Opinion

May is heading for maximum pain

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The Tory party's pronouncements on refugees and "hard Brexit" fuel racism, but the political picture is more complex than a simple rightward shift.

Is Britain lurching to the right in the wake of the referendum vote? That was the impression given by the Conservative Party conference. Not only did Theresa May embrace a “hard Brexit”, designed to restrict migration, but Home Secretary Amber Rudd proposed forcing companies to reveal how many foreign workers they employ — before being made to backtrack.

The Labour Party's record on border controls

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Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to bow to the demand for tougher immigration controls is a rebuttal, not just of the calls made by right wing Labour MPs such as Rachel Reeves, Chuka Umunna, Stephen Kinnock and shadow Brexit minister Sir Keir Starmer. It is also a rebuttal of Labour’s dreadful past.

Founded on the class struggle

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In a new ten-part column John Newsinger tells the the remarkable story of US revolutionary trade unionists the Industrial Workers of the World, known as the Wobblies

On Tuesday 27 June 1905 Bill Haywood of the Western Federation of Miners called the first and founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) to order. He told the 200 delegates assembled in Brand’s Hall, Chicago, that they had come together “to confederate the workers of this country into a working class movement that shall have for its purpose the emancipation of the working class”.

Occupy's bells still ring

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Protesters on steps at St Paul's cathedral

Five years ago a global movement propelled a new generation of people into activity. John Sinha salutes them, but stresses the key debate remains over the type of political organisation that we need to win.

On 15 October 2011 thousands of people assembled on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in the heart of the City of London. It was part of a wave of occupations in hundreds of cities around the globe. Millions were railing against the injustices of an economic system which favoured a tiny elite at the expense of the majority. As one of the placards at St Pauls read, “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out”.

Safety net without stigma

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Trade unions and political parties are discussing the concept of a universal basic income (UBI) to replace the welfare system. Should socialists support the idea? Michael Lavalette looks at the pros and cons.

At its conference later this month the Unite union will debate a proposal for the implementation of a “universal basic income”. UBI, sometimes called the “citizens income”, would replace the social security system with a fixed monthly payment paid unconditionally to all citizens, as a right and without means test or work requirement.

It's time to name the day

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It is two years since the inspiring Yes campaign for Scottish independence ended in defeat. Things have moved on, and how.

The SNP won all but two of the Scottish constituencies in the general election in 2015. Scots were again landed with a Tory government they did not vote for. In the Scottish parliament election in May this year the SNP was the top party in the constituency votes but failed to win an overall majority.

Sport for all isn't part of the Olympic dream

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The Olympics saw some fantastic sport. The performances of Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and Almaz Ayana on the track were awe inspiring. Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps in the pool were completely dominant. In the velodrome Laura Trott was untouchable (again), while Nicola Adams boxed with grace and power.

But the Olympics are so full of the contradictions of capitalism that it leaves me conflicted.

War criminals exposed

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The Chilcot report went further than many expected in condemning Tony Blair's role in the invasion of Iraq. As Judith Orr says, it also reinforced the need to be vigilant against all warmongers.

It took 12 days for the Chilcot report on the Iraq war to be read aloud non-stop at the Edinburgh Festival event last month. The 2.6 million words of the report were not the whitewash some had feared. In fact they were a confirmation of what so many of those who protested against the war at the time said.

The gig economy and collective action

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The supposedly endless rise of precarity is not as straightforward as it seems.

Growing use of zero hours contracts (ZHCs) and the “gig economy”, in which people scrape together a living from fragments of work without being formally employed, are, we are often told, leading us on an endless march towards precarity and undermining workers’ capacity to fight.

But right now things look rather different. In April this year, following protests organised by Fast Food Rights and the Bfawu union, McDonald’s offered all its employees the option of moving off ZHCs.

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