Solidarity 611, 27 October 2021

How to really "level up"

The government’s “levelling up” bluster is vacuous – but also dangerous. It is dangerous because it functions to hide the reality of levelling down for swathes of the working class, in all areas of the country, and of reinforced regional inequality intertwined with that. The labour movement needs clear demands to “level up” the living standards and rights of as many workers and working-class people as fast as possible, combined with tackling regional inequality. As former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has rightly said, in the run up to the government’s Spending Review, the starting point...

Starmer in clampdown fever

From Labour Left Internationalists The Labour Party’s National Executive (NEC) has said it will ignore a rule-change passed at this year’s Labour conference (25-29 September) to safeguard a local say in shortlisting in short-notice parliamentary selections. The NEC has cited unspecified legal problems. For the upcoming Old Bexley and Sidcup selection the shortlisting committee will be three NEC members, one Regional Exec, one local, not three local members, one NEC member, and one Regional as in the rule change. The rule change had to be submitted in June for consideration at conference (while...

"Striketober": strikes spread in US private sector

The recent flurry of strikes taking place in the US, dubbed “Striketober” is perhaps not yet a wave, but definitely a noticeable stream. Of about 190 strikes up to 22 October, 40 took place in October. So far the number of strikers is smaller than the almost half a million in 2018 (and almost as many in 2019), which were the highest figures since 1986. In 2020 there were many small strikes and workplace actions, often over safety in the pandemic, but striker-numbers were way down. There are some struggles potentially in the offing which could push the whole thing onto a bigger scale. Disputes...

Metal workers win 5-6% in South Africa

The last two issues of Solidarity reported on a major strike by metal and engineering workers in South Africa, members of the left-wing NUMSA union. The strike is now over. It looks like the union has given more ground than the bosses. NUMSA’s demand was an 8% increase for all workers in the first year of a deal, then inflation plus 2% in the following two years. The employers offered 4.4%, then inflation plus 0.5% and inflation plus 1%. The settlement is 6% each year for the lowest paid, and 5-5.5% for better paid workers. Inflation is currently running at about 5%. If it falls, the deal...

Girls Night In calls for club safety

Calls to boycott nightclubs in towns and cities across the UK are being made between 25 October and 4 November following a recent increase in drink and injected spiking in clubs, under the banner of “Girls Night In”. Girls Night In groups have formed in over 30 locations so far, with each specifying boycott dates, and are predominantly being coordinated via Instagram. They are making a range of demands, for more thorough searches on entry, improved training for nightclub staff, anti-spiking devices to be made available, and increased CCTV in bars. Please find out if #girlsnightin boycotts have...

CPB to its youth wing: please don’t adore Stalin or deny Holocaust

The Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and, more so, its youth wing the Young Communist League (YCL), have been growing. The YCL claims to have trebled in size in recent years, to about 450 members. But this is not unalloyed good news for the CPB leadership. RegularMorning Star readers will have noticed several letters complaining about the image that the YCL presents of themselves, posturing in militaristic garb, faces often covered with balaclavas and kerchiefs that are obviously not just covid masks. Many of these young poseurs make no secret of their adulation of Stalin and his grisly record...

What to do on clerical abuse

I was a bit surprised to see Micheál MacEoin (“New evidence on Catholic Church and child abuse”, Solidarity 610) criticise the report into clerical abuse in France on the grounds that it doesn’t call for the “far-reaching reforms demanded by some campaigners such as the ordination of women as priests or the abolition of clerical celibacy”. How would that stop paedophiles being ordained as priests and gaining access to children, any more than it has in religious groups which have done those things, like the Church of England, or in other areas where widespread abuse has taken place over decades...

Debate on nuclear power: two letters

The front page of Solidarity 610 calls for an economic shift to power-generation from renewables and nuclear, with transport, heating, etc. taking power from the electric grid rather than from fossil fuels. Why nuclear? With nuclear power, the dynamics of capitalism impose a technology which burdens the next 10,000 years with highly volatile waste products in the interest of short-term profits. Whilst nuclear technology might be a rational energy source for a future society of associated producers, we should be absolutely clear that the bourgeoisie views nuclear technology in a way...

Teaching history: defending the indefensible?

Last week, a youth worker in the UK named Hannah Wilkinson tweeted an image from a textbook used today in this country for A-Level history. Students were asked “To what extent do you believe the treatment of native Americans has been exaggerated?” Wilkinson asked “In what world is this is an acceptable question/exercise to ask students?” She added that she was “actually horrified.” The text came from a book called The Making of a Superpower: USA 1865-1975, published by Hodder Education. The book has been in use for some six years, though the controversial passages have been highlighted only...

Women's Fightback: Abortion rights - revive the campaign!

On 22 October 2019, abortion was decriminalised in Northern Ireland (NI). This meant that, with immediate effect, no woman in NI who ends a pregnancy up to 24 weeks would be at risk of prosecution. On the second anniversary of the decriminalisation, pro and anti choice groups demonstrated. Abolish Abortion NI (a coalition of religious reactionaries against the right to choose) held a protest outside St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh during a service to mark the centenary of the foundation of Northern Ireland. The group are calling for reversal of the 2019 changes. Feminists marked the...

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