Solidarity 353, 11 February 2015

Universities should be open for democratic debate

Published on: Wed, 11/02/2015 - 11:43

Gemma Short

Universities are increasingly becoming depoliticised zones, where political debate, campaigning and promotion of views are policed, controlled and pushed out.

When recently distributing posters for Workers' Liberty's socialist feminist conference All the Rage at London universities, I was repeatedly stopped from putting up posters, told posters must be approved by the university or the Students Union, unable to find poster boards not behind locked plastic casing or unable to gain entry to university premises.

The blockages come not from political concern over the content of the event, or a

Demand democratic review of Rotherham council and cops

Published on: Wed, 11/02/2015 - 11:39

Charlotte Zalens

Rotherham's council cabinet resigned en masse on 4 February after a report into child sex exploitation in the borough heavily criticised the running of the council.

Labour council leader Paul Lakin said he would quit as leader and also as councillor. Shortly afterward communities secretary, Eric Pickles, announced his department has sent commissioners to take over the council, pending elections in 2016.

The report, commissioned by Pickles' department, concluded that “The council’s culture is unhealthy: bullying, sexism, suppression and misplaced ‘political correctness’ have cemented its

Reimagine the NHS!

Published on: Wed, 11/02/2015 - 11:34

The recent damning report by the King’s Fund “think tank” into NHS reforms, and the news that NHS providers have voted against the NHS watch-dog Monitor’s tariff for NHS services, show growing dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the NHS.

In an unusually outspoken attack on the government, the King’s Fund claims David Cameron exhibited a “failure to exercise due diligence” when allowing Andrew Lansley’s reform proposals to become law. Despite being firmly in favour of a market in healthcare, they describe the government's reforms as a shambles of mismanagement, over complication

USDAW lets down Tesco members

Published on: Wed, 11/02/2015 - 11:31

Bill Holmes

Tesco workers in stores facing closure can take little solace or hope from the efforts of their biggest union.

USDAW, which represents retail workers and has a sweetheart deal with the retailer, has said nothing to challenge Tesco's plans to close 43 stores around the UK.

Although in its statements it has promised to keep “job losses to a minimum” and see as many workers as possible redeployed, it has stopped far short of condemning the closures or redundancies.

It is important to remember why Tesco has taken this step.

It is not because it has huge losses mounting up, nor even a one-off big

Tories will help property kings

Published on: Wed, 11/02/2015 - 11:14

Property developers who convert empty properties are to be exempted from commitments to build affordable housing.

The City of Westminster, a Tory council, said it stood to lose £1 billion in affordable housing contributions. But much more will be lost across other boroughs in London and other areas of the country.

The government claims that the previous requirement on developers to pay towards affordable housing was a “stealth tax”, preventing empty properties being redeveloped. Yet development companies are falling over each other to develop unused land, affordable housing tax or not.

Anti-semitism on the rise

Published on: Wed, 11/02/2015 - 11:07

Phil Grimm

The number of anti-semitic attacks in Britain has spiked to the highest level on record, according to the Community Security Trust.

The group reports incidences of threats, property damage and violence towards Jews in the UK have doubled in the last year. The rise in anti-Jewish incidents has been manifested in racist comments online, graffiti on synagogues and Holocaust memorials, as well as physical attacks on individuals.

Anti-semitism has been increasing across Europe as a whole. In central and Eastern Europe, right-wing forces such as Jobbik in Hungary and Russian separatists in Ukraine

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 11/02/2015 - 10:57

Gemma Short, Charlotte Zalens and Peggy Carter

London bus drivers will strike again for 24 hours on Friday 13 and Monday 16 February in their dispute to level-up pay between bus companies.

This follows a 24 hour strike on Thursday 5 February, and one on Tuesday 13 January. Solidarity visited several picket lines which were lively, confident and staffed throughout the day despite propaganda from Transport for London (TfL) claiming high numbers of services were still running.

Drivers at Hackney Central, an Arriva depot — the lowest payer for starter drivers — told Solidarity that 90% of their services were not running. Arriva driver John

HSBC scandal: expropriate the banks!

Published on: Tue, 10/02/2015 - 18:04

Martin Thomas

The banks and the other institutions of high finance should be taken over and run as public utilities, not profiteers. The top bankers should be sacked and replaced by accountable officials on ordinary wages.

The new scandal about HSBC which blew on 9 February confirms that conclusion.

At first sight, the bankers got off easily from the crisis in 2008. Their get-rich-quick gambits sent the whole economy into slump; but the British government laid out £1100 billion in cash, loans, and guarantees to stop Britain’s big banks going bust, and other governments did similar.

Some banks were

Ukraine: talks won't resolve political issues

Published on: Tue, 10/02/2015 - 17:54

Dale Street

At the time of going to press, negotiations are continuing about ending the fighting in the south-east of Ukraine. France, Germany, Russia, the US and Ukraine are involved in the negotiations. Further talks are due to take place in Minsk on Wednesday (11 February).

Fighting resumed in late January, when Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), announced a new offensive on all fronts. Since then, the Russian-separatist forces have extended the area under their control.

Although there are differing estimates of how many Russians are fighting in Ukraine —

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