Solidarity 558, 5 August 2020

The virus: heed the warnings for winter!

Without precautions, the average infected person passes on the virus to maybe three others. That is an average of very uneven numbers. According to Adam Kucharski and others, if 100 sufferers generate 300 further infections, 240 of those infections will come from just ten of the sufferers. The ten may not be that medically different from the other 90. They may frequent closed and crowded spaces more favourable to transmission, or meet more susceptible people. The new outbreak of the virus in Victoria, Australia, highlights the chanciness of the process, and the foolishness of saying the answer...

Expand jobs, boost pay!

Article and video. On 8 August, NHS workers and supporters across the country will demonstrate to demand a 15% pay rise, something like but better than what France has already paid its health workers. The Labour Party would help on jobs more by backing these protests than it is doing by its “jobs, jobs, jobs” campaign launched on 31 July. In the coming months, millions of furloughed workers are set to lose their jobs. And even more if it proves necessary to shut pubs and cafés again, as it may do. Over half a million young people leaving school and university are searching for jobs which aren’t there. The article sketches what we need.

Health and social care must both be public

Article and video. The Guardian reports a Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson saying there is “no foundation” to claims that the government plans to bring social care under the umbrella of the NHS. But rumours are widespread enough that the denial comes at the end of a longish article on the claims. The Guardian has since covered the possibility fairly extensively, as have other media outlets. We want social care made a free public service, publicly-owned and provided, with its staff on secure public-sector pay and conditions. Health and care campaigners are divided on the general issue of NHS/care integration. Last year’s Labour conference voted both that “our publicly-owned NHS needs to be fully integrated with Social Care systems which should all… be public”; and that “consequences of marrying social care to the NHS include medicalisation, isolation, indignity, maltreatment; bringing social care under a struggling NHS umbrella is not the answer.” Most campaigners are to one degree or another sceptical, at least on the basis of what it would mean when social care is extensively privatised, radically fragmented and in a partial state of collapse. “We have to say that the state of social care, its fragmentation and privatisation, means that at present there is nothing acceptable for the NHS to integrate with”, as Keep Our NHS Public’s John Lister put it at a recent conference on social care. We need more debate in the labour movement about the relationship between social care and the NHS, going beyond undefined buzzwords like “integration”. But no relationship will work well unless on the basis of the kind of policy Labour Party conference has called for – comprehensive public ownership of care.

Labour's antisemitism tangle

More than £300,000 has been donated to a fundraising page to help support Jeremy Corbyn if a legal case goes ahead over the leaked Labour antisemitism report or the Panorama programme produced by John Ware. Keir Starmer has already settled the Panorama legal cases with the whistle-blowers featured in the documentary, several of whom are heavily criticised in the pro-Corbyn leaked report. Corbyn has criticised the decision. He claims the move to settle was political rather than legal and that Labour had a strong defence case. Regardless of the merits of the legal case against the former party...

Tower Hamlets strikes again

Tower Hamlets council workers’ fight against attacks on their terms and conditions is continuing, with new strike dates on 13, 14 and 17 August. The workers want to reballot when their current ballot mandate expires on 22 August; so far the Unison bureaucracy is stalling them on that. • Sign up for solidarity and donate here • Updates here • Interview with Tower Hamlet’s Unison’s social care convener Amina Patel here

Left NEC slate: a weak start

The “Centre Left Grassroots Alliance” campaign for Labour’s National Executive Committee, supported by Momentum and other organisations, has launched under the banner “Grassroots Voice” (futureweneed.com). The front page of the campaign website includes a 180 word political programme. If you’re not paying much attention it reads as left-wing, namechecking various good causes, but what it actually advocates is vague. It says nothing about procedural questions which are crucial particularly for NEC members, e.g. sovereignty of conference, proper reporting of NEC meetings, due process over...

Anti-Netanyahu protests grow

Mass demonstrations against Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's hard-right prime minister, have continued, as the country lurches towards its fourth election in two years. Following a previous wave of anti-Netanyahu protests which highlighted the corruption allegations against him, due to come to court in January, the latest mobilisations have focused on his mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic, where a precipitous easing of lockdown measures and inadequate social provision has seen both infections and unemployment spike massively. An article in the left-wing 972 magazine notes that, although...

Remobilising the left

At the end of July, local AWL organisers met to discuss remobilising members to respond to the economic and political upheavals that face labour movement activists as the lockdown eases. Our window for that remobilisation may be short if lockdowns are partially or fully reintroduced. As socialist activists whose political bread-and-butter is face-to-face communication and outward-facing activity such as meetings, street protests, and picket lines, we need to learn the lessons of lockdown. Some trade union activity has been possible in some unions, at the local level and among leftists, but...

Sea could rise 2 or 3 metres soon

New research has narrowed the predicted likely range of global warming for a given increase of CO2. Previously, a doubling of CO2 above pre-industrial levels would have been predicted to increase global surface temperatures by 1.5‐4.5°C, a measure of “climate sensitivity”. The new research, assessing available evidence, places climatic sensitivity within the middle or upper part of this range: 2.6‐4.1°C. With lower climate sensitivity increasingly unlikely, attempts to build hopes upon it are even more untenable. The need to radically reduce net carbon emissions, as well as to mitigate the...

Campaign launch draws 1,500

In Australia, the Living Incomes For Everyone coalition is working towards a week of action 17-24 September. The coalition was formally launched on 26 July, at a 1,500-strong online meeting. Wrapping up the launch, Janet Burstall explained the aims: Firstly, we stand for meeting people’s needs, and against capitalism. We’re grassroots, we’re a coalition, our demands link the needs of workers, and especially of everyone on low incomes, in or out of work... We are filling a gap in the Australian working class movement, and we will be part of shaking off decades of failure to fight back as a...

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