Sometimes years of patient work as anti-racists and trade unionists pays off.
That’s certainly how many of us activists at the Homerton and St Leonard’s hospitals in east London feel after our protests to mark a year since the murder of George Floyd.
We organised take the knee events at our two key sites last week and were taken aback when well over 100 staff joined them.
A Unison union steward at StLeonard’s described to me walking down the hospital’s main corridor to go to the protest and being joined by dozens of colleagues from different offices.
Together they all knelt to remember the victims of racist policing. It was a tremendous sight. The spirit of anti-racism has grown strongly during the year of the pandemic.
Of course health workers are exhausted, and many are traumatised by what we’ve been through.
But many are also enraged by what the pandemic has revealed about the state of the world.
I’ve had lots of new members of staff, black and white, coming up to me to say that they are really passionate about anti-racism. And often they know about protests and events even before I do.
So we’ve had an influx of energy.
Perhaps most importantly, many black workers that were previously reluctant to engage are doing so now. We’ve had people speaking out in a way that didn’t happen before.
I think that is in part because the union branch has made anti-racism so much part of what we are. That’s created trust, and a space where people feel comfortable to say what’s on their mind.
That feeling has spread to many white workers too, and some have described how their attitude to racism has been changed by what they’ve seen in the Black Lives Matter movement.
As activists, sometimes we underestimate the effect we are having.
This week has been a brilliant reminder of just how important that work is.
Cummings should be goings
The effort of Dominic Cummings, the former chief adviser to prime minister Boris Johnson, to wreak revenge on his former employer is a classic Westminster farce.
Whatever the truth of the allegations he made in parliament, nobody should entertain for a moment Cummings’ ludicrous attempts to portray himself as the good guy of the coronavirus crisis.
Cummings expects us to believe that he was secretly, behind the scenes, trying to save us all from the Johnson government’s disastrous response to the pandemic.
This from a man who cared so little about the general public that he drove 264 miles from his London home to his parents’ estate in County Durham while infected with Covid-19.
If Cummings genuinely cared about the tens of thousands of lives lost to the government’s murderous Covid policies, he would have resigned.
In reality, he was happy to stay at the heart of this vile Tory government until he was forced out over a spat with Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds.
Cummings is the father of Johnson’s right-wing, xenophobic version of Brexit.
Far from being a principled opponent of Johnson, he is a vicious ideologue of the hard right and an enemy of working class people.
We need mass direct action to free Palestine
I’m sure those of us who have marched in solidarity with Palestine this past fortnight will cheer the action taken by activists from Palestine Action in Leicester.
They shut down the killer drone factory owned by Elbit Systems, an Israeli arms manufacturer.
Arms made in Britain are used to kill Palestinians. Such action highlights the complicity of the British government in the deaths of Palestinians.
Direct action plays a role in building mass movements, but I think the activists could take a lesson or two from Extinction Rebellion (XR).
If we are to be successful in isolating Israel over its crimes against the Palestinians we need to build a mass movement.
XR has been successful in building a mass movement by using direct action as a tactic.
Mass involvement is the key to any successful movement.
Pupils at my old school not ‘antisemitic’
After a recent pro‑Palestine demo by school pupils, the headteacher of Allerton Grange high school in Leeds said that some people saw the Palestinian flag as a “symbol of antisemitism”.
Roper has been forced to apologise after an outcry over his comments, and rightly so. Allerton Grange was and is a diverse school.
When I was a student there in 2014, Israel launched deadly attacks on Gaza.
Me and other Jewish students were proud to stand with students of all religions and backgrounds to walk out in support of Palestine.
It is a credit to the students, parents and teachers of Allerton Grange that the tradition of walkouts still continues.
My experiences of protests at the school shaped my politics and involved me in wider movements.
I’m sure the same will be true for those that attend Allerton Grange today.
The mass movement in solidarity with Palestine has always included schools—and they have an absolute right to be included.
Solidarity with the students, parents and staff at Allerton Grange. Free Palestine.
Betrayed by the Greens
Jane Bolam argued last week that we should embrace the Green Party as fellow radicals (Letters, 26 May).
I wonder how she feels after watching the Irish Greens this week voting against the parliamentary motion to expel the Israeli ambassador to Ireland.
Their votes could have seen history made but instead the Greens choose respectability.
Here in Durham they’ve just united with the LibDems and the Tories to oust Labour and form a new administration.
Just another reason why a “progressive alliance” is a non-starter.
Cities where power lies
Santoshi Lahiri argues that a turn to armed struggle in rural areas is the best way to ensure victory for democratic forces in Myanmar (Letters, 19May).
It is certainly true that the military are taking some hits in the battle in the countryside.
But the revolt in the towns is hitting the profits vital to the regime’s survival. That is where people have power.
Is Israel really a US proxy?
I agree with the central thrust of your argument on Israel (Socialist Worker, 19May). A two-state solution for Palestine has been killed off by Israeli governments since the Oslo accords.
But this idea of Israel as the US proxy in the Middle East just doesn’t stack up in the post-Cold War era.
America has been happy to intervene directly itself and fight wars in the region.
Labour’s Keir Starmer pledged to oppose any motion of no confidence in Matt Hancock. Tells you everything.