Solidarity 530, 8 January 2020

LRC shame

Over recent times, and recent weeks especially, the Labour Representation Committee (LRC), once a relatively lively and open group of the Labour left, has descended into little more than a Jackie Walker fan club, a cult dedicated to the denial of antisemitism. Over the weekend 4-5 January, it has crossed the line. Its Facebook account, having previously posted conspiratorial crap and posts about violent, right-wing Jew-hate being the only “real” antisemitism, shared content by Laura Stuart, a far-right activist who has circulated racist material including from David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan...

Tories: prepare the fightback!

Boris Johnson has talked of ending austerity, bolstering public services and appealing to the working class, but on all the evidence so far that is a threadbare velvet glove on an iron hand. NHS spending is set to increase, but by nothing anywhere near what is needed to fill the shortfall from its 2010-20 cuts. The tide of privatisation will continue to roll forward. The NHS is probably the best protected part of the public sector. The Institute of Fiscal Studies estimates that by 2024, non-NHS spending will be 14% lower than in 2010. The provisional local government funding settlement...

Tackling the union bureaucracies

Trade union organisation has always tended to centre in the better-off sections of the working class. But that tendency has been sharpened in the neoliberal era by increased inequality within the working class, and union organisation receding into more limited “bastions”. In Australia — and in general — trade unions have been able to hold on to a degree in some strongholds, but in my working life, 45 years now, the influence of trade unions in society has markedly decreased. Unions have become much more bureaucratic. Most union leaders put the trends down to the anti-union laws which have been...

Left antisemitism is a form of racism

Left antisemitism has long used tropes popularised by Stalinist “anti-Zionist” campaigns against the Jews, where “Zionist” was a proxy for “Jewish”. This commonly includes tropes about Jews being manipulative, powerful, and wealthy, saying Jewish people tend to be imperialist capitalists, and to associate and collaborate with Nazis and the far right. This language, these tropes, group Jewish people together as a group to be hated in the same way that other forms of racism do. In our press we have examined whether the proposal for “one state” as a solution to the conflict between Israel and...

The Crimean Tatars, Crimea, and Turkey

Conditions are bad for the Crimean Tatar community in Crimea, under Russian rule since Putin annexed Crimea in 2014. No Crimean Tatar organisations are able to operate. The sixteen Crimean Tatar language schools have all been closed. The Crimean Tatar library has been shut down. The Crimean Tatar university (Tavriva) has had to move to Kiev. The Crimean Tatar TV channel has been taken over by the Russian authorities. Of the three Crimean Tatar newspapers, two have been shut down, and one is now run by the Russian authorities. There have been lots of kidnappings and disappearances of activists...

Again on the hijab in primary schools

See here for wider debate in Solidarity on the ban of the hijab in schools. I want to respond to Ben Tausz’s contribution to the debate on whether to ban the hijab in primary schools (Solidarity 527). He quotes me as saying “I do not think that you need to have a solution (of how a ban might be enforced) to support a ban”. The problem is, I didn’t say that. I said that I didn’t think you had to have an agreed solution to what the consequence of breaking the ban might be. What, Ben, should the consequence be for those who resist our programme for renationalisation? What should the consequence...

Getting hold of the union

During my first week at the plant I found GMB dispute letters laid out all over the control room desks. The letters summarised the national sickness absence dispute with Veolia and the proposed ballot for strike/action short of a strike taking place that month. The Unite rep, R, stood on a step in front of the pit window, and everyone in the control room stopped work to listen to him. “Me and the other union reps have discussed it. We’re not happy with Veolia’s national sickness policy — specifically the ability of HR to overrule the opinions of local line managers. There’s no flexibility...

A letter to Labour Transformed

Click here to get text as pdf Dear Labour Transformed: Your mailing on 21 December, after your first gathering on 14 December, told us: “The next meeting will take place on January 25… [it] will not be open to members of pre-existing democratic-centralist revolutionary organisations”. In plain English: you want to ban AWL members from the discussion. Leave aside for now exactly how to define “democratic centralist”. Stalinist abuse of that term has complicated debate. Some of you have defined what you want LT to be as “democratic centralist”. So it’s not the very idea of an all-weathers, all...

Resist the Tories’ new anti-strike law!

In his government’s first Queen’s Speech, Boris Johnson has announced that he plans to introduce new laws to restrict strikes.There could be little clearer indication of the class loyalties of his government than this. Despite his wildly hypocritical appeals to “anti-establishment” feeling, here his government shows its true colours, in attempting to further restrict the ability of working-class people to take action to improve our lives. The law is designed to initially target the rail and transport industries, imposing a “minimum service requirement” which would effectively ban transport...

Preparing a counter-offensive

The key thing the union must consider now, in light of the general election, is how we prepare against a likely onslaught against both unions in general, and our members specifically as government workers. Dominic Cummings has talked about a “radical reshaping” of the civil service. Whatever the precise detail of that reshaping will be, it’s inevitable that it will impact on our members. It’s common under new governments that some departments will merge, and new ones may form; that’s normal practice, but a restructure in the hands of a government like this, and led by someone like Cummings...

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