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Corbyn’s Labour Party Will Deliver a Fairer, More Compassionate Britain

The ferocious beast of the so called free-market capitalism needs to be on a leash before it devours all around it, including our planet....
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Video: Exclusive: Piers Corbyn Defends Brother Jeremy Corbyn’s Performance As Leader Of The Labour...

Please Support The Show – http://paypal.me/richieallen https://www.facebook.com/therichieallenshow http://www.youtube.com/RichieAllenShowMedia Tune in ... Via Youtube
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Video: ‘Labour Party cut themselves from working class’ – Ex-Scottish MP on GE &...

The Scottish National Party, which favours independence for Scotland, could turn out to be a king maker in this election. If neither the Conservatives...

The Labour Party has Regained Its Principles and Offers Hope to Millions

After 20-plus years of being lost in the muddy centre ground of British politics, the Labour party now stands tall again as the party...

Labour Party launches ‘radical & responsible’ election manifesto

The election manifesto of Britain’s Labour Party was officially launched on Tuesday morning, promising a...

What is in the UK Labour Party’s manifesto?

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Blairites declare UK Labour party unelectable

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26,000 members quit Labour Party… but is Corbyn or Brexit to blame?

Almost 26,000 people have left the Labour Party since summer 2016, it has emerged, as...

Is Jeremy Corbyn about to stand down as Labour Party leader?

Jeremy Corbyn’s future as leader of the Labour Party may be in doubt yet again amid rumors of a second coup, this time from...

Anti-Corbyn MPs may give up on Labour Party, flee to business – report

Blairite MPs may follow the recently resigned Jamie Reed by leaving Labour to sign up...

Labour Party seeks amendment to Brexit bill to avoid isolation from Europe

UK’s opposition Labour Party is planning to file an amendment to legislation regarding Britain’s official...
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Video: Corbyn Wins Leadership, But Can He Unite the Labour Party?

The media's depiction of the party opposition to Corbyn as 'centrist' is a cover for how right-wing it actually is, says economist John Weeks...
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Video: Jeremy Corbyn Wins Right to Defend His Leadership of Labour Party

Economist John Weeks says pro-austerity forces were defeated in the decision of the Labour Party leadership to allow him on the ballot. Via Youtube

Have Trotskyists invaded the Labour Party? Corbyn supporters laugh off deputy leader’s theory

Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson believes his party has been taken over by “Trotskyists” who...

What the coup against Jeremy Corbyn reveals about the Labour Party

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. By Chris Marsden Just ten months ago, Jeremy Corbyn was elected labour leader,...

Jeremy Corbyn can automatically run in leadership race – Labour Party

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn will be on the leadership ballot following a decision by...

Labour Party in disarray after Corbyn’s dismissal of Benn leads to mutiny

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK’s main opposition, the Labour Party, has sacked key shadow...

Livingstone to Prescott: ‘Ghastly’ ex-Blairites to blame for Labour party suspension (RT SHOW)

Former Labour sparring partners John Prescott and Ken Livingstone have gone toe-to-toe on RT’s News...

The British Labour Party must admit its Mistake

It’s always very difficult having to admit you’re wrong, and the more you believe something is right the harder it is accepting it might...
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Video: Racially Charged UK Election: Londoners Elect New Labour Party Mayor Sadiq Khan

Economist John Weeks says if the new mayor can deliver on his campaign promises of inclusivity and housing, it will be a tremendous step...

UK Labour Party in Grip of Zionist Inquisition

The orchestrated smear campaign against pro-Palestine sympathisers sent me reaching for my pen. But Gilad Atzmon too was eyeing the Labour Party’s crazed witch...

Is there an anti-Semitism problem in Britain’s Labour Party? Prejudiced members to be suspended

The Labour Party may soon make it easier to expel members accused of anti-Semitism as...

Jewish Money and the Labour Party: Here Are the Numbers

If you are curious about why the Labour Party has been groveling to the Jewish Lobby for the last few months, Jewish Donor Michael...

Labour Party and unions mount nationalist campaign over UK steel industry

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Robert Stevens Following an emergency meeting with cabinet ministers yesterday, British Prime...

An open letter to the Labour Party

Dear Labour Party, Please, I beg of you. I fall on my knees and gaze up at you in utter desperation because, as I see...

Tony Blair, imperialist war and the Labour Party

By Chris Marsden Tony Blair’s role in waging war against Iraq in 2003 has returned to haunt the ruling elite in Britain–nowhere more so than in...

Nuclear family? Trident renewal debate scheduled for Labour Party conference

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to argue against renewing Britain’s multibillion pound Trident nuclear deterrent at the party’s annual conference next week. The...
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Video: ‘JezWeDid!’ Moment Jeremy Corbyn announced new Labour Party leader

The Islington North MP, Jeremy Corbyn, has been elected Labour party leader. The 66-year-old winner of one of the key races in recent times...
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Video: Jeremy Corbyn sings in pub celebrating election as Labour party leader

Hard-left candidate Jeremy Corbyn stormed to victory in the UK Labour Party's leadership contest, taking almost 60% of the vote. As he was going...

The political issues posed by Corbyn’s election as UK Labour Party leader

The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party is an indication of enormous social anger and disgust with the rotten...

UK Labour Party steps up purge of suspected Corbyn supporters

By Chris Marsden Jeremy Corbyn is standing for Labour leader based upon the claim that the party can be won back from the right-wing course it...

Anti-austerity Corbyn on track to lead Labour Party — YouGov poll

Veteran Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn looks set to win more than half of the votes in Labour’s leadership contest, despite warnings from senior party...

Unions and Labour Party back New Zealand Post job cuts

By John Braddock14 November 2013 New Zealand Post announced this month that the company will axe over 2,000 jobs in the coming three years....

UK Labour Party whips up anti-immigrant sentiment

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UK Labour party set for new reshuffle

British opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband is set for his fourth shadow cabinet reshuffle in three years in response to criticisms that the partyâ„¢s...

UK Labour Party may back early EU vote

Labour party may back early vote on Britainâ„¢s EU membership.The UKâ„¢s opposition Labour party has considered supporting an in-out referendum on Britainâ„¢s membership of...

‘Labour party to keep UK in austerity’

Labour party chief admits to maintaining spending cuts if opposition wins next election Britainâ„¢s opposition Labour party chief Ed Miliband has pledged to be...

UK Labour Party pledges cuts in welfare

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Muslim peer quits UK’s Labour Party

British politician Lord Nazir Ahmed has quit Labour party after attributing his prison sentence to pressure applied on the court by Jews Å“who own...

Irish Labour Party in deep crisis

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Labour party proposes mansion tax to help low earners

LONDON (Reuters) - The leader of the Labour Party called on Thursday for a tax on expensive homes to fund a new lower-income tax band to help the country's lowest earners. Setting out some of the first concrete ideas of what his party would offer vote...

Labour activist says senior party official urged her to forget rape allegation — RT...

Published time: 31 Oct, 2017 19:49 A Labour Party activist claims she was discouraged by...

Corbyn trolls May’s call for cross-party collaboration by sending autographed Labour manifesto

Published time: 12 Jul, 2017 09:21 Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has mocked Prime Minister Theresa...

Today’s Labour voters ‘prefer Corbyn to Blair’ as socialist tightens grip on party

Published time: 17 May, 2017 11:27 Edited time: 18 May, 2017 06:46 The Labour Party...

Corbynistas already planning Labour’s victory party as Tory lead narrows again

Thousands of Facebook users say they will flock to the Red Lion pub in Westminster...

Liberal pundits slam Corbyn pledge to carry on as Labour leader even if party...

Jeremy Corbyn’s vow to stay on as leader of the Labour Party even if it loses heavily in next month’s general election has been...

‘We have 4 weeks to ruin their party’: Fighting talk as Labour launches battle...

It was gloves off as the Labour Party officially launched its electoral campaign in Manchester...

Brexit-backing Labour MP says her party is ‘irrelevant’

Published time: 26 Apr, 2017 15:33 Labour MP Gisela Stuart accused her own party of making...

Communist Party champions Corbyn’s Labour, says it won’t stand election candidates

Published time: 24 Apr, 2017 16:15 The Communist Party of Britain (CP) has confirmed it will...

Labour wins local election after UKIP rival gets party name wrong on registration form

Labour won a local council seat in Suffolk unchallenged because a UK Independence Party (UKIP) candidate wrote the name of their party incorrectly on...

Labour NEC wins appeal to ban thousands of party members from voting for new...

Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has won a High Court appeal allowing it to bar...

Anti-Corbyn billionaire urges rebel MPs to split Labour & form new party

Billionaire Labour donor Assem Allam has encouraged MPs opposed to party leader Jeremy Corbyn to...

Labour NEC ‘misapplied’ party rules by including Corbyn on leadership ballot, rival tells high...

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was placed on the leadership ballot because officials “misapplied” the party’s...

Could a new center-left party emerge from a Labour split? Lib Dem leader Farron...

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has hinted that Britain’s tumultuous political environment may offer an...

Coup defeated? Labour rebels back down fearing party split as Corbyn refuses to go...

Labour MPs opposed to Jeremy Corbyn have reportedly conceded the embattled Labour leader cannot be...

To the rescue? 60,000 join Labour in 1 week as party’s MPs launch anti-Corbyn...

Tens of thousands of new supporters have joined the Labour Party in the past week,...

Labour anti-Semitism report condemns ‘occasionally toxic atmosphere’ within party

An internal report on the validity of allegations of anti-Semitism and other forms of racism...

UK Labour leader urges party not to defy Conservative spending cuts

By Chris Marsden Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has issued a letter instructing local Labour councils to abide by the law and impose austerity cuts demanded...

Galloway to rejoin Labour if Corbyn elected as party leader

Former British MP George Galloway says he is ready to rejoin the Labour Party if Jeremy Corbyn is elected as its leader. Asked if he...

UK Labour leader faces party rebellion

British Labour leader Ed Miliband has come under pressure form his own party MPs to offer a referendum on Britainâ„¢s membership with the European...

Sacked Welsh Labour minister Carl Sargeant died by hanging — RT UK News

Published time: 13 Nov, 2017 15:36 An inquest into the death of the Welsh Assembly...

Labour MP suspended for ‘rubbing crotch on woman’ as Westminster sex scandal widens —...

Published time: 3 Nov, 2017 08:49 Edited time: 4 Nov, 2017 09:10 Labour MP Kelvin...

Labour suspends MP Jared O’Mara over misogynistic jokes about rape & teenage girls —...

Published time: 25 Oct, 2017 12:23 Jared O’Mara, an MP accused of making homophobic and...

Labour MP who joked about rape and pop-star orgies ‘deserves a second chance,’ colleague...

Published time: 24 Oct, 2017 12:36 Edited time: 24 Oct, 2017 15:05 MP Jared O’Mara,...

Tory MP slams own party for universal credit abstention — RT UK

Published time: 19 Oct, 2017 15:49 Andrea Leadsom, the Tory leader of the House of...

Boris says Labour MPs speaking to RT is a ‘scandal’ … despite his dad...

Published time: 17 Oct, 2017 15:40 While Boris Johnson claims it is a “scandal” that...

Young Labour appears to brand NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg ‘a fascist’ — RT UK

Young Labour, the youth wing of Britain’s main opposition party, has passed a motion describing...

Tory conference: Can Theresa May rescue her leadership, or has her party lost patience?

Theresa May’s political stock is collapsing after a battering in June’s snap election, and amid...
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Video: Jewish Voice for Labour at 2017 conference: Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi

Family protest over giving the Del Singh Memorial award to Lousie Ellman MP & the JLM Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi wows Labour Party conference » Why...

Tory party conference to get ‘biggest ever’ armed security detail, Manchester police tell RT

Published time: 29 Sep, 2017 16:10 Edited time: 29 Sep, 2017 16:18 Tens of thousands...

Prince Philip 'unfaithful' to the Queen & Harry 'can’t actually fly a helicopter,’ claims...

Published time: 27 Sep, 2017 09:02 Labour MP Emma Dent Coad is facing backlash after...

‘I’ll chain myself to door of Number 10’ to stop ‘Nazi’ Trump state visit,...

Published time: 27 Sep, 2017 09:48 Donald Trump is a “racist Ku Klux Klan and...

Labour activists compare Israel to Nazi regime, accused of anti-Semitism

Labour activists compared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazi persecution of the Jews...

Nationalize everything! Labour unveils radical plan to ‘take back’ utilities & transport

Published time: 25 Sep, 2017 15:59 The Labour Party has revealed plans to renationalize Britain’s...

Banning Saudi Arabia from Labour conference hints at Corbyn’s likely tough stance as PM

Published time: 18 Sep, 2017 12:53 Edited time: 18 Sep, 2017 12:53 Labour leader Jeremy...

Tories’ £1bn not enough to stop DUP backing Labour on health service pay

Published time: 13 Sep, 2017 16:16 The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has voted with Labour...

BBC accused of ‘sneering’ interview by Labour shadow foreign secretary

The BBC has been accused of grilling a leading Labour MP during a Radio 4...

Labour in Brexit chaos as MPs plan to defy Jeremy Corbyn in parliament

Published time: 11 Sep, 2017 15:02 Jeremy Corbyn is expected to face a blow to...

Labour prepares for new season of Brexit battles, plans to block Great Repeal Bill

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will tell his MPs to vote against the Brexit Bill at...

‘Pick the wrong person and the party is finished’: RT went to UKIP’s leadership...

A homophobe, an Islamophobe and a Scotsman walk into a hotel. The UK Independence Party...

Was Labour right to 'sack' Sarah Champion for saying Pakistani men ‘rape, exploit white...

Sarah Champion was reportedly forced out of the Labour shadow cabinet after writing a controversial...

New Zealand Green Party co-leader resigns

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Brexit Secretary’s ex-aide calls for new ‘Democrats’ party to reverse the EU exit ‘catastrophe'

Published time: 9 Aug, 2017 13:20 Brexit is a “catastrophe” that should be “reversed,” according...

Kill-joy Labour MP reports young art student to police for creating fake hard-left rival

An art student in London has been operating a Twitter account and website under the...

Venezuela unrest used to target Labour leader Corbyn

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and a number of backbench MPs...

Corbyn divides Labour with definite pledge to leave single market post-Brexit

Labour would take Britain out of the European single market were it in charge of...

Tory MPs in talks with Labour about stopping Theresa May’s ‘hard Brexit’

Published time: 14 Jul, 2017 13:36 At least 15 Conservative MPs are in talks with...

