Solidarity 390, 20 January 2016

Support the Tube strikes

Published on: Wed, 20/01/2016 - 12:50

Ollie Moore

London Underground workers in the RMT, TSSA, and Aslef unions will strike for 24 hours, starting on the evening of 26 January.

Tube workers are fighting for a better settlement on pay, terms, and conditions after unions rejected London Underground bosses’ latest offer. The deal promised pay increases which barely kept pace with inflation, and which would be all but negated by impending increases in employee National Insurance contributions. London Underground also refuses to make concrete commitments on improving work/life balance as it attempts to introduce 24-hour running (“Night Tube”).

Support junior doctors! Fight to save the NHS!

Published on: Wed, 20/01/2016 - 12:41

On 19 January, the British Medical Association (BMA), acting for junior doctors, suspended a strike planned for 26 January, as the government reopened negotiations on the new contracts. The first strike by junior doctors on 12 January was supported by other trade unionists and the general public.

Polls on the strike day showed 66% of the public in support of strikes. Doctors’ picket lines were joined by NHS campaigners and trade unionists from other health unions and other industries, in a huge show of defiance of the threat from NHS employers to take legal action over secondary picketting.

A socialist President in the White House?

Published on: Wed, 20/01/2016 - 12:31

Eric Lee

Sixty years ago, the Socialist Party ran its last presidential campaign in the United States.

In its heyday, the party could capture upwards of a million votes, achieving this result in 1912, 1920 and again in 1932. The best result was the first one, when Eugene V. Debs led the party to six per cent of the national vote. But less than a quarter century after Norman Thomas won nearly 900,000 votes at the height of the Great Depression, the total number of votes the Socialist could muster nationwide was a mere 2,044.

Its final Presidential candidate, the successor to the legendary Debs and

The people who gambled with our future

Published on: Wed, 20/01/2016 - 12:25

Ira Berkovic

In a scene fairly early on in the The Big Short two financial traders visit a Florida housing estate where, they’ve discovered, most of the homeowners are well behind with mortgage repayments.

They break the news to one of the tenants (he’s working-class: we can tell because he’s fat, wears a stained tank top, is covered in tattoos, and looks and sounds a bit Latino), who asks whether he’s going to lose his home. “Has my landlord not been paying the mortgage?” he asks, stunned. “But I been paying my rent!” On their way out of the estate, the traders are frightened by an alligator lurking in a

Homeopathy: the one NHS cut we should support

Published on: Wed, 20/01/2016 - 12:15

Les Hearn

Homoeopathic medicines do nothing that a placebo does not do. This is because they contain no active ingredient... like a placebo. But the NHS spends our money on them.

The “rationale” behind homoeopathy is that “like cures like”. This idea had been around at least since the time of Hippocrates (about 400 BC) but was formulated as the basis of a “natural” system of medicine by Samuel Hahnemann, a doctor in Germany in the 1780s. He rightly objected to medical practices of the time, such as bloodletting, which did more harm than good, and soon gave up his practice, fearing being “a murderer or

Ellen Meiskins Wood (1942-2016): a Marxist who put class centre

Published on: Wed, 20/01/2016 - 11:59

Andrew Coates

Ellen Meiksins Wood, who has died aged 73, was a noted intellectual figure on the international left who influenced several generations of thinkers and activists.

Born in New York as Ellen Meiksins one year after her parents, Latvian Jews active in the Bund, arrived as political refugees, Wood studied in California before establishing herself as an academic in Canada, based at York University in Toronto.

Her writings were thought-provoking and luminous.

She first came to a wide left audience with The Retreat from Class: A New “True” Socialism (1986). This was a collection of her

Europe: open the borders!

Published on: Wed, 20/01/2016 - 11:45


David Cameron wants to cut access to benefits for workers coming from the European Union to the UK. The campaigners for British exit from the EU, the Tory right and UKIP, would like to stop those benefits altogether. David Cameron wants to cut back some of the worker protections which have come into the UK from processes of “levelling-up” across the EU, like the Working Time Directive, the Agency Workers’ Directive, and TUPE, (the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations. The EU-exit campaigners would like to abolish those protections altogether.

Solidarity wants better

Charlie Hebdo: not run by racists

Published on: Wed, 20/01/2016 - 11:38

Gemma Short

Once again outrage has been sparked by a cartoon in a special issue of French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.

The magazine, published to mark the anniversary of a terrorist attack at its offices in which 12 died, prints a cartoon of Alan Kurdi, the little Syrian boy who tragically died trying to reach Europe with his family. The image of the toddler's dead body lying on a beach marked a shift in public attitudes to the refugee crisis. In the cartoon Alan Kurdi is depicted as an adult chasing two women — arms out-stretched. The text reads ″what would little Alan have grown to be?″, ″an ass

Oppose Prevent, but don't ally with Cage

Published on: Wed, 20/01/2016 - 11:33

Omar Raii

The Daily Mail has condemned the National Union of Students over its links with the organisation Cage (formerly Cageprisoners), run by former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg.

The Daily Mail (7 January) targetted NUS Vice-President Shelly Asquith, criticising her for speaking out in opposition to the government’s Prevent strategy — the government’s scheme ostensibly aimed at stopping young people being “radicalised” by “extremists” but which is aimed exclusively at Islamic fundamentalism and Islamism and has is linked to increased state surveillance and repression on the grounds of

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