Ian Taylor

Postcapitalism

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It is not often a TV news reporter writes a book espousing Marxist economics, explaining the labour theory of value and the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, and suggesting the transition from feudalism to capitalism points the way to the end of capitalism. So there is good reason to look kindly on Postcapitalism.

But author Paul Mason does not foresee a socialist transformation of society. This is the first of many problems with a book that is in some ways fine but in others exasperating.

Private Island

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A £50 billion high-speed rail line built and run by private firms and the sale of — extension of “Right to Buy” to — 1.3 million social housing properties are key parts of the new Tory programme.

Barely anyone in parliament batted an eyelid when the plans were laid out at the end of May. The wholesale intrusion of profiteering into public service has long since engulfed Labour even when the leadership is up for grabs.

Resisting the outsourcing giants

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Has the outsourcing of groups of workers limited their ability to fight back? Ian Taylor looks at recent strikes that challenge this claim, while Kevin Devine looks at the growth of outsourcing.

Outsourcing need not end workers' power to resist their employer. Strikes by three groups in the last three months - cleaners at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, ancillary workers at Ealing Hospital, London, and Care UK workers in Doncaster - make that clear.

Cleaners at SOAS won improved holidays, sick pay and pensions after taking on multinational ISS, one of the world's biggest employers.

The group of mainly migrant workers struck for three days in March after a long campaign for parity with in-house workers.

The politics of Tony Benn

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Ian Taylor looks at the life and politics of one of the most important and iconic figures of the post-war Labour left

It is difficult to imagine the British labour movement without Tony Benn. All on the left will miss him and the simple arguments he put for socialism. The man once demonised by the press as "the most dangerous in Britain" was declared a "national treasure" at the end. But the abiding animosity towards him shone through some obituaries.

Miliband's balancing act: Labour and the unions

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Following a row about Unite's role in the selection of Labour parliamentary candidates, Ed Miliband announced a special conference to re-examine Labour's relationship with the unions. Ian Taylor looks at the tensions between Labour and the unions but also the forces that push them together.

A Labour party special conference in March will review how unions fund the party and, by extension, the link between the two. At least, that is what Labour leader Ed Miliband pledged last July to the delight of New Labour acolytes and Blairite former ministers.

Miliband announced the review in the wake of allegations of malpractice by members of Unite in the selection of a parliamentary candidate in Falkirk. It was a decision Miliband appeared to be bounced into at the time. But there seemed little ambiguity when the Labour leader declared himself "incredibly angry".

Hillsborough: truth, now justice

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Seldom does the struggle for justice intrude on, let alone dominate, media sports coverage, but the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel did.

The facts can be briefly stated: 96 Liverpool fans died, crushed behind steel fences at Sheffield's Hillsborough stadium. Many died from asphyxia where they stood. The list of victims reads like a war memorial with 37 teenagers, 60 under 25.

Most football grounds then had high fences barring pitch access and more fences cordoning off terrace enclosures. Hillsborough was a regular venue for semi-finals and a regular scene of potential disaster. A crush in 1981 left 38 injured. There was serious overcrowding in 1987 and a crush again in 1988.

A Class Inquiry

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The Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking ended in June, no doubt to collective relief in establishment circles. We must wait until the autumn for Lord Justice Leveson to submit his findings to David Cameron. The knowledge that a Lord Justice will report to a Tory prime minister is enough to know not to hold our breath.

The 86 days of hearings have been tedious on one level and extraordinary on another. The prime minister and chancellor, chief constables, billionaire newspaper owners and their editors have been called to account, laying bare a world not just of corruption and cover up but of routine collusion, of "country suppers" and "Yes we Cam" (former News International boss Rebekah Brooks' congratulatory text to Cameron). We now know, for example, how many times Cameron met executives at News International over a period (59).

The Sun isn't shining

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The wheels continue to come off at News International. James Murdoch's resignation as executive chairman is the latest blow. It came a few days after Metropolitan police deputy-assistant commissioner Sue Akers' explosive account to the Leveson Inquiry of a "culture of illegal payments" to a "network of corrupt officials" by the Sun

Ackers' broadside came a day after Rupert Murdoch launched the first Sun on Sunday, replacing the News of the World which was shut last July. His abrupt move followed the dawn arrests of ten Sun journalists - an eleventh is wanted for questioning - sparking such discontent among Murdoch's loyal hacks that Rupert himself descended on Wapping to reassure them.

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