26th January 2015
A political earthquake from Greece
Syriza’s victory in the Greek elections represents a huge rebellion against years of brutal austerity that have seen wages pushed down by 27 percent and youth unemployment hit one in two. It’s a blow to the bankers, the IMF, Merkel and Cameron and all the advocates of austerity. It also leaves exposed the argument from Ed Miliband that elections can’t be won by rejecting cuts.
It will be a boost for everyone who wants to see a fightback – and who wants to see a real anti-austerity alternative offered here. Our argument is simple: if they can vote against austerity in Greek, why can’t we vote against it in Britain?
Syriza’s rise is the sharpest expression of the crisis of the mainstream pro-austerity parties across Europe – including in Britain. Syriza leapt from less than 5 percent of the vote in 2009 to over 36 percent in Sunday’s general election. The neo-liberal “centre” has collapsed. Pasok – the Greek Labour party – and the Tories of New Democracy shed 2.3 million votes over the same period. Pasok has paid the biggest price for driving through austerity, only just scraping back into parliament with less than 5 percent. Five years ago it topped the poll on 44 percent.
Of course, Syriza’s programme of ending austerity, trying to reduce Greece’s debt through re-negotiation with the “Troika” (the European Union, European Central bank and IMF) while staying in the Euro will prove impossible to square. The decision by Syriza to form a coalition government with the Independent Greeks, a rightwing nationalist split from New Democracy, is a sign that Tsipras may look to compromise when a real clash comes with Merkel and ECB.
Socialist Worker will lead on Greece this week with 4 pages of reports and analysis. Syriza’s victory will raise big questions about how can we challenge austerity here, how the left can rise to the challenge to build an alternative to Labour, how we can strengthen TUSC, as well as sharpen debates about how real change can come in society – through left governments or mass struggles from below.
Stand Up to Racism – 21 March
There is a growing mood of anger against racism. Over the last week, hundreds of people have turned out to anti-racist meetings. Over 200 people came to hear the US civil rights leader Al Sharpton on Saturday at Westminster University, 200 plus attended a “Brick Lane debate” on Black Lives Matter, 120 were at the opening leg of the Ferguson solidarity tour in Brixton on Saturday night and 200 the next day in Tottenham. Much of the audience at these events are young and very multi-racial – and are looking for answers about how to fight racism.
The SWP has to throw itself into mobilising against the attempt by racists and fascists to exploit the Paris shootings and the wider sense of crisis in British society. There are a number of key dates – Le Pen’s visit to the Oxford Union on 5 Feb, the EDL attempt to revive in Dudley on 7 Feb, opposing Ukip spring conference in Margate on Saturday 28 Feb – and above all, the 21 March anti-racist demonstrations in London, Glasgow and Cardiff can be a rallying point for every anti-racist – and every comrade can be involved in building the demos.
In Oxford comrades report, “Oxford UAF has received a fantastic response to the campaign to stop the fascist Marine Le Pen speaking at the Oxford Union. Over 150 people signed the petition in the first three days calling on the Oxford Union to withdraw the invitation.” A rally is planned this Wednesday with Roger McKenzie, Unison’s assistant general sec, plus Weyman Bennett from UAF and Maz Saleem from LMHR among others.
● Protest against Le Pen’s visit: 5pm, Thurs 5 Feb, St. Michaels St (off Cornmarket) OX1 2DU. Called by Oxford Unite Against Fascism. The UAF statement against Le Pen’s visit can be found at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1uPPoRhEHddvIIxfOFBUlefeYKiUXW_ZlK8xHH_v...
In Dudley, there was good public meeting to mobilise for the UAF counter-demo last week. Comrades in the West Midlands should be building for this. There will also be transport from Leeds which we want to encourage students in the North to go on.
Every area needs to be arranging transport for M21 and planning a Stand Up to Racism public mobilising meeting. Meetings are planned in Sheffield, Leeds, Lewisham, Kingston, Essex Uni, Nottingham, Manchester and more are in the process of being set up.
These meetings should be broad, big and radical. Unison, Unite, PCS and the TUC are all backing the demo as are many migrant groups etc. We should go for a range of speakers from the unions, the Greens, Muslim groups etc plus any leading anti-racist local Labour figures, but also anti-racist campaigners, family justice campaigners – this will raise important questions about state violence and killings. Meetings should also have a Stand Up to Ukip speaker. In some areas, especially where Ukip is a key threat, the meetings are being done as joint Stand Up to Racism/Stand Up to Ukip meetings.
