News

Netanyahu renews West Bank grab threat

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 18/09/2019 - 08:48
netanyahu

In advance of new elections due to take place on 17 September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced new plans for the annexation of Palestinian territory, pledging to annex a big chunk of the West Bank to Israel.

Prior to elections in April, he announced plans to formally annex 60% of the land area of “Area C” of the West Bank. The new proposal would cut off the Palestinian Territories’ border with Jordan, and leave cities like Jericho as enclaves entirely surrounded by Israeli territory.

Labour: oppose Brexit

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 18/09/2019 - 11:32
oppose brexit

Boris Johnson is still trying to do his “poundshop Mussolini” act and push through decisions against the duly-voted will of Parliament and against majority opinion in the electorate.

He has been pushed back. He can be stopped.

That calls for a Labour Party and a labour movement with a clear voice for workers’ rights, for migrant rights, for free movement, for social and ecological levelling-up across Europe, against Brexit, for Remain and Transform.

Not for mumbling, triangulation, and equivocation.

Morning Star “actively foments antisemitism”?

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 11/09/2019 - 11:06
ms

A letter from Andrew Northall in Solidarity 515 takes issue with Sean Matgamna’s claim (in Solidarity 509) that the Morning Star “actively foments antisemitism.”

Comrade Northall describes the claim as “completely disgraceful” and something that “any reader” of that paper will know to be “completely untrue.”

As a daily reader of the Morning Star, I’d say Sean’s description is fully justified.

The Morning Star has, by its own admission, published at least one clearly antisemitic article:

Lessons from McStrike

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 11/09/2019 - 08:36
mcstrike

Last year the “McStrike” campaign got an enthusiastic response from many labour movement left and labour movement activists.

But now, for a long time, there haven’t been any local branch meetings for fast food workers, any meetings for workers in the “McStrike” campaign, or meetings with organisers about the direction of the campaign. What went wrong?

Over the last year or so I’ve worked in Wetherspoons, and before that in Brixton McDonalds. Another worker previously involved in cinema worker organising was already working at Brixton when I started there.

Spread the action for 20 September!

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 11/09/2019 - 11:26
cl strike

On 20 September, date of the next global school student climate strike, workers at a school in Lewisham will do a photo-shoot with their union group after school, and supporters of Solidarity will then try to persuade as many of them as possible to join a local demo.

Cambridge UCU activists and Solidarity readers are organising a mass lunchtime photo-shoot. There will have been school student walk outs and rallies that morning, and another rally that evening. In the same city, some schools are having early “Power-downs” that afternoon – initiated by staff.

Rosa Luxemburg on 1905

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 11/09/2019 - 10:19
RL

“The extent to which the party rises to the occasion [of a revolutionary upsurge] — that depends in the greatest degree on how widely [the Marxists have] known how to make their influence felt among the masses in the pre-revolutionary period...”

It depends on “the extent to which [they were] already successful in putting together a solid central core of politically well-trained worker activists with clear goals, how large the sum of all their political and organisational work has been”.

Anger over mail workload

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 11/09/2019 - 08:32
royal mail

Postal workers’ union CWU is preparing to ballot its members in Royal Mail for strikes.

The dispute is over a range of issues arising from what the union says is Royal Mail bosses’ failure to implement an agreement reached in 2017, for which strikes planned then were suspended. A key plank of the agreement was a commitment to reduce the working week, which has been reneged upon.

Bev Laidlaw for PCS General Secretary!

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 11/09/2019 - 08:27
bev l

The nomination period for the post of General Secretary in the civil service trade union PCS has now opened. PCS branches should be organising to debate which candidate they wish to support in the actual elections, which will open on 7 November.

Bev Laidlaw, a DWP rank and file activist and NEC member, will be contesting the election as a PCS Independent Left candidate. All serious socialists and PCS activists who yearn for a departure from the many years of failed, bombastic, top down bureaucratic leader leadership should campaign to nominate and vote for Bev.

Amazon fires threaten the Earth

Submitted by AWL on Thu, 05/09/2019 - 10:54
fire

Fires are sweeping the Amazon rainforest. They are facilitated by global warming to date and also fuel future climatic catastrophe.

They have been driven by deforestation and sparked further deforestation. Brazil’s president Bolsonaro and politicians internationally have responded with empty words and little action.

