Solidarity 509, 5 June 2019

Why we marched against Trump

Published on: Wed, 05/06/2019 - 12:40

On 3 and 4 June, Workers’ Liberty and Solidarity people joined thousands in London protesting against Donald Trump’s state visit. On 4 June we were part of an “against Trump, against Brexit” contingent, with Labour for a Socialist Europe and Another Europe is Possible.

Trump has stridently backed Brexit and boosted pro-Brexit right-wingers like Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson. Trump represents Brexit-type politics in the USA; Brexit represents Trump-type politics in Britain. It’s the same broad trend also represented (with important variations) by Modi in India, Erdoğan in Turkey, Salvini in

Against “special needs” cuts

Published on: Wed, 05/06/2019 - 12:34

Janine Booth

On Thursday 30 May, campaigners protested at twenty-eight locations around the country, demanding the reversal of cuts to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) funding. Organised mainly by parents and SEND kids, protests ranged from a handful of people with a banner to hundreds on town hall steps.

The centrepiece saw several thousand campaigners gather outside 10 Downing Street to hand in a petition. The National Education Union supported and promoted the protests, and its members turned out with banners in several locations. RMT also supported the protests. In some areas, Labour

The Willsman affair

Published on: Wed, 05/06/2019 - 12:26

Sean Matgamna and Simon Nelson

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

The new Pete Willsman affair shows yet again that you cannot effectively fight antisemitism unless you have a working definition of what it is. In my opinion, the definition should be

Mobilising for Sudan and Algeria

Published on: Wed, 05/06/2019 - 12:21

Left-wingers mostly around the SWP have launched a statement for solidarity with the popular revolts in Sudan and Algeria.

The statement has been posted on the website of the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, a grouping of trade unions in Sudan based among “professional” workers (teachers, doctors, lawyers, vets, pharmacists, journalists, accountants…) which has been leading the mobilisations there. It calls for “greetings to trade unionists in Algeria and Sudan who are mobilising support for the popular uprisings’ demands through strikes, protests and sit-ins, and fighting to create

Open letter to Livingstone

Published on: Wed, 05/06/2019 - 12:15

Sean Matgamna

Ken Livingstone, billed since January as debating with us at the Ideas for Freedom summer school on 22- 23 June, has now withdrawn, pleading family commitments. Sean Matgamna responds with an open letter.

Ken: it’s a shame you have bottled out of our scheduled debate. I’ m bitterly disappointed. I was looking forward to kicking your butt. It’s been quite a while since I had a chance to do that. We will keep an empty chair on the platform for you in that session, and give extended speaking time to anyone ready and willing to come and argue your case.

You have been an active antisemite since

Losing the “climate election”

Published on: Wed, 05/06/2019 - 12:07

Janet Burstall

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.

Both major parties lost about 1% of their first-preference voters with minor parties, especially right-wing parties, picking

Markets, cuts, and education

Published on: Wed, 05/06/2019 - 11:59

Maisie Sanders

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.

University student numbers have continued to increase steadily since 2009-10, but there has been a sharp decline in students choosing higher-level technical qualifications (Level 4 and 5,

Brexit: a “workers’ cause”?

Published on: Wed, 05/06/2019 - 11:49

Jim Denham

Communist Party of Britain (CPB) general secretary Robert Griffiths had a piece in the Morning Star of 31 May entitled “Time for Labour to stand unequivocally by the working class”. He claims that the way to do that is for Labour to back Brexit. Brexit is a working-class cause.

Griffiths sets great store by the Ashcroft survey of UK voters which, he reports, “confirmed that support for leaving the EU remains highest amongst the working class, whether defined narrowly (social categories C2, D and E) or more broadly (plus C1).” Interesting, isn’t it, that a supposed Marxist defines class using


Published on: Wed, 05/06/2019 - 11:41

Defining people's oppressions?
I’m canvassing opinions on the call for marginalised groups of people to “define their own oppression”.

The LGBT+ organising group at the National Education Union conference argued for a definition of transphobia which I agreed with. It was however defeated on the basis that there are conflicting views on what constitutes transphobia and that the amendment was anti-woman.

The arguments in favour were largely that trans members had agreed on the motion and we should, as a union, listen to them. I think this is a relatively weak line of argument. For example, if

Reinstate the “auto-excluded”!

Published on: Wed, 05/06/2019 - 11:35

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.

Many of the excluded had been Labour members through the Brown and Blair years, marginalised no doubt, but not threatened with expulsion. Now they were “auto-excluded” because they had spoken at a meeting of a left-wing group,

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