Solidarity 572, 18 November 2020

Reorganise the Labour left

The political and economic aftershocks of the coronavirus pandemic are likely to be severe. Johnson’s government is already signalling that it will follow the 2008 script: yes, when disaster strikes you have to carry out a little “socialism” — state intervention, doling out money to bosses as much as you can and workers as much as you have to. But so that no-one gets the wrong idea, after this half-”socialism” the bill must be presented and paid through austerity. When Johnson’s Tories (if they are still with Johnson by then) come to implement their own austerity they will learn from David...

Striking to win at Barnoldswick

Workers at a Rolls Royce site in Barnoldswick (Lancashire) began an initial three weeks of rolling strikes on 6 November, to resist the loss of 350 jobs. The strikes have now been extended to 23 December. Unite organiser Ross Quinn spoke to Daniel Randall about the dispute. DR: How's the strike going so far? RQ: It's going really well. We've targeted specific areas in the factory. That's something we did at Camell Laird [shipbuilder] two years ago, where there was only ever 20% of the workforce on strike at any one time, but no production was going on. We've used the same overall principle...

Not a class act

Last week three former shadow ministers, Laura Smith, John Trickett, and former party chair Ian Lavery, launched a report for their No Holding Back (NHB) initiative. It purports to be the result of a “listening exercise” amongst Labour members and trade unionists, with the aim of reconnecting Labour with its lost “red wall” voters, but contains few practical proposals beyond unspecified “strengthening trade union and workers’ rights”, taxing firms like Amazon more, creating a “cronyism watchdog” and adopting “progressive patriotism.” On the issue of redundancies NHB says precisely nothing. On...

Letter: Priorities against Trump

I find a lot I agree with in Barrie Hardy’s article in Solidarity 571, but I think on one point his emphasis is wrong. I’m not against Trump or any of his administration being dragged up before a judge on some legitimate criminal charges, but I’m not convinced the left should be pressing Biden to pursue that. This is not about trying to prevent martyrs to Trumpism, but focusing our energy where it is needed. The organised left in the USA is not in a good way. Its priority must be to assert itself, independent from the machinations going on in Washington. If the left gets tied up pushing Biden...

Thirteen murdered working-class women

The death of the killer of thirteen women has elicited an apology from the police for the methods and the language they used during their investigation. The role of the press and they way that they portrayed the victims has also come in for some heavy criticism. Which is right. When you hear their language in the context of today, it is shocking. But in the context of the time it was happening, the police and press fitted right in with the culture that affected all women. Those who had the advantage of class and money had at least some protection from the effect of sexist attitudes on their...

New move on electric cars

The UK government is predicted to set a date for the banning of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030. This brings it forward from 2035; before February it was set at 2040. They will likely put half a billion pounds towards charging infrastructure from next year. This has been expected alongside several other green plans, whose announcement continues to be delayed as the Treasury is reportedly reluctant to fund much of it. Even despite this, the government’s climate ambitions — to date and predicted — remain far too low, with those that do exist lacking the funding to make them...

Defend the right to protest

The civil rights group Liberty has reported that in the legislation for the new lockdown (5 November to 2 December), the Tories have quietly deleted the exception previously made, in the ban on public gatherings, for political protests done with due care. On 6 November, some 200 people were arrested on an anti-lockdown demonstration in London. The Netherlands, for example, explicitly makes political protests the one high-profile exception to its second-lockdown ban on public gatherings. The right to protest (with due care) is an essential service. However, the government has conceded on picket...

The harm of social media

Since it was released in early September, the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma has attracted much attention (Netflix/Exposure Labs: Dir: Jeff Orlowski 2020).

Chile votes for new constitution

On 25 October in Chile, around 7.5 million people voted in a historic referendum on whether to write a new constitution to replace the current one — enacted in 1980 during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet — and on the democratic mechanism to write this new constitution. The option of crafting a new constitution won, with an overwhelming majority of nearly 80%. A similar percentage supported a constitutional convention — a group completely composed of citizens democratically elected for this purpose — as the mechanism to write the new constitution. This new scenario brings chances to change...

French teachers strike

School teachers in France struck on 10 November to demand better virus controls in schools. Their demands included: • Rota systems, with students in school half-time, to allow half-size classes • More staff, again to facilitate smaller classes • Better ventilation and cleaning • Free masks. (Masks are compulsory in French schools). Unions report a 45% turnout for the strike from junior high schools and 20% from primary. In some areas students blockaded senior high schools in the days before the strike as an act of solidarity. On 5 November, the government tried to deflect the strike by...

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