Social and Economic Policy

I need to make your clothes, shine your boots and drive your motorcycle

Author: 

Colin Applebaum

Even those outside the tech space would struggle to have missed the recent hype around automation and artificial intelligence (AI). Fuelled by rapid developments in technological innovation hyped in the last two years, although mostly developed over the last two decades, many cerebral types suggest we may be at the start of be some significant changes in capitalist production. They even gave it a grandiose name: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

Colin Applebaum looks at recent technological innovation and what socialists can do to make the most of it.

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What’s really wrong at the BBC

Author: 

Rosalind Robson

The row over high salaries at the BBC has so far shed very little light on the most pay important inequalities at the company, and more broadly in “the cultural industries”.

The row has centred on the gender gap in pay among the top-paid “talent”. With Chris Evans netting £2 million last year and Claudia Winkleman on “just” £450,000. One of the higher-paid (but not highest-paid) men, Casualty star Tom Chambers, added some more sexist bullshit to the debate by saying men like him had wives and children to feed. Because, of course, women don’t have dependants.

Many of the staff involved in making other people look good barely earn the London Living Wage. Last year, the union BECTU was knocked back by the BBC on its claim for a minimum BBC salary of £20,000. That is a scandal!

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Slow down in life expectancy

Author: 

Charlotte Zalens

Life expectancy in England, which has been steadily rising for more than 100 years, has stalled.

Government and World Health Organisation advisor Sir Michael Marmot looked at Office for National Statistics data showing that the rate of increase in life expectancy had nearly halved since 2010.

Could we be seeing the consequences of a political choice not to care for the elderly being reflected in stalled life expectancy?

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Make May resign!

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Editorial

According to the media over the 8-9 July weekend, the argument among Tory MPs is whether to replace Theresa May now by David Davis, or to wait to replace her until the autumn. Even Tory party chair Grant Shapps has no confidence in May: “Theresa May will need to operate a completely different model to remain in power”. Getting May out will be a first step in bringing down the Tory government. Only a first step.

For the Tories in office to take a skewed snapshot vote and interpret it as a blank cheque for their policies is not democracy.

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The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Claw back the wealth!

Author: 

Editorial

Under pressure to do a deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, the Tories have found £1 billion extra for public services in Northern Ireland, the equivalent pro rata to £29 billion in England. They have also sneaked through a huge pay rise for the Queen, from £43 million in 2016 to £82 million in 2019. On 28 June they voted down Labour’s proposal to lift the public sector pay limit.
More pressure — strikes, demonstrations, rallies — can make them budge on that, too.

DUP deal shows there is money to spend.

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Grenfell: the powerful are still not listening

Author: 

Charlotte Zalens

So far all 95 tower blocks which have had their cladding tested since the fire at Grenfell in Kensington, west London, have failed fire safety standards. These buildings are potentially as dangerous for their tenants as Grenfell was. Many hundreds of buildings are still to be tested.

The lives of working-class people have been routinely put on the line to make ″savings″ at every level of building planning and construction.

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Grenfell: Capitalism kills

Author: 

Gemma Short

Around 1am on Wednesday 13 June a fire tore through 24-storey Grenfell Tower in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, killing a currently unknown number of people. Firefighters have told people the number will be in triple figures.

The fire at Grenfell Tower has exposed inequality in housing and exploded the narrative that “we’re all in this together”. The class divide exists. It kills people.

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Justice for Grenfell!

Author: 

Gemma Short

Late at night on Tuesday 13 June, a fire gutted Grenfell Tower in west London.

It is likely that a large number of people have died: firefighters have told people the number will be in triple figures. Many hundreds of people's lives have been destroyed as their family members, friends, neighbours, and homes have been taken from them.

Our solidarity is with those families and with the emergency service workers who battled to save them whilst witnessing harrowing scenes.

Protests demand justice for the victims of Grenfell and change.

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Letters: Socialism is not just 99% versus 1%; Women need equality in law!

Author: 

Andrew Northall and Cathy Nugent

I am grateful to Martin Thomas for his response to my letter (Solidarity 439).Rather than seeking to avoid measures which would invite “a counter revolutionary reaction”, I was attempting to point out the very tight limits of social-democratic reformism, i.e. if you try and raise really serious amounts of revenue from the rich to pay for your reform programme, such a government will very quickly run into serious trouble.

Socialism is not just 99% versus 1%; Women need equality in law!

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Prosperity for the few, stagnation for the many

Author: 

Martin Thomas

Right-wingers are trumpeting the claimed prosperity of the US economy since Trump’s election, and of the British economy after Brexit. A closer look shows the prosperity as very partial.

Stock market prices in the USA have risen strongly since November 2016, though no more than their general rising trend since they hit bottom in March 2009. The slice of corporate profits in total US income is as high as it was at its pre-2008 peak, which in turn was the highest since 1965.

The world is seeing an economic recovery, but sooner or later the mismatches built into the system, and not at all mended since 2008, will bring a new crash.

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