Solidarity 437, 3 May 2017

Student union rights under attack over BDS campaigns

Submitted by cathy n on 4 May, 2017 - 7:54 Author: Ben Tausz

The Charity Commission is investigating a number of student unions for their policies on boycotting Israel and may take action against them, amid right-wing calls for such boycotts to be banned.


Submitted by Jason Schulman on Thu, 04/05/2017 - 19:30

But I think your opposition to BDS lacks a certain nuance.

What do you say to a perspective like this?…

Submitted by John D on Mon, 08/05/2017 - 11:12

The link Jason points to is an article full of venom and vitriol, with not a few internal inconsistencies.A good exercise for a 15 year old to fisk. But boring for a sentient adult. Cheering on spleen venting from the sidelines or deconstructing it is a lost cause.

However the heading begs a small set of related questions:

1) If an organization – any organization – applies for and is accepted as a registered charity in order to benefit from the regulations governing registered charities – is it a “right” to disregard those regulations?
2) If an organization is held accountable for disregarding the regulations, is that an “attack”? If so, why?
3) In particular, if student unions disregard those regulations, is it a right?
4) If registered as a charity, does an organization have only rights, and no obligations?

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Why students and youth should vote Labour

Submitted by Matthew on 3 May, 2017 - 9:27 Author: Rosalind Robson

If the opinion polls are correct, Labour is solidly ahead of the Tories among potential voters under 40 years old. Among women under 40, 42 per cent favour Labour, against 27 per cent for the Tories. Unfortunately, these same people are less likely to vote. What’s going on?

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Industrial news in briefMatthewWed, 03/05/2017 - 09:22

RMT members on Northern rail struck again on 28 April. The strike was every bit as solid as the previous two days’ action, reducing the company’s service to 40% of its usual level, with scab labour being provided by managers.

The union is yet to announce its next move. It will need to think carefully about what to do next, taking into account the various different situations at different Train Operating Companies around the country.

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McDonald’s scraps zero-hour contracts: next stop, £10 an hour and a union!

Submitted by Matthew on 3 May, 2017 - 9:09

Fast food giant McDonald’s recently announced it will scrap zero-hours contracts for its workers in the UK. Solidarity spoke to Gareth Lane, an organiser for the Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), about this move, and his union’s ongoing efforts to organise fast food workers.

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The Front National and fascism

Submitted by Matthew on 3 May, 2017 - 9:00 Author: Martin Thomas

France’s Front National, which now has a real though outside chance of gaining the country’s powerful presidency, is not a fascist movement comparable to the Nazis or Mussolini’s Fascist Party when they were on the eve of power in the 1920s and 30s. Neither, however, is it a conventional hard-right party like UKIP or Germany’s AfD. The makeover the FN has given itself since 2011 is a makeover.


Submitted by Yves Coleman on Tue, 09/05/2017 - 13:34

I think your article very much reflects the real panic which seized many Far Left and Left militants between the two rounds of the Presidential elections. Many intellectuals, bloggers, journalists, militants, etc. tried to convince us (us the 16 millions of abstentionnists) that fascism was on the corner, that we should all vote Macron (who said he is going to change the electoral system and therefore give more power to the NF particularly in the Parliamentary elections in 2022) and used for that aim all sorts of arguments, reinforcing the fascist traits of the National Front and not taking into account the French electoral system and its dynamics, notably the two-rounds system which impedes the NF to get a significant number of seats…. unless the traditional Right makes a significant deal with the NF which has not been the case for the moment except in some very exceptional occasions and on a local basis.

Anyway, the most important is neither to stick this or that label on the NF (fascist, national-populist, far right, etc.) nor to check if the classical definition of fascism fits or not with the NF acts and theories. The most important for me is

- to acknowledge the NF is a very dangerous party for bourgeois democracy (so obvioulsy for the workers movement), even on the local level (See my article about the NF manages the commune of Hénin Beaumont and how the local Left is impotent
which I'll try to translate as soon as possible or the other articles I already wrote on the NF in English
which will be soon available in book form)

- to acknowledge at the same time that for the moment the NF does not use the same methods as traditional fascist parties...

Therefore we have to be a bit more imaginative than just copying « United Front » tactics which anyway failed in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Chili, etc. In other words to call for the unity of the alleged Left against « fascism » has no meaning if we dont draw the lessons of the previous failures of antifascism. Your article does not dwell on that and it’s a pity because we have to start with a serious balance of past mistakes if we dont want to reproduce them or just repeat empty slogans.

As far as I know, no significant group in the Left or the Far Left fights even for a ban of the NF, a minimal common point which could unite « antifascists » if they seriously think fascism is a concrete threat today and if they are serious about the fascist nature of the NF.

No significant group is ready to forbid NF meetings by violent militant mass actions if the Parliament or the State does not do it.

No significant group is ready to physically confront the DPS, the fascist grouplets or other forces.
So what should we do ?

