Palestine protests as US and Britain back Israel over ICJ ruling

Posted on: May 26th, 2024 by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
A crowd shot of the Palestine protests in Leeds

The Palestine protest in Leeds

The start of the election campaign hasn’t stopped thousands of people from participating in local events in solidarity with the Palestinians. Some 30 events took place across Britain this weekend—and some were big.

On Saturday In Nottingham 5,000 marched on what was the biggest Palestine demonstration since last October. And 1,000 took to the streets in Leeds. There were over 350 on a protest in Chelmsford, Essex.

In several areas, including York, marches went to student encampments to show support. In Tower Hamlets, east London, over 300 people marched from Altab Ali park to the encampment at Queen Mary University. 

University management had closed every entrance to the campus so protesters and students gathered on either side of one of the large gates. 

Students from the encampment had previously been to local NEU union and trades council meetings to urge solidarity with their actions. And this paid off on Saturday  

At the rally QMU student Bogdon told the crowd, “University management bully, harass and threaten students for speaking up. 

“We’ll be here until this university breaks all ties with Israel. We stand in solidarity with the Palestinians as well as all the students in encampments across the world.” 

Paul McGarr is an NEU member and former QMU student who had once been in a campus occupation there. He said, “Anti-Zionism is not antisemitism, you can’t pick and choose when to be anti-racist.  

“If you’re an anti-racist you have to fight against all forms of racism and that means standing up against the racist apartheid state of Israel.” 

In Hackney, east London, protesters marched to the encampment outside the town hall. It’s demanding the council divests from firms linked to Israel and break its links with the city of Haifa.

A large group of pro-Palestine students from the UCL encampment in central London and their supporters greatly outnumbered a small number of Zionists and fascists. They had come to threaten the encampment.

Sean Wallis, reported at 4.40pm, “The group of Zionists and fascists has grown to around 150 at most. There are at least 1,000 on the pro-Palestine side of the street.”

An hour later he said the “Ratio seems solidly about ten to one”. And at 6pm the Zionists and fascists left having failed to intimidate or break the encampment.

In Glasgow, protesters gathered outside a Barclays bank chanting, “Barclays, your profits are bathed in Palestinian blood.”

In Edinburgh, activists went into a Tesco supermarket in Leith pointing out products linked to Israeli occupation and urging shoppers to shun them.


The next steps 

The next five weeks must see an extension and escalation of demonstrations, encampments, direct action and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions initiatives for Palestine. It was good to see pro-Palestinian protesters heckle Rishi Sunak as he arrived at South Staffordshire College in Cannock on Friday.

No politician should be allowed to escape from making clear statements about Gaza—and suffering the consequences if they back Israeli genocide.  

The next national march for Palestine in London is on Saturday 8 June, 12 noon. Full details and assembly point will be announced soon.

Because this date has been chosen for a march,  the Stop the War trade union conference has been moved to the next day, Sunday 9 June. It will be from 10.30am-4.30pm at  ITF House, 49-60 Borough Road, London, SE1 1DR

Trade unionists from across Britain will discuss how to stop the warmongers and share their experiences of building pro-Palestine initiatives in their unions and workplaces. Get your branch to support and send a delegation.

  • Saturday 8 June, Palestine national demo. 12noon, central London  
  • Sunday 9 June, Stop The War trade union conference 10.30am-4.30pm @ ITF House, 49-60 Borough Road, London, SE1 1DR

Students on Palestine encampments have a message for Michael Gove

Posted on: May 26th, 2024 by TTE
A crowd shot of the campus resistance bloc on the Nakba demo illustrating an article about Palestine encampments and Michael Gove

Students from Palestine encampments marched together on the last national demonstration in London (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Students from the encampments across Britain have hit back against Tory communities secretary Michael Gove’s smears on the Palestine solidarity movement. 

Gove launched a full-fronted attack on the movement last week, and smeared the student encampments and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and other left groups as antisemitic. “The first thing I would ask is—has Michael Gove actually been to any of these encampments?” said Eva, a student involved in the Edinburgh university encampment.

Eva rejected Gove’s description of Palestine protesters as “setting the terms on which Jews will be accepted”. “If you attend an encampment, Jewish students aren’t just participating in a lot of them but are the leading students,” she said. 

