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George Floyd – End police violence, support the solidarity protests

On 25th May, George Floyd, 46, died after being arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Footage of the arrest shows a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck while he was pinned to the floor. “I can’t breathe,” Mr Floyd said repeatedly, pleading for his mother and begging “please, please, please”.

This continued for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

Mr Chauvin, 44, has since been charged with murder.

George’s death follows a series of killings of black people in the USA, including the killing of Eric Garner and Breonna Taylor.

Following George’s murder protests took place In Minneapolis and outside the White House, they then spread across the USA. The repsonse to the protests from the police is rubber bullets, tear gas, mass arrests and violence. The response from Trump is to tweet ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’, call for the mobilising of the National guard and move to designate the anti fascist movement (antifa) as a terrorist organisation.

The protests in the USA take place against the backdrop of not only police killings of black people but also against  the backdrop of a Trump admministration that has incited racism against BAME communities, increased attacks on migrant rights and done nothing to protect black and working class communities from the impact of job losses as a result of the current economic crisis.

When we see these protests and witness the violence of the police socialists should remember why we don’t demand more police or demand the police have access to more powerful weapons. We should rasie demands for an end to police repressions, an end to the raiding of peoples home, opposition to calling in the army to suppress protests and call for the police to be disarmed.  We should also  call for democraticaly elected police committees that have the power to hire and fire police chiefs and oversee the operational managemnet of the police service.

 These are not just demands we should raise when calling for solidarity with protests in the USA but are demands for our movement here too.

We have a Tory Government which will be using the Brexit withdrawal process to further attacks on freedom of movement and attacks on rights of migrant workers, which will fuel an increase in racist attacks..  If we begin to protest at these attacks then we shouldn’t be surprised if the Tories mirror the rhettoric and actions of their allies in the USA.

In repsonse to the portests in the USA solidarity protests have taken place across Europe.

The Labour left should support the protests taking place in the UK and internationally and send messages of solidarity to the organisisers. We should defend them when they come under attack for organising protests at the time of lock down and state they we understand the anger that exists against the actions of the police and why the anger here is just too. We should also be calling for the Labour left and the trade union movement to put organsing against racism and fascism at the centre of its activity. Practically now that meeans

  1. Support the protests and send messages of solidarity to the protest organisers.
  2. Send financial aid to the organisations bailing those arrested  in USA https://www.communityjusticeexchange.org/nbfn-directory and sign and circulate the petitions at https://blacklivesmatter.com
  3. Offer use of trade union/ labour movement offices to the organisations organising the protests.
  4. For the trade union movement and left to approach organisations organising the protests to  offer help in stewarding and ask campaign organsisers to speak at union/ left meetings.   
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Interview with Abbie Clark

Abbie Clark is Secretary of Stevenage CLP and a candidate for the Momentum national coordinating group on the Forward Momentum slate, elected as part of Momentum Internationalists. She recently did an interview with The Clarion, and we republish it here.

With Josh Lovell, I founded our Stevenage Momentum group at the end of 2015. A lot of us had joined the Labour Party, but found there was little pre-existing organising on the Labour left, and that it was a bit of a hostile atmosphere for new left-wingers. There wasn’t much room for debate or discussion in the CLP. Organising as part of Momentum helped us with all that.

However, since then the organisation has changed and we’ve seen an ever-bigger shift away from member-led democracy, particularly after the coup of January 2017. At the start of this year I put forward a statement in our local group about refounding it – because we need to think about what we’re doing and why in the post-Corbyn era. Momentum nationally needs that refounding too.

I think a big reason for the fall off in membership and engagement is the lack of transparency and democracy in the organisation. There’s been no NCG elections for almost two years and now these ones come at a crucial time. Momentum could go in very different directions. That’s why I’m standing.

I’ve stood as part of Momentum Internationalists because we need a wider vision than just influencing the Labour Party. Momentum has never fulfilled its potential as being a wider campaigning organisation that can bring together and coordinate activists in various struggles. As a result it has no real campaigning perspective inside Labour either. This is linked to lack of democracy – members get no say in what the organisation campaigns on or what its strategic perspective is. We had the farce of voting yes or no to backing RLB and Angela Rayer, which was indicative of something far wider.

Momentum provides little or no space for people from different factional stances or political viewpoints to discuss and debate their ideas. To achieve real unity in campaigning you also need space to discuss ideas. Part of that is about political education, but I think it also has to mean a sovereign conference in order to make the debates meaningful, with real impact. We can’t get pissed off about the Labour Party not carrying out motions passed at conference or putting them in the manifesto when Momentum doesn’t even have one!

Why do you think Momentum was shut down as a living, democratic organisation?

