Britain

“The Governor of the Bank of England has warned that massive job losses driven by technology could resuscitate Marxism in the West,” announced the Daily Telegraphrecently.

We publish here an in-depth analysis of the political situation in Britain, which was discussed at the recent conference of Socialist Appeal supporters. Although originally drafted in December, the processes and contradictions that this document outlines still lie at the heart of British politics. In this first part, we look at the long-term crisis of British capitalism, the implications of Brexit, the movement on the industrial plane, and the ever-growing anger towards the elite.

Hundreds of people of Caribbean origin, who migrated to Britain as part of the ‘Windrush generation’ (named after a ship that famously brought a large number of West Indian immigrants to London in 1948) are having their citizenship called into question by the state. Despite having lived and worked in the country for most of their lives, many such people (largely of retirement age) are now facing severe problems with their immigration status – seemingly out of the blue.

On Monday, David Davis and Michel Barnier – the lead Brexit negotiators for Britain and the EU respectively – announced that an agreement had been reached to implement a 21-month transitional period following the original March 2019 deadline. During this time, the status quo would apply and the UK would effectively remain in the EU. The extension period, it is hoped, would be used to thrash out the final Brexit deal, including the as-yet-unspecified future trading arrangements.

One decade on from the onset of the Great Recession, and British society is undergoing a series of crises: economic, political, and social. The status quo has broken; the centre ground has collapsed; political polarisation and radicalisation is taking place everywhere.

There is an old film starring Peter Sellers called The Mouse that Roared that describes a comical situation in which a tiny, insignificant, European nation declares war on the United States in order to obtain aid. By a peculiar twist of circumstances, they win. The scenario of this amusing production was strikingly brought to mind by the events of the last few days in Britain.

Alan Woods, editor of In Defence of Marxism, discusses the latest spy thriller: the attempted assassination of an MI6 double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, which the Tories are blaming on the Kremlin. But what lies behind this story? Alan argues that there is something suspiciously theatrical about the use of nerve gas (a 'Cold War relic') to bump off an ex-spy. But maintaining a sense of Cold War tension is certainly in the interests of the British ruling class.

On Wednesday the Crown Prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is visiting Britain on a 3 day visit where he will meet up with top business figures as well as Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

Miembros del Partido Laborista Británico y de los sindicatos han lanzado una nueva campaña llamada Labour4Clause4 (Laboristas por la Cláusula 4), que tiene como objetivo restaurar la Cláusula 4 en los Estatutos del Partido, y comprometer al Partido Laborista con las políticas socialistas. Esta campaña cuenta con el pleno apoyo de Socialist Appeal (sección británica de la CMI). Hacemos un llamamiento a las agrupaciones locales del Partido Laborista, agrupaciones sindicales y organizaciones estudiantiles para que lo apoyen donde sea posible.

27 February marked the centenary of the adoption of the socialist aims of the British Labour Party. At a special Labour conference in February 1918 at Central Hall, Westminster, under the direct impact of the Russian Revolution, the party adopted a new constitution that contained the famous Clause 4.

With the recent announcement in Britain of the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and the upcoming wedding, we call not for celebration of but the abolition of the monarchy. The royal family is a feudal relic and symbol of national chauvinism which, along with the House of Lords, reveals what our so-called ‘democracy’ really is – a system designed and run to serve the interests of the ruling class. The monarchy is a drain on the public purse, receiving handouts of £35.7 million per year on top of countless other expenses. The upcoming royal wedding is an excellent example of this. While the royal family will pay for the wedding ceremony, reception etc., the taxpayer will foot the bill for the policing, security costs and public order arrangements around the event. Kate and William’s 2011 wedding saw £15 million spent of policing alone, with 5000 officers deployed. This time we can expect the same arrangements, if not even greater measures following the recent increase in

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50 years after the revolutionary events of 1968, one hundred revolutionary Marxist students gathered at SOAS in London for the annual Marxist Student Federation conference. With comrades from Glasgow to Southampton present, the Federation’s fifth conference was its most enjoyable yet.

