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latest news

Britain
Terror attack at Westminster

24/03/2017: Unite against terror, racism and war

  Britain

Italy
Democratic Party splits and 5-Star Movement in crisis

22/03/2017: Class struggle can build real left force

  Italy

Spain
Student strike empties classes and fills streets on 9 March

21/03/2017: Over 100,000 take to the streets in SE demonstrations

  Spain

Scotland
Second referendum on independence?

18/03/2017: SNP fire the starting gun but offer no solutions to austerity

  Scotland

Brazil
National day of strikes and protests shows Temer can be beaten

17/03/2017: For a one-day general strike as the next step

  Brazil

South Africa
Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia

17/03/2017: Capitalist politicians use xenophobia to divert attention from failures of profit system

  South Africa

Netherlands
Election result a colossal defeat for austerity government

16/03/2017: Oppose Wilders and the ‘mainstream’ right – Build a mass workers’ party that struggles for socialism

  Netherlands

Yemen
Workers and their families left to starve by multi-billionaire companies

16/03/2017: International campaign needed to force companies to pay

  Yemen

Hong Kong
Protest against LSG Sky Chefs dismissal of union chairman

14/03/2017: Ng Chi-Fai sacked for organising union by multinational’s Hong Kong division – international solidarity needed

  Hong Kong

Ireland North
Snap election raises sectarian temperature    

14/03/2017: Workers need strong socialist alternative at ballot box and in unions

  Ireland North

Quebec
Counter protest against far-right

13/03/2017: Rise of Islamophobia and right-wing reaction poses new challenges to the left

  Quebec

 International Women's Day
Speech by Kshama Sawant

12/03/2017: Video of 8 March rally in Seattle

  Women

 International Women’s Day
Millions join marches and take action

10/03/2017: Socialists around the world demand an end to women’s oppression

  Women

 Hong Kong
Women’s march against sexism and racism

09/03/2017: International Women’s Day: “Solidarity with global mass protests and women’s strikes”

  Women

 Spain
Hundreds of thousands participate in International Women’s day student strike

08/03/2017: ‘Libres y Combativas’ and Sindicato de Estudiantes call strike against sexist violence and for working class women's rights

  Women

Pakistan
Political spectacle of the ruling class

08/03/2017: Most workers underemployed, 40% in poverty - situation demands new workers’ party

  Pakistan

 International Women’s Day 2017
A century on from the Russian Revolution

06/03/2017: Demonstrations world-wide swelled by anti-Trump anger

  Women

Britain
Massive demo shows battle to save the NHS can be won

06/03/2017: Up to 250,000 march in national protest, organised from below

  Britain

Egypt
Price hikes hit workers and middle classes

04/03/2017: Falling support for dictator Sisi portends growing opposition

  Egypt

Hong Kong’s sham election

03/03/2017: Pan-democrats sink to new low by supporting “lesser evil” John Tsang

  Hong Kong

US
Socialist response to Trump’s address to joint session of congress

02/03/2017: Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative councillor, speaks

  US

Sweden
“Who could believe it?"

24/02/2017: What is behind Trump's attack?

  Sweden

Britain/Ireland
Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty

23/02/2017: Defend the right to protest - stop this political vendetta!

  Ireland Republic

Ireland
A web of intrigue sparks government crisis

22/02/2017: Smear campaign against a prominent police whistleblower

  Ireland Republic

February revolution 1917
What lessons for today?

21/02/2017: 23 February 1917 (8 March in today’s calendar) marked the beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia, which sparked a revolutionary wave that would travel around the world.

  Russian Revolution

 Yemen
International protests in support of TOTAL/G4S workers

20/02/2017: Solidarity spreads for victims of wage robbery and killing by multinational corporations

  Solidarity, Yemen

Netherlands
Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections

18/02/2017: Only a choice between the “regular” and far-right?

