News

The left and the climate movement

This article is a second excerpt from a document on climate change to be discussed by the forthcoming Workers’ Liberty conference.

On paper, almost all trade unions recognise climate change as a grave danger, and demand state action to combat it, with workers having a role in “a just transition”.

For the most part, the policies are close to those of the “One Million Climate Jobs” (OMCJ) project of the “Campaign Against Climate Change” (CACC), from about a decade ago.

CACC often functions to “outsource” climate activism from the labour movement itself.

The world of online hate

In 2013, the Australian journalist Ginger Gorman became the subject of an online hate campaign.

In 2010, she had interviewed two gay men, seemingly an ordinary couple, about their adoption of a young boy. Three years later the men were convicted of child sexual exploitation; they had been involved in an international paedophile network.

No “safety” for Kurds in Syria

As far as the foreign powers involved are concerned, the ceasefire in northern Syria has shakily held up for the most part. For people on the ground, it is a very different story.

In the talks between Russia and Turkey last week, Putin agreed to preside over the withdrawal of the Syrian Democratic Forces from northern Syria, allowing Erdoğan to establish a Turkish “safe zone” between Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad.

Official report damns fracking

On 23 October, the National Audit Office (NAO) has released a damning report into the future of fracking in the UK, showing that even in the terms it has been justified by, it will fall short.

NAO is an independent Parliamentary body which scrutinises spending and policy of other government departments and bodies.

Fracking, short for Hydraulic Fracturing, refers to particular methods of extracting natural gas.

Second victory at BEIS

On 21 October our members working for the contractor ISS at BEIS (the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy) won a complete victory in their dispute.

This follows a victory for catering staff at BEIS, employed by another contractor, Aramark, on 4 October.

Now porters, security, post room, cleaners and receptionist staff have also won the London Living Wage, improved sick pay, and a number of other conditions.

The victories can be put down to one factor: all-out indefinite strike action, which isn’t that common these days.

A workers’ answer to climate change

Workers’ Liberty’s conference this year will be discussing and debating maybe amending a document, “Fighting Climate Crises”. This article is a section from it. A future issue of Solidarity soon will carry the second and final instalment of the climate document going to conference this year. It discusses: the trade union movement; the new climate movement from the Youth Strikes to Extinction Rebellion, and beyond; the broader revolutionary left, and; Workers’ Liberty’s traditions in climate activism, and our next steps.

Johnson’s deal and Ireland

Sinn Féin has welcomed Boris Johnson’s new Brexit formula as a “least worst” option.

It expresses a “cautious welcome for the perceived maintenance of the all-Ireland economy provided by the [new] Brexit deal”.

At first sight that seems an odd about-turn. Although in the 1970s Sinn Féin was vehemently against the EU, it long ago changed that position, and in 2016 and since has been strongly against Brexit.

It still says “there is no such thing as a good Brexit”.

Bernie Sanders: The road to Iowa

Bernie Sanders has 100 days to change American politics forever.

In a little more than 14 weeks, the voters of the small, largely rural, state of Iowa will choose who they want to be the Democratic Party’s candidate to run against Donald Trump in November 2020.

This is the first of a series of primary elections to choose delegates for the Democratic National Convention which will be held in Milwaukee in July.

Democracy vs Johnson

As we go to press on Tuesday 22 October, the Tory government has been voted down, 308 to 322, on its plan to bounce its Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament at panic speed.

MPs have insisted on the right to debate amendments. These may include amendments which will make the government drop its deal, or make the deal conditional on a new public vote.

Self-determination for the Kurds!

A temporary ceasefire for five days in Turkey’s invasion of majority-Kurdish areas of Syria was negotiated by the USA on 17 October.

The American delegation to Ankara, headed by Vice President Mike Pence, agreed a 120-hour period for the Syrian Democratic Forces (the Kurdish-led forces in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria) to withdraw from a 20-mile deep area which Turkish president Erdoğan has decreed as a “safe zone”. In reality, this is a zone which has been designated for occupation and ethnic cleansing.

Morning Star admits it backs Johnson's deal

As some of you may know, when I write this column, covering the antics of the Morning Star and its political masters, the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) I generally try to maintain a jocular tone. But it can be difficult: sometimes I'm just too despairing and/or angry.

For some time I've been telling people that it's obvious that the Morning Star and CPB supported May's deal and now support Johnson's; if they had MPs that's how they'd be voting.

Whistle-blowers: the real villains?

On Monday 7 October, the Morning Star carried another article by Zoltan Zigedy (pen-name of Greg Godels, American blogger and regular contributor to the website “Marxism-Leninism Today – The Electronic Journal of Marxist-Leninist Thought”).

The article first appeared on Godels’ own blog and then on the “Marxism-Leninism Today” website before making it into the pages of the Morning Star.