Partly a reaction to the attacks from the right, and a siege mentality, which also came to embrace relationships on the left. There was a fear of what they saw left groups infiltrating and wrecking Momentum, and clearly an analysis that shutting things down was the only way to protect the project. I can grasp why Lansman did it but it was absolutely wrong both as analysis and as a solution.

What’s your assessment of Forward Momentum so far?

It’s very good there’s a project that has highlighted the democratic deficit within Momentum. It’s also very good that there are so many different people involved, and that there have been attempts at meetings and discussions to debate policy, as well as the election for candidates. In that sense I’ve been quite impressed.

The need for these kinds of discussions will not disappear after the NCG election, particularly if a lot of people elected who are committed to defending the status quo, so this needs to be an ongoing project.

However, the banning of Ruth Cashman of Momentum Internationalists was a pretty large hole in the process. The way the decision was made was poor and the decision itself was totally wrong. If Ruth stands in the election, that would be legitimate.

The call that was made for people to declare automatic loyalty to the slate is problematic given this behaviour, and given that it’s still not been determined what Forward Momentum’s policies are.

More broadly, some of the attitudes towards our wing of the left, but particularly the obsessive sectarianism that exists towards the AWL, is really unhealthy. I’ve encountered it in the Eastern region from people who really don’t have any knowledge of what they’re talking about but have picked it up as something they repeat.

What are the issues we should be raising?

One big one that I’ve already mentioned and that I raised in my statement for the selections is having a sovereign annual conference. We’re hearing a lot of woolly formulations which seem to mean people will get input but those making the decisions, at the top, can still ignore it. There needs to be an actual decision-making conference so members can send motions and delegates to decide policies and also Momentum’s overall direction. We need to re-establish regional structures, and the boundaries need to be rational, at least like the Labour Party regions, not these giant super-regions. Underneath it all, of course, we need to get groups going again. So many groups no longer meet, and that must be because of the negative atittude towards them but also the lack of opportunity for shaping anything in the organisation.

Momentum needs political education, not just training on how to use certain tools. One reason the left is so fractured is there’s no political education and discussion. I know in DSA [Democratic Socialists of America] they have political education committees in which members develop an education program. There’s practical training, but on a wider range of things including organising at work – and also reading groups, film screenings, political discussions…

Members are already organising in various campaigns – campaigning for migrants’ rights, or climate strikes, or the Green New Deal – so Momentum needs to support that work and those campaigns. Migrants’ rights is particularly crucial. At Labour conference last year Momentum didn’t even support the LCFM [Labour Campaign for Free Movement] motion.

If Forward Momentum raises this seriously, it could be an important line of division with Momentum Renewal. You know the claims that are going to be made, that Labour lost the election because it was too remain, which is of course bollocks. Talk about working-class communities which doesn’t also take on board working-class communities in big cities, and particularly people of colour and migrants, is a problem. We need to try to relate to the whole working class.

More generally, the point isn’t just to work in Labour or be involved in campaigns – it’s to do both and link them together.

How do you think the labour movement’s response to Covid-19 has been? What should we be pushing for?

The response across the labour movement has been disjoined and piecemeal. Clearly people in the Labour Party have been quite nervous about calling out the government and how shit its response has been. I don’t know if that was a fear of looking opportunistic, of playing politics with the crisis. The result is that Labour has misjudged the public mood, as well as failing to shape it. I think there’s a lot of anger out there about what is happening.

The TUC and some unions have been weak too, jumping on everything and presenting it as a huge victory even when it’s clearly inadequate, like with the furlough scheme. We should be saying yes but we demand this now, not praising the government.

Now is the perfect opportunity to raise public ownership of all health and social care. And lots of other things: scrapping no recourse to public funds. Full sick pay for all workers from day one, full pay to self-isolate, 100pc pay on furlough. Angela Rayner has been burnishing her trade union credentials, so why aren’t they talking about scrapping the anti-union laws? In this crisis when you don’t know if you’re going to turn up to work and not have the PPE, you need to be able to walk out without worrying if you’re going to lose your job.

Labour’s going to be out of government for a while and we’re about to have the worst recession for a decades, maybe ever. Why aren’t we shaping the debate? A lot of these things I’m raising are not radical, and they’ve been passed at conference. They should be givens, and socialists should be demanding bigger things too. In the current situation it’s easy to explain radical policies to the public, there is potentially a real appetite for them.

How do you think the left should relate to Starmer?

I’m not sure the left has had much to say. You’ve got people who would never criticise Corbyn at all but are very angry about just denouncing the new leadership. But there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of organised pressure. For instance on the NHS surcharge – there’s little call out of the leadership for not pushing further.

