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Switzerland: ‘Real equality is far from being realised’

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The women’s strike on 14 June 2019 will long remain in the history of the women’s and workers’ movement in Switzerland. More than half a million people joined the demonstrations throughout the country. Some 70,000 marched in Zurich, 40,000 in Bern and Basel, 50,000 in Lausanne and more than 20,000 in Geneva. The demonstrations were no less impressive in smaller cities like Sion, Neuchatel and Fribourg, where 12,000 took to the streets. All answered the call issued by the “Women’s Strike Collective”.

Beware the rancid stench of Tory hypocrisy

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The stench of hypocrisy rising from the Tory leadership election is matched only by the bluster and evasion of Boris Johnson, the favourite to win it.

He refuses to take part in an adversarial televised debate with his rival Jeremy Hunt, but then is afforded a less confrontational one on one interview by the BBC (the Back Boris Corporation) with its political editor Laura Kuenssberg.

He always spoke truth to power

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Shortly before Socialist Review went to press we heard of the death of Walter Wolfgang at the age of 95. He was a socialist, a Labour Party activist and an anti-war campaigner — one of the founding members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

He was perhaps most famous for heckling the then foreign secretary Jack Straw’s speech on Iraq at the Labour Party conference in 2005. We wrote in Socialist Review at the time:

Obituary: Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina

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Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina (1971–2019) was part of a new generation of African writers who grew up after the radicalism of the independence struggles and the highs of Pan-Africanism and African Socialism in the 1960s and 1970s. He has died after a short illness aged 48.

His writing was subtle and critical. In an article on the terrible ethnic violence in the slums of Kenya’s capital Nairobi after the 2007 elections he recalled going there earlier to write an article on the spread of plastic bags:

Let’s kill off the divided Tory government

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The Labour Party National Executive Committee is right to have rejected an attempt by Tom Watson, the deputy leader, to tie Labour to a confirmatory vote on any Brexit deal that may be cobbled together in talks with the Tories.

Any attempt to concede to such a demand or to support a second referendum would have been an electoral own goal and would have damaged Labour’s attempts to campaign on policies that would attract both Leave and Remain voters.

Sri Lankan horror leads to repression

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The horrific suicide attacks in Sri Lanka which targeted hotels and Christian churches and caused more than 250 deaths have led directly to increased repression from the state.

Responding to Islamophobic anger in the wake of the atrocities it was decreed that “all face coverings” would be banned. The rationalisation for this measure was national security, but it was clearly aimed at Muslim women wearing niqabs and burqas, despite the fact that the perpetrators of the attacks were male and dressed in trousers and shirts.

Centre-left returns, but far right gains

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The results of the 28 April general election in Spain were very contradictory. There was good news in that the main right wing party, the PP, lost half of its vote, going from 137 MPs to just 66 today. The Labour-type Socialist party, PSOE, won the election with very big gains (from 85 to 123 MPs) and will almost certainly form the next government.

Brexit shambles and EU crisis

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There could be many twists and turns in the Brexit melodrama in the hiatus between my writing this article and you reading it.

To speculate on what may or not happen is futile, but there have been enough developments to date that help us unpick some of the fundamental issues at stake.

The most obvious starting point is that the government’s paralysis as a result of Theresa May’s inability to put her deal to the vote for a third time does not mean that there is likely to be an agreed alternative.

Mike Oliver: a pioneer for disability rights

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Mike Oliver, who died last month, was a key figure in the British disability rights movement. He pioneered the development of what became known as the social model of disability.

His many books, including The Politics of Disablement (1990), helped lead to the foundation of Disability Studies as an academic discipline — in which he became the first professor in Britain. Throughout his life, Oliver argued that the fight against disability discrimination was also about wider social change.

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