Solidarity 506, 15 May 2019

How to win “Net Zero”, and soon

On 2 May, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published official advice on the UK’s emissions’ reductions, Net Zero. It argues that the UK should aim to reach “net zero” emissions by 2050. CCC, a government-appointed body, mostly of academics, notes that the government is seriously failing in 15 of 18 areas, and set to miss its current, more conservative, targets. CCC’s proposed targets themselves aren’t ambitious enough, but they point in the right direction and are worth unpacking. Inadvertently, they indicate the need for democratic planning of the economy. Net Zero estimates that the...

Trump set to move against “two states”

According to an Israeli TV news channel on Sunday 12 May, the plan for Israel-Palestine due to be announced by the Trump administration in early June will provide for all Israeli settlements in the West Bank to remain under Israeli rule permanently. The report also said that the Trump administration will not oppose all West Bank settlements being integrated into the Israeli state immediately, whether that is part of an overall deal or not. About 400,000 Jewish settlers live in settlements planted in the West Bank since 1967, among about 2.9 million Palestinians, and another 200,000 in areas of...

Curdled by hyperbole

One of the speakers at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign demo on 11 May was Glyn Secker, the secretary of Jewish Voice for Labour. His speech has been widely condemned on social and other media (e.g. the Jewish Chronicle) for containing antisemitic tropes. Superficially, there was nothing wrong with the main thrust of Secker′s speech — condemning the Jewish communal leadership for standing aside from the rise of the far right and the actions of the (hard-right) Israeli government (″When will they condemn the IDF slaughter of the unarmed at Gaza? When will they join the anti-fascist movement...

The story of the St. George ribbon

‪More on Lewisham Momentum and the New Stalinism here.‬ And here‬ At the AGM of the official Momentum group in Lewisham, south London, on 7 May, several people were proudly wearing, and handing out for others to wear, Russian military insignia: the ribbon of St. George. This isn’t the first time Stalinoid elements within the left have worn this symbol of Russian militarism: Eddie Dempsey (an RMT member who declared as a platform speaker at a “Full Brexit”event that the working class hated, and was right to hate, “the liberal left”) wore it while visiting pro-Russian gangsters in eastern...

Letters

Inequality and the super-ego If my review of The Inner Level left readers thinking that it presented a narrow, economistic view of mental illness, then I apologise for writing a poor review. Thanks to Ian Townson for prompting me to write this correction. Wilkinson and Pickett stress that their research is not a “theory of everything” and do not claim that income inequality is the only driver of mental distress. They describe a broad statistical trend within which our human drama plays out. There are outliers in the data where there must be powerful countervailing factors. For example, Italy...

Against Farage, for Labour, against Brexit

Over 80 people turned out for a “Love Socialism Hate Brexit” meeting in Nottingham on 8 May, despite the Euro-election campaign being already underway. Many were students from the Nottingham Trent University, where the meeting was held. Every speaker from the platform, and almost every speaker from the floor, stressed their support for the post-2015 anti-austerity direction of the Labour Party, but deep concerned about fragmentation of Labour votes and Labour’s failure over Brexit to campaign against rampant nationalism. Further “Love Socialism, Hate Brexit” meetings are planned in Streatham...

A letter to a Lib Dem-voting friend

You texted me saying “I am seriously considering voting Lib Dem in the European Elections. Can’t believe I’m writing this. Am I mad?”. My first response was “Yes”. However I recognise that there are many people like you — lifelong Labour voters and people who supported Corbyn in the leadership elections — who are angry about Labour’s failure to support a remain position and a referendum on Brexit and find it unacceptable that Labour can enter European elections with no clear position on this key issue. Many, like you, are wondering whether they can support Labour “this time”. Why not vote for...

When left-wingers say: “be normal!”

This is an article about the “autistic screeching” image posted on Twitter. It is not an article about how the image is “offensive”. That wouldn’t need an article. It’s pretty much self-evident to anyone who considers the feelings of others. The problem here is not so much the image as the politics behind it — a political outlook that sees autistic people and others as fair game for mockery, that lionises a stereotypical “normal” and weaponises it against people who dissent or diverge. That’s what this article is about. It’s an appeal to take this shit seriously and to oppose it. This image...

Back school tests boycott!

The National Education Union has called for a boycott of high stakes summative testing [1] in primary schools. Good! These tests serve no educational purpose. In fact, they damage education. Summative high stakes tests make it impossible for teachers not to narrow the content of the curriculum for pupils facing the tests. Teaching-to-the-test, or test-readying, replaces ordinary productive teaching and learning for weeks at a time. Pupils study only material expected to appear in the tests. Teachers make increased use of teaching methods which leave no room for pupils to have their say or...

Why the working class needs libraries

Close to 650 libraries have closed in the UK since 2010. Some that remain “open” rely on volunteers, have no paid staff, and need grants and donations to run. In 2018 alone 130 libraries were shut down. More than 700 staff lost their jobs; the number of volunteers is now over 50,000. The concept of the public library, free at the point of use, was pushed by The Free Library Movement, Victorian philanthropists aided by sections of the Chartist movement who worked for “improvement of the public”. The Libraries Act of 1850, put forward by Liberal MPs, and backed by a free libraries pioneer Edward...

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