Solidarity 462, 14 February 2018

Defend migrants, defend free movement, fight for socialism!

Look around the world. Look at EU migrants who have made the UK their home now wondering how long they can stay and on what terms, all under the threat of Brexit. If they want to stay, they will have to apply for “settled status”. 1.2 million UK citizens living in other EU member states face similar anxieties. There are 3.7 million non-UK EU citizens in the UK; about 6% of the population and 7% of the working population. Look just across the Channel — at Calais, which has long been a focus for migrants trying to reach the UK. Now that the French authorities have cleared out the migrant camps,...

Industrial news in brief

As previously reported in Solidarity (461, 7 February), the Communication Workers′ Union Postal Executive has endorsed the agreement reached between CWU negotiators and Royal Mail, which will now be put to a vote of the membership. The outline of the deal is: the creation of a new single pension scheme for all workers; extension of all current agreements and protections until 2022; two one-hour reductions in the working week (in October 2018 and October 2019) without loss of pay; a later last delivery, but not as late as Royal Mail wanted; a three year pay deal which the CWU claims equates to...

Haringey Labour members discuss manifesto

On 4 February, over 200 Labour Party members gathered for the Haringey Labour local government conference. The conference passed all the motions submitted to shape the Labour manifesto for the next council elections. Those included: • setting up a wholly-owned development vehicle to replace the discredited Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) • campaigning for the restoration of the local government funding cut by central government since 2010 • reinstating council tax support and ending the use of bailiffs • bringing waste management back in-house • initiating an empty homes audit and deploying...

Northamptonshire council goes bust

The Tories who run the Cabinet of Northants Council County have been condemned — by local Tory MPs and Tory council backbenchers — as the “worst-run local authority in the country”, “not up to the job”. The condemnation came in response to the imposition of a section 114 notice on the council, which means that no new expenditure is permitted, “with the exception of safeguarding vulnerable people and statutory services” (sic). The notice comes as the council appears not to be able to set a balanced budget despite already imposing millions of pounds of cuts in recent years. Of course, the local...

The story of Votes for Women

The first leaflet in Britain to “insist” on woman’s suffrage was written in 1847 by a prominent woman Chartist, Anne Knight. Seventy years later women over 30, with certain property qualifications, were granted the right to vote as part of the Representation of the Peoples Act in February 1918. The fight for women’s suffrage is best known for the militant campaign waged by the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and conducted for almost a decade from 1905 to 1914. However, the history of the fight for women’s suffrage goes way beyond those militant nine years and the activities of the...

Let’s call it a day on the “Cambridge Five”

Yet another book on the “Cambridge Five” rolls off the press (Enemies Within: Traitors, Spies and the Making of Modern Britain by Richard Davenport-Hines), and it’s time to stifle yet another yawn as this mini-industry and apparent national obsession with posh spies. I don’t want to review Davenport-Hines’ book. In my opinion, most of the writing on the Cambridge Five is bog standard when it is not dreadful, and I want to discuss is why this is so. The Cambridge Five were: Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, John Cairncross and Donald Maclean. From the early 1930s, despite being members of...

Hope and fight: why you should be a socialist

“Why waste your life on this foolish quest?”, we are asked by anti-socialists and sceptics. “Why invite us to do the same? Why fight for a cause that may suffer nothing but defeat, in your lifetime, or forever?” Our new book Socialism Makes Sense replies: Are we nothing higher than a commercially-conducted and regulated edition of animals, amongst them primitive humankind, spending an entire lifetime browsing and grubbing for food? That is the “shop until you drop” ethos which this society glorifies and depends on for economic dynamism. Leavened maybe with a bit of religious uplift, a half...

Hugh Masekela 1939-2018

South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela died aged 79 on 23 January following a recurrence of prostate cancer. He was famous internationally for his playing and singing; for blending South African musical styles with jazz and pop; and as a prominent anti-apartheid activist. Born in Witbank, a mining town near Johannesburg, Masekela started his musical career in a school run by the British anti-apartheid priest Trevor Huddleston. After seeing a biopic about jazz trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke, he agreed to stop getting into trouble at school in exchange for learning the trumpet. He then became part of...

A note to readers

A recent anonymous blog said that the author, an ex-member of the AWL, was sexually assaulted by another ex-member in 2005. The incident has never been made the subject of a complaint to the AWL. We have responded to the blog with an initial assessment which says: “It is our understanding that, at the time, the [few] individuals to whom the writer disclosed these events felt they were acting not only in accordance with the writer’s wishes [to keep disclosures confidential] but also appropriately. That was a serious mistake. He was a sixteen-year old and the incidents should have been reported...

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