In my view column

Mental health rhetoric is a distraction

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Mental health was the focus of Theresa May’s first major speech on health, given in January. She was strong on rhetoric, expressing her drive to tackle the “burning injustice” of inadequate mental health treatment, while dismissing the call for extra funding.

At best the limited measures announced will do no more than sticking a plaster over a gaping wound. At worst they serve to distract from a far more fundamental and serious government policy approach to mental health, which is moving towards the ending of out of work benefits.

A callous disregard for kids' humanity

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The world of football has been thrown into turmoil by revelations of historic child abuse involving thousands of children at numerous professional clubs in England and Scotland. Police forces across Britain have launched criminal investigations into hundreds of incidents. Over 80 people are under investigation.

What kind of unity?

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In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, 1,000 people met in central London to discuss “post-Brexit alliance building”. The idea — that the only chance to defeat the Tories is to form a “progressive alliance” between Labour, Greens, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP — has become increasingly popular. It was also discussed at the Momentum festival that coincided with Labour Party conference in Liverpool, and is heavily referenced in a Momentum-edited edition of the magazine Red Pepper.

Cameron's Saudi friends

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Why do British governments grovel to the Saudi royal family? Is it because of our “shared values”, as the New Labour minister Kim Howells famously put it, or is it because they stand shoulder to shoulder with Britain and the United States in the Great War on Terror as various senior Tories continually insist?

Obviously neither of these claims is true. The real reason is shown quite dramatically by British arms sales to the Saudis. Over a three-month period towards the end of last year British arms sales grew from £9 million to more than £1 billion.

Joe Hill ain't never died

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On 19 November 1915 Joe Hill was executed by the State of Utah on trumped up charges. Dave Gibson reminds us of the power of Hill's organising and songwriting skills at a time of upheaval in US politics.

When Alfred Hayes wrote the words “Joe Hill Ain’t Never Died” in a poem about Joe Hill’s murder, he could never have imagined that this would still be true a century later.

Paul Robeson popularised Hayes’s poem, now set to music. So did Joan Baez and Pete Seeger. Other writers have celebrated Hill’s life and exposed the injustice of his judicial murder through historical accounts, novels, plays and film.

Revolts after slavery

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Colonial oppression continued after the abolition of slavery - and so did the struggles against it. Brian Richardson commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica.

We are encouraged to believe that history is made by Great White Men. It is they who are responsible for the rise and fall of civilisations, for technological advances and the development of art and culture. Black people are generally restricted to walk on parts.

That was quite literally the case in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar winning biopic Lincoln. At the outset two black soldiers are seen pleading with their leader to abolish slavery. There is no sense of them fighting for their own emancipation.

The hero of New Orleans

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After hearing that hundreds of racists had joined in the lynching and mutilation of a black labourer, Robert Charles called on black people to take up arms in self-defence. John Newsinger tells his incredible story.

On 23 April 1899 Sam Hose, a black farm labourer, was lynched in Palmetto, Georgia, after killing his employer in self-defence. An excursion train was run from Atlanta carrying over a thousand people to watch the spectacle with the guard famously calling, “All aboard for the burning.” Even by the standards of the time (more than 80 black men and women were lynched in the US in 1899), Hose’s lynching was a brutal affair. His ears, fingers, face and genitalia were cut off in front of a jeering crowd of men, women and children.

Welling, 1993

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The vicious attack that left Stephen Lawrence bleeding to death at a south east London bus stop in 1993 was a racist murder that left a family heartbroken and many people angry.

There had already been other racist murders — Orville Blair, Rolan Adams and Rohit Duggal. Since the fascist British National Party (BNP) had opened its headquarters in Welling, south east London, racially motivated attacks had increased by a staggering 200 percent, leading the area to be named “Britain’s racist murder capital”.

The socialist case for independence

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The prominent Scottish socialist has been speaking to packed meetings across Scotland as part of his Hope Over Fear tour. Here we print extracts from a speech he gave in Paisley in late June.

This referendum is not a barometer of whether you like the SNP or whether you like or loathe Alex Salmond. This vote on 18 September is about the future of your country. It’s bigger than any political party, bigger than any individual.

The vote is for you to have the right to decide who runs our country… Since 1951 Scotland has rejected the greed, the privatisation, the toffee-nosed Tories. And since 1951 Scotland has had to endure 35 years of Tory governments. You vote for independence and you will never have to endure another Tory government in Scotland…

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