Push back for asylum rights

“Its main effect will be to add an extra dose of cruelty to the existing arrangements.” That’s the impact the Tories’ Nationality and Borders Bill — just passed by the House of Commons for a second time — will have on asylum-seekers, as summed up by migration writer Daniel Trilling. The arrangements are extremely cruel already.

HSBC profits and bonuses soar while it vandalises society. Expropriate the banks!

UK-based international banking and finance giant HSBC has increased the “bonus pool” for its bankers by 50%, to £650m, after its profits grew more than fourfold in the second quarter of 2021. It says it may increase it further before pay-outs early next year.

Last year HSBC paid 324 of its bankers more than ÂŁ850,000 in salaries and bonuses, while eight received more than ÂŁ4m and one more than ÂŁ8m.

Iranian regime in crisis – workers fight back against neoliberalism and repression

We republish this interview with Morad Shirin of the Iranian Revolutionary Marxists' Tendency and the Shahrokh Zamani Action Campaign about the current wave of strikes and workers' struggles in Iran. Originally published by the Greek socialist group Xekinima. For more see the Shahrokh Zamani Action Campaign website.

Defeat NHS cuts, carve-up and wage-squeeze!

New figures from the TUC say that after the 3% pay rise the government is proposing, NHS workers will still be than 7.5% worse off than in 2010. Other figures have suggest the pay cut is bigger. Certainly for many NHS workers it will be much bigger.

The Tories are also saying that 3% must come from existing NHS budgets, i.e. from cuts to services. We demand a 15% increase, and fully funded.

Build from below against NHS pay insult

Following the government's 3% award to NHS workers, all the health unions will be running informal consultations of their members over the next month.

The award falls way below the claims of each union, Unison ÂŁ2,000, RCN 12%, GMB and Unite 15%, and the current RPI rate of inflation, 3.9%, making it yet another real-terms pay cut. The fact that the government has met the Pay Review Body recommendation only shows how inadequate that body is.

What is socialism?

In our editorial this week we argue to “get socialists organised”. What do we mean by socialism?

We fight for emergency policies, like taxing the wealth of the super-rich and public ownership of key industries and corporations, to allow action to halt and reverse ever-greater inequality and to slow down climate change. We fight to build a stronger workers’ movement, including trade unions, to win these steps.

NHS: beat the 3%, beat new privatising plans!

It looks like the government’s pay “award” for NHS workers will be 3%. Maybe only 1.5% will be a basic ongoing increase, and the other 1.5% a one-off payment.

This falls way below all the claims the unions put into the Pay Review Body.

Three per cent does nothing to address the real-terms pay cuts faced by NHS workers over the last 10 years, or the 100,000 vacancies that are taking many workers to breaking point and crippling NHS services.

Unlocking land profits, locking out tenants

A review of Estate Regeneration and its Discontents: public housing, place and inequality in London, by Paul Watt.

This is a most important book, and a powerful indictment of the Tory and Blairite housing agenda.

The objective of council housing was to give everyone a decent place to live, as a right, at a rent they could afford, and with security of tenure irrespective of income. In that it was largely successful.

Starmer's wretched support for NI Unionism

On 10 July, towards the end of a two day visit to Northern Ireland (NI), Labour leader Keir Starmer was asked, in an interview by BBC NI, what he would do in the event of a future border poll on a United Ireland.

At first he dodged the question by insisting that such a poll was not an imminent possibility and it would be up to the people of NI to decide. When pressed by the interviewer though, he said that he “believed in the United Kingdom” and would campaign for the union and against a united Ireland.

Poplar rates rebellion centenary: ten lessons for today

It is the centenary year of the Poplar council rates rebellion, an inspiring victory in London’s east end rich with lessons for today.

At the time the rebellion took place, just after the first world war, the London Borough of Poplar comprised the dockland area in the big bend in the River Thames (Poplar) and an area of similar size to its north (Bow). A quarter of its people lived in (official) poverty, 83 of every thousand of its babies died, and over thirty thousand people lived in overcrowded housing.

Bangladesh fire deaths: murder by capitalists

On 9 July a fire at the Shezan Juice food and drink factory outside the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka killed dozens of workers.

Initial reports confirmed 52 deaths, but searches were ongoing. 49 died from the fire and three after jumping from third floor windows; dozens were injured in that way. Some of the murdered workers were children.

The workers were trapped by an illegally locked door. Yet Abul Hashem, chairman and managing director of Sajeeb Group, which owned the factory, has refused to accept any responsibility and blamed “workers’ carelessness”.

How to get a democratic, due-process Labour Party

The Labour Party leadership’s new move to ban some groups, following on a new wave of suspensions and exclusions since December 2020, and the previous waves in 2015 and 2016, is built on a rulebook allowing much scope for arbitrary purges. In this article, written before the move for new bans, Dave Levy argues for a rulebook providing democracy and due process.

Isolation pay in test centres: plug the loopholes!

Following pressure from Labour MPs, notably Emily Thornberry, and the Safe and Equal campaign last winter, we were told that “the Department of Health and Social Care has approved the payment of occupational sick pay for periods of self-isolation for all workers at Test Centres. This commitment has also been included in the tender specifications for the new Test Centre contract which commences in July 2021.”