In Momentum most people have a focus on getting Momentum sorted, whatever that means, and looking at other things later. But you can do multiple things at the same time.

Momentum Renewal criticises Forward Momentum for being inward-looking and process-focused, but it’s obviously an opportunistic argument. The point is we need democracy in our organisations, all our organisations, but that has to be part of a project of pushing the party and the leadership and holding them to account.

You’ve supported the call to delay Brexit. Why?

With the fall-out from Covid, we’re already going to to face a recession, and it will be brutal. If we don’t block it we’ll have further, even deeper austerity, and it will be workers and the most vulnerable in society who will pick up the bill. There’s no good time for a hard Brexit to be rushed through, but this is the worst time imaginable. It’s obvious what the Tories want – they can launch attack after attack, and use the pandemic and Brexit as intertwined excuses. It will be a double cloak for their hard-right agenda. We shouldn’t allow that to happen.

There’s reticence about this very obvious demand, I think, because we’re still stuck with the false idea that being too anti-Brexit is why we lost the election. This is urgent, and “tactics” of keeping quiet and allowing the Tories to slip up are not going work. The movement needs to speak out. There’s also some very basic questions of democracy – how can we get proper democratic scrutiny in the current situation, particularly in the next month?

The current crisis makes the whole Brexit project look pretty ridiculous. It shows the absurdity of nationalism. Normally in a crisis people revert to nationalism, but I have a feeling there’s a big opportunity, with the impact of Covid-19 across the world, to make the internationalist argument, to highlight the commonalities of what people face. If we can get a delay, it’s not impossible people could change their minds on Brexit, and they should be given that chance.

The Labour left needs to take a strong stance on this.

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In the crises we face, fighting to take over the banks is vital

By Mohan Sen

Regulation failed to stop banks collapsing and bringing down the economy. More regulation won’t work now. It’s expensive, bureaucratic and ineffective. Private ownership means profit comes before everything else. That will continue as long as banks are under private ownership.

The public has no control over the banks’ decision-making, even in banks that are majority state-owned. Only public ownership of the major banks with a new democratic structure of control can turn banking into a public service. A publicly owned banking system could finance a mass programme of useful public works, to create jobs and modernise infrastructure.

The resources are there. But they are in the hands of the billionaires, not in our hands. We must rise to the occasion and act decisively in the interests of our class.”

– Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary


In 2019, TUC Congress unanimously passed a Fire Brigades Union amendment to a motion from the Bakers’ Union on public ownership of energy, which said:

Congress reaffirms the TUC’s 2012 Congress policy on the public ownership of the big banks, which could play a central role in building a sustainable economy, investing in a publicly owned energy sector and creating decent, unionised jobs in the interests of working people.”

The 2012 policy, also proposed by the FBU, said:

Congress believes the economic chaos and devastation sparked by the major banks and financial institutions should be ended through full public ownership of the sector and the creation of a publicly owned banking service, democratically and accountably managed.

Congress believes that the banking and finance industry should be developed as a key public service.

This new form of banking could play a central role in building a sustainable economy, investing in transport, green industries, housing, creating jobs and assisting the recovery in the interests of working people.”

In the current, crisis, this demand is more important than ever – to protect ourselves from an implosion of credit and a snow-balling slump as the Covid-19 pandemic eases; to radically reconstruct the economy in the interests of working people and the vulnerable; and to seriously confront the climate crisis by replacing investment in carbon emissions with investment in green energy, infrastructure and jobs.

Taking over the banks and reorganising them as a democratic public service will certainly be essential if we want to seriously challenge capitalism and try to transcend it. But in fact it is also essential to gain the economic leverage and resources we need to defend the working class’ immediate interests in this crisis.

Yet, despite the highest body of the organised workers’ movement passing this policy (twice), the reality is that no one much is campaigning for it.

The TUC has stayed silent, ignoring its own policy. Aside from the FBU, no other union has done even minimal campaigning for this. In the Labour Party the Corbyn leadership avoided the issue, despite John McDonnell having previously campaigned strongly for it. It hasn’t been raised by many on the Labour left.

The demand was raised in motions for a “Socialist Green New Deal” submitted by CLPs and by the FBU to last year’s Labour conference, but it didn’t make the final composites.

The left, including Momentum, should discuss, argue and campaign for it now.

• Climate striker Abel Harvie-Clark, Ben Selby of the Fire Brigades Union and Ruth Cashman of Lambeth Unison and Labour for a Socialist Europe are speaking at a public meeting on this issue on Friday 29 May: details here.

