Solidarity 463, 28 February 2018

Teachers strike for a civilised school

Published on: Wed, 07/03/2018 - 11:53

A Southwark teacher

Teachers at the City of London Academy Southwark will strike on 1 March, then on 7-8 and 13-15 March and further until they get a settlement.

In a postal ballot members of the National Education Union (NEU) voted 100% to zero for strikes, on a 77% turnout.

The dispute is about the “performance management” system in the school, which they see as an increasingly unfair and punitive system, based on unrealistic targets and evaluations which teachers don’t trust.

Thanks to the union pressure, the school management has now conceded that the big majority of the cases of teachers failing “performance

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 28/02/2018 - 12:43

Patrick Murphy, Gemma Short, Peggy Carter and Simon Marcel

A major industrial and political battle against academy status is under way in Newham, East London.

The campaign started when staff and parents at Avenue Primary School united to fight plans to academise their school. They are demanding a simple yes/no ballot for staff and parents before any school, not just theirs, can embark on a process of academisation. As part of the campaign NEU members were balloted for a programme of strike action. Later staff and parents at another Newham school, Cumberland Primary, set up their own campaign to oppose academy plans and NEU members there were also

Minnie Lansbury — a different sort of Labour councillor

Published on: Wed, 28/02/2018 - 12:35

A meeting organised by Lewisham Workers’ Liberty Wednesday 28 March, 7.30 Amersham Arms, New Cross.

Minnie Lansbury was only 32 when she died in 1922, but she had a full and inspiring life.

She was one of the Poplar Labour councillors who carried out extensive reforms in the interests of the borough’s working class and, when the council began to struggle financially, led a mass campaign for poor boroughs to receive more funding.

Defying the Tory-Liberal coalition government, she went to prison as a result along with 29 other councillors (including four other women). They won!

Before that she

National Policy Forum row

Published on: Wed, 28/02/2018 - 12:22

Keith Road

The 17 February meeting of the Labour Party National Policy Forum (NPF) saw a row over electing a new chair.
Created as part of the Blairite process of blocking internal democracy, the NPF substitutes itself for the fully demonstratic policy-making conference that is needed.

Abolition of the NPF as one of the aims of the democracy review would be a welcome step.

So what was the row? Former National Executive Disputes Committee Chair, and previous member of the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance slate for the NEC, Ann Black looked like she had the votes in the room to become the chair of the NPF.

Pulling it down: No gods, no cults

Published on: Wed, 28/02/2018 - 12:09

Dan Katz

In his piece in the anthology The God That Failed the anti-Stalinist socialist Ignazio Silone tells of a conversation in Moscow with Lazar Schatzky, a leader of the Russian Communist Youth.

They were in Red Square, not far from the tomb of Lenin, in the late 20s: “[I] pointed to the tomb, which was still made of wood at that time, and before which we used every day to see an interminable procession of poor ragged peasants slowly filing… ‘You must admit with me that this superstitious cult of his mummy is an insult to his memory and a disgrace to a revolutionary city like Moscow.’ I suggested

The Pankhursts: bravery, autocracy, folly

Published on: Wed, 28/02/2018 - 11:41

Jill Mountford

Part two of Jill Mountford’s series on the history of the struggle for women’s suffrage. Part one of this series was published in Solidarity 462. Part three of this article will look at the work of socialist feminists and working class women in the fight for Votes for Women.

Women’s suffrage history is dominated by the militant campaign of the WSPU, led by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, set up in 1903.

It is, in part, an inspiring story of wild bravery and passion, but it is also, a very incomplete story of the battle for votes for women. The story of the WSPU itself is often told in a

UCU strike part of a wider fight

Published on: Wed, 28/02/2018 - 11:27


By Dan Davison, NCAFC Postgrads and Education Workers Co-Rep

On Monday 19 February, Theresa May launched the latest funding review for higher education.

Acknowledging that the UK now has “one of the most expensive systems of university tuition in the world”, May put forward that the review would “examine how we can give people from disadvantaged backgrounds an equal chance to succeed”. This followed Education Secretary Damian Hinds’ suggestions that students might be charged variable tuition fees according to their specific degree’s economic value. Indeed, the themes of “meritocracy” and

Open borders for people!

Published on: Wed, 28/02/2018 - 11:13

Editorial from Solidarity 463

The Labour Party has inched a step further to opposing the erection of new barriers between Britain and Europe.

That brings the immediate prize of a possibility, within the next few weeks, of defeating the Government in Parliament over its desire to take Britain out of the European customs union.

It should also open a thorough discussion in Labour over Europe, leading to a debate at the Labour Party conference in September.

At the September 2017 Labour conference, Brexit debates were, lamentably yet largely thanks to a push by sections of the left, squeezed off

A book that will make socialists

Published on: Wed, 28/02/2018 - 11:04

Jim Denham

They say that people — young people in particular — don’t read books any more. I hope that’s not true, because books have always been powerful weapons in the struggle for socialism, and many of us can look back to a particular pamphlet, novel or collection of essays and say, “that’s what convinced me”.

Many comrades I’ve known said they were won over by Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (which, to my shame, I’ve never read), the poetry of Shelley or the writings of William Morris. For me it was youthful exposure to Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier, especially) and then, a few years

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