Solidarity 608, 6 October 2021

For conference policies, against Starmer

Labour policy, a “senior Labour source” told the Guardian during Labour Party conference, on 27 September, is “what Keir says it is”. On 26 September the conference voted overwhelmingly for a left-wing “Socialist Green New Deal” motion on climate change, including nationalisation of the energy companies. The same day Starmer told the BBC he would not nationalise energy. Starmer’s “ten pledges” in last year’s Labour leadership election specifically called for “common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water”. Tax the rich Both Starmer’s pre-conference pamphlet, and his conference speech...

Covid: jab speed-up needed worldwide

Covid vaccines are working. Large parts of the world urgently need more of them: labour movements must press for requisitioning of Big Pharma and vaccine know-how to enable a rapid drive to expand manufacturing, distribution, and donations of vaccines to poorer countries. Africa is still on only about 0.1 jabs per 100 per day (a quick jab drive is about 1/100/day). Maybe the fact that much of Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasonal factors are favourable in the coming months, will give more leeway (case and death counts have been decreasing in Africa); but Africa still has...

Italian GKN workers’ resistance shows the way

Forty thousand or so workers and others marched in Florence on Saturday 18 September behind the banner, reading “Insorgiamo” (“We are in revolt”), of the 400 GKN workers sacked via email two months ago. The hastily-convened decision the day after of the local industrial tribunal to uphold their claim of unlawful dismissal by the British-based multinational confirmed the effectiveness of the workers’ resistance. This was a crucial first success for their struggle, their determination, and their ability to galvanise and sweep up a growing army of workers and others in an inspiring triumph for...

Hong Kong workers will rise again

The final conference of Hong Kong’s only independent trade union federation, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), was on 3 October. At a press conference following the HKCTU’s decision to disband, a prepared statement was read out by Vice-Chair Leo Tang, who was himself imprisoned a year ago. The statement expressed its confidence “that the workers’ power of resistance will not therefore fade away. Contradictions bring opposition. Exploitations lead to struggles… One may block the river, but without a way to channel the water, the only result would be a deadlier flood.” On...

Lessons for HK solidarity from 1 October

In Britain protests were held in many cities around the anniversary on 1 October of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. London and Nottingham showed very different ways of organising solidarity. In London, a coalition had been drawn together to organise the protest, including the left wing Labour Movement Solidarity with Hong Kong (LMSWHK) campaign. When the LMSWHK heard that right wing Tories, including Tory councillor Peter Golds from Tower Hamlets, were invited, they objected. Golds recently tweeted a picture of himself alongside a supporter of Anti-Communist Action, a...

Helping Len rewrite his history

The autobiography of Unite union leader Len McCluskey, Always Red, sounds pretty good — if you believe the Morning Star. The paper calls it “an incisive political memoir with lessons for the entire left.” If so, then Always Red must be a considerable improvement upon Len’s previous literary effort, the banal and self-regarding Why You Should Be A Trade Unionist, published in 2020 but written before the 2019 election (Len’s explanation for this strange timing being that the book “never was intended to be a political rallying cry”). Mind you, the Morning Star’s editor Ben Chacko reckons Always...

"Blockers" and age of consent

The article by Angela Driver welcoming the Court of Appeal’s overturning of the Tavistock vs Bell judgement (Solidarity 607 ) is headed “A win for teenagers’ rights” and states that the decision “is good news for young trans people under 18.” In fact, the decision applies to children under the age of 16 who are struggling with their identity and considering gender reassignment. I have to say that I have serious doubts about the Court of Appeal’s decision and think the judges in the Tavistock vs Bell case made a good point when they said there would be enormous difficulties for young children...

Draft Angela Rayner?

Even Alison McGovern MP, former chair of the Labour right-wing group Progress, is now annoyed with Keir Starmer (because of him writing for the Sun). Some socialists are talking about a leadership challenge. Comments I’ve heard include “This must be the end for Starmer... Would we, for instance, support Rayner to challenge Starmer (assuming he doesn’t simply stand down)?” “Starmer is actively carrying out a turbo-New-Labour strategy of transforming Labour away from any kind of accountability... The turfing out of Starmer and the Blairite faction is imperative and a soft left leadership under...

Women's Fightback: "Anti-sleaze" ploy won't fix police violence

The trial of Wayne Couzens revealed he used his police warrant card and handcuffs to kidnap Sarah Everard off the street before strangling her with his police belt and burning her body. He claimed to be using the extraordinary Coronavirus police powers, the same powers his colleagues later used to disperse the Sarah Everard vigil on Clapham Common and arrest campaigners present. Couzens is one of fifteen police officers convicted of killing women since 2009. The news follows findings that 26 Met officers have committed sex crimes in the past five years. Two of the officers were jailed for...

Is Fairphone fair for workers?

If you own a smartphone, you’re almost certainly contributing to several big problems in the world. These include a negative environmental impact, the production of mountains of e-waste as perfectly good phones are thrown away, and of course the exploitation of workers in the supply chains, from the mines in the Congo to assembly lines in China. A decade-old Dutch company, Fairphone, has set out to change all this by producing an “ethical” smartphone. Last week they announced their latest — and by far their best — model, the Fairphone 4. Thousands of people participated in the online launch...

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