● UAF Public meeting: After France: Unity - No to fascism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia - Defend civil liberties. 7-9pm Thursday 29 January, Committee Room 11, House of Commons (via main entrance for Parliament on Cromwell Green). Nearest tube: Westminster
Speakers include Diane Abbott MP, Talha Ahmad Muslim Council of Britain, Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild, Maz Saleem Daughter of the late Mohammed Saleem, David Rosenburg, Sabby Dhalu & Weyman Bennett UAF.
Stand Up to Ukip
30 people came to the launch meeting of Stand Up to Ukip for Harlow last Thursday, with “Migrants, trade unionists, councillors and the Labour PPC all attended to discuss and debate the best way to challenge Ukip in the run up to the general election.”
Around 20 people did the third Stand Up to Ukip stall in Great Yarmouth – a key Ukip target seat – last Saturday with SWP members, local trade unionists and activists from the Norwich People’s Assembly taking part. And in Bolton, Stand up to Ukip activists and Bolton Trades Council held a protest outside a Ukip fundraiser with Nigel Farage at short notice – which a group of Nazis turned up at to defend Ukip...
There is transport to Margate to protest UKIP's spring conference in Margate on Sat 28 Feb is from:
Kingston University: Coach from Kingston Uni, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 2EE. From 9am. Tickets are £10. To book email email@example.com
Ipswich/Cambridge (backed by Unite), Ipswich Crown Street, Coach Layby, 7.30am; Cambridge, 'the backs' Cambridge Uni, 8.50am.
Lewisham: Coach from Lewisham Station from 9.45am (leaving at 10.15am) to Margate, £5 unwaged, £10 waged, £15 solidarity! To book, email SELStandUpToUKIP@gmail.com or There is also a fundraiser to help raise money for the coach: Love Music Hate UKIP, Sun 15 Feb, 7pm till late, New Cross Inn, 323 New Cross Road SE14 6AS – featuring Baby'oul, Bat Wings and more acts TBC. Entry £5 (concessions £3, solidarity price £10).
London March for Homes, this Saturday
Another sign that the March for Homes is picking up support was that the Guardian covered it on Saturday (and mentioned it again today). The march is likely to be sizeable. We are asking branches in London to cancel their sales this Saturday to attend. There are two assembly points:
East London: Assemble Shoreditch Church, Shoreditch High Street E1 6JN (tube/rail Shoreditch High Street)
(SWP districts Hackney, East London, Waltham Forest, North London)
South London: Assemble St Mary’s Churchyard, Elephant & Castle SE1 6SQ (tube/rail Elephant & Castle)
(SWP districts: South London, South East London, Central London, West London)
We are asking comrades to get there for 10.30am.
Branches in London should plan to set up extra Thursday or Friday sales this week – to leaflet for the March for Homes (we’ll send flyers with the papers) and to raise the debate about Syriza and the need for an alternative to austerity here.
Crucial NHS strike this Thursday 29 January…all out to build solidarity
● If you do one thing this week…collect for NHS strikers…please let us know how you get on.
This Thursday 29 January some 500,000 NHS workers are set to strike across England. While there are talks going on today it’s important we don’t take the foot off the gas in building support for the strike.
Just months before a general election the strikes are of enormous political significance. If there is just one thing you do this week it should be collecting for the health workers and trying to get a delegation down to the health workers picket lines.
Picket lines: Most health workers will strike from 9am until 9pm. But there are exceptions. Members of the Society of Radiographers will strike from 8am-2pm. This means that there will be pickets at most hospitals from 8am.
GMB members in the ambulance service will strike from 12 midnight for 24 hours (i.e. all through 29 January). The key time for GMB pickets at ambulance stations will be 7-11am. Unison and Unite ambulance staff will strike from 12 noon for 12 hours. The Royal College of Midwives who played such an important role in the last health strike will be out from 1-3pm.
We can expect lunch time rallies at most hospitals. For example in Bristol health workers will picket in the morning but hold a central rally at Bristol County Sports Club at 12 noon. In Manchester health workers will gather at 12.30pm at Manchester University. At St Thomas’ hospital in London workers plan to picket but then gather at the health ministry at 2pm.
It’s really important that we are talking to health activists in every area about what is planned on the day. A collection sheet to raise support for the strikers is attached. A Socialist Worker bulletin for the picket lines will be out for Wednesday lunchtime. It is likely to be a double sided bulletin so branches should try to make arrangements to print on Wednesday afternoon.
● Support grows for "Defend London's NHS Rally", Hammersmith 10 March https://defendlondonsnhs.wordpress.com/
Twenty plus London health campaigns are backing this event which will highlight campaigning before and after the election to fight for our NHS whichever government is in power after May. Dish out postcards (out with the papers this week) on the picket lines, get your organisations to back it and build support. For more info contact firstname.lastname@example.org
●Artwork for a Socialist Worker placard for pickets and protests is attached.