Labour ready to govern & negotiate Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn tells EU’s Barnier

Published time: 13 Jul, 2017 09:39 Jeremy Corbyn will tell the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator...

Battle of Brexit begins: Labour threatens to sink historic Repeal Bill

Theresa May faces a humiliating defeat over Brexit as Labour warns it will block...

May now wants Corbyn's Labour to help her govern Britain

Prime Minister Theresa May will make an unprecedented appeal to the Labour Party to help...

Cross-party MPs form rebel alliance to fight ‘destructive’ hard Brexit

Published time: 10 Jul, 2017 10:23 Edited time: 11 Jul, 2017 08:10 Rebel MPs from...

Labour far left denies plans to ‘purge’ anti-Corbyn MPs

Supporters of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have rejected reports that a hard-left wing of the...

Labour surges 8pts ahead of Tories in latest poll

A new opinion poll puts Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party eight points ahead of the governing Conservatives, less than a month after an...

The Democratic Party’s Deadly Dead-End

Exclusive: By playing for centrist and neoconservative votes, national Democrats have left the party floundering with no coherent political message and...

#NastyParty: Twitter fumes as Tories find £1bn for DUP but deny emergency workers pay...

Published time: 29 Jun, 2017 11:33 The Tories are facing a barrage of social media...

‘Build bridges, not walls,’ British Labour leader tells US president

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has asked US President Donald Trump to, “Build bridges, not walls.” Read more

Labour Doing So Well in the UK General Election Did Not Surprise Me

Eight months ago I wrote an article on Dissident Voice entitled “The Corbyn Effect: A British Democratic Revolution in the Making” in which I...
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Video: UK’s Hung Parliament—Conservatives Lose Majority; Labour’s Corbyn Delivers Stunning Rebuke of PM May

https://democracynow.org - British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a major setback Thursday in an election that saw her Conservative Party lose its majority ... Via...

Will Labour ‘moderates’ now stop trying to overthrow Corbyn?

Published time: 9 Jun, 2017 12:19 Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn passed the electoral test with...

Death of UKIP? Paul Nuttall’s party faces election wipeout

Published time: 9 Jun, 2017 00:36 The UK Independence Party (UKIP) faces a devastating night...

UK General Election: Exit polls predict Conservatives largest party in hung parliament

Exit polls predict Theresa May’s Conservatives will form the largest party in the UK General Election - but may fall short of a...

Corporate Media Hope Labour’s Corbyn Loses Election—and Badly

Millions of people across the United Kingdom are voting in an early general election on June 8. For the first time in several decades, voters...

Final election poll puts May’s Tories 12 points ahead of Corbyn’s Labour

The last poll released ahead of election day put Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party...

Party leaders make final election dash armed with pleas, policies & promises (VIDEO)

Party leaders took to the streets one last time pushing some of their most popular...

Corbyn’s Labour faces ‘nuclear winter’ with support outside London flatlining – report

Published time: 7 Jun, 2017 13:04 Labour activists are braced for a massive election defeat...

#LastMinuteCorbynSmears: Social media hits back at pre-election tabloid attacks on Labour leader

Published time: 7 Jun, 2017 10:39 Jeremy Corbyn supporters have stormed the social media barricades...

#GE2017: 6 key seats that could see Tories edge out Labour

Published time: 6 Jun, 2017 17:59 As postal votes pour in ahead of Thursday’s UK...

Stephen Hawking declares which party he’s voting for to save NHS

Labour must win on June 8 because the Conservative Party will destroy the National Health Service (NHS), renowned physicist Stephen Hawking said, having previously...

Parliamentary pact could put Labour in power, but Corbyn rules out ‘tutti frutti coalition’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has ruled out any pacts or coalitions ahead of the general...

Tories accused of spreading ‘fake news’ attack ads about Labour

The Conservatives have been accused of spreading fake news after one of their propaganda videos...

Millennials ‘flock to Labour,’ but would they be better off voting Tory?

Published time: 1 Jun, 2017 10:38 Labour would leave young people financially worse off than...

Poll shows Labour slashing Tory lead to just 3 points after Theresa May dodges...

A new poll shows the Tories’ lead over Labour has been slashed to a record...

Labour more likely to win because Britons want change: Scholar

A British scholar says the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn are likely to defeat Theresa may and the Tories without winning a parliamentary majority....

‘Can’t Be Arsed’ party launched to encourage young people to vote (VIDEO)

Published time: 30 May, 2017 14:33 The ‘Can’t be Arsed’ (CBA) party has released its...

Tory lead over Labour shrinking fast after manifesto launches

Published time: 22 May, 2017 10:29 Edited time: 23 May, 2017 11:03 The Conservative lead...

Labour lures young voters with pledge to scrap university tuition fees this year

Labour is promising to end university fees as soon as this autumn, in a bid...

Labour peer shuts down ‘conspiracy theories’ over timing of Manchester attack

A leading human rights campaigner and Labour peer has warned people that “this is not...

Buying the election? Tory billionaires outspend Labour’s trade unions in donor war

Donations from the billionaire business lobby to the Conservative Party are already almost double the...

Ultra-left or blueprint for growth? Labour manifesto gets mixed reviews

The Labour Party’s 2017 election manifesto received mixed reviews from experts and politicians, although there...

That’s our policy! Tories accused of stealing ideas from UKIP & Labour

Officials of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) have accused Theresa May’s Conservative Party of stealing...

Jeremy Corbyn’s Electoral Vision: Labour’s Leaked Manifesto

It is unfortunate that policies otherwise deemed middle of the road and social democratic tend to be seen in Britain as offspring of a...

Voters love Labour’s radical manifesto, but think Corbyn would be ‘disaster’ as PM –...

British voters back Labour’s promise to nationalize the railways and tax the rich, but when...

Cabinet rift? Cracks reported at top of Tory govt as poll lead over Labour...

Cracks are reportedly widening between UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s top team and Chancellor Philip...

BBC veteran condemned for ‘biased, disrespectful’ leaked Labour manifesto coverage

The host of BBC Radio 4's 'Today' John Humphrys was trending on social media on Thursday morning after the veteran broadcaster railed against the...

Labour denies claim 100 MPs could jump ship if Corbyn loses election but doesn’t...

Labour officials rejected reports on Wednesday that up to 100 “moderate MPs” are set to...

Facebook bids for political influence by hiring ex-Tory & Labour aides

Published time: 9 May, 2017 11:20 Facebook is stepping up its attempts to build influence...

Tories accuse Eurocrats of rooting for Labour (VIDEO)

Published time: 8 May, 2017 16:31 Senior Conservative Party minister Jeremy Hunt believes the European...

Is Labour in denial over local election battering?

Labour is playing down its sweeping local election losses, with MPs advised to call the...

Tories smash Labour in local elections, UKIP obliterated

The prospect of a sweeping Tory general election victory grew on Friday after early local...

BBC failed to challenge Tory ‘lies,’ says Labour’s McDonnell (VIDEO)

Published time: 3 May, 2017 16:28 Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell slammed the BBC’s lack of...

Labour leads among voters under 40, despite trailing massively overall – Yougov poll

Published time: 26 Apr, 2017 12:42 Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is the most popular party for younger...

Labour trashes Tory ‘hard Brexit’, pledges right to stay for EU residents (VIDEO)

European citizens living in Britain would automatically have the right to remain under a Labour government, Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer has announced. Starmer...

Scottish National Party could ‘lose 10 seats’ to Tories

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson is urging her party to “work, work, and work some more,” as polls show they are on course for...

Blair and Corbyn clash after ex-Labour PM suggests voters back Tories to get a...

Published time: 24 Apr, 2017 16:02 Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn slammed Tony Blair after the Iraq...

BBC’s Nick Robinson accused of bias against Labour’s Corbyn & in favor of PM...

BBC veteran Nick Robinson has been attacked by figures across the political spectrum, who say...

Tony Blair urges cross-party election push to stop Tory 'hard Brexit'

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is attempting to rally a cross-party alliance to fight...

Corbyn son running for Parliament story ‘completely untrue,’ Labour sources tell RT

Published time: 20 Apr, 2017 16:31 Sources close to Jeremy Corbyn have told RT that the...

The UK General Election, Corbyn’s Vilification and Labour’s Possible Fight

Photo by Garry Knight | CC BY 2.0 The context for analyzing this election must first acknowledge that the UK’s media is overwhelmingly rightwing. Only one...

Labour forecast to get snap election battering, yet Corbyn welcomes chance to ‘stand up...

Published time: 18 Apr, 2017 11:14Edited time: 18 Apr, 2017 11:46 The Labour Party reacted with...

Labour leadership team tears itself apart over US missile strikes on Syria

Published time: 7 Apr, 2017 13:35 The Labour Party is once again at war with itself...

Tony Blair attacks Corbyn’s ‘ultra-leftist’ Labour for failing to oppose Tories

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has hit out at what he says is Labour’s failure...

Labour’s Witch-hunt Against Ken Livingstone

The ongoing Ken Livingstone (“Get Corbyn!”) saga grows yet more preposterous. After outrage that the former London mayor had said Hitler was a Zionist (when...

George Galloway to stand in Gorton by-election, condemns Labour’s all-Asian shortlist

Former MP George Galloway is making a comeback to politics by running in the highly-contested Manchester Gorton by-election. Galloway, originally a Labour MP before setting...

Stephen Hawking to Labour leader Corbyn: Step down, you’re a disaster

Published time: 7 Mar, 2017 10:50 Renowned theoretical physicist and Labour supporter Stephen Hawking has called...

Could storm Doris blow UKIP to victory in Stoke Central by-election… and topple Labour?

Published time: 23 Feb, 2017 17:30 It’s being predicted that Storm Doris could help UKIP leader...

‘Revolting’ Tony Blair says ‘Brexit not inevitable’… & blames Labour for losing referendum

Tony Blair says leaving the EU is “not inevitable” and has called on pro-EU Britons...

Working class voters prefer UKIP & Tories over Labour, polls suggest

Labour’s popularity among working class voters has fallen to its lowest level ever, with new...

BBC reporting fake news? Labour leader Corbyn lashes out on live TV over quit...

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused the BBC of reporting “fake news” after he was asked...

Return of ‘Red Ed’: Miliband tipped for Labour shadow cabinet…but will he accept?

Former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has been tipped to be Jeremy Corbyn’s next shadow...

Tories will use Brexit to make Britain a tax haven, Labour MP tells RT...

Speaking to RT’s Going Underground program, Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon MP warned that Prime...

Jewish Labour group may take legal action against Al Jazeera over undercover filming

One of the organizations targeted in an undercover Al Jazeera investigation, exposing Israeli influence in...

Major donor to PM May's party might stop funding Conservatives over Brexit stance

Tories may lose support from one of their major donors, steel magnate Andrew Cook. He...

Shadow defence secretary commits Labour to arms bonanza and Trident renewal

Labour will invest in the military to counter claims that the party is soft, according to Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith. Griffith’s comments are a...

Labour divided over Brexit following Keir Starmer remarks on free movement

The debate over immigration has heightened among Labour ranks following comments made by the party’s Brexit spokesman, Sir Keir Starmer, who said that EU...

Labour warned of impending ‘electoral disaster’ after Sleaford by-election slump

A Tory by-election win that saw Labour’s share of the vote slashed has raised concern...

Labour must stop obsession with ‘identity politics’ & focus on white working class –...

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock has blasted what he terms Labour’s “obsession” with “identity politics” and called for the party to focus on social mobility...

Labour MP Keith Vaz investigated for drug use allegations

An investigation is underway into allegations of drug offences against Labour politician and former chair...

Public says it prefers Tories, but demands Corbyn’s Labour policies – poll

He might trail in the polls when it comes to his chances of becoming Britain’s...

Labour splits laid bare after Corbyn spokesman compares US and Russia’s actions in war

Labour spokesman Seamus Milne’s comments that protests outside the US Embassy would be as appropriate as outside the Russian Embassy drew a stinging response...

Blair v Corbyn: Labour leaders past & present clash over Iraq war crimes claims

Iraq War-era Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he is sorry that UK troops are facing war crimes allegations, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn...

Jewish Labour MPs condemn claims anti-Semitism ‘weaponized’ to undermine Corbyn

A number of Jewish Labour MPs have denounced claims by members of the grassroots pro-Corbyn...

Jeremy Corbyn re-elected Labour leader in landslide win

Jeremy Corbyn has been re-elected as leader of the Labour Party winning a massive 61.8...

Politics of violence: Leaked Labour email warns ideological rows could end in conference punch-ups

“Violence” could erupt at this year’s Labour conference according to a leaked email advising staff...

Bernie Sanders’ brother Larry stands in David Cameron’s old constituency for UK Green Party

Witney, Oxfordshire, is about to feel the Bern. Well, kind of. Larry Sanders, brother of...

Israel has right to exist, but so do boycotts against it – Labour leader...

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn told Labour supporters that although he agrees Israel has a right...

50 MPs could lose their seats under Tory revamp, including Labour leader Corbyn

New government plans to change constituency boundaries could see a series of MPs lose their...

Male prostitutes & drug allegations force out Labour MP Keith Vaz

Labour MP Keith Vaz will relinquish his post as chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee following accusations he paid for the services of...

NYT: Corbyn Has Marginalized Labour With His Popular Positions

A New York Times photo caption says Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn “is popular with left-wing party members but has alienated many others.” (photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty...

Labour purge sees disability campaigner pictured with Owen Smith suspended

Disability rights campaigner Jae Robinson, who is the public face of Owen Smith’s pledge to...

Labour will block Brexit, says leadership rival Owen Smith

Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith has vowed to stop the government triggering Article 50 of...

The exile returns? Anti-imperialist firebrand George Galloway could be heading back to Labour

Leftist former MP George Galloway has de-registered the Respect political party founded in response to...
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Video: Jeremy Corbyn’s Struggle for Labour Leadership

London-based economist John Weeks says the current struggle in the Labour party will continue whether the party remains hierarchical and neoliberal or ... Via Youtube

Court decides 130,000 new Labour members to be barred from voting

Labour’s ruling body has won its bid to overturn a high court decision allowing new party members to vote in the forthcoming leadership election,...

Zionism is the ‘enemy of peace’ & IDF should be tried as terrorists, say...

New claims of anti-Semitism in Britain’s Labour Party have emerged as Shadow Cabinet ministers and...

