Britain

On 15-17 March, around 180 workers and students met in London for the annual national conference of supporters of Socialist Appeal, British section of the IMT. The meeting was, without a doubt, the best in the history of Socialist Appeal, as evidenced by the record attendance, the extremely enthusiastic mood, and the impressively high political level of the discussions.

With her precious Brexit deal thoroughly defeated in parliament for a second-time, Theresa May seems to have finally run out of road. Commentators on all sides are imploring the war-weary prime minister to stop flogging a dead horse and move on. But where can she go from here? The Tory government is in office but not in power. One disaster follows another in a never-ending circle. May looks (and sounds) like a dead-woman walking.

A ferocious civil war is going on inside the Labour Party – one that will determine its future. The party's right wing, largely confined to the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), have unleashed a torrent of lies, abuse and misinformation. They are backed up to the hilt by the hyenas in the capitalist media, creating a climate of McCarthyite fear and intolerance over allegations of anti-semitism.

The solidarity campaign for Rawal Asad (who has been held in custody since February on the scandalous charge of sedition after attending a peaceful protest in Multan, Pakistan) shows no sign of slowing down. On 4 March, comrades and supporters of the International Marxist Tendency coordinated a day of pressure against the Pakistani state by picketing, protesting and telephoning Pakistan's embassies all over the world, so the regime knows the world is watching, and we will not stop until our comrade is released. 

Jeremy Corbyn has promised the possibility of a second referendum in an attempt to pacify the Blairites. But such compromises will only embolden the Labour right wing. These careerists must instead be shown the door.Brexit is beginning to take its toll on Britain’s political parties. Both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are desperately attempting to hold their parties together in the face of irreconcilable divisions. But neither leader will be able to appease their rebels. Splits and shocks are the order of the day.

A Marxist student comrade of the Progressive Youth Alliance, Rawal Asad, remains in jail on the charge of sedition, having had his bail hearing rejected. In addition to continued protest in Pakistan against this injustice, messages and photographs have been pouring in all week from all over the world demanding our comrade's release.

The worldwide solidarity campaign for the release of Rawal Asad, a comrade from the Progressive Youth Alliance who was arrested in Multan and scandalously charged with sedition by the Pakistani state, has forged on apace. Photographs, videos and messages of solidarity have been flooding in from all around the globe.

Last weekend, on Saturday 16 Feb, over 110 Marxists from all over Britain met in London to discuss the nature of work under capitalism, the history and role of Marxists in the labour movement, and how students can support the fight for socialism. Just one day after the historic school student climate strike, the energy and militancy amongst the youth was tangible.

An international solidarity campaign has been launched to demand the release of comrade Rawal Asad, who was arrested in Multan for the 'crime' of attending a protest. He faces a scandalous charge of sedition, which carries a sentence of 10 years to life in prison, and a judge has now officially denied his application for bail. In addition to demonstrations in Pakistan, comrades from all over the world have been protesting outside of Pakistani embassies, and sending pictures and messages of support calling for Rawal's release, as reported below. We demand freedom for our comrade!

At least 10,000 students across the UK walked out of school on Friday 15 February, marking the arrival of the international School Strike 4 Climate movement in Britain. This movement has already mobilised hundreds of thousands of students in over 40 countries, with young people around the world participating in incredibly militant strikes and marches – the aim of which is to force governmental action on climate change.

Good riddance. This will be the sentiment amongst grassroots Labour members towards today’s news that a group of seven Blairites are splitting from the party. Delight at their departure will be mixed with immense anger towards the treacherous role that these right-wingers have been allowed to play over the past few years. The task now is to kick out the rest of the saboteurs who remain at large inside the Parliamentary Labour Party. This is why we need mandatory reselection.

On Saturday, February 16, over 100 students representing Marxist Societies at over 30 universities across Britain met in London for the Marxist Student Federation national conference. One of the points of the agenda was the current ongoing Trump coup in Venezuela.

The School Strike 4 Climate movement started in August last year, when one 15-year-old Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, walked out of her school to campaign against government inaction on climate change. The demonstrations have rapidly developed into a uniquely militant, global and organised youth movement.

On 14 November 2018, the British Medical Association (BMA) uncovered a system error by Capita, an outsourcing company responsible for ‘business processes’. Capita’s negligence led to 48,000 women not receiving their letters for cervical cancer screening and follow up, potentially putting many lives at risk.

