Solidarity 557, 22 July 2020

A second virus surge in winter

The government seems not to have read the report on pandemic prospects for winter 2020-1 published on 14 July, and commissioned by the government's Chief Scientific Officer.

Remobilise the left!

The Black Lives Matter protesters, still on the streets eight weeks after the killing of George Floyd, are a new wave of young leftists. Video and article. As we said back in Solidarity 551, they deserve "more than the hurried reforms now offered here and there in the USA. Reforms can stick, deepen, become a lever for more, but only through the work of a movement which works and educates week by week, year after year".

Brexit, bluster and borders

“UK’s new start – Let’s get going” say the government ads portraying Brexit as a wonderful opportunity. More instructive is the government’s emergency purchase of a 1.2m square feet site in Kent, 20 miles from Dover, to create a giant customs clearance facility for the ten thousand lorries that come through the port every day. Particularly if there is a No Deal Brexit, and even with the kind of hard-Brexit deal the government wants, the UK faces major economic and social destruction when the transition period ends on 31 December. It will be even worse in the midst of the economic and social...

Labour meetings reopen

A new “coronavirus guidance” from the Labour Party (15 July) says that “CLP [Constituency Labour Party] ordinary meetings and branch meetings may now be conducted online”. Beyond online social get-togethers, educational talks, and so on, such meetings had previously been banned since March. That deprived ordinary members of the right to call leaders, MPs, and councillors to account, to debate out policies, and to make decisions on campaigning. The guidance still says “physical meetings remain prohibited”, though since 4 July the government rule has been that meetings of up to 30 are OK with...

Strife in Unite

The United Left, the dominant faction in the big Unite union, held a hustings and online ballot on 18 July to decide its nomination for the General Secretary election coming up, probably, in the next months as Len McCluskey retires. The nomination was won by Steve Turner, one of the union’s Assistant General Secretaries (AGS), with 370 votes against 367 for Howard Beckett (pictured), another AGS. The Labour left blog Skwawkbox, which supported Beckett, is agitating for a re-run with the claim that some Beckett supporters couldn’t get access to the online voting. Workers’ Liberty activists in...

Tower Hamlets workers can win

Members of the public services union Unison in Tower Hamlets council, East London, had good support again for a strike on 15-17 July, following another on 3-6-7 July. We understand that the local Unison branch is pressing the union nationally to approve a longer strike, and a reballot if the council will not concede before the validity of the current ballot expires on 22 August. Tower Hamlets Unison’s adult social care convener Amina Patel told us: “The fight is very much continuing and we need to keep the momentum up. We’re calling on all Tower Hamlets councillors, on all Labour MPs but most...

Netanyahu under fire

Mass protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the coronavirus crisis have continued in Israel, with one protest converging on Netanyahu’s residence on Saturday 18 July. Demonstrators blocked roads and built barricades before being dispersed with water cannons. Netanyahu’s trial for corruption has now resumed, with the case expected to last years. Polling by the Israel Democracy Institute suggests just 29.5% of the Israeli public trusts Netanyahu’s handling of the pandemic. This backdrop of discontent and unrest has made it difficult for Netanyahu to proceed with plans...

Siberia signals global dangers

Siberia has seen record-breaking heatwaves so far this year, over 5ºC above average. The Arctic is warming considerably faster than the global average, and researchers found that this heatwave “would have been almost impossible without human-induced climate change”. Heatwaves on average kill tens — perhaps hundreds — of thousands of people around the world. They have been systematically under-reported in Africa, where the toll is likely higher than in Europe. Arctic heatwaves and warming are driving rapid disappearance of sea ice, extreme forest fires and thawing of permafrost. Permafrost is...

Nothing for nurses

On 20 July the Tory government said it would accept the recommendations of the Pay Review Boards and give teachers in England a 3.1% rise, dentists and doctors 2.8%, police and prison officers 2.5%. Nurses and junior doctors get nothing new because they are in multi-year pay deals. In France, health workers’ protests have won special pay rises for all health workers and a promise to expand government health spending. • Join health workers' demonstration on 29 July: from 5pm at St Thomas' Hospital, to march to Downing Street at 6pm. Facebook event.

Row over Labour slate

The new leadership of the Labour left group Momentum has faced criticism for endorsing all six candidates on the “Centre Left Grassroots Alliance” left slate for the Constituency Labour Party seats on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), despite failing to get a statement on trans rights supported by the slate as it said it would do. The elections are for 18 of 39 seats on the NEC, and are now in the nominations stage. That closes on 27 September, and balloting will be 19 October to 12 November. There was a genuine problem of timescale, with the new Momentum national coordinating group...

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