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4 Steps Forward for the Climate Struggle

By Abel Harvie-Clark

In the context of the pandemic and economic collapse, a socialist response must have a focus on climate justice. As urgently as we need a vaccine for Covid-19, we need a serious reorganisation of production to rapidly decarbonise society, and we need an organised left to fight bottom up for this socialist Green New Deal. I’m standing in the Momentum NCG elections because a refounded Momentum organising around democracy, class struggle and internationalism could play a key role in coordinating climate justice and building a worker-led just transition. These are some ideas for what that could look like.

#1

Take the climate strikes into the workplace. The climate strike movement, led by the UK Student Climate Network in the UK, has mobilised fantastic levels of organisation and energy to significantly raise awareness of both the climate crisis,and the absolute failure of governments to tackle it. Not only have students orchestrated mass street mobilisations, we have built in communities to bring political education and outreach to a generation with little other political organisation. It is a movement I am proud to have been a part of. 

The labour movement now has a responsibility to be proactively organising beyond following school strikers. School-student strikes are great, but don’t have the same power of workplace-based strikes to disrupt and reorganise production directly.

Socialist Green New Deal campaigning through the labour movement must build on the Green Industrial Revolution events, but sharpen up the demands and make members feel confident on the issue – as actors, not passive consumers of lines from the Shadow Cabinet. Key to this is being vocal on the demand to repeal all anti-union legislation, as well as supporting workers in finding ways around the anti-union laws. Not only is it an important democratic right to be able to take strike action over issues such as climate change, and in solidarity with struggles across the country and worldwide, this right is key to defending workers from dangerous working conditions that will occur due to climate breakdown. Further, freeing the trade union movement from all anti trade union legislation is a key step in building a strong movement that can assert workers’ control across the economy.

Momentum and local Labour parties should find ways to build workplace-based climate change committees (and not just stick another item on the Trades Council agenda) and find ways to resource them ourselves. Model motions for workplace stoppages and lunchtime walk outs can easily be circulated, but other forms of pro-active organising and engagement of workers need to be promoted too. We need action both to raise the profile of climate breakdown, and also to engage every workplace in building their own transition.

Read UKSCN’s open letter to trade unions

#2

Build links beyond borders. The climate crisis is a reflection of transnational capitalism: it cannot be tackled within national borders. We should be in contact and sharing lessons with workers in parallel industries, activists fighting similar struggles, and extensions of international supply chains around the world. Our common goal is democratic public ownership of industry, and we will be far stronger in this if we work hand in hand across borders. Victories in one country can be held as examples elsewhere; injustices in one country should receive solidarity action. Advocating border controls and “patriotism” cuts against supporting working-class control of industries that span across the globe, whether that is oil and gas companies or clothing manufacturers. 

Aspects of climate breakdown are already irreversible, and mitigating the impacts equitably must be done with an international approach. Climate change forces people to leave their homes, exaggerates the material differences between rich and poor, and sparks, and is in turn fueled by, wars. Large movements of climate refugees around the world are now certain: they are happening now and will only get bigger in the future. How will we respond? Our response must  be based on international solidarity, not “legitimate concerns about immigration”. I encourage comrades to pay attention to the excellent work of Labour Campaign for Free Movement; the policy passed at conference must be defended and advocated through our campaigning.

Policy passed at conference here

#3

Build solidarity with workers in climate-critical industries. At the Drax Selby power station, 200+ job losses have been announced as coal is no longer profitable to burn. This is the sharp end of climate breakdown, where exploitation of workers and planet occur side by side. To fight back, we need to start the conversation with fossil-industry workers with solidarity. We need targeted campaigns encouraging class struggle against fossil fuel capitalism, making the positive case for a decarbonised society under workers control. Through political education and mobilisation for workplace struggles, the left should be encouraging 21st century Lucas-plan style organising for a just transition. Rank and file union members in affected industries should be empowered to lead retraining for socially useful, sustainable work. 

Not only can these campaigns make active steps to decarbonise the economy, but they can make a material difference to workers otherwise left on the frontline of the climate crisis, and thus win more people to our cause. There will be many more examples like Drax Selby in the coming years, Momentum should be ready to engage the rank and file for a worker-led just transition.

#4

Make political demands. Beyond movement building and workplace struggles, we must keep in sight the big political demands needed to rearrange our society for a socialist Green New Deal. We should hold the Labour leadership to account over the Green New Deal policy passed at 2019 conference, and make further demands such as those passed by FBU conference. In particular we should remain vocal on the following:

  • Democratic public ownership of banks and finance. Currently private finance funnels enormous capital into climate-destructive industries. Regulation is ineffective; we need public ownership to rediscover finance as a public service to support massive investment in reorganising the economy.
  • Nationalise the big 6 energy companies. Again, a private model is utterly incapable of the massive reorganisation required. Beyond public companies competing with private ones, we should push for a unified system and democratic central planning
  • Free, improved public transport. Changes in everyday life can be supported on a collective basis. Free public transport would provide a key public service, connect isolated communities and improve air quality in cities.
  • Champion free movement. Build unions, not borders. A socialist Green New Deal must be global in its outlook, recognising that we have more in common with the working class in other countries than with polluters here.
  • Support the 4 day week. We must make the positive case that reorganising society away from profit and in the interest of working classes means a better quality of life, more time off from work, and better rights at work.

