-beam remark in a Sheffield Momentum meeting, or a few incautious tweets.

Detailed web postings by RS21 member Dave Renton and socialist blogger “Bob from Brockley” have shown that Williamson has used his position as a prominent Corbyn-supporting MP to give the ideas of a segment of the far right a channel into the labour movement.

Trump's miniature Gulag-on-the-border

Submitted by martin on Thu, 04/07/2019 - 19:37
Gulag on the border

This is Trump's USA, Trump's border. On 1 July Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members of the US Congress got to visit the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detention centre in Clint, Texas.

CBP did some "cleaning up" before the members of Congress arrived. A group of women, pictured above, told Ocasio-Cortez that they were moved into the crowded room from outside tents before our arrival. "They said they’d gone 15 days without a shower, and were allowed to start bathing four days ago (when the visit was announced)".

Sudan: 30 June lifts spirits

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 03/07/2019 - 13:02
sudan protests

Thousands of people marched through Khartoum on 30 June.

While the police and the militias responded with attempt at repression, they were not able to quell the protests. Activists count 30 June as a major success. The symbolism of marching on the anniversary of the Bashir coup was also important for the demonstrators.

Ford workers to meet again

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 03/07/2019 - 10:22
ford

Union members at Ford Bridgend will meet again in the week up to 6-7 July to discuss the next steps in resisting attempts by the company to shut the plant, losing thousands of jobs in the process.

Nothing is off the table, including industrial action and “leverage” campaigning. Unite leverage takes a thoroughgoing approach to forcing a company to move – applying pressure to the investors and clients of the investors and clients and potential clients of the company concerned.

Self determination for Hong Kong!

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 03/07/2019 - 07:47
HK protest

After protesters stormed Hong Kong’s (largely unelected) Legislative Council on 1 July, there is a real risk that China will invade the territory.

To international outcry about plans to ease extradition from Hong Kong to China — in effect, to give legal cover to the Chinese government “disappearing” dissidents, as it did with five bookshop workers in 2015 — Xi Jinping’s government has replied that all the issues in Hong Kong are China’s “internal” business, and no outsiders should comment.

Some setbacks at Unite union rules conference

Submitted by martin on Tue, 02/07/2019 - 09:43
Unite rules conference

Despite some setbacks for the top table, the 24-28 June Unite the Union Rules Conference saw little or no progress in democratising Britain’s second-biggest trade union.

The number of branch nominations needed to get on the ballot paper in a General Secretary election was increased from the current 50 to 5% of all Unite branches – around 150.

RMT AGM debates politics

Submitted by martin on Tue, 02/07/2019 - 09:25
RMT

The Annual General Meeting of the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers (RMT), which took place in Manchester from 23-27 June, debated motions submitted by the union's branches, Industrial Organising Conferences, and equalities conferences. Many were consensual, with a majority passing unanimously. Others caused more controversy, and for reasons of space this report will focus largely on the contentious motions.

Petition: Free political prisoners in Iran

Submitted by martin on Tue, 20/03/2018 - 09:15
Bakhshi-Gholian

Petition addressed to the Iranian ambassador to the UK.

Many worker, social, and political activists in Iran have been jailed in recent months. These include Esmail Bakhshi, a worker and strike leader at the Haft Tapeh sugar factory, and Sepideh Gholian, a journalist and prominent supporter of the strike, both in jail since January 2019. This petition calls for their immediate release.

Click here for pdf of petition.

Behind the US-Iran tension

Submitted by AWL on Thu, 20/06/2019 - 10:45
USvIran

Clearly the attacks on Norwegian and Japanese tankers off the Gulf of Oman on Thursday 14 June increase the risk of a miscalculation leading to military clashes in the region. However, these attacks were probably not carried out by any of the Iranian regime’s armed forces, not even the Pasdaran or a section of the Pasdaran (though that can’t be completely ruled out).

Boris Johnson, climate denier

Submitted by AWL on Thu, 20/06/2019 - 10:54
johnson

Staring at the snow settling on a flower pot, in January 2013, Boris Johnson said he had an “open mind” as to “the encroachment of a mini ice age”, and cast qualified doubts about global warming. Indeed, his spewing contained the deep wisdom that “human beings have become so blind with conceit and self-love that we genuinely believe that the fate of the planet is in our hands”.

Fight for a socialist Europe

Submitted by AWL on Thu, 20/06/2019 - 11:06
socialist europe

Boris Johnson is likely to become the new Tory leader and prime minister, some time in the week after 22 July. If by some fluke he throws the leadership contest, almost surely someone equally hard-Brexit will win. This sharpens the choices on Brexit, and narrows further the space for temporising.

Johnson is less a right-wing ideologue, and more a mainstream opportunist, than Mario Salvini in Italy. But his choice is to project the Tories so as to appear as Brexiter as Farage (and thus recoup votes). His choice is to cut away from the EU and to veer towards Trump.

Hong Kong: a Yankee plot?

Submitted by AWL on Thu, 20/06/2019 - 10:38
HK march

Throughout the recent dramas in Hong Kong, Britain’s “socialist daily” the Morning Star, said precisely… nothing. No coverage at all until after the Hong Kong government had backed down. Then that after-the-event coverage was (as we shall see) even more revealing than the previous noncoverage.

Perhaps the people who run the paper (i.e. the Communist Party of Britain – the CPB) thought their readers wouldn’t be interested — but then, the paper recently carried a lengthy and highly diplomatic report of a CPB delegation to China.

Build for 20 July anti-Brexit march

Submitted by AWL on Thu, 20/06/2019 - 10:21
left bloc

Two anti-Brexit marches have been announced for the coming months, to follow up the big demonstrations on 20 October 2018 and 23 March this year.

The first, on 20 July, noon from Park Lane, London, will go under the bland title “March for Change”, but bills itself as the “pro-European grassroots demo”. Its lead slogan is “Reunite with Europe”. It also has a string of other demands: “For the NHS; For the Environment; For our Rights, Freedoms and Equalities; For our Communities, our Jobs and our Pensions; For our Voice, our Votes and our Veto”.

Sudan: the uprising regroups

Submitted by martin on Wed, 19/06/2019 - 08:30
Sudan

Hamid Khalafallah is a democracy activist in Sudan. He talked with Sacha Ismail from Solidarity.

The occupation of the streets around the army headquarters in Khartoum, which began on 6 April, was the spearhead of the revolutionary movement; on 3 June that was repressed and dispersed. However, protests are still happening in Khartoum and in other parts of the country.

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 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.

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