Solidarity 391, 27 January 2016

Tory housing scandal

Published on: Wed, 27/01/2016 - 12:59

Miles Kerin

On Tuesday 12 January, a Labour amendment to the Housing Bill, which would have ensured that all rented accommodation was suitable for living in, was defeated in the House of Commons by 312 votes to 219.

Local Government Minister, Marcus Jones, said the amendment would cause “unnecessary regulation and cost to landlords”. Tories don’t think landlords should be obliged to repair mouldy, damaged, unsafe or otherwise unsuitable housing.

This was just the latest example of Tory promotion of cut-throat landlordism. But 39% of Conservative MPs are landlords themselves! That includes David Cameron,

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 27/01/2016 - 12:54

Peggy Carter, Gemma Short, Harry Davies, Gareth Davenport and Ollie Moore

Workers at the UK′s train operating companies are facing a huge attack on their pensions due to government legislation that ends the contracting-out of the Second State Pension. The legislation means higher National Insurance contributions for both employees (1.4%) and employers (3.4%).

The government has also passed legislation to help employers out with this — by allowing them to carry out annual raids on occupational pensions schemes, without even having to consult with scheme trustees.

You might think rail unions would mount a robust defence against any attempts by industry employers to

Social media group Red Labour sabotaged

Published on: Wed, 27/01/2016 - 12:35

Ralph Peters

The left-wing group Red Labour, which specialises in use of social media, Facebook and Twitter, has been sabotaged in an astonishingly undemocratic way.

Red Labour began in 2011 as a modest Facebook page. Over the following years it demonstrated the way that social media might be used to get out news to those on the left of the Labour Party.

They used videos, memes and factual information to counter right wing arguments. The Red Labour national Facebook page gathered 31,000 supporters and a similar number followed their Twitter account. Alongside it were many local pages, forwarding and

This book is really about now

Published on: Wed, 27/01/2016 - 12:26

Ed Strauss

Ed Strauss reviews The Two Trotskyisms Confront Stalinism

The book is an amazing textbook. As a young student in the 1950s, I was reading some of the documents which are in the collection, I was coming in at the tail-end of some of these debates; but we had nothing like this.

We could read a few older documents, but we didn’t have much published in book form. I was in the Young Socialist League [YSL], the youth group linked to the Independent Socialist League of Max Shachtman and Hal Draper, in 1954-1958. By that time, the ISL had pretty much given up on recruiting, but the YSL was still

Labour activists support junior doctors

Published on: Wed, 27/01/2016 - 12:22

Pete Radcliff

Normally when we do a Labour Party stall for my branch, we get on average half a dozen people over an hour or two. If we have a petition, and do well, we might get a hundred signatures.

We had a stall on Saturday 23 January in support of the junior doctors, for about two and half hours. We had on average 20 people there, about 30 involved in total. We got 700 signatures! Our local Tory MP [Broxtowe is a marginal seat], cabinet minister Anna Soubry, refused to meet a delegation in advance that would have been led by one of our doctors.

Soubry initially wrote that she believed the Labour Party

Orthodox Trotskyism reshaped Trotsky's ideas

Published on: Wed, 27/01/2016 - 12:14

Ed Maltby

Paul Le Blanc’s review of The Two Trotskyisms Confront Stalinism: Fate of the Russian Revolution volume 2 (Solidarity 388) is a thoughtful and detailed piece.

Le Blanc defends The Two Trotskyisms against some on the left who deride the book as pointless obsessing over long-ago spats. He is right to do it: such complaints remind one of Homer Simpson, who, warned that he’s late for English class, sneers “Pff! English, who needs that? I’m never going to England!”

The truth is that the two Fate of the Russian Revolution books are about the Trotskyist movement as it is right now. They are not

Capitalism vs human life

Published on: Wed, 27/01/2016 - 11:34

Martin Thomas

Capitalism has created life-enhancing possibilities. It has even realised some of them. My older daughter has epilepsy. In pre-capitalist times, if she’d had medication at all, it would have had no, or harmful, effects, and the seizures would probably have become more severe until they disabled and killed her. Today, she has been able to end the seizures with just a few pills, without side-effects.

Not only in Britain, but in many poorer countries too, almost everyone learns to read and write, almost everyone has easy access to music and visual arts, a sizeable proportion can study at

Defend the Heathrow 13

Published on: Wed, 27/01/2016 - 11:21

Thirteen climate activists from the campaigning organisation Plane Stupid, who shut down a runway at Heathrow Airport in July 2015, have been found guilty of aggravated trespass. They have been told that it is “almost inevitable” that they will be given prison sentences.

The Heathrow 13 will be sentenced on 24 February. In her statement, the judge stated that the thirteen were all people of integrity, who had been acting out of genuine, moral convictions, but she justified her ruling on the basis that they had cost Heathrow an “astronomical” amount as a result of 25 cancelled flights and

European Union's limited unity is at risk

Published on: Wed, 27/01/2016 - 11:17


The European Union — the optimistically titled “ever closer union” — is under great strain.

After the collapse of European Stalinism in 1989-91, the EU had a run of success, and expanded to 28 states, with up to 10 more waiting to join. Drunk with capitalist triumphalism, the EU’s leaders did little to develop democratic and political capacity to cope with challenges. And since 2009-10 they have damaged the fabric of European unity by insisting that “unity” means uniform neo-liberal policies across the eurozone, with crushing effects in the EU’s poorer countries. Now wars and repression in

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