Donald Trump and North Korea

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

It’s 9th August 2017, 72 years to the day since a nuclear weapon was last used in anger. How might the leadership of the nation who launched that attack commemorate the event. I suppose the United States could have taken a leaf out of Barack Obama’s book and at least utter a few pious words. Then again, you can’t expect anything of the sort from Donald Trump who responded to another outburst of North Korean tough talk – this time an empty boast of their intention to launch a pre-emptive attack on the US airbase on Guam – with the threat of nuclear war. An impeccable sense of timing, that man.

I’m forever hopeful we won’t see war on the Korean peninsular, because anyone with half an understanding of the situation knows a conflict would exact a huge cost, even though the outcome would be a foregone conclusion. The South would pay a horrendous blood price, and the huge cost of rebuilding an entire country and dealing with millions traumatised by dictatorship, war and occupation would be on them. The Federal Republic had a hard time absorbing the former East Germany, and that was one of the world’s richest countries doing so under more benign economic circumstances. A Republic of Korea doing the same with the north after a war, and after its economic and cultural centres around Seoul have been reduced to rubble by artillery is a nightmare that doesn’t bear thinking about. Korean politicians know this, Korea-watchers know this and, crucially, Kim Jong-un knows this too. Continue reading →

On climate change, the NDP’s Niki Ashton beats Corbyn

by Chris MacMackin

While Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party have brought many improvements to party policy, much remains to be done. In particular, Corbyn has been weak on energy and climate policy. Although Labour’s election manifesto was widely interpreted to include energy nationalisation, in fact it promised no such thing. It pledged to bring the electricity grid into public ownership at some ill-defined later date, but that was the only nationalisation proposed. Instead it pledges to create “publicly owned, locally accountable energy companies and cooperatives”, which a supplementary industrial strategy paper clarifies to mean energy suppliers (the companies from which we purchase gas and electricity, rather than the companies which produce it). Despite stating “Labour understands that many people don’t have time to shop around”, strangely the party’s solution is to introduce a 7th choice to the market.
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Where do we go from here? Notes on a contribution from Compass

by David Pavett

The left think-tank Compass recently published an extended essay Mayism without May: the crisis of the Regressive Alliance and the challenge of Corbynism. It is offered as “an analysis of the dominant bloc that determines the common sense of our society” and as a contribution to finding a path to alliances of progressive forces inside and outside the Labour Party. It was written by Ken Spours, Professor of Post-Compulsory Education at the London Institute of Education. He previously wrote The Osborne Supremacy and The Very Modern Prince: the 21st century political party, both published by Compass.

The essay is based on four propositions: (1) Tory dominance continues but in changed circumstances opening new possibilities; (2) The Tory-led regressive alliance is in crisis but will adapt; (3) Corbyn’s Labour has achieved much but now needs to develop a “progressive combinatorial politics”; (4) the progressive bloc must be led by Labour but will require new alliance-based politics and popular mobilisation. Continue reading →

The National Policy Forum Annual Report 2017

by David Pavett

The NPF Annual Report was quietly released on 3rd August by placing it on membersnet but making no announcement of the fact. Would it have been so hard to email members to tell them the document is now available?

Despite this publicity-shy approach (the report was not even available on the Policy Forum website at the time of writing) we are told in the opening pages: “We want as many people as possible to get involved … Together we can build a policy platform to tackle the challenges our country faces …”.

You can download the full annual report here. If you have not got time to read the whole thing but would like to focus on one or more of the policy areas covered by the eight policy commissions, then here are the separate reports for printing separately: Early Years, Education and Skills, Economy, Business and Trade, Environment, Energy and Culture, Health and Care, Housing, Local Government and Transport, International, Justice and Home Affairs, Work, Pensions and Equality. The text of the reports varies between four and six pages. Continue reading →

A Canadian Corbyn?

by Chris MacMackin

Niki Ashton, NDP leadership hopeful

With the ascendancy of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Bernie Sanders in the US, the Canadian Left (to the extent it exists) has been wondering what the chances are of the same happening for them. Like the United Kingdom, Canada has a party—the New Democratic Party, or NDP—linked to the unions, so could a left-wing candidate emerge there?

