Archive for the ‘England’ Category

Below is an article submitted to Redline by Alec Abbott written 18 April 2017

1. A quintessentially liberal cycle: from smugness to despair, from despair to hope and from hope to smugness

The initial blow

Trump’s election victory left the liberals reeling with shock and incomprehension. Detached from the poverty and discontent around them, and supremely confident in the Democratic Party’s electoral machine, they saw Hillary Clinton as unassailable. Her defeat did little to diminish their disdain for ordinary working people, or to improve their grasp of US realities.download

Rather than consider the socio-economic forces that brought Trump into office, the liberals focused almost exclusively on his personality, his egocentric greed for power, money and fame. Some went so far as to detect the sinister hand of Moscow at work. When asked how he viewed Trump’s relationship with Russia, Bernie Sanders, always hovering between radical liberalism and mild social-democracy, replied:

‘The American people are astounded that when you have an authoritarian like Putin who is moving Russia more and more towards an authoritarian society, President Trump has only positive things to say about this authoritarian figure. What hold does Russia have over the President? We know that Russian oligarchs lent Trump and his associates money. Does that have anything to do with Trump’s relationship with Russia?’ (CNN News, 30/3/2017)

From the start of the election campaign, liberals viewed Trump as an impulsive maverick, a right-wing bigot who has little regard for civilized norms of behaviour. Only by pandering to the worst prejudices of disaffected Americans, they maintained, would he succeed in capturing the presidency. The great unknown was how this relative new-comer to politics would behave once in office. Would he adapt his election pledges to political reality or would he pursue his outlandish agenda to the bitter end? That was the question on the minds of liberal commentators as Trump assumed the position of the 45th president of the US.

In no time at all the liberals gave vent to their despair. Maggie Lake, CNN commentator and political analyst, bewailed: ‘He hasn’t changed. There was the expectation that the office changes the man but we have not seen this with Donald Trump.’ (CNN News, 23/3/2017) Not long after, The Los Angeles Times, a prominent liberal organ, delivered the following lamentation:

‘Like millions of other Americans, we clung to a slim hope that the new president would turn out to be all noise and bluster, or that the people around him in the White House would act as a check on his worst instincts, or that he would be sobered and transformed by the awesome responsibilities of office. Instead … it is increasingly clear that those hopes were misplaced.’ (4/4/2017) (more…)

by Phil Duncan

Last week local government elections were held in many parts of Britain.

As expected Labour did very badly and the Conservatives did pretty well.  In addition, the Welsh nationalists advanced and the Scottish nationalists stalled.  And UKIP was annihilated.  The Liberal Democrats’ ‘resurgence’ failed to emerge.

The Conservatives gained 563 council seats and Labour lost 382.  Plaid Cymru gained 33.

The Conservatives made progress in some traditional Labour heartlands, including the poorest council area in the whole of Britain, which went Tory.  Labour also lost control of Glasgow for the first time in decades.

The Tories displaced Labour as the largest party in terms of council seats in (more…)

by Daphna Whitmore

The imperialism study group had its first discussion today. We linked up via Zoom to video conference across several time zones. Tony Norfield led the study with a 15-minute introduction to Lenin’s pamphlet Imperialism, and how it relates to today. That was followed by questions and discussion.

Tony’s notes for discussion sent out prior to the video conference are worth reading, and what follows are just brief notes from today’s video talk.

First off ,Tony noted we need to see Lenin’s description of imperialism as a holistic description and that the five key features need to be seen as part of a whole.

lenin_on_imperialism

An important aspect is that imperialism is a world system of domination and hierarchy. Lenin saw you couldn’t understand what’s happening in a particular country outside of the context of the way it related to what is happening everywhere else. That is still important for today. For instance you can’t understand Syria by even looking at the history of Syria, you’d need to look at where it sits in the hierarchy of world power – obviously very low down in the hierarchy – and then look at who’s trying to do what to Syria. In the context of imperialism you can’t understand individual country developments outside of a broader approach of examining where different countries sit in the global system. (more…)

The interview below is with Paul Embery, working firefighter and regional secretary of the Fire Brigades Union in the London region.  He was also national organiser of Trade Unionists Against the EU in the lead-up to the recent Brexit referendum.

