Solidarity 602, 28 July 2021

Push back for asylum rights

“Its main effect will be to add an extra dose of cruelty to the existing arrangements.” That’s the impact the Tories’ Nationality and Borders Bill — just passed by the House of Commons for a second time — will have on asylum-seekers, as summed up by migration writer Daniel Trilling. The arrangements are extremely cruel already. For almost three decades, Labour and Tory governments have progressively tightened access to asylum in the UK and restrictions on those seeking it when they are here. They have normalised barbaric practices including imprisoning asylum-seekers, forcibly dispersing them...

New Labour procedures are stitch-ups

The Labour Party leadership have drafted the “skeleton” of a new complaints procedure and indicated that they want rule changes at the conference in September. Cases to do with sexism, racism, antisemitism etc. will go to National Executive Committee (NEC) panels, and appeals to a new Appeal Board, replacing the National Constitutional Committee (NCC), and appointed, not elected: four lawyers, four HR people, four appointed party members. This is a response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) calling for an independent procedure. It looks like the EHRC has ok’d it. Less...

Morning Star joins “war on woke”

TheMorning Star’s editorial of 13 July, defending and promoting English “patriotism” (aka nationalism) against “those on the left who turn their backs on their own nationality” and listing “good reasons why English people can rightly feel patriotic” was no one-off aberration. In the edition of 21 July, one Harry Dobson (almost certainly a pseudonym) pursues the patriotic theme, with an added element of psycho-babble: “people like to feel like their identity is distinctive... Refrains such as ‘We’re the worst drinkers, aren’t we?, or ‘I’m so embarrassed by English people abroad, we’re a...

Cuba: embargo, not blockade

I agree with much of what Sacha Ismail wrote in “Cuba: support the protests…” in Solidarity 601. His claim that “the US blockade has clearly made the situation for Cuba’s working class … far worse” is more doubtful. The language of “blockade” is that of the Cuban government. It blames its problems on el bloqueo, as do pro-Cuban-government activists. “Blockade” suggests a sea and air cordon around Cuba preventing goods moving in and out. There is no such blockade. What has been in place since 1960 is a US embargo making it illegal for American companies and individuals to trade with Cuba. That...

Myanmar solidarity action in August

Since the military coup that took place in Myanmar in February of this year, the workers’ movement in that country has been leading a fight for democracy. The trade union movement in Myanmar has burgeoned since 2011, when the semi-military government first relaxed anti-trade union laws. The result has been a decade of strikes and organisation, centred in the garment factories of Yangon. Now, those organisations are fighting to end the coup government. At our summer school, Ideas for Freedom, 10-11 July, Myanmar trade union leaders Khaing Zar Aung and Moe Sandar Myint reported on the movement’s...

From Vostok to laughing stock

On 12 April 1961, the first human blasted off into space. It was an amazing achievement and was a display not only of the remarkable technological prowess of those who designed and built the spacecraft, but also of the person courage of the man inside the capsule. His name was Yuri Gagarin and he was just 27 years old. The craft he piloted was called Vostok 1. He is correctly honoured across Russia, and his memory revered, while the Soviet leaders of that time are long forgotten. Gagarin sadly died seven years later in a plane crash. Sixty years after Gagarin’s historic flight, the British...

Trump: Crimes in 2020-21, plans to dominate in 2022-24

Donald Trump is “our own American war criminal”, said writer Carl Bernstein, famous for his Watergate journalism, on 25 July. Bernstein cited Trump “fomenting a coup to hold on to office” and his “homicidal negligence” (not mistakes) over Covid which led to extra “tens of thousands of people” dying. Trump’s Covid demagogy still weighs heavy, as the Delta variant sweeps the USA. In areas where only about 20% voted for Trump in November 2020, 60% of the population is fully vaccinated; in areas where 80% voted for him, only 30%. Mark Milley, chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has not disputed...

XR plans for August action

The anti-G7 protests in Cornwall confirmed to me a trend I had suspected for a while: that XR, coming out of the year(s) of lockdowns, is by far the biggest activist environmental force around. However many criticisms we have of their politics, that makes it imperative for us to engage with them. As well as organising and mobilising for national and international protests, there are countless local XR groups which are still — or becoming once more — active. Urgency was added to my longer-standing intentions to get involved, not only by the recent upsurge in extreme weather events, flooding...

Climate Emergency Centres: making links

Workers’ Liberty argues that real progress on the climate will only happen when trade unionists embrace environmentalism and make it their own, and when the environmental movement learns to appreciate the potential power of workers to make change. Bringing the two together is not easy but it is essential. One possible avenue opens up in the form of the new Climate Emergency Centres. As 500 local councils declared a climate emergency in response to the youth climate strikes, a group called Space Generators, with experience in the squatters movement and then Occupy, seized the opportunity to...

Dadabhai Naoroji should be a hero for the left

Sacha Ismail reviews Dinyar Patel’s Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism (Harvard University Press, 2020) In the summer of 1893 Indian nationalist leader Dadabhai Naoroji, then living in Britain, returned to India for the conference of the Indian National Congress, of which he had been and would shortly be re-elected President. Greeted by vast multi-religious and multi-ethnic crowds as he travelled across northern India, he arrived in Lahore for the congress to cries of “Long live Dadabhai Naoroji!” – and “Long live Central Finsbury!” In 1892 Naoroji had caused huge excitement and...

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