Opinion

Truck strike deepens crisis

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At the end of May, Brazil faced the largest strike of truck drivers in its history. Member of left wing party PSOL Jorge Almeida reports on the background to the strike and its likely repercussions.

The majority of Brazil’s cargo transportation is composed of 2.3 million truck drivers, who carry about 60 percent of the goods. So the impact of the 11-day strike, when thousands of trucks were stopped, and more than 500 road blocks were established, was immense. There was a fuel shortage at the gas stations, damaging the day-to-day functioning of the economy. Entrepreneurs estimate a loss of £15 billion.

Unions and democracy

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The strike by lecturers this year led to a new confidence which clashed with the leadership at the congress of the University and College Union. Megan James looks back at the history of holding leaders to account.

Over the past twelve months, struggles in Higher Education have had a potency and engagement with people moving into political action for the first time that is unprecedented, certainly since the early 1970s. I personally have known nothing like it and the past year has been the most exhilarating and productive of my political life.

Fighting austerity fuels independence

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We were told the sharp fall in the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) Westminster seats last year was proof that Scots had rejected independence. Not so, according to the latest British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey released in June.

It said the increase in support for independence in the 2014 referendum “has proven to be much more than a short-term phenomenon”.

Despite the SNP vote dropping from 50 percent to 37 percent between the 2015 and 2017 General Elections, with 21 fewer seats, there was no corresponding slump in support for independence.

Letter from South Korea

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The handshake in Singapore between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un marked a radical shift in US policy towards North Korea. It was an unfamiliar scene, indeed. For more than 70 years, US and North Korea have been in armed stand-off. During the summit Kim is reported to have told Trump: “Many people will think of this as a form of fantasy… a science-fiction movie.” While the US president declared, “We have developed a very special bond.”

Great war on a knife edge

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In spring of 1918 the German military began an offensive against the allies called Operation Michael. Steve Guy details its impact on the strategy of allied forces and the tensions it led to between them.

When the Russian Revolution propelled the Bolsheviks into power in 1917, they made good on their commitment to take Russia out of the war and concluded an armistice with Imperial Germany. But the Germans insisted on imposing onerous conditions on the Bolsheviks who, faced with the overwhelming might of their military machine, were compelled to sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

Royals remain out of touch

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The rich man at his castle,/ The poor man at his gate;/ God made them high or lowly./ And ordered their estate.

That was one of the verses of a popular hymn we used to sing when I was a child.

Exactly one mile away from my primary school is a real castle and it was here that Henry Charles Albert David Windsor married Meghan Markle on 19 May.

The spirit of 68: Chris Harman at the LSE

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Wenda Clenaghen was a student at the LSE during the radical period of 1968. Here she recalls the involvement of the young Chris Harman in events, from the anti-war movement to the streets of Paris.

Chris was a familiar figure, along with Richard Kuper, Steve Jefferys and David Adelstein, on the London School of Economics Old Theatre stage. He was the most shambolic of the four. With wild curly black hair and a strange stuttering style of speaking, that often matched his movements, he was convincing to the uninitiated of which I was one.

His speeches had a combination of intellectual depth, a call to action and sincerity. The International Socialists’ (IS) slogan of “Neither Washington nor Moscow” was particularly attractive.

Jamaica’s labour rebellion

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Anger at low wages, unemployment and colonial racism provoked a series of strikes across the British Caribbean 80 years ago. Christian Høgsbjerg describes the events which solidified the working class.

Amid the great depression of the 1930s the British Empire was rocked by a series of mass strikes and anti-colonial revolts across the Caribbean colonies. These events were central in the making of the Caribbean working class and reached their climax in Jamaica from late April to June 1938.

Donald Trump and the evangelicals

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The Christian right played a crucial strategic role in the election of Donald Trump and continues, despite everything, to provide him with the hard core of his support. According to one poll, not only did evangelical Christians constitute nearly a third of votes in the 2016 presidential election, but 81 percent of white evangelical Christians voted for Trump.

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