130,000 new Labour members can vote in leadership ballot, High Court rules… but NEC...

Labour Party members who joined after January 12 have won the right to vote in...

Fathers’ pressure group occupies Labour leader Corbyn’s roof

Paternal activist group Fathers 4 Justice has occupied the roof of Jeremy Corbyn’s London home...

‘Refugees & British men need lessons in how to treat women’ – Labour MP

Male refugees starting a new life in the UK should be taught about women’s equality...

Pressure mounts on Theresa May to call snap election as Labour support withers

Britain’s new Prime Minister Theresa May is under increasing pressure to call an early general...

Is Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith just copying Corbyn’s ideas?

Labour leadership hopeful Owen Smith is just borrowing policies that Jeremy Corbyn has already pledged...

Labour members poll: Corbyn maintains massive lead over coup rival Smith

Despite sustained attacks from Blairite MPs and MSM, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s political stock...

Union boss claims state undercover agents sabotaging Corbyn’s Labour leadership

Union boss Len McCluskey has accused British intelligence agencies of using agents provocateurs to undermine...

Labour leader Corbyn denies bullying & threatening to get critical MP’s dad to tell...

MPs challenging Jeremy Corbyn have once more accused the Labour leader of condoning a “culture...

Defiant Labour leader Corbyn launches reelection campaign as 183,000 pay £25 to vote

A confident Jeremy Corbyn launched his leadership re-election bid on Thursday, reminding fellow Labour MPs...

Polls suggest challenger Smith has little chance of removing Labour leader Corbyn

Hours before the deadline to register to vote in Labour’s leadership election, Jeremy Corbyn challenger...

Are Blairites preventing pro-Corbyn Labour supporters from voting?

Elements within the Labour party are actively preventing members who from taking part in the leadership election if they are suspected of being pro Corbyn, according to one...

Owen who? 2nd Labour leadership challenger to Corbyn is relative unknown

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Trade unions as a battleground for the minds of workers: Trotsky and the role...

The Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci was not very optimistic about the potential transformative, revolutionary role of trade unions. ‘Trade unionism’, he argued, ‘stands revealed as nothing other than a form of capitalist society, not a potential successor to that society. It organises workers not as producers, but as wage-earners’ (Antonio Gramsci, 'Trade Unions and the Dictatorship' (25 October 1919), in SPWI, 1910-1920, p.110). In this blog post, I will critically engage with a collection of Trotsky’s writings on trade unions - Trade Unions in the Epoch of Imperialist Decay (Pathfinder Press, 1990) – to establish whether he was more optimistic about the potential role of trade unions in resistance to capitalist exploitation.


Trotsky on the role of trade unions

At first sight, Trotsky appears to be much more optimistic about the transformative potential of trade unions than Gramsci. Not automatically, for sure, but nonetheless there was at least the possibility that unions would become agents of revolutionary change. This situation was most present for Trotsky in times of capitalist crisis and deteriorating conditions of the working class, when he considered it a possibility that trade unions can ‘transform themselves into revolutionary organizations’ (P.73).

At a closer look, however, it becomes clear that trade unions for Trotsky were merely a means towards the end of revolutionary change. Trade unions thanks to their ability of organising large parts of the working class were deemed to be a crucial battleground for the hearts and minds of workers against a reformist and bureaucratic trade union leadership. ‘The primary slogan for this struggle is: compete and unconditional independence of the trade unions in relation to the capitalist state. This means a struggle to turn the trade unions into the organs of the broad exploited masses and not the organs of the labour aristocracy’ (P.50). In other words, while Trotsky referred on the one hand to ‘backward masses, that is, the trade unions’ (P.135), he saw them as a way of organising the whole working class for the revolution on the other.

Unsurprisingly, rather than establishing a specific socialist trade union as a rival to reformist unions, Trotsky constantly advocated trade union unity, as this would allow the struggle for the maximum possible number of workers. The crucial role in this struggle within trade unions was given to the vanguard party. 

Photo by Recuerdos de Pandora

Trotsky on the role of the vanguard party

There were no doubts in Trotsky’s mind that the vanguard party, the most advanced members of the working class, had to play a crucial role not only in the struggle within trade unions, but also the wider struggle for revolutionary transformation. ‘The task of the Communist Party, correctly understood, does not consist solely of gaining influence over the trade unions, such as they are, but of winning, through the trade unions, an influence over the majority of the working class’ (P.143).

Importantly, in his discussions with syndicalists and their rejection of any links between trade unions and political parties, Trotsky made clear that the communist party had nothing in common with bourgeois political parties of representative democracies. The communist party ‘is not one of the political parties of the bourgeois system; it is the active, class-conscious minority of the proletariat, its revolutionary vanguard’ (P.122). Ultimately, it was the communist party, the vanguard of the working class, which had the task to take state power in order to destroy capitalism.  

Photo by rosaluxemburg


Trotsky on the importance of state power

When assessing the situation of the French working class at his time, Trotsky pointed out that ‘as long as the best elements of the French proletariat have not created for themselves a centralized Communist party, they cannot take state power, they cannot suppress the bourgeois police, the bourgeois army, and private ownership of the means of production’ (P.112). Overcoming capitalism, therefore, implied inevitably taking over state power and establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat.

In his assessment of state power, Trotsky showed some understanding of the dangers implicit in the vanguard party taking over existing state institutions. Ultimately, however, the main danger was the return to power by the bourgeoisie. As he argued, ‘the dangers of state power exist under the regime of the dictatorship of the proletariat as well, but the substance of these dangers consists in the fact that power can actually return to the hands of the bourgeoisie’ (P.152). The potential abuse of state power by elements of the vanguard party was not part of Trotsky’s reflections. Unlike Marx, who emphasised the importance of abolishing and re-constituting capitalist state institutions in his assessment of the Paris Commune in 1871 (see also Karl Marx and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat!), Trotsky does not elaborate on the institutions of the dictatorship of the proletariat in this set of writings.


A continuing relevance of Trotsky today?

Photo by Luiz Fernando/Sonia Maria
Trotsky’s reflections on trade unions and the role of the vanguard party were very much influenced by his own experiences as one of the leaders in the Russian revolution as well as the times of his writing. While not all of his insights, therefore, find a lot of attraction today, at least the themes he raised continue to be important. First, the question of state power characterises many debates within the global movement of movements. On the one hand, there are voices supporting horizontal structures and an emphasis on non-hierarchical space for the free exchange of as many opinions as possible. Rather than taking state-power the focus is on establishing new, more egalitarian and progressive institutions in parallel to existing state institutions. Change the world without taking power is the prominent slogan, coined by John Holloway’s book of the same title. On the other, so-called verticalists emphasise the need for clear leadership through a new party in taking power in order to overcome existing exploitative capitalist social relations of production.

Similarly, the relationship between trade unions and political parties remains a widely discussed issue amongst the left today. Many trade unions continue to have close links with social democratic parties. Nevertheless, considering the latter’s turn towards neo-liberal restructuring, these links become increasingly criticised by trade union members. What are the alternatives? Left parties such as the German Die Linkeor the Norwegian Socialist Left Partyhave also been in danger of compromising more radical policies with the desire to participate in bourgeois coalition governments (see also To be in office, but not in power!). There are smaller parties in several European countries, attempting to garner the support of the working class – the Socialist Workers’ Party in the UK, would be such an example, another could be the soon to be established new British party Left Unity. Overall these parties have had little success with their efforts to date.

Perhaps, rather than privileging a particular party with the task of transformative change, there is the possibility that more radical alternatives will emerge from within trade unions? LO, the main Norwegian trade union, has loosened its ties with the Norwegian labour party in recent years. In times of elections, rather than simply asking its members to vote for the Labour Party, it has endorsed several parties close to its own, independently developed demands. In a way, this constitutes a different approach to the question of the relationship between trade unions and political parties. LO is independent from these political parties, but it still exerts a considerable influence at the political level. LO does not simply withdraw into the realm of production and the representation of workers in the workplace (see also Norwegian exceptionalism?).

How might Trotsky respond? He may argue that one still needs to separate the issue of influence on policy-making from the issue of the formulation of transformative policy programmes. Influence in itself does not imply transformative politics. Perhaps, Trotsky would argue that there is still a need for a communist party, able to develop truly transformative or revolutionary programmes? The discussion of the links between trade unions and political parties is clearly here to stay. 



Prof. Andreas Bieler
Professor of Political Economy
University of Nottingham/UK

Personal website: http://andreasbieler.net

27 November 2013

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Fragmenting labour: Temporary agency workers in German manufacturing.

The increasing reliance on temporary agency workers by large German manufacturers has changed industrial relations, reported Hajo Holst, Associate Professor at the University of Jena, to the transnational labour projectat the Centre for Advanced Study in Oslo. Large car manufacturers, for example, have used temporary agency workers to secure short-term profits and to bypass statutory dismissal protection. Trade unions and workers, on the other hand, have increasingly come under pressure as a result.


The offensive by capital


Traditionally, temporary agency work was highly regulated in Germany and mainly used by companies to respond flexibly to short-term challenges in the production process. It was the 2003 change in legislation by a coalition government of Social Democrats and the Green Party deregulating temporary agency work, which facilitated the change in employers’ strategy. Now, several key companies have moved towards employing a significant number of their workers through temporary work agencies in order to be able to respond flexibly to changes in the economy and, thereby, to secure their short-term financial profits. Unsurprisingly, from 2003 until 2007, temporary agency work was the largest sector of employment growth, while it then became the largest sector of dismissals in the global economic crisis from 2007 onward. The risks of economic recession have been passed from employers to workers.


To date, only four per cent of the overall German workforce are temporary agency workers. However, the fact that there are between 10 to 20 per cent temporary agency workers of the overall workforce in large manufacturing companies such as Mercedes or BMW signifies the overall importance of this type of workers for German industrial relations. The most drastic example of the use of temporary agency workers is the brand new BMW plant in Leipzig in East Germany, where 40 per cent of the workforce is made up of temporary agency workers.

Photo by International Transport Forum

The increasing use of temporary agency workers has drastic implications for workers and trade unions. First, being a temporary agency worker becomes less and less a route into permanent employment. Companies have to some extent stopped employing directly new workers themselves. Second, the fact that temporary agency workers are employed on lower salaries than their colleagues, although they are doing the same jobs, and that they face the constant threat of dismissal, should there be an economic recession, has a disciplining effect on permanent workers. The latter know that should they become unemployed, the only way back into employment may be as a temporary agency worker on less good conditions. This will affect their position on whether to criticise management and, unsurprisingly, it has become more difficult for trade unions to organise strike action.


The response by labour

Capital’s structural power vis-à-vis labour has dramatically increased since the early 1970s and the onset of globalisation. The BMW plant in Leipzig is again a good example here. When negotiating with the trade union about the use of temporary agency workers, BMW made clear that unless it gets its way it will build the plant in Slovakia instead. Considering the high-level of unemployment in East Germany, the works council of BMW felt that it had no alternative but to accept the level of 40 per cent of temporary agency workers.

Photo by IG Metall
And yet, structural power by capital is not enough to explain the works council’s acceptance. Rather, we need to see this decision against the background of German trade unions’ wider self-understanding of their role in the German economy. In many respects, they consider themselves to be the better ‘managers’ of the workforce and feel that they are co-responsible for the success of individual companies. Hence, it is difficult to think about more radical alternatives to companies’ cost-cutting strategies outside the ‘common sense’ economic understanding.


Workers themselves are ambivalent about their own situation, Hajo Holst reported. On the one hand, permanently employed workers regard temporary agency workers as a guarantee for their own jobs. In times of crisis, it is the latter who are made redundant. On the other hand, however, there is still a feeling of injustice about the fact that their co-workers do the same jobs for less money and under the constant risk of unemployment. Perhaps it is this ambivalence, which provides the seeds for an alternative trade union strategy based on solidarity? Equally, important, manufacturing workers are often high-skilled and cannot be replaced that easily. The power of workers in production should not be underestimated by trade unions.

Photo by IG Metall

Clearly, the first precondition for a more active trade union position is to drop this idea of co-responsibility for company performance. Is this perhaps the time to re-politicise German trade unions and the process of collective bargaining? The continuing sense of injustice and solidarity amongst workers as well as the fact that highly-skilled workers cannot only not be replaced easily, but often know better how to run the production process itself may provide the basis for a more radical position against capital.


Key publications by Hajo Holst related to his presentation:


Holst, Hajo/Nachtwey, Oliver/Dörre, Klaus (2010) ‘The Strategic Use of Temporary Agency Work – Functional Change of a Non-standard Form of Employment’, International Journal of Action Research, 6(1), 108-38.



Prof. Andreas Bieler
Professor of Political Economy
University of Nottingham/UK

Personal website: http://andreasbieler.net

28 October 2013

Labour Loses Poll Lead Over Tories Amid ‘Economic Optimism’

The Labour has lost its lead over the Conservatives with both parties now tied on 35%, according to a poll published on Thursday.

The Ipsos MORI survey for the Evening Standard will worry Ed Miliband as it suggests the rise in fortunes for David Cameron is linked to a tentative economic recovery.

It is the first time Labour and the Conservatives have been tied in an Ipsos MORI poll since January 2012. The parties were also shown to be level in a YouGov poll in mid-September before the party conference season got underway.

Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI said: "The dividing lines between the leaders are a bit clearer after conference season, and they have all shored up their support – especially Ed Miliband, who has given more confidence to his own supporters. At the same time we have seen the Conservatives’ vote share rise in recent months in line with economic optimism. The public’s view is fascinatingly poised."

Despite the overall figures being worrying for Miliband, the poll does contain some good news. The Labour leader's signature policy of freezing energy bills until 2017 was the most popular proposal announced during the party conferences - with 62% saying it is the best for them personally and 50% seeing as the best for the country.

Miliband also received the biggest boost in personal support of all the main party leaders. Six in ten (61%) Labour supporters are now satisfied with the way he is performing as Labour leader, this is the highest Ipsos MORI has recorded since his first month in office.

George Osborne’s announcement of a freeze on petrol duty for 18 months was the second most popular confrence policy with 56% saying it is best for them, and 44% best for the country.

And Nick Clegg’s plan to raise the tax-free earnings threshold for people on the minimum wage came third, with 40% saying it would be good for them, and 44% good for the country.

The poll also showed the public increasingly see dividing lines between Labour and the Tories as the 2015 election approaches.

