Opinion

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.

The rehabilitation of Rupert M

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Rupert Murdoch has emerged virtually unscathed from the phone hacking scandal, which some naive optimists hoped might actually bring his empire down. This much has been clear for some time, but it was made public on 21 December when David Cameron, George Osborne and half of the rest of the cabinet attended a Christmas drinks party at Murdoch’s London flat. The Conservative government was collectively acknowledging Murdoch’s rehabilitation.

Defy noxious Tories' divide and rule

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The government is trying to drive a wedge between hard anti-racists and the wider layer who have supported refugees

The tail end of 2015 brought chilling news for Muslims and for anti-racists. In France the far-right Front National took a quarter of the vote in the first round of regional elections. Its campaign was steeped in Islamophobia in the wake of November’s terrorist attacks in Paris. Its leader, Marine Le Pen, had been on trial just two months earlier for comparing Muslims praying in the streets with the Nazi occupation of France. In the US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump made the extraordinary demand that all Muslims be barred from entering the country.

The fog machine of war

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Workers fought the fascists in the Spanish Civil War

Hilary Benn's much lauded speech for war on Syria needs to be challenged, not just for promoting imperialism, but for using anti-fascist rhetoric to sow confusion on the left.

Hilary Benn proclaimed, “We are faced by fascists — not just their calculated brutality, but their belief that they are superior to every single one of us… They hold our democracy — the means by which we will make our decision tonight — in contempt.” He continued, “they need to be defeated. It is why, as we have heard tonight, socialists, trade unionists and others joined the International Brigade in the 1930s to fight against Franco. It is why this entire House stood up against Hitler and Mussolini. It is why our party [has] always been defined by our internationalism.”

Students: detonators of struggle

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Student struggle

During the last 100 years universities have shifted from training grounds of the ruling class to become significant sites of struggle.

The number of people going to universities has significantly expanded as capitalism requires a highly trained workforce. Many students will go on to work in the public sector or take up jobs in call centres, shops and fast food restaurants.

Students when studying are not part of the working class. They do not have to sell their labour power, face the discipline of the workplace and they have greater time to discuss ideas.

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