Solidarity 529, 18 December 2019

Iran: regime on the back foot

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 13:20

Martin Thomas

On 6 December 2019, Esmail Bakhshi, a leader of the Haft Tappeh sugar cane complex workers, returned to work.

He was released from jail, despite a long sentence after the 2018 Haft Tappeh dispute.

His reinstatement was one of the conditions on which the Haft Tappeh workers agreed to suspend their latest strike on 3 December, after 72 days.

The Haft Tappeh workers also report that Sepideh Gholian (jailed alongside Esmail Bakhshi after the 2018 strike, released, then jailed again) was released from prison again on 3 December, on bail of 200,000 tomans (around £36,000).

The Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane

Sanders, Corbyn and anti-Semitism

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 13:13

Eric Lee

Bernie Sanders has a proud record both of supporting Israel and of being critical of its government. He summed up his views in a recent article for the magazine Jewish Currents, in which he wrote;

“I think it is very important for everyone, but particularly for progressives, to acknowledge the enormous achievement of establishing a democratic homeland for the Jewish people after centuries of displacement and persecution.”

The choice of the phrase “in particular for progressives” is deliberate. Because people on the Left, in recent years, have not acknowledged that the creation of Israel was,

China steps up coal

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 13:07

Misha Zubrowski

A study published this November by “End Coal” ( demonstrates the extent to which China is driving the continued growth of the world’s coal fleet.

2018, they note, marked the first time in decades that the coal fleet outside of China shrank; a decrease in capacity of 8.1 gigawatts (GW) over an 18 month period. This is due to an ongoing decline in commissioning of new coal power plants, coupled with steady retirements.

However, over the same period, China increased its coal fleet by 42.9 GW, five times the magnitude of the net decrease beyond China.

Much of this growth is a brief

Andy Shallice 1952-2019

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 13:02

Alison Brown

Andy Shallice, a comrade from Sheffield Heeley Labour Party, died suddenly last Saturday, 14 December.

Andy returned to the Labour Party with the Corbyn victory in 2015 and led local campaigning in the constituency. He was warm, funny, optimistic and politically switched-on. He fought for accountability and revelled in asking difficult questions of the local labour bureaucracy.

Previously as a Unison activist. he had been key to the local rank and file, Unison Unleashed.

He had been active on the left in the North West and Sheffield since the 70s, including with Workers’ Fight (a forerunner of

When the Morning Star justified racism

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 12:44

Sean Matgamna

Picture: Georges Marchais, former General Secretary of the Communist Party of France

On 15 January, 1981, the Morning Star, the daily paper of the Communist Party of Great Britain, once called the Daily Worker, had a fine front page article denouncing a proposed Tory anti-immigration law.

Straight to target: the “Nationality Bill”, it told its readers, is a racist Bill. That is why immigrant groups are vigorously opposing it, and why the broad labour movement must fight it too.

But now turn to page 2 of the same issue of the Star. There, you will find a report on the policy of the French

Paul Mason and the Labour left

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 12:40

Sacha Ismail

Did Paul Mason write his own headline for his latest New Statesman article? “Corbynism is over – Labour’s next leader must unite the centre and the left”.

The article is better than the headline, but the headline does indicate the problem with Mason’s arguments. As often, he combines useful left-wing insights with ambiguity and right-wing elements.

Mason’s starting point is that Labour’s shift to a more anti-Brexit position was too little too late. “Because we had to waste half a year, and a fractious conference, winning over Liberal Democrat and Green voters, could not simultaneously do the

Mélenchon’s conspiracy theory

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 12:34

Ben Tausz

Jean-Luc Mélenchon [a prominent left politician in France] has taken to social media to blame Labour’s defeat on “les divers réseaux d’influence du Likoud” (“the various networks of influence of Likud”) and Corbyn’s decision to apologise for antisemitism, which he called “weakness”.

Netanyahu is doubtless hostile to Corbyn — and we as socialists are hostile to Netanyahu. But to allege that shady networks of nefarious Israeli Zionists are so all-powerful that they can account for a political event of this magnitude? That’s utterly disconnected from reality — an antisemitic conspiracy theory

EHRC to report early 2020

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 12:27

Ann Field

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) investigation into allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party is expected to publish its report early in 2020.

The remit of the EHRC investigation covers: whether unlawful acts have been committed by the Labour Party; whether it has implemented recommendations about tackling antisemitism and taken overall effective action; and whether its processes are fit-for-purpose.

Organisations which have submitted statements to the investigation include the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) and Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL). Both statements are available on

Tories plan new curbs on local councils

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 12:19

Sacha Ismail

Johnson is likely to be the enemy of a democratic settlement in Israel-Palestine, shifting the UK further towards the Trump government’s anti-Palestinian position.

Although Johnson himself displayed little interest in the conflict as foreign secretary, his ideological lieutenant Priti Patel was forced to resign her international development post in 2017 after breaking diplomatic protocol in efforts to channel aid money towards the Israeli military. She defended herself by insisting that Johnson had been told about her activities.

The Tories’ proposals, apparently another bit of inspiration

The left and self-defence

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 12:15

Becky Crocker

On 3 December, walking through Trafalgar Square on my way home from the anti-Trump demonstration, I noticed an SWP stall that had been turned upside down.

Skinheads, police, and SWP members were nearby. The SWP were asking the police. “Aren’t you going to do anything, he just knocked over our stall?” The police looked unsure of what to do.

Three people were jeering and doing Nazi salutes at the SWP. One got close enough to an SWP member and appeared to hit him and kick him to the ground. The police still looked unsure whether to intervene.

Although maybe 50+ years old and a little inebriated,

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