Firefighters call for a Socialist Green New Deal

Join a discussion on nationalising the banks – 29 May

These are some ideas for ways that we can build in the years to come. There is already good work going on, and I encourage comrades to engage and work with campaigns such as Labour for a Green New Deal, Labour Campaign for Free Movement, UK Student Climate Network, Green New Deal UK, and to advocate for democracy, class struggle and internationalism. More ideas, feedback and critique of these ones are encouraged, get in touch!

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Why Solidarity Between Generations Matters

By Julie Ward

I am proud to stand on a platform with extraordinary motivated and articulate young people. Too often people of my generation dismiss the youth voice, forgetting that we were all young once with important views, relevant ideas and a fresh perspective that can cut through the layers of waffle and bluster that so many politicians choose to employ.

Malala Yousuf and Greta Thunberg have been challenging perceptions and ruffling feathers for a few years now, particularly amongst the elite whether it be war lords or presidents. And in their wake come people like Abel Harvey-Clark and Robbie Scott, inspired to act and not simply to join in the adulation. Both Robbie and Abel are members of the highly organised UKSCN which I have been supporting from the outset since before my re-election to the European Parliament in 2019.

More on Earth Strike here

Abel and Robbie are also members of Momentum Internationalists, an outward-looking socialist movement that understands the need for a global system change. We pledge solidarity with workers and oppressed people everywhere, including indigenous people who are often the guardians of unique but fragile eco-systems.

UKSCN is the UK’s network of climate activists, mostly under 18, and with an impressive record of organising school strikes. I was pleased to be invited to speak at the UKSCN Climate March in Leeds last summer, but I also went to listen because it’s the years of continually being ignored, dismissed, belittled and patronised that make young people so angry. If you have done your homework, as Abel, Robbie and millions of other climate strikers have, you know that if atmospheric CO2 levels exceed 1200 parts per million (ppm) it could push the Earth’s climate to a tipping point with deadly and irreversible consequences. In fact we may already be too late as scientists reported last year.

More on the tipping points.

Every major crisis has profound consequences for the next generation. The financial crisis resulted in mass youth unemployment, Tory austerity decimated the youth service, Sure Start centres and child and adolescent mental health services, whilst hiking up university fees and creating mass unsustainable student debt. Covid19 has put education on hold and the climate crisis is an existential threat. Why wouldn’t you strike? Why wouldn’t you lie down in the corridors of power? Why wouldn’t you demand that politicians tell the truth and polluters stop polluting? I and a growing number of terrified older people are thankful that young people at least are not afraid to speak truth to power.

In March 2019 I was in the European Parliament when Greta Thunberg spoke to a packed room. Her words made uncomfortable listening precisely because she speaks the truth, not only about what will happen if we don’t act, but about large-scale political failure.

In the UK Thunberg was flatly refused an audience with the government although Jeremy Corbyn and Caroline Lucas met with her and huge crowds mobilised at meetings in Bristol and elsewhere in solidarity across the country. Trump, the Tories and the ultra libertarians (many of whom are climate-change denying Brexiteers) are dismissive and mocking of Thunberg precisely because she is young, as if youth has no agency and child rights were not an actual thing despite 30 years of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

An example of this right wing hate campaign in the UK

These are the same people who don’t want young people vote. The same people berating youth for being idle and feckless. The same same people encouraging you to join the army and learn some discipline. Indeed, in the UK, we may be in danger of something akin to National Service as part of the recovery programme post-coronavirus whereas EU Member States are rolling out a new youth initiative aimed at environmental action, projects to help refugees, and other social projects.

Read about the Solidarity Corps

So let’s plan ahead, build the resistance by building solidarity between all generations and all people’s. Let’s act locally whilst being outward-looking. Let’s be internationalists.

For more information about how to sign up and join the global action whatever your age here are some links:

UKSCN

Parents for Future

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Democracy in Labour: what do we want?

The left, including Momentum, has not done very well in fighting to democratise the Labour Party. Some of that has been a matter of being defeated. A lot of it has been a matter of not trying very hard. The left missed many opportunities on this, as did the Corbyn leadership.

