Solidarity 516, 11 September 2019

Iran condemns workers to 110 years jail

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 11:43

Seven workers and activists from the Haft Tappeh sugar-cane complex in Iran have been sentenced to a total of 110 years in prison and 74 lashes after the industrial action there last year.

Branch 28 of the regime’s so-called Revolutionary Court has passed the following sentences:

Esmail Bakhshi, Haft Tappeh worker and workers’ rep: 14 years in prison.
Sepideh Gholian, journalist and student: 18 years.
Amir-Hossein Mohammadi-Fard, journalist: 18 years.
Asal Mohammadi, journalist: 18 years.
Sanaz Alahyari, journalist: 18 years.
Amir Amirgholi, journalist: 18 years.
Mohammad Khanifar, Haft Tappeh

Beijing goes for attrition

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 11:40

Chen Ying

On the morning of 9 September, outside hundreds of secondary schools in Hong Kong, thousands of students, supported by their alumni, held hands to form human chains.

This followed days of school student protests the previous week, at the start of the academic year.

That previous week too, Chief Executive Carrie Lam eventually announced the complete withdrawal of the Extradition Bill.

Immediately the entire spectrum of the protest movement declared this as “too little, too late” as they insisted that the Hong Kong Government concedes to all five of their demands.

Lam opposed the demand for a

Israel votes again on 17 September

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 11:37

Ira Berkovic

Israel will hold new elections on 17 September, after right-wing nationalist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a workable governing coalition after he won elections in April.

Just before those elections Netanyahu announced plans to formally annex to Israel some or all of “Area C” of the West Bank (60% of its land area, surrounding the 160 cities, villages, and other areas of Palestinian-populated land which are Areas A and B). He has made overtures to far-right, Jewish-supremacist parties.

The left, which slumped to its worst ever results in April, remains in a weak position.

Against Salvini, against Conte

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 11:34

Hugh Edwards

Italy’s new government won its vote of confidence in parliament on 9 September.

The Democratic Party (PD) of Nicola Zingaretti monopolises all of the principal offices articulating relations with Italian and European “big” capital and with the apparatus of the state — defence, economy, infrastructure, agriculture.

The Five Star Movement (M5S) occupies those it already had in the preceeding governmental alliance with Salvini’s Lega, justice, labour, environment, and gains education and the Foreign Office.

The “left” Free and Equal Party (LeU) got the Ministry of Health, so this abject orphan

Spread the action for 20 September!

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 11:26

Mike Zubrowski

On 20 September, date of the next global school student climate strike, workers at a school in Lewisham will do a photo-shoot with their union group after school, and supporters of Solidarity will then try to persuade as many of them as possible to join a local demo.

Cambridge UCU activists and Solidarity readers are organising a mass lunchtime photo-shoot. There will have been school student walk outs and rallies that morning, and another rally that evening. In the same city, some schools are having early “Power-downs” that afternoon – initiated by staff.

Stevenage looks set to see their

Cool air, hotter climate?

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 11:23

Pete Boggs

Air conditioning was a landmark invention of twentieth-century capitalism, and has shaped the world we live in.

It gave rise to the summer blockbuster as movie theatres with air conditioning units were the main place people could go in the heat. It allowed capitalist modernisation to transform post-colonial Singapore. It even inspired H P Lovecraft’s short story Cool Air.

One of the most attractive features of air conditioning units for American capital in the early twentieth century was that it consumed a lot of electricity. Utility companies had a strategy of selling electricity cheaply

Morning Star “actively foments antisemitism”?

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 11:06

Jim Denham

A letter from Andrew Northall in Solidarity 515 takes issue with Sean Matgamna’s claim (in Solidarity 509) that the Morning Star “actively foments antisemitism.”

Comrade Northall describes the claim as “completely disgraceful” and something that “any reader” of that paper will know to be “completely untrue.”

As a daily reader of the Morning Star, I’d say Sean’s description is fully justified.

The Morning Star has, by its own admission, published at least one clearly antisemitic article:

In June 2018 the paper published an article headlined ‘Rising antisemitism cannot be tackled without


Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 11:01

A “Free Tommy Robinson” demo in Leeds on 7 September drew only 50 people.

Tommy Robinson’s arrest last year was outside Leeds Crown Court, and since then there have been five “free Tommy” marches in the city by various combinations of ex-EDL, “Yorkshire Patriots”, “Yellow Vests”, “For Britain”.

They are always a few far-rightists filming all our left wing or anti-Brexit demos, and for a while there was a far-right demonstration of some sort or another in the city almost every weekend.

There is a loose Labour network on WhatsApp and Facebook for anti-fascist mobilisations, usually working with

For Labour, against Brexit

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 10:53


We’ve pushed Parliament into instructing Boris Johnson to drop his plans for a crash no deal Brexit on 31 October. Next we must force the calling of a new public vote, Remain vs the available Brexit formulas.

The referendum of June 2016 was never a good way to make a decision on this (with poor information, with EU citizens living in Britain excluded, with British citizens living in the EU excluded, with 16-17 year olds excluded).

It is no basis at all for Boris Johnson to claim authority from it more than three years later, when the choices are clearer and different, and when the electorate

When leftists argue that Labour should have voted with Johnson

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 10:41

Martin Thomas

Since the big vote in Parliament on 3 September, most of the left press has made its chief call for Labour to back Boris Johnson’s call for a super-early snap election.

The arguments, or the arguments on the face of it, are odd, at least.

Labour and the other opposition parties do not want to give Johnson an easy get-out from implementing Parliament’s instructions to avoid a no deal Brexit. They want to “hold his feet to the fire”, as they put it, and make him comply with the law.

They don’t want to give him a chance to call a snap election, date it for after 31 October, and then confront the

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