Solidarity 394, 17 February 2016

Syria: the non-ceasefire

Published on: Thu, 18/02/2016 - 12:50

Simon Nelson

On 12 February, talks in Munich produced an agreement to implement a so-called cessation of hostilities in Syria within a week, and allow the delivery of aid to besieged areas.

On 15 February, however, Unicef said that Russia had bombed three hospitals in rebel held areas, and it is explicit that it will not cease its air strikes against rebel forces. Turkey shelled the positions of Syrian-Kurdish forces on every one of the three days following the Munich agreement.

In fact, the risk of direct clashes between Russia and Turkey in Syria has increased, rather than decreased, since the agreement

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Thu, 18/02/2016 - 12:37

Gemma Short, Peggy Carter and Ollie Moore

On Wednesday 24 February, workers in Further Education (FE) colleges in England will strike over pay.

University and College Union (UCU) members struck in November but this time they will be joined by workers who are organised by Unison. The dispute is in response to the imposition of a pay freeze by the employer organisation, the Association of Colleges. Imposing a pay award without union agreement is an unprecedented action by the employers, but to be expected given the confidence of the employers. Why are they confident?

There has been no serious challenge from the unions to a year on year

Campaign for Socialism AGM discusses way forward

Published on: Thu, 18/02/2016 - 12:11

Brendan Menezes

The Scottish Labour Campaign for Socialism (CfS) held their AGM on Sunday 14th February.

The meeting heard of “Labour plans in both Scotland and the UK to re-frame the current political debate and provide a genuine economic alternative to Tory and SNP austerity.” Before the AGM, an open meeting was held with talks by Lesley Brennan MSP and the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell MP, who spoke at length about democratising the economy at the macro level, the personal pressure he faces from the press, and the fact that the election of Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour leadership was “a once in a

Labour youth and student conferences

Published on: Thu, 18/02/2016 - 12:07

Michael Elms

On the weekend of 26-28 February, the Annual General Meetings of Labour Students and Young Labour will be held in Scarborough.

Previously a bastion of the Blairite right, with a reputation for venal careerism, sinister banality (networking events!), and barely-legal bureaucratic skulduggery, Labour Students has been buffeted by the winds of change following Jeremy Corbyn's election. Across the UK, Labour Clubs have seen a surge of interest from leftwing young people from September.

This has, naturally, been met with horror from the outgoing leadership. Blairite chieftains issued

Verses from the First World War: poets against profiteering

Published on: Thu, 18/02/2016 - 11:57

Janine Booth

As the First World War progressed, working-class people became more aware, and resentful, of those profiteering from their suffering. While men were wounded and died in the trenches, and men, women and children at home suffered appalling poverty, capitalists saw the war as an opportunity to make money. Poets addressed this with anger, mockery and wit. The three poems here were all published by anti-war labour movement newspaper The Herald a century ago in 1916.

Writing from ‘Somewhere in France’, Private A.W. Dawson introduced his poem by quoting a corporal of the Royal West Kents: “Ah! My boy

Abolish Trident! Welfare and jobs, not warfare and mass murder

Published on: Thu, 18/02/2016 - 11:53


Nuclear weapons — and especially those nuclear weapons whose use would incinerate tens of millions of civilians — are an obscenity. A future Labour government must abolish Trident.

In the first instance, this is a moral question: Ban the Bomb! Imagine, if you can, the worst case: a nuclear attack on the UK in which London and other big cities were destroyed and millions were murdered by a foreign power. Perhaps the attack came from a rogue state run by a strange and insecure freak, perhaps it came from a resurgent Russia run by a ex-secret policeman gangster. What then?

We are told by those

Prevent: not convinced

Published on: Thu, 18/02/2016 - 11:46

Omar Raii (Solidarity 390) and Patrick Murphy (Solidarity 391) both draw attention to the shortcomings and potential dangers of the Prevent programme, aimed at countering “extremism”/”radicalisation” in schools and colleges.

It does indeed seem to be the case that in some instances Prevent has been implemented in a heavy-handed manner by over-zealous and/or ill-trained teachers. I can also agree that Prevent is potentially a threat to free speech - discouraging free and open discussion of the issues surrounding terrorist ideologies and thus making it more difficult to counter them. However,

Help Luqman Onikosi

Published on: Thu, 18/02/2016 - 11:37

In 2007, Luqman Onikosi came to the UK from Nigeria to study at the University of Sussex. Whilst in the UK he developed chronic liver disease. After finishing his degree, he began to work in the Nigerian High Commission, before becoming to ill to continue work. In 2012, the Home Office attempted to deport Luqman. If he had been deported in all likelihood he would have died. Fortunately a successful campaign kept him in the country. Now the the Home Office is trying to deport him again. Support Luqman’s appeal for further legal advice, and a campaign to save his life.

Campaign to Stop the

Chicago teachers restart their fight against cuts

Published on: Thu, 18/02/2016 - 11:33

Liam Conway

Chicago teachers are beginning to stir again following the threat of huge cuts to school budgets across the city.

Since July last year the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has been attempting to negotiate a new contract for teachers. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and in particular, the City Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, have been trying to use these negotiations to impose cuts to pensions and pay, as well as threatening 2000 teacher redundancies. Now, using slick PR and media stunts, the mayor has announced a disingenuous plan to expand nursery provision by 1,000 places, when the reality is that he plans

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