Solidarity 505, 8 May 2019

Schools: learning not labelling

Published on: Wed, 08/05/2019 - 14:26

Duncan Morrison, Assistant District Secretary, Lewisham NEU (personal capacity)

School worker activists in the National Education Union (NEU) are busily preparing for the consultative ballot about boycotting high stakes summative testing in primary schools. The ballot was decided at the union's conference in April.

The NEU says: "There can be no lasting solution to problems of children’s well-being, teacher workload, curriculum narrowness and teaching to the test unless our assessment system changes.

"NEU members have asserted their conviction that assessment must be supportive of learners and must be a matter of teachers’ professional judgment. The days of universal

Alarm bell for Labour

Published on: Wed, 08/05/2019 - 14:19

Rhodri Evans

The local elections on 2 May gave an alarm bell to Labour.

The Tories lost 1,330 seats. They had expected to lose a lot. Those seats were last contested in 2015, on the same day that the Tories won the general election. They had not expected to lose so many. Since the reference point was 2015, Labour had expected to gain. In fact Labour lost 84 council seats. The Lib Dems had expected to gain. 2015 was a low point for them, when they were discredited by their 2010-15 coalition with the Tories. They gained more than they expected (704 seats). The Greens were up 194 seats. Almost as big a

Guaidó’s big push fails

Published on: Wed, 08/05/2019 - 13:41

Eduardo Tovar

Nearly four months into the Venezuelan Presidential crisis, it has come the closest so far to a literal coup dynamic. On the morning of Tuesday 30 April, Juan Guaidó, the self-declared interim President of Venezuela, appeared in a video near a Caracas air base with opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who had previously been kept under house arrest. Accompanied by men in military uniforms, Guaidó announced the “final phase of Operation Liberty”, calling on troops and civilians to make a last push against the incumbent President Nicolas Maduro. Protests erupted in the streets.

This time, several

May Day arrests in Iran

Published on: Wed, 08/05/2019 - 13:34

Following a call by four independent labour organisations, Trade Union of the Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company, Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Union, Coordination Committee for Establishing Labour Organisations and the Retirement Alliance, workers, teachers, students and pensioners demonstrated outside the Iranian regime’s "parliament" on May Day.

The regime’s response was to arrest a large number of demonstrators.

The Shahrokh Zamani Action Campaign strongly condemns these arrests. We call on all trade unionists, socialists and other political activists to help us in defending the

Semenya: a cruel decision

Published on: Wed, 08/05/2019 - 13:12

Steff Farley

An abridged version of this appeared in Solidarity505.

I started in athletics as a 15 year old middle distance runner in 2009, meaning Caster Semenya was incredibly formative to me, serving as a huge inspiration and becoming one of my heroes. I watched the Berlin World Championships, so famous for Usain Bolt’s world record display, but while I greatly admired the best sprinter of all time, it was Caster Semenya that made me fall in love with athletics.

It was recently announced that the IAAF have found evidence that highly elevated levels of testosterone in women is correlated with greater

Nothing to report?

Published on: Wed, 08/05/2019 - 13:06

Keith Road

Since September the CLP (Constituency Labour Party) representatives on Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) have all been broadly on the left, 8 of them supported by Momentum and all 9 by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy.

After the September NEC, when they first took their places, they produced a single report of the meeting. They promised they would do that regularly going forward. In principle a joint report reflecting shared views would be a useful complement to individual reports from each member. But in fact only Pete Willsman and Darren Williams (longer-term NEC CLP reps

Making campaign wider?

Published on: Wed, 08/05/2019 - 12:59

Mike Zubrowski

Extinction Rebellion, after eleven days of ambitious, disruptive, relatively widespread, and extensively covered actions in their “International Rebellion”, (15-25 April), have moved into a “regenerative, resting phase". They have been celebrating wins so far: media coverage, politicians seeming receptive, changes in public narratives towards recognising the gravity of the situation; reportedly huge expansions of local XR branches.

Socialist environmentalists should continue to get involved, and to push it towards the radical conclusions that its environmental commitments point towards. They

Hard border: all the fault of the EU?

Published on: Wed, 08/05/2019 - 12:52

Jim Denham

A bizarre episode occurred on 1 May in Cork, Ireland. Taoiseach [prime minister] Leo Varadkar was due to speak at a meeting organised by the ruling Fine Gael party as part of its campaign for directly elected mayors. The meeting had to be adjourned for a period when members of the Connolly Youth Movement (CYM) – the youth wing of the Communist Party of Ireland - disputed proceedings.

Initially, the CYM’s intervention seemed fair enough. A woman stood up and called for a minute’s silence for two homeless men who had recently died on Cork streets. That was agreed by the chair. Then other CYM


Published on: Wed, 08/05/2019 - 12:45

Let's be honest. Even if Labour had a good line on Brexit, a better leadership, a PLP not out to sabotage it, and all the rest, a majority Labour government will be hard to win. Unless other fronts are opened in the class struggle to break the barriers.

There is a long term decline in the Labour vote in: 1. Depressed de-industrialised small cities and towns with declining populations, especially those not in the orbit of big diverse cities. 2. The unfashionable working-class suburbs, owner occupied but by skilled or semi skilled working class people rather than the well-off. Or the dormitory

Don’t bail out Tories on Europe!

Published on: Wed, 08/05/2019 - 12:37


Responding to Tory Brexit minister James Cleverly on the BBC, on 3 May, Labour's Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner said: “You as a Brexit Minister should understand that we are in there [in the Labour-Tory talks on Brexit] trying to bail you guys out".

Whether or not this is how the entire Labour leadership and negotiating team views the talks, it must certainly reflect a strong strand of opinion – and in any case it reflects the unfortunate political dynamic. Whatever the risks for the Tories, the risks for Labour if it agrees a deal are greater. It would amount precisely

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