As many people think Cameron is either “right wing” or “right of centre” (57%) as think Miliband is “left wing” or “left of centre” (54%). These figures represent an increase of 8 points for Cameron and 10 points for Miliband since October 2010.

The survey also showed that a majority (30%) believe Clegg is in the centre ground - a finding that will please the Lib Dems as the party made a concerted effort at its conference to paint itself as the only centrist party.

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Could Labour Ditch Trident?

Labour are "open" to cheaper alternatives for the Trident nuclear deterrent but have stopped short of committing to ditch their long-standing commitment for a like-for-like replacement.

Earlier on Monday morning, the Financial Times reported senior Labour advisers and MPs had indicated the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, was backing the shift in position.

Labour sources later clarified their position. Speaking to DefenceManagement, a spokesperson said: "The idea that Labour is moving away from Trident is false.

labour trident

Trident has been the UK's nuclear deterrent since 1994

"[Labour] will not compromise on having a credible nuclear deterrent."


Kevan Jones MP
BBC News - Labour 'open' to cheaper Trident alternatives http://t.co/wiTwa8OyB5 am leading review, no conclusions reached yet.

Tonly Blair committed the Labour Party to a like-for-like replacement back in 2006, a stance which has remained since.

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Labour's position on the issue is especially pertinent as a final decision on the future of the deterrent is not due until 2016, a year after the next general election.

A Labour election victory would give them power of veto over any decisions made before then.


Jim Murphy

Re FT today. Labour will retain credible independent nuclear deterrent.Wl judge policy on capability and cost. Plus strong multilateralism.

Labour is far from united on the issue.

Des Browne, former Labour defence secretary said the deterrent places should be reconsidered "given the range of challenges before us and the limited resources at our disposal".

Conversely, Labour Lord West said Trident is "too important to get wrong".

Trident currently operates with four Vanguard-class submarines. A like-for-like replacement will cost around £25bilion and is the stated preference of the Conservatives.

Other options could involve scaling back the size of Trident to three or even just two submarines.

Critics of Trident argue it is not relavent to the geo-political realties currently faced by the UK.

Recent public opinion polls found that 63% would scrap Trident in order to help pay off the deficit and only 22% support a like-for-like replacement.

It’s A Trap! Labour Hope To Split Coalition With Mansion Tax Vote

The Labour Party has set a trap for the Lib Dems, they know it and may be willing to fall in.

Next week the House of Commons will vote on whether there should be a 'Mansion Tax' - a levy placed on homes worth over £2m designed to bring "fairness" to the tax system. It is a signature Lib Dem policy that the deputy prime minister has thus far been unable to convince George Osborne to include in his Budgets.

Always keen to cause mischief by exposing splits in the coalition, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls decided to borrow the policy and then use an Opposition Day debate in the Commons to put it to a, purely symbolic, vote on Tuesday. The scamps.

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Chris Leslie MP, Labour's shadow financial secretary to the Treasury, said the vote was "a chance for the Liberal Democrats to finally vote for something that was in their manifesto".

The full text of the motion is:

“That this House believes that a mansion tax on properties worth over £2million, to fund a tax cut for millions of people on middle and low incomes, should be part of a fair tax system and calls on the Government to bring forward proposals at the earliest opportunity”.

The vote is win-win for Labour. Should the Lib Dems decide to make a stand and support the motion, which after all was their policy in the first place, Miliband can claim to have split the coalition on a hugely symbolic issue.

But if the junior coalition partner decides to stick with the Tories and vote down the motion, it allows Labour to attack them for abandoning their principles.

It is not a problem lost on the Lib Dem leadership. Tim Farron, the party president, said in an interview with The House magazine on Thursday he had yet to make up his mind. "They’ve [Labour] been opportunistic, they’ve been mischievous. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider it as an opportunity," he said.

Business secretary Vince Cable, who has vocally advocated for a Mansion Tax both inside cabinet and in public, has said he would not rule out voting with Labour.

And ahead of the Eastleigh by-election, Nick Clegg said David Cameron was "stuck in the past" in his opposition to a Mansion Tax.

In preparation for the Tuesday's Commons debate Balls will no doubt have a stack of Lib Dem quotes backing the tax piled high on his desk.

Of couse there is another problem for the Lib Dems. If they vote in favour of a symbolic motion calling for a Mansion Tax but fail to secure its actual introduction in the Budget - which Cameron has ruled out - Labour can easily ask what the point is of the Lib Dems being in government.

Also on HuffPost:

Labour Tax Plans A ‘Con’, Says Osborne

Chancellor George Osborne dismissed Labour's tax plans as a "con" which would see state inspectors assessing people's homes.

Labour leader Ed Miliband last week announced proposals to bring back the 10p lower rate of income tax which was scrapped by Gordon Brown, funded by a levy on homes worth more than £2 million.

george osborne

George Osborne claimed Labour didn't 'understand aspiration' in the UK

But Osborne said the coalition government's policy of raising the income tax threshold was a fairer way of helping the low paid and claimed Labour's "mansion tax" would end up being extended to more modest properties.

He told ITV's The Agenda: "It's very costly to implement. It means you have to send inspectors round the country valuing all the homes - not just the homes worth over £2m but those worth less."

The chancellor said there were not enough "mansions" to cover the cost of a tax cut for millions of people.

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"So either it's a tax con and the money comes from somewhere else or it's soon a homes tax and they say it's a mansion tax before the election and then very quickly (it) becomes a homes tax on many people who are not living in mansions at all."

Osborne claimed that "the inspectors get their foot in the door" and then "after the election suddenly it's everyone's homes that are potentially a target and Labour will have created a new tax".

The chancellor added: "It's just another thing that proves that I don't think they understand aspiration in this country."

Osborne acknowledged that the rich should be expected to pay more, but fairness in the tax system also meant allowing working people to "get on".

He said: "In a time like this you expect the rich to pay more and actually we are forcing the rich to pay more and indeed cracking down on those who don't pay their taxes but fairness is also about having a system where people who work hard and get on can get on in our society, fairness is about a welfare system that doesn't pay for people to stay at home.

"Fairness is quite a broad concept and people feel the system's unfair but I don't think this kind of tax con is a solution to that."

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, whose Liberal Democrats back a mansion tax, also rejected Miliband's proposals as a "pale imitation" of his own party's policies.

Miliband hopes to split the coalition with a Commons vote forcing the Lib Dems to choose between backing a mansion tax or maintaining unity with the Tories.

But in a keynote speech in the City of London Clegg said: "All we've got from Ed Miliband last week is some blatant plagiarism of Liberal Democrat ideas and still no remorse for the biggest economic meltdown in modern times.

"Labour cannot be taken seriously until its leaders apologise for the economic mess they created, apologise for the unfair tax system they left behind, and apologise for letting tax avoidance rip."

Labour vice chair Michael Dugher said: "Nick Clegg is a poster boy for a politician who breaks his promises and fails to deliver. Clegg and the Lib Dems will be judged for what they do, not what they say - and they are complicit in the Tory record of failure.

"The Lib Dems are cutting taxes for millionaires while millions of families are asked to pay more, seeing their living standards decline, wages failing to keep pace with inflation and cuts to their tax credits.

"Labour will vote in Parliament for a mansion tax. In government Labour wants to use this to pay for a reinstated 10p tax rate for low and middle earners.

"Nobody will take a word Nick Clegg says seriously as long as Lib Dems continue back this Tory-led government with all its unfairness and failing economic policies."

Shadow Treasury financial secretary Chris Leslie said: "It's laughable for George Osborne to claim his policies are fair when he's giving a huge tax cut to millionaires while forcing millions on middle and low incomes to pay more.

"Labour wants action now to kick-start our flatlining economy and help people struggling with the rising cost of living.

"George Osborne should back Labour's plan for a new lower 10p rate of tax paid for by a mansion tax on homes worth over £2m. This would be fair, help 25m working people on middle and low incomes and boost spending power in the economy."

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Labour And Lib Dem MPs To Join Tories In Voting Against Gay Marriage

David Cameron's gay marriage proposals are expected to divide the Conservative Party at Tuesday evening's Commons vote.

But while most of the attention is focused on the "rebellion" on the Tory benches, plenty of Labour MPs - and a couple of Lib Dems - are also opposed.

birtwistle

Lib Dem MP Gordon Birtwistle

According to the Labour List website, 14 Labour MPs are set to vote against gay marriage, putting them at odds with the party leadership.

The list includes shadow ministers Tony Cunningham, Stephen Pound and Rob Flello, and more Labour MPs are expected to abstain.

The three main parties are each allowing their MPs a free vote, meaning there is no official rebellion against the party leaderships.

Nonetheless, there is discord even in the Liberal Democrat ranks. Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle has made no secret of his opposition to the plans, telling his local newspaper: “I will vote against gay marriage. Civil partnerships are fine. Gay marriage is just not on.”

Southport MP John Pugh is also against the proposals, on the grounds that the law change "weakens the link between marriage and the family."

The Coalition for Equal Marriage, which has been tracking MPs' voting intentions, says a further nine Lib Dem MPs have yet to declare their intentions.

More anti-gay marriage votes will come from MPs from Northern Ireland, notably the Democratic Unionist Party, despite the fact that the rules will not automatically apply there.

Labour And Lib Dem MPs To Join Tories In Voting Against Gay Marriage

David Cameron's gay marriage proposals are expected to divide the Conservative Party at Tuesday evening's Commons vote.

But while most of the attention is focused on the "rebellion" on the Tory benches, plenty of Labour MPs - and a couple of Lib Dems - are also opposed.

birtwistle

Lib Dem MP Gordon Birtwistle

According to the Labour List website, 14 Labour MPs are set to vote against gay marriage, putting them at odds with the party leadership.

The list includes shadow ministers Tony Cunningham, Stephen Pound and Rob Flello, and more Labour MPs are expected to abstain.

The three main parties are each allowing their MPs a free vote, meaning there is no official rebellion against the party leaderships.

Nonetheless, there is discord even in the Liberal Democrat ranks. Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle has made no secret of his opposition to the plans, telling his local newspaper: “I will vote against gay marriage. Civil partnerships are fine. Gay marriage is just not on.”

Southport MP John Pugh is also against the proposals, on the grounds that the law change "weakens the link between marriage and the family."

The Coalition for Equal Marriage, which has been tracking MPs' voting intentions, says a further nine Lib Dem MPs have yet to declare their intentions.

More anti-gay marriage votes will come from MPs from Northern Ireland, notably the Democratic Unionist Party, despite the fact that the rules will not automatically apply there.

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David Cameron Faces Party Battle Over Europe

David Cameron is facing a challenge to hold his party together as battle lines are drawn over Europe.

With just over a week until the Prime Minister's key speech on Britain's relationship with the EU, Tory Europhiles have launched a fight-back against demands for an in-out referendum.

Cabinet minister Ken Clarke will share a platform with Labour peer Lord Mandelson later this month to stress the benefits of remaining in the union.

The move comes after fellow Conservative Lord Heseltine warned that the economy would suffer if Mr Cameron took a "punt" and committed to a national poll on membership.

Around 20 Tory MPs have also apparently signed a letter, due to be published this week, warning of "massive damage" if the UK leaves the EU.

Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, told Sky's Murnaghan show that he, Mr Cameron and many other MPs were in agreement on the EU's importance to Britain.

The Lib Dem said the idea of isolating Britain from Europe was "just mad". "That would be completely the wrong thing," he said.

"In the end it is our national interest, our national interest in terms of our economy and jobs and society that has to come first in any approach."

Labour leader Ed Miliband on Sunday criticised Mr Cameron's handling of the situation as "incredibly dangerous", and he ruled out promising a referendum before the future shape of the EU was clear.

He told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "I think he is essentially sleepwalking us towards the exit door of the EU.

"The last thing we should do is start saying for some date five, six, seven years hence, let's decide now to have an in-out referendum."

Mr Miliband went on: "As Michael Heseltine said very well ... that means you are having a referendum on a negotiation that has not yet begun, with a timescale that is uncertain and an outcome that is unknown. That is an incredible gamble.

"We know why this is happening. (Mr Cameron) is worried about the threat from UKIP and he is worried about what is happening in his own party."

Rumours have been circulating that Downing Street has given tacit approval to efforts to highlight the dangers of an exit.

In an unusual intervention last week, senior US diplomat Philip Gordon openly stated that America wanted Britain to remain in the EU.

Prominent business figures including Sir Richard Branson have also spoken out about the potentially dire consequences of severing ties.

Tory backbencher Robert Buckland, who has organised the pro-membership letter, said he had been informed that Number 10 regarded his efforts as "helpful".

"There is a silent majority out there who do not want Britain to leave the EU," he told the Mail on Sunday.

"The danger for the Tories is that because the right-wing Eurosceptics are making the most noise, we could slide towards the exit door of the EU."

According to the Observer, Mr Clarke and Lord Mandelson are spearheading a new organisation, the Centre for British Influence through Europe.

The group, due to launch at the end of the month, will apparently support a cross-party "patriotic fightback for British leadership in Europe".

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Tony Benn and Bob Crow: Two Men Who Shook The World

(Image: RMT/PA)

Global Research and Countercurrents 15/3/2014

"Tony’s death comes only a few days after the tragic loss of Bob Crow; for the second time within a week, our movement has lost an outstanding trade unionist and socialist, and I have lost a close friend.” Arthur Scargill, former leader of the National Union of Miners.

The week just gone saw two giants of the left in Britain pass away. Rail, Maritime and Transport Union leader Bob Crow went well before his time at only 52. Tony Benn, former minister in the Labour government during the 1970s and stalwart of the left, died at 88.

Tributes have poured in for both men. Their genuine friends, colleagues and admirers praised both men’s beliefs, tenacity and courage. They saw them for the men they actually were: honest individuals who remained true to their beliefs and who demonstrated unwavering support for the wholly legitimate causes they believed in.

Others who hated the socialist beliefs espoused by Benn and Crow paid back-handed complements or offered condolences by merely saying Bob Crow and Tony Benn fought well for what they believed in. Little if anything was said about what they actually believed in or the legitimacy of their beliefs.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Twitter:

 “Sad to learn of the passing of Tony Benn. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.”

PM David Cameron said:

“Tony Benn was a magnificent writer, speaker and campaigner. There was never a dull moment listening to him, even if you disagreed with him.”

