Poverty and inequality

How Labour should end austerity

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 07:31

Chris Reynolds

Since 2010 austerity has ground down working-class living standards for the benefit of the ultra-rich. Life has been made meaner and more insecure.

Boris Johnson now says he will end austerity. But that is all a matter of previously-budgeted money being “recycled” and called expansion, and random promises to try to win a general election after which he will be free to do his right-wing worst for five years.

The NHS and social care have been squeezed so that waiting lists expand and A&E wait times explode. Hospitals routinely run at the upper limit of capacity, so that an epidemic, or an

Socialism is more than public funding

Published on: Wed, 29/05/2019 - 09:00

Ruth Cashman

Socialism: where has it actually worked? Momentum and their hot new video are here to explain.

You Are A Socialist

Where has socialism ever worked? ?

Posted by Momentum on Thursday, 9 May 2019

And where has socialism worked? Everywhere!

Everywhere? Yes, that’s right everywhere! Doesn’t it seem a bit weird that socialism has worked everywhere and everything is still so shit? And what are fighting for now?

I’m pretty sure the video has got some details wrong here. We probably should have been warned when socialism as “pooling our resources” and “working together” was illustrated by Momentum

The roots of inequality

Published on: Wed, 22/05/2019 - 11:48

Matt Cooper

On 14 May, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) launched its Deaton Review into inequality in Britain. The broadcast and print news outlets carried interviews about the five-year study into the nature and causes of inequality in the UK, with the Nobel laureate Professor Sir Angus Deaton in the chair and a budget of £2.5 million supplied by the charitable Nuffield Trust.

The research promises to be wide-ranging, looking at inequality not just in incomes, but also in other areas such as health, wealth, political participation and opportunity. The first motivation for the report is that the UK


Published on: Wed, 15/05/2019 - 11:46

Inequality and the super-ego

If my review of The Inner Level left readers thinking that it presented a narrow, economistic view of mental illness, then I apologise for writing a poor review. Thanks to Ian Townson for prompting me to write this correction.

Wilkinson and Pickett stress that their research is not a “theory of everything” and do not claim that income inequality is the only driver of mental distress. They describe a broad statistical trend within which our human drama plays out. There are outliers in the data where there must be powerful countervailing factors. For example, Italy

Why students are depressed

Published on: Wed, 15/05/2019 - 07:54

Stuart Jordan

A recent survey of university students has found alarming rates of anxiety, self harm and substance abuse. Of the 38,000 students surveyed by the Insight Network, 87.7% said they struggle with anxiety, 50.3% have thoughts of self-harm, and 44.7% use alcohol or drugs to deal with their problems. Rates of mental distress are highest among second and third year students.

There are some reasons that we can rule out as being the cause of this mental distress.

Students are under pressure, but not any more so than students in other countries. In fact, British universities tend to be generous with

Caring for the NHS

Published on: Wed, 01/05/2019 - 11:29

Simon Nelson

Mark Thomas’ show Check Up: Our NHS at 70 is a whistle-stop and funny tour of what is wrong with underfunding, short staffing and the creeping privatisation of the NHS.

In some ways this is Mark Thomas at his softest, and probably on a topic on which he is on very safe ground.

But the takeaway message is that inequality, low incomes, poor housing, cuts to social care and local authority services have all combined with the dismantling of the NHS to make the health outcomes for the poorest significantly worse.

In Kensington and Chelsea, the residents around the Grenfell tower had a life

Inequality makes us mentally ill

Published on: Wed, 27/03/2019 - 10:17

Todd Hamer

One of the most ubiquitous products of advanced capitalism is mental illness. Despite our relative comfort, our god-like technology and our unprecedented freedom, something about the world we live in makes us miserable and anxious.

Depression, anxiety, addiction and psychotic disorders are on the rise at an alarming rate. The most comprehensive survey from the USA found that 46% of 18-75 year olds report a history of mental illness. World Health Organisation research puts the figure at 55%. Suicide is now the most common way to die for men aged 18-30. Depression is the leading cause of

Lambeth fight continues after budget vote

Published on: Wed, 20/02/2019 - 12:50

Katy Dollar

On Wednesday 13 February, Lambeth Council voted through another cuts budget. The document included a line in a table cutting £500,000 from Children’s Services. Five children’s centres are to be closed, seven more will have their service provision cut, and staff across the borough will lose their jobs.

Outside the Town Hall, Labour members, trade unionists and families sung and chanted in protest. A deputation of mums addressed the Council meeting to explain how much the Centres mean and to propose an alternative. They distributed a counter-proposal, A Better Plan, written by the Lambeth

Socialism is not Cuba

Published on: Wed, 09/01/2019 - 11:50

Rhodri Evans

Fidel Castro’s 26 July Movement overthrew the corrupt Batista regime, and took power in Cuba sixty years ago, at the start of January 1959. The early period of the Castro regime improved social provision and living standards for the poorest in Cuba. Increasingly it did that while also suppressing the independent trade unions and political pluralism which existed, even though harassed and weak, under Batista.

Sixty years later, the Morning Star is celebrating and excusing Cuba’s lack of democracy. It is pointedly silent about the economic inequality which has grown there since the Cuban

Labour and housing markets breed insecurity

Published on: Wed, 12/12/2018 - 10:41

Peter Kenway

When the Minimum Wage was introduced, the bottom scale of local government pay was well above it. Now each time the Minimum Wage is increased, a couple of points at the bottom of the local government pay scales have to be removed because they’re now below that Minimum Wage.

One reason why the decline in local government services is not so noticeable is that there’s been a huge hit to the pay of what was always mostly a low-paid workforce. Productivity figures are usually dubious — on the standard measures, real estate is reckoned to have the highest labour productivity of any sector — but it

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