Myanmar solidarity protests from 24 July

In Myanmar, the workers’ movement is continuing the struggle against the military dictatorship which was installed by a coup in February this year. Moe Sandar Myint and Khaing Zar Aung, leaders of Myanmar trade unions, spoke at Ideas for Freedom on 10-11 July to report that military repression against trade union activist in cities like Yangon is extremely harsh. Trade unions have issued a united call for all international brands to cease procuring any products from factories in the country, in order to strike a blow against the military Tatmadaw regime.

Make unions fight for workplace safety!

The Tory government is setting England on course for a gamble with Covid-19.

The labour movement is not well-placed to second-guess scientists. But we must step up our fight for the social measures we’ve long been campaigning for, and which are known to alleviate the spread of Covid.

On 1 July the editor of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) responded to the appointment of Sajid Javid as health minister with a list of demands. Those included:

• Proper financial support for those who need to isolate.

• Invest in ventilation.

No to Starmer's bans!

The Labour leadership is planning to propose that the party’s National Executive Committee, at its meeting on Tuesday (20 July), bans four organisations.

The four are Labour Against the Witch-Hunt, the Labour in Exile Network, Resist / Resistance Movement and Socialist Appeal.

The report in the Mirror cites a “Labour source” saying Starmer wants to “stamp out anti-Semitism and toxic extremism” and condemning the “far left fringes”.

Starmer's feeble Big Idea on jobs

On 3 July Rachel Reeves and Keir Starmer launched their new economic Big Idea: “ask every public body to give more contracts to British firms big and small”.

So far this feeble Big Idea (only “asking”) has been saved from the derision which overwhelmed the “I’m backing Britain” campaign of then Labour prime minister Harold Wilson in 1968, but only by attracting little comment of any sort.

In any case, what is a “British” firm? One owned by a British boss? What if most of its production chain is overseas? Yet a non-British-owned firm has most of its workforce in Britain?

Angelo Del Boca, the honest historian of Italian colonialism

On 6 July, Angelo Del Boca, the most honest and fearless historian of Italian colonialism and its crimes, died aged 96.

He was a lifelong socialist, a former partisan fighter and journalist. As a historian, his work was concentrated on the demolition of the presumed “humane and generous” character of Italy”s imperialist adventures. He was rewarded by the open and fierce hostility not just of the country”s reactionary Right but also of the intellectual and historiographical currents of social-democrats and Stalinists for ever in the search for a “progressive” patrimony.

Fidel Castro's legacy: Cuba as a class society

Pablo Velasco and Sacha Ismail review Cuba since the revolution of 1959: A Critical Assessment, by Cuban-American socialist Sam Farber.

The 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro and his 26 July Movement to power was a bourgeois revolution which smashed Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship, but replaced it with their own Bonapartist regime.

Half driven by US hostility and half by choice, this government opted to become a Stalinist state in 1961, adopting the model of the USSR and similar states.

Rayner Lysaght, 1941-2021

Rayner Lysaght (centre of the photo) debating with Sean Matgamna in London, November 2018

Rayner Lysaght died in Dublin on 2 July 2021, at the age of 80. He was one of the earliest and longest serving members of the Mandelite Trotskyist organisation in Ireland, from 1971.

A Welshman of Irish descent, he went to Ireland to study, and stayed; from a well-off background, which his accent and manner never ceased to proclaim, he migrated in his mid 20s to Marxist working class socialism, and there too he stayed, for the remainder of his life.

Sheffield Archaeology: a cut with a "global impact"

A student involved with the Sheffield University Save Archaeology Campaign spoke to us.

Back in February, a few students were emailed, asking us to attend an “informal chat” with the Deputy Vice Chancellor. Only a few of us were chosen and around a dozen or more of us turned up. She asked us for negative views as well as positive views about the department – she only received positive views.

World Covid on the up

World Covid rates are on the up again, with surges in Russia, Indonesia, Bangladesh. Countries with very high vaccination rates such as the Seychelles and Israel are still seeing spikes. This pattern is likely to continue as Delta spreads across the world. In Britain, thanks to vaccination, hospitalisations and deaths are rising much slower than cases, but they are still rising, and will likely rise more if precautions are lifted on 19 July. To reach “Zero Covid” may be unrealistic.

We owe George Galloway what the Trotskyists in 1940 owed and paid to Mosley's Blackshirts

"An injury to one is an injury to all" - and therefore socialists who opposed the recent Iraq war of the USA and UK should back George Galloway?

It was put like that by Nick Wrack, the mover of a resolution committing the Socialist Alliance to support Galloway which the Alliance conference passed by a big majority on Saturday 10 May, against the opposition of supporters of Solidarity.

The impulse to take such a stand is in itself healthy. So is the impulse not to "desert" Galloway. But serious politics is not just a matter of instinct.

Afghanistan: expect anything except peace

Joe Biden will take over as president from Donald Trump on 20 January with the USA in the midst of its second or maybe third attempt to extricate itself from Afghanistan.

After the 11 September 2001 Al Qaeda attack on the World Trade Centre in New York, the USA sent troops and support to help Northern Alliance warlords in Afghanistan to drive out the Taliban, which then controlled most of the country and provided a reserve base for Al Qaeda.

Batley and Spen: Labour victory despite Galloway threat

Labour has won the Batley and Spen by-election of 1 July 2021, but only narrowly, after over 20% of the vote was taken by the demagogue George Galloway.

Formally Galloway stood for the "Workers' Party of Britain", an ultra-Stalinist sect. In fact he stood to gain publicity (and money, because he makes his ample income as a media figure) for George Galloway.

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