A new campaign has been launched by British Labour Party and trade union members called Labour4Clause4, which aims to restore Clause 4 and commit the Labour Party to socialist policies. This campaign has the full support of Socialist Appeal (British section of the IMT). We call on local Labour parties, trade union branches, and student societies to endorse it wherever possible.

A recent poll finds that young people in the UK today see capitalism as more dangerous than communism. But what has really sent the establishment into a frenzy is Marxist student Fiona Lali's defence of communism on BBC Radio 4.

Workers in Britain have been under attack from the bosses and the Tory government for years. And yet many trade union leaders do not seem capable of fighting back. This is one of the reasons that unions last year experienced the biggest single drop in their membership since records began. Total union membership is now just 6.2 million workers, compared to 13.2 million in 1979.

The collapse of Carillion has come as a shock to the company’s workers and the public who rely on its services. But it seems that Westminster politicians and City bankers were fully aware of the dodgy dealings going on at the construction and outsourcing giant.

By kicking off 2018 with a cabinet reshuffle, May had intended to re-establish her authority over the Tory Party and her cabinet. The Prime Minister hoped to send out a signal that her administration had found a new stability. But it was not to be.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will stop research on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and is expected to lay-off 300 research and development staff in Massachusetts and Connecticut, in a move that could severely hamper progress towards effective treatments for these illnesses – proving that critical medical research cannot be left in the hands of capitalist profiteers. Corporations like Pfizer should be expropriated and their assets, data and equipment placed under democratic control, to be used for the betterment of mankind.

One phone call from Arlene Foster to the British Prime Minister Theresa May was enough to halt a deal between the European Union and British government, already agreed on Monday 4 December. Arlene Foster is the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland: a right-wing party with its roots in the anti-Catholicism of its former leader Ian Paisley. It is also pro-life, anti-gay and deeply reactionary.

On Monday 4 December, it was finally announced that a deal on phase one of the Brexit negotiations was about to be struck. The Financial Times lauded the Brexiteers' “surprising realism” in a negotiation described by one former head of the Treasury as more like a “drive-by shooting” than a negotiation.

Investment banking giant Morgan Stanley recently published a report that warned its clients about the possibility of a general election in 2018 and - in turn - of a Corbyn-led Labour victory. Such an outcome, the bankers described, would be a “worse threat to business than Brexit”.

British capitalism is clearly in a parlous state. The miserable spurt of growth of a few years ago has completely run out of steam, leaving the UK in a disastrous position. All the economic forecasts from the top institutions for the coming period have been downgraded from those of a year ago.

Richard Leonard, the left candidate for Scottish Labour leader, has won a close fought race to succeed Kezia Dugdale. His victory represents the most significant gain for the Left in its struggle to win control of the overall party since Corbyn’s victory itself.

The lack of any major announcements in this year’s budget, delivered on 22 November by the chancellor, Philip Hammond, reflects the insoluble web of contradictions that now entangles the Tory government.

The revelations of harassment in Westminster reflect the rottenness of the establishment and the crisis facing this Tory government.

“I have never seen a class so deeply demoralised, so incurably debased by selfishness, so corroded within, so incapable of progress, as the English bourgeoisie,” commented Frederick Engels more than 150 years ago. Such an appraisal could have been written today. The establishment is in crisis and so is the Tory government. They are being paralysed by one revelation and scandal after another. There appears to be no let up. Meanwhile, the stalemate over the Brexit negotiations is forcing them to peer over a very-unnerving precipice.

Anyone struggling to make ends meet, trying to survive from one payday to the next, will be amazed to discover the we are now at the “peak of the second Gilded Age”. These words are those of Josef Stadler, the Global Head of the Ultra High Net Worth division at UBS, commenting on a report on the way that the wealth of the rich has risen over the last period.

Rob Sewell looks at the damning condemnations against the capitalist system being uttered by none other than the capitalists themselves. By examining the ominous warnings of the Financial Times - a key bourgeois mouthpiece - Rob explains that even the capitalists see the writing on the wall...

