Britain

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’.

“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776.

On 27th May, the Queen announced, on behalf of the new Tory government, the latest vicious attacks on workers, youth, and the poor that can be expected in the coming period: a raft of cuts to benefits, particularly aimed at young people; the depletion of the publicly owned housing stock, relied upon by those most in need; and the most serious assault on trade union rights in decades. The scene is now set for an intense class struggle in the period ahead.

Reformism in a time of capitalist crisis resembles “windmills whose sails turn in a strong wind but fail to produce a single pound of flour because there is no corn for them to grind” (Trotsky, Notes on the Situation in Britain 1925-6). The ‘ideas’ and policies on offer in the Labour leadership election are as empty as the corn silos of capitalism are bare, and there is zero prospect of anything of substance emerging from Labour in this leadership election.

Alongside the shock of a Tory majority, the other big story of the General Election results was that of Labour’s collapse in Scotland to the SNP. With the Nationalists very nearly sweeping the board with 56 out of 59 seats, it more than negated any small increase in votes Labour got in England and Wales.

The coming to power of a new Tory government opens a new stormy chapter in Britain. This is not only the conclusion of the Marxists but also of the strategists of capital:

Over the last week since the general election, David Cameron has been putting together the most right wing cabinet we have seen for decades and has lost no time in announcing some of the most reactionary laws that have been proposed in decades. Emboldened by their parliamentary majority, and freed from the ballast of coalition with the Lib Dems, the Tories have rushed to introduce further measures to stick the knife in against the working class.

Today, big business and the fat cats of the City of London are celebrating the victory of their friends in the Tory Party. Champagne bottles are popping and share prices soaring. The party of the rich is back in the saddle, and with an unexpected majority in the House of Commons. This will be a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. The super-rich non-doms will be expressing a sigh of relief. Their loot will now be safe under a Tory government.

With just one week to go till the British General Election, polling in Scotland, and the SNP in particular, has been at the forefront of reporting. Ever since a poll in October showed the SNP to be on 54% and Labour 23%, projecting Labour to fall from 41 to 4 seats and the SNP to go from 6 to 54 (out of 59 Scottish seats), focus has been on the rise of the SNP and demise of Scottish Labour. Polls have shown that rather than Labour closing the gap, the SNP’s dominance in Scotland has solidified and even extended. An STV poll released earlier this week put the nationalists on 54% of the vote, predicting that the SNP could conceivably win every single constituency in Scotland.

Without doubt, we live in the most turbulent period in history, characterised by instability and volatility at every level: economically, politically, and socially. The global economy is in the seventh year of crisis, with no end in sight. Meanwhile, fires are burning across the world, with the imperialist powers locking horns in Ukraine, Syria, Yemen and beyond. But at the same time, mass movements and revolutionary currents are developing everywhere, most sharply in Greece and Spain with the rise of SYRIZA and Podemos.

We have entered into a new period on an international scale: a period of deep economic crisis, social and political instability. The masses everywhere are beginning to question things that were previously taken for granted. The whole political scene is a seething cauldron. In such a period sharp and sudden changes are implicit in the situation. The Scottish referendum was just such a sudden change, a political earthquake that upset all the calculations of the politicians. It represented a fundamental turn in the situation.

Recent figures reported by the BBC demonstrate that the “number of children being admitted to hospital in England for self-harm is at a five-year high”. In a study done by the Health and Social Care Information Centre it was shown that in the 10-14 year old age group, admissions of girls had gone up from 3,090 to 5,953 between 2009/10 and 2013/14, whilst admissions of boys during the same period were shown to rise from 454 to 659. This is an increase of almost 93% and 45% for girls and boys respectively.

That the British ruling class has fiddled whilst Britain burns is no longer a metaphor, it is literally true. Now that the pandora’s box of paedophilic corruption at the top has been opened, an avalanche of vile revelations exposing the whole establishment spews forth each day.

With less than two months to go until the general election, and after five years of falling living standards and Tory austerity, the Con-Dem Coalition is hated and loathed. The Labour Party, by all accounts, should be charging ahead in the polls. Yet Labour find themselves neck-and-neck with the Conservatives as the election campaign picks up steam. The threat of another Tory-led government looms. The responsibility for this lies entirely with the Labour leaders, who have shown themselves to be increasingly out-of-touch from the lives of ordinary people, consistently failing to connect with the real mood of anger and radicalisation that exists across society.

Jan Duperre in Elgin, Moray: "I don't know what planet Osborne woke up on this morning, but it's not the one I live on. If we are so much better off, why has one in nine people been forced to use a food bank in the last year? Many of them folk who work full time. Zero-hour contracts and minimum wage, 20-hour-week part-time jobs might make his figures look good, but that's the only thing that does."

More than one-hundred years since the first International Working Women’s day on 8th March 1911, what is the situation for women in Britain in today? Seven years after the onslaught of the financial crisis, working class women remain oppressed due to their gender and exploited due to their class.

“The British public has become deeply cynical about the political class at Westminster”, states a recent Financial Times editorial (11/2/15). This is what is called an understatement. Contempt and anger towards bankers, property speculators, hedge fund bosses and politicians is widespread.

On February 17th Peter Oborne, one of the UK's most respected journalists, resigned from the Daily Telegraph and publicly condemned its practice of placing advertisers interests above those of the truth. As a conservative liberal, Peter Oborne is concerned that our famed and cherished 'freedom of speech' is being undermined by business interests. Freedom of expression is routinely and uncritically heralded as our society's proudest achievement to be defended at all costs. It is always assumed that, essentially, we possess this freedom, and it is only necessary to preserve it in one way or another. In truth, under capitalism there is no such thing as free expression nor a free press, for capital decides everything.

This week revelations on BBC’s Panorama have sparked an explosive scandal: HSBC, the UK’s largest – and the world’s second largest – bank, has been caught facilitating industrial-scale tax evasion, committed by some of its wealthiest clients. Thousands of leaked bank account files obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the BBC, The Guardian and others show that between 2005 and 2007 the bank’s Swiss arm colluded with clients to conceal money and whole bank accounts from their respective domestic tax authorities, whilst also marketing aggressive tax avoidance schemes for its wealthiest customers. The accounts involved were worth an estimated $119bn.

On Saturday 14 February delegates from all over Britain will be joined in London by international visitors for the 2nd Marxist Student Federation conference at SOAS. As well as discussing the international student movement across the world, students will be discussing on the perspectives and tasks for the Marxist students in Britain (See below the agenda).