20th October 2014
Politics in flux
BRITISH POLITICS is in turmoil. The question is: who will gain? We have seen both the rise of Ukip and the continuation of a brutal austerity drive, but also the explosive movement in Scotland around the referendum and the health strikes in England.
The strikes and demonstrations in October show that workers will respond if the union leaders show a way forward—but too often the union leaders and the Labour Party squash struggle.
The rise of Ukip is one sign of the break-up of support for the main parties—and the utter failure of Labour to offer an alternative to austerity.
We need to campaign against Ukip through Stand Up to Ukip, by building the workplace and community struggles that bring workers together, and through offering a real political focus for the bitterness and anger in society.
This is one reason why we need to stand candidates, as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, at the general election.
We also argue for the left in Britain to get its act together—we need more unity and co-operation, less division. This is particularly acute in Scotland, but it applies everywhere.
Last week (see below) we had the immense boost of the NHS strike and the immense frustration of the calling off of the local government and Tube strikes.
The picket lines for the NHS strikes were electric—and we need to generalise and spread the method of taking collections in work for the strikers, doing solidarity petitions, visiting the picket lines and building networks both with the strikers and in our own workplaces.
This is how we will create an audience for Unite the Resistance and for Socialist Worker and the party. The Unite the Resistance conference on 15 November is crucial.
The bombing of Iraq has not yet produced tens of thousands on the streets. But it raises the need for us to work alongside others to build Stop the War and to cut through the propaganda about imperialism and Islamic State.
We also need to relate to the political mood in Britain. The disenchantment with traditional parties does not mean that people are anti-political—they don’t like the politics on offer.
There is no lack of political interest when 2,000 people listen to Naomi Klein on capitalism and climate change, 1,300 join the east London People’s Question Time and tens of thousands will be at the livestreaming of Russell Brand on revolution this Thursday (see below).
The SWP needs to continue the excellent start it has made around students and think how our branch meetings can meet the challenge of the new audience we are finding.
All those issues, and others, were discussed at the SWP National Committee on Sunday. Your branch should have a report-back from an NC member. Please contact the National Office for help in securing a speaker.
Where next after the demos and the strikes?
Saturdays TUC demonstration in London saw around 100,000 on the streets. In Glasgow around 5,000 took part.
Once again we saw that when workers are given a lead they mobilise.
Last week’s strikes in the NHS and the civil service were a sign of the potential combativity of workers in Britain.
Report after report came in of big pickets and new layers (the Royal College of Midwives stands out) coming into battle. Today’s radiographers’ strike has also seen big pickets in some areas.
But we also know the downside of last week.
Local government unions pulled back from strikes involving hundreds of thousands despite the “proposal” from the Labour-controlled Local Government Association being virtually identical to (or worse than) the 1 percent offer unions rejected.
The RMT called off a strike on London Underground although big job cuts are still on the table. And UCU members in FE were prevented from striking as employers won an injunction against the action.
But a sign of how sharp the issue of pay is has been the response to the suspension of action inside Unison.
The North West Region of the union and big local government branches like Manchester, Newcastle, Kirklees and Birmingham have voted to reject the deal.
On Saturday Unison activists packed into a meeting after the TUC demo to plan how to win a rejection.
It’s crucial that we are fighting in every Unison branch to get a recommendation for rejection. The consultation starts on 20 October and runs until 12 November.
We expect a statement will be launched as a result of Saturday’s meeting. For now please take this statement http://www.thepetitionsite.com/513/227/076/vote-to-fight-on-local-govern... round work and sign it yourself.
In UCU the unions FE committee voted on Friday for an immediate re-ballot to get the fight over the 2014-15 pay deal back on.
With health unions talking of possible further strikes in November we should be arguing in every union to be “out with the health workers” next month.
The NUT executive meets on Thursday to discuss the results of a members’ survey on further strikes.
We should be arguing that the NUT, PCS and—if they reject—local government unions should strike together again in November just like they did on 10 July.
There are thousands of workers who feel the same way and can’t understand why we aren’t all out together.
These include firefighters and teachers frustrated at the pace of their dispute. Talks are seemingly endless in the firefighters’ dispute (although that is set to change this week according to the FBU).
Activists across the movement want to see a more serious fight against austerity, don’t want to simply wait for Labour and want to get behind all those fighting back.
