Solidarity 597, 16 June 2021

Protest for the NHS, 3 July

We’re so used to having the NHS it’s easy to forget it’s not a given. The average family in the US pays about $10,000 a year for health insurance — i.e. just to get coverage. Even for those who have insurance, services and costs not covered in one way or another typically come to thousands more, and have consistently expanded. Tens of millions don’t have insurance or qualify for the limited government support that exists. Even for relatively well-off workers, there is enormous insecurity built into the system: Will you be able to continue to make your insurance payments? What if you lose a job...

Support a 15% rise for NHS workers!

The major front in the war for the NHS over the coming months may be health workers’ fight for a decent pay rise (more accurately, a significant restoration of losses from real-terms pay cuts). Some time in the second half of June the government’s stitched-up NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) will respond to the Tories’ proposal of a 1% increase, i.e. another pay cut. Then, in turn, the government will say whether it will pay the PRB recommendation or not. The Labour Party’s failure to commit to rank-and-file NHS workers’ demand of 15% or £3,000, whichever is higher — or to anything like it: the...

Labour's youth support plummets, Greens' surges

Voting intention among 18-24 year olds, +/- since 2019 general election (YouGov, 9-10 June): Labour: 35% (-21) Green: 27% (+23) Conservative: 21% (-); Lib Dem: 12% (+1); SNP: 3% (-3); Reform UK: 1% (-) Other polls have also suggested sharply rising Green support among young people. The big shift is, surely, one result of Keir Starmer’s attempts to chase after mainly older voters (reckoned, rightly or quite often wrongly, to be tied to socially-conservative attitudes), by taking nationalistic and regressive positions, while having little to say about issues of economics and living standards...

Pimlico Academy: near a tipping point

On 8 June, National Education Union (NEU) members at Pimlico Academy (London) held their first strike day. A sunny Tuesday morning saw a strong turnout from members, with the picket line stretching all the way down the road. Workers carried placards with slogans including: “kick racism out of school”; “kick islamophobia out of school” and “hold the Nashes accountable”. Lord John Nash, Tory peer and former Academies and Free Schools Minister, and Lady Caroline Nash are Future Academies Trustees and the main force behind the Trust. Lady Nash, for instance, is the leading figure in the Trust’s in...

John Ross: from Trotskyism to power-worship

The Morning Star’s most prolific and enthusiastic apologist for the Chinese ruling class, Carlos Martinez (who also considers North Korea to be “socialist”), likes the book China’s Great Road: Lessons for Marxist Theory and Socialist Practices. He praises the author, John Ross, for making it “very clear that China’s successes are those of socialism”. The Morning Star website puffs Ross’s book as its no.1 must-read. What makes China socialist? Martinez, paraphrasing Ross, explains: “Even with the huge quantities of private capital and the presence of foreign investment and the existence of...

Move on from “30% refund”

Students United Against Fees is one group within a loose coalition of student activist groups operating under lockdown and protesting under lockdown. It called a small but lively open-air rally in London on Sunday 13 June. The group calls for a 30% immediate refund on tuition fees in return for higher interest rates on loans. The refund is compensation for loss of in-person lectures, library and other student facilities as well as exorbitant rents. The group, led by a handful of full-time elected officers from Student Unions, got some press coverage for their idea last month. It is fair to say...

Surveying our workplaces

Our union reps are going to all five big sites in my NHS Trust conducting a health and safety survey of workers in as many teams as possible and looking at ventilation arrangements. Yesterday I got about 60 surveys from around 15 different teams, recruited several new members, a few members who are going to step up to be part of a network of workplace contacts, and possibly one new rep. I found out about really risky work practices in poorly ventilated areas of the hospital that have been developed largely on the hoof by frontline staff. Much of the infection risk could be avoided with...

Statue wars: some should go up

Some people — and by that I mean some Tories — have whipped themselves up into a frenzy over the issue of statues. The pages of newspapers like the Daily Mail and Daily Express are full of “rage” about the statues of Edward Colston in Bristol, or Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College in Oxford. Colston’s statue was toppled and tossed into the water. Rhodes’ statue remains in place, due to the college’s reluctance to take it down. This week protests have taken place in east London demanding the removal of a statue of slave-ship owner Robert Geffrye, which stands outside a museum in Shoreditch. The...

Women's Fightback: Combatting sexism through democracy

The Department for Education has promised more support for schools to tackle sexual abuse and has strengthened safeguarding guidance. This was in response to a review by Ofsted that concluded that sexual harassment has become “normalised” for young people, in school. The report, published on 10 June, concluded that school inspections by Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate were “sometimes not robust enough” on sexual harassment and there was not always appropriate cooperation between schools and safeguarding teams. It found that teachers “consistently underestimate” the scale of the...

The G7: resistance in Cornwall

More photos below article My trip to Cornwall to demonstrate around the G7 summit (11-13 June) felt a bit like a set of concentric circles: I was part of and helping to cohere a delegation of Workers’ Liberty supporters and friends; we were seeking to imbue socialist politics, internationalism, and a working-class orientation into the wider anti-G7 movement; and that movement was challenging the G7 and the politics they represent. It was only en route towards the most southwesterly tip of this island, cutting through the darkening fog in a car-share with newly-acquainted comrades — and...

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