Solidarity 566, 7 October 2020

How to fight for jobs

The government’s figures say unemployment could approach five million next year. Young, women and BME workers are being and will be hit hardest. The government is driving ahead with the gutting of the furlough and self-employed support schemes, and with a rushed-through hard Brexit which will further batter the economy. This unemployment crisis is also one of low pay and insecurity. Even before the pandemic, almost four million workers were in highly insecure employment. Since the virus hit, the number of workers on zero hours contracts has passed a million for the first time — with the...

More Brexit means more US-type capitalism

New UK-EU talks on Brexit are due to run through the week starting 5 October, and prime minister Boris Johnson says he wants a deal outlined by 15 October. That looks unlikely. The EU has already started suing Britain for legislating to break the Withdrawal Agreement previously signed with the EU. Big gaps remain between the UK and the EU on Northern Ireland, on state-aid rules, and on fishing. The Tories say that they are happy with a “no deal” Brexit as fallback — meaning, in fact, a period of chaos following by a scramble for new trade deals, especially with the USA. Their basic drive is to...

Free Assange!

The judge in the court case over the US government’s attempt to extradite Julian Assange to the USA for trial on his WikiLeaks work has said she will deliver a verdict on 4 January after hearing evidence for the last month. That is unlikely to be the end of it, because either Assange or the US government will probably appeal. The labour movement should demand that Assange is released and not extradited. His health is suffering in jail, where he has been held since April 2019. Assange has done much to discredit himself with the left: his evasion of rape charges brought by two Swedish women, his...

Over 10,000 protesters jailed in Belarus

On 4 October 100,000 people marched through Minsk in the latest mass protest against the rigging of the presidential election of 9 August. It was the 57th day of protests, and the ninth successive Sunday of mass demonstrations in the country’s capital. Despite some two months having passed since the election, the size of the demonstration in Minsk, and smaller demonstrations in other Belarussian cities and towns, shows that the anti-Lukashenko opposition remains as determined as ever to win its demands: a re-run of the presidential election; the release of all political prisoners; and...

Asylum: Patel's "Australian model"

Home Secretary Priti Patel has been asking officials to scope out the possibilities of detaining asylum seekers on remote Atlantic islands or in disused ferries, and building physical barriers in the Channel. In Australia, where she borrows the “remote-islands” idea from, deterring asylum seekers and enforcing border controls have been election-winning positions for the conservatives. In the first decade of the 21st century immigration detention in harsh remote locations within Australian territory through the first decade of this century produced points at which refugee supporters could meet...

Brexit shows... no point defending the BBC

The Cummings-Johnson-Gove clique have made no secret of their contempt for the BBC and desire to bring it to heel. They believe the result of the EU referendum and the 2019 election give them an opportunity to mount a “culture war” on the supposedly “liberal” and “metropolitan” BBC. Their approach so far, has been to follow Trump’s “fake news” strategy — in which politicians aim to escape accountability by convincing enough supporters that all criticism is based on the lies of a biased “liberal” media. But now there is clear evidence of a plan to fundamentally undermine the independence of the...

Letter: Different layers of QAnon

In response to Cath Fletcher ( letters, Solidarity 565): I agree, in Solidarity 564 I should’ve made the parallel between QAnon and the blood libel more explicit. The reason I didn’t was that the previous article on QAnon already pointed it out, and I had many other things to cover, and I didn’t want to repeat too much. It is indeed a version of the “world Jewish conspiracy” theory, but QAnon has different groups of believers in it. The old guard, who were following the posts back from the 4chan, or 8chan days, are without a doubt antisemitic. After all, QAnon started on a neo-Nazi forum...

School closures harm girls

Being forced to stay at home and not being able to study has a greater impact on girls, affecting their mental health, increasing their domestic responsibilities, and making them more likely than boys to drop out of school. UNESCO estimates that about 10 million more secondary school-aged girls could be out of school following the crisis. At the height, there were over 1.5 billion affected learners and 194 country-wide school closures. In many countries there is already a pronounced gendered difference in educational access and achievement. Disparities in re-enrolment are particularly true for...

A win for Osime Brown

On 7 October, Osime Brown, a young man jailed under “joint enterprise” law, will return to his family home on his release from prison, rather than being taken to an immigration detention centre. This win follows many street and online protests demanding his freedom. But Osime’s fight is still on: the order to deport him to Jamaica (which he left at the age of 4, and where has no support network) still stands. No date has been announced, but Osime still has this threat looming. Campaigners are running a “Twitter storm” on 6 October, and ask supporters to keep signing and sharing the petition...

Israel tries to ban protests

On Wednesday 30 September the Israeli government passed a law to suppress protests. For many months there have been weekly protests against Netanyahu in Jerusalem. The new law states that gatherings of over 20 people are illegal and that it is illegal to travel more than 1 km to attend a protest. This is, supposedly, to reduce the spread of Covid-19. It is true that infections in Israel have spread alarmingly. Many outbreaks have been linked to indoor religious gatherings — there is a much greater risk of Covid spreading indoors — but those have been allowed to continue. Outdoor protests have...

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