●Barnet UNISON has organised Social Care Workers Commission on 28 January 2015 at 6.30, Committee Room 10, House of Commons.http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/sites/default/files/2015.01.14.%20Care%20w...
Lambeth College update
Strikers returned to work last Thursday following a much improved offer from their management. Strikes work!
For a full update go here: https://lambethcollegestrike.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/a-big-thank-you-fo... Lambeth College UCU are inviting all those who brought solidarity to their strike to join them at their victory social this Friday 30 January from 7.30pm. See this link for full details: https://lambethcollegestrike.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/bedford-benefit...
Barnsley College UCU start 3 day strike this week
160 UCU members at Barnsley College lecturers will be on strike for 3 days starting on Thursday over the imposition of a new contract which includes Performance Related Pay for A Level lecturers and worse pay and holidays for others.
The UCU branch is meeting on Wednesday to vote on proposals to escalate the dispute to a 4 day strike followed quickly by a 5 day strike. Solidarity will be vital. Send messages of support to: email@example.com
Financial donations should be made payable to Barnsley College UCU. Send to Barnsley College, UCU c/o 43 Granville St, Barnsley, S75 2TQ
● Sheffield College UCU members are also set to strike on Thursday 29 January in a dispute over job losses.
● London Region UCU organising meeting, Saturday 31 January, 11.00—4.00pm Hackney Community College Falkirk St, N1 6HQ
PCS strike National Gallery against privatisation
PCS members at the National Gallery are set to strike from Tuesday 3-Saturday 7 February. Pickets will run from 9-11am with a rally on Thursday 5 February at 12.30pm and then a march to parliament. There will be a picket from 5-7pm Friday evening.
The call for strikes follows a 93.7% vote for action. Send messages of support and invite a speaker to noprivatisationatNG@gmail.com
Donate to PCS hardship fund: National Gallery staff do not even earn the London Living Wage so everything you can give can help us to win! Donate to Sort code 086001 Account no 20169002 or send a cheque to Culture Sector Hardship Fund, c/o PCS North West Regional Centre, Jack Jones House, 1 Islington, Liverpool L3 8EG.
● Sign the online petition - lets make it 40,000 http://bit.ly/NoNGselloff
● Public Meeting Tuesday 10 February 6.30pm House of Commons Committee Room 6
● Keep up-to-date on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/nonationalgalleryprivatisation
FBU special conference, 10 February
The FBU is set to hold a special conference on its long running pension dispute on 10 February. A new Socialist Worker leaflet for the fire stations goes out on Wednesday.
London buses: More action on the way?
The mood for action in the wake of successful strikes by over 20,000 London bus workers is growing. More action could well be called by Unite very soon. A new Socialist Worker leaflet will be out on Wednesday.
Rally for Education, 10 February
NUT General Secretary Christine Blower, the children’s author Michael Rosen, and educator Sir Tim Brighouse will be speaking at the NUT’s rally for education on Tuesday 10 February. The event starts at 5.30pm, NUT Headquarters, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London, WC1H 9BD To attend you need to email firstname.lastname@example.org
Marxism 2015: 9-13 July
Marxism 2015 Dates: Thurs 9 July – Mon 13 July, 2015
Make sure you keep it free! We are now open for bookings. Prices are the same as last year and you can post date or split your payments. Please call 020 7819 1190 to register. We will be able to take online bookings shortly. Please find attached basic publicity that can be used to start signing people up now. We aim to launch with full colour publicity from the start of February. Each branch needs a Marxism organiser by the start of February.
Time to Act! Climate demo, 7 March
There will be a major national demonstration calling for action on climate change on Saturday 7 March.
This is likely to be a significant protest following big demonstrations over the summer at the time of the UN conference. SWP branches should be finding out if local groups of the Campaign Against Climate Change, Friends of the Earth, Green Party etc and unions that support the Million Climate Jobs pamphlet want to organise a meeting or transport. Please contact Martin on email@example.com if you want to discuss. A flyer is attached. More information can be found on the event Facebook group http://tinyurl.com/ormdsg4
Around 230 people attended the TUSC conference on Saturday in central London, including a sizeable delegation of SWP candidates and election agents etc.
Comrades spoke very well, putting forward our vision of lively, anti-austerity and anti-racist election campaigns that look to draw in wider layers of people into activity and we have confirmed a number of further SWP members standing as parliamentary candidates, including in Streatham, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow North and Manchester Gorton.
Student Day School
Student Day school, Sunday 8 Feb, London.
