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No compromise on freedom of movement

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The Immigration and Social Security Bill which had its second reading last month is designed to put an end to freedom of movement after Britain leaves the EU.

It makes an entirely arbitrary distinction between “skilled” and “unskilled” migrants and imposes a 12-month limit on the latter, who would not be able to bring in their families or access public funds.

Irish nurses picket for pay

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Around 35,000 Irish health workers walked out of and picketed hospitals and clinics across the republic at the end of last month over pay and conditions.

Nurses and midwives are demanding a 12 percent increase in pay and improved conditions in a programme of action set to last two weeks.

In response, the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, has claimed spending on Brexit preparations prevents him from ceding to their demands.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation says its members are working longer hours and receiving less pay than than they were in 2008.

Yellow Vests up the stakes

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A general strike of French trade unionists alongside further Yellow Vest protests at the beginning of February was set to up the pressure on president Emmanuel Macron to stop expenditure cuts, privatisation and a tax system weighted against the poor.

The continuing movement is also demanding significant wage increases and the right to protest without the fear of police violence; a factor that has seen, since the movement began last November, the police badly injure more than 2,000 protesters.

Resist the imperialist coup in Venezuela

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The ongoing right wing offensive to oust Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro came to a head on 23 January, with National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó appointing himself as interim president in a calculated move during a massive anti-government rally.

Within hours the governments of Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro and other right wingers had issued statements recognising Guaidó as president and demanding the resignation of Maduro. Support followed from Britain, Canada, the European Union and EU countries.

Brexit: Very little confidence in the Tories

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Theresa May survived the attempt to get rid of her from within her own party in December. But it was a sign of her abject weakness that she won the no-confidence vote by promising to go before the next scheduled election.

The fact that 200 Tory MPs backed her did nothing to resolve the crisis her government, her party and the British ruling class face over Brexit. It merely ruled out a switch of Tory prime minister for at least a year, unless May is ordered out by Tory grandees, and confirmed most MPs have no stomach for Britain to leave the EU with no deal.

Yellow vest spirit takes over France

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The Gilets Jaunes protests in France have come from a spontaneous, grassroots movement expressing people’s frustration at low living standards, threats to pensions and tax cuts for the rich, as well as the trigger point of increased fuel tax charges.

The latter was effectively a wage cut for everyone needing to use private transport in work or to get to work. Protesters put on the yellow jackets that all motorists must keep in their cars.

Tories can’t square the circle of Brexit

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The front cover of September’s Socialist Review asked, “Are the Tories heading for the rocks?” This month came the answer: a resounding yes.

While Theresa May seems to have seen off the initial rebellion against her draft withdrawal treaty from the EU, the Tories’ decades-long row over Britain’s membership of the EU could blow up at any time over the next few weeks, toppling May and crippling the government.

Labour should take a lead against Tories

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A general election now is the best response to the Tories’ crisis, so it’s unfortunate that Jeremy Corbyn and his close allies did not clearly make that call as soon as Theresa May delivered the draft treaty.

They are entangled in a row with Labour Party right wingers and many of the country’s major trade union leaders about the EU, and the call for a “people’s vote”.

However, John McDonnell did go on to call for a general election, and socialists must get behind that call and campaign to oust the Tories.

Aussie teachers give lesson in solidarity

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On 20 November in Australia hundreds of teachers from dozens of schools across Victoria and Brisbane walked out to protest against the offshore detention of refugees.

The atmosphere was charged with excitement as teachers, plus hundreds of supporters, filled the State Library forecourt in Melbourne to demand the government bring all kids and adults off Nauru and Manus immediately.

More than a Saudi PR disaster

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The brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident and critic of Mohammed bin Sultan (aka MbS), has ripped apart the image the ruling Saudi prince had crafted for himself as a “moderniser”. The details of Khashoggi’s killing — he was enticed into the Saudi consulate in Turkey and butchered with a hacksaw — reads like a script from a horror movie.

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