  Netherlands

Britain
Council cuts can be fought - and they must be

16/02/2017: Corbyn needs to stand up to Brexit rebels

  Aceh

Spain
Pablo Iglesias wins clear victory in Podemos congress

15/02/2017: Time to build the class struggle on the streets

  Spain

Ireland North

Snap elections called to Stormont Assembly

www.socialistworld.net, 17/01/2017
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Build a socialist alternative to the ‘Orange’ versus ‘Green’ headcount

Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast

Northern Ireland goes to the polls, for the second time within a year, in snap elections to decide the make-up of its Stormont Assembly on 2 March. James Brokenshire, Northern Ireland Secretary of State, was legally obliged to call the election after the ‘power-sharing’ Stormont Executive, made up of the DUP and Sinn Féin, fell apart.

Daniel Waldron, from the Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), looks at the background to the latest crisis in the North and argues the case for a left, anti-sectarian alternative.

socialistworld.net

In Northern Ireland, the non-domestic Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scheme was introduced in 2012 by now Democratic Unionist Party leader, Arlene Foster, when she was Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Investment. Modelled on a scheme introduced in England, the installation and use of alternative, green heating equipment by businesses and landowners was subsidised by public funds. Unlike in England, however, the subsidy per unit of energy was set higher than the cost of the fuel and there was no cap on payments. Therefore, the more you burned, the larger a profit could be made. So much for environmental sustainability!

The ‘cash for ash’ scandal broke in early December 2016, when it emerged that this flaw would lead to a projected £490 million ‘overspend’ which would have to be compensated for through cuts to public spending. The whistle-blower who made this public had approached Arlene Foster in 2013 but was ignored. Foster’s ministerial successor and DUP colleague Jonathan Bell alleged that when he moved to close applications to the scheme, he was blocked from doing so by Foster and other senior figures in the party. During this period, there was a spike in applications. The scheme was backed by all the main parties and the scale of the financial black hole in the scheme was known at Stormont from early last year but was not brought to the public by any of them.

The RHI scandal will mean that while little is done to help the 42% of people in Northern Ireland who live in fuel poverty, Northern Ireland’s Ferrari showroom will be kept cosy at a profit using public funds for the next 20 years. In Arlene Foster’s own mainly rural constituency of Fermanagh & South Tyrone, 75% of GP surgeries face closure but Viscount Brookeborough will receive £1.6 million to heat his 1,000 acre estate from this botched scheme.

Series of scandals

RHI is not a one-off. A series of scandals have exposed the DUP’s cosy relationships with bosses and property developers. The scandal, however, is reflective of the right-wing, neo-liberal approach of all the main parties, who go out of their way to give handouts to big business. They are united in supporting cutting corporation tax. This is the equivalent of an RHI scandal, every year, transferring hundreds of millions of pounds from public services to companies’ profit margins. At the same time, teachers striking against a 0% pay offer were told there is “no more money.”

Only weeks ago, politicians were boasting of how well the DUP and Sinn Féin were working together in government. On 8th January, however, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness resigned as Deputy First Minister, which forced the calling of fresh elections. McGuinness claimed that he was calling a “halt to the DUP's arrogance.” In truth, Sinn Féin was very slow to take a stand. In December, they abstained on a motion in the Assembly calling for Foster’s resignation and were nervous about calling for an independent, public inquiry. It was only pressure from the public and Sinn Féin’s base that forced the party to take a harder position.

In the course of the scandal, Arlene Foster tried to muddy the waters over why people called for her resignation, including claiming that attacks on her were misogynistic. As a woman in a public position, there is no doubt she has been subject to sexist attitudes – including from her DUP colleagues – but Arlene Foster is the leader of a sexist party which, like all the main parties, opposes a woman’s right to choose.