Nearly 100 people packed the #HandsOffVenezuela meeting in London on 30 January, and heard Venezuelan ambassador Rocío Manero, Alan Woods (International Marxist Tendency), Steve Hedley (Assistant General Secretary of the RMT) and Jorge Martín (Hands Off Venezuela) discuss the ongoing imperialist coup in Venezuela, the UK’s role in it, and what can be done to fight it. The meeting also heard a message from John McDonnell MP, rejecting Trump's attempt to manufacture regime change, and declaring solidarity with

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Each new vote in the British House of Commons only reaffirms parliament’s paralysis. Yesterday MPs voted against the prospect of a no-deal Brexit – but then voted against any alternative that would avoid this default option. A deeply divided Tory party briefly united – but only to demand the impossible of their leader. And Jeremy Corbyn, having failed to bring down the government through parliamentary means, saw his Brexit proposal (to include a customs union) rejected also. So where to go from here?

The turbulent events in Westminster over the past week have done nothing to break the parliamentary paralysis over Brexit. May’s deal has been crushed, leaving the Prime Minister humiliated. But Tory rebels and DUP MPs have closed ranks to support this crumbling Conservative government.

Rejection of Theresa May’s Brexit deal was never in doubt. The question was always by how much. But the scale of last night’s defeat for the Prime Minister – losing by an unprecedented 230 votes – defied even the most pessimistic of expectations. With her proposal firmly spurned by parliament, Theresa May is now set to sail the country into uncharted waters.

Theresa May’s decision last year to postpone the vote on her Brexit deal has done little other than provide a brief respite from her insoluble dilemma. Her negotiated package remains hated by all sides. Rather than bringing people round to her proposal, the Christmas period has hardened the resolve of Brexiteers and Remainers alike.

Image: Flickr, War on Want

Since the beginning of the crisis of 2008, anti-immigrant parties and movements have made headway in Europe and the United States. They have even managed to win over certain layers of the working class to their programme. This has led a section of the labour movement to adapt itself to these ideas, calling for stricter border controls, justifying its position with quotations from Marx. Such short-sighted policies have nothing to do with Marx or the traditions of the First, Second or Third International, as we shall demonstrate.

Theresa May has survived to live another day after coming through a vote of no confidence amongst her party’s MPs with a 200-to-117 majority. But whilst the Tory leader may have won this battle, she has most certainly lost the war.

Alan Woods, editor of In Defence of Marxism, discusses the historic political crisis taking place in Britain, as the Tory Prime Minister's fate hangs in the balance. As Alan notes, the UK was once considered one of the most stable countries in the world. But now it is a source of enormous instability for world capitalism. And the crisis is not confined to Britain. May, Macron, and Merkel are all facing huge difficulties at home, as the broken status quo collapses around them. Only the call for a socialist Europe can offer a way forward.

Karl Marx once remarked to Friedrich Engels, his lifelong friend and collaborator, that there were sometimes uneventful decades in which years passed as though they were just days. But, he added, “these may be again succeeded by days into which years are compressed”. The current period in Britain is like the latter. Events are moving at a blistering pace.

The strategists of British capitalism are getting jittery. Even the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, is worried. Capitalism is having a bad time of it. Conservatives, he said, should continue to make the case for the market economy — a model which had evolved “down the ages”. “This mission is urgent,” he stated recently. But why the urgency?

Just over 25 years after its foundation, the European Union looks like it could be falling apart under the weight of its own contradictions. Everywhere you look, the major parties are coming under increased pressure due to the heightening of the class struggle as a result of 10 years of crisis. This has meant that, in one country after another, the ruling class can no longer rule in the old way.

If asked 'what is the least proletarian profession?', many might place ‘video game designer’ pretty close to the top. Until quite recently, that opinion might well have been shared by a majority of game designers themselves. But now this is changing rapidly. A snowballing of awareness is taking place about the extreme exploitation that the video games industry is based upon.

It’s been a turbulent time for the aviation industry recently. And now another airline looks unlikely to weather the storm. Flybe is up for sale, with the regional air carrier calling in accountants from KPMG in an attempt to save itself from collapse. Half-year profits have plunged and the company’s auditor, PwC, warned of “significant doubt” over its future. KPMG's involvement should have instantly set alarm bells ringing, as they were also the administrator of Monarch Airlines last year.

Finally, after months of fraught negotiations, the UK-EU negotiators have come up with a proposed deal. Written on the side, however, are instructions: light the blue touchpaper and stand well clear. All hell is about to break loose. From the point of view of big business, the draft deal is not too bad, tying the British economy to Europe. But for Tory Brexiteers, in particular, the deal is toxic.

11 November this year marks the centenary of the end of the First World War. This is known as Armistice Day, or Remembrance Sunday, in which Britain officially commemorates the service of British military personnel in the two world wars and all subsequent ones. The British establishment are going into overdrive to whip up a mood of 'patriotism'.

