Solidarity 592, 12 May 2021

Beating the Tories after 6 May

The Tories’ narrative about where they are taking UK politics and society is dishonest and incoherent. But it is a narrative, one strongly honed and consistently argued for. In contrast the leadership of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party seems to have pretty much nothing to say about the kind of society or even the policies it wants. That is surely an important part of why Labour suffered such serious defeats on 6 May. Attempts by the Labour right to claim the problem was the party not being right-wing enough must be “forensically” dissected and vigorously opposed. Already the Starmer leadership had...

"Policy review"? Only by Labour conference!

The Labour leadership talks of a “policy review”. On the Labour right many are suggesting left-wing policies should be eliminated. In practice they already have been. We need to revive left policies, weld them into a coherent whole, and get the party and movement campaigning for them. The 2019 manifesto contained many good ideas. So does the “Alternative Queen’s Speech” put together by John McDonnell and other left-wing MPs here. The left’s fundamental approach must be to insist that policy is “reviewed”, and decided, by Labour Party conference (which takes place in four months, at the end of...

Labour conference deadlines on 11 June

Peter Mandelson has effectively called on Keir Starmer (Financial Times, 8 May) to overrule or neutralise Labour Party conference, and to break or neutralise the union say in the Labour Party. After conference 2020 was replaced by a no-debate online event on grounds of the pandemic, Labour Party conference 2021 (25 to 29 September in Brighton) is an important point for the left of the labour movement to regroup and halt the retreat. Socialists are putting themselves forward to be conference delegates (the deadline for constituency delegates to be chosen is 11 June). The Momentum...

Myanmar week of action from 17 May

In the week beginning 17 May Momentum Internationalists and others will be organising street stalls and small demonstrations outside premises featuring big brands connected to the regime, including the energy giant Chevron and the high street clothing brands whose products are made in factories in cities like Yangon. Currently, actions are planned in London, Sheffield, Durham and Newcastle. Trade unionists in Myanmar in organisations like the All-Burma Federation of Trade Unions (ABFTU) have put out a call for supporters worldwide to put pressure on brands which are doing business with the...

Scotland: a weak Labour campaign

Sections of the media and the right wing of Scottish Labour have hailed Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar for having run “a good campaign” in the 6 May Scottish election. But Scottish Labour lost seats in the election, and ended up with a (slightly) lower share of constituency and regional list votes. Its overall score of 20% was only slightly higher than its poll ratings before Sarwar became leader. Sarwar did not make any election gaffes and was articulate in the televised party leader debates. But the lack of improvement is the surprising thing, given that between 2017 (when Richard...

Tories prepare voter suppression

Embolded by their success on 6 May, the Tories are proposing new measures to (further) restrict election democracy in the UK. One — a proposal to change executive mayoral elections from a “supplementary vote” system to “first past the post” — is designed to make it harder for opposition parties to win mayoral elections, at a time when the left-and-centre vote is more split than a right-wing vote consolidated around the Tories. Already this time around, the change would have prevented Labour from winning the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor, handing the position to the Tories on the basis...

Spy stories from the fall of Stalinism

Deutschland ‘89 (currently available on All Four) is the last series in a trilogy following Martin Rauch through the 1980s. He is an East German border guard who has been coerced into becoming a spy for the HVA, the external wing of the Stasi. Each of the three series is concerned with a major crisis of the East German state: 1983 with NATO’s stationing of nuclear missiles in West Germany; 1986 with the desperate need for foreign currency that leads the GDR into supplying arms to the South African apartheid government and pimping its citizens as guinea pigs for West German Pharma companies to...

The underside of plutocrat philanthropy

Tin-hat conspiracy theory claims that vaccinations are a ploy by Bill Gates to implant tracking microchips in our arms communicate at least two lies. There’s the obvious lie, that vaccines contain microchips. Then there’s the subtle, implicit lie: that Bill Gates is helping net global vaccination efforts. Way back in April 2020, Oxford University pledged that they would make any technologies that they develop against the Covid-19 pandemic available under “non-exclusive, royalty-free licences to support” free or cost-price supply. They only pledged to do this for the duration of the pandemic...

Why we should support Sharon Graham for Unite general secretary

For debate and discussion about the election, see here. The election for the General Secretary of Unite presents an opportunity to elect a candidate with a genuinely radical vision of change — with shop stewards at the centre of it — and a track record of successfully confronting employers with bold tactics and detailed strategy. It is also an opportunity to elect a woman as leader of Unite for the first time. These are powerful reasons to back Sharon Graham. Shop stewards and the workplace Central to Graham’s pitch is the criticism that Unite has drifted too far from its core purpose as a...

Thoughts towards strategic organising

It’s important that labour and the left learn from the Bessemer Amazon experience. After all, we’ve seen a series of defeats in the South from Volkswagen to Nissan and now Amazon.

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