Solidarity 561, 2 September 2020

HSCA 2012 eight years on

The scrapping of Public Health England (PHE) and a new government health task force point to the Tories using the background of the pandemic to make radical changes to the NHS. The abolition of PHE is seen as an early attempt to cast blame for the devastating Covid-19 response away from Boris Johnson. It may also be the first step to bringing the NHS into increased central and political control. Last time the Tories led an NHS reorganisation was the Health and Social Care Act (HSCA) of 2012. This made fundamental changes, removing central responsibility for healthcare from the Secretary of...

Back the health workers! 15% pay rise!

We must throw ourselves into helping the health workers win. Video and article. On 12 September, and in Glasgow on 5 September, health workers will be on the streets again demanding a pay rise. The movement started with a London demonstration on 29 July, spread through protests across the country on 8 August and workplace rallies on 26 August, and is continuing through “wear a badge days” every Wednesday.

Stop slide to No Deal!

The Tories are tobogganing towards a “no deal” Brexit. Maybe they hope to scare the EU into last-minute concessions, but, on the scale of such things, four months is very short for that. The Tories may think that with everyone distracted by the pandemic and other issues, they can get away with “no deal”, and use the resulting turmoil to push through “disaster capitalism” shock policies. The social and economic effects of the resulting higher barriers between Britain and Europe, disrupting 50 years of economic knitting-together, and of the shock policies, will hit workers hardest. Yet Labour...

Tories concede a fraction on isolation pay

The New Zealand government pays for workers self-isolating because of the pandemic to get $586 (£291) a week. Even the Australian government has conceded some paid “pandemic leave”, for care-home workers and those in the state of Victoria. Now the Tories have followed with a sort of quarter or one-eighth concession: £13 a day for some low-paid workers in a few trial areas if they have positive virus tests or are contacts. Stephen Reicher, a member of the government’s official SAGE committee, commented: “Woefully inadequate… Why only £13 a day? Why only in high infection areas? Why only for...

Whipping it up for "The Storm"

By now, you have probably already heard about the American conspiracy theory known as QAnon. What exactly do QAnon followers believe? The answer is complicated. By this point, QAnon has snowballed into an all-encompassing super-conspiracy. Believers frequently disagree with each other on details, but there’s room for you in the movement whether you believe that the Earth is hollow or that it is flat. QAnon centres around a supposed military intelligence officer, “Q”, who is exposing a corrupt cabal in the US government by posting cryptic messages on anonymous imageboards. The first “Q drop” —...

Five times the risk in pregnancy

Healthcare in pregnancy, or lack of it, is one of the starkest examples of racial health inequalities in the United Kingdom and in the United States. Work in the UK by University of Oxford researchers has found that between 2014 and 2016 the rate of death in pregnancy was 8 in 100,000 white people, compared with 15 in 100,000 Asian people and 40 in 100,000 black people. It’s a similar picture in the US, where African-American, Native American, and Alaska native pregnancies are three times more likely to result in death, according to a May 2019 report by the Centers for Disease Control. The...

Young Labour elections

Young Labour Internationalists is a platform being put forward in the Young Labour elections (nominations close 27 Sep, voting 19 Oct to 12 Nov. Momentum “primary” voting closing 2 Sep). We are supporting: • Benj Eckford for Northern rep • Robbie Scott for International Officer • Sacha Marten for Student Rep Our slate is likely to expand, with more candidates signing up to support our political platform. We hope to run debates via Zoom with Young Labour groups across the UK and organise forums of our own to discuss how to build a class-struggle oriented internationalist youth movement. Our...

Conspiracy theorist threat

Over two hundred Covid-conspiracy theorists, including some genuinely wearing tin foil hats, held a rally and march in Bristol; thousands in London; and tens of thousands in Berlin, on the weekend of 29-30 August. Participants and speakers opposed masks, vaccines, lockdown, 5G, and the “New World Order”. They pushed wild, incoherent, and often contradictory conspiracy theories, from 9/11 classics or a global shadowy elite of (satanic) paedophiles (QAnon), to Covid-19 being a hoax or 5G being an infrastructure designed to control individuals through microchips implanted under the guise of...

XR returns to activity

Extinction Rebellion (XR) Bristol held protests and blockades from 29-31 August, and XR nationally begun a fortnight of disruption from 1 September in London, Cardiff and Manchester. They aim to get the “Climate and Ecological Emergency” (CEE) bill adopted as a “private members’ bill” and then passed as Parliament returns from 1 September. In Bristol, a protest at the airport reportedly saw almost 400 people, multiple bridges were blockaded, and XR organised many other actions, talks, and educational activities. Organisers have been taking Covid-safety seriously, while working hard to...

School reopenings: ballot on safety

The National Education Union (NEU) favours the reopening of English and Welsh schools in September, without qualification. That is positive. But the union is not advocating action to stop unsafe or careless practice by school managements. It is not even publicising to members Section 44 of the 1996 Employment Rights Act, which allows workers to quit work areas where they see a “serious or imminent danger”. The NEU leaders proceed as if they are writing a comment piece in the Guardian, or a blog, rather than running a campaigning union. There are plenty of issues we need action to fix...

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