Solidarity 570, 4 November 2020

Cash for the NHS and isolation pay!

For weeks now, Solidarity has supported the call by scientists, later taken up by Labour leader Keir Starmer, for a limited new lockdown to slow virus infections. With a “but”. Or rather several “but”s. The agitation by Nigel Farage and some right-wing Tories against restrictions is really a call to favour the better-off who are, or feel, safe from the virus, at the expense of the worse-off in public-facing jobs and crowded circumstances. David Nabarro of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been misquoted by right-wingers. But he is right. “We in the WHO do not advocate lockdowns as the...

Now 50%-38% against Brexit

The Observer reports that Boris Johnson is waiting for the US election before deciding whether to go for a No Deal Brexit. Ivan Rogers, former UK ambassador to the EU, says a Trump victory would make Johnson feel “history was going his way”. But, “no deal” or “rushed-through last-minute deal”, the UK will experience a destructive and regressive hard Brexit in eight weeks whatever happens. A last-minute bare-bones deal with the EU will just mean it is a bit less destructive. Solidarity has been warning since March that Brexit at the end 2020 will mean multiplied disruption and suffering in the...

Belarus: anger still spreading

The weekend 24-25 October saw a targeted peak in militancy in Belarus, but the general strike called for by the opposition’s nominal head Svetlana Tikhanovskaya did not materialise. The time since then has seen some loss of momentum. Students across 13 universities have, however, continued to step up their organisation, with ongoing protest meetings on campuses. In factories and workplaces, a minority of workers remain on strike. In some places that number has increased. In the chemical plant Grodno Azot crucial skilled workers — the “technical intelligentsia” that Lukashenko has long claimed...

Bolivia: battle for democracy

Luis Arce, the Movement for Socialism (MAS) candidate, won the Bolivian election on 18 October by a landslide. This is good news for the left in Latin America: a show of resistance against a coup of militarists and fundamentalist Christians, and largely a result of mass demonstrations and direct action by the organised left, Andean peasants and indigenous communities. However, Arce’s election does not mean a change from the ways that trapped the left in the situation before the coup, nor is he a direct continuation of Morales’ government. The November 2019 coup in Bolivia happened after...

Anti-fascist or Russian imperialist?

On 26 October the Morning Star published an obituary-cum-eulogy on “Ghost Battalion” commander Aleksey Markov. The Ghost Brigade (since 2015: Ghost Battalion) was one of a myriad of “local” military units created in 2014 as a cover for Russian political and military intervention into eastern Ukraine after the overthrow of Ukrainian President Yanukovych. TheMorning Star has long portrayed the Ghost Brigade as a latter-day version of the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War. But this is contradicted by Markov’s own description of the Brigade’s creation: “We formed the Ghost Brigade...

Letters: Risk of helping Trump win; Biden fails at first test

Biden fails at first test Eric Lee ( Solidarity 568) is so annoyed with my article in the previous issue (Democrats: no space for radicals) that he does not even manage to acknowledge my name while writing a polemic against me. Lee even manages to defend Biden against my charge that Biden is a “creep”, which, apparently, is an allegation made only in “Trump’s world”. That is interesting, because my understanding is that “creep” is a charge that Trump has generally avoided using against Biden, susceptible as Trump is to cries of hypocrisy. I could even imagine advocating a vote for Biden...

Rebecca: feminist failure

This article contains spoilers for Wheatley’s 2020 Rebecca film, the 1940 Hitchcock film, and the original 1938 Daphne Du Maurier gothic novel. Ben Wheatley’s Rebecca, showing on Netflix, was always going to be haunted by Hitchcock’s 1940 film. Wheatley and screenwriter Goldman were right to try and create a new film adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s novel, rather than a remake of the Oscar-winning classic. They tried to give us a more explicitly feminist Rebecca, but sadly do not pull it off. Rebecca, in all her incarnations, is in many ways a feminist hero. She refused to let marriage crush...

Why I rejoined the Labour Party

I have just re-joined the Labour Party. Some people will say that one should never leave the Labour Party. Whatever it did, whatever bothered you and made it difficult to remain a member, you should stay inside and fight from within. Sure, you disagreed with this or that policy, but that’s no reason to abandon Labour, which has consistently fought against all forms of racism. Whatever you disagreed with, Labour is the party that unites working people of all races and religions, and campaigns consistently for genuine equality and respect. And to those who said such things, I can only reply...

Antisemitism in Labour: as we saw it in 2018

For sure, his opponents in the party and the Tory press are out to get Jeremy Corbyn. One of two things then: either they’re telling the truth on this matter or they aren’t. Either there is a problem of antisemitism in the party or there isn’t. Either his critics are lying or exaggerating, and should then be stood up to and faced down. Or they are telling the truth; in which case Corbyn should energetically set about digging out Labour Party antisemitism by the roots. Corbyn agrees there is a problem. He responds under pressure, moves in the direction his critics are pointing to, but it is as...

Lessons from the EHRC report

Labour must now confront the issue of antisemitism in the labour movement. All the attempts by Corbyn leadership to downplay the issue, or to say that it is only the inevitable spillover into a large organisation of attitudes in wider society, must end. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report published on 29 October is not the solution or the last word on the matter, but it has the institutional weight to push the left into accepting, legally and politically, that there is a real problem. The EHRC’s statutory powers are only within the scope of the Equality Act 2010. It is...

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