Social and Economic Policy

More rail yes, HS2 maybe not

Published on: Wed, 19/02/2020 - 10:15
Author

Simon Nelson

More railway lines? Yes. HS2 in particular? Not really.

There are higher priorities: electrification of the railways, many of which are still running diesel trains; increasing capacity on intercity services; improving existing connections; reinvestment in branch lines; newer trains.

A well-staffed and free or cheap integrated rail and bus network is the sort of large-scale infrastructure project that should come before HS2.

Some of the arguments used against HS2 are weak. But there is also good reason to question the arguments made for HS2 as a way to create good jobs, as a way to help the

We're still for a united Europe

Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 12:16
Author

Editorial

The socialist left should vocally oppose the Tories’ Brexit plans. It should argue for a united Europe, and for the UK to rejoin the EU. It should fight for the broad labour movement, including the Labour Party, to argue and campaign for this too.

Almost all the Labour-leader candidates say that we have no choice but to “move on” while the Tories “get Brexit done”. Even Emily Thornberry, the most vocally anti-Brexit candidate, says only that Labour should have been more anti-Brexit.

That is wrong. Actual, really-existing Brexit involves a range of attacks on the interests of the working class.

Marx's telescope

Published on: Tue, 14/01/2020 - 17:59
Author

Martin Thomas

The working class is the revolutionary class. It is the gravedigger of capitalism and the architect of socialism. Everyone who has even heard of Karl Marx knows that those were central ideas. But Marx himself, in old age, gave an eager suggestion from a young co-thinker about producing an edition of his collected works the wry response: “They would first have to be written”. Marx wrote a lot, but only a fraction of what he planned to write, and that fraction selected by haphazard circumstances as well as by deliberation. Thus, the Communist Manifesto opens with the sentence: “The history of

Poor choices for Labour leader

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2020 - 12:11
Author

Sacha Ismail

Labour’s National Executive Committee has set a short timetable for the leadership election. MPs and MEPs have one week to nominate candidates (7-13 January).

Constituency Labour Party [CLPs] and affiliates have one month (15 January-14 February). Voting will run a month and a bit (21 February-4 April).

New members can vote if they join by 20 January. There will be a registered supporters system, in addition to affiliate supporters (eg people registered through their unions).

To get on the ballot, candidates need 10% of Labour MPs and MEPs (22), and then either 5% of constituency parties (33)

Tories: prepare the fightback!

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2020 - 11:42
Author

Editorial

Boris Johnson has talked of ending austerity, bolstering public services and appealing to the working class, but on all the evidence so far that is a threadbare velvet glove on an iron hand.

NHS spending is set to increase, but by nothing anywhere near what is needed to fill the shortfall from its 2010-20 cuts. The tide of privatisation will continue to roll forward.

The NHS is probably the best protected part of the public sector. The Institute of Fiscal Studies estimates that by 2024, non-NHS spending will be 14% lower than in 2010.

The provisional local government funding settlement

Five arguments about why Labour lost

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 11:48
Author

Sacha Ismail

“Labour has lost the working class”

Over the years, but particularly in the Brexit era, older people have swung to the right and younger people to the left.

In 1983 18-24 year olds backed Thatcher over Labour by 9 points, while over-65s backed Labour by 6. This time 18-24s backed Labour 57-19, while over-65s backed the Tories 62-18! Among women voters aged 18-24, only 15% went Tory.

Older people are more and more over-represented in areas where Labour lost the bulk of its seats, and young people more and more under-represented. And older people are much more likely to turn out and vote.

What

Lib Dems: turbo-charged neoliberalism

Published on: Wed, 27/11/2019 - 19:37

Quite a few of the Lib Dems’ manifesto pledges read as quite leftish. Their opposition to Brexit is clear, though revoking Article 50 without a new referendum is misguided. On migrants’ rights and free movement, they stand in many respects to the left of Labour.

Even on public services, they are promising something like £50 billion above the Tories’ spending plans, and in a few areas have outflanked Labour – for instance childcare, where they are pledging more free hours from earlier and specifying it will be almost all year round.

In general, though, what marks out the Lib Dems’ plans is not

High finance: take back control

Published on: Wed, 06/11/2019 - 09:03

The banks and high finance should be converted into a public banking, mortgage, and pension service, under public ownership and democratic and workers’ control.

Public ownership and democratic control will also provide the means to stop a reforming government being sabotaged by a “strike” or “flight” of capital, as France’s reforming government was in the early 1980s.

Britain’s big four banks made about £22 billion profits in 2018-9. That is more than the total of £19 billion per year required, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies in October 2018, to end the cuts in welfare, schools,

Why public ownership?

Published on: Wed, 06/11/2019 - 08:57

Labour has pledged to bring energy, rail, water, and mail into public ownership and to “put democratic management at the heart of how those industries are run”.

These are some reasons for doing this:

• Those industries are central to economic life. To make a real socialist Green New Deal, to reshape economic life to cut carbon emissions adequately, requires public control of those industries rather than just nudging and coaxing their private owners.
• They are, to one degree, or another, monopolies or semi-monopolies. Private-profit companies running such industries acquire big chances to make

Hold Labour to socialist Green New Deal policies!

Published on: Wed, 09/10/2019 - 11:22
Author

Misha Zubrowski

Labour Party conference passed unprecedentedly bold environmental policy this year. It will amount to nothing if we do not fight for it.

The policy as passed was contradictory, or at least in tension, in parts, but included:

• a target of zero carbon emissions by 2030
• “a worker-led ‘just transition’... public ownership of energy, creating an integrated, democratic system; large-scale investment in renewables”
• “rapidly phasing out fossil fuels”
• “repeal all anti-union laws, facilitating worker-led activism over social and political issues, including climate change”
• “take transport into

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