When Margaret Thatcher died last year, her ‘achievements’ were listed, while her wrongdoings were conveniently glossed over. Her supporters in the media and in politics, like Hague and Cameron and those who pretended to portray a neutral stance, included in their lavish praise for her that she was a ‘conviction’ politician and her policies were regarded by some as 'divisive'. But, on the whole, the general tone of these people was that she did what had to be done. In the wake of Benn and Crow’s passing, by what is not said, it is implied that they were totally misguided.   

When Thatcher died, such people paid scant regard to the decimation of manufacturing industry under Thatcher’s tenure, the selling off public assets built up by the hands of labour over the decades to profiteers, the deregulation of financial pratices which ultimately contributed to the taxpayer having to 'bail out' billionaire bankers, the near destruction of the trade union movement, the ultimate dismantling of the post-war Keynesian consensus on behalf of global capital and the devastation of working class communities across Britain.

All of this was swept aside by bureaucrat, careerist politicians, mainstream media anchors and commentators who stated that her policies were sometimes ‘contentious’, or they spewed out some other platitude in attempt to gloss over her treacherous impacts and policies.

Those who suffered as a result of her policies and her political opponents could see through her lies about the efficacy of privatisation or her obsession with the market. Her policies helped to facilitate the shifting of power and wealth from ordinary people to the mega rich, a process the likes of which have not been seen before in modern history. 

Mick McGahey, Vice President of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) between 1972 and 1988, said that the NUM understood the Thatcher government’s determination to use the state machine against it and that in order to dismember the welfare state and engineer the appropriation of power and wealth by elite interests, the government had to break the trade union movement and they needed to break the miners first.

The miners lost and what we are left with is the Britain we have today, pillaged, manipulated and controlled by the rich.

Tony Benn stood against everything that Thatcher stood for. And that’s why in the 1980s, he was vilified. The right wing mainstream media depicted him as being part of the ‘loony left’, and in more recent times Bob Crow was often portrayed as a ‘dinosaur’, a throwback to the Benn era. Both men stood up for the rights of ordinary working class men and women and fought against incompetent management, privatisation, imperialism, the criminal wars engaged in by Britain and the policies of exploitation and the grabbing of wealth by elite interests that masquerade as neo-liberalism.

Thatcher, followed by Blair and New Labour, did immense damage to the ordinary people of Britain and was rightfully held to account by Tony Benn. When others in the Labour movement ditched their principles to become fudgers, yes-men and careerists, Benn and Crow remained true to their beliefs.

They stood opposed to the deceit, duplicity, war mongering and hypocrisy of the likes of Cameron, Hague and Blair. They did not want to bring about a ‘fairer’ capitalism, as the current leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband espouses. They had no time for a corrupt, moribund system.

There is a speech given by Tony Benn in the British parliament in 1990. At that time, the full impact and devastation of Thatcher’s policies had hit the nation. During the speech, Benn talked about having recently been on a crowded train, where people had been tapping away on calculators and not interacting or making eye contact with one another. It represented what Britain had become under Thatcherism: cold, selfish, narcissistic and an erosion of a sense of community.

The train broke down. As time went by, people began to talk with one another, offer each snacks and shared stories. Benn said it wasn’t too long before that train had been turned into a socialist train of self-help and comradeship. Human nature had finally shone through on that train and had overcome the hypocritical and damaging ‘values’ that had been rammed down the throats of the Brits under Thatcherism.

For Tony Benn, socialism wasn’t merely an ideology, it was human nature, the type found on that train. In words, deeds and personas, Tony Benn and Bob Crow embodied the genuine notion of socialism, the best aspects of 'human nature'.

The Election of Matteo Renzi and the Future of Italian Trade Unions

Matteo Renzi, mayor of Florence, was recently elected leader of the Italian Partito Democratico(Democratic Party). All Italians could vote in the contest. Between two and three million Italians (depending on your sources) turned out to cast a vote in the leadership contest with Renzi amassing almost 70% of the vote. With this clear mandate Renzi, at 38, becomes the youngest general secretary of the PD. His criticism of the political class has been scathing and the venom was not reserved for rival political parties. Instead of sparing his left-wing cohorts Renzi built his campaign around the idea that the PD needed a root-and-branch renewal. In this guest post, Darragh Golden assesses the implications of Renzi’s appointment for Italy’s largest left-wing party. Moreover, how will the relationship between political party and trade unions evolve? And what will the implications be for Italian parliamentary democracy in the immediate future?


Italy’s Left-Wing Movement

Photo by framino
Since the political earthquake of the early 1990s the Italian Left has undergone a number of evolutions (and leaders). For starters social democracy was chosen over communism with the Partito Comunista Italiana becoming the Partito Democratico di Sinistra. Absorbing a number of smaller parties the latter then became the Democratici di Sinistra(DS). Again further steps were taken to distance the party from its communist past with the removal of the hammer and sickle as the official party emblem. In 2007 the DS morphed once again and dropped the sinistra from the party name to become the currently named Partito Democratico. The colours of the national flag were adopted as the party logo.
     
Renzi has been recognized as a proponent of Third Way politics. Stylistically, he has the charismatic attributes that were associated with Blair in the mid-1990s. His speeches are delivered with gusto and often accompanied with visuals in the background. His energy and enthusiasm is reminiscent of Berlusconi twenty-years ago and Renzi will undoubtedly appeal to disaffected voters of the centre-right which too is undergoing its own identity crisis. He has become popular by declaring war on the ‘old guard’ of the political party. In his sights are the likes of D’Alema. Dismay with the current PD prime minister, Enrico Letta, has also been expressed. There is, however, another twist in the Italian saga.

Upon the election of Renzi, the likelihood of snap elections being called was not entirely implausible. Whatever hopes of an early election might have been dashed by a finding by the Constitutional Court which declared the Italian electoral law unconstitutional. This means that parliament needs to pass a new electoral law before elections can take place. Given the political nature of such a law, its formulation might take some time. Meanwhile the impatience of Italians is starting to show (see below).   

I am, however, more concerned with the substance rather than style of Matteo Renzi. Amongst other things Renzi has mentioned re-writing the Italian constitution. He has mooted pension and public sector reform as well as tax reductions. According to Renzi, labour policy needs to be ‘emancipated’ from the grip of the trade unions. On the bigger economic questions Renzi remains ambiguous. He has, however, mentioned that he will take the European Commission to task on its policy of competitive austerity.


Renzi and the Unions

The election of Renzi over the CGIL-backed candidate, Cuperlo, as general secretary of the PD does not bode well for the relationship between the party and the Italian unions, especially the CGIL. The CGIL leadership has been critical of Renzi since his first failed attempt at becoming party leader over a year ago. This is down primarily to Renzi’s proposals which include the need for greater labour market flexibility. He has also stated that labour market policy needs to be ‘emancipated’ from the grip of the trade unions. “The trade union is dead, if it doesn’t change”, Renzi exclaimed. 


Matteo Renzi, Photo by Il Fatto Quotidiano

Leader of the CGIL, Susanna Camusso, too has recently spoken of the need for change. Nevertheless, the change she has in mind is more likely to set the CGIL and Renzi on a collision course rather than ameliorate relations. At a recent conference in Bologna, Camusso declared that general strikes are no longer effective, which might be interpreted as saying that more radical actions are required. Should this prove to be the case then the leadership of the PD and the CGIL are on an inevitably confrontational course. The latter, however, are not without their woes. Internally the Camusso leadership has been criticised by the leader of the metalworkers’ federation (FIOM), Maurizio Landini.

Writing in the pages of La Repubblica Landini has slated the CGIL leadership for signing social pacts with the employers’ association Confindustria. “A pact with Confindustria”, he writes, “would be a choice dictated by fear, an escape from reality. We should have the courage not to sign pacts with no sense but look for innovative agreements based on mediation and exchange.” Perhaps Camusso’s recent statement is one of intent more along the lines of Landini? Another alternative, albeit an ambitious and complicated one, is an agreed agenda between the three trade union confederations on questions of political economy.

Although the CGIL and the PD are not formally affiliated there are strong historical links between the two. Upon Renzi’s election, Camusso commented on the “need for dialogue, but in the spirit of mutual autonomy.”  The term ‘autonomy’ has been a much (ab)used term in trade union circles. With Renzi’s appointment the term might regain some of its authenticity again more along the lines of FIOM and Landini. Such approaches, however, raise an important question: How much can a trade union achieve without political support? Again there are similarities with Blair’s strategy in the UK to put clear water between the Labour Party and the unions. What lessons can we learn from this?


The Future of Italian Democracy

Italian democracy and politics are in crisis. The centre-right party has split. Supporters of Berlusconi exited from the governing coalition. Nevertheless, the coalition, led by Enrico Letta, survived as thirty senators refused to follow Berlusconi’s order. One of the thirty included Berlusconi’s protégé Alfano, who was being primed to replace Berlusconi as leader. Currently, the leaders of the main Italian political parties are not members of parliament. Renzi (PD), Berlusconi (neo-Forza Italia), Grillo (Movimento 5 Stelle) and Salvini of Lega Nord are all extra-parliamentary leaders. What implications does this have for parliamentary democracy? Renzi aside, the other leaders are vociferously critical of the European Union.

Currently, waves of protests are taking place in numerous cities up and down the Italian peninsula. Spearheaded by transporters and farmers against the increasing price of petrol the composition of the protest groups is becoming increasingly varied. Dubbed the Forconi or pitchfork movement the protests have brought together students, the unemployed, farmers, truckers, neo-fascists, ‘ultra’ football fans and alter-globalists.  

Photo by mtmsphoto
While these protests might not come as any great surprise, given Italy’s anaemic economic performance and a paucity of political leadership to introduce political reforms, there remain a number of unanswered questions. It seems clear that the various groups are united when it comes to the Italian political class and political system. Nevertheless, questions regarding the origins, true agenda and leadership remain unanswered. Despite these open questions, some politicians, such as Beppe Grillo (M5S) and Lega Nord, have been quick to piggyback on the unrest. The former has constructed his 5-Star Movement against political patronage and the political class writ large. Neither Matteo Renzi nor the trade unions are exempt from Grillo’s critique.

Contextual conditions are important and it is in times of crisis that alliances are formed or divisions are crystallised. Should an anti-EU right-wing mobilization emerge as a powerful force, the new leadership of the PD might be more reluctant to distance itself from the trade union movement. This remains to be seen, but what seems clear is that the Italian peninsula is in turmoil.


Darragh Golden is a Ph.D. student at University College Dublin (UCD) and currently a member of the Transnational Labour Project at the Centre for Advanced Study in Oslo. His research is focused on the assessment of the positions of Italian and Irish unions on European integration since the mid-1980s.

Guardian faces parliamentary investigation over Snowden revelations

 

By Chris Marsden
18 October 2013

Britain’s Guardian newspaper is facing an investigation by at least one parliamentary committee, in line with demands made by Prime Minister David Cameron, concerning the exposures of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower from America’s National Security Agency (NSA).

Accompanied with calls for criminal prosecutions and assertions of the newspaper’s having compromised national security, the move is a major escalation in the witch-hunt and clampdown launched in response to Snowden’s revelations of mass surveillance programmes operated by the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

On Wednesday, Cameron told parliament, “I think the plain fact is that what has happened has damaged national security, and in many ways the Guardian themselves admitted that when they agreed, when asked politely by my national security adviser and Cabinet Secretary [Sir Jeremy Heywood] to destroy the files they had, they went ahead and destroyed those files.

“So they know that what they are dealing with is dangerous for national security.”

The prime minister supported calls for a full parliamentary inquiry to determine whether the Guardian broke the law by printing Snowden’s revelations.

Cameron’s claim is as barefaced a lie as it is a reactionary move.

In June, according to Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, he and other Guardian journalists were threatened with legal action and forced to destroy hard drives containing material from Snowden when “a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister” made “an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.”

According to Rusbridger, “two GCHQ security experts” oversaw the destruction. Now, Cameron cites the newspaper’s response to the government’s threats as proof of its guilt!

A spokesman for Guardian News and Media issued a statement declaring, “The prime minister is wrong to say the Guardian destroyed computer files because we agreed our reporting was damaging. We destroyed the computers because the government said it would use the full force of the law to prevent a newspaper from publishing anything about the NSA or GCHQ.”

Cameron made his statement in response to a question from former defence secretary Dr, Liam Fox, who asked for a “full and transparent assessment about whether the Guardian s involvement in the Snowden affair has damaged Britain’s national security.” Making clear he was seeking criminal charges, Fox said it was “bizarre” that that people alleged to have taken part in newspaper phone hacking have been prosecuted, while people who leave security personnel “more vulnerable” have not.

Tory backbencher Julian Smith has been granted a parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall next Tuesday over the publishing of the top-secret documents. He earlier wrote to the Metropolitan Police calling for the Guardian to be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act and the Terrorism Act 2000. He said he would use the debate to “lay out the reasons why I believe that the Guardian has crossed the line between responsible journalism and seriously risking our national security and the lives of those who seek to protect us.”

The Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has already aligned himself with the moves against the Guardian, declaring that Snowden’s leaks have “gifted” terrorists with the ability to attack Britain. The calls for repression are being made in conjunction with the Security services. New head of MI5 Andrew Parker described leaks about the Prism and Tempora programmes as handing “the advantage to the terrorists. It is the gift they need to evade us and strike at will.”

The most significant support for state persecution of journalists, newspapers and whistleblowers such as Snowden again comes from the nominal “parliamentary opposition”, the Labour Party.

Following the debate in parliament, Fox wrote to the chairmen of five Commons select committees urging them to carry out an investigation into the Guardian ’s “reckless and potentially dangerous conduct.”

“A free press does not mean the freedom to make the UK, its people or its allies more vulnerable to serious organised crime or terrorism. I am writing to formally request, as both a Member of Parliament and a former Security of State for Defence, that your committee considers the elements of the Guardian s involvement in, and publication of, the Snowden leaks.”

The first response came from Labour’s Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee.

Within hours, Vaz said he would look into “elements of the Guardian s involvement in, and publication of, the Snowden leaks.”

“I will be writing to assure Dr. Fox that the committee is currently conducting an inquiry into counter-terrorism and we will be looking at this matter as part of it.”

The other committee heads petitioned by Fox are Sir Malcolm Rifkind of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), John Arbuthnot of the Defence Committee, Richard Ottaway at Foreign Affairs and Sir Alan Beith of the Liaison Select Committee.

