Britain

We publish here a document written by the British Marxists of Socialist Appeal. The document analyses the explosive economic and political situation developing in Britain. In this first part, we look at the decline of British capitalism and the radicalisation taking place in society due to years of austerity.

As the crisis of capitalism deepens, all that was once solid is melting to air. The European Union, designed to strengthen European capitalism against the crushing dominance of the world market, is now unravelling at the seams.

As in Britain, millions of Americans have been battered by the economic crisis, suffering from low-paid jobs and falling living standards. As in Britain, despite the crisis, there are grotesque and rising levels of wealth and income concentrated just in the hands of America’s billionaire elite.

With the endless coverage of Labour in-fighting in the media one could be forgiven for assuming that the rest of British politics was a sea of tranquillity. But over the last few months the burgeoning split in the Tory Party over the question of the EU has burst to the surface.

Over 100 young revolutionaries gathered at SOAS in London on 13th February for the largest ever national conference of the Marxist Student Federation. Among them were delegates from all over the country, from Durham to Brighton and from Swansea to Southend, as well as a representative from the Pittsburgh Marxist Student Association in the USA.

The 2016 national conference of the Marxist Student Federation will take place on Saturday 13th February in SOAS university, London. We encourage everyone who is interested in the ideas of Marxism and who would like to meet Marxist student activists from all over Britain to attend and participate in the debates and discussions.

The Corbyn movement that began last summer represented the beginning of a political revolution inside the Labour Party. But this transformation is not yet complete. On the one hand, thanks to his enormous grassroots support, Corbyn has weathered the storm of hysteria and attacks from the Tory press and the Blairites, emerging stronger in his position as leader. On the other hand, however, the right wing of the Labour Party, residing primarily in Westminster, has not been completely routed and continues to skirmish with Corbyn in an attempt to destabilise and discredit him as leader. Corbyn has won many battles thus far; but Labour’s civil war is far from over.

George Osborne, the Tory chancellor, who only six weeks ago was boasting about the strength of the British economy, has now had to issue a bleak warning for the coming year. 2016 could mark “the beginning of the decline” for Britain unless the country swallows a large dose of austerity medicine. A culmination of weakening world growth, plummeting oil prices, and a sharp slowdown in China, amongst other things, has blown Osborne’s economic predictions out of the water. His latest talk is of “a dangerous cocktail of new threats”, which have suddenly emerged.

In the end it was by no means the “night of the long knives” that the national press were predicting. However, the reshuffle of Labour’s shadow cabinet in Westminster was critical enough to enrage the Blairites who infest the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

2015 was a turbulent year in British politics, with the general election, mass demonstrations, and the rise of the Corbyn movement. Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal, looks ahead to what 2016 has in store, as the Tories ramp up their austerity and the Blairites sharpen their knifes in preparation to stab Corbyn in the back.

Junior doctors in Britain are preparing to strike next week for the first time in their history. We publish today a statement by Dr. Yannis Gourtsoyannis, a member of the BMA (British Medical Association) national executive junior doctors committee, calling for united working class action to defend the junior doctors and fight austerity.

Everyone was on the edge of their seats, braced for terrible news. The grim realities of life ‘up North’ were about to come crashing down onto Corbyn’s hippy head, sending his naive dreams scattering into a puddle along with his crown of flowers.

Following nearly eleven hours of heated parliamentary debate, Cameron secured a big parliamentary majority for the bombing of Syria. All kinds of arguments were dug up and used to justify this action. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury declared his support for this “just war”, as the Church had done on all previous occasions.

Members of Parliament, tomorrow, will once again be voting on whether to take the country to war in the Middle East. Cameron is leading the charge; but after a retreat by Corbyn, right-wing Labour MPs will now have a free hand to support the Tory leader. The question of Syria has brought all the contradictions in the Labour Party to the surface. The Blairites’ enthusiasm for yet another imperialist adventure, however, may well be their demise.

David Cameron is once again banging the war drum for intervention in Syria. Having been defeated on the issue in 2013, Cameron is now cynically using the horrific attacks in Paris to attempt to whip up support for military action, attempting to capitalise on the understandable outrage of millions against the barbaric ISIS.

As Osborne takes his axe to welfare spending, hacking away at the livelihoods of the most vulnerable layers of society, millions will be facing a very bleak Christmas indeed. The Tories will see to it that for many it will not be a season of joy and goodwill.

The election of Jeremy Corbyn provided the one thing that was lacking in Britain: a point of reference for the accumulated discontent and frustration of the masses. It is beginning to regenerate the Labour Party and push it to the left. That represents a mortal danger to the ruling class and they will stop at nothing to destroy it.

