Privatisation

Selling our schools: the ABC of privatisation

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As we head into the general election campaign it's hard to put a cigarette paper between the education policies of the three main parties. They all offer the same diet of privatisation and cuts.

Sponsorship of academies has enabled a series of national and multinational corporations to gain reputational value. Lucrative contracts for other education services have flowed.

The worsening troubles of the Northern Ireland peace process

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"Both Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party now find themselves unable to call on the fierce communal loyalism which helped them contain the scandals"

One of the reasons Gerry Adams is in difficulties over revelations that he covered up charges of child rape against his brother and fellow Sinn Fein (SF) activist Liam is that people in Catholic working class areas who have given a lifetime to Republican ideals now see SF leaders in cahoots with their once-deadly Unionist enemies in implementing British rule. Why should they continue to suffer in silence when the cause has been abandoned?

Freudian slips

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The desertion of New Labour's welfare reform adviser Sir David Freud to the Tories highlighted how little there is to choose between the main parties' policies.

Freud's real expertise (if you can call it that) was as a banker, organising such notable successes as the flotations of Eurotunnel and Railtrack. And as we now know, failure in banking is no barrier to huge earnings. He could retire in his 50s, turning his attention to drafting up welfare reform proposals.

After a mere three weeks' research he announced that most Incapacity Benefit recipients could work, and that private contractors could get the long-term unemployed back to work - if the price was right. He also favoured making claimants work for their benefits.

Standing up room only

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Thousands of bus workers across London have been part of a defiant fight against the privatised bus companies.

The roots of the militancy can be traced back to November 2006 when Metroline drivers took on the employers and won after two days of strike action. It proved that drivers didn't need to be afraid of standing up to their employers. It was like a burst of fresh air that was long overdue.

City Academies - still touting for business

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The crisis of international capitalism will have a myriad of unforeseen consequences, one of which will be its impact on the privatisation of public services.

In education the battle around the privatised city academies is set to intensify. In two simultaneous, but apparently contradictory, developments the government has announced that it is expanding the academies programme to include a further 70 secondary schools, while many private sponsors are reported to be having second thoughts about their involvement. Something clearly has to give.

South Africa - reclaim our streets

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Activists in Johannesburg are organising their local communities to oppose the recent violent attacks on foreigners there, Silumko Radebe from the Anti Privatisation Forum in Alexandra reports.

Tensions in South Africa have led to xenophobic attacks on our brothers and sisters from other countries, particularly against Zimbabweans and Somalis who live with us in our townships and communities.

We feel that as South Africans it is important to bring together a broad coalition of every civil society organisation, political organisation, faith-based organisation and the labour movement to reclaim our streets. We want to say that we condemn the attacks on the poor, especially the working class from other countries.

Public transport: how to get back on track

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Shareholders and accountancy firms are the biggest beneficiaries of the privatisation of public transport in Britain. Unjum Mirza, RMT rail union member and Left List candidate in the GLA elections, proposes a different vision of a publicly run, environmentally friendly and efficient system.

The market has failed. The Tory privatisation of the railways has been a disaster. The Hatfield derailment exposed the failure of Railtrack and the fundamental flaw in the "separate the wheel from steel" strategy - in which railway operations are split from infrastructure. More rail disasters, from Ladbroke Grove to Potters Bar, further illustrated that public services left to the dictates of the market cost lives.

Follow the money: the "war on terror" and the multinationals who are profiteering from it

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It started with an article on a private security company in Bosnia. Solomon Hughes then became drawn into an investigation which was to expose the ever growing profits made from the privatisation of war.

I started writing about the private security industry in July 2001, when I sold a story to the Observer newspaper about a company called DynCorp. They were hired by the US to help the "reconstruction" of Bosnia and Kosovo by running the new post-war police force.

Unity in action

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On 5 November I was sacked after 25 years from the job I loved as a community psychiatric nurse. Three days later 150 community mental health workers went on strike indefinitely for my reinstatement.

I might have felt a bit of shame and embarrassment if any of the trumped up charges were true, but I was even sent a letter on the day of my suspension promoting me to senior practitioner. My crime was speaking out about government plans to transfer NHS care to the voluntary sector and publicly protesting my innocence.

As a result my colleagues are taking 14 days of strike action. Their amazing commitment of time and energy is not just about freedom of speech and myself; it is driven by the frustration of working in services being cut to ribbons.

Co-opting ideologies?

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Tory leader David Cameron has been to Manchester to launch a Conservative cooperative movement.

It's a fair bet that Mr Cameron did not learn a great deal about British labour history while he was at Eton - or since - but in his Manchester speech he did recognise that the cooperative movement in Britain has been something associated with the left.

Indeed the political expression of the movement, the Cooperative Party, is linked with the Labour Party, although Cameron didn't quite get around to mentioning that.

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