With a new leadership that is less sympathetic to the left and left policies, winning thorough democratisation of the party is more urgent than ever.

What should the left and Momentum fight for? Here are some ideas. We encourage people to submit replies and further contributions.

1. Of course, open selections for parliamentary candidates. It is a disgrace that Momentum did not fight for this elementary democratic demand. Equally, some on the left seem to think it is a silver bullet. It isn’t. In the 1980s there were open selections and relatively few MPs were replaced. In 2019, many right-wing MPs won trigger ballots by large majorities, including in CLPs where the left has won control of the structures. We need to make progress on democratisation without waiting to replace large numbers of MPs. And on the other hand, just having different parliamentary representatives is not the be-and-end-all of democracy – not least because even the best representatives can of course go astray or drift. Much wider democracy and accountability is necessary to guard against that, and to make MPs genuinely representatives of the movement. By itself open selection is a very blunt tool.

2. A democratic national conference must be Labour’s sovereign decision-making body. Conference should set the policy agenda, pass motions that determine policy and what is included in the manifesto, and decide the party’s direction. Motions should be published as they are submitted, with regular updates. More conference time for policy debate, and contributions from delegates.

CLPs should have the right to submit both a policy motion and a rule change to each conference. The NEC should be allowed to submit rule changes only with the same deadlines as everyone else, not at the last minute as currently.

Party bodies, representatives and leaders must recognise and implement conference policy and decisions. Abolish the National Policy Forum. Conference decisions should be published, easily accessible, and advertised.

As in the past, there should be a rolling programme passed by conference each year as the basis for the manifesto and campaigning.

Establishing the sovereignty of conference is a matter of rule changes but also changes in political culture, from bottom to top.

Policy-making in the labour movement should be the property of conference and duly-elected committees, not of a designated “Leader” and their “Leader’s Office” handing down announcements.

Even when the announcements-from-on-high are left-wing — as they have been sometimes under the Corbyn leadership — that they are announcements from on high tells against the chances of the labour movement mobilising sufficiently to convince the electorate of the policies, or to get them enforced against ruling-class resistance.

3. Establish a clear right to diversity of opinion and organisation within broad Labour values. Establish the right to organise political groupings within the party. Amend rule 2I4(b) to remove the confused and damaging inference that groupings that are not official party bodies are a problem, which obviously will never be implemented consistently but allows the targeting of those the machine does not like.

4. Expulsions should be only for opposing Labour in elections; for gross anti-worker, racist, sexist, or otherwise discriminatory behaviour; and for abuse of power or sabotage of party functioning – and only after a hearing, with prior notice of charges, with the National Constitutional Committee. All those penalised should have a proper right to appeal. Cases should not be rushed or allowed to drag on without prompt resolution.

5. Ensure adequate notice of and accessible information about all democratic party meetings. All conference documents, including reports, policy documents, motions, records of decisions, votes and proceedings, should be published as far in advance of/as soon after meetings as possible. NEC agendas, papers and minutes should be published, outside exceptional cases. The NEC should return to taking questions and comments on its annual report at conference; delegates should vote whether to approve it, with the right to refer back any part of the report.

6. Maintain and strengthen the union link. Revive and expand the link at local level by getting more genuine union delegates to CLPs, rooted in functioning branches and workplaces. Support a drive for democracy in the unions.

7. A drive to establish CLP-level Young Labour branches/groups – with representation in CLPs, but autonomous, with freedom to discuss, campaign and recruit new members. Give Youth Officers access to data for young members in their area.

8. Move as fast as possible towards a national Young Labour conference based on delegates from local groups, and affiliates; and not made inaccessible by cost. Let YL have its own democratic constitution, decided by its conference, and control the staff and administrative support it gets nationally and regionally.

9. Re-establish Labour Students, with its own democratic constitution decided by its conference. A conference based on delegates from Labour Clubs, not made inaccessible by cost.

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Social care: in dire need of public ownership

By Kas Witana

“Read the website of any of the big care companies and you could be forgiven for thinking that their mission was one of pure altruism. In fact, they are bringing in profits on the back of their undervalued workforce and government subsidies. Many do not recognise trade unions. The entire sector is carried by its overwhelmingly underpaid, hyper-exploited and exhausted workforce. These workers are overwhelmingly women and many are migrants, who spend their leisure time being told they are a burden on public services… 

“[The crises in care] require a reckoning with decades of underfunding, fragmentation and privatisation, and deep change in how our health and social care systems are run… a huge injection of public money, and a model based on democratic public ownership, so that local people, workers and service users can have a say in how it is run.” 

– Nadia Whittome MP, sacked from her care job for speaking out over PPE 

Activists in trade unions, the Labour Party and across the left must step up discussion and campaigning around social care. 

