Ian Taylor

Tony Cliff: a Marxist for his time

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Tony Cliff, the founder of the Socialist Workers Party, made major contributions to revolutionary theory and practice. Ian Taylor reviews a new biography of Cliff and assesses his place in post-war Marxism

Few Marxist revolutionaries become household names, but it is a travesty that the greatest Marxist of the latter part of the 20th century is so little known. So the appearance of a biography of Tony Cliff is a major event.

Hacking away at the truth

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The dam has burst over revelations of phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch's News Group. Fresh revelations tumble daily from the High Court.

On just two days in mid-February we learned of a witness statement, previously withheld by police, that suggests an unknown number of News of the World (NoW) journalists used a private investigator to hack into celebrities' phones. We also learned that the Metropolitan Police held evidence of hacking that it repeatedly claimed did not exist and that Scotland Yard had uncovered new evidence (don't laugh) of illegal activity at the NoW.

Greece: the fightback against austerity

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Greece has been a focal point of crisis and resistance in Europe since exposure of its ballooning debt. Panos Garganos, editor of Socialist Worker's sister paper in Greece, spoke to Ian Taylor about the situation

Panos Garganos

What has been the response to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) going into Greece?

The delegation from the IMF, European Union (EU) and European Central Bank (ECB) arrived in Athens on 21 April, the anniversary of the colonels' coup in 1967. We suffered from the military then. We suffer from the bankers now. The fire service, hospitals, local authorities and teachers were on strike that day - that was the workers' response to the IMF, although the strikes were called earlier.

The return of the nasty party: Cameron, Thatcher and the Tories

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The prospect of a Tory government will chill all who remember the 1980s. Yet bad as David Cameron promises to be, a victory for him need not herald a rerun of the Thatcher years. Ian Taylor begins our pre-election coverage by analysing the prospect of a Cameron government and what it would mean

Barring an astonishing turnaround, 13 years of betrayal by New Labour appear about to end. We can hope for a strong showing by left candidates and a campaign on their behalf that draws activists together for the fights ahead. But the likelihood is of a Tory return and a government committed to savage cuts.

The prospect of a victory for David Cameron can lead to one of at least two unhelpful conclusions: either that the result does not matter, since New Labour has become indistinguishable from the Tories, or that Cameron is a new Margaret Thatcher.

Tony's trials

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The Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War reached a stage few may have foreseen as Socialist Review went to press, with Tony Blair poised to appear following damaging testimony from civil servants, lawyers and even the odd minister.

An inquiry that appeared as toothless as the establishment figures that comprise it nonetheless threatens to propel the architect of New Labour into the realms of the 2007 Channel 4 drama The Trial of Tony Blair, in which the war crimes of the ex-prime minister catch up with him.

Of course, we are a long way from seeing Blair on trial at the Hague. We are even quite a way from seeing any conclusions from the inquiry, which goes on hold ahead of the general election once - and if - Gordon Brown appears.

There remains little reason to expect anything more than a whitewash.

Wapping lies

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Revelations of illegal practices on Rupert Murdoch's newspapers show one aspect of a media empire built on deceit. Ian Taylor considers News Corporation, New Labour and the move that made Murdoch's fortunes.

Rupert Murdoch's News Group newspapers paid out more than £1 million to stop evidence of phone bugging, hacking and other law-breaking by journalists coming to light.

The Guardian journalist Nick Davies uncovered evidence, published in July, that such activity was routine - directed at ministers, MPs, actors and sports stars. Former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil hailed the story as among "the most significant of modern times".

Myths of the white working class

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Talk of the existence of a unique and specifically deprived white working class being discriminated against conceals the real issue of class inequalities

A series of walkouts under the divisive slogan "British jobs for British workers" early in the year drew unprecedented attention from the press and put strikers on the front page of a sympathetic Daily Mail. The strikes were hugely contradictory - a godsend to nationalism, racism and the British National Party while defying the anti-union laws. The mainstream media focused on the former and were broadly delighted.

Why the price indexes miscalculate the cost of modern life

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The cost of living rose at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in January if you believe the government's Consumer Price Index (CPI).

This is the rate newspapers and TV report and on which the Bank of England bases interest rate policy. But it is fiction as far as reflecting the rising prices faced by working class households.

For a start, the CPI excludes mortgage payments and council tax. A second official inflation measure, the retail price index excluding mortgage interest payments (RPIX), also ignores such costs but hit 3.4 percent in January. This is sometimes referred to as the underlying rate of inflation, presumably because it is closer to the truth.

Fighting Talk

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Review of 'Conversations with Tariq Ali', Tariq Ali and David Barsamian, The New Press £8.99

In a world of war and empire the voice of Tariq Ali could not be more welcome. This volume of interviews, conducted between November 2001 and late 2004, offers a dissection of US imperialism - its history, its strategy, its flunkies - and the resistance it provokes.

'I Despise the Army Now'

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Soldiers and their families speak to Ian Taylor.

Ray is an army reservist. He fought in the first Gulf War, but has told the army he will not serve in Iraq this time:

'As long as it is an illegal war and occupation I don't want anything to do with it. The army said to me, "Deal with it. You're a reservist." I wrote to Geoff Hoon and he said, "Deal with it." But I don't want anything to do with it.

I'm in touch with a few serving soldiers. A friend is on his second tour in Iraq. He didn't want to go, but if he did what I've done he would lose his career and his pension.

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