by Hassan Mahamdallie
by Tomáš Tengely-EvansSun 28 Jun 2015
Tens of thousands marched through the streets of London yesterday, Saturday, for the annual Pride march. Young LGBT activists and trade unionists, including former miners, joined them.
Around 1,000 marched with Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) on the trade union bloc to chants of “LGSM fight the Tory scum again”.
Daniel came to the march from Pembrokeshire in Wales. He told Socialist Worker, “Here it’s about fighting for our rights.
“You wouldn’t get these sorts of chants on the corporate bloc with Barclays. They all seem so fake. There’s no passion.”
Rail workers from the RMT and Aslef unions joined teachers and lecturers from the NUT and UCU unions along with many other trade unionists.
There were also banners from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), who led the Pride march 30 years ago.
Liz French from Kent NUM and Women Against Pit Closures (WAPC) told Socialist Worker, “The miners supported LGBT rights and the fight against apartheid.
“We’re still here showing solidarity with the working class—perhaps if we all stood up we could get rid of the corrupt bosses.”
Sixth form students in the Northern Community Feminist Society organised a coach from Pontefract, West Yorkshire.
Beth from the group was angry about the business hijacking of Pride. She told Socialist Worker, “It shouldn’t be corporate, but about standing up for everyone’s rights.
“You shouldn’t try and make money out of people’s rights—that’s not right.”
Anne Scargill from WAPC was also on the coach. She told Socialist Worker, “Something’s got to be done.
“I was on last Saturday’s People’s Assembly march and I was really surprised at the youth there. There’s a lot of young people here too.”
LGSM were supposed to lead off Pride this year. But they chose to go to “Bloc C” instead when the official organisers wouldn’t let trade unions march with them.
Student Becca told Socialist Worker, “It really pisses me off. I’ve always liked Pride, but it should be more about fighting.”
The trade union bloc was militant and caught the new mood of resistance against Tory austerity. Chants of “Defy Tory rule!” rang out.
Strikers from the National Gallery and Glasgow homelessness caseworker disputes raised solidarity on the march. National Gallery workers collected £337.82 on their picket line protest after the march.
One National Gallery striker told Socialist Worker, “I recently watched the film Pride, it’s such an amazing story of solidarity.
“We’re fighting the same battles now as we were then and this connects all those struggles.”
Physicians say national health service faces lawsuits, bullying, and privatization under contentious trade pact
by Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Doctors in the United Kingdom are warning that passage of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will mean certain death for the country’s public healthcare system, opening the door for privatization and lawsuits from the United States’ for-profit medical industry.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Liverpool on Tuesday, Dr. Henry McKee of Belfast warned members that “if there is anything resembling an [National Health Service] by the time this treaty is in negotiation, it won’t survive this treaty.”
“The correct motion is to kill this treaty dead, not to tolerate it sneaking in and mugging us,” he added.
McKee’s comments came as BMA members voted in favor of lobbying the UK government against the trade agreement, advocating for a provision that would remove healthcare from the contentious pact. In a vote earlier this month, the European Parliament backed a similar recommendation though it is up to the official European trade negotiators to demand such exclusions.
The TTIP and other pending global trade deals—the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)—have come under fire for their corporate-friendly provisions, which many warn will promote business interests above the environment, workers rights, and public health. Particularly, the investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision would allow multinationals to sue governments for alleged loss of profits due to industry regulations.
In an address during the BMA meeting, Edinburgh physician Gregor Venters also warned that the “introduction of private providers into public services” will “allow the big American corporations to interfere with the NHS.”
Europeans are concerned that the United States’ lax rules regulation of genetically engineered, or GMO, crops and other lower health standards will allow for a “race to the bottom” in global food and health standards.
“Private corporations could use the process to bully governments into dropping legislation to improve food standards,” he explained.
In a related development, recently leaked sections of the TPP revealed how the deal would give big pharmaceutical companies more power over public access to medicine by undermining government efforts to subsidize pharmaceuticals and medical devices, effectively crippling public healthcare programs worldwide.
Earlier this month, faced with growing public and internal opposition, European Parliament President Martin Schulz cancelled a vote on the Parliament’s recommendations for the treaty. Negotiations are set to continue in July.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted to back Fast Track trade promotion authority, which enables President Obama to ratify international trade deals with only an up or down vote by the U.S. Congress, essentially guaranteeing the passage of the TPP and TTIP.This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
June 11, 2015 Posted by WorldbyStorm
Heather Stewart in the Observer at the weekend had some good analysis in a piece entitled ‘Austerity isn’t ‘good housekeeping’: it’s dogmatic, risky and unjust’.