There is a daychool on Marxism, Revolution and the Fight against Oppression aimed at new SWP members but also open to SWSS members. Meetings include: ● What do we mean by revolution? ● Marxism, feminism and the fight for women’s liberation ● Marxism and the fight against racism ● Organising for revolution: what can we learn from Lenin and the Bolsheviks ● Syriza, Podemos and the Greens: reform and revolution ● State and revolution Please find attached publicity and a sign up leaflet. Every branch should think of the students and new members to ask this week and get them booked in.
ISJ Dayschool on China
ISJ day school: China, World Capitalism and Workers’ Resistance - 28 February Speakers include Vincent Sung on the Hong Kong umbrella movement, Jenny Chan on workers’ movements in China and Tim Pringle, author of Trade Unions in China: The Challenge of Labour Unrest. To book a place: go to www.isj.org.uk/?id=1026
The Arab Uprisings Four Years On
A conference organised by MENA Solidarity, Egypt Solidarity Initiative and Bahrain Watch: 6-9pm Friday 13 Feb–10-5pm Saturday 14 Feb at School of African & Oriental Studies, London: Details and to sign up online go to: http://egyptsolidarityinitiative.org/conference2015/
Still The Enemy Within
Forthcoming showings include:
Welwyn Garden Theatre on 26 Jan (6pm), 27 Jan (11am & 8pm), 29 Jan (8.15pm)
27 Jan: Wivehoe, Essex, Moving Image Cinema, 7.30pm
28 Jan: Garden Court Chambers, London, 6.30pm
29 Jan: Peckham Plex, London, 6pm
29 Jan: Haringey Independent Cinema, London
30 Jan: Dearne Playhouse, Goldthorpe, 7pm
3 Feb: The Red Hall, Broadstairs (Organised by Stand Up to Ukip with post screening discussion)
4 Feb: Manchester Student Union, 6pm
6 Feb: John Clare Theatre, Peterborough Library, 7pm
6 Feb: The Old Town Hall, Gateshead,7pm
12 Feb: Pontypridd Museum, Pontypridd, 7pm
13 Feb: Acton West London Trade Union Club, 7pm
18 Feb: Wortley Hall, Barnsley, 7.30pm
For more information http://the-enemy-within.org.uk/
Social Work Action Network 10-11 April
The tenth annual Social Work Action Network (SWAN) conference takes place on 10-11 April at the University of the West of Scotland (Paisley Campus). It is subtitled The Politics of Hope: Fighting for the Future of Social Work. The keynote speaker is Gerry Mooney, and there will be plenaries on subjects including anti-racism, challenging austerity etc (with speakers from the US on Ferguson Missouri, from Greece, Spain, etc).
Black Lives Matter: Ferguson Solidarity Tour
The Black Lives Matter: Ferguson Solidarity meetings that Defend the Right to Protest and other have organised have been sizeable (see above). Tue 27 Jan: Goldsmiths, 12 noon; King’s College London, 7pm; Wed 28 Jan: Warwick University, 1pm; Birmingham, 6.30pm; Thu 29 Jan: University of Manchester, 2pm; Manchester, 6pm; Fri 30 Jan: Brighton, 3pm, Doughty Street Chambers (London), 6.30pm; Mon 2 Feb: Glasgow and Edinburgh; Tue 3 Feb: Oxford; Wed 4 Feb: Leeds, 7pm.
See the http://fergusonsolidaritytour.com/ for venue details.
Re-registration to SWP
Every branch needs to have someone responsible for re-registration as soon as possible (tell us who –firstname.lastname@example.org). Reregistration involves contacting each member, not just those we see regularly, checking we have the most reliable information for them, talking through our interventions, and discussing their monthly financial contribution. Please call us on 0207 819 1190 and talk through your branch plan.
Jim Cronin memorial
Comrades who knew Jim Cronin, who died recently are invited to attend a memorial event: Jim Cronin 1942 – 2014: A celebration of his life, Saturday 7 Feb, 3pm. Jacksons Lane Theatre, Studio One, 269a Archway Road, London N6 (100 yards from Highgate tube; 43, 134 and 263 buses stop outside). Please email email@example.com if you plan to attend.
Some useful dates for your diary
31 January March for Homes, London
31 January Student Assembly Against Austerity National Convention
5 February: Protest at Le Pen’s visit to Oxford Union
7 February: UAF counter-demo in Dudley against EDL
8 February: SWP student dayschool, central London
13-14 February The Arab Uprisings, four years on Go to http://egyptsolidarityinitiative.org/
14 February Women’s Assembly against austerity
21 February UAF conference
28 February SUTU demo in Margate (Ukip’s Spring Conference)
28 February ISJ day school on China
7 March Time to Act climate demo
8 March International Women’s Day
21 March Anti-racism demos London, Glasgow, Cardiff
25 April: Hope Over Fear rally, Glasgow
7 May General and council elections
9-13 July: Marxism 2015