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Next steps on climate

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The global climate strike on Friday 20 September surpassed all expectations. Greta Thunberg has estimated there were over 4 million protesting worldwide, from Europe to America, to Kenya, to the Pacific Islands.

In Britain there were perhaps 350,000 on the streets, including 100,000 in London and tens of thousands across Scotland.

This puts the day on a par with the 15 February 2003 protests against the Iraq invasion and the global women’s marches in 2017, with the notable difference that the climate strike was the only one of those to take place on a weekday.

Their outrage and ours

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Boris Johnson’s apparently sudden decision to close down parliament for five weeks as Britain approaches the Brexit deadline provoked outrage from (almost) all quarters.

Primarily interpreted as a manoeuvre to prevent MPs stopping a no deal Brexit, the “proroguing” has also been decried as an affront to democracy. Both are true.

The Financial Times is so dismayed by Johnson’s suspension of democratic processes that it has come as close as it is ever likely to to backing Jeremy Corbyn for prime minister:

Labour for IndyRef2?

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The independence movement has found an unlikely ally in the breakup of the British state — Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard was supposed to bring a renewed left wing surge north of the border with his support for Corbyn. This has not been the case. Labour continues to lag behind the SNP, partly because of its failure to support independence.

Extinction Rebellion calls time on fashion

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Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists have announced plans to shut down London Fashion Week (LFW) this month to raise awareness for climate change caused by the fashion industry. On 26 July XR delivered a letter to the British Fashion Council (BFC) calling for the cancellation of LFW, co-signed with Maria Chenworth, CEO of clothing reuse and international development charity Traid, and Safia Minney, founder of eco fashion label People Tree.

Switzerland: ‘Real equality is far from being realised’

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The women’s strike on 14 June 2019 will long remain in the history of the women’s and workers’ movement in Switzerland. More than half a million people joined the demonstrations throughout the country. Some 70,000 marched in Zurich, 40,000 in Bern and Basel, 50,000 in Lausanne and more than 20,000 in Geneva. The demonstrations were no less impressive in smaller cities like Sion, Neuchatel and Fribourg, where 12,000 took to the streets. All answered the call issued by the “Women’s Strike Collective”.

Beware the rancid stench of Tory hypocrisy

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The stench of hypocrisy rising from the Tory leadership election is matched only by the bluster and evasion of Boris Johnson, the favourite to win it.

He refuses to take part in an adversarial televised debate with his rival Jeremy Hunt, but then is afforded a less confrontational one on one interview by the BBC (the Back Boris Corporation) with its political editor Laura Kuenssberg.

He always spoke truth to power

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Shortly before Socialist Review went to press we heard of the death of Walter Wolfgang at the age of 95. He was a socialist, a Labour Party activist and an anti-war campaigner — one of the founding members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

He was perhaps most famous for heckling the then foreign secretary Jack Straw’s speech on Iraq at the Labour Party conference in 2005. We wrote in Socialist Review at the time:

Obituary: Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina

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Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina (1971–2019) was part of a new generation of African writers who grew up after the radicalism of the independence struggles and the highs of Pan-Africanism and African Socialism in the 1960s and 1970s. He has died after a short illness aged 48.

His writing was subtle and critical. In an article on the terrible ethnic violence in the slums of Kenya’s capital Nairobi after the 2007 elections he recalled going there earlier to write an article on the spread of plastic bags:

Let’s kill off the divided Tory government

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The Labour Party National Executive Committee is right to have rejected an attempt by Tom Watson, the deputy leader, to tie Labour to a confirmatory vote on any Brexit deal that may be cobbled together in talks with the Tories.

Any attempt to concede to such a demand or to support a second referendum would have been an electoral own goal and would have damaged Labour’s attempts to campaign on policies that would attract both Leave and Remain voters.

Sri Lankan horror leads to repression

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The horrific suicide attacks in Sri Lanka which targeted hotels and Christian churches and caused more than 250 deaths have led directly to increased repression from the state.

Responding to Islamophobic anger in the wake of the atrocities it was decreed that “all face coverings” would be banned. The rationalisation for this measure was national security, but it was clearly aimed at Muslim women wearing niqabs and burqas, despite the fact that the perpetrators of the attacks were male and dressed in trousers and shirts.

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