She notes that:
It’s a measure of the triumph of the pro-austerity argument in Britain that George Osborne presented his latest round of cuts in the Commons last week – a down payment on the £25bn he plans to make over the next three years – as a “culture of good housekeeping” in government. Austerity as common sense.
And this has effects, which she points to:
…there are already warning signs that parts of the public services are creaking. He cited a sharp increase in waiting times at hospital accident and emergency departments, and rising violent assaults in prisons as staff numbers are cut, as examples.
..the belt-tightening is likely to be profoundly unfair. Osborne has repeatedly said his cuts plan will involve a £12bn reduction in the welfare bill. Since pensioners are protected, and out-of-work benefits are a relatively small part of the £250bn social security budget, much of the burden is likely to fall on low-wage workers and their children – through reductions in tax credits or housing benefit, for example
And there’s the problem that it doesn’t work:
…more austerity is risky at a time when recovery appears to be fragile against a background of the bubbling eurozone crisis.
The argument that sucking demand out of the economy through public spending cuts could jeopardise growth may have been trounced in pre-election debates – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t right.
All this is true. It is causing problems – ones that are deep rooted and will persist across years and potentially decades. It is deeply unfair. It is in and of itself counterproductive and the Tory victory does nothing to alter that fact (and one can point to the fact that
And yet, and yet, part of me reads all this and goes… well of course it’s dogmatic! This is the Tories, after all. What did people expect? This isn’t a glitch as they see it, it’s a feature. Elsewhere in the Guardian there’s been some comment on the idea that the Tories aren’t the epitome of evil or are wrong all the time. Perhaps not. But it’s somewhat irrelevant and more to the point it betrays a misunderstanding as to the nature of their political project.
Often people, particularly liberal minded people, and some on the left, seem to think that all the political labels and categories are merely badges for what is essentially good intentions – that we’re all in this together, as it were, and everyone wants pretty much the same destination.
The reality is, of course, anything but that. One doesn’t have to see the Tories as the epitome of evil to see that the fundamental strands that infuse and inflect their philosophies as being wrong, reactionary and so forth. Just to be clear this doesn’t mean that on an individual basis all are like that, there are some counter-intuitive strands as well extant in that body of thought. But functionally it means that their approach to society is one which most progressives – one would hope – would realise as being entirely in opposition to our own project.
Perhaps David Cameron is a more liberal minded person than many/most in his party, perhaps the manifesto was a tilt to the right in order to consolidate party unity at a time when coalition with the LDs was still a feasible outcome, and in the knowledge that such a coalition would abrade some of the sharper edges. Perhaps so. And yet this is the party that in the actual coalition of the last five years implemented, by way of example, grievous measures in social welfare in relation to provision of benefit and so on, oversaw measures that explicitly supported those who were better off, I needn’t go on, surely?
An untrammelled Tory party is a genuinely disturbing entity. And it is untrammelled and governing on, as was made clear in a recent Guardian Politics podcast, the most right wing programme in two decades.
These things matter. These things are intrinsic to the Tory party.
Stewart is closer to the mark in the following:
So the cuts are larger than Osborne and his colleagues let on; they may threaten the quality of cherished public services, place an unfair burden on those who can least bear it, exacerbating inequality – and jeopardise the very economic growth which is ultimately the best way of tackling the deficit.
Labour’s proto-leaders are right to try to learn the lessons of the campaign and seize back the language of “aspiration”. But they must not abandon the central insight that austerity is not a necessity, but a political choice.
A pity the Labour Party was unable to make that case in the last five years. But as ever they cede ground to the right and then are amazed when the right captures yet more and runs with it.
Socialist Worker Editorial
EU referendum debate can’t be left to racists
The Tory right and the racist Ukip want to use the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU) to ramp up racism. They argue that if Britain leaves the EU then tougher immigration controls can be imposed.
Every flag-waving nationalist and bigot will crawl out from underneath their rock to argue against the EU shackling “our” freedoms. Socialist Worker will be at the forefront of campaigning against the scapegoating of migrants. But we won’t side with any “keep Britain in” campaign either.
