Britain

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.

The horrific deaths of 58 Chinese migrants found in Dover, revealed to the world the monstrous effects of Britain's immigration regime. By making it virtually impossible for refugees and migrants to enter this country legally, many thousands every year seek to come here illegally. Jack Straw was quick to place the blame on Chinese smuggling gangs called the Snake Head. Thinking people can see through this.

"Britain is already a different and better country..."
Tony Blair at the Periodical Publishers Association, 9th May.

"I'm totally opposed to New Labour. They are not any different to the Thatcherites. I would like to see a return to the old values."
George Fleetwood, 48, an engineer.

"I have a wife and two children to raise and I really thought in 1997 that we were heading for a bright new era. Tony Blair has failed to deliver. If anything, he is more of a Tory than many Tories."
Brian Cox, 31, unemployed dockyard labourer.

We hear a lot about the Third Way these days. But does this represent anything new or is it just the socialdemocrats recognising that there is no longer any room for manouvre? Barbara Humphries looks at where these ideas come from and what do they really mean.

This is supposed to be, as the media are forever telling us, the people's game, our World Cup, etc., etc. But we have little or no say in it. We generate the passion but all the officials see are the buckets of cash. The governing bodies of football, both national and international, are remote, out of touch and above all travesties of democracy. So long as big business and the multi-nationals control the game and shape it in their interests, this will continue to be the reality of things. The fightback should start now, starting with the grassroots supporters groups, to ensure that fans have a say in the...

In August 1931 the Labour prime minister, Ramsay MacDonald, crossed the floor of the Commons with a handful of supporters to join with the Tories and Liberals in forming a National Government. This event was considered one of the greatest betrayals in the history of the Labour Party. More than sixty-five years later, voices have once again been raised about the need for a radical realignment of British politics and the formation of some kind of coalition. "If Blair is the Ramsay MacDonald of the Nineties," warns the Observer, "he could be getting his National Government in early as...

The recent rebellion against the Lbour government's decission to cut single parent benefit and the growing disquiet about proposals to cut benefits for the sick and disabled have brought the welfare to work programme into sharp focus. Mick Brooks looks at what is all about, adn asks the important question: can it create real jobs or is just another way of massaging the statistics and reducing the social security budget?

Alan Woods writes an obituary of Olwyn Hughes, a Welsh miner whose political life went back to the period during and just after the War, when he first got active in politics, first in the Young Communist League, and then in the Trotskyist Revolutionary Communist Party.

The Labour Party and the trade unions remained defiant in the face of the 1931 general election defeat. The 1932 Annual Conference of the Party was told that "when the dust of battle had settled, an army of nearly 7 million men and women had rallied with unflinching loyalty and resolute determination to withstand the supreme attack of the combined forces of reaction…Labour refused to yield and at the end remained on the battleground a united formidable compact force that was the admiration of the working class movements of all countries. This augurs well for the future."

The dramatic events of the first week of September 1997 mark a sea-change in British society. The sudden death of the Princess of Wales was the signal of an outburst of popular feeling which was without precedent in recent British history. Of course, Britain has seen more than a few royal births, deaths and marriages, duly attended by large crowds of cheering or silently respectful people. But such a spontaneous eruption as this, such an overflowing of emotion, such a movement of the masses, unorganised, uncalled-for, uncontrollable - such a thing has never been seen. It is an entirely new phenomenon, reflecting an entirely new situation in Britain.

This long document by Alan Woods provides a comprehensive answer to many key questions for the European labour movement. What is Maastricht? Why are they introducing all these cuts? Would it be better without Maastricht? Will it succeed? And most important of all, how do we fight it and what is our alternative.

Labour has scored an historic landslide victory in the 1997 general election. The scale of the Tory defeat is unparalleled in modern history. In the words of former Tory cabinet minister, Douglas Hurd, "this is a meltdown." In fact meltdown is probably a vast underestimation of the hole the Tories now find themselves in. Only the Duke of Wellington has presided over a worse defeat for the Tories - and that was in 1832!

The Tories have finally been driven from office! Humiliated, they have scuttled from power. It was an earth-shattering defeat that will open a new round of bitter civil war over who will succeed John Major. Every worker who has lost their job, every young person who has been denied a future, all those who have been driven into the ground for the past 18 years will be over the moon. The demise of the Tory government is being celebrated from one end of the country to the other.

In this article in our series on the history of the British Labour party, Barbara Humphries looks at the early years of Labour in parliament and how the development of the class struggle forced the leaders of the party to make the final break with Liberalism. (Originally published in Socialist Appeal, issue 48, February 1997).

Following on from our first introductory article on the founding years of the British Labour Party, Barbara Humphries continues her series of articles that look at the issues and characters involved in the British Labour Party’s history and development. This was originally published in November 1996 in the British Socialist Appeal.

In the light of recent developments in the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) we are publishing a document written by Ted Grant back in 1992 which already outlined the roots of the present crisis in the SSP. Ted explained that the concessions the leaders of the then SML (later to become SSP) were making to Scottish nationalism would lead to a disaster. Time has proven him correct.