“The encampments aren’t antisemitic and the Palestine movement isn’t antisemitic. Gove is purposefully misunderstanding what the Palestine movement calls for. It calls for the emancipation of the Palestinian people. 

“What Israel does is not in the name of Judaism but settler colonialism. It’s for the sake of Western countries maintaining their hegemony in the Middle and East and exploiting that area of the world.”

Gove directly attacked the Soas university encampment in central London for declaring solidarity with the Palestinian resistance. He claimed that meant “telling Jewish students they are not welcome unless they deny their own identity”.

A student staying at the Soas encampment argued that Gove is “conflating the state of Israel with Judaism”.

“Anti-Zionism doesn’t have anything to do with one religion,” they said. “It’s opposition to an ideology based on the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland and an opposition to ethnic cleansing.” 

They said that “anti-Zionism is at its core anti-colonialism”. “It’s motivated by a desire for everyone to live equally no matter what your faith or ethnicity,” the student added. 

“Students are fighting for a free and equal world—that isn’t antisemitic. The encampment is grounded in anti-racist principles, opposing all forms of racism.”

Gove also attacked Leeds university students for spreading “antisemitic blood libel”. Benji, a student at the Leeds university encampment, told Socialist Worker, “It’s a wild statement—and completely untrue.

“The encampment is a space that includes Jewish students. We have Shabbat meals every Friday and prayer spaces.”

Benji added, “The encampment is a space for education with people of all backgrounds involved. International students, students from Muslim, Jewish and all communities come together.”

In his speech, Gove claimed that the West and Israel prosper because they have “free markets, enlightenment values, liberal parliamentarianism, property rights and capitalism”. He describes the argument that the prosperity of the West is built on “exploitation and empire” as “inherently flawed”.

Jack, a student at the Swansea university encampment, told Socialist Worker, “Surely even Gove can’t deny that the British Empire took wealth from its colonies. Britain exploited the labour and resources of these nations.” 

He added that Israel’s prosperity is “due to its close ties to the United States and Britain”. These ties “aren’t based on any ‘liberal values’ but because of the military and diplomatic support that the West provides to Israel to further its own interests”.

“It’s the £240 billion in aid that the US has given since 1948 and being a watchdog for Western imperialism that explains it,” he said.

Gove also describes Israel as a “land of refugees and asylum seekers”. The Soas student said, “It’s absurd to call Israel a place for refugees when millions of Palestinian refugees live in exile with no right to return. Palestinians are denied fundamental democratic rights.”

Eva attacked Gove’s picture of Israel as a bastion of liberty. “Concern over refugees has never been at the centre of this. Look at the racism Ethiopian Jews have faced,” she said. “And the state of Israel is one that perpetuates constant violence towards its neighbours and sets out to wipe out the communities that live there.”

 

Jack rejected Gove’s claim that arguing for a singular democratic state in Palestine meant Jewish erasure. He said, “Jewish and Arab people have lived together in historic Palestine for thousands of years. It’s only the state of Israel that segregates people and makes this conflict what it is.”

Benji agreed, “Calling for a state from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea means a state where everyone can live in dignity. Jews, Christians, Muslims and people of all communities can live without fear of violence, free to carry out their lives.”

Gove went on to attack decolonisation as undermining democratic values. “The goals of decolonisation and of Palestine are also goals for democracy,” the Soas student said. “We want students to have a say in how our tuition fees are spent. And we are fighting for the democratic rights of Palestinian. 

Jack added, “Gove only attacks decolonial theory because it points to his government as the root causes of this genocide. If Gove is talking about being anti-democratic, then we should be talking about Westminster ignoring the millions of people who have marched on the streets.

Gove claimed the far right and far left are the same, attacking both as antisemitic. The Soas student said the far right stands for hatred, bigotry and racism, while “the Palestine movement is fighting for the protection of human lives and liberation”. “There’s a difference—we are fighting for people to live without the threat of violence,” they said. 

Jack added that making out the far right and the far left to be the same “is something people do when trying to scare people away from radical politics”. “And it’s just plain wrong,” he said. Organisations such as the SWP “look towards Western imperialism as the root cause of the Israeli state.” 