The history of the NDP is not encouraging. When it was founded as the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in 1932 it adopted the radical Regina Manifesto which memorably ends with the commitment that “No C.C.F. Government will rest content until it has eradicated capitalism and put into operation the full programme of socialized planning which will lead to the establishment in Canada of the Cooperative Commonwealth.” However, after forming government in the province of Saskatchewan in 1944, they pursued a classically reformist program, similar to that of Attlee. In 1956, moderates in the NDP replaced the Regina Manifesto with the social democratic and pro-capitalist Winnipeg Declaration. Desiring to increase links with trade unions and further moderate the party, in 1962 the CCF partnered with the Canadian Labour Congress to create the New Democratic Party. Their ambition was to replace the centrist Liberal Party as one of the two parties of government, much as happened in the UK during the 1920s. Continue reading →

Once he’s through with Venezuela, Corbyn must denounce your mum, continental breakfasts and boring rock bands

by David Osland

Demands for political opponents to undertake humiliating self-criticism before a mass audience seemingly fell out of favour roughly about the time the Chinese Communist Party wound up the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

But fashions are always cyclical. Since 2015, a wonderfully nostalgic Labour right has gleefully nicked this page from the Maoist playbook, in the form of the popular parlour game they call ‘Corbyn must denounce …’

The rules are quite simple. All you do is set your liberal commentator buddy up with a couple of quotes from a scorned backbencher, anonymously if need be. The rightwing press will take it from there. Continue reading →

What are Trump’s real reasons for sanctions against Venezuela?

by Susan Grey

This week, the U.S. announced it will impose sanctions directly on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The sanctions mean Maduro’s assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction are now frozen and people from the U.S. are prohibited from dealing with the head of state and are part of a widening of sanctions against Venezuela. Additionally, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made clear his wish for ‘regime change,’ and last week the CIA’s chief admitted they were working in this direction.

These are not the Trump administration’s first attempt to hit the Venezuelan government using sanctions. In February, the Treasury Department also introduced sanctions on the Venezuelan Vice President and in July they extended existing economic sanctions against the country. Continue reading →

New report exposes UK aid policy failings 

by Mike Phipps

Mike Phipps welcomes a new report from Global Justice Now – Re-imagining UK Aid: What a Progressive Strategy Could Look Like

For over a decade, a consensus has existed at Westminster on overseas aid. All main parties are committed to the internationally agreed target of spending 0.7% of gross national income on it.

But this important achievement obscures how this money is often spent. Consecutive governments have shown a preference for privatisation, big business, and ‘free market’ models of development. The Department for International Development’s (DFID) focus on the private sector includes supporting the expansion of private healthcare and education in poorer countries. Continue reading →

Tories’ tribunal fees ruled unlawful

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Unalloyed goodness is a rarity in politics, especially when it comes to labour movement politics. But the decision handed down by the Supreme Court this morning ruling that employment tribunal fees are unlawful is some of the best industrial news seen in years. Implemented by the Tories with Liberal Democrat support in 2013, it was ostensibly part of the contrived war on red tape. According to the former Prime Minister, workplace rights were getting in the way of job creation and growth. A convenient scapegoat when you consider the real reason for Britain’s economic underperformance has much to do with business banking its profits and effectively going on capital strike. In reality, the introduction of fees strengthened management in the workplace and enabled a more precarious labour force. Bosses had the freedom to intimidate, bully, and diddle workers without any comeback. Continue reading →

Peter Willsman reports from Labour’s July executive

by Peter Willsman

National Executive Committee 18 July 2017

There was a very positive and constructive attitude all around the table. Everyone was fully aware that Labour had had a bigger increase in our vote share since 1945. Also everyone was fully aware that Jeremy was the key to our success. As of course were all of our members and staff. The doom-mongers and naysayers had been swept from the field. What also made the meeting very special was the presence of our two dynamic election coordinators, Ian Lavery MP and Andrew Gwynne MP. The phrase ‘dynamic duo’ was coined with these two in mind. Continue reading →

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