This interview is from 2014 about a particular strike over specific issues at that time – in particular the attempts of the Cameron government to change firefighters’ conditions around pension/retirement especially.

The interview is relevant to firefighters in New Zealand:

download (1)by Tony Norfield

What explains the desperation of British capitalism and Conservative Party in the lead up to the Brexit referendum on 23 June? Opinion polls have shifted in favour of a Leave vote and, while the accuracy of the polls is always in doubt, a shift towards Leave seems evident from widespread vox
pop views in the media, in the panic of the Remain camp and in the financial market setbacks for sterling’s downloadexchange rate. Equity markets have also been hit, and not just in the UK. As a sign of desperation, the Remain camp has even called upon the Labour Party’s lumbering has-been, Gordon Brown, to add his
weight to what looks like a failing balance. Her Majesty has so far been allowed to stay above the dispute, just about. One can imagine that if the polls get any worse for Remain, then Downing Street could try to prompt a Royal appeal to her loyal subjects to do the right thing. Where has this revolt of popular sentiment come from?

download (2)My previous coverage of the Brexit referendum has focused on the situation facing the British ruling class in a world where its economic and political interests are clearly bound up with Europe, but where there has been a minority view that an alternative is possible ‘outside’, especially in a context of European economic crisis. But the significant support for Leave shows that this has underestimated a key point. What might otherwise be considered simply as popular disgruntlement with political elites – ‘vote Leave to teach them a lesson’ – is better explained as a widespread view that these elites have broken their pact with (more…)

by David Dickinson*

1975: Labour government in power with very small parliamentary majority, having been elected a few months earlier with support of 28.5% of eligible voters.

2016: Tory government in power with small majority, having been elected a year earlier with support of 24.5% of eligible voters.

1975: Common Market/European Community referendum, having been called by Labour PM, Harold Wilson, to address split in his party and the country.

2016: EU referendum, having been called by Tory PM, David Cameron, to address split in his party and the country. Many on the left call it nothing more than a Tory Party civil war.

1975: Half of Labour MPs, vast majority of Trade Unions, and most of the radical left urge a ‘No’ vote.

2016: Vast majority of Labour MPs and almost all large Trade Unions urge a ‘Yes’ vote. (more…)

Laurence ScottElsewhere on this blog we have argued the importance of workers’ occupations when resisting workplace closures and/or mass redundancies.  Here, we run material from the frontlines of an historic occupation that took place at an engineering factory in Manchester, England in 1981.  The Laurence Scott occupation, although it took place well over 30 years ago and on the other side of the world, is of enduring significance.  The forces arraigned against each other at Laurence Scott’s are typical of most such disputes, including the tactics of the bosses, the role of the state and the role of the top union officials.  Also of enduring importance is the need for politics that are up to the requirements of these kinds of struggles.  Indeed, all the problems that confront our class in vital industrial disputes were there at Laurence Scott in 1981.

This article is in three parts, by three different authors: Dave Hallsworth, Kate Marshall and Pat Roberts.

  1. The Road to the Occupation
  2. The Occupation
  3. The Sell-Out and Lessons

SnipeThe three parts look at the background to the dispute, the politics of the union officialdom, the problems that workers faced from the start and how revolutionary-minded workers in the factory, and their supporters outside it, dealt with the problems confronting them, the evolution of the dispute, its outcome and lessons for workers who want to fight rather than just be walked over.

 

Part 1: The road to the occupation

by Dave Hallsworth

On 7 April 1981, Arthur Snipe, owner of Doncaster-based conglomerate Mining Supplies, announced the closure of the Manchester plant of his recently-acquired group of companies – the Laurence Scott and Electromotors group.   Mining Supplies bought up the Scott group only a few months previously for a knockdown price of ₤6.5 million.  At the time market value was estimated by independent accountants to be around ₤18.5 million.

At the time of the takeover Snipe gave the usual assurances about maintaining the LSE Group as a going concern and guaranteeing jobs and conditions.  But Snipe didn’t spend ₤6.5 million for fun.  Like all capitalists he wants to get the highest rate of return on his investment.

Following the announcement that the factory would close on 10 July the workforce began to discuss its response.  There was agreement that some action had to be taken to (more…)