Britain

The verbal exchanges between Cameron and Ed Miliband over the last few weeks seem at long last to indicate that battle lines are being drawn. With 18 months until the General Election, the political ground has at last begun to shift. The Labour Party seems to be moving – in its rhetoric – slightly to the left, while the Tories are reverting back to their old image as the “nasty” party.

The strength of feeling among teachers can be seen in the magnificent turnout for the regional strikes that took place this month on October 1st and 17th. Teachers in the NUT and NAS/UWT, representing 90 per cent of teachers, have come out en masse, with the result that thousands of schools have been closed for the day.

George Osborne announced that the British economy “has turned the corner”. Cameron has chimed in to hail the new “recovery”. But after years of stagnation and falling living standards, who are they trying to kid? The economy is crawling on its belly and we are still being hit with mass unemployment and wage cuts.

Figures recently published by the Office for National Statistics have revealed that those living in the wealthiest London boroughs enjoy their good health for, on average, 18 years longer than those living in the poorest areas. Capitalism is literally making life a misery for an increasing number of working class people in Britain, and what is becoming clearer and clearer is that if we don’t break capitalism’s hold on society, then it will be capitalism that breaks our society apart even more.

In a year’s time, on 18th September 2014, Scotland will go to the polls over a key constitutional change – over whether to support an independent Scotland or not. This will be a vital issue, the outcome of which will have profound consequences for the fight for socialism in Scotland and the rest of Britain.

Although anti-immigration hysteria, racism and propaganda are nothing new to these shores, there is currently a particularly rabid hue-and-cry over immigration in Britain. It must be emphasised that this wave against immigration is artificially manufactured by the bourgeois media and parties. It is not a spontaneous reaction from below, and is currently fuelled in particular by the rise of UKIP, which in turn is a consequence of the bourgeoisie’s - and especially the Tory’s - insistence on banging the xenophobic drum for years now.

The youth of today have no tangible stake in the preservation of capitalism. The failure to provide any kind of future for young people has resulted in a cry of despair which is the death knell of any social system. Such a phenomenon is present in all the recent episodes of social explosion, from the austerity riots in the UK and Sweden, to the youth movements of Greece and Spain, and of course the great Arab revolutions.

Sharp and sudden changes in the situation - that is the nature of the period. In the space of 24 hours, Cameron and the coalition government have gone from banging the drum for military strikes against Syria to a humiliating parliamentary defeat. The situation is unprecedented, where the government of the day, recalling Parliament to basically rubber stamp a vote, has been defeated over a vote on military action.

In his masterpiece called  Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State, Engels pointed out that even in a “democratic republic”, wealth still wields power indirectly, but all the more surely. “It does this in two ways”, he explains, “by plain corruption of officials, of which America is the classic example, and by an alliance between the government and the stock exchange.”

On Tuesday 09th of July Socialist Appeal and the SOAS Marxist Society hosted a discussion at SOAS to analyse and discuss the current revolutionary situation in Egypt and, more broadly, in the Middle East. Jorge Martin and Hamid Alizadeh from the International Marxist Tendency opened the meeting to a crowd of around 40 attendees. 

In July 1888, 1,400 female workers walked out on strike at the Bryant and May factory in East London. 125 years later, that struggle still holds a place of honour in the history of the labour movement.

The May county council elections in Britain this year brought some crumbs of comfort to the Labour Party as it gained more than 260 seats and its share of the vote stood at 29%. Given the dismal record of the Coalition, Labour had hoped for more gains.