August saw a spike in fires across the world’s largest rainforest. In 2019 so far Brazil’s space agency has recorded over 40,000.

How Labour should end austerity

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 11/09/2019 - 07:31
anticuts

Since 2010 austerity has ground down working-class living standards for the benefit of the ultra-rich. Life has been made meaner and more insecure.

Boris Johnson now says he will end austerity. But that is all a matter of previously-budgeted money being “recycled” and called expansion, and random promises to try to win a general election after which he will be free to do his right-wing worst for five years.

When leftists argue that Labour should have voted with Johnson

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 11/09/2019 - 10:41
corbyn johnson

Since the big vote in Parliament on 3 September, most of the left press has made its chief call for Labour to back Boris Johnson’s call for a super-early snap election.

The arguments, or the arguments on the face of it, are odd, at least.

Labour and the other opposition parties do not want to give Johnson an easy get-out from implementing Parliament’s instructions to avoid a no deal Brexit. They want to “hold his feet to the fire”, as they put it, and make him comply with the law.

Make Labour fight Brexit

Submitted by AWL on Thu, 05/09/2019 - 10:34
road to brexit

So far, so good! — as we go to press, on Wednesday 4 September. Britain’s poundshop Mussolini, the lying public-school bully-boy prime minister Boris Johnson, has been decisively beaten in two House of Commons votes.

There will be almost surely a request to the European Union for an extension of the leaving date to 31 January 2020. Johnson does not have enough support in the House of Commons to carry out his threat to get round the decision by calling an instant general election.

A premier for all seasons

Submitted by AWL on Thu, 05/09/2019 - 10:49
conte

The former provincial lawyer, Giuseppe Conte is once again premier-designate of another Italian government. He has already set out his rhetorical stall for his second term of office.

Without a blush he describes himself as “The Premier of the New”, while a little over a year ago, as he assumed the same role in the Lega Nationale — 5 Star government, he presented himself as the “Minister of Change”.

Battle for democracy

Submitted by AWL on Thu, 05/09/2019 - 10:08
democracy

Parliament does not decide when it does or doesn’t sit. The Queen, on the advice of the Prime Minister, does that.

Parliament does not decide what Bills can or cannot be debated. The government largely does that, with some small rights of input from the official Opposition.

Only in situations where the government does not have a majority, and where the governing party is in the process of splitting, like now, does that open up more.

Tories’ Brexit targets migrants

Submitted by cathy n on Wed, 04/09/2019 - 10:56
placard

New Home Secretary Priti Patel wants to end free movement from the European Union into Britain overnight on 31 October.

She has pulled back, according to reports in The Independent and The Guardian, only because lawyers warned her that moves “to end freedom of movement without a vote from MPs could see ministers taken to court — with a 70 per cent chance of them losing their case”.

Storm on the streets

Submitted by cathy n on Sat, 31/08/2019 - 20:36
Collage

To the chants “No one voted for Boris” and “Save our democracy, stop the coup” hundreds of thousands have marched in cities across the UK in the last three days. The central co-ordinating work was done by Another Europe is Possible, working with a broader coalition of left anti-Brexit campaigners. There were around 80 demonstrations on Saturday 31st.

Labour and unions must organise workers' action to stop Johnson's coup!

Submitted by cathy n on Wed, 28/08/2019 - 11:47
johnson

Boris Johnson is shutting down Parliament.

His plan will limit, and is designed to prevent, Parliament passing legislation to stop Britain exiting the EU on 31 October without a deal. Johnson may also calculate he can dodge or face down the consequences of a vote of no-confidence once Parliament reconvenes next week. Labour′s preferred ″option″ of a general election before 31 October will be a non-starter. In any general election that is called after that date, Labour will be in a weakened position.

Violence in Lewisham Momentum

Submitted by cathy n on Thu, 15/08/2019 - 14:49
LM

A further series of unpleasant attacks on left activists aligned with Workers’ Liberty took place at the Lewisham Momentum meeting held on Wednesday 14 August.

The most serious incident at this Momentum meeting was that Bill Jefferies of Ladywell ward, Lewisham Deptford CLP, physically attacked me. He hit me on the chin and grabbed my throat, in the hall outside the meeting room as the meeting was breaking up. He is 10cm taller and 40kg heavier than me.