The media has extensively covered the crisis raging and spreading in care homes, with thousands of Covid-19-related deaths, but it is largely silent about how capitalism’s devastation of the sector and its workforce has smoothed the way for the virus. 

The government has evaded crucial issues about availability of and access to PPE and testing. It has refused to even address the fact that many, perhaps most care workers, get only Statutory Sick Pay – if that – and are under massive financial pressure to work unsafely. Things are so bad that some care workers have to turned to food banks in their determination to behave responsibly and self-isolate – but some, through no fault of their own, will have felt forced to continue working. 

This reality is a result of the driving down of care workers’ terms and conditions over many years, in turn a consequences of the radical privatisation and fragmentation of the sector – both in care homes and home care provision. I was previously a care worker in the private sector; now I work in a similar role in the NHS. It’s not that everything is brilliant in the public sector we have today, but the contrast with private provision, both for my conditions and the service I can provide to those I care for, is stark. 

The left must start paying attention. This sector gutted by the profit-motive and now being ravaged by the pandemic employs over a million workers (disproportionately BAME and overwhelmingly women), cares for millions and impacts many millions more. 

What can we do? 

Union membership and organisation is low in care. However, around 20pc of care workers are members of a union, and there have been some important struggles, like the victorious fight by Birmingham home care workers over job and pay cuts last year. And in this crisis there has been some drive among care workers to organise, with increased union membership and the emergence of initiatives like the Workers’ Coronavirus Action Group and Home Care Worker blog.

Union branches, Labour Parties, Momentum groups and so on should build links with care workers – and service-users – support their struggles and learn form them. 

We should support campaigns like ‘Safe and Equal’(backed by John McDonnell and Nadia Whittome among others) and the NW region ‘Care Workers vs Covid-19’ to win all workers the right to self-isolate on full pay, and other demands for rights and safety. 

We should organise to put pressure on Labour councils to do with Salford has done and guarantee all care workers the right to self-isolate on full pay, and to act to help ensure adequate PPE and testing. 

We must oppose the anti-migrant assault which is horribly affecting so many care workers and further undermining an already understaffed sector. That means fighting to defend and extend free movement and migrants’ rights, and it means stopping the Tories’ hard-right, anti-worker, anti-migrant Brexit plans by extending the transition period. If it means calling into question Brexit itself – good. 

Beyond that, as the quote from Nadia Whittome above indicates, we need wider political answers. We can and must fight smaller struggles now – but the way out of the crisis in the sector, a crisis now on fire but which began long before Covid-19, is public ownership, so we can put people above profit. 

We should demand comprehensive public ownership of both care homes and organisations providing home care provision, and major public investment, to create a free public care and independent living service with improved standards, pay, conditions and workers’ rights. We should push for the Labour Party and trade unions to campaign, really campaign, for such a vision and demands. Given everything that is happening a determined fight for public ownership could surely gain major support. 

Social care provision, social care workers and those who they care for are the sharp end of the class war capital has waged against the working class over decades. The labour movement has failed in its responsibilities here; now is the time to change that. This is a campaign we can win, making a difference to the lives of huge numbers of people and substantial inroads against the power of capital. 

Working with care workers, service-users and campaigners to develop demands and campaigning, Momentum should act as a catalyst to help organisations start educating and organising around these issues – and to push the Labour Party into action. Momentum Internationalists is seeking to set an example and make the case. 

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Petition: full pay for TFL cleaners!

• We reproduce the text of an important petition by the Justice for Cleaners campaign to Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor of London. Please sign it and share it!

Click here to sign the Justice for Cleaners petition

ABM, the giant company that cleans the Underground and Transport for London’s offices, has announced plans to furlough approximately 200 of its cleaners during the Covid-19 crisis. The furlough scheme only guarantees 80% of a worker’s salary. It is a matter of record that ABM’s cleaners are poorly paid and they had been running a campaign for better pay and conditions in the year before the Covid crisis hit. 

We call on Mayor Khan as the ultimate employer to guarantee the remaining 20% pay of all furloughed ABM staff and call on Mayor Khan to immediately extend staff travel rights to ABM cleaners

ABM cleaners’ representatives have approached the employer and the Mayor with a view to extending the staff travel arrangements enjoyed by all other TfL employees. Sadly the Mayor’s office has said that with only 5% of normal passenger traffic at the moment TfL needs the cleaners’ money. This is pretty shameful. 

The Mayor is fully aware that London’s social housing crisis and the rip off private rental sector mean that a very large percentage of TfL’s cleaners live in Zones 4-6 and using the cheaper (or temporarily free) buses means cleaners spend hours and hours of their day traveling.

