Solidarity 429, 8 February 2017

Nationalise the Big Six!

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2017 - 14:56

On 5 February, Npower, one of the Big Six energy suppliers, hiked their electricity price by 15% for electricity and 4.8% for gas for customers on their variable rates. This is the largest single hike by any of the Big Six since at least 2013. If past experience is anything to go by, the rest of the Six will put their prices up too in the next few months.

Npower bosses argued this price rise was forced on them by the wholesale price of energy and “regulatory costs”. However this has even been questioned by government regulator Ofgen, who last month said there was “no justification” for a

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2017 - 14:46

Gemma Short, Ollie Moore, Peggy Carter and Simon Nelson

Workers at four Picturehouse branches in London will strike on Saturday 11 February. A new ballot including two new sites — Picturehouse Central and Crouch End Picturehouse — returned a 95% yes vote on a 75% turn out.

The Bectu section of Prospect, the Picturehouse workers′ union, had already balloted in January, but the ballot was challenged by bosses on a legal technicality. Individual workers have also been threatened with legal action over unfounded claims of intimidation and secondary picketing.

Picturehouse bosses continue to show that they would rather spend money on legal threats and

McCluskey moves ahead, but not left

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2017 - 14:20

Dale Street

In the election campaigning for the post of Unite the Union’s General Secretary, the McCluskey election machine continues to deliver the goods.

With a while still to go before nominations close on 17 February, over 300 branches have nominated Len McCluskey, who has been general secretary since 2011 but has stood down early so he could run for a third term. A statement supporting McCluskey has been signed by 60 out of 64 Executive Council members and a similarly overwhelming majority on other top levels of the union.

McCluskey’s election platform is a series of uncontroversial promises:

Trump’s “America First” means workers last

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2017 - 13:57

Lance Selfa

Perhaps it’s foolish to take anything Donald Trump says as an articulation of core principles or beliefs. But this passage from his inaugural address hit many like a bolt of lightning: From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it’s going to be America First. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great

Making garish pantomime of the colonial imaginary

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2017 - 13:45

Ira Berkovic

By the time of its fourth episode, the point at which this review was written, Taboo, which had occasionally teetered on the edge of greatness, had collapsed into rather grotesque pantomime. The aloofness of Tom Hardy’s performance, which in earlier episodes had given his character, James Delaney, a brooding malice, is petering out into ridiculousness, as he growls his way through a script peppered with faux-profound cliches (“There is business afoot tonight” he says, climbing into a carriage.)

The dark Other of the colonial imaginary looms large in the world of Taboo: Delaney begins the show

An argument against post-factual politics

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2017 - 13:09

Ann Field

Denial is a dramatisation of the libel case brought by Holocaust denier and Hitler apologist David Irving against the American academic Deborah Lipstadt (author of Denying the Holocaust, in which Irving featured prominently) and Penguin Books (which published her book).

The film has received mixed reviews. Some critics have described it as “hammy”, “stuffy and repetitive”, and “a standard issue legal drama”. The character of Lipstadt has also been criticised as “so predictable” and “an impassioned mouthpiece with no internal life.” And given the well-known result of the real-life trial — in

“The privilege of historic backwardness”

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2017 - 13:01

Leon Trotsky

We begin a series of extracts from Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, telling the story of 1917. This extract explains Russia’s “combined and uneven” development how the country “skipped” historical “stages”.

Read the rest of the series

While the western barbarians settled in the ruins of Roman culture, where many an old stone lay ready as building material, the Slavs in the East found no inheritance upon their desolate plain: their predecessors had been on even a lower level of culture than they.

The western European peoples, soon finding their natural boundaries, created

The democracy of others

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2017 - 12:54

Martin Thomas

“No-one combats freedom; at most they combat the freedom of others”, wrote Karl Marx sarcastically, in an article defending the freedom of the press. For a long time now, in politics, “democracy” has had the same status.

No-one combats democracy. At most they insist on their version of democracy. North Korea is officially the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”. The Iranian constitution insists on “the democratic character of the government”. On a less caricatural level, the 10 January coup in Momentum, Donald Trump’s executive orders, and the Tory government’s drive for a “hard Brexit”

Why we say “open borders”

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2017 - 12:36


Those of us who took to the streets to protest against Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban”, a racist restriction on the freedom of movement of people from seven majority-Muslim countries, were protesting against immigration controls.

Not all of us necessarily saw what we were doing in those terms. Many of us were mobilised by something more visceral and instinctive: a raw opposition to the obvious prejudice and injustice implied by the ban, and by many other of Trump’s policies. That reflexive opposition to injustice is the beginning of much political wisdom, in this and other cases.

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