Solidarity 495, 13 February 2019

For Labour! Against Brexit!

Published on: Wed, 13/02/2019 - 11:41


Labour right-wingers have chosen this moment to help out the hard-pressed Tory government. They have turned up the volume on the murmured speculations about a right-wing split from Labour just as the Tory impasse worsens. Labour and trade union activists want unity to maximise the chances of using the Tories’ thrashing-round to oust them from office, to force an early general election, and to get a new public vote to stop Brexit.

To get a solid political basis on which to build that unity, we need to shift the Labour leadership, as well as rebuffing the right-wing Labour split-talkers. Labour

Dry January not so good

Published on: Wed, 13/02/2019 - 11:36

Stephen Wood

I’m sympathetic to some of the points made by Martin Thomas in “Health-anuary” (Solidarity 494) but I think the article attempts to draw conclusions with little evidence.

I took part in Dry January. I’m pleased I did. But for improving health, a general reduction in drinking is more likely required rather than a month of abstinence. I am not a problem drinker, but like many British people an occasional binge drinker. The facts for problem drinking are stark; 30% of all alcohol is consumed by just 4.4% of the population. Dry January is neither desirable for nor targeted at those people, who

Unite should call its leader to account

Published on: Wed, 13/02/2019 - 11:27

Jim Denham

Four union leaders, including Len McCluskey of Unite, had one-on-one talks with the Prime Minister in Downing Street late in January. According to usually well-informed sources like Robert Peston and the Financial Times, McCluskey played a key role.

McCluskey sought commitments from May that would give some Labour MPs an excuse to back the government in the next “meaningful vote” on Brexit. That could allow Brexit to proceed without Jeremy Corbyn being held responsible by Labour’s overwhelmingly anti-Brexit rank and file. “The unions are at war given Unite’s attempt at a side deal,” an

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 13/02/2019 - 11:23

A joint union day of action against outsourcing has been called for Tuesday 26 February, 8 a.m. to noon in London. It is sponsored by the IWGB (Independent Workers of Great Britain, a small new union focused on precarious workers), United Voices of the World (UVW, an organisation similar to IWGB), the BEIS Branch of the PCS civil service union, and the Bakerloo and Finsbury Park branches of the rail union RMT.

The demonstration will coincide with the day the IWGB is facing the government and the University of London in a landmark legal case. If successful, the case could open the door for the

Couriers: building a new movement

Published on: Wed, 13/02/2019 - 11:15

Deliveroo couriers are due to strike again on 14 February, for demands including a minimum payment of £5 per drop, paid waiting times of £10/hour, and more. An activist involved in the Couriers and Logistics branch of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) spoke to Solidarity about the strike.

Deliveroo couriers in a number of cities are planning further strikes on 14 February. Bristol is the flagship city for the strike, where couriers are best organised, and have lots of action planned that’ll be revealed on the strike day itself.

Organisation in London is a bit weaker.

Momentum, Tribune and Brexit

Published on: Wed, 13/02/2019 - 11:12

Sacha Ismail

This is in some ways the biggest crisis of parliamentary politics ever in British history. Brexit dominates politics in a way no issue has done since, perhaps, the miners’ strike of 1984- 5. Yet the biggest Labour left grouping, Momentum, has remained silent on Brexit.

In October-November 2018, after some pressure from activists, Momentum ran a consultation of its members on Brexit. The consultation was not a conference with debate, motions, amendments, votes. That’s not Momentum’s way. It was an e-polling exercise. It showed 82% of Momentum members thinking Brexit a bad thing, and 81% saying

More greenwashing than green

Published on: Wed, 13/02/2019 - 11:03

Alan Gilbert

On 7 February, bosses at the Drax power plant, near Selby in North Yorkshire, announced they had started using “carbon capture and storage” (CCS) to remove carbon dioxide from the plant’s emissions.

The operation will remove only a tiny proportion of the carbon dioxide which the plant emits, and as yet has no provision to store it anywhere. The bosses have hailed the operation as a breakthrough, variously claiming that it is the first working “carbon capture” project in Europe, and the first one capturing carbon from the burning of “biomass” anywhere in the world. However, environmental

The historians and the Bolsheviks

Published on: Wed, 13/02/2019 - 10:53

Colin Foster

On Tsarism, the bourgeois liberals under Tsarism, the Provisional Government in 1917, the Whites in the Civil War, and even the Mensheviks and the SRs, what Figes has to say is pretty much what the Bolsheviks said of them. Thus, for example: “Trotsky described Martov as the ‘Hamlet of Democratic Socialism’ – and this is just about the sum of it… [His qualities] made him soft and indecisive when just the opposite was required”.

The Mensheviks, Figes notes, “had practically ceased to exist in Petrograd by the end of September [1917]: the last all-city party conference was unable to meet for

No excuses for Cuban labour fronts

Published on: Wed, 13/02/2019 - 10:49

Pablo Velasco

Bernard Reagan, national secretary of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, has eulogised the Cuban ″trade unions″ in a laughable piece of semi-Stalinist sophistry (Morning Star, 9 February).

Reagan makes out that Cuban workers have been struggling continuously since the Cuban Workers’ Confederation was founded in 1939. It is true that workers fought to overthrow the dictator Batista during the 1950s – something every socialist supports. The disagreement comes after the Castro movement took over and linked up with the old (Stalinist) Communist Party.

In early 1959, workers replaced the old union

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