“Two states” is the only road to equality

John Strawson disputes the argument that the “two states” policy in Israel-Palestine — self-determination for both nations there — has become “unviable”. John Strawson is a professor of law at the University of East London, a former visiting lecturer at Birzeit University in the West Bank, and a former activist (in the 1970s) in the International Marxist Group. He develops his argument in polemic with Perry Anderson, who is now a professor at University of California Los Angeles, and who has been a leading figure in the New Left Review editorial team since 1962.

American democracy at a crossroads?

As impeachment inquiries unfold, a nagging question plagues American democracy with renewed urgency: Can Trump in fact be removed from office, either electorally or procedurally?

Lest anyone dismiss such apprehensions as an indulgence in left paranoia, consider this. In the 2016 presidential debate, Trump refused to say whether he would accept defeat. “I’ll keep you in suspense, “ he declared and stoked anticipatory fears in his supporters that the election could be “rigged.”

The island, the refugees, and the yachts

I started coming to Symi, a tiny Greek island in the Aegean, closer geographically to Turkey than the Greek mainland, 30 years ago.

Missing a few years in the middle, I resumed coming five years ago. In these five years, the island has seen many refugees being washed up on its harbour side; mainly from Syria plus some from Afghanistan, Iraq, and sub-Saharan Africa arriving from Turkey just across the water.

Hong Kong: more repression, more defiance

Hong Kong has witnessed a further week of protests in defiance of the passing of the emergency regulation to ban masks.

The Government’s attempts to split the radical activists away from the mainstream have so far failed, because once again they have totally underestimated people’s angry reaction to the use of emergency powers.

The use of such powers has touched on a raw nerve – the thin end of the wedge that is perceived by many as leading to curfews, the use of detention without trial and even the transporting of detainees across the border.

Make Labour stop Brexit!

Boris Johnson’s new Home Secretary, Priti Patel, declares her intention to end free movement “for once and for all”.

For once and for all! From now to eternity, she wants to see higher and higher barriers between peoples, more and more national rivalry and strife, more and more closed-mindedness and narrowness.

Labour can stop Johnson’s gang from getting away with it.

Boris Johnson is floundering in the Brexit swamp he made for himself. It will be a scandal if Labour, or Labour “Brexit” rebels, allow him to scramble out onto dry ground this week.

Sixth form colleges strike

We’ll be striking in 25 colleges on 17 October, and then again on 5 and 20 November.

The feeling I pick up is that oversized classes, workload, management bullying, interpretation of directed time agreements are the big issues, exacerbated by issues of funding and pay.

Sixth Form teachers’ pay has fallen behind school teachers’ pay. We probably need a 15% rise to get us back to the relative level of 2008.

Smear campaign against McDonnell

The Skwawkbox, a blog that frequently voices the opinions of the Labour leader’s most senior office staff, has started an attack on John McDonnell.

The start seems to have been a now-deleted post which included the entire letter of resignation from the Leader’s Office of Andrew Fisher, a former worker in McDonnell’s MP’s office.

The charge against McDonnell is that he is now attempting a coup, alongside the Labour right or so-called “centrists”, against Corbyn.

Brighton, Labour, and the left

An interview with Kelly Rogers, a committee member of Labour for a Socialist Europe (L4SE), Another Europe is Possible, and the Labour Campaign for Free Movement, about Labour Party conference.

Q. What picture did the motions booklet give before conference?

A. The bulk of anti-Brexit motions were sent to conference as a result of work by our coalition, comprising Another Europe is Possible, Labour for a Socialist Europe and Open Labour.

Trump’s shift puts Rojava at risk

Donald Trump has announced the withdrawal of American troops from Northern Syria, and given effective consent to President Erdoğan’s plan to invade.

This marks a slight shift from Trump’s previous stated position. Back in December he announced that American troops would leave Northern Syria within the medium-term future, but that it was conditional on guarantees from Turkey regarding the safety of the Kurds.

Those guarantees have now ceased to be a consideration, and the United States is perfectly content to leave Rojava to the mercy, or lack thereof, of the Turkish army.

Hong Kong youth defy “emergency” law

On Thursday 4 October, the Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam invoked the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to introduce a ban on wearing face masks.

The ban came just before a long weekend. Monday 7 October was Chung Yeung Festival, a public holiday. From Thursday evening, protesters staged incessant and widespread attacks on MTR stations, Chinese banks, and pro-China businesses, and conducted violent clashes with the police in many parts of the city.

Defeat Johnson’s Trumpery!

Force Boris Johnson to send the “delay Brexit” letter to the EU. Bring down his government and get a general election.

Make Labour fight hard in that election for its policy of “new public vote with option to Remain”.

