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by Don Franks

Labour, New Zealand’s oldest
political profession
mine shaft
to shagpile
inexorable procession
“Don’t go on strike – just help get us elected!”
or :
“We can’t do anything – the problem’s
worse than we suspected!”
A century, those hollow mantra served
the suited smarmy cynical deceivers well
watching them smirk today, I wish I did believe
there is a hell

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:

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Moko Rangitoheriri

by Don Franks

The torture and slaying of Moko Rangitoheriri appalled and sickened me, as it did most people in New Zealand. I say most, because not everyone is repelled. There are those in our society who regularly abuse and murder children.

How humans can become brutalised to commit such crimes is hard to understand. The impoverishment of generations plays an indelible part. In wretched ghettos of New Zealand discarded by capitalism there are families reduced to hopelessness by generational unemployment.

US soldiers humiliating and torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib

US soldiers humiliating and torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib

Families with no positive role models. Hardly ‘families’ at all, more like atomised individuals fighting blindly for their own corner, with no sense of solidarity and little sense of right and wrong.

However, as is frequently pointed out by politicians, most recently Labour leader Andrew Little, not all people in poverty abuse children. And so, the familiar argument continues, the problem is not really poverty, but the existence of a few evil people. People who think it’s ok to inflict torture on those unable to resist.

downloadThe problem with this argument is the fact that vicious torture of the helpless is currently socially acceptable. It is sanctioned by the rulers of society and carried out by their minions.

Torture of prisoners in Read the rest of this entry »

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Photo by Simon Oosterman

by Daphna Whitmore

Margaret Jones died on 19 June aged 96. She was a fun-loving, colourful and committed communist. She was invariably seen at demonstrations with her trusty Workers of the World Unite placard strung around her neck. It was the best slogan of all she reckoned. She was also an animal rights activist and supporter of the organics movement. She loved jazz and dancing. She grew more beautiful as she got older, and was a groovy dresser who looked great in black leather pants and red lipstick, a look she could still pull off in her nineties. She was a teacher and never quite retired. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Irish revolutionary current éirígí issued the following statement on Saturday, June 25 on the Leave victory in the EU membership referendum in the ‘United Kingdom’ and its ramifications for Ireland:

Speaking from Dublin the national chairperson, Brian Leeson, said, “Today’s result can only be seen as a defeat for the business and political elite of Ireland, Britain and Europe. The EU superstate project has been struck a massive blow by millions of working class people across England, Scotland, Wales and occupied Ireland.

“Over the last decade éirígí has consistently highlighted the deeply flawed nature of the EU. In three separate referendums in the Twenty-Six Counties we have encouraged voters to reject an EU superstate that is militarised, anti-democratic and fundamentally wedded to a destructive neo-liberal ideology.

“Over the last number of weeks our activists have again been on the ground in Belfast and elsewhere distributing tens of thousands of leaflets and posters calling on people to oppose the EU superstate by voting Leave.

“Despite the hysterical scare-mongering of Sinn Féin and the other pro-EU parties our activists succeeded in getting the socialist Leave message to the people on the ground. I commend them for the part they played in today’s historic result.”

Calling for a British withdrawal from Ireland and an Irish withdrawal from the EU, Leeson said:

“Like Connolly and the others leaders of the 1916 Rising we believe that the Read the rest of this entry »

13466301_1776408282646207_5266060617501731086_nby Don Franks

Roughly US$2 trillion got wiped off global stocks after Britain’s shock vote to leave the European Union.

(Two trillion is two thousand billion. One billion is one thousand million.)

Doug Cote, chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management in New York, said that dynamic was a positive one for markets.

“If you have cash on the sidelines it could be a buying opportunity”.

By the way, according to the United Nations, it would take Read the rest of this entry »

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 Read the rest of this entry »