Solidarity 534, 12 February 2020

New links on the Labour left

On 5 February representatives of nine Labour-oriented campaigning organisations attended a meeting convened by Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. They were: Labour Campaign for Free Movement, Labour for a Four Day Week, Labour Homelessness Campaign, Labour Campaign for Council Housing, Labour for a Socialist Europe, Free Our Unions, Momentum NHS, Labour Transformed and The World Transformed. Nottingham East MP Nadia Whittome was also there. It was, in many respects, a follow-up to the previous get-togethers organised under the banner “Labour Campaigns Together” (labourcampaignstogether.com). LCT...

How can Sanders beat Trump?

In early June, voters in the U.S. territory of the Virgin Islands will go to the polls to choose their delegates for the Democratic National Convention. When that happens, the primary season will be officially over, though it is likely to end well before that. If polls today are accurate and nothing much changes in the next few months (rather large assumptions, obviously), according to The New York Times and the respected FiveThirtyEight website, Bernie Sanders is likely to be the nominee of the Democratic Party. He is already generally acknowledged to be the front-runner due to the implosion...

Hong Kong: “Resist tyranny, join a union”

A notable feature so far of the eight-month political protest in Hong Kong has been the absence of industrial action. However, the five day strike by health workers at the start of February promises to dramatically change that perception. The strike was not about wages or job cuts. At first glance it appeared to be xenophobic, as its main demand was shutting Hong Kong’s borders with China to keep out carriers of the new coronavirus from the mainland. Strikers however saw themselves as trying to protect their working conditions and to save Hong Kong and its under-resourced health service from...

France’s pension strikes still alive

The strike action renewed every day at SNCF (national rail) and RATP (Paris local transport) is over, but that doesn’t mean that the battle against the government’s Bill is at an end. On the contrary. Not a day passes without one sector or another making itself heard with never-before-seen actions. The strike is still alive, whether it be: • the strike of the firefighters who demonstrated on 28 January • the strike of the street cleaners and refuse workers in Ile-de-France or Marseille, who have been on strike for more than a week • the strike of the energy workers who have organised a series...

First climate strike of 2020

February 14 will see the first youth climate strike in the UK in 2020, the first since December’s general election. Tens of thousands of young people and students, from dozens of locations across the UK, will hit the streets to demand meaningful action on climate change. Climate change gets more urgent every day that passes, and the necessity of a large and bold climate movement is only more starkly drawn under a strengthened hard-right government led by a climate sceptic. The election has likely dealt a blow to our momentum, but we can rebuild. We must seek to build the strength, the...

“The system will track your death”

Would coronavirus demonstrate the superiority of "socialism with Chinese characteristics" when it comes to dealing with a major crisis? The Morning Star (and Communist Party of Britain) certainly thought so in late January/early February. And for a while it looked as though they might have a point. In a piece entitled "The Planned economy vs the coronavirus" (30 Jan, republished from the US Stalinist paper People’s World ), C J Atkins noted: “The World Health Organisation is praising the Chinese government’s quick response to the crisis… The scale of that commitment is now ramping up in a...

Letters

In an otherwise excellent piece in Solidarity 534, ("Blaming 'the intellectuals'), Len Glover is much too kind to Ian ("white working class") Lavery, saying that he "has, in many respects, a worthy record and before becoming an MP was President of the National Union of Mineworkers." Indeed he was; but the Certification Officer reported the following on the National Union of Mineworkers [NUM] (Northumberland Area) (below: "the Union"), of which Ian Lavery was General Secretary. This organisation reported 240 members each year from 2002 to 2012, and 10 members in 2013 and later years. "The Union...

Labour leadership: what about the anti-strike laws?

Speaking in Sheffield on 7 February, Labour leader candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey pledged to back all striking workers “no questions asked”, promising to be a leader “as comfortable on the picket line as at the dispatch box”. She argued that building up trade unionism should be central to increasing Labour support, including in areas lost to the Tories, and said a Labour government should aim to increase union membership by a million in its first year. We are not supporting Long-Bailey, because of her close ties to the established Labour "backroom" cabals of the Unite union hierarchy and long...

Labour NEC: vote Townsend and Wright!

The by-election for three places on Labour’s National Executive Committee is messy, with multiple “left” slates or partial slates in competition. Momentum, the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, the rump Labour Representation Committee, and the (Chris-Williamson-ite) Labour Left Alliance are supporting different combinations of candidates. • CLPD are backing Lauren Townsend and Cecile Wright for the two CLP places • Momentum, Lauren Townsend and Leigh Drennan, plus Nav Mishra for the BAME place • LRC, Jo Bird and Deborah Hobson, plus Hassan Ahmed for BAME • LLA, Jo Bird and Mohammed Azam,...

West Midlands feels the Byrne

Right-winger Liam Byrne has been selected as the Labour candidate to unseat Tory West Midlands metro-mayor Andy Street in May. Out of 6,948 votes, Byrne received 3,105 first preferences. There were two left candidates, former Dudley council leader Pete Lowe on 2,034 votes and former Respect activist Salma Yaqoob on 1,809. Yaqoob’s transfers did not go to Lowe, or not much more than they went to no second preference or to Byrne. After transfers Byrne beat Lowe 56.5-43.5%. Byrne has, for obvious reasons, made vague leftish noises, but he was a loyal minister in the Blair-Brown regime, nominated...

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