Lined up on that side is Tory prime minister David Cameron and the majority of the British ruling class. That’s because the EU is a bosses’ club and is no guarantor of workers’ rights. It polices austerity across the continent.
For the last five years, it has imposed brutal austerity on workers in Greece. It is determined to defeat any attempt to break free from its stranglehold. But it’s not just a matter of the wrong policies. The EU is a thoroughly pro-business project.
The process of European integration got underway because European capitalists outgrew the markets that their nation states could provide.
British business wants to remain in the EU in order to maintain its profits. Some on the right who oppose the EU will try to make leaving it about controlling immigration. But staying in it is no guarantee that workers will be able to move freely. Bosses want a flexible pool of labour within the EU and stop the people from outside getting in.
It’s because of the EU’s “Fortress Europe” that thousands of migrants are are dying in the Mediterranean.
Cameron wants both EU membership and tougher immigration controls. We cannot rely on the ruling class to stand up for migrants.
When business needs more labour it will encourage migration. But bosses will also whip up racism to divide workers.
Socialists must make a principled defence of migrants—from both outside and inside the EU—based on working class solidarity. Defending the bosses’ racist club doesn’t help us do this.
There is a difference between the international solidarity of the working class and the global cooperation of the capitalist class. Socialist Worker stands in solidarity with Greek workers’ battle against austerity. Breaking with the EU can help them weaken the shackles of austerity.
A vote against the EU could also cause a crisis for our rulers. The Tory party could rip itself apart over its divisions on Europe.
If socialists abstain from making our arguments only the racist right would gain from such a crisis.
But by building struggle we can push back their poison.
Opposing bosses’ EU would mean siding with the racists.I was disappointed to see Socialist Worker argue for a no vote (Socialist Worker, 30 May) on staying in the European Union (EU).
If the no vote wins, racists, xenophobes, Ukip and a section of the Tory party would gain confidence. Millions of migrant workers and most of the labour movement would be demoralised.Many people see the EU as a bulwark against the nastiness of the Tories.
The left no camp sadly no longer has Tony Benn or Bob Crow. The best trade union leaders are for yes.The EU is an undemocratic bosses’ club, but the political landscape has changed.
To argue now for no is ultra-left and puts us on the wrong side. No one will notice the “but” in a leaflet that says “No, but we are against racism”.We should be in the yes camp. Let’s unite with workers across the EU—and with the pro-EU parties Syriza and Podemos—for a Europe that puts people before profit
Clare Fermont, East London
It seemed obvious 40 years ago that socialists should oppose joining the European common market—obviously a bosses’ club.But is the issue so clear cut today?
The EU is still a bosses’ club and no doubt big business will line up to oppose leaving it. But it is more than that.Are we against the distribution of money to distressed regions? Are we against legislation guaranteeing certain workers’ rights and women’s rights?Are we in favour of the free movement of labour?
The other side seeks to turn the referendum into an anti-immigrant campaign.Should socialists be explaining to migrant workers that the EU is a bosses’ club they should vote against—if they even have a vote?Can we be seen as on that side of the divide?It just seems totally wrong.
John Charlton, Newcastle
THE Labour Party is rebranding itself with the phrase that is used by its voters.
After failing to win an election based on a positive appeal to voters, Labour has embraced its future as the default choice of pragmatists who dislike the Conservatives.
A spokesman said: “We also considered ‘Obviously I Can’t Vote Lib Dem So, Yeah, Labour’ but that would require much larger and more expensive badges. We are nothing if not financially prudent.
“Labour tried to be the anti-supposing party. Ed Miliband tried to make us the Labour, Hell Yeah! Party but that was obviously stupid and wrong.
“From now on, Labour, I Suppose will be the party for disenfranchised, tired cynics who expect nothing but compromise and mediocrity. We will deliver.”
Surely if Ireland can arrive at marriage equality, the time has come to bring it’s attitude toward women and their bodies into the 21st century as well…
In Britain, women’s options are constrained and conditional, but there are at least options. In Ireland, there are none.
BY SARAH DITUM – PUBLISHED 10 JUNE, 2015
There are two stories in the latest set of statistics on abortion from the Department of Health. The first one is that, for women in England and Wales, abortion continues to become safer and more accessible. More abortions are taking place in the first ten weeks of gestation. That’s good because it implies that women are increasingly able to get the medical care they need as early as they need it. For the first time, medical abortions account for the majority of procedures – that’s good because it means that fewer women had to go through invasive procedures to end their pregnancies.