The headline announcement from the latest UK budget was that “the era of austerity is finally coming to an end”. This assurance, coming from a Conservative chancellor, is an indication of just how far the mood in society has shifted. After eight years of cuts borne by the working class, the vulnerable, and the poor, it is clear that ordinary people are no longer willing to tolerate any more hollow rhetoric that “we’re all in this together”.

The chaotic Brexit negotiations appear more and more like a pantomime farce, complete with constant shouting from the sidelines. But there is more at stake than just seasonal slapstick. UK Prime Minister Theresa May is in the midst of a political storm that threatens the very survival of the government. Amid cries of “appeaser” and “traitor”, she promises to make “the right choices, not the easy one”.

This week has seen thousands of women council workers taking strike action in Glasgow in an ongoing dispute over pay equality. The dispute dates back to equal pay claims from 2006, when Glasgow City Council introduced a Workforce Pay and Benefits Review System, which aimed to tackle the gender pay gap. However, under the scheme, low-paid jobs tending to be occupied by women – such as cleaning, catering and care – are being paid significantly less than jobs such as refuse collection, which are male dominated.

On 19-21 October, around 300 Marxists from Britain, Europe and beyond gathered in London for the annual Revolution Festival. This year’s festival commemorated the inspiring events of 1968, half a century on. The weekend provided an inspirational experience for all comrades present, with the political level of contributions throughout the discussions being higher than ever before.

Whilst her dancing skills have been found somewhat lacking in recent months, Theresa May has become an expert at one thing: kicking the can down the road. Of course, she has been aided in this by the real masters of this practice: the European leaders, who have turned the making of political fudge into a fine art over the last decade. But no matter how much May and her negotiating partners attempt to duck and dive, they cannot dodge the final bullet. One way or another, Britain and the rest of Europe are heading for an explosion. The only question is when.

Britain’s ultra rich are already moving their money offshore, in anticipation of a Corbyn-led Labour government. They are anxious that some of their enormous wealth will be called upon to help fund the NHS, provide free education, and build council houses. Hence many are paying vast sums to accountants to help them find better uses for their money, such as hiding it in secret offshore accounts.

Once again, this autumn, Marxist students have been hitting campuses up and down Britain, signing up eager students to university Marxist societies. This year has been the most successful yet for the Marxist Student Federation (British youth organisation of the IMT), with thousands signing up to join societies across 33 campuses, and hundreds attending meetings all over the country.

As British Prime Minister, Theresa May, lurched out onto the stage at her Tory Party conference this year, swaying robotically to the sound of ABBA’s Dancing Queen, she will have been under no illusions as to the real state of the party she was about to address.

The Labour4Clause4 campaign set up by British supporters of the IMT held a hugely successful fringe meeting at this year’s Labour Party conference. Around 80 people attended the meeting, held on 25th September, to hear about the importance of reinstating the historic Clause 4, which represented Labour’s commitment to socialist values.

The Blairites were in full retreat in Liverpool this week. By contrast, the confidence of the Corbyn movement was on display throughout: in the motions passed and in the militant speeches of left-wing MPs.

Labour Party Chancellor, John McDonnell, set a confident tone in his speech to the 2018 Labour conference. Whereas shadow chancellors normally address conference to dampen expectations, John stated he would do the opposite, because “the greater the mess we inherit, the moreradical we have to be”.

The British Labour Party is currently holding its annual conference in Liverpool, UK. Members and supporters of Socialist Appeal (British section of the IMT) have been intervening, raising our slogans of nationalisation, reinstating Clause IV (committing Labour to socialism) and kicking out the Blairites. The comrades provide this report on the conference thus far, which has already seen a stitch up to keep discussion of mandatory reselection of MPs off the table.

In Britain, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell have made a number of bold and much-welcomed pledges in order to fix the "broken economy". But what kind of economic programme should a Labour government carry out?

There are now fewer than 200 days to go before the UK officially leaves the European Union and still no agreement has been reached over the terms of its departure. As Theresa May and many of her European counterparts meet in Salzburg, they will be hoping that with enough fudge they will be able to deliver a deal that survives a ratification vote in the British parliament. But the opposition of as many as 70 Tory MPs could be enough to shatter their proposals and send the UK crashing out of the EU without any deal on 29 March 2019.

Two weeks ago, British Prime Minister Theresa May embarked on a three-day jaunt across Africa, visiting South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. The purpose of May’s whistle stop tour (aside from showcasing her inimitable dance moves) was to strike up post-Brexit trade relations with Africa’s “emerging economies”. The visit was a cringe worthy affair that saw May shuffle awkwardly from one public relations blunder to the next, and it highlighted the decline of British imperialism and the crisis facing the capitalist class as the Brexit cliffedge looms.