Solidarity 557, 22 July 2020

Free movement shouldn't be a privilege for the rich

Despite the length of the Tories’ 13 July document on post-Brexit immigration rules, it does not significantly expand on the proposals released earlier this year. It will be mandatory for visa applicants to speak English and have an offer of a job on an “eligible occupations” list, which will “earn” them 50 points. There will be a £20,480 minimum salary requirement. Visa applicants will “earn” extra points if they have a job offer in a “shortage occupation”, hold a PhD relevant to the job in question, or earn more than the “general salary threshold” of £25,600. Beyond January, there are plans...

Income shock

The Resolution Foundation cites business surveys to estimate that over one million workers out of the 9.5 million so far furloughed may lose their jobs completely when government furlough money stops at the end of October. It predicts a further “income shock” if the Tories stick to their plan to withdraw from April 2021 the £20 increase in Universal Credit which came with lockdown. That would mean an income cut of over £1,000 for over six million households. All that without factoring in the risk of a full-on second surge of the virus.

"Active class struggle is central to anti-racist struggle"

The Repeat Beat Poet is a hip hop and spoken word artist, broadcaster and activist. He talked with Janine Booth from Solidarity; the whole conversation is online here. On recent events in the USA: There are shamefully still regularly extrajudicial killings of Black people in the US and across the world, but because of lockdown, the killing [of George Floyd] is a moment of vindication for a lot of activists. The protests are vital in achieving concessions from the oppressive system we’re living in, and show mobilised oppressed peoples how they can bring themselves together and collectivise...

The pandemic from further back

Since the start of the pandemic there have been almost daily warnings of the effects that this natural disaster will have on our mental health. The impending mental health crisis has even been given a name: the “shadow pandemic”. However, beneath the headlines, there is surprisingly little hard evidence. Many surveys have found people increased levels of stress and anxiety, but that is not the same as mental illness. Some papers have predicted a big spike in mental illness based on patterns from previous natural disasters and economic crises. However the workings of the human mind are complex...

No "referees above politics"!

A piece of recent history made its way into the British press on 14 July. On 11 November 1975, the Governor-General of Australia, John Kerr, dismissed the elected Labour Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and installed Liberal Party leader Malcolm Fraser in his place. The Governor-General acts as representative for the monarch and is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. In the run up to the coup Kerr was in frequent written communication with the Queen’s personal secretary, Baron Charteris. The letters were released on 14 July after a long campaign and legal challenge by...

Living income push in Australia

In Australia, between now and September, the income support schemes will end or be severely cut, along with the moratorium on eviction of tenants and banks’ deferral of mortgage repayments. Unemployment has already nearly trebled to 14.8%, and around 9.7% of the workforce want more hours. When the JobKeeper scheme [something like furlough] ends in September, more workers could get the sack. Repossessions and evictions are likely, along with a home price and construction slump. A workers’ program needs to take up the immediate issue of housing along the lines of “No evictions, no foreclosures...

Poland: "Expect a fightback"

Andrzej Duda of the radical right Law and Justice party has been re-elected as Poland’s president, defeating the liberal conservative opposition’s candidate Rafał Trzaskowski 51%-49% in the second round. Ana Oppenheim spoke to Sacha Ismail about the election and struggles in Poland. Ana is a Polish-born socialist who lives in the UK. She is a member of the Labour Party and the Polish left party Razem, an activist in the Labour Campaign for Free Movement and has just been elected to Momentum’s national coordinating group. Poland was due to have its presidential election in May, but with the...

Luton cuts

Luton’s Labour council has passed an emergency budget (with support from Tories on the council) which cuts 365 jobs and frontline services. Luton is particularly hard-hit because the council has depended heavily on revenues from Luton Airport, which have dwindled with the lockdown. Other councils also face budget gaps from extra spending in the lockdown, only partly covered by central government aid, and reduced incomes. Labour should be campaigning for the Tory government to restore the cuts made by the Tories to local government funding since 2010.

Remembering 1945

75 years ago, on 26 July 1945, Britain’s first-ever majority Labour government took office. David Booth remembers. My father, Albert, was born in 1897 in Hoxton, east London. His father had never been to school. He worked at the Army and Navy stores making ladies’ shoes. There were six children, two of whom died in infancy – average for the time – the youngest taking their mother with her. So Grandad worked shorter daytime hours and, after the kids were in bed, sorted mail at Mount Pleasant sorting office all night. The working class was therefore our class and the Labour Party our party...

Defend safety measures

Boris Johnson's recent announcement that people should start using public transport again is a cause for concern. Although LU says it won't be changing its messaging, which encourages passengers to walk or cycle where possible, workmates on stations and trains are already anecdotally reporting...

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