The abortion rate overall fell again as well. This is generally understood to be desirable, even if the “right” number of abortions we should be moving towards as a society is not necessarily “fewer” but rather “exactly the same as the number of abortions that women want”. The 1967 Abortion Act – asfudged, flawed and faulty as it is – is working for women, just about, just enough of the time. Women need better legislation, but while we wait for it, this will do, if we don’t think too much about the women it fails, if we don’t make the time to be appalled that abortion in England and Wales remains criminalised under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act and is only legal under the stringent condition that two doctors agree a woman knows her own mind.
And then there’s the other story, hinted at in the abortion rate for non-resident women, which increased slightly in 2014. Many of these women will have come from Ireland and Northern Ireland – just a short plane trip away, and in the case of Northern Ireland not even another country, but an entirely different kingdom when it comes to women’s rights and women’s bodies. In Britain, women’s options are constrained and conditional, but there are at least options. In Ireland, there are none: any pregnant woman in Ireland who wishes to decide what happens inside the borders of her own person must begin by leaving the borders of her country.
As the Amnesty report published on Tuesday puts it, women in Ireland are treated like “child-bearing vessels”. This is no hyperbole: a theocratic obsession with exploiting female flesh has led to Irish women living under one of the most restrictive abortion regimes in the world. In Northern Ireland, the 1967 Abortion Act has never been applied, and in the Republic of Ireland, abortion is covered by the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which states that “the right to life of the unborn” is “equal [to the] right to life of the mother” – and note that under the Eighth a woman is legally deemed a “mother” purely by dint of being pregnant, whether she wishes to be so or not. She is instantly subsumed into her relationship to the foetus.The result of this is that abortion is illegal in almost every circumstance apart from direct risk to the pregnant woman’s life. That means no abortion for victims of rape and incest. It means no abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality. No abortion for women whose health will be compromised by pregnancy as long as it won’t actually kill them. No abortion for women in violent or abusive relationships. No abortion for women who can’t afford to care for a child. No abortion for any woman unless it’s so she can be kept alive to fulfil the state’s ultimate expectation that she become a “mother”.
The atmosphere is one of fear. We know the names of some of the women who have suffered the worst of this brutalising system: Savita Halappanavar, who died of septicemia and E.coli after doctors refused to terminate the pregnancy she was miscarrying; Miss Y, a migrant who was compelled to continue a pregnancy resulting from rape, force-fed while on hunger strike and then subjected to a court-ordered C-section. But there are also all the other, unnamed women: the women who travel to England for abortions with the help of Abortion Support Network, and the ones who don’t appear in ASN’s figures at all because they pay their own way and make their own arrangements, making the lonely passage to be get the treatment that should be their right.
And then there are the ones who never make the trip at all. Not only is abortion restricted in Ireland, but even information about abortion is tightly constrained thanks to the Regulation of Information Act, which makes it an offence for doctors and counsellors to give complete information on accessing terminations. Mara Clarke, founder of ASN, explains that this creates an atmosphere of paranoia around pregnancy for both women and professionals: “In our experience, many women are too afraid to tell a practitioner that they are pregnant, and many more have had experience of being obstructed by clinicians… We do not know if the lack of informed care was because clinicians were afraid of repercussions or if they were against abortion – but either way it is no way for medical professionals to behave towards patients in distress.”
One thin sea stands between possibility and life for women, and helplessness and fear; between being approximately a person in the eyes of the law, and being a container. The abuse of Irish women must go on no longer. The Eighth Amendment must be repealed, and women in Northern Ireland must be given the same rights as every other woman in the UK. The right to abortion is a human right, and until women in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are afforded both that right and the means to exercise it, it is clear that their governments see them as something less than human.
This is sad, indeed; I recall hearing Beckman speak in 1994 and immediately picked up his fascinating book The 43 Group. Keith Flett accurately reflects the inspirational impact Beckman had on many of us.
by Keith Flett
Morris Beckman, who has died aged 94, will be remembered by many as a courageous and principled anti-fascist
.He successfully opposed Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts in the years immediately after the end of the Second World War. And in his book The 43 Group he passed on to later generations of activists the history and knowledge of that struggle.
