U.K. News

The UK Left after Brexit: Free Movement and the Unions

by Thomas Fagan

Unite the Union

The issue of free movement of European Union (EU) workers is an incredibly important issue on the Left and in the trade unions in particular. Unite the Union (commonly known as “Unite”)––which is the biggest union in Britain, with 1.42 million members across many industries––has just concluded a brutal election. The candidate of the Right, Gerard Coyne, with the backing of reviled tabloids like the Sun, came within 5,000 votes of defeating the Left incumbent, Len McCluskey. The other Left candidate, Ian Allinson, put in a very decent showing, receiving over 17,000 votes with almost no resources.

Allinson’s position on free movement of EU labour was in stark contrast to that of McCluskey and Coyne. Allinson’s position on free movement was unequivocal: “The question of workers’ rights to move freely and be treated equally is not going away. While the two establishment candidates in the Unite General Secretary election fudge and backslide on it, I have made it an important theme of my campaign.” Allinson in fact moved a resolution at the Unite Conference defending free movement.

Coyne’s position on free movement was bordering on the xenophobic: “Britain’s working classes have been betrayed so rich establishment figures can hire cheap nannies and butlers.”

The position of Len McCluskey is the most interesting of the three candidates, as he positions himself on the Left and had indeed received the backing of most of the traditional Left in this election. The irony of McCluskey’s Left populism, however, is that it’s not that popular after all, given the closeness of his victory and an extreme right-wing candidate failing to win by a whisker. Read More

250,000 rally in London to Save National Health Service


Warning: don’t have an accident, get sick or grow old


by Ralph Keller

Saturday, March 4, saw the latest in a series of mass protest marches in London. While most of the recent protests were against Trump and Trumpism, Saturday’s march was an effort to defend the National Health Service (NHS). This is a public service, funded through taxation as well as National Insurance contributions from workers and employers, making health care free at the point of delivery and independent of the ability to pay.[1]

The ‘official’ police figure of attendance was 250,000! The march set off from Russell Square and worked its way via Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square for the post-march rally. Mostly white and Asian people of all ages attended, but only a few black people, as was the case with other recent marches. Many people on the march were NHS workers and carried signs like ‘Our NHS is here to stay–resist Tory cuts and closures’, ‘Defend Migrant Workers, Save Our NHS–don’t let the racists divide us’ and ‘Fund the NHS, not private profit’. A good number of trade unions were also present, including UNISON (nurses) and BMA (doctors).

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Protest Outside Parliament Against Trump’s State Visit to Britain

February 24, 2017 by  

by Ralph Keller and Travis Blute

The opposition to Trump internationally has not gone away even if it is slowing for now. In London, the latest protest since he took office a month ago was an effort to stop Trump’s official state visit to Britain. Read More