Push for a manifesto which integrates that with the left-wing policies adopted at Labour’s Brighton conference, and for a combative left-wing Labour campaign to convince voters, not the limp complaints about “not enough money for the police” to which the Leader’s Office has reduced Labour’s message in recent times.

Uprising sweeps Iraq

A joint report by the Iraqi interior and defence ministries has confirmed that 104 people are dead and 4000 injured; but according to other sources more than 150 people have been shot dead in the recent protests, and 6000 injured. Hundreds are in jail.

It's a very brutal response to the peaceful protests of the people in the cities of Iraq, and it was executed according to a plan.

China: 1949-1989-2019

The Maoist regime began not in 1949, with the declaration of the People’s Republic of China, but twenty years earlier, with the defeat of the Chinese working class movement at the hands of Chiang Kai Shek.

Masses of communist workers were slaughtered by the White Terror. After the Canton uprising of December 1927, the Chinese working class remained prostrate under the heel of Chiang. But it was still alive and capable of reviving – at least until the full-scale Japanese invasion of 1937 crushed political life in the cities.

The Irish border and Brexit

One crucial aspect of Brexit, the impact on the Irish (or, rather, British-Irish) Border, was comprehensively ignored in the British media during the 2016 referendum campaign itself.

It is fitting, then, that it has threatened to unravel the whole Brexit process, in the form of the “backstop”, a set of guarantees against the imposition of a hard border which have been written into the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU.

Hong Kong cops shoot 18 year old school student with live rounds

On October 1st, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong was rocked by a huge wave of protests. Huge numbers of protestors took to the streets in many parts of the city even though the police had refused to grant permission to any demonstration and had declared all protests that day as illegal assemblies.

Williamson the book

In February of this year Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North, complained about the Labour Party’s response to criticisms of antisemitism:

“I’ve got to say I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion we’ve backed off far too much, we’ve given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic. What have we got to apologise for?”

*Bad News for Labour – Antisemitism, The Party and Public Belief* (by Greg Philo and others, Pluto Press) is the literary version of Williamson’s claim.

A sticky time for Teflon Don

Donald Trump is such an obvious crook that he’s been a prime candidate for impeachment from the minute he assumed office.

There has been such a substantial menu of grounds for impeachment that it’s difficult to know what to choose.

Soliciting help from Putin’s secret services to win the election itself? Illegal election payments to porn stars?

Trump’s various businesses benefiting from his presidency? As of last week, there were 30 separate investigations into Trump being conducted by Congressional, Federal or State authorities.

Make Labour fight Johnson!

As Parliament reconvened on 25 September, Boris Johnson declared:

“This Parliament is gridlocked, paralysed, and refusing to deliver on the priorities of the people. It is not just unable to move forward...

“The Leader of the Opposition and his party do not trust the people. The Leader of the Opposition and his party are determined to throw out the referendum result, whatever the cost….

A lazy day in the office

Life isn’t always easy for Steve Sweeney, International Editor of the Morning Star. Earlier this year he was detained and interrogated by Turkish police when he landed at an Istanbul airport.

Thoughts of what had happened to Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate six months before in the same city flashed through his mind.

The Morning Star – quite rightly – is highly critical of the Erdoğan regime in Turkey.

Lessons of “Heathrow Pause”

Attempts were made to fly toy drones in Heathrow’s “restricted zone” from Friday 13 September for most of a week.

This action, “Heathrow Pause”, was part of a protest against climate change, by a split from Extinction Rebellion (XR).

Measured by its stated aims and objectives, the action was not particularly successful. There was some publicity for the plans in advance, but very little media coverage over the week of the action itself. No planes were grounded, which was part of the aim, as an end towards media coverage.

Five things progressives need to know about the Israeli elections

This article was originally published in The Nation magazine, and is republished here with permission. Read the full text of Hannah's article here.


No one yet knows the final result of the Israeli elections—the country’s second in six months. Attempts to build a governing coalition will likely stretch out for months. But the returns show significant shifts that deserve to be understood.

Lukács: another view

According to John Rees and the Counterfire group (a splinter from the SWP), Georg Lukács was "the most important Marxist political philosopher since Marx".

He was "the great theorist of revolution in the 20th century", and his writings were "the most sophisticated development of the classical Marxist tradition that anyone has developed".

PCS to back Labour in England and Wales

The coming period will be a vital one for the PCS as sometime in the next few weeks the General Election will be called.

My union now has a clear position on what we will say during that. The NEC [National Executive] has decided that in England and Wales we will be calling for a vote for the Labour Party.

In Scotland we will emphasise the union’s position on supporting for a Corbyn-led Westminster government whilst recognising the particular political situation there, and so will urge members to vote to “Get the Tories out”.

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