Solidarity 418, 5 October 2016

Polish women take to streets to protest against anti-abortion law

Published on: Wed, 05/10/2016 - 12:38

Mags, a Birmingham-based activist with the left-wing Polish group Razem, spoke to Solidarity about the Polish women's strike against restrictions on abortion rights.

In April this year a legal institute in Poland called Ordo Iuris put forward draft legislation for a ban on abortion.

Currently, abortion on demand is not legal in Poland. It is permitted if a pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, if there is a danger to the mother's health or if the foetus is permanently damaged or terminally ill. But it is difficult to get an abortion, because there is something called a “conscience clause”

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 05/10/2016 - 12:28

Ollie Moore, Peggy Carter and Gemma Short

Rail workers on Southern Rail will strike for 14 days across three months, with strikes planned for 11-13 and 18-20 October, 3-5 and 22-23 November, and 6-8 December.

The workers, who are members of the RMT union, are fighting to defend the safety-critical role of the guard. Southern, which is owned by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR, which also operates the Gatwick Express franchise), wants to de-skill the guard's role to make it non-safety-critical, meaning that only the driver would have responsibility for tasks such as opening and closing doors.

The long-running dispute has become

The origins of racism in Britain

Published on: Wed, 05/10/2016 - 12:03

Camila Bassi

The second of two articles by Camila Bassi on racism and hate crime in Britain today. You can read the first article online here.

It was by the close of the nineteenth century that the political economic domination of the global capitalist system by Britain came under threat from sources inside and beyond Europe, and as such, by the final quarter of the nineteenth century:

“a new, right-wing English patriotism, which was simultaneously royalist and racist, was created […] the whole world was racialised, including Europe, in an attempt to comprehend the rise of competing European capitalisms,

Belligerent but beautiful songs

Published on: Wed, 05/10/2016 - 11:48

Janine Booth

When I grew into adulthood in the 1980s, the Tory government's onslaught saw us staring into a bleak future unless we fought back. So we did, and our fightback had a soundtrack.

The better-known voices of that soundtrack — the Paul Wellers and Billy Braggs — are still playing to this day. But one of the less known, and to me one of the best, died last month at the too-young age of 60.

Billy Franks led the Faith Brothers, writing belligerent but beautiful songs of working-class lives and battles, and playing them to an ardent congregation who lived those lives and fought those battles. Their

Russia strengthens Assad but not decisively

Published on: Wed, 05/10/2016 - 11:41

Simon Nelson

It is five years since the birth of the oppostion to Assad's regime in Syria. There are now 4.8 million refugees. Of these a mere 10% have gone to Europe.

An additional 6.5 million Syrians have been “internally displaced”. 13.5 million rely on humanitarian aid. This is a country, and a population that has changed beyond all recognition.

Bombardment by Russian jets and the combined force of the Syrian army and Iranian controlled Shia militias continues to starve and brutalise areas still governed by different rebel factions. This brutality goes far beyond the siege of Aleppo which has so

Progress sense of entitlement

Published on: Wed, 05/10/2016 - 11:27

Todd Hamer

Todd Hamer attended the rally organised by the right-wing Labour faction Progress on Sunday 25 September at Labour Party Conference.

“I say to the people who voted for Owen Smith. This party belongs to you.” Hilary Benn addressing the Progress rally at Labour Party conference.

And seeing those people in their sharp suits, smelling the expensive perfumes, and hearing the posh accents, I realised that the Labour right are actually from a different class.

Speaker after speaker provoked that all-too-famliar braying of a ruling elite as they affirmed their proprietorial ownership of the Labour

The Clarion: an opportunity for debate

Published on: Wed, 05/10/2016 - 11:19

Workers’ Liberty welcomes the appearance of the Clarion, a Labour-oriented socialist magazine produced by Momentum activists. Some of our people helped make the publication of the first issue happen and will continue to be actively involved.

In our work in the Labour Party and Momentum over the last year, we have felt very sharply the lack of spaces in which activists can exchange information and discuss ideas. In Momentum one of the worst problems has been lack of information flow and the difficulties of assessing the national picture and debating the way forward, despite its proliferation of

"Parliamentary socialism" and "progressive alliances": clarification needed on the Labour left

Published on: Wed, 05/10/2016 - 11:16

Martin Thomas

Two sessions in the Momentum fringe event — The World Transformed — at Labour Party conference (24-28 September) discussed major strategic questions.

In a debate on “parliamentary socialism”, Leo Panitch gave a polished exposition of Ralph Miliband's theory on the question.

Miliband argued that Labour was unlikely to win socialism because it was “dogmatic” about remaining within the limits of the existing state structures. Panitch qualified that by saying that the problem is not so much a specific Labour dogmatism, but can be seen also in the records of Syriza in Greece and the Workers' Party

Jackie Walker, Momentum, and antisemitism

Published on: Wed, 05/10/2016 - 11:03

Martin Thomas

On 3 October, the Steering Committee of the Labour left group Momentum voted by a majority (which included Solidarity supporter Jill Mountford) to remove Jackie Walker as the group’s vice-chair.

The grounds were her “ill-informed, ill-judged, and offensive” statements at a Jewish Labour Movement fringe event at Labour conference, and her “irresponsible” behaviour in continuing to promote herself and the content of those statements to the media.

Walker said Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January, which principally commemorates the Nazis’ planned, industrialised mass murder of Europe’s Jews, should

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