The ISC is presently making a pose of investigating the extent of mass surveillance carried out by the GCHQ and NSA in an inquiry launched yesterday. It has been heavily criticised for its cosy relationship with the security services, forcing Rifkind to issue platitudes such as the need to strike a “balance” between “our individual right to privacy and our collective right to security.”

The committee is now supposed to determine whether the intelligence laws are “fit for purpose”.

The move by the Home Affairs Committee to investigate the Guardian for possible criminal action cuts through such a pose of impartiality.

The entire machinery of parliament and its parties are being lined up in defence of the secret state apparatus, beginning with a clampdown on press freedom. Its implications for democratic rights are chilling. The Guardian is being targeted for revealing criminal actions by the secret services targeting every man, woman, and child in the UK and internationally for unwarranted state surveillance. This is done without legal justification or even official sanction by parliament. This demonstrates that the United Kingdom has gone far down the road to a de facto police state. It testifies to the extraordinary political and moral decay of a ruling elite poisoned by wealth, which lives in mortal fear of the millions below them being plunged ever deeper into hardship and poverty.

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Guardian faces parliamentary investigation over Snowden revelations

 

By Chris Marsden
18 October 2013

Britain’s Guardian newspaper is facing an investigation by at least one parliamentary committee, in line with demands made by Prime Minister David Cameron, concerning the exposures of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower from America’s National Security Agency (NSA).

Accompanied with calls for criminal prosecutions and assertions of the newspaper’s having compromised national security, the move is a major escalation in the witch-hunt and clampdown launched in response to Snowden’s revelations of mass surveillance programmes operated by the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

On Wednesday, Cameron told parliament, “I think the plain fact is that what has happened has damaged national security, and in many ways the Guardian themselves admitted that when they agreed, when asked politely by my national security adviser and Cabinet Secretary [Sir Jeremy Heywood] to destroy the files they had, they went ahead and destroyed those files.

“So they know that what they are dealing with is dangerous for national security.”

The prime minister supported calls for a full parliamentary inquiry to determine whether the Guardian broke the law by printing Snowden’s revelations.

Cameron’s claim is as barefaced a lie as it is a reactionary move.

In June, according to Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, he and other Guardian journalists were threatened with legal action and forced to destroy hard drives containing material from Snowden when “a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister” made “an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.”

According to Rusbridger, “two GCHQ security experts” oversaw the destruction. Now, Cameron cites the newspaper’s response to the government’s threats as proof of its guilt!

A spokesman for Guardian News and Media issued a statement declaring, “The prime minister is wrong to say the Guardian destroyed computer files because we agreed our reporting was damaging. We destroyed the computers because the government said it would use the full force of the law to prevent a newspaper from publishing anything about the NSA or GCHQ.”

Cameron made his statement in response to a question from former defence secretary Dr, Liam Fox, who asked for a “full and transparent assessment about whether the Guardian s involvement in the Snowden affair has damaged Britain’s national security.” Making clear he was seeking criminal charges, Fox said it was “bizarre” that that people alleged to have taken part in newspaper phone hacking have been prosecuted, while people who leave security personnel “more vulnerable” have not.

Tory backbencher Julian Smith has been granted a parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall next Tuesday over the publishing of the top-secret documents. He earlier wrote to the Metropolitan Police calling for the Guardian to be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act and the Terrorism Act 2000. He said he would use the debate to “lay out the reasons why I believe that the Guardian has crossed the line between responsible journalism and seriously risking our national security and the lives of those who seek to protect us.”

The Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has already aligned himself with the moves against the Guardian, declaring that Snowden’s leaks have “gifted” terrorists with the ability to attack Britain. The calls for repression are being made in conjunction with the Security services. New head of MI5 Andrew Parker described leaks about the Prism and Tempora programmes as handing “the advantage to the terrorists. It is the gift they need to evade us and strike at will.”

The most significant support for state persecution of journalists, newspapers and whistleblowers such as Snowden again comes from the nominal “parliamentary opposition”, the Labour Party.

Following the debate in parliament, Fox wrote to the chairmen of five Commons select committees urging them to carry out an investigation into the Guardian ’s “reckless and potentially dangerous conduct.”

“A free press does not mean the freedom to make the UK, its people or its allies more vulnerable to serious organised crime or terrorism. I am writing to formally request, as both a Member of Parliament and a former Security of State for Defence, that your committee considers the elements of the Guardian s involvement in, and publication of, the Snowden leaks.”

The first response came from Labour’s Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee.

Within hours, Vaz said he would look into “elements of the Guardian s involvement in, and publication of, the Snowden leaks.”

“I will be writing to assure Dr. Fox that the committee is currently conducting an inquiry into counter-terrorism and we will be looking at this matter as part of it.”

The other committee heads petitioned by Fox are Sir Malcolm Rifkind of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), John Arbuthnot of the Defence Committee, Richard Ottaway at Foreign Affairs and Sir Alan Beith of the Liaison Select Committee.

The ISC is presently making a pose of investigating the extent of mass surveillance carried out by the GCHQ and NSA in an inquiry launched yesterday. It has been heavily criticised for its cosy relationship with the security services, forcing Rifkind to issue platitudes such as the need to strike a “balance” between “our individual right to privacy and our collective right to security.”

The committee is now supposed to determine whether the intelligence laws are “fit for purpose”.

The move by the Home Affairs Committee to investigate the Guardian for possible criminal action cuts through such a pose of impartiality.

The entire machinery of parliament and its parties are being lined up in defence of the secret state apparatus, beginning with a clampdown on press freedom. Its implications for democratic rights are chilling. The Guardian is being targeted for revealing criminal actions by the secret services targeting every man, woman, and child in the UK and internationally for unwarranted state surveillance. This is done without legal justification or even official sanction by parliament. This demonstrates that the United Kingdom has gone far down the road to a de facto police state. It testifies to the extraordinary political and moral decay of a ruling elite poisoned by wealth, which lives in mortal fear of the millions below them being plunged ever deeper into hardship and poverty.

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What future for Social Democracy?

On 9 September 2013, a red-green alliance led by the social democratic Labour Party lost the Norwegian general elections. Only two weeks later, the German Social Democrats (SPD) only came a poor second with just over 25 per cent of the votes in their country’s general elections. Even if it ends up as thefor junior partner in a grand coalition, the clear winner was the centre-right Christian Democratic Party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, which missed only narrowly an absolute majority in parliament. In this post, I will assess the general situation of social democratic parties in industrialised countries and speculate about their potential future role.  

Photo by marza
Asbjørn Wahl and Roy Pedersen, two close observers of, and participants in, Norwegian struggles analysed the reasons behind the defeat in Norway. ‘In a situation in which oil revenue is pouring into the public coffers, the economic crisis goes virtually unnoticed, the unemployment rate is at a record low, real wages have been steadily increasing for a long time and most of the welfare state is still intact’, how was it possible, they ask, that the ruling coalition government lost the elections (The Bullet, Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 883, September 22, 2013)? They identify several reasons for why previous voters had turned away from the Norwegian Labour Party and its allies: the spread of New Public Management methods and a related culture of distrust, the intensification and brutalisation of working conditions, a disciplinary rather than helpful workfare policy, the lack of any new progressive policy reform as part of the Labour Party’s election manifesto as well as Norway’s participation in imperialist wars in Libya and Afghanistan. They identify ‘a pretty clear pattern of a government which has step by step moved away from its progressive platform and slid gradually toward more and more mainstream and soft neoliberal positions. This is the reason why it lost the election’ (The Bullet, Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 883, September 22, 2013).   

Photo by marza

This clearly explains the Norwegian situation to a considerable extent. And yet, I am wondering whether the more fundamental reason is not that the social democratic project in general has run out of steam. At the beginning of the 20th century, the European left broke apart into social democrats, who emphasised the importance of reforming capitalism, and communists, who argued in favour of a revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. Thus, from the beginning social democracy was always the moderate version of working class policy. And yet, even the focus on reform, nonetheless, included at least initially the aspiration to go beyond capitalism towards socialism. The welfare state, now generally considered to be the main working class/social democratic achievement, had never been more than a compromise with capital (see Forget the welfare state?). In exchange for social policies, full employment and real wage increases social democrats had to accept capital’s control over the means of production. Instead of acknowledging, however, that the welfare state had been a compromise, in the course of the 1960s and 1970s social democratic parties adopted it as their main achievement and further improvements were implemented in a technocratic way. The former ambitions to overcome capitalism were forgotten and the parties became increasingly vulnerable to soft neo-liberal policies during the 1980s and 1990s, which were presented as offering better welfare results. 

Photo by marza
Only in Sweden, against the background of increasing industrial unrest in the late 1960s, early 1970s was the attempt made to challenge capitalism more fundamentally. The Swedish Social Democratic Party (SAP) together with the main trade union LO embarked on a radical reform course in the 1970s. Industrial policy by the state was strengthened, industrial democracy in companies through co-determination introduced and, most importantly, the so-called wage-earner fund proposal put forward, which over time would have given trade unions majority control over big corporations. It was this moment, when capital’s prerogative over the control of production was threatened, that employers mobilised widely. First the social democrats lost the elections in 1976, and then upon their return to power in 1982 they only introduced a watered-down version of the initial proposal. The private ownership of the means of production was no longer questioned, the SAP itself no longer convinced about the wage earner funds initiative.


Asbjørn Wahl and Roy Pedersen are right, further social policy initiatives including new taxes on the rich or a social housing policy would have been possible. If put forward and mobilised around, the Norwegian Labour Party may have achieved a better result. It may even have been able to prevent electoral defeat, although the defeat was pretty decisive. Nevertheless, this would have only improved an already very good welfare state in Norway. It would have been a quantitative improvement. As I see it, however, this in itself is unlikely to transform social democracy into a fighting force with an alternative vision for the future. It would have been more of the same, but nothing qualitatively new. Perhaps, what is needed is a return to former ambitions of overcoming capitalism itself and move beyond the private ownership of the means of production? Unless social democracy can move beyond being the technocratic administrator of the ever more reduced welfare state, it is unlikely to be a significant force in the future.


Prof. Andreas Bieler
Professor of Political Economy
University of Nottingham/UK

Personal website: http://andreasbieler.net

7 October 2013

Fooling The Public Over Syria

Photo by Narciso Contreras 


Countercurrents 28/8/2013 and Global Research 1/9/2013

"Attempts to bypass the Security Council, once again to create artificial groundless excuses for a military intervention in the region are fraught with new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries of the Middle East and North Africa." Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich.

Despite the stance expressed by Lukashevich, Russia has been depicted by various prominent Western politicians as an obstacle to ‘humanitarian' military intervention in Syria. As hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries continue to mount as a result of US-led wars in the world, such humanitarian concerns ring hollow.

What these politicians are doing is called trying to take the public for fools.  

‘Their’ politicians

But this is what ‘their' politicians do: the taxpayer-salaried ‘public servants', who do the bidding of the powerful corporations, with the situation over Syria being a case in point (1).

In Britain, ‘public servants', like PM Cameron and Foreign Secretary Hague, dutifully obey their corporate-financier masters and their political bosses in Washington and were keen to lead Britain into a war, at first seemingly with or without the backing of the UN Security Council, with or without evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons.

Cameron said the world should not stand idly by as the Syrian government attacks its own people with chemical weapons. ‘Their' man in the Labour Party, leader Ed Miliband, seemed to be on board too. That was before MPs began to voice dissent and parliament then put a block on the plans for Britain’s involvement in any military intervention – for the time being at least.

Before any independently verified evidence was available, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel was already convinced of the Syrian government’s guilt. US State Department spokesperson Marie Haff also parroted this line on the BBC by saying: “Let there be no question about who is responsible for this.”

She also spoke about the Assad ‘regime' being intent on spreading chaos throughout the region.

Anyone who has been following this conflict (and the one in Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iraq) will note the rank hypocrisy of this Washington propagandist Haff. She should look very close to home if she wants to talk about spreading chaos (and death and destruction).   

After interviewing Chuck Hagel on TV, the BBC presented a range of military options and asked what would be the objective. Then we were told of the official line coming out of Washington, that the objective is not about regime change and not about intervening in a civil war, when quite clearly it is about both (2,3). The US and its allies fueled conflict and intervened in Libya and then helped bomb a path into Tripoli for the rebels to bring about regime change. And the US and its client states have been helping to stoke conflict in Syria for many months (4).

What Hagel, Cameron and Hague say about this conflict and how the issue of chemical weapons is being presented by much of the media is all based the same type of lie that has taken Britain to war in the recent past. And it is all being cheered on in the British press by the totally discredited Tony Blair, who urges military intervention in Syria on the basis of his foregone conclusion about the Assad government having used chemical weapons.

We should expect no better from such a man, though. The more naive might ask did Blair learn nothing from leading the country into an illegal war with Iraq? But Blair is not in the habit of learning lessons from actions that ended up in the mass killing of Iraqis - because Blair, as with Cameron and Hague, is ‘their' man too. And as ‘their' man, after leaving office, Blair has done very well indeed.

In 2012, The Telegraph newspaper in the UK discussed Tony Blair's jet set lifestyle and his UK property portfolio of seven homes worth £14 million (5). Blair is paid in the region of £3 million a year to advise both JP Morgan, the US investment bank, and also Zurich International, the global insurer based in Switzerland. On top of that he runs his own consultancy firm, which advises the oil and gas rich governments of Kuwait and Kazakhstan.  

Criminality

If we take what happened in Libya as a starting point for the type of events that may now unfold in Syria, we should turn to University of Johannesburg professor Chris Landsberg. He stated that, regarding Libya, the UN was misused to militarise policy, legalise military action and effect regime change (6). He subsequently challenged the International Criminal Court to investigate NATO for “violating international law.” Little if any talk of such matters, or of the 200 prominent African figures who accused Western nations subverting international law, by the gung ho mainstream media at the time though, which merely peddled with the pious narrative that NATO was essentially a civilising force in a barbaric world. It's the same narrative that we now witness over Syria. 

And this moral tone underpins the rhetoric about ‘protecting civilians' (by bombing them from afar – they then conveniently become ‘collateral damage’, not civilians; and that's okay because 'we' are doing it, not 'them'). It also underpins attempts to justify plans that have been in place for years to topple governments, including Assad's. US Vice-President Joe Biden has said there is "no doubt" that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons and that it must be held accountable. The situation has been prejudged by the world's self appointed policeman in order to pursue its well-documented wider geo-political agenda (7).

