Opinion

We got IDS with bold action

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If the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party suggested that politics can be unpredictable, the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) in a self-proclaimed stand for disabled people proves it.

Watching the former secretary of state for work and pensions tell Andrew Marr that the cuts are “hurting the most vulnerable” and that welfare cuts “are going too far” was more than surreal. This from a man who has steadfastly lied and denied his way around the true impact of welfare reform since 2010.

Forced to fight their war

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By early 1916 a flagging British war machine had to resort to conscription to round up enough men for the trenches of Europe. Chris Fuller looks at the machinations of the politicians and the resistance they faced.

One hundred years ago the British ruling class took a desperate gamble by introducing military conscription. The move was accompanied by huge opposition from below and spurred resistance to the war.

The dynamics of the world economy

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The weakness of the global economic recovery vindicates Marxists' analysis of the 2008 crisis.

It is sometimes hard to remember a time when the world economy was not meandering through a funk of stagnation or teetering on the cusp of some new disaster. Six years ago I wrote a piece for this magazine entitled “The Crisis: Over or Just Beginning?” Fortunately I erred on the side of “just beginning”, describing the much-hyped recovery with three words: weak, fragile and uncertain.

Flamboyant rebel woman

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A century ago Constance Markievicz was preparing for the Irish Easter Rising. Mary Smith outlines the remarkable life of an upper class woman who was both a paramilitary leader and the first woman MP.

Countess Constance Markievicz was a brave and flamboyant rebel, a traitor to her upper class background and an uncompromising revolutionary for most of her life. Her extraordinary life also exemplifies a more general truth: namely that in revolutionary upheavals women come to the fore in the struggle and in the process challenge their own oppression and subordination.

'It was as if you were cattle'

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The Contagious Diseases Acts were symbolic of bourgeois society's desire to control working class women's bodies, writes Diana Swingler. Let's celebrate the campaign that got them repealed

One hundred and fifty years ago the Contagious Diseases Acts, first imposed in port towns in 1864, were extended to civilian populations. They were met with one of the first successful women’s rights campaigns in British history, which has a resonance with the fight for women’s right to control their own bodies today.

Cameron's Saudi friends

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Why do British governments grovel to the Saudi royal family? Is it because of our “shared values”, as the New Labour minister Kim Howells famously put it, or is it because they stand shoulder to shoulder with Britain and the United States in the Great War on Terror as various senior Tories continually insist?

Obviously neither of these claims is true. The real reason is shown quite dramatically by British arms sales to the Saudis. Over a three-month period towards the end of last year British arms sales grew from £9 million to more than £1 billion.

Corbyn's Scottish woes

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The Corbyn effect has not been able to turn around the Labour Party's disastrous general election result in Scotland. Bob Fotheringham outlines the obstacles facing Labour in the Holyrood elections this May.

On the surface Scotland — an almost Tory-free zone since 1997 — should provide fertile ground for a Corbyn-led Labour Party. Opposition to austerity, war, Trident and support for refugees are all now deeply ingrained in the political culture.

During Corbyn’s election campaign thousands turned up to hear him at meetings across Scotland. This seemed to reinvigorate the Labour Party, particularly those members who identify with the left. Corbyn spoke at a rally of almost 2,000 in Glasgow organised by the Scottish TUC in opposition the Tories’ Trade Union Bill.

Working class gets an injection

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The junior doctors' strikes raise questions about how socialists should define the working class.

Back in 1986, or thereabouts, I wrote to Margaret Thatcher to ask her to draw around her foot. My primary school teacher, whose motivations I can only speculate about, had asked us to contact someone famous and obtain the said outline. Being literal-minded, I decided that there was no one more famous in Britain than the prime minister.

Thatcher did not reply, setting me on a path towards revolutionary socialism. I cannot have helped my case by including a short passage celebrating the teachers’ strike that had recently shut down my school.

Rhodes must fall - and the rest

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Over at the privileged cloisters of Oxford University there’s a bit of bother over the statue of Cecil Rhodes. On one side are those who want it removed as an icon of racism and oppression, and on the other there are those who are horrified at the suggestion, arguing that its removal will suppress serious and impartial debate on the rights and wrongs of imperialism.

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