Eva pointed out that Gove’s main concern “isn’t tackling prejudice of any sort”. What he really cares about is “perpetuating Western interests in the Middle East”.

Shea, a student at the Edinburgh university encampment, said, “The Palestinian resistance is not a threat to Jews. The greatest threat to the world is coming from him and Gove’s imperialist ilk.”

  • Saturday 8 June, Palestine national demo. 12noon, central London  
  • Sunday 9 June, Stop The War trade union conference 10.30am-4.30pm @ ITF House, 49-60 Borough Road, London, SE1 1DR

14 years of the Tories’ terrible rule from Cameron to Sunak

Posted on: May 25th, 2024 by Arthur T
Nurses strike against Tory pay cuts (Photo: Guy Smallman)

Nurses strike against Tory pay austerity (Photo: Guy Smallman)

Lots of people are thinking “Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer—that’s not much of a choice”. And they’re right to do so.

Capitalism offers war, poverty, racism and climate chaos. And neither the Tories nor Labour offer a way out because they won’t even begin to confront the system that produces these horrors.

The Tories’ record of class assaults on workers and the poor mean millions want to see them driven from office. Huge swathes of people see the Tories as the scum of the earth.

This is not some small shift in opinion. It could be an avalanche that undermines for many years—or destroys—the most successful party of British capitalism and a global leader on the right.

The lowest share of the vote ever recorded for the Conservatives was 29.2 percent—in 1832, before the era of widespread parliamentary democracy, when the party was led by the Duke of Wellington. The polls now suggest Sunak could go lower than this. This could be only the second general election since 1945 to see one party with an overall majority in parliament be replaced by a different party that gains an overall majority.

The business media, which might usually be expected to have some reverence for the Conservatives, openly treat Sunak with contempt.

An article in The Economist magazine last week sneered, “The Conservatives require a miracle to stay in office.

“Mr Sunak’s own actions, from his time as chancellor to his tenure as prime minister right through to the decision-making process that leads to a sodden man making an inaudible speech, makes that miracle less likely.

“Perhaps the prime minister has a secret strategy. Perhaps he is simply a gambler. Perhaps he is just bad at politics.”

Labour is set to win. But there is very little enthusiasm for Labour leader Keir Starmer. Ben Page, the chief executive of polling organisation Ipsos, said last week, “Starmer’s personal ratings are the lowest Ipsos has ever seen for an opposition leader who is so far ahead in the overall voting intention.

“It is more disgust at the Tories than delight at what Labour offers that is driving politics.”

In the 2017 and 2019 general election, Jeremy Corbyn—Labour leader at the time—pitched a vision of change, however weak and limited.

Whereas Starmer has overseen a process of not just making Labour acceptable to the ruling class, but becoming the first choice of the corporations and the right wing media.

David Cameron

The Tories returned to office in 2010 claiming they would “fix broken Britain”. But together with their Liberal Democrat coalition partners, they immediately took a wrecking ball to jobs, wages, benefits, health and social care.

They destroyed services that working class people depend on. It was a class war where the poor paid the price for the rich.

Over the course of what would become 14 years of Tory rule, terms such as “zero‑hours contracts”, “bedroom tax” and “food banks” became everyday language for millions of people.

Prime minister David Cameron declared gleefully, “The age of irresponsibility is giving way to the age of austerity”. He announced billions of pounds worth of public spending cuts.

For him, the economic crisis that began in the banking sector was not so much a disaster but an opportunity to reshape Britain. Ministers slashed wages with a succession of pay caps and freezes for millions of public sector workers, meaning ordinary people suffered with stagnating wages.

Alongside the pay cap, the Tories cut jobs. They sliced the number of doctors and nurses and reduced training places and bursaries. A quarter of local government jobs vanished.

Those hit hardest by the austerity cuts were those already struggling on low wages and pitiful benefits. And it was women who were on the front line.

Lorna, a school canteen worker, talked about the humiliation of poverty. “I felt very ashamed having to go to a food bank the first time,” she told the Oxfam charity. “It was down to my son’s school liaison officer coming round to my house, because I hadn’t sent my son into school for a couple of days as I couldn’t afford a packed lunch for him, and I couldn’t afford to pay for a school dinner.