Since McGuinness’s resignation, Foster claimed to have “done nothing wrong” and that this is really about attacking the leader of “strong Unionism” who will not “roll-over to Sinn Féin.” The resignation has provoked a war of words between the two parties. Ministers have clashed over whether a suspension of the institutions will mean the introduction of the hated “bedroom tax” already in place in England. Emergency legislation will suspend the introduction of this policy attack on the poor but only until 2020. This year, other welfare cuts agreed by Sinn Féin and DUP will mean over 100,000 people will see cuts in their welfare benefits. Some families will lose as much as £2,000 a year, as a result.

‘Orange’ versus ‘Green’ headcount

Both parties have also engaged in various sectarian provocations in order to turn the election into an ‘Orange’ versus ‘Green’ headcount rather than a real discussion on the political issues at stake.

On 23 December, Paul Givan, DUP minister for communities, cut the Líofa bursary scheme for young people to learn the Irish language by £50,000, although he was subsequently forced into a U-turn. While Givan’s decision to cut the funding was certainly sectarian in its nature, Sinn Féin cynically exploited this issue and their own ministers have overseen cuts to Irish language funding in the past.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin Finance Minister, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, has suddenly decided to remove the British Union flag from his department’s buildings - a contentious decision that is clearly aimed at whipping up sectarianism.

Some politicians have claimed that there will be “no return to the status quo” but that is precisely what any agreement between the parties of sectarian division will mean, whatever superficial changes are made. Neither is direct rule from the Tories in Westminster nor the nationalist SDLP’s proposal of joint rule between the right-wing governments in London and Dublin in any solution. In fact, similar to the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, this proposal would provide a rallying call for sectarian forces. Only by building an alternative that can unite working class people in struggle against this rotten establishment can a real way forward be found.

Even before the ‘cash for ash’ scandal, people in the North had a correctly cynical attitude to the Stormont institutions. They are seen as ineffective and the politicians within them aloof and self-interested. Before the latest debacle, a poll showed only 28% trusted Stormont politicians. In particular, young people are turned off by the sectarian and backward politics which currently dominate in Northern Ireland, with marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose both denied, despite the wishes of the majority in society.

This disillusionment – which will only have been deepened by the latest scandal - has been reflected in consistently falling turnouts in elections but also by an increasing space for candidates from outside the unionist and nationalist camps, including those offering a left alternative. In last year’s Assembly elections, the Green Party – which, in the North, is critical of austerity and seen as radical – boosted its vote and won its second seat, while People Before Profit made a breakthrough by winning seats in the overwhelmingly Catholic areas of West Belfast and Derry.

The Socialist Party worked with others to launch Labour Alternative ahead of last May’s election, recognising that the rise of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the British Labour Party on an anti-austerity platform had raised the sights of an important section of workers and young people. This represented a break with the unashamedly pro-capitalist politics which have dominated the Labour Parties in both Britain and Ireland for decades. While British Labour does not allow official candidates to stand in the North, the party’s membership has increased from 400 to over 3,000 since the advent of Corbyn’s campaign, making it probably the second largest membership party in Northern Ireland.

Historically, the labour and trade union movement has been the key force able to unite working class people in the North to fight for their common interests and to challenge sectarianism. Labour Alternative represents a step forward in building the kind of left which is needed to really change society in the North: resolutely opposed to cuts and the race to the bottom, bold in demanding LGBT and women’s rights and, crucially, based in both Protestant and Catholic communities and advocating compromise and mutual respect on the divisive issues.

Last year, Labour Alternative’s three young candidates – drawn from across the sectarian divide – won the best results in decades for any left candidate in those constituencies. Their election slogans, such as, ‘Don’t vote for dinosaurs’, captured the attention of a layer of young people. In the incoming Assembly election, Labour Alternative will again field candidates to provide a cross-community opposition to austerity, inequality and sectarianism. Alongside trade unionists and other activists, we will also work to ensure that the broad labour movement presents the most credible challenge possible to the Stormont establishment in this election.

 



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NEWS

Britain: Terror attack at Westminster
24/03/2017, Judy Beishon, from the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) website :
Unite against terror, racism and war

Belarus: Protesters flood onto streets demanding scrapping of “law against parasites”
21/03/2017, Daniil Raskolnikov (translation of article from the Russian CWI site www.socialist.news):
President Lukashenko must go!

