Solidarity 543, 14 April 2020

In the pandemic, the labour movement must fight to make us all: Safe and Equal!

The “Safe and Equal” campaign (safeandequal.org), publicly launched on 13 April is for equal rights to full self-isolation pay for all workers regardless of their employment status. In too many workplaces, agency staff are getting short shrift and being obliged to choose between going down to £94/week statutory sick pay, or coming into work sick or potentially contagious. Safe and Equal grew out of the work of activists at the East London Foundation Trust (ELFT) hospital, where a campaign of posters and letter-writing has already won big steps forward for self-isolation pay for agency and...

Why Sanders lost

Why did Bernie Sanders fail to win the Democratic nomination in 2020? Let’s start with three explanations that don’t work. 1. The Democratic party establishment conspired to stop him. That was only partly true in 2016 – and not true at all in 2020. One of the things Sanders did after 2016 was force the Democratic Party to reform, ensuring (among other things) that so-called “super delegates” would have much less influence than before. In 2016 there was a lot of evidence of the party machine working behind the scenes to elect Clinton, using devious methods. That doesn’t seem to be the case...

Another socialist for US President

Howie Hawkins, a socialist, is leading in the contest for the Green Party nomination for US president. He spoke to us in November 2019.

"Class power on zero hours"

The Angry Workers of the World (AWW) is involved in workplace organising, primarily in food manufacturing and logistics. Their recently published book “Class Power on Zero Hours” discusses their experiences, and aims to grapple with “what next for working class politics and revolutionary strategy?” They produce a number of factory bulletins and a newspaper. Although organised to encourage debate as well as learning from each others’ experiences, this Workers’ Liberty-hosted forum is not a “head-to-head”, but a presentation from AWW comrades, then time for questions, comments, and discussion. •...

No question of "national unity" government!

Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack spoke to Sacha Ismail. How should the labour movement be responding to the Covid-19 crisis? In terms of trade union structures, there are real challenges in re-establishing basic functioning in this situation. We’ve had to play catch up to re-establish core functioning and communication under the lockdown. Certainly in the FBU it’s taken us a couple of weeks to get on top of the basics, even things like how do you take a vote properly in an online meeting. Nevertheless, unions need to have the political will to step up. The FBU has been very...

We need a bigger and different public sector

Tom Zagoria, a London-based activist in the Labour Homelessness Campaign who also works in homelessness provision, spoke to Sacha Ismail. One background to the crisis is a decimation of the positive aspects of the state’s capacity. There has been criticism of decisions about the lockdown and so on, and I’m sure are lots of weaknesses there that reflect pressure from employers – but there is a wider and longer-term problem. We’ve had more than a decade of big cuts in local government and other services. There are more and more hoops people have to jump through to access services, and a great...

Taking the lid off

Some issues emerge clearly from the leaked Labour Party report on its Governance and Legal Unit's handling of antisemitism and other issues. 1. The remnants of New Labour, entrenched in the party machine, hated any attempt, however modest, to move the party to the left. They were opposed to Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham as well as Corbyn. They were virulently hostile to even minimally left-wing policies. 2. They preferred a Tory government - even under Johnson and his hard Brexiteers - to a Labour victory under Corbyn. In a kind of "Third Period Blairism", this was a case of "After Boris our...

A lack of opposition

Rachael Baylis, a student activist involved in worker solidarity at Brighton University and in Worcestershire Young Labour, spoke to Sacha Ismail. Keir Starmer is doing even worse than I thought he would. He isn’t oppositional, let alone socialist. “I’m sure the government is doing everything it can” – when we know this is nonsense. He seems quite relaxed about a very alarming situation. Politically, there seems to be a large element of returning to Milibandism, accepting the dominant political narrative but with left tweaks. It seems like the progress made under Corbyn is being reversed. We...

The stats of Covid-19

African-Americans are being hit harder by Covid-19 than others in the USA. In Chicago, African-Americans are half the Covid-19 cases and more than 70% of deaths, yet only 30% of the city. In Milwaukee, they are 81% of Covid-19 cases and 26% of the population. In Louisiana, 70% of deaths and 33% of the population. Almost always in epidemics, the worst-off suffer worse. They are likely to be in poorer health already; to live in more crowded housing; to have to continue to work in sometimes crowded workplaces, rather than working from home or taking time off. In Britain, home care workers -...

Lenin on war economy and socialism

World War One, like the Covid-19 pandemic, pushed capitalist governments into "socialistic" measures of public control of economic life. World War Two would do so even more. And by then governments in Britain and the USA, having to deal with stronger labour movements and sorely remembering the revolutionary tumults at the end of and after World War One, conceded a stronger "social" element and more liberties in their state control of economic life. Writing in October 1917, Lenin presented his working-class socialist programme as a "revolutionary-democratic" going-forward from that state...

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