Solidarity 576, 6 January 2021

Support British Gas strikers

British Gas engineers are due to strike from 7-11 January, as they fight to stop Centrica, British Gas’s parent company, forcing its workforce onto worse terms and conditions. Workers voted for industrial action by a nine-to-one majority, and thousands have attended online events to build the campaign. A GMB referendum on the proposed new contracts saw the terms rejected by an 86% majority. The section of the affected workforce organised by GMB and in the dispute is comprised of electricians, smart-meter installers, and engineers repairing, servicing, and installing boilers in residential and...

39 Labour MPs rebel on Tory Brexit deal

In the Parliamentary vote on the Tories' Brexit deal, 30 December 2020, 39 Labour MPs (including two for now excluded from the Labour whip) defied Labour leader Keir Starmer's whip to vote for the deal. Three Labour front-benchers resigned in protest at Starmer's line. The Labour rebels abstained, all but one who voted against the deal (Bell Ribeiro-Addy). Our understanding is that the rebels had decided in advance on a collective position of abstaining to distance themselves from a possible right-wing Tory vote against the deal and for "no deal". In fact all the Tory right-wingers backed the...

Back Tories' Brexit deal? Morning Star says it doesn't matter!

With a characteristic smirk the charlatan Johnson portrayed his Christmas Eve deal with the EU as a personal triumph and proof that Britain can, indeed, eat its cake and have it. The “no- dealers” of the Tory-right ERG cabal were — initially, at least — not so sure, and immediately set up a “star chamber” to check that the deal was sufficiently free from continuing EU influence over the UK’s fishing quotas and other unspecified matters of tremendous importance. They concluded that the deal, while not perfect, was good enough to allow them to support it in Parliament. Over at the Morning Star...

Now free Assange

On 4 January, a judge denied the USA’s call for extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on grounds of mental health. However, the USA has said it will appeal to try to get Assange on trial in the USA on charges of leaking official documents, and he is set to stay in jail, where he has been since April 2019. Despite Assange’s erratic politics, socialists should back the call for him to be released and allowed to return to his native Australia.

Es Ley! Argentina legalises abortion

Pro-choice activists celebrated on the streets at the close of 2020, as Argentina joined a handful of Latin American states to legalise abortion, a landmark decision in a country where the Catholic Church has long held sway. On social media, the once popular hashtag #SeráLey (#ItWillBeLaw) was replaced with #EsLey (#ItIsLaw). Before this, the only Latin American regions allowing voluntary abortion in the first trimester were Uruguay, Cuba, and two Mexican states. Elsewhere, such as in Chile and Brazil, abortion is available in very limited circumstances, including rape, incest, foetal...

Activist agenda

Safe and Equal is calling on other workers to follow the example of school workers backed by the National Education Union in using Section 44 of the Employment Protection Act 1996 to refuse to enter workplaces they consider to pose “serious and imminent danger”. “School worker unions have demanded mass testing. However, just as important is full sick and isolation pay for all. If parents and caregivers cannot afford to take time off work to isolate then many will continue to go to work, and continue to send their infectious children into school. “Official studies show that less than one in...

Official report calls for 50% less meat and dairy

“Veganuary” in 2020 was unprecedented in size and publicity. 2021’s veganuary is predicted to break the record once again, reaching even bigger heights as individuals worldwide experiment with being vegan for a month. This comes the month following the “Sixth Carbon Budget” by the UK’s official Climate Change Committee (CCC)’s. The report is politically and economically conservative, and as a result ecologically conservative, aiming for net zero carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 2050. Its most ambitious “scenario only reaches Net Zero in 2042, with a reduction of 87% by 2035”. This stands...

Asteroid mining, scarcity, science and socialism: responding to Aaron Bastani

The world we live in today wasn’t the result of any grand design. It was the result of struggle, revolution, and scientific and technological advances. Human society is locked in struggle: battles between social classes which shape our world, yet this is too often forgotten, and most sadly by left-wing writers advocating communism.

Trump leaves chaos in his wake

On Wednesday 6 January, pro-Trumpers will attempt a mass demonstration in Washington to coincide with the formal vote in Congress to ratify the Electoral College decision from the presidential election. A crowd of conspiracy theorists, fascists, and plain deluded have been encouraged to “Be there, will be wild”. Maybe some think they can storm Congress in the same way as right-wing terrorists invaded the Michigan State House last May. A strong police presence will make such an attempt unlikely to succeed. But Republican members of Congress are still prepared to indulge Trump. They’ll admit in...

Jeremy Corbyn's new project and the "grassroots people"

Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is launching a new "Peace and Justice Project". Sadly, its basis is no defined policies, but rather that it is "founded by Jeremy Corbyn". Its website is not named after policies or even general ideals, but thecorbynproject.com. The Labour left surely needs to remobilise, after the disarray created by Labour's erratic floundering over Brexit and antisemitism, the December 2019 election defeat, and the (only weakly-resisted) shutting down of local Labour Party life in March-July 2020 on the pretext of virus precautions. Solidarity has argued for the...

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