Spain: Student strike empties classes and fills streets on 9 March
21/03/2017, Sindicato de Estudiantes (SE), Spanish Students' Union :
Over 100,000 take to the streets in SE demonstrations

Scotland: Second referendum on independence?
18/03/2017, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) :
SNP fire the starting gun but offer no solutions to austerity

South Africa: Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia
17/03/2017, Shaun Arendse, Workers and Socialist Party (CWI South Africa):
Capitalist politicians use xenophobia to divert attention from failures of profit system

International Women’s Day: March in Malaysia and week of activity in Belgium
16/03/2017, socialistworld.net :
Reports from Kuala Lumpur and Brussels

Netherlands: Election result a colossal defeat for austerity government
16/03/2017, Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam:
Oppose Wilders and the ‘mainstream’ right – Build a mass workers’ party that struggles for socialism

Russian Revolution: March 1917 - After the fall of Czarism, what next for the revolution?
16/03/2017, socialistworld.net:
New article on 1917revolution.org

Hong Kong: Protest against LSG Sky Chefs dismissal of union chairman
14/03/2017, Sally Tang Mei-ching, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) :
Ng Chi-Fai sacked for organising union by multinational’s Hong Kong division – international solidarity needed

Quebec: Counter protest against far-right
13/03/2017, Michele Hehn, Alternative Socialiste (CWI in Quebec) :
Rise of Islamophobia and right-wing reaction poses new challenges to the left

International Women's Day: Speech by Kshama Sawant
12/03/2017, Socialistworld.net :
Video of 8 March rally in Seattle

International Women’s Day: Millions join marches and take action
10/03/2017, Clare Doyle, CWI:
Socialists around the world demand an end to women’s oppression

Hong Kong: Women’s march against sexism and racism
09/03/2017, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) reporters:
International Women’s Day: “Solidarity with global mass protests and women’s strikes”

Spain: Hundreds of thousands participate in International Women’s day student strike
08/03/2017, Sindicato de Estudiantes, students’ union in the Spanish state :
‘Libres y Combativas’ and Sindicato de Estudiantes call strike against sexist violence and for working class women's rights

Pakistan: Political spectacle of the ruling class
08/03/2017, Tariq Shahzad, National Organiser of IYWM (International Youth and Workers Movement) :
Most workers underemployed, 40% in poverty - situation demands new workers’ party

Britain: Massive demo shows battle to save the NHS can be won
06/03/2017, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) deputy general secretary :
Up to 250,000 march in national protest, organised from below

Egypt: Price hikes hit workers and middle classes
04/03/2017, David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) :
Falling support for dictator Sisi portends growing opposition

Hong Kong’s sham election
03/03/2017, Dikang, Socialist Action:
Pan-democrats sink to new low by supporting “lesser evil” John Tsang

US: Socialist response to Trump’s address to joint session of congress
02/03/2017, socialistworld.net:
Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative councillor, speaks

Catalonia: Historic demonstration in Barcelona in support of refugees
25/02/2017, Esquerra Revolucionària :
'Volem acollir'

Sweden: “Who could believe it?"

24/02/2017, Per-Åke Westerlund, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden):
What is behind Trump's attack?

Britain/Ireland: Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty
23/02/2017, Neil Cafferky, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party, England & Wales):
Defend the right to protest - stop this political vendetta!

Ireland: A web of intrigue sparks government crisis
22/02/2017, By Cillian Gillespie, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Smear campaign against a prominent police whistleblower

Yemen: International protests in support of TOTAL/G4S workers
20/02/2017, Socialistworld.net:
Solidarity spreads for victims of wage robbery and killing by multinational corporations

Netherlands: Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections
18/02/2017, Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam:
Only a choice between the “regular” and far-right?

