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After Grenfell: joining the dots

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Grenfell Tower was a disaster waiting to happen. I’ve been responsible for looking after council tower blocks in the past, including some with cladding. I shudder to think about it now.

Grenfell could have happened anywhere. The lack of adequate fire safety is a deadly symptom of how council housing has been neglected for decades. Its mismanaged decline is the result of deliberate government policies of underinvestment and denigration.

Middle East spins deeper into crisis

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Foreign intervention is pushing the Middle East into a series of wars with no end in sight.

The war in Syria and Iraq is threatening to spill into a war between the Saudis and Iran, Turkey is preparing to crush the restive Kurdish regions, while the prospect of a defeat for ISIS threatens a deeper and bloodier struggle over its old strongholds.

Hurricane Katrina and the 'cleansing' of social housing

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Grenfell has been referred to as a “Katrina moment”. Care must be taken with that comparison. But the reaction of the establishment would certainly be recognised by working class people in New Orleans.

Theresa “Antoinette” May’s detachment and ignorance call to mind Barbara Bush’s comment in 2005 that for people who lost their home after the hurricane and were living in shelters things were “working very well” because they were “underprivileged anyway”.

Editorial: Class war at the polls

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On Monday 22 May, a few days before we went to press, Salman Abedi detonated a bomb at the Manchester Arena, killing 22 people. The horror of this attack, targeting young people attending a concert, pulled the general election campaign to a sudden halt.

Theresa May’s immediate response was to announce that the terror threat level had been raised to “critical” and to put 5,000 troops on the streets of Britain, as well as formally suspending national political campaigning for the rest of the week.

Proposed social care plan 'worse than US Medicaid'

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The Tory social care funding plans aim to extend to care in your own home, charges which individuals already have to pay if they move into residential care.

As it stood before the election, anyone with assets over £23,250 had to pay the full cost of their care if they move to a care or nursing home. Care costs in homes are high, with one in ten older people spending more than £100,000 in their lifetimes; £700 per week for residential care or an average of £1,000 per week for a nursing home place.

Tory NHS spending is a bung to privatisers

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In the days following the publication of the Tory manifesto the Telegraph trumpeted “Tories pledge £8bn rise in NHS spending.” It added, “Conservatives would also triple the fees charged to migrants for using the NHS, to help raise more funds from overseas patients.”

The overt racism of this proposal shouldn’t surprise us. But what of the £8 billion pledge? The figure is over the course of the next government, so roughly £1.6 billion per year.

Will the media be the ones wot won it?

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It may seem bizarre to many people that the Conservative Party has been riding high in the polls after seven years of battering public services and fuelling racism. One popular explanation for this is the role of the media. Given the magnitude of its attacks on Jeremy Corbyn that seems to make sense.

The Sun ran the headline “Blood on his hands” for a vile rant against Corbyn and McDonnell, attempting to attack them over their relations with the IRA. It was printed the day after the Manchester bombing.

Ecuador - can Lenin deliver his promises?

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We can only guess at the extent of Donald Trump’s knowledge of Latin America, Enlightenment philosophy and Russian revolutionary history. Nonetheless it would be nice to think that the election of the superbly named Lenin Voltaire Moreno Garces as president of Ecuador will have raised a few eyebrows in his administration.

Teachers' victory on trans rights

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At the National Union of Teachers conference in April a historic motion was passed supporting positive positions on transgender rights and committing the union to fully implement the recommendations of the Gender Recognition Act.

Over recent years arguments have taken place about transgender rights both on the left among feminists, and on the right. These have often been specifically about the right of transgender people to self-identify and have access to single sex bathroom facilities.

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