John Clossick

British values, Western barbarity

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The Tories talk about democratic “values”, yet the hypocrisy of the British state — one of the world’s top arms dealers — is astounding. John Clossick looks at a new book on Britain’s role in spreading torture.

The British establishment revels in its certainties, not least its “British values”. Actions, say ministers, are always consistent with international legal obligations and “our values as a nation”. Yet torture led directly to the Iraq war. Wide-ranging hypocrisy is plain for all to see.

Theresa May declares claims of abuse by British troops against former detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan are “an industry of vexatious allegations”. The European Human Rights Convention formally bans torture. So the Tory response is withdrawal from parts of the convention.

Political trade unionism

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Michael Bradley’s article on political trade unionism (February SR) raised important issues about how socialists in workplaces and union branches can relate to current community political campaigns. He showed how and why campaigns can be brought into the workplace to help in the process of rebuilding rank and file confidence and organisation. This might then assist in building workplace resistance both to immediate employer attacks and against the wider Tory assault.

Free Shaker Aamer

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Shaker Aamer, the last British detainee in the world’s most notorious prison camp, Guantanamo Bay, has seen his release delayed once again as Socialist Review went to press.

President Obama gave the statutory 30-day notice to Congress of Shaker’s release on 25 September, so he should have returned around 25 October — his 5,000th day in captivity.

Of the 16 detainees previously released to the UK several others also had their returns delayed. Serious questions must now be asked.

Classic read: Suite Francaise

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Irène Némirovsky
First published in 2006

The name Irène Némirovsky only sprang into public consciousness in Britain during the past decade. In France during the 1930s she was an established, critically acclaimed writer of 11 successful novels. Némirovsky was of bourgeois Russian Jewish background, her family having fled Kiev during the 1917 revolution to settle in Paris.

Against Mussolini: Art and the Fall of a Dictator

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Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art


Renato Guttuso (1912-87) "The Massacre", 1943. Oil on canvas, 59 x 73 cm. Raccolta Alberto Della Ragione, Florence

Benito Mussolini and Italian fascism are often seen as the junior partners of German Nazism. This compelling new exhibition of Italian resistance art, mainly from the 1930s and 1940s, vividly explores the arrogance and vanities of the Il Duce leadership cult and its savage outcomes.

Britain's Watergate

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The British ruling class is increasingly on the back foot. With rising opposition over domestic policies and acknowledgement of failure abroad it now encounters serious questions and resistance.

From attempts to wreck the welfare state to doctored progress reports on its brutal occupation of Afghanistan, it faces increasing examination.

A weak and barely united establishment maintains a public posture which asserts shared cultural references of "British decency" and "democratic values" to confirm that "we're all in it together". However it is now all starting to unravel.

Brown's Guantanamo, Miliband's disgrace

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New Labour is seriously concerned about its election prospects. One of the many fronts on which it is attempting damage limitation is the mounting evidence of involvement by MI5 and the Foreign Office in the Guantanamo torture of British residents.

The so-called "war on terror" is in reality a war of terror, and the Labour government has been intimately caught up in this. It tried to cover this up. It does not read well for a party that wants to present itself on voting day as enlightened, law abiding and anti-racist and as having, in Robin Cook's words, "an ethical foreign policy".

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