For a very long time British politics has resembled a stagnant pond.  With the election of Jeremy Corbyn in a landslide victory it felt as if a huge stone had been thrown into it, making gigantic waves that have transformed the entire political landscape. But not everyone is pleased.

On Friday 6th November, Andrew Fisher – a longstanding Labour left-winger, recently appointed as a political advisor to Jeremy Corbyn – was suspended from the Labour Party. His crime? A single tweet, sent in August 2014, in which he satirically called upon those in Croydon South constituency to vote for the candidate from Class War, an anarchist organisation, instead of the Blairite Labour candidate, Emily Benn.

The UK steel industry has again been plunged into further crisis following the latest announcement of an expected 1,200 jobs to be cut at Tata Steel in Scunthorpe and Scotland. This comes just weeks after the sudden shutdown of the SSI plants in Redcar, Teesside, with a further 2,200 associated redundancies, as well as the risk of 1,700 job losses at Caparo Industries, which entered into administration on Monday this week.

Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for the Labour leadership opened the lid on the seething anger against austerity and the whole political establishment within society. His landslide victory was a political earthquake that left the right wing visibly shaken.

The latest revelations from Lord Ashcroft’s biography of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, have once again lifted the lid on the sordid and sleazy world of the rich and the elite. At the same time, the airing of such dirty laundry in public is yet another demonstration of the crisis of the Establishment, which is rapidly losing all moral authority and legitimacy in the eyes of the masses following one scandal after another.

US regulators have discovered German carmaker Volkswagen has been systematically cheating its emissions tests on diesel vehicles, in order to increase its profits. The scale of the scandal is huge, with Volkswagen subsequently admitting to installing “defeat devices” on 11 million of its vehicles.

In the days following Jeremy Corbyn's inspirational landslide victory in the Labour leadership election, the Tories, the right-wing press, and the Blairites within the Labour Party have stepped up their campaign of hysteria and attacks against the new Labour leader. We call on all our readers to get organised in defence of Corbyn. Hands Off Corbyn!

“The Labour Party is now a threat to our national security, our economic security and your family's security.” This was the way in which David Cameron greeted Jeremy Corbyn’s victory on twitter. None of the usual parliamentary niceties, straight onto scare-mongering. In case the message had been lost, Cameron’s tweet was followed by a video produced by Conservative Party HQ full of images of gun touting ISIS terrorists running around in tanks and jeeps waving black flags.

In March 2009, the Information Commissioner’s Office (a public body set up to investigate the misuse of individuals’ private information) exposed the existence of a ‘blacklist’ containing the names of 3,213 individuals, largely construction workers. The “Consulting Association”, as it was known, had operated from 1993, systematically compiling a database of workers’ personal details as well as substantive entries regarding their conduct, political affiliations and trade union activities.

Jeremy Corbyn’s stunning victory in the Labour leadership election has dealt a decisive blow to the right-wing of the party. It has exposed as false the empty Blairite rhetoric about the importance of the “middle ground” and is a denunciation of the abandonment of Labour’s socialist policies in the New Labour years.

This astonishing victory of Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader of the Labour Party represents a political earthquake of monumental proportions. It has turned the political map of Britain upside down. Hundreds of thousands of workers and youth, desperate for change, are celebrating this victory all over the country. Michael Meacher has correctly described the Corbyn campaign as “the biggest non-revolutionary upturning of the social order.”

100 days that shook Britain. That should be the name historians give to this summer’s Labour leadership campaign, if not for the fact that the next 100 days, in which Corbyn will most likely be leader of the party, will shake Britain much more still.

After weeks of participating in the despicable, racist bile being thrown at the thousands of desperate Asian and African refugees making their way to Europe, David Cameron has announced that he would allow 20,000 people to find refuge in Britain over the next five years. This announcement is the very definition of a political fudge, but it is one which will have fatal consequences for many innocent people.

This Labour leadership election, hailed by Jeremy Corbyn as the most democratic party leadership election ever, is being stained by the purge of left-wing members and supporters from the Party. Last week saw a Kafka-esque wave of letters sent out by Party bureaucrats informing thousands of people that they would not be allowed to vote in the leadership election because they did not support the “aims and values of the Party” or because they support an organisation opposed to Labour.

A political earthquake is shaking the Labour Party to its foundations. An unprecedented 610,000 are voting to elect a new leader. The ramifications are being felt everywhere. The mood of anger and bitterness that has built up in society was desperately searching for an outlet. In Scotland, it found the outlet in the Referendum and the rise of the SNP. Now Corbyn’s campaign for Labour leader has acted like a lightning rod for this discontent. It appears to be unstoppable, with Jeremy Corbyn on course to win the Labour leadership contest.