“I couldn’t do what a mum should do for them—look after them. I couldn’t even feed them.” Day care centres that provided activities for disabled people and the elderly were shut down. Playing fields were sold off, and museums and libraries closed.

But while the government hammered working class living standards some people did very well under austerity.

As wages fell, profits rose sharply, and shareholders had never had it so good. At the very top, the richest 1,000 people saw their wealth increase by £138 billion in real terms between 2009 and 2013.

So much for Cameron’s austerity claim, “We’re all in it together.”

Theresa May

There are but a few reasons to remember Theresa May’s time in Downing Street, which began in 2016 after David Cameron resigned amid his lost Brexit referendum.

May had introduced the antimigrant “hostile environment” policy when home secretary—a racist policy that deliberately devastated the lives of migrants and refugees.

And as prime minister she oversaw the scandals that resulted from it. People, most often from the Caribbean, faced deportation, even after living here for decades.

Many victims of the policy, which demanded official documentation, were thrown into poverty because they lost their jobs, benefits or pensions. Some people were deported to countries they had left as children and barely knew today.

And in the aftermath of the devastating Grenfell Tower fire in 2018, May refused to meet residents.

For many people, that cemented her reputation as a racist. May was also tasked with appeasing the Tory right over Brexit—while at the same time satisfying the European Union negotiators.

It was an impossible task that led, after two no confidence votes, to her resignation in May 2019.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson would like to be known as the prime minister that got “Brexit done”. Instead, he should be remembered as the prime minister who has the blood of thousands of people on his hands.

He was in office during the Covid pandemic—and ensured Britain had one of the highest death rates of comparable countries.

Johnson and the right deliberately played down the danger of Covid, even as the death count rose. His government argued continually against the most basic safety measures on the basis that they were a threat to bosses’ profits.

Today, Johnson says he didn’t really understand how dangerous the virus was. But cabinet minutes from the time show that being explained to him time and again.

It was only the sheer scale of the crisis that forced the prime minister into announcing a series of lockdowns. But Johnson didn’t think that such rules applied to him. Downing Street politicians and staff partied their way through the pandemic with booze‑filled “work events”.

Pictures of Johnson show him toasting his team, wine glass in hand, at a time when indoor gatherings of more than two people were banned.

Ordinary people could not visit friends and family sick in hospital. They couldn’t even attend their funerals. Johnson and his mates thought they could flout the rules they themselves had made.

The cops went on to fine Johnson and his cronies. Johnson’s only response was to make a series of fake apologies to the Commons. And the prime minister responded to recurring waves of Covid infections by delaying and refusing further lockdowns, saying, “Let the bodies pile high.”

Such revelations threatened to destroy him. But Johnson thought his handling of Brexit might save him from disaster.

He delivered the most right wing interpretation of the decision to leave the European Union. That vision, he said, had won him a landslide election victory against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour in 2019.

Now he wanted to use the nationalism and racism that characterised his Vote Leave campaign to distract from his government’s failures.

But Johnson’s buffoonish character couldn’t hide his contempt for the “little people”, and he soon turned from a Tory party asset into a rope around its neck. Johnson resigned as prime minister and an MP in June last year.

Liz Truss

Liz Truss was only prime minister for a month and a half—the shortest serving prime minister in British history.

She promised tax cuts and handouts to the rich, but faced huge revolt from both within the Tory party and bankers, who were terrified of the economic instability that tax cuts could bring at a time of rampant inflation.

Truss’s forgettable time as prime minister did prove one thing—the Tories don’t have a shred of care for ordinary people, they only care about doing whatever they can to stay in government.

Rishi Sunak

Looking towards the July election, Rishi Sunak says that he is all about the future, not the past. But he is deeply involved in all the worst Tory policies. The most despicable is the racist Rwanda plan.

Since becoming prime minister in October 2022, Sunak has pushed the plan through parliament. It aims to round up refugees and deport them to Africa without their case being heard in Britain.

In a bid to win back votes from the far right Reform UK party, Sunak is trying to use the issue of “small boats” crossing the Channel to fan the flames of racism.

The prime minister has already presided over a massive cost of living crisis in which the Tories froze pay but allowed energy bills, rents and mortgages to soar.