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Italy: Democratic Party splits and 5-Star Movement in crisis
22/03/2017, Marco Veruggio, ControCorrrente, (CWI in Italy) :
Class struggle can build real left force

Brazil: National day of strikes and protests shows Temer can be beaten


17/03/2017, André Ferrari LSR (CWI in Brazil) :
For a one-day general strike as the next step

Yemen: Workers and their families left to starve by multi-billionaire companies
16/03/2017, Cedric Gerome, CWI :
International campaign needed to force companies to pay

Ireland North: Snap election raises sectarian temperature    
14/03/2017, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
Workers need strong socialist alternative at ballot box and in unions

International Women’s Day 2017: A century on from the Russian Revolution
06/03/2017, Clare Doyle, CWI :
Demonstrations world-wide swelled by anti-Trump anger

February revolution 1917: What lessons for today?
21/02/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales), printed in the Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party):
23 February 1917 (8 March in today’s calendar) marked the beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia, which sparked a revolutionary wave that would travel around the world.

India: Upheaval in Tamil Nadu
09/02/2017, Sajith Attepuram, New Socialist Alternative (NSA) (CWI India) :
Corruption, nepotism, and other crimes of ruling party exposed

Britain: Universal basic income demand gains ground
08/02/2017, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales) :
What approach should socialists take?

CWI and Izquierda Revolucionaria – Towards unification
06/02/2017, Socialistworld.net :
Joint declaration of the CWI’s IEC and Izquierda Revolucionaria’s IEC

France: After Sarkozy, Juppé and Valls, now Fillon is on the way out
06/02/2017, Alex Rouillard, Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI in France) :
Space opening up to left of Socialist Party

Syria: Is an end to the war in sight?
03/02/2017, Serge Jordan (CWI) :
New movements for change will need to arm themselves with the lessons of the Syrian tragedy

Sri Lanka: The year 2017
31/01/2017, Siritunga Jayasuriya, United Socialist Party (CWI in Sri Lanka) :
Between oppression and struggle

Canada: Where are Trudeau’s ‘Sunny Ways’?
31/01/2017, Tim Heffernan, Socialist Alternative (CWI Canada), Toronto

:
Battles of Indigenous peoples, youth, workers will test Liberal government

Russian Revolution Centenary: January 1917 - On the eve of revolution
29/01/2017, Niall Mulholland, from 1917revolution.org :
War, hunger, hated Tsarist regime: class tensions reach breaking point

Afghanistan: The limits of US power
28/01/2017, Judy Beishon, from Socialism Today (February 2017 issue), monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales)<br />
<br />
:
Imperialism’s 15-year adventure a bloody catastrophe for millions

US: Build 100 days of resistance to Trump’s agenda!
27/01/2017, Bryan Koulouris, Socialist Alternative, US :
Establishment deeply divided as mass resistance explodes

Millions on women's marches around the world
25/01/2017, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) and reports from US marches :
Reports from mass women's marches against Trump

China: New US President’s approach to China
21/01/2017, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info :
Outbursts raise fears of confrontation

Ireland North: Snap elections called to Stormont Assembly
17/01/2017, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
Build a socialist alternative to the ‘Orange’ versus ‘Green’ headcount

Spain: What kind of Podemos do workers and youth need?
17/01/2017, Izquierda Revolucionaria, Spanish state, editorial :
Debate within leadership touches on fundamental issues for future of party

US: Trump prepares vicious attacks
05/01/2017, Philip Locker and Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative (US):
Mass resistance needed!

Russian Revolution centenary
02/01/2017, Editorial from Socialism Today, Dec/Jan 2017 edition:
Defending the legacy in a new era

2017:Upheaval and fightback will continue
01/01/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary :
Everything to play for in 2017

Britain's shifting political contours
22/12/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) from Socialism Today Dec/Jan 2017 edition :
Capitalist establishment in disarray

CWI International Executive Committee: European capitalism “battered by events”
16/12/2016, Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Report of discussion on Europe at CWI IEC meeting in November