Solidarity 519, 2 October 2019

Labour plans Universal Credit change

Published on: Wed, 02/10/2019 - 12:43

Will Sefton

For articles in the debate in Solidarity and in Workers' Liberty on Universal Credit, see here.

On 27 September, just after Labour conference, the Labour Party announced that a Labour government will “scrap” Universal Credit and revise its current position of halting the roll-out.

The detail of the new policy is a series of important reforms.

“Reduce the five-week waiting period by introducing an interim payment after two weeks;
Scrap the two-child limit;
Scrap the benefit cap;
Immediately suspend sanctions and the claimant agreement;
Make split payments, payments direct to landlords, and

Hong Kong: the build up to 1st October

Published on: Wed, 02/10/2019 - 12:35

Chen Ying

As I write on 30 September, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Here in Hong Kong, tonight is deadly quiet, the calm before the storm.

30 September was an international day of protests involving many cities around the world, and Saturday 28 September was the fifth anniversary of the 2014 Umbrella movement, when HK police launched 79 tear gas canisters five years ago that day.

The level of police weaponry and brutality five years on have far exceeded most people’s expectations. On Sunday alone over 100 more protesters were arrested.

In the old days, protest

Lessons of “Heathrow Pause”

Published on: Wed, 02/10/2019 - 12:32

Mike Zubrowski

Attempts were made to fly toy drones in Heathrow’s “restricted zone” from Friday 13 September for most of a week.

This action, “Heathrow Pause”, was part of a protest against climate change, by a split from Extinction Rebellion (XR).

Measured by its stated aims and objectives, the action was not particularly successful. There was some publicity for the plans in advance, but very little media coverage over the week of the action itself. No planes were grounded, which was part of the aim, as an end towards media coverage.

The activists’ stated aim of forcing the state to send them to prison —

Hodge and signals

Published on: Wed, 02/10/2019 - 12:28

Martin Thomas

On 28 September, the result was announced of a “trigger ballot” in Barking Labour Party.

Votes were sufficient for Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP for the constituency, to face an open selection contest for the next election.

Only one “trigger ballot” had previously reached the threshold for an open selection, so many left-wingers across the country were pleased to see one more.

It is not so simple, though. Hodge first became prominent as the “soft left” leader of Islington council in the 1980s but has been a Labour right-winger since the late 1990s at least.

In May 2019 she was reported by the

Free Louisa Hanoune

Published on: Wed, 02/10/2019 - 12:25

Louisa Hanoune, leader of the Workers’ Party in Algeria, linked to the “Lambertist” left group in France, has been sentenced to 15 years in jail.

On 25 September a military court sentenced her for “plotting against the state and undermining the army”.

Also sentenced to 15 years were Said Bouteflika, brother of former president Abdulaziz Bouteflika, now pushed aside by the military regime as it seeks to hold on to power, and two former state intelligence bosses, Mohamed Mediene and Bachir Tartag.

The prosecutors based their case on reports of a meeting of the four. They tried to discredit

A lazy day in the office

Published on: Wed, 02/10/2019 - 12:16

Jim Denham

Life isn’t always easy for Steve Sweeney, International Editor of the Morning Star. Earlier this year he was detained and interrogated by Turkish police when he landed at an Istanbul airport.

Thoughts of what had happened to Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate six months before in the same city flashed through his mind.

The Morning Star – quite rightly – is highly critical of the Erdoğan regime in Turkey.

But when it comes to regimes that the paper approves of — “anti-imperialist” Venezuela or Syria, for instance, or “socialist” China, Steve’s job is a lot easier. Most of the time he just

Make Labour fight Johnson!

Published on: Wed, 02/10/2019 - 12:10


As Parliament reconvened on 25 September, Boris Johnson declared:

“This Parliament is gridlocked, paralysed, and refusing to deliver on the priorities of the people. It is not just unable to move forward...

“The Leader of the Opposition and his party do not trust the people. The Leader of the Opposition and his party are determined to throw out the referendum result, whatever the cost….

“The people of this country have had enough of it. This Parliament must either stand aside and let this Government get Brexit done, or bring a vote of confidence and finally face the day of reckoning with the

The “abolish deputy leader” fiasco

Published on: Wed, 02/10/2019 - 12:08

Gerry Bates

Labour conference in Brighton, 21-25 September, was lively, and passed several good left-wing policies.

Its political profile, however, was marred chiefly by two things. First, the manoeuvring from the platform to deflect the membership on the Brexit issue, and the nonsensical looking-both-ways National Executive statement which summed it up.

And, second, the failed attempt through the National Executive Committee just before conference to get rid of Labour’s right-wing deputy leader Tom Watson by summarily abolishing his post (in existence since 1922).

It’s a question, of course, whether

Calling Andy Burnham to account

Published on: Wed, 02/10/2019 - 12:01

Nick Weightman

Thousands of young people gathered in Manchester’s St Peter’s Square on Friday 20 September. The protest was rather a warning to politicians who thought they could come along, mouth nice platitudes and pat young people on the head.

Lillia, a 10-year old climate activist (with her own blog), took Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to task when he said he was “doing his best” and made a big deal of a new free 16-18 year old bus pass and his opposition to fracking.

Lillia skewered his “lies, when you don’t count the airport in emission figures” [Manchester Airport is owned by GM local

For Labour, not “progressive unity”

Published on: Wed, 02/10/2019 - 11:55

Janine Booth

This is my opening speech at the debate at The World Transformed 2019 about whether it would be right for the Labour Party to enter into electoral pacts or coalitions with other parties. The other speakers were Nadia Whittome (Labour for a Socialist Europe), Clive Lewis MP and Caroline Lucas MP.

I’m going to put the case that Labour’s job is to be the party of the working class, and that therefore, its priority is to build itself as that rather than make alliances with non-working-class parties.

Unity and pluralism are important. Labour needs to be a coalition rather than seek to make

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