Solidarity 420, 19 October 2016

Aid needed for civilians in Mosul battle

Published on: Wed, 19/10/2016 - 12:59

Simon Nelson

The United Nations has appealed for an additional £50m to cope with an expected flood of refugees as the Iraqi government starts its operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Daesh.

UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’ Brien has said: “I am extremely concerned for the safety of up to 1.5 million people living in Mosul who may be impacted.”

The UN reckons over 700,000 people could flee the city, but tents are available for only tens of thousands. Average daily temperature lows around Mosul will drop to 4º in December and 2º in January. We can hope that the people of Mosul will be able to make

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 19/10/2016 - 12:56

Ollie Moore, Gemma Short, Peggy Carter and Charlotte Zalens

Southern rail workers began a further three-day strike from 18 October in their battle to defend the role of the guard. Southern bosses recently re-offered a £2,000 payment to all workers in exchange for accepting new, non-safety-critical roles as "On-Board Supervisors".

The workers' union, RMT, denounced the offer as a bribe. A union statement said: “The company have been told repeatedly that money is not the issue and that the safety of passengers and staff is not for sale. RMT disputes the bogus figures on the number of staff working. Our reps at all locations report that morale is high

Cinema strikes spread

Published on: Wed, 19/10/2016 - 12:48

Workers at the Ritzy Picturehouse cinema in Brixton struck again on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 October. They were joined on Saturday 15 by workers at Hackney Picturehouse on strike for the first time. A front-of-house assistant at Hackney PictureHouse spoke to Solidarity.

Before I joined BECTU, I was a rep on the Hackney Picturehouse “Staff Forum”. That's the staff organisation which is set up, supported and financed by Picturehouse itself. Over two years I found it to be ineffective, undemocratic, and unrepresentative, especially when we tried to bring forward questions about the Living Wage

Socialist Party fail to draw lessons on Labour

Published on: Wed, 19/10/2016 - 12:42

Michael Johnson

Clive Heemskerk, national election agent for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), has signalled a turn towards the Corbyn surge in an article in The Socialist (28 September).

He argues that “consolidating Jeremy's victory against [the] continued opposition [of the Labour right] — by really transforming Labour into an anti-austerity, socialist, working-class mass movement — is the critical task facing socialists in Britain today.”

Since it emerged from Militant in 1991, the Socialist Party’s founding principle, raised to the point of dogma, has been that Labour had been

London Momentum discusses expulsions

Published on: Wed, 19/10/2016 - 12:37

Sacha Ismail

The London regional Momentum meeting (15 October) revealed a growing organisation with substantial life, but one that needs much more organisation. Hopefully this meeting represents the start of that process.

In February, following a grassroots revolt against attempts to create undemocratic structures appointed from above, the organisation established regional networks to co-ordinate groups and elect the bulk of the National Committee.

The London region met twice but then did not meet for six months, despite attempts to get it to do so. Did this reflect lack of confidence from a new

Clement Attlee — the compromising committee man

Published on: Wed, 19/10/2016 - 12:31

John Cunningham

Aware that the life of the post-1945 Labour leader and prime minister has been done before, Bew’s biography attempts to give new angles on Attlee’s life. He isn’t successful and the search for new perspectives ends up recounting endless Cabinet intrigues, Attlee’s relationship with Churchill, and countless opinions on Attlee from everybody and their uncle.

There is so much trivia in these pages that an alternative title might be Everything you never needed to know about Clement Attlee but couldn’t be arsed to ask. For example he spends some time, looking at what Attlee read and how that might

Not miserable but inspiring

Published on: Wed, 19/10/2016 - 12:25

Tim Cooper

After the UK premiere of Ken Loach’s latest film, ‘I, Daniel Blake’, in Liverpool at the time of Labour Party conference, I was filmed for a trailer. What did I think of it?

I had wondered whether I was a wuss, for blubbing, but when I looked everyone was crying or laughing or both. Daniel is a carpenter in his late 50s who has had a near-fatal heart attack and been told not to work by his doctor. His inability to fill in forms on the computer in a library, and his honest but naive answers, get him moved from disability benefit (ESA) to JSA. When he admits he can’t take the jobs he’s applied

What’s wrong with “Stop the War”?

Published on: Wed, 19/10/2016 - 12:18

Simon Nelson

The Stop The War Coalition enjoyed its heyday around the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but has regained some prominence since David Cameron’s government first proposed the bombing of Syria in August 2013.

Feeding on perceptions that UK involvement in the Middle East has led to prolonged campaigns of bombing, loss of life, and the creation of unstable regimes, with very little of the humanity supposed to exist in “humanitarian intervention”, the STWC has called a number of demonstrations and got some media coverage for its opposition to the UK and US involvement in coalition bombing of

Prescription opioids: the opiate of the people

Published on: Wed, 19/10/2016 - 11:47

Les Hearn

The 2016 World Congress on Pain, meeting in Yokohama in late September, held a packed Special Session on Opioids. The theme was their role in pain medicine. This might seem fairly settled since the analgesic properties of opium have been known for at least 3,000 years. Not so!

The scene was set by eminent US pain specialist Jane Ballantyne, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing and adviser to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She described how over the last 25 years sales of prescription opioids have soared, as have emergency admissions and deaths.

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