May 25th, 2013by Phil Burton-Cartledge
Was I alone not surprised by yesterday’s verdict at the high court? No. Britain’s libel laws are notoriously wide and all-encompassing. You could be forgiven for thinking that elasticity is not entirely accidental, seeing as our courts are places where tremendous sums can be won or lost. Then there’s the small matter of libel law firms making a killing from the wealthy people who engage their services too. But of course, it wouldn’t be the done thing to suggest that there may be a link between the two *innocent face*.
Anyway, there’s a couple of quick points I want to make about this. Continue reading →
May 24th, 2013by Peter Willsman
When the local election are over, dedicated Labour activists have time to reflect on Labour’s conference and what changes are necessary to give Labour’s members the voice that Ed Miliband promised but which Refounding Labour failed to deliver. Apart from making sure you have a good delegate and your constituency party nominates for this year’s elections, you can also make sure it uses its chance to submit a rule change by 21 June. Continue reading →
May 24th, 2013by Michael Meacher
It was a shocking, abominable murder. But the fear remains that this may not be the action of hatred-obsessed psychopaths, but the beginnings of a long-drawn-out saga of Muslim revenge.
The words that the murderer used have already gone round the world: “we will never stop fighting you. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day. This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”.
It is terrible that this happened on a British street, but that is precisely why this location was chosen. One of the killers added: “in our land our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government. They don’t care about you”. Continue reading →
May 23rd, 2013by Jon Lansman
Johann Lamont, the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, speaking to the annual conference of the train drivers’ union ASLEF in Edinburgh, delivered a clear message of support for trade union rights, trade union involvement in policy-making and policies that trade unions have been seeking.
She said she didn’t – and no one should – underestimate the challenge of wining back the trust of the people of Scotland for Labour – and that includes many trade unionists: Continue reading →
May 23rd, 2013by Peter Willsman
Peter Mandelson’s attitude to class politics is widely seen as typified by his comment that the New Labour government was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”. He, like rival political parties and hostile voices in the media, continually questions the role of trade unions and of their members within our party – in parliamentary selections, in policy-making, and in electing the leader. He does so even though he was content when they helped him and Tony Blair into their seats in the north-east, and when they voted for Tony Blair as leader. At the recent Progress conference, where he first attacked trade unions for wanting to influence the outcome of current selections, he also described union voting strength at conference as “disgraceful” — and this was in answer to a question inviting him to outline what united Progress and Unite!
Most Labour members know well that Labour was brought into existence by the Unions as a federal body. As a result, affiliated union levy payers are affiliated party members. When trade unions sign up their levy-payers as individual members, all they’re actually doing is shifting them from one category of membership to another… to a category that still has the right to select candidates that affiliated members used to have. Continue reading →
May 23rd, 2013by Michael Meacher
In the 1960s banking assets accounted for some 50% of GDP. By the late 2000s they had risen to about 200% of GDP. In the case of Britain with its grossly over-extended international banking sector, they had risen to 500% of GDP. The reasons for this were partly to enable large companies to start doing business in ever more countries, but largely because of the de-regulation of banks and markets by Thatcher and Blair/Brown together with egregious financial innovation. Continue reading →
May 22nd, 2013by Tom Gill
French President Francois Hollande wants us to believe that further European integration would fix the crisis. This is a bad strategy, for there’s no social dimension to Europe, just neo-liberalism. In a translation from the original, Eric and Guillaume Etievant Coquerel of the Left Party say France must stand up to Germany to change the future direction of the Old Continent. Continue reading →
May 22nd, 2013by Michael Burke
The economies of the European Union and the Euro Area both contracted in the 1st quarter of 2013. The renewed contraction in GDP began in mid-2011 and has now run for 18 months on both cases. But, as Chart 1 (above) shows, the recovery from the depths of the recession in both cases was short-lived and at no point was the previous peak in activity of the 1st quarter of 2008 recovered. In reality, the European economy has been in a slump which stretches all the way back to the beginning of 2008 and is now entering its sixth consecutive year. Continue reading →
May 22nd, 2013by Michael Meacher
Everyone is saying that Labour now urgently needs two or three key themes which will resonate with the electorate and will be recognised by everyone as the party’s distinctive goals.
I believe those three key themes should be (i) reversing austerity by kickstarting the economy and putting a million or more unemployed back to work – which is also the most efficient way to cut the deficit, (ii) recreating a public NHS by repealing the Lansley bill and restoring the ethos of public service, and (iii) launching a major house-building programme to tackle the housing shortage scandal, generate jobs, offer genuinely affordable housing, and hold down house prices and rents. The last of these has received far too little attention, but all of them pinpoint drastic government failure. Continue reading →