Britain

Well it was a landslide. It was an unprecedented result. No, I don't mean a Labour landslide or that it was unprecedented that Labour won a complete second term for the first time. No, I mean that for the first time since every person of 21 years and over was allowed to vote (and it was 1928 before women got the vote), the No Vote party polled more than the party with the largest number of votes.

Tony Blair, Jack Straw, William Hague and Ann Widdecombe have all expressed their disgust and outrage at the malicious vandalism melted out to the statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square.

In the aftermath of September 11, governments around the world have been attempting to rush through legislation which undermines democratic rights, in the name of fighting terrorism. In the UK, Blair is trying to introduce a new law which will allow among other things indefinite imprisonment without trial of foreign nationals.

The demonstration against the war called by the CND on Saturday 13 October in London was much bigger than expected. According to the police there were about 20,000 demonstrators on the march, but this is a gross underestimation. The organisers claimed around 50,000 participated. When the head of the demonstration had reached Trafalgar Square (about three miles away) the tail of the march had not yet left Hyde Park.

The decision to place Railtrack plc, the privatised rail company responsible for the upkeep of the system's infrastructure, into administration last weekend would normally have been the main item on the national news. However The beginning of the US/UK bombing raids of Afghanistan conveniently put paid to that. The decision amounts to a recognition that privatisation has failed (something all but the New Labour government had already realised a long time ago) but still falls shot of renationalisation a taboo word for Tony Blair and his government.

The Editorial of next month's Socialist Appeal deals with the economic effects of the current crisis and the build up to a war against Afghanistan. It also explains how the right wing leaders of the labour movement are using the pretext of the "war against terrorism" to prevent any criticism of their policies regarding privatisation with the curtailing of the TUC and Labour Party Conferences. This is also the pretext for the introduction of ID cards and other measures against civil liberties.

The events in Oldham have hit the national headlines. Similar explosions of racial conflict have taken place in other towns in Britain. This has brought the BNP and the danger from far-right groups back into the spotlight. Bryan Beckingham, Secretary of Oldham National Union of Teachers, and Alan Creear in Oldham describe the background to these developments.

There have been a lot of disasters on the railways in Britain. But the real disaster has been rail privatisation itself. There was a lot of rhetoric from the Tories about the 'dynamism and efficiency' private capitalism would bring, but experience has shown that the only people to benefit from rail privatisation have been the profiteers, not the general public that has to use the railways. So what is the alternative?

Editorial note: The following is a full version of the shorter article we published on 8 June on the British election.
Labour has won the elections with a majority of 167 seats at Westminster, only slightly down on last time when they won a landslide majority of 179 seats. On the face of it, it is an outstanding triumph for Tony Blair. But these results do not adequately express the contradictory nature of the mood in British society. The mood of the masses is sceptical. The working class is disappointed and frustrated with New Labour. Despite Labour's landslide victory, the underlying mood is extremely volatile.

On 7th June, the people of Britain will go to the polls to elect the next government. According to all the polls Labour is set to gain a hefty majority over the Conservatives. The polls show that Labour is now leading the Tories by a massive 28 points. The personal rating of Tory leader William Hague is just 13 per cent.

On 7th June, the people of Britain will go to the polls to elect the next government. According to all the polls Labour is set to gain a hefty majority over the Conservatives. The polls show that Labour is now leading the Tories by a massive 28 points. Yet the election campaign has been as dead as a Dodo, and the great majority show little interest and less enthusiasm for either New Labour or the Tories. The general election turnout is likely to be low - some have even predicted the lowest for over 100 years. The reason for this alleged "voter apathy" is not hard to find.

75 years ago an earthquake shook the very foundations of British capitalism. In the greatest display of militant power in its history the British working class moved into action in the General Strike of 1926. For 9 days, from May 3, not a wheel turned nor a light shone without the permission of the working class. In such a moment, with such power, surely it ought to have been possible to have transformed society? How can such a position have ended in defeat?

This statement by the Editorial Board of the Socialist Appeal analyses the situation in Britain today. It looks at Britain within the context of world economic and political developments and analyses how these affect the British trade union movement, the Labour Party, the youth and outlines the perspectives for the coming period and poses the tasks of Marxists today.

Over the past weeks the news has been dominated by the story of yet another crisis in farming. The rapid spreading of the food and mouth epidemic in Britain is a direct consequence of capitalist farming methods.

In a matter of days a magnificent and largely spontaneous movement of truck drivers, farmers and cabbies has brought large parts of the country to a virtual standstill. This movement represents the biggest national unofficial strike action seen in Britain for decades. The ruling class are quaking in their boots.

This month marks the 80th anniversary of the founding of the British Communist Party. As a result we are publishing the following article on the early years of the Communist Party.