Not that rising prices bothered him much. The personal wealth of Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty rose by £122m last year, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

The newspaper now estimates the couple’s fortune at £651 million. And, if all this makes you angry, Sunak has also passed a series of anti-protest laws designed to criminalise the most effective tactics.

Brent school strikers slam Ofsted inspectors’ privatisation agenda

Posted on: May 25th, 2024 by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Brent school strikers on the picket line with NEU flags and placards

Brent school strikers on the picket line

School workers at Byron Court primary school in Brent, north London, are fighting privatisation plans that would see the community school join the notorious Harris Federation academy chain. 

NEU union members struck on Tuesday and Wednesday—and are set to strike from 4 to 6 June.

Academisation began after Ofsted inspectors downgraded the school from “outstanding” to “inadequate” last November. NEU national executive member Jenny Cooper says the union will “not accept privatisation of our schools through a politicised process”.

A school teacher in Brent told Socialist Worker the picket line “was lively and the strike closed the school, which was good”. “Harris Federation is a nastier prospect than other academy chains,” she said. 

“There’s been a lot of press around how Harris Federation treats their staff, how awful employers they are and how bad their practices are. 

“The Harris Federation recently took over a secondary school nearby and are now looking for a feeder school. It’s a standard pattern. They take over primary schools that feed into their secondary school.”

The teacher explained that Ofsted isn’t a neutral body, saying, “People are shocked by how politically Ofsted have been used. It has gone in there with an agenda.” 

“I’ve been teaching in Brent for over 25 years. Byron Court primary school has been ‘outstanding’ forever. To then go straight to ‘inadequate’—Ofsted has been used as a tool for academisation”.

The teacher spoke about how the Ofsted inspection was carried out. “The inspectors were rude, changed the timetable of when the inspection was happening and refused to let staff have support,” she said.

And so the staff have put forward a complaint about the inspection which “has progressed into its final stage—meaning it has been upheld at every stage so far”.

The Ofsted report “told lies and smeared the school staff”, the teacher said. “It’s currently a real community school. The Harris Federation is trying to steal the school from under the community’s noses”.

The attempted academisation has “nothing to do with school improvement and everything to do with privatisation. Nobody who knows the school well thinks there are serious problems with the school.”

The strikes so far “have put a big spanner in the works for Harris Federation”. “We are hoping it’s enough to make it not worth their while.”

A joint statement made by Brent NEU and Save Byron Court Parent Campaign says, “Our own surveys have revealed that almost two-thirds of parents want Byron to remain a community school. 

“The overwhelming majority of the staff want this too. Yet, we are currently locked out of any discussions and do not have a vote on the school’s future.

“How can it be fair or right that those who will be most affected—the staff, the families, the local community—are ignored?”

ICJ court’s new ruling isolates Israel even more

Posted on: May 24th, 2024 by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Israel's prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu illustrating a story about the ICJ and Israel

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has suffered another blow with the ICJ ruling (Picture: Flickr/ World Economic Forum Jolanda Flubacher)

In a crushing blow to Israel and its partners in genocide, the United Nations (UN) top court ordered Israel on Friday to halt its military assault on Rafah.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) president Nawaf Salam said provisional measures ordered by the court in March were not enough. He said it was issuing a new emergency order that “Israel must immediately halt its military offensive” in Rafah in southern Gaza.

The millions who took to the streets, the students in the encampments and those who took direct action against the arms firms were always right.

But now they are vindicated by bodies that generally side with the established imperialist order.

Those, for example, who demand their universities break with Israel are not vile antisemites as Tory Michael Gove suggested this week. They are reflecting the views of billions of people. They are part of protests that forced the court to act.

The ICJ action came four days after the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, a separate organisation, said he was seeking arrest warrants for Israeli officials for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and his defence minister, Yoav Gallant.

Where do Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer now stand? They are revealed as the friends of murderers, international pariahs and defenders of the indefensible.

The South African government, which began the process at the ICJ, welcomed the ruling as “ground breaking”. It added, “This order is binding and Israel has to adhere to it”.

South Africa’s wider case at the ICJ accuses Israel of orchestrating a state-led genocide against the Palestinian people. The ICJ has not fully ruled on that—it could take years—but it suggested there was a strong case to uphold it.

