For many working class families, this Christmas looks like being a grim one as the effects of the recession continue to bite. However, for bosses, bankers and City traders it looks like quite a different story.

Supporters of Socialist Appeal in Glasgow joined Greek students in a picket of the Greek Consulate to mark the one year anniversary of the police murder of Alexandros Grigoropoulos in Athens. The murder set off a revolt of working class youth throughout Greece that was met with huge police repression. The picket was held also to show solidarity with the massive demonstrations that took place throughout Greek cities last Sunday to mark the anniversary.

At a recent meeting of a local Labour Party Branch in Worcester, Britain, a slick high tech presentation was given by a group called Transition Worcester, who said they had the answer to the environmental crisis. It is to turn the clock back 200 years to a mythical age where all trade was local and people enjoyed the benefit of locally grown meat, fruit & veg. Within this presentation were ideas such as we should no longer trade with developing countries and we should therefore export our unemployment to the third world.

The TUC has worked out that the richest folk in the land get subsidised massively in their old age by the rest of us. No change there, then. So it’s nice to see the rich are all right (as usual). What about the rest of us? Nearly two thirds of over 50s are worrying that pension and savings are just not enough to see them through retirement.

Stock exchanges and commodity prices are on their way up. The world economy is showing faltering signs of recovery. There’s no doubt that it’ll be a long haul. Millions of people all over the world have had their lives devastated by the economic tsunami. It will take years to clean up all the mess. But one major national economy after another has announced that the recession is officially over – France, Germany, Japan and even the USA. All except Britain. Why is British capitalism still stubbornly stuck in the mire?

Striking refuse workers in Leeds have voted to return to work after nearly three months on the picket line. The all-out industrial action, which ran from September 7th to November 25th, was in response to savage pay-cuts that would have slashed individual wages by thousands of pounds per year. Workers attending a mass meeting at the suitably flamboyant Jongleurs Comedy Club voted by nearly four to one to return to work, endorsing a deal which benefitted many workers but raised concerns for some.

New Labour, the government that introduced tuition fees and student loans in 1998 and then narrowly passed a bill to introduce top-up fees of £3,200 per year from 2006, have recently launched a “higher education finance review” to look into raising the cap on tuition fees (possibly up to £7000 per year) and examine the way in which universities should be funded.

Internationally, capitalism is emerging from its worst crisis since the 1930s. There is palpable relief in the ranks of the ruling class at avoiding a financial meltdown. However, despite heated talk of green shoots, there is a universal gloom about the current situation.

First there were three, the sun having not yet shown its face, in the pitch black darkness of the autumn morning it was only the neon of the street lights that reflected off the red high visibility jackets of the picketing Royal Mail workers. Eddie Kacar reports on the mood at EDO in Whitechapel in the heart of the East End of London

While the leaders and lieutenants of capital continue their assault on the pay, conditions and jobs of workers everywhere, strikes have broken out sporadically across the UK, including in transport. As was the case with the bus drivers of Essex and Greater Manchester, in August the workers of GoNortheast in Washington in the North-East of England also walked out of pay talks after rejecting a pitiful offer of just 2% over 18 months.

Yesterday was Bill Landles’ 85th birthday. He is an active supporter of the Socialist Appeal in Britain and the IMT. His activity goes right back to the days of the RCP during the Second World War, where he played a role in the apprentices’ strikes. He is a living link to those early pioneering days of our movement.

UK Postal workers are out on a national two-day strike over management plans in effect to destroy the Royal Mail. Picket lines are being staged at sites up and down the country. The bosses, backed by Lord Mandelson, who is looking to hit back at the union over his failed attempt to privatise the mail, have refused to negioate.

It was only a few months ago that public anger against the banks and an unprecedented crisis of capitalism seemed to have an almost revolutionary tone. Public consciousness and official opinion seemed to have shifted decisively to the left. Yet this rage seems not to have effected any political change at all and somehow the public debate (i.e. the editorial line of the press and the rest of the media) has swung far to the right. But the anger and opposition to bank bailouts has not disappeared, it has only been driven underground because it is no longer on the media’s agenda and the lack of any political change has obviously disappointed protestors.

Postal workers across the UK have voted 3-1 in favour of national industrial action over Royal Mail's failure to reach a national agreement covering the protection of jobs, pay, terms and conditions and the cessation of managerial executive action.

In the recent period two of the most important trade unions in Britain, Amicus and the T&GWU, fused to form UNITE. Jerry Hicks, a left-wing rank and file candidate, challenged for the position of General Secretary within the former Amicus section of the new union, winning 40,000 votes. Now the fight is on to pose a challenge from the left within the new union, UNITE. There are big possibilities for the left, but there are also those who are manoeuvring to weaken such a challenge.