I’m okay, as always. But my chin still hurts and there’s a mark on my neck.

More on why ISO collapsed

Submitted by martin on Sun, 25/08/2019 - 10:21
ISO-USA

At Socialist Alternative's (S Alt's) "Socialism Sydney 2019" event I was able to talk with some people from S Alt about the collapse and disappearance, in March-April this year, of the International Socialist Organisation USA.

The ISO was the biggest group outside Australia with which S Alt had links. With maybe 900 members, the ISO was, and had been for a while, the most active revolutionary socialist group in the USA. Its political history could be traced back (with twists and shifts along the way) to the Workers' Party of Max Shachtman (from 1940).

Self determination for Hong Kong!

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 14/08/2019 - 07:21
tear gas

It is now two months since 12 June, when the Hong Kong police fired 150 canisters of tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters.

That caused a city-wide outrage against the excessive use of force, which forced the Chief Executive on 14 June to “indefinitely delay” introducing the proposed extradition law.

The conflict has now escalated further, with a protesters’ occupation shutting down the airport today (12 August), after a horrific series of street battles over the weekend.

Self-determination for Kashmir!

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 14/08/2019 - 09:04
kashmir

By revoking Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution that provide special autonomous status and residency rules for Jammu and Kashmir, and preparing to break up the state, Narenda Modi’s far-right, Hindu-supremacist government has effectively declared war on the Kashmiri people.

It has virtually declared a literal war too, with tens of thousands of troops invading the state, mainstream political leaders under house arrest, a total communications blackout, and reports of widespread human rights abuses. An already bad situation has got much worse, fast.

Labour: stop Brexit, reverse cuts, scrap anti-strike laws, prepare for a snap election

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 14/08/2019 - 11:40
right to strike

On the streets and in the workplaces is where we must defeat the plans of Boris Johnson and his “special adviser” Dominic Cummings to force through a “no deal” Brexit by overriding Parliament. And that’s the best way to prepare for a likely snap election.

Cummings's latest plan (3 August) is to respond to Parliament voting no confidence in Johnson – which it may well do on 4 September – by delaying the subsequent general election to after Brexit has become accomplished fact on 31 October.

Disaster capitalism needs drastic answers

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 14/08/2019 - 10:55
brexit disaster

Twelve years ago, Naomi Klein wrote a book about “Disaster Capitalism”, describing how plunderers and capitalist social-justice-warriors had picked up on catastrophes, throwing society off-balance, in order to slam through their plans.

The New Orleans flood of 2005 was one example. Another was the slump which started in Britain around the same time Thatcher took office in 1979 and – pushed in the first place by world oil price rises – had taken industrial production down 15% by early 1981.

“After Johnson’s Brexit, us”

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 14/08/2019 - 10:46
LeFT

Reprinted from Labour for a Socialist Europe (labourforasocialisteurope.org)

A new “left-wing” campaign for Brexit, “Leave – Fight – Transform” (LeFT), has been launched with great fanfare from the Morning Star.

The initial signatories, too, confirm that this is an initiative of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and other bits of British Stalinism. More on that below.

Scottish Labour right is wrong to attack McDonnell

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 14/08/2019 - 09:24
Better Together

In 2014, the Scottish Labour right wing virtually destroyed Labour in Scotland by allying with the Tories in “Better Together”. Now, in 2019, they’re back for a repeat performance.

The 2014 class collaboration with the Tories resulted in: the loss of 40 out of 41 Westminster seats in 2015; the loss of 13 Holyrood seats in 2016, leaving Labour a poor third behind the Tories; and the loss of a raft of council seats and control of Glasgow City Council in 2017.

Why the lights went out on 9 August

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 14/08/2019 - 08:58
electrics

On 9 August a series of blackouts affected more than one million homes, the rail and tube networks, hospitals, and traffic lights.

The long term issues that affect energy security are being made much worse by the fragmented, privatised and profit-hungry mess of the UK energy sector.

The buffer between supply on the network and demand has been squeezed. This squeeze is mainly down to how the energy market works.

