Britain

Along with the renewed discussion in Britain around renationalisation (a policy promised by the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn), the idea of workers’ control and workers’ management has re-emerged. Indeed, John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has said that renationalised companies should not be run like they were in the past, but should instead be run under workers’ control.

The British National Health Service (NHS) turns 70-years-old this year, on 5 July. Festivities are planned across the country to celebrate perhaps the greatest achievement of the 1945 post-war Labour government. And rightly so. The NHS continues to provide care free at the point of delivery. It is, in essence, the embodiment of a socialist approach to healthcare: free and universal.

In the latest episode of IMTV – the International Marxist Television channel, hosted by our British section, Socialist Appeal– our guests look back over a busy year for student and labour activists on UK campuses. Earlier this year we saw the largest ever strike by academic staff in the University and Colleges Union (UCU), who took action over cuts to pensions.

The current crisis of capitalism has had huge consequences for ordinary people, with dramatic falls in living standards, increased job losses and severe welfare cuts. Working-class women are being particularly hard hit by this crisis, facing stagnating wages in already low-paid jobs and often having to bear the brunt of austerity cuts to public services and welfare. Since 2010, 86 percent of Tory cuts in Britain have been targeted at jobs and services that are dominated by women.

After days of fraught negotiations, Theresa May survived a crunch Brexit vote in the House of Commons on 20 June, which had threatened to bring the simmering civil war in her party to a head. But this most recent compromise will only prepare an even deeper political crisis in future.

On 14 June 2018, a fire at the Grenfell Tower block of council flats in the London Borough of Kensington & Chelsea claimed the lives of 72 people. The avoidable catastophe was the result of years of neglect by the Tory government, the Conservative-led council and the managing association responsible for the tower's upkeep – who cut corners on safety to maintain profits. Written to coincide with the opening of the Grenfell fire inquiry, Andrew O’Hagan presents The Tower. In this 60,000 word essay, O’Hagan attempts to absolve and excuse the guilty, directing his hatred instead towards the fire service and those who have fought for justice for the victims of this tragedy.

On 14 June 2017, disaster struck in Britain as the Grenfell tower in west London was engulfed in flames. 72 people died in the fire, according to official reports. But the real number could be even higher. One year on, and the inquiry into the Grenfell fire is underway.

In May, far-right former leader of the English Defence League (EDL), Tommy Robinson, was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court. The sentence followed his filming and revealing details of a child grooming trial at Leeds Crown Court. The stunt was clearly aimed at getting himself arrested and turning himself into a martyr for “free speech”, victimised by a “politically correct establishment” protecting “Muslim grooming gangs”.

50 years ago, women at the Dagenham Ford Factory began a strike that became a turning point in the fight for equality. It was not the first such strike, and it would certainly not be the last. However, by standing up against bosses, union officials, and even other workers, they would send a message that has stood the test of time and inspires still.

With the UK Conservative Party engaged in fratricide over Brexit, there is talk on the Tory backbenches of a snap general election in the making. This is entirely possible given the mess they are in. We could therefore see Jeremy Corbyn heading for 10 Downing Street sooner rather than later.

It has been nearly two years since the British public lobbed a grenade into the Tories’ lap by voting to leave the European Union. Since this particularly hot potato was chucked her way, May has made an art out of kicking the can down the road. But for how much longer? Recent events suggest her luck may just be running out.

The question of the UK’s post-Brexit relationship to the EU customs union has become the focal point for the deepest crisis the Tory Party has ever faced: a crisis that is driving all the contradictions of Brexit to breaking point.

The Conservative government in Britain is facing a perfect storm of crises. Brexit looms large over every decision and event. The question of the Irish border and the customs union has intensified the civil war inside the Tory Party. And without a majority to command in Parliament, the Prime Minister is paralysed, unable to pass any meaningful legislation.

This weekend, on Saturday 19 May, British royal, one-time Nazi impersonator and sixth-in-line to the throne, Prince Harry will marry the American actress Meghan Markle. Hot on the heels of the birth of a third royal baby, the establishment are clearly hoping that another royal spectacle will help to distract from the multiple crises engulfing Theresa May’s embattled government.

100 years ago, on 9 May 1918, the Scottish socialist John Maclean went on trial at the Edinburgh High Court facing charges of sedition. Maclean, however, used the trial to make an impassioned defence of himself and his socialist ideas (lasting 75 minutes in total), which we publish in full here.

200 years ago the founder of scientific socialism and arguably the greatest thinker of modern times, Karl Marx, was born. To celebrate, on Saturday 5 May in London, Socialist Appeal(the International Marxist Tendency in Britain) held Marx in a Day: a series of talks and discussions exploring Marx’s revolutionary ideas and political activity. The event was a great success, with around 80 workers, activists, students, and young people from across the country and even as far away as Paris coming along and taking part.

The establishment media machine has been in overdrive since last Thursday’s local elections in England, attempting to portray the results as yet another disaster for Labour and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. But after three years of spewing bile, nobody pays much attention to such hysteria and distortions anymore.

“The Governor of the Bank of England has warned that massive job losses driven by technology could resuscitate Marxism in the West,” announced the Daily Telegraphrecently.

We publish here an in-depth analysis of the political situation in Britain, which was discussed at the recent conference of Socialist Appeal supporters. Although originally drafted in December, the processes and contradictions that this document outlines still lie at the heart of British politics. In this first part, we look at the long-term crisis of British capitalism, the implications of Brexit, the movement on the industrial plane, and the ever-growing anger towards the elite.

Hundreds of people of Caribbean origin, who migrated to Britain as part of the ‘Windrush generation’ (named after a ship that famously brought a large number of West Indian immigrants to London in 1948) are having their citizenship called into question by the state. Despite having lived and worked in the country for most of their lives, many such people (largely of retirement age) are now facing severe problems with their immigration status – seemingly out of the blue.