Solidarity 572, 18 November 2020

Poor peace for Armenia

On 6 November, the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended with the capitulation of the Armenian side. A Russian-brokered treaty will see Russian and Turkish peacekeepers deployed to the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) region, and the key strategic points of Shusha and Lacin ceded to Azerbaijan. Approximately half the (Armenian) population of Nagorno-Karabakh has already been displaced and few are likely to return. This summer, Azerbaijan launched an invasion of the Republic of Artsakh, a self-governing Armenian-majority enclave within the territory of Azerbaijan. In the 1990s, Armenian fighters...

Orban targets LGBT people

On 10 November, Hungary’s Minister of Justice Judit Varga unveiled a bill that will almost certainly become the ninth modification to the Basic Law of Hungary adopted in 2011. This reactionary piece of legislation adds to the already shameful article which defines the state’s conception of “the family” that “the mother is a woman, and the father is a man”. A further amendment proclaims that “Hungary protects children’s right to identify as the sex they were born with, and ensures their upbringing based on our national self-identification and Christian culture”. The Hungarian language does not...

Suspended just for discussing

The chair, co-secretary, and various other members of Bristol West CLP have been suspended for allowing a motion to be heard condemning the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn. After one branch passed the motion, the unelected regional director of the Party advised the chair against the motion being heard at the CLP. The chair nonetheless called a meeting which first voted to hear the motion, by 94 to 59, and then passed motion 99 to 80. No debate was heard on the motion itself, reportedly to ensure the Equality and Human Rights Commission report on Labour and antisemitism itself could not be...

TUSC embraces Chris Williamson

Earlier this year the Socialist Party confirmed they would be preparing their electoral front, TUSC, operating since 2010 but mostly dormant since 2015, to stand once again in elections. For the Socialist Party the drift of the Labour party to the right under Starmer confirms the view they’ve taken ever since quitting Labour in the years after the Liverpool council fiasco in 1985-6 that Labour is a dead end. For Chris Williamson, Labour wasn’t a dead end. It got him a lucrative career as leader of Derby City Council where he governed in coalition with the Tories, cut services and was pro-PFI...

Four points from NEC poll

Four points to take away from the Labour Party National Executive (NEC) election results announced on 13 November. • The balance between broadly-left and broadly-right in the membership is not much changed. The left slate (not a good left slate, in our view, but the left slate) did better than it expected, winning five constituency seats. The “old” right won three, and the ninth place was taken by Ann Black, an NEC member on the “centre-left” slate from 2000 to 2018 but now seen as definitely “centre”. • Keir Starmer has a stronger majority on the Executive, because of the change to electing...

"Pluralist" is not "bipartisan"

To shun “partisanship” — that, according to a new book, is the way to success for Labour. And the proof is Joe Biden’s win in the US presidential election. The Dark Knight and the Puppet Master, by Chris Clarke, is published by Penguin and has been puffed on LabourList. The author is the son of Charles Clarke, who was Neil Kinnock’s chief of staff in the 1980s, then a minister under Blair. The book was first published (under another title) by a think-tank led by Peter Mandelson. The author tells us he is a sort of ultimate antithesis to the “Corbyn surge”. He grew up Labour-by-default, never...

Interview: What happened in Labour on Brexit

Michael Chessum, national organiser for Another Europe Is Possible, spoke in a personal capacity with Sacha Ismail. Written up and edited by George Wheeler. You’ve written an article on openDemocracy, arguing that the anti-Brexit Left made a serious mistake at the 2018 Labour Party conference. What’s your thinking? We’re in this period of mopping up after Corbynism, and I wanted to challenge myself to reflect about what we might have got wrong, rather than what others got wrong. I don’t conclude we were wrong in any of the politics we advocated. What I conclude is that we began determined not...

Gangster rap! Lenin and Joe Colombo

The story of Joe Colombo, the Mafia boss who briefly turned ethnic politician, is one of the most frightening stories I’ve come across. An instructive story, too. It says a lot about the “rebel” element in Trumpism. Perhaps significantly, the year is 1970. In the USA there is a huge anti-Vietnam-war movement. The USA has also experienced the black civil rights movement and the black ghetto uprisings. It is a highly political period in American history. When the gangster Joe Colombo, boss of one of the Mafia “families”, feels the pursuing FBI breathing down his neck, he reacts “politically”. He...

Fighting Trumpism: the next four years

Donald Trump’s press secretary claimed a million “Stop the Steal” protesters on the streets of Washington on 14 November to block Biden becoming US president. It was more like 10,000-20,000, organised by far-right activists, but supported, tacitly or explicitly, by Republican Congress people. It looks harder and harder for Trump to pull any sort of “coup” between now and 20 January, but that 86% of his voters believe his denunciation of the election count bodes ill for the next four years. Although Biden won on 3 November, Trump got more votes than in 2016 (ten million more and counting...)...

No to the "Swedish model"

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on sex work legislation, closing on 10 December. It follows a battle spearheaded by MSP Ash Denham, the government’s community safety minister, to introduce the criminalisation of the purchase of sex work (the “Nordic model”, or “Swedish model”, also implemented in France and Ireland). Currently in the UK, the purchase and selling of sex is legal, though various associated activities such as street work and workers operating from the same premises are not. National Ugly Mugs (an organisation that provides support and representation for...

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