In previous rulings, the court ordered Israel to prevent acts of genocide against the Palestinians and allow aid to flow into Gaza. But it stopped short of ordering a halt to Israeli military operations.

Israel now stands virtually alone. Even the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on Friday that the EU has to choose between respecting support for global authorities or backing Israel.

“What is going to be the answer to the ruling of the International Court of Justice that has been issued today, what is going to be our position. We will have to choose between our support to international institutions of the rule of law or our support to Israel,” he said.

Israel replied with more threats to exterminate Palestinians and wild slurs of antisemitism. It increased airstrikes on Rafah after then court verdict.

An Israeli government spokesperson said on the eve of Friday’s decision that “no power on Earth will stop Israel from protecting its citizens and going after Hamas”.

After the court ruling, Israel’s far right finance minister Bezalel Smotrich said those who demand that Israel stop the war are “demanding that it should decide to cease to exist”. “Israel will not agree to that,” he said.

Another Israeli minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, said, “The order of the antisemitic court should have only one answer—the occupation of Rafah, the increase of military pressure and the crushing of Hamas, until the complete victory in the war is achieved.”

Hamas welcomed the ICJ decision, but said it did not go far enough and urged an end to Israel’s offensive on all of Gaza.

International law and UN bodies will not liberate the Palestinians. The best response to the ICJ ruling is to redouble the solidarity with Palestine and back the Palestinian resistance.

Trade unionists must demand their leaders, who’ve sat on the sidelines or abandoned the Palestinians, now hurl themselves into building support for the national demonstration in London on 8 June.

They must call for an end to campaigning for Starmer and not a penny for a Labour Party that clings to the blood-soaked Israeli regime.

  • A jury on Friday found two Palestine Action activists not guilty of criminal damage as they had acted to save lives. The trial was in response to the six-day rooftop occupation of Leicester’s Elbit Israeli drone factory in May 2021.
  • Saturday 8 June, Palestine national demo. 12noon, central London  
  • Sunday 9 June, Stop The War trade union conference 10.30am-4.30pm @ ITF House, 49-60 Borough Road, London, SE1 1DR

Anti-war activists protest at Starmer’s election launch in Glasgow

Posted on: May 24th, 2024 by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
a protester with a Gaza placard at the Starmer campaign launch in Scotland

Angela from Glasgow Stop The War was one of the protesters outside Starmer’s campaign launch in Glasgow

Activists sprung to action after hearing that Keir Starmer was launching the Scottish Labour election campaign in Glasgow on Friday.

Protesters chanted, “Keir Starmer, you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide,” and, “What do we want, ceasefire, when do we want it, now.”

Labour intentionally held the launch away from the centre of Glasgow on an industrial estate on the outskirts of the city. But that didn’t stop protesters from gathering at short notice to hit back at Starmer’s support for Israel’s genocide.

Angela from Glasgow Stop The War told Socialist Worker, “We had less than an hour to organise a picket outside the event. But we had to oppose Keir Starmer—or Kid Starver as we should call him. 

“It’s important that for the whole of this election campaign the issue of Palestine is at the forefront.  Starmer has never flinched in his support for Israel. He’s never backed down, and we have to hold him accountable for that. 

“The so-called human rights lawyer has, while millions around the world are calling for a ceasefire, kept up his pro-Israel line. 

“We won’t tolerate him being here in Glasgow and told him where to go. I hope that wherever he goes he will be hounded by protesters. He deserves it.”

Angela added that Palestine activists need to hound every politician that continues to back the Israeli state wherever they go. 

Meanwhile, inside the campaign launch, Starmer claimed he would lead a “clean energy revolution” under a Labour government.

He promised that Great British Energy—the proposed publicly-owned power company—will have its headquarters in Scotland. But it’s actually a weaker alternative to renationalisation of electricity and gas that would leave energy bosses ripping people off.

And the details promise only “clean power by 2030”—during what’s supposed to be a second term for Labour. 

Jeremy Corbyn will stand against Labour in Islington North

Posted on: May 24th, 2024 by TTE

Jeremy Corbyn is standing as an independent

Jeremy Corbyn has announced he will stand as an independent in his Islington North constituency at the 4 July general election.