Morris was born in Hackney, east London, in 1921 and enlisted to fight when the war started in 1939. Turned down for the RAF, he instead became a radio officer in the Merchant Navy. This was a dangerous job in wartime. Ships he was on were torpedoed more than once.
Returning to Hackney in 1946 after the defeat of the Nazis, Morris was amazed to find British fascists under Mosley openly campaigning on the streets.Attacks on Jewish shops by fascists were common, with slogans such as “they didn’t burn enough of them in Belsen”. And swastikas were to be found painted in areas such as Dalston and Stamford Hill.
Despite protests, the Labour home secretary James Chuter Ede refused to act and the leadership of Jewish organisations backed only peaceful protest.Enraged, in April 1946 Morris and others formed the 43 Group in Hampstead, north west London, to directly confront the fascists.
Most of these 38 men and five women were ex-service people who had fought in the war. Their aim was to disrupt and stop fascist meetings.IntelligenceLondon black cab drivers provided intelligence on where the Mosleyites were gathering.
By 1947 the 43 Group had grown to over 1,000 members around the country.Hackney remained a focus, with gatherings of many hundreds of fascists at Ridley Road market. They went to hear Jeffrey Hamm, leader of the fascist British League of Ex-Serviceman, and others including Mosley himself rant against the “alien” Jewish menace.
The tactics of the 43 Group were to form flying wedges of anti-fascists through the crowd. They would attack the platform of a meeting and cause the police to shut it down. Over time several thousand fascist gatherings were stopped in this way.
The Group was disbanded in 1950, taking the view that the immediate task of disrupting fascist activity was complete. However in 1962 a successor 62 Group was formed in its image to deal with the still active Mosleyites.
Morris went on to become a successful clothes manufacturer and author. In his retirement he wrote The 43 Group, and other books picking up on themes raised there. But he also recounted his post-1945 experiences and the successful tactics used to stop fascists in that period to audiences comprising a new generation of anti-fascists
.When I met Morris to discuss successor volumes to the 43 Group I was struck by someone determined to pass on his knowledge of fighting fascists and the wider movement.He was still analysing what had happened and what was happening. This wasn’t in the sense of lecturing me but discussing as an activist still in the fight. He supported Unite Against Fascism and spoke at many meetings about tactics, strategies and ideas.
Morris Beckman’s life stands as an inspiration to those continuing the fight against fascism now.
Information on transport to demo:- http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art/40681/Saturday+20+June+will+be+a+day+to+revolt
Every day the candidates compete to prove they are friends of business. They brush over the plight of the working class people they should be representing as if it is an embarrassment.
So candidate Andy Burnham makes much of his campaigning over the NHS but declares, “In my Labour Party, the entrepreneur will be as much our hero as the nurse.”
The bosses’ paper the Financial Times is relishing such talk.
An editorial last week said Labour needs to “treat the private sector as a potential ally in the delivery of public services rather than spinning horror stories of profiteering and abuse”.
And Burnham has said he would advocate welfare cuts somewhere “in between” zero and the £12 billion the Tories want to drive through.
There is no candidate of the left as none could secure the 35 nominees needed to take part.
Despite this, left Labour MP John McDonnell argued, “We do have the intellectual resources to dominate the ideological and policy debate in this leadership election.” The reality is that the right is shaping the debate.
The Labour left says that “the main forms of effective resistance will be on the streets, in occupations and on picket lines”.
Yet this is still in the context of winning people to Labour.
Instead we need to offer a credible alternative to the left of Labour. Right now the left is too divided to provide such an alternative. Socialist Worker has consistently argued for unity to build effective opposition to Tory attacks.
We see the organised working class as having the potential power to defy Tory rule.
The problem is that many union leaders have been unwilling to lead effective action, or have retreated at key moments when strikes could have pushed forward and won.
The priority for socialists today is not picking the best of a very bad lot in the Labour leadership election.
Instead we need to build every fight that can challenge the Tories over austerity, racism, union rights and all the other attacks.
The People’s Assembly demonstrations on 20 June will see thousands descend onto the streets of London and Glasgow to march against the Tories.
This can bring together trade unionists, welfare campaigners, school students, anti-racist activists and everyone else who was gutted to see the Tories win.
If they are big it can give confidence to many workers that a fight against the cuts is possible.
The Tories face many problems in pushing through their programme with a small majority.
We need to build the sort of resistance that they can’t ignore.