Solidarity 614, 17 November 2021

Support the university strikes

On 4-5 November, the University and College Union (UCU) announced the results of two national ballots. Higher Education (HE) sector members were balloted on two disputes: the long-running “USS” pensions issue, and the “Four Fights”: pay, workload, casualisation, and inequality. Most of the workers involved are are insecure jobs, with long hours and modest pay. Their cause is essentially the same as that of the NHS workers consulting on action to improve their 3% pay deal, the local government workers voting on strikes against the 1.75% offer, or the bin workers now and recently in dispute in...

Reinstate Crispin Flintoff

Crispin Flintoff, well-known for organising “Stand Up for Labour” comedy events and gigs and hosting the online “Not the Andrew Marr Show”, has been suspended from the Labour Party because as Henley constituency secretary he circulated his CLP chair’s resignation letter to members. In August National Executive Committee (NEC) member Ann Black reported “nearly 100 members still suspended after more than 18 months... more than 1000 complaints... unresolved”. Most of those suspended we don’t know about because unlike (to his credit) Flintoff, they are intimidated by former general secretary...

The political economy of Sudan's coup and uprising

UK-based Sudanese socialist and student activist Mohammed Elnaiem, who was active in Sudan during the revolt of 2019, spoke to Solidarity. On Saturday, we had a “Millions March” in Sudan, part of a schedule of protests called by the resistance committee – neighbourhood committees that are currently leading the rebellion. Two days before it, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan announced the composition of the new, post-coup “sovereignty council”. This added fuel to the fire. People in multiple cities not only demonstrated but effectively rose up and built barricades. There is ongoing civil...

When to love authoritarians

In the early days of the pandemic the Morning Star (24 March 2020) carried two articles, side by side on the same page: one called upon the British government to “learn from China ... and adopt the Chinese approach that saves the maximum number of lives”; the other warned about the emergency powers being enacted in the UK and “Britain’s record of creeping authoritarianism.” The fact that the paper’s editorial team evidently saw no contradiction between the two articles tells us a great deal about the people who run the Morning Star (primarily the Communist Party of Britain): democracy and...

Barry Gardiner’s support for the far right

Brent North Labour MP Barry Gardiner has been prominent opposing “fire and rehire”. He has joined demonstrations at the Clarks dispute in Somerset, far from his constituency. He has good connections in the unions, and in the Corbyn years he seemed to have a surprising amount of support from people who saw themselves as part of the Labour left. Yet as far as I can see Gardiner, who loyally served Tony Blair as a minister, is a self-serving opportunist. That is bad enough, but far from the worst of it. After all, a Labour MP who backs a strike for opportunist reasons can still help boost the...

Lillian Lane Murphy, 2003-2021

Lilly Murphy, who died from cancer on 4 November 2021, joined the Socialist Alliance in Melbourne when she was in high school. Like many other children of socialists, Lilly was in agreement with her parents’ general worldview. Her parents, Maureen Murphy and Richard Lane, met through left politics, and share a similar commitment to anti-capitalist, democratic, working class, revolutionary socialism, that fights for the rights of all oppressed people. Richard Lane has been a supporter of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and predecessors since 1981. Lilly, unlike most children of socialists...

Women's Fightback: Moral panic over advice to sex workers

Durham University has come under fire for organising safety training for students also working as sex workers. The university brought in the external “Students Involved in the Adult Sex Industry” in response to calls to ensure students who may be at risk “are protected and have access to the support to which they are entitled”. The decision was criticised by the Tory Minister for higher and further education, Michelle Donelan, and Labour MPs including Diane Abbott, following The Times newspaper’s online coverage under the headline “Durham University trains its students to be sex workers”. The...

COP26 and the credibility gap

Every shop, cafe, and business; every billboard and bus stop; numerous new, temporary, adverts and building-high canvases — all screaming the same, discordant, message. Glasgow during COP26: divergent corporations, some flashy NGOs, and the UK government; all competing to reassure us that they’re taking serious action on climate change. The environmental protestors across the city generally recognised that for the greenwashing it is. Yet our actions were in orbit around the opaque and exclusive negotiations themselves, in which delegates lived inside such a polite, reassuring fiction — that...

Minneapolis votes down police changes

On 2 November, Minneapolis residents voted 56.2-43.8% to reject a relatively moderate version of the idea of "ending the Minneapolis Police Department and creating a new transformative model for cultivating safety in our city”, as the city council put it. Minneapolis, where George Floyd was murdered and a new surge of Black Lives Matter protests began in May last year, has been at the centre of US debates about the police. Longstanding local campaigns have gained new support and momentum since Floyd’s killing. Later in 2020 the city’s council began a process aiming to transform the city's...

26 November mobilisation in India

In one of the biggest general strikes in history, on 26 November 2020, hundreds of millions of Indian workers and farmers protested against neo-liberal reforms by the country’s far-right government. The workers’ strike was over quickly. But that day launched one of history’s biggest mass movements, Indian farmers’ struggle against agricultural reforms in the interests of giant corporations. Six hundred protesters have died (mainly from camping out in harsh conditions, but some from violence) during this remarkable movement, the strongest and most sustained challenge to Modi’s regime so far. It...

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