Solidarity 606, 15 September 2021

More cows will mend soil, will mend climate? No!

David Walters (Solidarity 586) highlights important environmental considerations concerning soil. The destruction, degradation, depletion of soil through intensive mono-cropping; the nitrogen run-off and energy use of artificial fertilisers; the numerous destructive impacts of chemical pesticides. Yet his key claim that “we need more ruminants (grass eaters) not less” does not follow and is untenable. In the first section I contend that Walters overstates the potential for soil to be used to offset historic industrial emissions, by implication underplaying their dangers, and by extension the...

Social care: tax the rich!

Social care needs a transformation comparable to the transformation of UK healthcare seven decades ago through the NHS. It seems likely such a policy, for a public care and support system, would be popular, if strong enough voices argued for it. At the moment the forces campaigning for anything like it are weak, but the issue is centre-stage as never before. When the Tories produced their “plan for social care” — taxing workers more to produce extra money for the NHS and a much smaller amount for care services (later) — the Labour Party embarrassed itself by its lack of alternative ideas. Now...

Clearing the NHS backlog

The treatment backlog threatening the NHS is a symptom not just of the pandemic, but of long-worsening problems that preceded it and sharpened its impact. Last week the backlog hit a record high of 5.6 million people. It is currently growing by 150,000 a month. Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said that the figure could rise as high as 13 million. Presumably Javid is trying to drum up support for the Tories’ attack on workers’ incomes to raise more funds for the health service; but the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), for instance, has sketched out what seem like plausible scenarios in...

Oppose the Elections Bill

The Elections Bill, designed to suppress turnout in UK elections, is yet another weapon in the Tories’ multi-faceted assault on democracy (Police Bill, Spycops Bill, Overseas Operations Bill, threat of a new anti-strike law). The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) estimates that the Bill, about to return to Parliament as it reopens this month, will disenfranchise more than two million people – in addition to the millions who are already not on the electoral roll, due to successive voter-suppressing changes over many years. Over the next decade, this latest ratcheting up of the assault on electoral...

A bad boy of Brexit returns

A once-familiar name returned to the pages of the Morning Star last week, banging a familiar and well-worn drum: Brian Denny, Europhobe and Little Englander par excellence. For the EU referendum of June 2016, CAEF signed up with Leave.EU, the group run by Nigel Farage and his sidekick Arron Banks, responsible for some of the most racist propaganda during that campaign (e.g. the notorious “Breaking Point” poster and the claim that a millions Turks were about to arrive in Britain). Banks sent money to TUAEU and in his book Bad Boys of Brexit, published in October 2016, described how he worked...

PR it not a shortcut round class struggle

In my Constituency Labour Party (CLP), when we discussed which motion to prioritise for Labour Party conference, much of the left argued that a motion calling for Proportional Representation (PR) was the most important, more important than my class-struggle “Build Back Fairer” motion. The PR proposal was, so they argued, the door which opened the way to everything advocated in the other motions. After all, the Tories’ current parliamentary majority, won through First Past the Post (FPTP), comes despite them holding a minority vote share. With a more democratic electoral system, we wouldn’t be...

The USSR's drive for crude growth

Tony Southwell (Solidarity 605) argues that industrial growth in the Stalinist economies was a matter of “conscious decision-making of the bureaucracy... choices”, and so not “organic”. But, as Marx put it, “social existence determines consciousness”. The leading bureaucrats in Stalinist states were not people dropped from the sky who might opt to plan for industrial growth, or just as well as opt to plan to wind back to subsistence agriculture plus growing a few flowers. Their consciousness was shaped and selected by “social existence” organic to the system. International pressures drove them...

Hong Kong: fear and defiance

The Hong Kong Alliance has refused to hand over data on its supporters to the HK police. Its only leader still at liberty, Chow Hang-tung, has been taken into custody. Along with Lee Cheuk Yan (chair of the Alliance, and already jailed) and Albert Ho, he has been charged with “incitement to subversion”. The HK Alliance is the organisation that organised the annual 4 June Tiananmen commemoration. Five weeks earlier, the teachers’ union HKPTU, similarly threatened with investigation on grounds of subversion, had dissolved itself. That HKPTU decision signalled to individual teachers that they...

Women's Fightback: Don't kick rape charges off the pitch

TW // sexual violence A banner supporting a woman who accused footballer Cristiano Ronaldo of sexual assault was flown over Old Trafford during his return game for Manchester United. The Level Up feminist group said they wanted to “remind crowds” of rape allegations against him and “disrupt the fanfare” around the player’s heavily-publicised return to Manchester United. The group’s co-director Janey Starling said they wanted to send “a message to football that rape allegations can’t be kicked off the pitch”. The banner above the Manchester United stadium read “Believe Kathryn Mayorga”. Kathryn...

Why the Greens are drifting right

With the climate emergency rising in public consciousness across the world and a shift towards anti-capitalist politics among younger people, we might think the Green Parties would be presenting themselves as radical anti-capitalist forces to win people from Labour or Social Democratic parties which have become wedded to neoliberalism and dwindled into bureaucratic husks. However, in practice the opposite is happening. The German Greens were founded in 1980. The designation “green” was drawn from Australian building workers’ “green bans” of the mid-70s, and the party drew into many would-be...

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