Solidarity 579, 27 January 2021

Unite to win isolation pay for all

The rate of compliance with Covid quarantine rules in New York state is estimated around 98%. In South Korea, over 99%. In the UK, a majority, perhaps as many as 80%, don’t fully comply. In South Korea those going into quarantine receive the equivalent of £300, regardless of employment status and income. They also get a kit with food, drink and medical supplies, and regular check-ins with an individual through an app. Many local authorities offer temporary accommodation to people for whom isolation at home is impossible or difficult. In New York anyone who tests positive, and their close...

More virus deaths in jails

Almost twice as many Covid-related deaths in prisons in England and Wales have been recorded in the second wave as in the first. Between October 2020 and 18 January 2021, 51 prisoners died with the virus, compared to 27 between March and June 2020. There have also been far more cases, even after taking into account more extensive testing. Throughout the final months of 2020, cases in prison seemed to ebb and flow in line with the tightening and easing of restrictions in the community. The week ending 21 December looked to be the peak: 800 cases then, falling to only several hundred in the...

A GP's view of the pandemic

A GP talked to Zack from Solidarity about the pandemic. An extract of this was printed in Solidarity, the full interview is below. Zack: What do you think should have been done differently in the vaccine rollout? GP: The Joint Committee on Vaccination should have planned from the start when they were going to give the second dose, so that they didn't change their mind. They shouldn't have asked private companies, like Pinnacle, to do things like the computing side. They should have used our existing providers. Vaccination isn't the only answer. You need to have track, trace, support, and...

The governments, the virus and us

Of almost all governments in the world, Japan’s is the one whose management of the pandemic is least approved by its people. You can see why. Its testing rates have always been very low, and are about one-fifteenth of the UK’s. It has had no lockdowns. It has made a one-off cash handout of £700 per person, but has a poor sick-pay regime. It even now intends to go ahead with the Olympics in Tokyo in July-August, though 80% of the population object. Yet cumulative deaths per million from Covid in Japan are 40, compared to 1437 in the UK and 116 and 100 even in Europe’s least-hit countries...

Free the science to enable vaccines for all

Private companies benefiting from billions in public money and political goodwill stand to profit heavily from selling vaccines to the Global South. Higher income countries, including Canada, Switzerland and the EU states, have even blocked efforts by the World Health Organisation to force companies to release the information needed to make the vaccines freely available to the world, which would have allowed other drug makers to manufacture them. This refusal of access comes even as states such as the US and the UK hoard vaccine orders far larger than needed for their entire populations...

Activist agenda

Safe and Equal is producing a new leaflet soon for door-to-door distribution, and developing a call on other campaigning groups which have backed better isolation pay to organise a united front on the issue. Bell Ribiero-Addy MP has been working with the campaign to investigate the employment practices of companies working under the Track and Trace banner. Frontline workers at test centres indicate that many are employed on zero-hours contracts, without isolation pay. A number of activists are now lobbying their councils trying to ensure all care providers pay full sick pay. Unison activists...

Still lying after 80 years

On 21 January 1941 the British government banned the Daily Worker. Eighty years later that paper’s successor, theMorning Star, commemorated the ban with lengthy articles by editor Ben Chacko and Communist Party of Britain head of communications Phil Katz. Katz describes the ban as the culmination of “a decade-long struggle with censors, libel suits [and] grizzly judges.” The paper, says Katz, “was not banned for anything in particular that it said ... [but] in order to disrupt the labour movement.” Chacko, on the other hand, quotes (before dismissing) the then-home secretary Herbert Morrison’s...

Putin's mafia regime starts to crack

“Putin is the richest man in the world by a multiple. Imagine controlling 25 per cent of the wealth of a country? Wouldn’t that be fucking amazing?” Donald Trump It is not impossible that Trump’s departure from the White House could soon be followed by his venal soul-mate Vladimir Putin exiting the Kremlin. Despite him making himself President for life through one of the most crooked referendums of modern times, Russian people outside of his mafia state apparatus have had enough of corruption and theft from the nation’s coffers. Putin attempted last year to add anti-corruption activist Navalny...

Banned from educating on antisemitism

An educational event which was being organised by a branch of Lewes CLP, about challenging antisemitism, has been banned by order of the Labour Party’s Regional Office. Mark Perryman, a member of Lewes CLP (though not the organiser of the educational event) spoke to Momentum Internationalists in a personal capacity to explain what has been going on. The EHRC [Equality and Human Rights Commission] report was published and Jeremy Corbyn was almost immediately suspended. We had a branch meeting to discuss this. We weren’t of a mood to challenge [Labour Party general secretary] David Evans or...

The Colston four on trial

The Black Lives Matter march in Bristol on 7 June 2020 was one of the biggest and liveliest in the city in years, with 5,000 people. The statue of slave trader Edward Colston was removed from its plinth and thrown into the river. The Crown Prosecution Service has since pressed charges of “criminal damage”, and on 25 January four people faced a hearing at Bristol Magistrates’ court. Five others were given cautions with bizarre conditions. After police pressure — using lockdown laws — organisers of a solidarity demonstration moved it online, with over 150 participating. Swarms of police gathered...

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