Washington hopes the public will be reeled in by its red-line-in-the-sand ‘look he used them’ ploy. Unfortunately for Washington, the public in the US or Britain has not been yelling for retribution. The public are tired of wars and don’t trust governments or intelligence agencies that cried wolf over Iraq and were found to be liars.

It’s not a case of who will save people from Assad, but who will save us from the lies that fuel the type of terror and instability we have seen in places such as Libya, Iraq or Syria? Who will save us from the depleted uranium or the drones? Who will save us from the aggression and militarism? Who will save us from the suffering brought about by the economic neo-liberalism of the corporate cartels and the financial institutions that dictate policy, whether military or non-military, and salt away profits in tax havens while expecting ordinary people to bear the brunt of their criminality, wars and deceptions?

The arrogance of people like US State Department spokesperson Marie Haff is breathtaking. People like Haff should think very hard before attempting to take the British public for gullible idiots. The public is not ready to accept at face value the deceit from her mouth, or some cooked up PR strategy designed to brow beat people into line. The ghost of Tony Blair’s wrongdoings haunts many British MPs, who have as a result successfully reined in Cameron and Hague, and is a constant reminder to a public that is unwilling to be fooled again.

No public appetite for war

With polls indicating very little appetite from the British public for military intervention in Syria, politicians and their PR people have their work cut to try to convince people that this is a cause worth backing (8). But at least they have a compliant media.

The BBC's depiction of NATO's attack on Libya was woefully one-sided and anti-Gadaffi (9). And thus far its track record on Syria fares little better. Take BBC world news editor Jon Williams over last year's Houla massacre incident. As noted by Chris Marsden (10), Williams admitted that the coverage of the May 2012 massacre in Syria by the world's media and the BBC was dodgy to say the least. Early in June, on his personal blog, Williams explained that, despite the claims by the BBC, there was no evidence whatsoever to identify either the Syrian Army or Alawite militias as the perpetrators of the massacre of 100 people. Indeed, leading German newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported that the Houla massacre was in fact committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and the bulk of the victims were member of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which had been largely supportive of Assad.

Williams said that the facts turned out to be few and that it was not clear who ordered the killings or why.

But why let facts get in the way of a good story? Kerry, Hagel and Haff certainly don’t. Why let the actual evidence (implicating the rebels) about a chemicals weapons incident (11) or the wider narrative (that disguises deceit and chicanery) about Syria (12) get in the way of a good fairytale? Push ahead regardless. The cooked up evidence will eventually be made to fit the preconceived policy… they hope.  

Cheer-leading from the sidelines, Tony Blair knows about that (13).


Notes














The Age of Austerity: Fighting Cuts and Privatisation.

Since coming to power in 2010, the current coalition government in the UK has implemented drastic austerity policies across the public sector. During the Spring semester 2013, the local University and College Union (UCU) association at Nottingham University organised a series of talks on local anti-cuts initiatives. The purpose of this post is to bring together the various reports from these talks.

Photo by Dean Thorpe
As different as the various areas affected by cuts are, ranging from the National Health Service (NHS) to schools to the Bedroom Tax, several common features can be identified:

(1) austerity policies have nothing to do with cutting back national debt. Rather, they are intended to open up the public sector to private investment;

(2) downward pressure on terms and conditions of those working in the public sector is the general result;

(3) austerity policies are mainly directed against the weak and vulnerable in society;

(4) austerity policies are decided by those, who will not be negatively affected by them. Cuts in education and health have no implications for the rich, who are already accessing private education and health services; and

(5) many current policies had already been initiated by previous New Labour governments. Turning austerity around will, therefore, need to go beyond defeating the current government. It also requires an internal struggle for the direction of the Labour party.

Overall, austerity is a class project against working people’s gains since 1945!

The reports collected in this post highlight the dramatic implications of cuts, but they are also a testimony to the continuation of resistance and the possibility that austerity can be defeated.



Since April 2013, health service contracts have also been offered to private providers, able to cherry pick profitable parts of the NHS such as walk-in treatment centres. Opening up the NHS to private capital is clearly the purpose underlying this change in legislation. The related implications are two-fold: (1) while patients may receive similar levels of service from these privatised units during the initial years, this is highly likely to decline later on; (2) privatisation will lead to a two-tier labour market, where workers in private facilities will earn less and have less good pensions than in the NHS. Downward pressure on wages and working conditions across the sector is the inevitable result. Yet, resistance against privatisation continues. The main aim of the Broxtowe Save Our NHS campaign is regime change and, thus, the de-selection of the current local Conservative MP Anna Soubry.


Hands Off Our Schools!

After coming to power in 2010, the new government pushed in record time an education bill through Parliament, facilitating the transition of schools into academies. In order to incentivise this transition, funds are channelled from local education authority budgets to new academies. As a result, other schools suffer further cuts and essential local services for children with special needs are under threat. There is uncertainty over teachers’ terms and conditions in academies and in general the switch to academies may be the first step towards the privatisation of education more generally, considering the recent emphasis on so-called ‘free schools’. Resistance against the transition to academies continues, but in order to be successful it requires an alliance between parents of pupils at the school and the teachers.



Women are particularly negatively affected by current austerity policies. Considering that two-thirds of public sector employees are women, job cuts in the public sector will affect women disproportionately. Moreover, it is often women in our society, which have caring responsibilities. Cuts to benefits, as a result, also affect especially women. Finally, women are also more likely to suffer from cuts to public services, considering that they are more likely to be lone parents or to suffer from domestic abuse. Nevertheless, women are not defenceless victims. The Nottingham Women’s Conference on 21 September 2013 has the goal to raise consciousness and empower women to stand up for their rights.  



The bedroom tax is one of the clearest examples of how austerity policies are mainly directed against the poor and the weak. It affects people in social housing, who are deemed to have a spare bedroom and, therefore, are asked to move to smaller accommodation or have their housing benefits cut. The tax does not only endanger these people’s livelihood, it also puts them under enormous psychological stress, as they live in constant fear of receiving a letter of eviction. Considering that the eviction of tenants is more expensive than the money saved through the tax, it may well be that social housing as such is the main target of the tax.



It is the proliferation of food banks, which most dramatically illustrates the devastating social implications of austerity. Overall, there are now 15 food banks in the wider area of Nottingham, where people can turn to in order to receive emergency food supplies. The main reason for why people need to access food banks is the changes to the welfare system. When people have their benefits withdrawn or cut by job centres, they often have no alternative than to go to a food bank to feed themselves and their families. The proliferation of food banks makes clear that austerity must be resisted and defeated.



Prof. Andreas Bieler
Professor of Political Economy
University of Nottingham/UK

Personal website: http://andreasbieler.net

18 August 2013

Tony Blair: Libya, Lockerbie, Arms and Betrayals.

The British Labour Party, which Blair headed for ten years, until 27th June 2007, have always insisted that the release had no connection with commercial deals. After leaving Downing Street, Blair visited Libya some six times.

The Age of Austerity: Fighting Cuts and Privatisation — Nottingham Bedroom Tax Campaign!

Austerity in the UK affects the public sector across the board, whether it is the National Health Service, Primary and Secondary Education, Further and Higher Education, disability services, social housing, etc. The fourth event of the series The Age of Austerity about Nottingham anti-cuts campaigns by the local UCU association at Nottingham University on 12 June dealt with the Bedroom Tax. It affects people in social housing, who are deemed to have a spare bedroom. Becky Kent and her mother Karen Wood spoke about the Nottingham Bedroom Tax Campaign, the devastating impact the tax has on people as well as the attempts to resist the attack on some of the most vulnerable members of society.
 

The Bedroom Tax: a human perspective.


Photo by Mwezibou

Karen Wood, who had worked all her life until she became seriously ill, gave a powerful presentation on the human perspective behind the Bedroom Tax. Having already had her benefits cut by one-third due to the austerity agenda, she has now been hit by the Bedroom tax. Being asked to pay an extra £21 per week leaves her with £2.50 per week for groceries, toiletries, etc. The situation she faces is a choice between either paying the tax or continuing with her already very difficult normal life. But it is not only the harsh economic situation she is confronted with, it is the enormous stress resulting from the pressure to move, the general uncertainty about her future, as well as the daily worry whether another letter threatening eviction will be delivered by the post. It is the concerns for her severely ill son, which weigh heavily on her mind. He would have nowhere to go once he is out of hospital, if she had been forced to move out of a home, where she had lived for decades and brought up her three children. Listening to Karen Wood, it became clear why 53 year old Stephanie Bottrill saw no other way out than taking her own life, when hit by the Bedroom Tax (The Mirror). As Karen Wood made also clear, however, she does not see herself as a victim, because victims don’t fight back. She is determined to fight and defeat the tax.

Photo by Alan Denney


Economic nonsense and the attack on social housing: The real purpose behind the Bedroom Tax.

Becky Kent, in turn, made clear that the Bedroom Tax does not make economic sense. As soon as tenants are £100 in arrears with their payments, eviction procedures are started. The overall process of eviction, costing several thousand pounds per person, is, however, much more expensive than the debt by tenants. Moreover, while 5500 homes in Nottingham are affected by the Bedroom Tax, there are hardly any properties available, in which people, who are asked to leave, could move into. Housing them then in private or temporary accommodation would again be much more expensive than what would be saved by avoiding these people’s debts from the tax. Additionally, it should not be forgotten that many tenants have lived in their houses for years and build up a local community network of support. Moving people would not only deprive them of their social environment, it would also require local Councils to provide expensive assistance for tasks, so far carried out by friends and neighbours.

Clearly, taking all these factors together, the Bedroom Tax is not about saving money and reducing public debt. Yet again, as in the case of restructuring in education (see Hands off our Schools!) or privatisation of the NHS (see Broxtowe Save Our NHS), the real purpose is a market-based transformation of society. Social housing has been the target of Conservatives for some time and the current crisis gives them the pretext to undermine it severely.

Photo by Mwezibou


Resisting the Bedroom Tax

The Nottingham Bedroom Tax Campaignfocuses on providing information and support for people affected by the tax. For example, they provide detailed information about the process of eviction, helping people to understand that it is actually not that easy to throw people out. It is important for people to know that the first letter threatening eviction does not imply that they have to leave within the immediate future.

The Bedroom Tax often affects some of the most vulnerable people in society, suffering from disabilities, long-term illnesses, mental health problems or a history of domestic abuse. Many have struggled for such a long time with difficult situations that they have become completely alienated from politics and find it often impossible to resist. The Bedroom Tax Campaign also provides a rallying point for these people to come together, regain confidence and develop collective agency in resistance.

Photo by Joey's Dream Garden
A key aspect of the Campaign’s strategy is to lobby and put pressure on Nottingham City Council, which is dominated by the Labour Party, to declare a no eviction commitment in relation to people, who are in arrears with their payments as a result of the Bedroom Tax. Broxtowe Borough Council has already made such a pledge, although there is only a small Labour majority unlike in Nottingham. Especially prior to the national general elections in 2013, it would be important to put pressure on the Labour Party, Becky Kent argued, to declare its position on the austerity agenda and the local level is the best place to start in relation to the Bedroom Tax. In order to sign a petition to Councillor Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council, click on the Bedroom Tax Petition. 

The Bedroom Tax is not the Poll Tax, Becky Kent concluded. Because it affects only a small part of society, unlike the Poll Tax back in the 1980s, it is much more difficult to mobilise widely. Support for the Campaign is therefore necessary and spreading information about this attack on vulnerable people remains a task of utmost importance. Ultimately, should it come to evictions in the end, the final moment of resistance will be to put up eviction pickets. Mobilisation for this clearly has to start now.



Prof. Andreas Bieler
Professor of Political Economy
University of Nottingham/UK

Personal website: http://andreasbieler.net

13 June 2013

ON REALISING THE FULL POTENTIAL OF THE PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLIES


On 18 May, the first People's Assembly took place in Nottingham to organise local resistance against the cuts by the coalition government. In this guest post, Alan Story, reflects on the lessons to be learned from the process of organising this event.

Photo by
I could not agree more with the overall thrust of the 9 May blog post by Andreas Bieler where he wrote about the need for – and political potential of – of the People’s Assemblies against Austerity now being held across the UK (see Why we need local People’s Assemblies). At a moment when opposition to this government’s cruel cutbacks is ‘highly fragmented’ and the Labour Party, as well as many unions, have almost ‘given up the struggle against austerity…local and regional People’s Assemblies are of high importance to ensure a revival of resistance and overcome the lethargy at the national level,’ Bieler wrote. And as the historian Keith Flett reminds us, such mass gatherings have a long history in the British working class movement. Meetings in Birmingham and Manchester to choose local delegates for the Chartist Convention of 1839 attracted crowds of, respectively, 200,000 and 300,000 people  (see On the History of People’s Assemblies).

So yes, the People’s Assemblies --- IF they are organised democratically and transparently and actually do create a ‘broad space to bring together the diverse groups opposed to austerity’ ---- do have some potential. (I also add the caveat: unless they also directly challenge the insipid role of the Labour Party in the growing anti-cuts campaign, PA’s have a potentially fatal Achilles’ heel.) That’s exactly why I actively participated in the organisation of the 18 May People’s Assembly in Nottingham. But I watched in growing disappointment for over six weeks as its planning committee fell apart after a series of undemocratic manoeuvres and local activists withdrew (or were excluded). This meant that the best possibilities of the Notts PA were not realised. Controlled by two trade unionists from Notts TUC, its planning committee reproduced capitalist relations of production --- that is, there were bosses and there were workers --- and its functioning mirrored the cabal politics of Westminster.  

The Notts PA did give us a flavour of the anger that is ‘out there’ in the broader community and the event has been called the ‘best-attended’ local protest meeting in some years. But the words of PA plenary speaker and disabled activist Francesca Martinez that ‘I believe in better’ led me to write an open letter to the Notts TUC.

This guest blog expands on that letter. The trajectory of events concerning a proposed crèche for the PA gives us a series of lessons as to how activists and trade unionists must learn to work together in a far better fashion in future months and in future campaigns. As a large crowd was expected at the Notts PA and as the event was to last all day, the establishment of a crèche was agreed at a Notts PA planning meeting in early April. A child care expert then did all of the planning required, including engaging the top-rated mobile crèche unit of a local non-profit agency. But the crèche never occurred. What lessons does this regrettable debacle teach us for future collaboration?  