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Democratise Momentum… and then what?

By Simon Hannah

Have people been watching the news lately? I’m just asking because it seems like people haven’t been as no one seems to be really talking about the massive economic crisis that is barrel rolling towards us with increasing… er… momentum.

So far the discussions on the Labour left are not only dull and uninspired, focussing on the same old arguments that could have been had in the 1980s, they are profoundly lacking any real sense of urgency.

I’ll keep it short – the IMF has calculated that April global growth in 2020 will fall to -3 percent. In their words “This makes the Great Lockdown the worst recession since the Great Depression, and far worse than the Global Financial Crisis.”

We need a huge shift in wealth from the rich to the poor and a total reorganising of society away from profit. If not then we are talking mass unemployment, social immiseration and a dramatic decline of essential public services.

As the crisis deepens there will likely be significant social struggles in which the Labour Party will not only be largely absent but will even oppose them outright. In that situation the Labour left will need to focus on not just the ridiculous insular world of Westminster bubble politics.

Talk of democratising Momentum means absolutely nothing unless it is clear what the role of a democratised Momentum is in the context of the worst economic and social crisis since the 1930s.

Likewise there is too much talk of ‘policies’ as in what would make a good manifesto for government. Let’s face facts, Labour is out of power for at least five years, perhaps longer. So what is the Labour left going to do in the meantime?

Anyone who is interested in running Momentum in a post-Corbyn Labour Party needs to address this central question. Otherwise what is the point?

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Labour Councils and cuts: what should Momentum do?

By Josh Lovell

Over the past five years, many new, left-wing Labour Councillors have been elected into local government. I count myself as one of these who ‘rode the wave of Corbynism’ into local government alongside the resurgence of anti-austerity politics forming part of the new political mainstream.

Nationally the Labour Party led its 2017 and 2019 General Election campaigns with slogans about ending austerity, and over-seeing the biggest cash-injection and public ownership programs in generations. Delegates to Party Conference repeatedly passed motions calling for the party to go further, and particularly the reversal of all academisation of schools, the complete public ownership of all NHS and social care services, and immense home building demands. They were all right to do so.

Whilst the leadership and large swathes of the membership were calling for these however, extraordinarily little was actively campaigned on and won outside of party structures – amongst the trade union and workers’ movement, and in councils where left-wingers have been gaining numbers.

This should be of little surprise to anyone who followed the course of the organisation that set itself up to do just this. Momentum – with its aim of building a socialist grassroots movement in every town and city – failed to train socialists in how to fight for their ideas, either in their workplaces or on their councils. And this task is about to become even more urgent.

With an economic crisis hastened by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we can expect a Tory-led onslaught on local government finances imminently. Some predictions suggest we may soon enter the most destructive global economic crash in generations, and with Labour still controlling many councils, local government budgets are going to be at the forefront of the Tory agenda for rapid privatisation and sweeping spending cuts. Without an organised socialist resistance, the Tory steam-roller could leave local government completely flattened.

Although embryonic organisations that could serve to bring people and campaign groups together, none of these seem to be calling for this with the determination needed. The Labour left must commit to re-building itself on the basis of class struggle to fight austerity and organise socialist councillors and local government workers in how to respond.

Government cuts to local authority finances have been rammed through in recent years through a combination of tight legal restrictions on councils and the unwillingness of Labour Councils to resist, supported by a bureaucratic Labour Party ruling which reserves to the right to expel Councillors who ‘say no’.

Clearly individual councillors decrying cuts in isolation is a strategy doomed to failure, but organised across the UK, a mass campaign of socialist councillor resistance should be built, alongside a combined fight back of local government workers, demanding major increases to local government funding, and social ownership.

The logic of the current pandemic leads us directly to the latter of these, where widespread government bail-outs have been necessary to stop an all-out collapse of many essential public services left fragmented after decades of privatisation. We should make a central pillar of our efforts taking all council services into public ownership, run by their workforces, funded by government grants from taxing the rich. This must include as a minimum the restoration of local government funding to pre-2010 levels, but more where needed to ensure all social need can be met by socialised provision.

A radical re-birth of Momentum could help to bring this about and begin an urgent, organised struggle in local government. With Labour Councillors refusing to pass on Tory cuts and fight for more funding with local government workers, they – like struggles before – could have the power to break the government’s strangle-hold on local authority finances.

100 hundred years ago during the Poplar Rates Rebellion, local Councillors adopted the slogan “better break the law, than break the poor”. We need this spirit back in local government, now.

Josh Lovell is a Hertfordshire Labour Councillor and a Candidate in the Forward Momentum Primaries in the Elected Representatives category (writing in a personal capacity)