Solidarity 364, 13 May 2015

Why Labour lost

Published on: Wed, 13/05/2015 - 09:14

An imaginary conversation with a Blairite after 7 May.

Blairite: Labour has gone too far left and must move back to the centre ground.

Solidarity: Like the Lib Dems? The Lib Dems were the one party which carefully positioned itself as the golden mean, the happy medium, the equipoise. They got thrashed. Tories, Ukip, SNP, Greens — all those parties did well by coming out with something a bit left-field (or right-field).

B: So you think Labour just has to be more and more radical, and it will automatically win?

S: I didn’t say that. I do say that Labour’s half-and-half combination of vague

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 13/05/2015 - 09:06

Gemma Short, Charlotte Zalens and Peggy Carter

On Saturday 9 May, over 400 people marched from South Friern library in Barnet, to East Finchley library, then Finchley Church End before finishing at North Finchley library, to protest over proposed cuts to library services in the borough.

The march was joined on the final leg, from Finchley Church End library to North Finchley library by a double decker bus decorated with union banners, and a brass band.

Activists in Barnet have now completed 4 days of action, marching through all the libraries in Barnet.

The protest comes after Unison members in Barnet council were on strike on 30 April

Syriza's leaders must listen to the party

Published on: Wed, 13/05/2015 - 07:48

Theodora Polenta

Over 100 days have passed since the popular verdict of the Greek people on 25 January, which led to the formation of the Syriza-Anel government.

If only on a symbolic level — but symbolism has its importance in working-class politics — this government is of a different quality from the previous once. We saw Alexis Tsipras meeting and hugging the reinstated cleaners at the Ministry of Finance, thanking them for their class struggle, and for key members of the Syriza cabinet such as Katrougkalos and Valavani joining the cleaners’ celebrations. In the ND-Pasok years ministers were photographed at

Ian Lavery for Labour leader?

Published on: Wed, 13/05/2015 - 07:30

A group of Labour Party members have launched a campaign for Ian Lavery to be the next Labour leader.

Lavery, who has been an MP for Wansbeck in Northumberland, is former president of the National Union of Mineworkers. During the NUM’s great strike in 1984-5, he was the only apprentice in the north east region to refuse to go to work; he was arrested seven times during the dispute.

The left should put forward a candidate for Labour leader, and in many ways Lavery is an excellent choice, as a former working-class activist and trade unionist from a region where UKIP is strong. (On 7 May, the

Reinstate Christine Shawcroft

Published on: Wed, 13/05/2015 - 07:27

Gerry Bates

Christine Shawcroft, a long-standing left-wing member of Labour’s National Executive Committee, has been suspended from the party and faces disciplinary action in connection with the removal of Lutfur Rahman as Tower Hamlets mayor.

Shawcroft, who is a former leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour group, is accused of supporting Rahman’s Tower Hamlets First organisation against the Labour Party. She denies this.

In any case, the suspension is yet another example of the arbitrary and undemocratic nature of decision-making in the Labour Party. As Ken Livingstone, also an NEC member and also publicly

Death at Yarlswood, end detention!

Published on: Wed, 13/05/2015 - 07:22

Gemma Short

On Monday 20 April 33 year old man died of a heart attack in Yarls Wood immigration detention centre.

The man, who has not been named, was being held with his wife and child at the centre. He was thought to have been healthy and not on any medication.

It is believed that the family came to the UK on visitor’s visas from their home in India but were detained at the airport. They have been held in Yarls Wood for two months. One detainee told the Guardian that the family “wanted to see the UK” and that “the couple have children back in India”.

There have been 14 deaths in immigration removal

Network Rail strike

Published on: Tue, 12/05/2015 - 18:02

Network Rail workers in the RMT union have voted by an 80% majority to strike in a dispute over pay and job security.

The strike ballot had a 60% turnout, with 92% voting for action short of strikes. The high turnout and substantial majority mean the ballot would pass the stringent tests the Tories propose to introduce for industrial action ballots.

Workers have rejected a deal which includes a one-off, non-consolidated payment in year one, and increases pegged to RPI in years two, three, and four. Under the terms of the offer, a "no compulsory redundancies" guarantee would expire after 2016.

Fight union busting

Published on: Tue, 12/05/2015 - 17:58

Dave Smith, founding member of the Blacklist Support Group

Blacklisting is primarily an industrial relations issue, and it needs to be fought in the workplace.

In the past, construction workers have walked off site just to get blacklisted workers onto the jobs in the first place. This isn't in the dim distant past; only last year, it happened on major Blue Book sites [sites covered by the terms of the “National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry”, known as the “Blue Book”].

When Frank Morris was dismissed due to blacklisting on Crossrail in 2012, Unite threw its weight behind the rank-and-file campaign, and, after a bitter year-long

“Back to the 70s” will not reverse inequality

Published on: Tue, 12/05/2015 - 17:51

Matt Cooper

The 970 pages of Thomas Picketty’s Capital in the Twentieth Century have been summarised in the three characters: r > g.

Expanded, this means, in recent years, the rate of return on the capital of the wealthy (r) has been greater than the rate of growth of the economy (g); the proportion of wealth owned by the richest becomes greater and inequality grows.

But Picketty had little to say about how this rate of return, and thus inequality, might be reduced. His main proposal is for a global wealth tax; but that is, in his own words, utopian. Tony Atkinson attempts to provide an answer to

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