Michael Lavalette

The decline and fall of Rangers FC

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Back in February Glasgow Rangers Football Club entered administration. The administrators claimed there were short-term problems and the club would be back to normal shortly. In the period since there have been almost daily revelations about toxic bank debt, tax avoidance, cheating on the football field and legal investigations that may result in charges of fraud and corruption. On 14 June Rangers' creditors refused to accept the administrators' offer of a 3p payment for every pound owed. The result was the liquidation of the club. How did this happen?

Pedalare Pedalare

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John Foot

In recent years there has been a large increase of high-quality books about the sport of cycling.
Writers like William Fotheringham and Matt Rendell have produced fascinating biographies of some of the sport's greats while also addressing broader social and political issues. Similarly the cultural historian Christopher Thompson has written an excellent history of the Tour de France that considers the development of the bike within industrial capitalism.
To this list we can now add John Foot's excellent history of Italian cycling.

The best democracy money can buy?

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As workers lose their jobs and homes because of the recession, MPs from all the main parties have been caught on a spending spree with taxpayers' money. Michael Lavalette, a socialist councillor in Preston, makes the case for political representation with principles

The revelations about MPs' expenses have shocked and angered people across Britain and caused a political crisis that threatens the whole legitimacy of parliamentary democracy. The range of items they have claimed for on "expenses" is truly astonishing, from duck houses to moat cleaning, from mortgage payments to loo seats, from "hired help" to food bills, from council tax fiddles to claims for incidentals like light bulbs, bath plugs, scatter cushions, mirrors and Asda pizzas!

Islamophobia

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Last month's article on Islamophobia (Feature, Socialist Review, April 2008) was an important counter to anti-Muslim attitudes from a range of journalists and politicians.

As a Preston City councillor I am increasingly concerned at the way the Islamophobic atmosphere impacts on Muslims who come to us looking for help.

Preston Respect - How We Won...

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Our election campaign in Preston was based on our record over the last four years; a record of combining local issues with national and international issues. We aim to be community shop stewards, dealing with whatever problems people have.

When we first started no one came to our surgeries - the tradition had been broken by the growing "democratic deficit" in British politics. People do not trust politicians to represent and fight for them. So now we have regular stalls across the ward as an alternative.

Tour de France: Chain Gang Convicts of the Road

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July sees the annual highlight of the cycling road-race calendar - the Tour de France.

It is one of the hardest endurance events in world sport and offers a chance to follow the team tactics of road racing, while marvelling at the riders' athleticism and will power. In 20 separate day long stage races 22 teams of nine riders will cover 2,283 miles, and in the process traverse some of the highest mountains in France.

Democracy: Getting Respect into our Councils

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Michael Lavalette tells of his puzzlement when first elected as a Respect councillor in Preston.

Just over 18 months ago I was elected to Preston council. Winning was great. But it presented me with a very immediate problem: 'What do I do as a councillor?'

My previous experience of councils was a bit one-sided. I had been on plenty of lobbies of council meetings. I also knew many of the councillors and had spoken with them on numerous occasions at protest rallies. But what did these people do?

A Life in the Day

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Review of 'I'm Not the Only One', George Galloway, Penguin £10

George Galloway has spoken at hundreds of meetings for the anti-war movement. He has travelled literally thousands of miles to argue the case against war and occupation. He captures his audience with a mix of insight, passion and humour. Despite numerous attempts to smear and isolate him (generally from the establishment but also from a few small disengaged sects on the left), the anti-war movement recognises George Galloway as one of our key spokespeople.

British Politics: A Matter of Opinion

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The latest British Social Attitudes survey contains many indicators that our strategy is correct - and a few surprises.

The National Centre for Social Research has just published the 2003/04 edition of the British Social Attitudes survey. This is the 20th report in a series that began in 1983, and over this time the report has established a reputation for itself as the authoritative source on contemporary values and attitudes in Britain.

Left Alternative: Beyond the Crossroads

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Paul Foot puts the case for a unity coalition of the left, while Socialist Alliance councillor Michael Lavalette explains how he has forged a campaign in Preston.

The vast demonstration against Bush on 20 November once again opened wide the increasingly intolerable contradiction on the British left. These demonstrations in 2003 were far greater than anything in the 1960s or indeed at any other time before or since, yet when the crowds have dispersed, there is so little sign of any political result. The huge Labour majority cannot even prevent parliament from moving yet another step closer to the privatisation of the health service.

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