On Friday Corbyn said, “I believe in democracy, I want our political parties to be democratic. But members of Islington North Labour have been denied the right to choose their own candidate. And alongside that, the community as a whole has been disempowered because of that. 

So we have to stand up, we have to stand up and say we’re not taking it anymore—we will assert our rights. That’s why I’m standing to be an independent candidate for the people.” 

He called for a “fundamental redistribution of power and wealth”, public ownership of utilities, rent controls and NHS funding. “These fundamental demands are not being presented by the official opposition at the moment,” he said. 

“Yet they are the demands of millions of people. We need a politics that represents an alternative to the horrible, corrupt arid years of this Tory government—whoever the prime minister is, I’ll be holding them to account.” 

Socialist Worker welcomes Corbyn’s decision. His victory would be a slap in the face for Keir Starmer who has excluded Corbyn from the parliamentary party and blocked him from being Labour’s candidate. It would be a win over Gaza and Labour’s relentlessly mainstream, pro-boss campaign. 

Corbyn will now be expelled from Labour, but this is far more of a badge of honour than the fruits of office that remain available to those who “stay and fight” inside Starmer’s party.

We urge our supporters to be involved in Corbyn’s campaign. One Labour Party insider gruffly told the media that they believe “left wingers who have ‘scores to settle’ with Starmer’s operation will flood the area in a bid to get Corbyn re-elected”.

We hope that comes true. And we hope Corbyn’s vision is not just to find a way back to Labour. Corbyn has been the MP for the constituency since 1983. In 2019, standing as the Labour Party leader, Corbyn secured 49 percent of the vote and a 26,188 vote majority.

Corbyn’s candidacy poses a sharp choice for left Labour MPs. They can campaign for Corbyn and be disowned and expelled by Starmer, or they can shamefacedly back away from confrontation and hope to keep their seats.

Most will surrender without a second thought. Just before Corbyn declared, former shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said Corbyn would still have “a lot of very personal support” if he stood as an Independent. McDonnell said he was still hoping leader Starmer would have a “Damascene conversation” and allow Corbyn to run as a Labour candidate. That was never going to happen.

The Green Party will oppose Corbyn with its candidate, Sheridan Kates, a software engineer, campaigning on Gaza, the cost of living, housing and the environment. In other words he will seek to take votes directly from Corbyn.

Socialist Worker wishes that Corbyn had raised a rebellion much earlier.

His candidacy will not now be the basis for a national confrontation with rightward-moving Labour. It will most probably be an individual action—important, deserving of support and far better than nothing—but not a systematic alternative.

If he had been serious about confronting Starmer, Corbyn would have declared he was standing when he spoke in front of close to a million people on the 11 November 2023 demonstration for Palestine. 

Within three months he would have had a national network grouped around support for the Palestinians and a variant of Labour’s manifestos in 2017 and 2019. Such a Labour Party Mark 2 would have been far short of what is needed, but it would have upset Starmer and become much more of a focus for a broad alternative.

Socialist Worker will call for a vote for Corbyn and other independent and socialist candidates who combined the rage over Gaza with a fightback over oppression and exploitation.

But for us, parliament and elections have never been the most important thing. Labourism is the problem—obsessed with electoral calculation, centred on parliament and looking to change within the system.

Strikes, demonstrations and revolts from below—such as we are seeing over Palestine—have always been more important.

  • Labour’s investigation into Diane Abbott’s comments about racism, which has lasted more than a year, will be completed by 4 June, Keir Starmer said on Friday.

It means Abbott’s future in the party will be decided on the same day as Labour’s deadline for its final candidate selections.


A message to Labour hopefuls in Islington

Dear Councillor Moema,

As someone who has voted for Labour councillors—including you—in the past, I am writing to let you know that as a result of your deciding to seek the Labour nomination against Jeremy Corbyn for Islington North in the upcoming general election, I shall not be voting for you in the future.

I taught in Islington for nearly 30 years, 14 of them as assistant and then joint secretary of Islington NUT (now NEU) union. I am utterly disgusted at you—and other short-listed candidates—for standing against one of the most consistent, socialist, anti-racist, internationalist, honest and overwhelmingly respected MPs in Britain—Jeremy Corbyn.

