Opinion

Brexit wounds

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The prime minister’s commitment to both nationalism and neoliberalism is the worst of both worlds.

Theresa May has delivered her long-awaited speech on her Brexit strategy — knowledge of which was hitherto limited to the handwritten note spotted on the pad of a hapless Tory aide: “Have cake and eat it.”

May is pushing for a “hard Brexit”. Britain will leave the single market and the customs union governing trade between EU states. Instead she envisages a deal covering specific areas of the economy allowing “frictionless” tariff-free trade with the EU.

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.

Stormont Assembly faces new elections

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The Assembly election in Northern Ireland on 2 March will take place in the context of the rage over the energy scandal that provoked it and the divisions it has exposed.

There is a lot of anger around the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme. The scheme was designed by Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), as a way of handing money to large companies. For every pound the companies spent on renewable energy they gained £1.60 back.

Gurley Flynn will be the boss

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The fourth part of our series on the Wobblies looks at the role of women in the workers’ and socialist movement.

Only 12 of the 200 delegates at the founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) were women, but they included the African American anarchist and veteran revolutionary Lucy Parsons. In her speech to the convention, Parsons urged all women to read August Bebel’s Marxist account of the position of women, Woman in the Past, Present and Future (first published in 1879).

British values, Western barbarity

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The Tories talk about democratic “values”, yet the hypocrisy of the British state — one of the world’s top arms dealers — is astounding. John Clossick looks at a new book on Britain’s role in spreading torture.

The British establishment revels in its certainties, not least its “British values”. Actions, say ministers, are always consistent with international legal obligations and “our values as a nation”. Yet torture led directly to the Iraq war. Wide-ranging hypocrisy is plain for all to see.

Theresa May declares claims of abuse by British troops against former detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan are “an industry of vexatious allegations”. The European Human Rights Convention formally bans torture. So the Tory response is withdrawal from parts of the convention.

A bad year for the extreme centre

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With further elections coming this year in Europe, socialists must organise against racism and for alternatives to neoliberal politics.

If the year just ended had a single guiding theme, it was the accelerating crisis of what Tariq Ali dubs the “extreme centre”: mainstream political parties and institutions that have become addicted to the neoliberal status quo.

December was a fitting end to a year that had already seen Britain reject the EU and the US reject Hillary Clinton. In Austria, where the annulled presidential election run-off was restaged, an independent candidate from the Green Party defeated the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) candidate.

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.

Solidarity Forever: ‘Driven by rage and desperation’

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The third part of our series on the IWW looks at the victorious battle to unionise steel — an industry dominated by migrant workers.

One of the great historic defeats suffered by the US working class was the crushing of union organisation in the steel industry. The decisive moment was the Homestead strike of July 1892 when the multi-millionaire “philanthropist” Andrew Carnegie declared the plant non-union.

Defend free movement

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Immigration restrictions are at the very centre of the Brexit agenda. On top of this, the Tory government is intensifying attacks on international students, immigrants and refugees.

It is trying to raise the stakes and see how far it can go. And so far, unfortunately, the strongest opposition to the Tory policies has come from capitalist interests who want to avoid any restrictions which might hinder the pursuit of profit.

Solidarity forever: 'Undesirable citizens'

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Part two of our series on the Wobblies looks at the bosses' attempt to have Bill Haywood framed and executed.

When the IWW was formed in 1905 the most important constituent was the Western Federation of Miners (WFM). Under the leadership of Bill Haywood and Charles Moyer, the WFM had fought strikes in the West that sometimes assumed the dimensions and characteristics of small wars.

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