1) BE INCLUSIVE – When establishing a crèche was first proposed, the head of planning committee clearly was rather cool to the idea. ‘I have never been to an event which had a crèche,’ he said, adding that he doubted anyone would need one. But those of us with a somewhat broader political experience and a strong commitment to assisting women to get involved in politics --- as well as appreciating the need to send a clear political signal that the PA did as well --- won that initial battle. We were, however, to lose the crèche ‘war’…as we found out a few weeks later and as we again learned our own lessons about how not to organise. The importance of inclusiveness also applies to disabled people (as it says in the open letter, ‘one accessible parking space on a steep road simple does cut it’), to working class people who may lack middle class confidence and, thankfully, glibness, and to people who are still novices at political campaigning. Concerning the latter group, one woman I know who is an extremely hard-working and talented campaigner, passionately hates injustice and who needed a crèche at the PA for her two children left the planning committee in disgust after a single session. That’s not surprising; read on.

2) OPERATE DEMOCRATICALLY – One of the reasons that more activists are getting involved in the struggle against austerity --- and indeed government policies are bringing forth new activists daily by the barrow-load --- is because they detest the increasingly dictatorial attacks on their lives, as well as the resulting alienation and sense of isolation they feel. Or they appreciate how others at the pointed end are feeling. Not surprisingly when such activists join protest campaigns or plan events AS VOLUNTEERS, they expect to feel at least some sense of community and solidarity with those who are working in the same campaign. And they can also expect a minimum level of democratic functioning. Time and time again this did not happen in the People’s Assembly planning process here in Nottingham: democratically-taken decisions (such as to establish a crèche) were ignored, some meetings were packed while others were held unannounced, and some genuinely bizarre events occurred. For example, about four weeks before the PA was to occur and before any distribution of 3,000+ flyers had even begun, the group’s chairperson decided --- without consulting anyone in the group ---- to post at midnight on the Notts PA website these words: ‘Sorry, this event is sold out.’ Such shenanigans, whether the campaign is about the lack of NHS beds or the bedroom tax, do not promote group cohesiveness and trust.
3) OPPOSE ‘CONTROL FREAKERY’ - Anyone who has ever participated in a protest campaign or organised a large event understands the need for strong leadership. But strong leadership is not the same as ‘control freakery.’ Take the question of access to a campaign’s e-mail lists, website, Facebook or Twitter accounts. In these digital days, all four of them can provide campaigners with simple, powerful - and cheap - rapid response units that allow them to connect with, inform and mobilise their target audiences. In the case of the Notts PA, there were more than 625 names on an e-mail list of people who had taken the initiative to personally send in an RSVP to say they would be attending this event. For more than a month, members of the planning committee repeatedly requested that the planning committee chairperson announce the fact that a crèche would be held and tell parents how they could register their children. A minuted meeting in late April unanimously made the same request. (You might ask:  why couldn’t they do this posting themselves? Because the chairperson was the sole person in the group with digital access rights to this media.) But these minutes were never circulated and, after that, those on the committee who wanted a crèche --- and thus wanted the group to carry out what had been agreed --- were never told where or when committee meetings were held. The committee chairperson simply did not want a crèche; so none was held. Thus the aptness of the analogy to bosses and workers made earlier. One of the first decisions any campaigning group needs to make is how, AS A GROUP, it will get out its message into cyberspace.    

4) USE EVERYBODY’S TALENTS – Some trade unionists have long experience organising campaigns. But lots of activists have many talents and experiences as well. Good leadership decides how to harness and co-ordinate the talents of all who want to work together to plan a large event or campaign against Iain Duncan-Smith’s hare-brained and cruel schemes, such as the bedroom tax. (See the open letter for a couple of examples of how this scheme is working here in the Midlands.) But it simply won’t do to have a very sickly child care expert spend many hours organising a crèche and then to scrap the idea without discussion because the building chosen to host the event would obviously be too cramped, as it proved to be, and because several people wanted to use the space selected for a crèche (and agreed to at a group meeting) for their own particular workshop. Word of a ‘bad experience’ working with --- sometimes, more accurately working for --- trade union officials advancing their own narrow agendas, personal or sectarian, can spread quickly in the community.  

5)  BE ACCOUNTABLE – Most activists join campaigns as individuals. Trade unionists, however, often join as official representatives of their union or local trades’ council and claim to speak on their behalf. But what if they, bluntly, ‘screw up’ as occurred at the Notts PA?  To whom are they accountable?  To the campaign group? To a local TUC? And is it national TUC policy to create another barrier to the wider political involvement in our movement of women, likely the main people requesting a crèche for their children? These are questions, and others, which I think trade unions need to address. 

     


It will be a while before 300,000 people attend a protest meeting held outside London; even acquiring 300,000 followers on Facebook would be an accomplishment. Bur we will never reach such a plateau unless we ALL start constructing a radically transformed opposition culture. Trade unions have a key role to play in this construction project…which can’t start too soon.

Alan Story lives in Sherwood, Nottingham and would be interested in learning your comments on this guest blog ([email protected]). All of the events mentioned above are fully documented. 

Immigration: Lib Dems Call For Security Bonds

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is to call for a bail-like system of security bonds to tackle visa abuse.

The bonds would be paid as a cash guarantee from visa applicants coming from high-risk countries and would be repaid once the visitor leaves Britain.

In his first speech on immigration as deputy prime minister, Mr Clegg will unveil the radical proposal at the liberal think-tank, the Centre Forum.

He will pledge to "lay the foundations for an immigration system that embodies this nation's instincts and its values" as he attacks the previous Labour government for "grossly" mismanaging the issue.

Earlier this month, Labour leader Ed Miliband  admitted his party failed on immigration.

Mr Miliband again said his party was wrong to relax controls - a move that allowed hundreds of thousands of foreigners to move to the UK.

Mr Clegg will say: "We are grappling with the difficult challenges in our immigration system.

"Brick by brick, we are rebuilding it. Day by day we are making sure, quite simply, that it works.

"All the British people ask is for a system they can have confidence in. We hear that, and we are delivering it.

"I'm determined we lay the foundations for an immigration system that embodies this nation's instincts and its values - our openness and tolerance on one hand, our sense of fair play, on the other."

The Deputy Prime Minister will say that visa "overstayers" are one of the biggest challenges faced by the immigration system and the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

"The challenge isn't just stopping people coming into Britain illegally, it's about dealing with individuals who come over legitimately, but then become illegal once they're already here," he will say.

To tackle this issue, Mr Clegg has asked the Home Office to run a pilot of so-called security bonds, which echoes an Australian system applied to family visas.

It is understood the cost of the bonds would vary but are likely to be in the region of four figures.

Mr Clegg will be seeking views on the proposal, including from the Home Affairs Select Committee .

"The bonds would need to be well targeted - so that they don't unfairly discriminate against particular groups," he says.

"The amounts would need to be proportionate - we mustn't penalise legitimate visa applicants who will struggle to get hold of the money."

But UKIP, which came second to the Lib Dems in the recent Eastleigh by-election after focusing its campaign on tightening immigration controls, ridiculed Mr Clegg's plans.

Party leader Nigel Farage said: "Nick Clegg now joins the cavalcade of party politicians who have suddenly noticed a simple fact, that they are not trusted with our country's borders.

"Since the Eastleigh by-election they have thrown initiative after initiative at the headlines, but to no serious effect. The bottom line is, there is nothing that he, or they, can do about mass migration into this country while our borders are controlled by the European Union."

Mr Clegg will also reveal plans to increase cash penalties for "unscrupulous" employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants because they are cheaper.

The maximum fine is £10,000 per illegal worker - Mr Clegg will call for the penalty to "double" and has asked the Home Secretary to "look into the right amount".

But the deputy prime minister will also seek to reassure British businesses that the Coalition continues to prioritise "growth and building a stronger economy" with immigration a "key part of that".

He says: "The majority of people who come here work hard and make a contribution. Many have served - and still serve - in our armed forces.

"And if every member of an immigrant community suddenly downed tools, countless businesses and services would suffer.

"The NHS would fall over."

And Mr Clegg will hit out at the Labour party for leaving the immigration system in "disarray".

"The problem is that the system has not been well managed. It has been grossly mismanaged. I cannot stress enough just how chaotic it was."

The speech comes as the Government toughens its stance on immigration with a range of new measures aimed at bringing down net migration to the tens of thousands.

UKBA officials will conduct interviews with more than 100,000 student visa applicants from "high-risk" countries outside the EU to crack down on bogus students.

And a "genuine entrepreneur" test has been introduced to tackle the rising number of foreign nationals attempting to enter Britain by fudging their bank accounts.

But in the wake of criticism from politicians and the higher education sector, some immigration rules were recently loosened in a bid to give additional flexibility to businesses and allow top international students to pursue careers in Britain.

Freedom of press under pressure: UK to launch media regulator

Published time: March 18, 2013 11:49
Britain's Conservative Party Prime Minister David Cameron (R) and with Liberal Democrat Party Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg react as they answer a question from the media during a joint press conference inside 10 Downing Street to mark the half-way point in the five-year term of the coalition government in London on January 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Peter Nicholls)

A new press watchdog is reportedly set to be established in the UK, despite fears voiced by Conservative Party leader Prime Minister David Cameron that it could jeopardize freedom of the press in the country.

MPs have reportedly reached a last-minute compromise over new press regulations following a parliamentary vote.  It has allegedly been agreed that the press watchdog will have the authority to levy six-figure fines of up to $1.5 million, as well as require newspapers to print apologies when necessary.

Negotiators initially disagreed on the terms of the proposed watchdog, which would protect individuals from malicious newspaper reporters. While all agreed that the press cannot be trusted to govern itself, many insisted – the Prime Minister among them – that if regulation of the press is necessary, it should be without political involvement.

Cameron argued that enshrining media restrictions could erode the concept of the free press:  "The idea of a law, a great, big, all-singing, all-dancing media law ... would have been bad for press freedom, bad for individual freedom," the Conservative Party leader was quoted as saying.

Members of the Hacked Off Campaign stage a photocall to illustrate how many people have signed the petition for a free but accountable press in the United Kingdom out side of Parliament in London on December 3, 2012. (AFP Photo/Andrew Cowie)

He proposed to protect victims of unruly newspapers through a royal charter, an executive document that does not require a vote in Parliament.

Opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband urged lawmakers to "stand up for the victims" of press abuse by formalizing the new press regulations into law.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, whose privacy has been repeatedly violated by the media, said she and other victims “have been hung out to dry” by the government.

Talks reportedly continued through the night on March 18, with Cameron allegedly failing to rally support for his regulatory scheme. It was reported he was forced to compromise and accept the opposition parties’ terms, some of which he had earlier described as “bad for press freedom,” in order to avoid an inevitable defeat in the House of Commons.

“After five-and-a-half hours of talks in Ed Miliband's office which ended at 2:30am, we are confident we have the basis of an agreement around our royal charter entrenched in statute,” a senior Labour source told the Daily Mail.

The heated debate over media regulation in the UK was triggered by Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into press ethics, following revelations of the illegal practice of phone-hacking by tabloid journalists.

The scandal resulted in the closure of Rupert Murdoch’s ‘News of the World’ tabloid in 2011 and a wave of resignations after it emerged that journalists had regularly eavesdropped on voicemails and hacked into computers in search of dirt on celebrities.

The UK already has one government-approved regulatory authority, Ofcom, established in 2003 to protect against “scams and sharp practices.” The Office of Communications operates under the so-called ‘Communications Act 2003,’ a parliamentary act that defines the authority of this ‘super-regulator’ in protecting the public from what might be considered harmful or offensive material.

Eric Joyce Arrested: MP Held After Bar Fight

The MP Eric Joyce has been arrested after an alleged fight in a bar at the House of Commons, Sky sources say.

The independent Member of Parliament for Falkirk was held after the incident at the Sports and Social Club bar.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "Police were called shortly before 10.30pm this evening to reports of a disturbance at a bar within the House of Commons.

"Officers attended and a man aged in his 50s was arrested in connection with this incident.

"He remains in custody and inquiries continue."

Joyce resigned from the Labour Party after butting Tory rivals Stuart Andrew and Ben Maney in a previous incident in a Commons bar last February.

The 52-year-old also punched Tory councillor Luke Mackenzie and Labour whip Phillip Wilson while going berserk and insulting officers.

After leaving Mr Andrew with a bloodied nose, Joyce told police: "He deserved it."

Joyce, who accepted he was "hammered" on red wine during the brawl, launched into a frenzied attack after shouting that the Strangers' Bar "was full of ******* Tories".

The former soldier walked away from Westminster Magistrates Court with a fine and pub banning order after admitting four counts of common assault.

He was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £1,400 to victims after he entered early guilty pleas.

Joyce was also given a 12-month community order - banning him from entering pubs and licensed premises for three months - and imposed with a curfew order from Friday to Sunday.

After the hearing, Joyce admitted he was lucky to avoid jail and said he was "deeply apologetic".

Fee to enter? Britain’s immigration crackdown continues

Published time: March 07, 2013 16:11

A Bulgarian shows his UK visa in front of the British embassy in Sofia (AFP Photo / Valentina Petrova)

Immigrants entering Britain may be forced to pay a fee, which would only be reimbursed when they leave UK soil, and if they haven’t used health services. The UK is taking an increasingly hardline stance, despite a recent sharp decline in immigration.

The UK is seeking to impose financial bonds “as a further deterrent to reduce non-compliance by high-risk nationalities,” a source close to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, told the Daily Mail. Additionally, migrant family members already residing in the country would be made to pay a sum of thousands of pounds. It would be returned upon leaving the country.

If the reform goes through, immigrants entering the country for living and work purposes would have to put down the money to guarantee they wouldn’t ‘drain’ the country’s financial resources. Such resources would include things like non-emergency care from the health service. However, if British welfare was used by migrants entering the country, they would risk losing their money.

The entry fee would additionally be used to make sure immigrants didn’t outstay their visa  (and fining them if they do), consolidating an existing act. The Immigration and Asylum Act (1999), already gives the government the right to make immigrants front some money upon entering the country, which can be retained by the government should they remain in the UK after the expiration of their visa.

Individuals from two or three countries were tagged as “high risk”, and it is at them that the scheme is targeted. The UK will not be allowed to impose the charge on immigrants from EU countries who comprise the EU’s Schengen passport-free zone.

Bulgaria and Romania had hoped to gain the same freedom to enter the UK as other EU nations, and were expected to apply to join the zone in a meeting on Thursday. However, t