Venezuelan workers’ coalition continues fight against Maduro and Guaidó

Submitted by martin on Tue, 16/07/2019 - 14:42
"Workers in Struggle", 3 July, Caracas

As previously reported, Workers in Struggle (“Trabajadores en Lucha”) is a recently formed coalition of Venezuelan socialists and trade unionists that aims “to confront the brutal anti-worker policies of the Maduro Government and to repudiate imperialist interference”.

Diary of an engineer

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 07:17
apprentice

I’m a first year engineering apprentice at a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant in Sheffield.

The plant takes domestic black bin waste and burns it at high temperatures to heat steam, which drives a turbine and an electricity generator.

The excess steam from the turbine is then used to heat water, which is pumped around the city to heat buildings — such as the local swimming pool.

Leonardo and the oligarchs

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 08:45
salvator mundi

Cath Fletcher reviews 'The Last Leonardo' by Ben Lewis (William Collins, 2019)

On 13 April 2019, The Times splashed on the headline “Fresh doubt over world’s most expensive painting”.

Accompanied by a picture of the Salvator Mundi, controversially attributed to Leonardo da Vinci in a National Gallery exhibition of 2011, the newspaper reported on claims in Ben Lewis’s book The Last Leonardo that the attribution was now in doubt.

Who needs the “horseshoe” theory?

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 11:23
Mélenchon

Having to follow the Morning Star (and, therefore the politics of the Communist Party of Britain) on a regular basis, teaches you to read between the lines.

Various themes and leitmotifs are hidden away in apparently innocuous asides (eg pro-Remain forces within Labour routinely referred to as “Blairite”) or contained in articles that are superficially about something else entirely.

New setback in USA

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 12:02
ATC

We reliably hear that the conference of the US revolutionary socialist group Solidarity on the weekend 29-30 June voted to set up a committee to explore converting it from an organisation into an educational centre. [Update, see statement from Solidarity below, received 27.8.19].

This follows the decision by the larger International Socialist Organization (ISO) in March- April to dissolve itself.

Labour and antisemitism: yes, it’s a real problem

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 06:42
labour antisemitism

The BBC Panorama programme (10 July) about Labour’s antisemitism problem has intensified the Party’s internal row.

Unfortunately, because the programme was not well done, and because Labour’s response has been to “shoot the messenger” as Emily Thornberry rightly put it when criticising that reaction, the renewed row has brought very little light so far.

Thornberry said: “I think that we shouldn’t be going for the messengers, we should be looking at the message. I think that is what is important.

All out strike at BEIS

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 07:00
BEIS strike

Cleaners and catering staff at the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) began an all-out, indefinite strike on 15 July.

This is extremely significant. It’s the first all out strike in a Whitehall government department for decades. The demands include the London living wage, sick pay, and direct employment.

The union is paying full strike pay. We won’t let these members be starved back to work. Fundraising for the strike funds is one of the best things activists in the wider labour movement can do to help these workers win.

Why and how the left has shifted on Israel

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 08:31
SL

Susie Linfield, author of The Lions’ Den: Zionism and the Left, talked with Martin Thomas from Solidarity.

Many of the eight writers you analyse had their thinking on Israel shaped by Stalinism. But you don’t mention Stalinism.

That was most true of Maxime Rodinson. He was a Stalinist, and even after he left the Communist Party, he remained a Stalinist. Then in some ways he substituted what he called the Arab Revolution for the Soviet Union.

Sudan: protests against stalled deal

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 11:29
Khartoum

Audio recording of a Workers' Liberty London meeting on Democracy and Revolution in Sudan (12 July) with Sudanese human rights activist Namaa al-Mahdi here

Further demonstrations have been held in Sudan’s capital Khartoum following the killing of a civilian in El-Souk by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia.

There had been demonstrations in El-Souk calling on the RSF to leave.

Labour shifts on Brexit. Now clinch a victory!

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 11:05
Love Socialism

“No matter what deal is on the table, and which party has negotiated it, our position must be to remain in the EU and oppose any form of Brexit”, declared shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry at a “Love Socialism Hate Brexit” meeting in Parliament on Monday 15 July.

Diane Abbott, Dawn Butler, Jon Ashworth and Keir Starmer also spoke. John McDonnell and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard sent messages of support.

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.

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.

Trump's miniature Gulag-on-the-border

Submitted by martin on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 12:09
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.

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