We want to bring as many of these activists as possible to the Unite the Resistance conference on Saturday 15 November. The conference comes at a perfect time to be at the centre of the debate around what comes next.
The conference has a serious line up of speakers including Matt Wrack (FBU), John McDonnell MP, Billy Hayes (CWU), Peter Pinkney (RMT), and Ian Lawrence (NAPO) as well as US Fast Food strikers, Mags Dalton and Roger Hutt from the Care UK strike, Helen Davies (Your Choice Barnet dispute) and Mandy Brown (Lambeth UCU).
There are workshops on and plenary sessions on:
After the strikes where next for the fight to save the NHS? The fight against zero hours contracts and organising the unorganised” Migrant workers: Part of the union, part of the solution Benefit Justice: Stop the Tories’ war on the poor.
There are plenary sessions on: “Strategies to win, how do we beat austerity?” and “This is what we want: Demands for the election campaign and the next government”.
In every area we should be working to get trade union support for cheap transport (as has happened in Leeds and Bristol) and as much sponsorship as possible from trade unions and campaigns. With just a month to go to the event we need to approaching every activist we’ve been working with now about coming to the event and bringing their work mates and fellow campaigners along to join the debate.
And make sure you have signed up yourself and are reaching out to those who backed the NHS strike, are angry at the calling off of the action and oppose scapegoating immigrants.
• You can register online at http://uniteresist.org/2014/07/unite-the-resistance-organising-to-win-co...
• Download conference flyer at http://uniteresist.org/2014/09/new-leaflet-for-unite-the-resistance-conf...
• Download the model motion at http://uniteresist.org/2014/09/updated-model-motion-for-united-the-resis...
Russell Brand, revolution and a cinema near you!
Russell Brand on Revolution… at a cinema near you!
Over 200 cinemas around Britain are scheduled to show a live link up with Russell Brand discussing his new book Revolution with Owen Jones this Thursday 23 October. Most screenings are due to start at 7pm. A list of screenings is attached.
These are likely to be well attended. Brand argues “We are living in a sequin-encrusted virtual prison where an economic elite can hog along in plump luxury – destroying the planet as they go. We must stop this. Our initial targets are corporate tax evaders, environmental desecraters and perpetrators of the drug war against the sick and poor. The biggest obstacle to Revolution is your belief that it's impossible. So start believing…”
We should do SW stalls outside as many as possible and be in the cinema to be part of the discussions. As well as SW, Socialist Review and the ISJ we should also have copies of Arguments for Revolution on sale—available from Bookmarks on 020 637 1848 or the national office at £2.
Hold a meeting the following week on ‘Is revolution possible in Britain?’ and leaflet local screenings? Artwork for a SWP meeting and a SWSS meting is attached.
Stand Up to Ukip will hold a national activist meeting next month. It is particularly aimed at those in UKIP target seats during the general election, and for those who currently have a big UKIP presence in their area. Save the date: Sunday 9 November, Central London. For full details go to http://standuptoukip.org/
The new Socialist Worker pamphlet Ukip: the ugly face of politics has proved very popular. Order some for your branch now. An order form is attached. You can ring the national office on 020 7819 1170 to order. If you order before 12 noon on Tuesday you will receive them with this week’s SWs
Back St Mungo’s strike
If you send one solidarity message this week…hundreds of housing charity workers in Unite at St Mungo’s are on strike defence of terms and conditions and union rights all this week. This is a highly political dispute that we should be raising in every workplace.
Full details of picket lines and protests at http://bit.ly/stmungosstrike
Send a message of support and take a collection around your workplace for the strikers (collection sheet is attached)
Please send solidarity messages to email@example.com
SWP student and new members event: Sat 29 Nov, Central London
There will be a special day event on Saturday 29 November for all new members, student members and those who have joined SWSS.
This is a place for newer members and those around us to come and found out more about our politics and Marxist ideas.
We want to encourage as many people to come as possible and for branches to use it as a place to bring any new students that are coming round them.
Where possible please do not book District Aggregates for this date. Tickets are £10 waged/£5 unwaged/students.
We would like to encourage districts to book up and pay for cheap transport to this event. But where necessary we will refund transport costs. We don’t want lack of money to stop people coming.
Every branch should make a list of new members and students who we can start to ask.
