Solidarity 389, 13 January 2016

Call a demonstration to defend the NHS!

Published on: Wed, 13/01/2016 - 13:38


Labour and the TUC should call a big demonstration for reinstatement of the NHS as an adquately-funded public service, and to support the junior doctors and the student nurses.

The whole of the labour movement, including trade unionists who have industrial might because of their strategic place in the capitalist economy, should mobilise for our health, for our future, for a society which cares.

The junior doctors are right to strike, and the student nurses are right to demonstrate and to discuss planning walk-outs. The damage done to health care by their strikes is tiny compared to the damage

The Socialist Party returns?

Published on: Wed, 13/01/2016 - 13:25

Phil Grimm

The Socialist Party is in a bit of a pickle.

In 1991, most of what had been the Militant tendency left the Labour Party, reconstituting itself firstly as Militant Labour and then as the Socialist Party (SP). And to justify their exit, they argued that the party had changed fundamentally, transforming from what Lenin called a “bourgeois workers’ party” (which socialists should try to intervene in) into a straightforward “bourgeois party”.

This idea of Labour’s irretrievable degeneration has functioned as something like an origin myth for the SP, serving not only to explain past history, but

Be bold, change opinion

Published on: Wed, 13/01/2016 - 13:22

Gemma Short

As Clive Lewis says (in Solidarity 388) there are many definitions of socialism. That makes it all the more important for socialists to debate ideas.

Lewis says a shift from austerity and neoliberal capitalism to (or a return to) welfare-state capitalism would be a gain for the working class. Indeed, taxing the rich, free education, a NHS, well-funded schools, social housing, higher wages, public services would be real and important improvements, for the working class as opposed to the Tories dark, dystopian future.

However all of these things can only be won, or re-won as a result of class

Star Wars belongs to the rebels

Published on: Wed, 13/01/2016 - 13:18

Janine Booth

Eric Lee’s critique of Star Wars is right about some things. But it is, as the Emperor would say, “mistaken, about a great many things”

Yes, it is okay to be critical of films and other cultural output. Yes, ‘The Force Awakens’ is a massive improvement on the awful prequel trilogy. Yes, it is rather casual about violence and war (as most films with “war” in their title are).

However, Eric’s central point — that there is nothing to morally distinguish the two sides — is so wide of the mark that I wonder if Eric has been paying attention to the plot.

On some things, Eric is simply factually

Responding to Cologne attacks

Published on: Wed, 13/01/2016 - 13:15

Cathy Nugent

“We have to stand against sexual violence and sexual abuse against women, no matter who is the perpetrator”.

That message, from the demonstration on the steps of Cologne Cathedral on Saturday 9 January (Observer, 10 January), is the exactly the right response to the assaults made on women in the city (elsewhere) on New Year’s Eve, by all accounts, by male migrants from north Africa.

Some of the demonstrators later joined another rally in the city on the same day to protest against the far right anti-Muslim movement Pegida (“Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West”) which is

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 13/01/2016 - 12:49

Ollie Moore, Michael Tron and Gemma Short

Lambeth Libraries staff have voted overwhelmingly for strike action to save jobs and keep all ten Lambeth libraries open.

Staff voted 89% to strike against plans to close libraries and cut jobs. Unison will now be discussing extended strike action with the library workers in the borough. This strike vote follows a community campaign to keep the libraries open, as well as a walk out by staff in December when news circulated that books were already being taken out of one of the libraries.

Several Labour Party wards have passed motions criticising their own council’s library closure programme

Momentum NHS organising

Published on: Wed, 13/01/2016 - 12:22

Sacha Ismail and Jill Mountford

As previously reported in Solidarity, Labour Party supporting NHS activists have launched Momentum NHS to build links between Labour, the wider labour movement and NHS campaigns — and build pressure for Labour to take the lead in the fight to save the Health Service.

We had our first planning meeting after the Save Lewisham Hospital conference on 5 December, have been getting social media in place and drawing more people in, and are now holding an organising meeting on Saturday 16 January, 3pm (email for venue details).

The meeting will discuss proposals for mobilising local Labour Parties,

Some left gains at London Young Labour

Published on: Wed, 13/01/2016 - 12:18

Ellie Clarke

London Young Labour’s AGM happened on the 9-10 January.

The weekend was mixed, but overall it was a success for the left. Although the left slate did poorly in elections, conference successfully set lots of left-wing policy.

This including a motion calling for the reinstatement of all those members of the Labour Party who have been expelled. The motion specifically named comrades who have been expelled for being associated with Workers’ Liberty.

The AGM also passed a motion calling for solidarity with the Syrian people both at home and as refugees in Europe, as well as an amendment that called

Debating council cuts

Published on: Wed, 13/01/2016 - 12:08

Jean Lane

Labour Party Momentum members in Sheffield held a meeting with some of the Labour councillors on Tuesday 5 January.

The purpose was to start, and hopefully continue, a dialogue about how to fight the next round of cuts that will be carried out by the council in March. The meeting was very well attended with about 60 people from different wards and constituencies.

It was clear from the councillors present that there was not an appetite for voting against a cuts budget. Their responses ranged from, “please help us to find a better way to say to people that we are on your side but we have no

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