Old recipes wont work as have shown the last 40 years in France. Almost every tactics has been tried and has failed : the street confrontation of the LC and Maoists in the 1970s ; the passivity and absenteism of Lutte ouvrière which was supposed to build a workers party and deal later with the NF danger ; the moral denounciations of the reformist Left; the call to vote Chirac and today Macron which has not stopped the doubling of the NF votes between 2012 and 2017.

Here was the (very general I agree) conclusion of my articles written in 2014

"We have to come back to some basic old revolutionary ideas:
– elections should NOT be our main field of activity, contrary to the tradition of the French Far Left during the last 40 years ;
– we should always put forward internationalist or, better, anationalist principles and slogans instead of courting nationalist prejudices as the Far Left often does on national or international matters ; we should wage an ideological/cultural fight against the Far Right and the New Right, but also against all those who, in the Left or the working class movement, propagate, consciously or unconsciously, their ideas ;
– our class is not the “99%” of humanity but the working class, which means a social revolution will imply some drastic choices and will not equally satisfy the immediate needs of everybody on this planet, from the former capitalist or executive to the former poorest farmer ;
– there are no shortcuts: elections campaigns, dubious political alliances with Reformists in the name of antiracism of antifascism will never replace our own socialist propaganda and patient local organizational work in working class districts, inside the workplaces, inside the schools and universities, supporting migrant workers struggles and self-organization ;
– We will never “transform the world “if we do not destroy the state. No nice workers’ cooperative, no friendly fair trade association, no radical liberated zone, will ever free us from the rule of capitalism. »

OUtside this political basis I dont see any possible progress in the struggle of the Far Left against the NF whether you think it’s fascist or not.
Any illusion that voting for Leftwing candidates will stop fascism is a nonsense (opposed to all the lessons of history) and a criminal illusion.

The SP, CP, Greens, etc. will not do anything against the NF if they are in power, locally or nationally. They will calmy discuss with the NF as they have done since the NF has gained many municipal and regional councillors and a few mayors and MPs. They will complain and pitifully cry that the NF does not respect democracy buy they will not confront the NF seriously by force or even using the law against the NF.

Even Lutte ouvrière who did not want to shake hands with SP regional councillors a few years ago because they were class traitors has accepted to be on the same photo as Marine Le Pen (and debate with her) for a TV show recently while at least Poutou, the NPA candidate, refused this time to participate to the photo joke even if he participated to the debate which is a rather contradictory attitude. But anyway LO and the NPA have accepter for years to discuss with fascists in the media (radio and TV shows), as if there was anything to discuss with them in a democratic and rational way.

I will welcome any positive proposals and ideas on your side and on the AWL’s side if you are serious (and I am sure you are) about the fascist danger in France and elsewhere.


Yves Coleman, Ni patrie ni frontières

P.S. I can maybe add that the Left and Far Left are not ready to confront racist and nationalist prejudices which are the main reasons for the NF growing influence outside the traditional petty bourgeoisie and to fight for
- right to vote for all foreigners
- right for foreigners to be hired in all public services
- equal rights for all social benefits (housing, health, education, etc.)
- welcoming all refugees, etc.
These basic demands have NEVER been central or even important in any electoral campaign of the Left and Far Left during the last 40 years/

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How to think beyond and survive the exam seasonMatthewWed, 03/05/2017 - 08:29

A report on 2 May from the Health and Education Committee of MPs found that government cuts are pushing many schools to scrap or limit mental health help in schools. Daisy Thomas explains why that help is important.

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Politics, hope and organising for change

Submitted by Matthew on 3 May, 2017 - 7:54

The surge in membership of the Labour Party after Corbyn’s election shows that many, particularly young people are attracted to socialist politics going far beyond that of any Labour leader of the past 25 years. Only the most sectarian on the left, at least in England and Wales, reject voting Labour now. This represents a big political shift.

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Tories seek mandate to increase cuts, inequality, poverty

Submitted by Matthew on 3 May, 2017 - 7:41 Author: Martin Thomas

“Mrs May”, writes the Tory-leaning columnist of the Financial Times, Janan Ganesh, “could not survive an election campaign saying so little so often if people paid attention”. Since so many don’t, “the repetition of slogans in lieu of answers carries no cost”. Fraser Nelson, another Tory, comments in the Spectator: “She seems to think that, if you refuse to give the press anything, the public won’t care. Worse, she seems to be right – for now, at least”. May’s purpose, so Nelson writes, is not to “seek a mandate”, but to evade one.

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Make the rich pay!

Submitted by Matthew on 3 May, 2017 - 7:11 Author: Editorial

Wages are the clearest measure of how well or badly workers are doing in capitalist society. Between 1979 and 2008 the share of national output (GDP) going on wages fell from 65% to around 54%. This represents a huge shift of wealth in favour of the profit system and the capitalist class who benefit from it.

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