MANCHESTER, England — “We need something like that here,” Beryl Mahomet said April 5 after she looked at the Militant’s coverage of the successful strike by teachers in West Virginia. Hugo Wils, Communist League candidate for Tameside Council in Stalybridge North here, who knocked on her door, described the unity teachers forged with other school workers and the working-class social movement they built in support of their strike, providing an example to millions.
“I am in the union, I think we need strong unions to fight for better pay and conditions,” Mahomet said. She works two jobs, as a cleaner and a kitchen porter, to make ends meet. She took out an introductory subscription to the paper.
Joining Wils standing for the Communist League against the Conservatives and Labour — the bosses parties — is Hugh Robertson, candidate in Plaistow, for Newham Council, London, and Catharina Tirsén, who is on the ballot in the Longsight Ward for Manchester City Council. The CL presents a revolutionary way forward in face of the social and moral crisis of the capitalist rulers in the U.K. and around the world.
Wils joined a demonstration of some 1,000 nursery workers, parents and others March 24 protesting attacks by the Salford City Council, which threatened to close five local preschool nurseries near Manchester.
“People need to make their voices heard. My daughter is supposed to go to the Winton nursery. We were lucky to get a place and then we hear it’s going to close,” said Kayley Johnson, a support worker at a retirement home in Wigan. Wils responded that by expanding actions like this one — backed by the trade union movement — working people can push back the assaults by the bosses and their political parties. The Labour-led City Council and mayor backed off after the protests, and promised to keep funding the nurseries through July 2019.
The outspoken anti-Semitism of some prominent Labour Party leaders has pushed the Jewish question to the fore in politics here. The party has tolerated anti-Semitic slanders for years, along with the demonization of Israel and calls for its destruction.
The December 2017 Socialist Workers Party statement “For Recognition of a Palestinian State and of Israel” has proved to be a powerful tool for the campaign. It starts from “the class interests and solidarity of workers and toiling farmers across the Middle East,” and presents a course that “helps working people organize and act together to advance our common demands and struggles against capitalist governments and ruling classes.”
Wils and Communist League member Dag Tirsén discussed this with Effel Shepherd, a retired worker in Stalybridge. She told them she had always voted Labour. “I don’t like how these Arab groups go and bomb market squares in Israel,” she said.
“Working people in the Middle East need more political space to debate perspectives and organize,” Wils said. “That’s why we call for the immediate recognition of a Palestinian state and of Israel. It’s only through common struggle that working class interests in the region can be advanced.”
“As anti-Semitic attacks are growing around the world, the right of Jews around the world to go and live in Israel is very important,” Wils said.
“Yes, you can see anti-Semitism in the Labour party now,” Effel said. She signed up for the Militant to look more deeply into revolutionary politics and follow the campaign.
Capitalism’s dog-eat-dog morality
When Catharina Tirsén knocked on Zigela Ca’s door in London April 7 to introduce the League, they got into a discussion on the widely reported increase in gun and knife deaths there. The Labour Party calls for more repressive measures, including reversing Conservative Party cuts in the number of police. Sadiq Khan, Labour Party mayor of London, has urged more stops and searches of black youth by the cops. “I wish there was a way to stop money from being so decisive to how youth think and act. It drives people to all kinds of things including violence,” said Ca, a teacher. “I’ve had drug dealers say to me they’re ‘better people’ because they have more money.”
“We face the debilitating social effects of the workings of the capitalist system and their profit-driven dog-eat-dog morality,” Tirsén responded. “When there is a struggle, like the powerful mass mobilizations in the fight for Black rights in the 1960s in the United States, young workers get something to fight for. They begin to learn social consciousness and self-discipline. Crime went way down during those struggles.”
“Ultimately you have to overthrow the capitalist class to begin to eliminate its values,” Tirsén said. “That’s why the Communist League explains that the working class needs to make a revolution, like Cuba’s socialist revolution. The government there starts from the interests of working people, not the profits of a handful, when they decide their priorities.” She showed Ca Thomas Sankara Speaks, pointing to the 1983-87 revolution in Burkina Faso that Sankara led as another example for workers to follow. Ca decided to get the book.