The Corbyn campaign for Labour leadership, it seems, likes to operate at the 11th hour. It was only with two minutes to go that Corbyn reached the required 35 nominations from MPs. And now, in the final 24 hours before the registration deadline, over 160,000 people have applied as members or supporters in order to vote in the leadership contest. Nobody is in any doubt as to who the vast majority of these applicants will be supporting.

Yesterday evening 2,500 people descended on central London to hear Jeremy Corbyn put forward a bold alternative to austerity at the latest in a series of mass meetings taking place up a down the country. The rally was so oversubscribed that despite the main hall of the cavernous Camden Centre being packed to bursting point, two other ‘overflow’ halls were filled with Corbyn supporters, while hundreds more waited outside, unable to squeeze into the building.

The vote on the Tories’ welfare reform bill, which would see £12 billion cut from the welfare budget, has revealed the depths of servility to which the Blairite leaders of the Labour Party like Harriet Harman are prepared to stoop. This issue has burst open the abscess at the heart of the Labour Party leadership, exposing the depth of rottenness that has set in: 184 members shamefully abstained on the Tory proposals. Meanwhile a fifth of the parliamentary party, 48 MPs, including many of the 2015 intake, rejected the leadership’s stance in one of the biggest Labour rebellions in recent years.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. And so it is that after a week of frothing at the mouth and spewing forth a torrent of bile and vitriol, the New Labour acolytes have finally called forward their Messiah to try and push back the surging Corbyn tide. Unfortunately for these Tories in disguise, the intervention of their Dear Leader will not have the intended effect. So hated is the war criminal Blair, and so patronising and condescending is his “advice” to Labour members, that his contribution in the debate will only push further layers into supporting Jeremy in his leadership bid.

To the shock and surprise of the Blairites, Jeremy Corbyn has emerged as the frontrunner in the race to become the next leader of the Labour Party. At the time of writing Jeremy has secured the nominations of 70 constituency Labour parties, ahead of the ‘favourite’ Andy Burnham at 67, with Yvette Cooper on 58 and the arch Blairite Liz Kendall trailing at 12. At the same time a leaked private poll of party members has shown Jeremy to have a commanding lead of 15 points over his three right-wing opponents.

The bankers and capitalists of Europe have stamped their iron heel down on the people of Greece. Despite the democratic decision of the Greek people to oppose the nightmare of austerity – overwhelmingly in both the January general election and the recent referendum - the dictatorship of big business has said “No!” The Greek people must endure a new Versailles Treaty, where chunks of the country will be sold off to the highest bidder. Faced with decades of penury, they are being systematically turned into a semi-colony.

An extremely successful academic year for the Marxist societies at British Universities was brought to a close with an equally successful weekend of inspiring discussions at REVOLUTION 2015, organised by Socialist Appealand the Marxist Student Federation between 26-28th June. Over 80 students and youth participated over the weekend, contributing enthusiastically in the debates and discussions about the revolutionary ideas of Marxism.

The news that the national executive of Unite, Britain’s largest union, has come out in support of Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign to become Labour leader will be welcomed by both Labour members and trade unionists. Corbyn has also received the backing of ASLEF, RMT, FBU, and BFAWA trade unions, and from the Socialist Education Association. Other unions and organisations - particularly the other big unions of Unison and GMB - must now also act to reflect the will of their members and follow suit.

Luke Wilson, a Labour Party and Unite the Union member, examines the programme and position of Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing Labour MP, whose campaign for the Labour leadership is gathering momentum on the basis of his anti-austerity, anti-war stance. How do we really fight the cuts and campaign against oppression and war internationally?

Saturday’s End Austerity Now demonstrations defied all expectations. Prior to these events, the protest’s organisers, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity – a national coalition of local community campaigns, trade unions, and activist groups – had estimated that the attendance in London would be between 50,000 and 100,000. In the end, police estimates for the London demonstration alone gave a figure of around 250,000, with likely numbers exceeding this. Thousands more took to the streets in Liverpool and Glasgow. From the title of the protest to the placards on display and the slogans being shouted, the message was loud and clear: we reject your austerity!

To the shock and surprise of mainstream political commentators, Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing Labour MP, has emerged as the clear winner in the first televised Labour leadership hustings. 82% of respondents on an online poll by the Daily Mirror considered Jeremy to have won the debate. Even the arch Tory paper, the Daily Telegraph was forced to admit he ‘wowed the audience with his Left-wing agenda’.