Please note that although this is not an open public event we would like to encourage any student who has joined SWSS but not yet the SWP to come too so they can find out more about our politics.
• Why Marxism?
• Iraq, Gaza, Ukraine: What causes wars?
Marxism and imperialism
• Sexism, racism and homophobia
How can Marxism explain oppression?
• Where does profit come from?
An introduction to Marxist economics
• Russia: From workers power to state capitalism
Understanding the Russian revolution
• What do Marxists mean by class?
Why the working class?
• Ukip, Islamophobia and the far right
Fighting racism and fascism today
• The Labour Party, the Trade Unions and reformism
How does change happen?
• Why we need a revolutionary party
Booking form attached. Please print off and use with new members and students in SWSS. For more information or to book over the phone please call either the National Office or Student Office.
Russell Brand calls for an uprising: Can there be a revolution in Britain?
SWSS groups and students should go along to their nearest screening of Russell Brand and Owen Jones discussing Revolution. Why not do a big stall outside, take part inside in the discussions, and sell SW and also “Arguments for Revolution”. Plan a SWSS meeting for the week after (ie next week) on “Russell Brand calls for an uprising: Can there be a revolution in Britain?”
Make sure further SWSS meetings are planned up until the end of term and speakers booked in. If you need help with speakers please contact Amy in the Student Office
Stop the bombing of Iraq
For the background to the crisis in Iraq go to http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=1002 which is Alex Callinicos’s The multiple crises of imperialism from the present Journal.
A model motion is attached on the bombing of Iraq and Kobane.
Iraq: How to stop the spread of war
Tuesday 21 October 7-9pm, Scott Room - Oxford House
Derbyshire Street, London E2 6HG
One Hundred Years of War conference –
Saturday 25 October 12pm - 5pm
Bishopsgate Institute, London
York First World War Day-school: the Anti-war Perspective Saturday 1st November 10.00-4.45pm
Sessions on causes, strikes, revolution, women, conscientious objectors, Middle East, Ireland, war poets and trench songs. Speakers include Lindsey German and Donny Gluckstein. Tickets available from www.firstwwdayschool.eventbrite.co.uk . Organised by York Against the War
Hong Kong, back the protests
With the resurgence of protest in Hong Kong, please sign and circulate this petition which has won wide support in the trade union movement including signatures from Christine Blower General Secretary—National Union of Teachers, Kevin Courtney—Deputy General Secretary National Union of Teachers, Mohammad Taj—member of the Executive Council of Unite The Union, Betty Joseph—NUT National Exec, Anne Lemon—NUT National Exec
New International Socialism out. Order now.
The autumn issue of International Socialism (144) is now online and available in print. The journal includes analysis by Keir McKechnie of the Scotland referendum and by Alex Callinicos on the multiple crises facing of imperialism. Issue 144 also includes articles on South Africa, Ukraine, climate change, Lise Vogel and women’s liberation and the current debates around Lenin’s legacy plus book reviews and feedback.
Branches that have placed orders should get their journals with the papers this week. If you haven’t yet ordered copies for your branch please fill in and return the attached form or call Camilla on 0207 819 1177.
Student groups should also take copies to sell at SWSS meetings and on stall and use the journal to arm new student members with the arguments.
Solidarity Scotland conference, this Saturday 25 October, Carnegie Hall, Glasgow Caledonian University, Cowcaddens Road. The conference runs from 12 noon-4pm with registration from 11am.
Still the Enemy Within film
Still the Enemy Within is having a huge impact with big audiences and intense debate.
