Solidarity 437, 3 May 2017

Student union rights under attack over BDS campaigns

Published on: Thu, 04/05/2017 - 07:54

Ben Tausz

The Charity Commission is investigating a number of student unions for their policies on boycotting Israel and may take action against them, amid right-wing calls for such boycotts to be banned.

Successive governments, keen to head off organised opposition to their policies, have eroded students’ rights to take political action through their unions. Most student unions have been converted to charities, subject to regulation by the Charity Commission (in England) and to laws banning them from carrying out political campaigning that the Commission does not regard as furthering their “charitable

Why students and youth should vote Labour

Published on: Wed, 03/05/2017 - 09:27

Rosalind Robson

If the opinion polls are correct, Labour is solidly ahead of the Tories among potential voters under 40 years old. Among women under 40, 42 per cent favour Labour, against 27 per cent for the Tories. Unfortunately, these same people are less likely to vote. What’s going on?

This generation has long-been identified as hostile to or alienated by politics and politicians. Not doubt, many still are. But what is attracting some of them to Labour? In the first place, underlying and accumulated social changes which have badly affected this group are being directly and positively addressed by Labour

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 03/05/2017 - 09:22

Ollie Moore and Gemma Short

RMT members on Northern rail struck again on 28 April. The strike was every bit as solid as the previous two days’ action, reducing the company’s service to 40% of its usual level, with scab labour being provided by managers.

The union is yet to announce its next move. It will need to think carefully about what to do next, taking into account the various different situations at different Train Operating Companies around the country.

At Southern, talks have been held between RMT and the employer but no resolution is yet forthcoming. This is against a backdrop of RMT members starting to come

McDonald’s scraps zero-hour contracts: next stop, £10 an hour and a union!

Published on: Wed, 03/05/2017 - 09:09

Fast food giant McDonald’s recently announced it will scrap zero-hours contracts for its workers in the UK. Solidarity spoke to Gareth Lane, an organiser for the Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), about this move, and his union’s ongoing efforts to organise fast food workers.

The BFAWU has been organising fast food workers for nearly two years now. Organising fast food workers is not easy to say the least. Economic hardships like extreme poverty and chaos caused by low income and insecure hours makes organising routines and communications among workers quite difficult. Every

The Front National and fascism

Published on: Wed, 03/05/2017 - 09:00

Martin Thomas

France’s Front National, which now has a real though outside chance of gaining the country’s powerful presidency, is not a fascist movement comparable to the Nazis or Mussolini’s Fascist Party when they were on the eve of power in the 1920s and 30s. Neither, however, is it a conventional hard-right party like UKIP or Germany’s AfD. The makeover the FN has given itself since 2011 is a makeover.

When Jean-Marie Le Pen founded the FN in 1972, it took the Italian party claiming to represent Mussolini’s heritage, the MSI, as a model. In the 1990s, the MSI renounced its fascist heritage, and

How to think beyond and survive the exam season

Published on: Wed, 03/05/2017 - 08:29

Daisy Thomas

A report on 2 May from the Health and Education Committee of MPs found that government cuts are pushing many schools to scrap or limit mental health help in schools. Daisy Thomas explains why that help is important.

There has been more recognition of the importance of mental health in the media lately. From the Facebook Live video of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, to the hugely successful 2017 London Marathon, the aim — to encourage more people to have conversations about mental health, as well as changing the way that these conversations can be had — is good.


Politics, hope and organising for change

Published on: Wed, 03/05/2017 - 07:54

The surge in membership of the Labour Party after Corbyn’s election shows that many, particularly young people are attracted to socialist politics going far beyond that of any Labour leader of the past 25 years. Only the most sectarian on the left, at least in England and Wales, reject voting Labour now. This represents a big political shift.

In 1997, Tony Blair led the Labour Party, in the words of the Labour right, to “a historic landslide victory”, a victory that Blair is still trying to cash in on. The huge vote to get rid of the Tories was an immense relief but it came at a large price.

Tories seek mandate to increase cuts, inequality, poverty

Published on: Wed, 03/05/2017 - 07:41

Martin Thomas

“Mrs May”, writes the Tory-leaning columnist of the Financial Times, Janan Ganesh, “could not survive an election campaign saying so little so often if people paid attention”. Since so many don’t, “the repetition of slogans in lieu of answers carries no cost”. Fraser Nelson, another Tory, comments in the Spectator: “She seems to think that, if you refuse to give the press anything, the public won’t care. Worse, she seems to be right – for now, at least”. May’s purpose, so Nelson writes, is not to “seek a mandate”, but to evade one. “That’s what this election is really about: a bonfire of these

Make the rich pay!

Published on: Wed, 03/05/2017 - 07:11


Wages are the clearest measure of how well or badly workers are doing in capitalist society. Between 1979 and 2008 the share of national output (GDP) going on wages fell from 65% to around 54%. This represents a huge shift of wealth in favour of the profit system and the capitalist class who benefit from it.

Following an economic crisis in the 1970s, the capitalists set out to roll back the gains made by workers in the previous decades, Over thirty years global capitalism has reduced relative wages and fundamentally undermined the strong trade union organisation and workplace militancy which

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