I know from experience as a teacher and a trade unionist that Jeremy has an outstanding record of standing up for local working people, especially those who are the victims of discrimination.

I will do all that I can to support his campaign and  I have every confidence that he will succeed.

I will persuade as many of my neighbours as possible to vote against you in future council elections should you get the Labour nomination and then, I hope, be defeated.

Yours, in disgust,

Ken Muller

US school students plan ‘strike for Gaza’ as Palestine encampments grow

Posted on: May 23rd, 2024 by TTE
a banner reads Harvard divest illustrating an article about the US student encampments

Students take action at Harvard as part of the US student encampments (Picture: National SJP)

US school students in Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC plan to join the revolt for Palestine on Friday, with a coordinated walkout and march to the White House. 

Their demands include an end to “unconditional military aid to Israel” and a “call for a permanent and immediate ceasefire”. The DMV School Strike for Palestine group wrote on its Instagram, “We have an obligation to stop business as usual and stand up as our age-peers are being slaughtered on US tax dollars. 

“We are striking to show our communities and governments that the youth will no longer be complicit in the incessant violence against Palestinians. We are striking to start conversations within our communities about the injustices our government is committing.” 

The planned action by school students comes amid the Palestine encampments at over 100 encampments at universities in the US. 

Clare Fester wrote for US socialist group Marx 21, “The encampments have already had a huge impact, drawing national and international attention to the brutality of Israel’s occupation. Now students have forced over a dozen universities to the negotiating table.

“The concessions vary across campuses. The demand university bosses are most afraid of is divestment. Another demand they fear is cutting ties with Israeli universities.

“Some agreements made the mistake of promising not to re-establish encampments. It is important that encampments either reject this stipulation or be prepared to break agreements that include them. 

“It is likely students will need to return to the encampments and other forms of disruptive protest in order to hold the universities to account.

“The UAW 4811 union branch in California is practicing what students and university workers must all be prepared to do when school goes back in the fall. If lecturers refuse to teach, grad workers refuse to grade, students refuse to go to class, and support staff refuse to run the campuses, we will be in a much better position. 

“This will also send a message to Biden and the Democrats as the presidential election nears. Our summer assignment is to prepare to camp out, sit in, and strike back for Palestine.”

Managements are trying to cover up that the movement keeps growing. Columbia University edited footage and omitted images of students holding Palestinian flags or wearing Keffiyehs at their graduation ceremony this week. 

Graduating students in the Teachers’ College at Columbia, who held up banners when they got up to get their diplomas, were cut from the video stream of the ceremony. Others at Columbia didn’t attend their graduation ceremony, but instead organised their own “People’s Graduation”. 

New groups of students are still starting encampments. Students at Drexel University in Philadelphia set up their encampment last Saturday. The university president ordered them to take their camp down on Monday, but they refused. 

Barricades were still up to protect the encampment at California State University (CSU), Los Angeles campus. The camp has now been up for more than three weeks. On Tuesday, students from several campuses marched to the CSU chancellor’s office in Long Beach, chanting, “CSU divest.” 

At other universities, protests have forced administrations to make concessions to students. At the New School in New York, students and workers joined together to create their encampment. 

Their action worked, and the university’s management promised to hold a vote on whether to divest from companies that fund the Israeli state. But students and workers made clear that it wasn’t the end of their fight and picketed a benefit gala on Tuesday. 

Other university managements have called the cops to break up encampments. On Tuesday the cops tore into the encampment at the University of Michigan, breaking up the camp and pepper spraying students. The camp had been up for a month. 

Students and supporters held a big rally outside the sheriff’s office, which was holding arrested students inside the next day. 

Bosses at the University of California (UC) are trying to stop a strike by workers on the Santa Cruz campus, which began on Monday. 

After two days of strikes, UC management asked the Public Employment Relations Board if it would serve an injunction against the members of the UAW 4811 branch. This injunction would ban the strike.

The National Students for Justice in Palestine group has backed a united strike. It wrote in a statement, “The path forward is clear—UAW 4811 must immediately call a strike at all University of California campuses.” 

Workers should follow the lead of those in UAW 4811 and join the students in the fight.