Just when Theresa May and the Tories would have been hoping for some respite after a dismal conference period, the OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) has sent a shockwave through British political and business circles. In its annual “Forecast Evaluation Report” (FER), published this month, the OBR downgraded the UK’s economic outlook, having revealed that both GDP and productivity growth had consistently fallen short of OBR predictions over the last two years.

Tal como analiza Josh Holroyd, el futuro para el Reino Unido y la UE bajo el capitalismo es: estancamiento, depresión y austeridad. El caos del Brexit es un precursor de nuevas crisis en Europa mientras el sistema continúa desmoronándose.

Theresa May, having ridden high in the nine months following her coronation as Tory leader and prime minister back in 2016, has now met with a dastardly fall. Since the June general election result - which robbed her of her parliamentary majority - everything seems to have gone belly up.

The Brexit negotiations appear to have ground to a halt. “There was nothing, zero, no progress,” said one official last week. Not surprisingly, there is now a deep sense of frustration, not to mention deep anxiety, about where things are heading. Philip Hammond, the current chancellor, has even warned that a “no deal” scenario would ground all aircraft on day one, clog up all the ports and impose a “hard” border in the North of Ireland.

 As Josh Holroyd discusses, the future for both the UK and EU under capitalism is one of stagnation, slump, and austerity. The chaos of Brexit is a precursor to further crises in Europe as the system continues to unravel.

Socialist Appeal (British section of the International Marxist Tendency) will hold its October Revolution festival in one week. Don't miss out on this incredible celebration of Marxist ideas on the centenary of the Russian Revolution.

Daniel Morley discusses the bold measures needed to ensure that the policies outlined in Corbyn's recent speech to Labour conference are realised in practice.

Despite Labour riding high in the polls, Corbyn’s critics are desperate to appease big business and the banks by remaining in the European Union and maintaining the status quo. As a result of vocal outrage from the right-wing of the party, Labour have made a U-turn on the question of Brexit. Corbyn and the Left should be fighting for a socialist alternative.

20 years ago today, on 31st August 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, died as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash in Paris. In the following weeks, a spontaneous mass outburst of grief and emotion swept across the country, catching the Royal Family and the whole Establishment by surprise.

Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal, replies to sectarian slanders and points the way forward for the unions in the fight to reclaim the Labour Party, defend Jeremy Corbyn, and fight for socialist policies.

At the recent annual general meeting of the RMT, the rail union, the question of affiliation to the Labour Party was discussed, after being rejected last year. At a packed conference fringe meeting John McDonnell, the shadow Labour chancellor, made a personal appeal for the union to “come home” to Labour.

Nigh on ten years from the initial announcement of the building of two aircraft carriers, the first behemoth, HMS Queen Elizabeth, inched towards the sea under the Forth Bridge on its way to its first sea trials.

As the election results came in after the polls closed in June, expressions of shock were to be seen not only on the faces of the Tories and press commentators (who had all expected a large Tory win), but also on the faces of the Labour right wing. They had spent months arguing that Jeremy Corbyn and the ideas he stood for were huge vote losers and that a thrashing for Labour was on the cards come a general election. How wrong they all were.

Photo: Socialist Appeal

The mood was jubilant and euphoric in central London on Saturday 1st July, as chants of “Oh Jer-e-my Cor-byn!” rang out through the streets of Whitehall and Westminster.

Tory-DUP coalition

After a thin Queen’s Speech and long negotiations, Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster finally appeared outside Downing Street earlier this week to shake hands on the deal that will keep May in power - for now.

“In developments of such magnitude twenty years are more than a day - though later on days may come again in which twenty years are embedded.” (Karl Marx, 9 April 1863)

With the rise of Corbyn, the SNP government needed to move to the left. Given the actual rise of a Frankenstein Tory right in Scotland, we were hardly risking anything. Besides, this morning we might have been celebrating a Corbyn government backed by the votes of nearly 59 SNP MPs.” - SNP MP, George Kerevan