Scarborough police broke up our socially-distanced anti‑offshore gas field demo this week.
So far, so normal. I expect the Tories to use the pandemic to harass climate campaigners, cut down ancient woodland to build HS2, and hand out licences for gas fields.
But anger turned to dismay when I got home to read yet another reactionary climate statement from the GMB union leadership.
This time its target was the national Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) new recommendations for an 80 percent reduction (from 1990 levels) in carbon emissions by 2035.
The CCC put its plan to the government in a letter this week.
Instead of backing climate campaigners’ demands for zero carbon by 2025, the GMB tells us to “get real” about “who pays” for the CCC’s supposedly “challenging objectives”.
It’s unacceptable for a union that organises thousands of energy workers to take such a planet‑wrecking position.
GMB is in pole position to insist on a just transition to zero carbon.
Its leaders should demand the Tories use the billions they just gave the military to nationalise collapsed wind turbine jacket makers BiFab.
They should insist capacity is increased from eight units a year to thousands over several sites. Instead they were content to lament the company’s demise.
They should insist the people made jobless by economic crisis are offered well-paid, unionised jobs in green energy, transport, insulation, manufacturing and education.
They should back industrial action to turn redundancies into climate jobs. Instead, they demand a feasibility “taskforce” on the CCC plan.
This is not just reactionary in climate terms— it’s pathetic on “bread and butter” issues too.
And there’s a nasty whiff of nationalism in GMB demands for “UK” jobs in return for national expenditure.
The Tories and their friends have the money to fight climate change. But the GMB’s leadership won’t fight them for it unless rank and file members force them to.
No Scarborough Gas Field
(in a personal capacity)
Casualties in war on refugees
When the Care4Calais charity took some east London refugees out to a park early in December the group discovered something shocking.
Some of those seeking shelter in Britain had not left their hotel in weeks.
One person said his mental health was so bad he hadn’t gone out in a month.
An Iranian boy hadn’t left the hotel in three months because he thought he’d be arrested if he walked outside without an ID card.
That’s what happens when a government declares war on refugees.
According to Clare Moseley, the founder of Care4Calais, authorities on both sides of the Channel are terrified that queues of lorries caused by Brexit stockpiling will give refugees a chance to make the crossing to Britain.
As a result, the evictions in Calais have never been more brutal. Authorities there are even cutting down trees that give shelter to rough sleeping migrants—tents are slashed and food distribution is banned.
In Britain, hundreds of refugees have been placed in unsanitary ex-army barracks.
Inevitably there have been outbreaks of Covid-19.
All this so the government can avoid processing claims for asylum, and in the hope that deportations can take place before 31 December.
The Winter appeal by Care4Calais is more vital now than ever.
We must make 2021 year of the rent strike
Students at the University of London (UoL) are paying some of the highest rents in Britain—an average of £230 a week.
We recently discovered that the UoL needs an 84 percent capacity in halls to balance its books.
And though we’re paying we have received little help during Covid-19, especially for our mental health.
International students are forced into quarantine after coming to Britain, then again every time someone in their block gets Covid-19.
I don’t think the university has thought about the impact that might have on someone.
Meanwhile, we are all under harsh discipline. I’ve heard of students being kicked out of accommodation for really minor things.
For these reasons, students here have decided that we’re going on rent strike.
Everyone I’ve spoken to is so angry and so fed up. Let’s make 2021 the start of a new student movement.
University of London
Spring into action against HS2 railway
The government is pressing ahead with the £120 billion HS2 rail project—despite cutting the rail budget for the rest of Britain.
I walked the route from the West Midlands to Euston as part of a protest in June.
I was appalled not only by the misuse of public money but by the sheer devastation it’s bringing to the environment and people’s lives.
We’re facing a climate crisis yet they plan to destroy 108 ancient woodlands—the largest deforestation in Europe since the First World War. Some 693 wildlife sites and 33 sites of special scientific interest are also going
Rebel Trail plans to raise opposition to the destruction this coming spring.
It’s hoped we’ll walk from Manchester down to Lichfield in Staffordshire.
People are welcome to join in all or part of the trail, or assist with backup while we’re in your area.
We’d particularly appreciate support from local trade unions and environmental groups.
If you are interested please contact [email protected]
We would also be happy to speak at local meetings.
Trade like an Australian?
Leading Tories claim they would be happy being able to trade like Australia.
It now turns out that Australia has spent the last two years trying to do a trade deal with the European Union.
Indian farmers must grab gun
Why is it that farmers in India have inflicted more damage on the fascist Narendra Modi government than years of workers’ strikes (Socialist Worker, 16 December)?
The landless poor and impoverished farmers have shown themselves to be a far more radical force than the trade unions.
If those in rural areas were now to take up arms against the state, they would be more powerful still.
Fight for your right to party
I was fined £200 for apparently being in breach of Covid-19 restrictions when leaving my student accommodation.
The cops assumed we’d been to a party.
I feel like students are being unfairly targeted. It’s just another way to get more money from us.
Happy New Keir? No way!
Keir Starmer is a right winger and belongs to elites. Don’t be surprised—we knew from day one. There is no difference between him and the Tories, because he represents the capitalist one percent.
Don’t be quiet about closures
The prospect of libraries closing due to the pandemic is heartbreaking (Socialist Worker, 16 December).