The film is a major event and an opportunity to engage with people about the strike, sell SW and make new contacts. Copies of the pamphlet 1984, the miners’ and the strike that could have won are available from Bookmarks. Phone 020 7637 1848. In addition we still have copies of the SW special on the miners’ strike. Phone circulation to have some copies sent on 020 7819 1171. Make sure you are at your local showing including:
20TH OCTOBER@ 6.15pm Komedia Cinema Brighton
THE CUBE CINEMA BRISTOL
21ST October@7.30pm The Cube Cinema, Bristol
TYNESIDE CINEMA, NEWCASTLE
22ND OCTOBER @6.00PM, The Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle
23RD OCTOBER@ 8.30PM FACT Arts venue and Cinema Liverpool
THE MOSTON SMALL CINEMA, MANCHESTER
24TH OCTOBER@ 7PM The Moston Small Cinema, Miners Community Arts and Music Centre, Manchester
25TH OCTOBER@7.30pm, The Assembly Room, Barnsley
Special event sponsored by Barnsley Trades Council in partnership with 'Experience Barnsley'
HYDE PARK PICTURE HOUSE, LEEDS
26TH OCTOBER @ 4.00PM The Hyde Park Picture House
27TH OCTOBER @6.15PM City Screen, York Picturehouse
LOCHGELLY LECTURE THEATRE, FIFE
28TH OCTOBER@ 7PM The Lochgelly Lecture Theatre, Bank Street, Fife
Full details and to book at http://the-enemy-within.org.uk/
Your Choice Barnet
Your Choice Barnet: Barnet Unison has initiated an important meeting in parliament on ‘The Crisis in social care’ at 6pm on Tuesday 21 October. A video advert is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpliqQ9xFdk It is a joint meeting with the Care UK strikers.
SW appeal breaks through £50,000
The appeal total has reached £50,739.
Now is a good time to start collecting for the Socialist Worker Appeal at workplaces. Where there has been action go back and talk about how the paper has spread solidarity.
Where the action has been called off put an argument about the paper being a voice for all those let down by the decision not to strike.
Many workers saw our paper on picket lines or at the demo on Saturday and have a lot of respect for it, even if they don’t agree with everything we say. Use the collection sheet over the next few weeks.
Don’t forget to also raise the model motion for union branches to donate to the appeal.
You can donate through the website www.socialistworker.co.uk/appeal, in the office on 0207 819 1190, or by post to PO Box 42184, London SW8 2WD.
50 years a revolutionary: Social evening to celebrate Sarah Cox’s 50 years as a revolutionary socialist with food, drink and entertainment. Saturday 15 November: 7-11pm, Paddington Arts, 32 Woodfield Road, London W9 2BE. Tickets £10/£5. All proceeds to SW appeal.
Palestine pamphlet and badge
New pamphlet - Palestine: Resistance, Revolution and the Struggle for Freedom by Anne Alexander, Phil Marfleet, John Rose and Tom Hickey, £3 out now.
The events in Gaza this summer prompted the biggest demonstrations we've seen in this country in solidarity with the Palestinians. Some of our leading comrades on the Palestine issue have put together this new pamphlet, detailing the history of the struggle for freedom, as well as giving concrete ideas on how to campaign on campuses and in trade unions.
Think about all the new people who have been involved in the protests and meetings and make sure you go back to them with the pamphlet.
Order your copies now via the National Office to have them sent out with your papers this week. £3 each, 10 or more £2 each.
An order form is attached.
Palestine badge. Get yours now—they are very popular. It’s a 32mm badge. They are 50p each or 10 for £3. Phone 020 7819 1170 or email charlie@Swp.org.uk
PCS Left Unity National Conference and timetable of events.
PCS Left Unity will be electing its candidates to stand for the NEC along with determining LU policy.
Each year LU comrades are invited to participate in its internal democratic process by nominating candidates and submitting motions to the national conference through area meetings. Once all nominations have been received each LU member will be sent a ballot paper and conference agenda to determine who our candidates will be in next years PCS elections and to mandate your delegates attending the LU national conference.
UCU Left conference 25 October: The UCU Left has its conference this Saturday, 25 October. John McDonnell and Andrew McGettigan are amongst the speakers at Birkbeck in Central London.
Register online at http://uculeft.org/2014/07/register-online-for-the-ucu-left-2014-confere...
Some useful dates:
Saturday 25 October: United Family and Friends march, 12 noon, Trafalgar Square
Saturday 15 November: UtR national conference, London
Sunday 16 November: DTRTP conference
Black History Month
October is Black History Month so we are offering a very special deal to branches on Say It Loud: Marxism & The Fight Against Racism. For October only, if you buy three of more copies you can get a discount of 50% and free postage. Get your orders in quickly and make sure the book is at every meeting throughout the month.
Student bookstall packs
We have updated the SWSS bookstall packs with new publications. The packs are designed to kick start a SWSS bookstall and contain all the basic Bookmarks publications and are offered at a very large discount. You can order a small pack for £30 or a large pack for £60. Call us today for more information.
More details on website or Facebook pages