The media

Rendezvous in Northern Ireland?

Martin McGuinness shaking the Queen's hand offended socialists because of our contempt for the institution of monarchy but his motive at least was progressive, and also republican in the sense defined by the founder of modern Irish republicanism Wolfe Tone — “to replace the name Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter with the common name Irishman”.

In a hugely symbolic moment on 27 June, during a royal visit to Northern Ireland to mark her jubilee, the former commander of the IRA shook hands with the Queen.

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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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Hillsborough: police to be prosecuted at last

Author: 

Rosalind Robson

Last year, an inquest jury found that David Duckenfield was guilty of “manslaughter by gross negligence” Duckenfield was the police officer in charge of policing the fateful football match at Hillsborough, the ground of Sheffield Wednesday, in 1989. 96 people were crushed to death, and 400 others injured in an overcrowded pen.

Hopefully this is a the last chapter in the fight mounted by the families and friends of the people who died at Hillsborough. We salute the tremendous bravery and determination of those campaigners and we have to hope their fight will help others who will face similar battles against the powerful.

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Finsbury Park attack: defend Muslim communities

Author: 

Keith Road

We condemn the murderous attack on people outside the Muslim Welfare Centre in Finsbury Park, London, on 19 June.

As it is Ramadan, worshippers had just finished their prayers after breaking the daily fast. One man was killed and nine people were taken to hospital.

Violence against Muslims is something that the mainstream tabloid press helps to stir up — most insidiously, the idea that all Muslims have a special responsibility to sort out Islamist terrorists.

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Labour is wrong on press freedom

Author: 

Gerry Bates

Labour’s manifesto committed the party to implement the recommendations in part one of the Leveson enquiry.That would mean supporting Section 40 of the current Crime and Court Act. Under this law newspapers (including Solidarity) have to pay their opponents’ legal costs in libel and privacy cases, even if they win!

Publishers can avoid these charges by signing up with Impress, the recognised regulator financed by Max Mosley.Both the Society of Editors and the National Union of Journalists are against all of Leveson’s recommendations. They said:

It is right that the Labour Party want to challenge the dominance and influence of the big media companies, but further state regulation, including massive financial penalties, would be wholly regressive.

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Tories seek mandate to increase cuts, inequality, poverty

Author: 

Martin Thomas

“Mrs May”, writes the Tory-leaning columnist of the Financial Times, Janan Ganesh, “could not survive an election campaign saying so little so often if people paid attention”. Since so many don’t, “the repetition of slogans in lieu of answers carries no cost”. Fraser Nelson, another Tory, comments in the Spectator: “She seems to think that, if you refuse to give the press anything, the public won’t care. Worse, she seems to be right – for now, at least”. May’s purpose, so Nelson writes, is not to “seek a mandate”, but to evade one.

The Daily Mail front page headline on 19 April summed up how Theresa May sees the election serving her Brexit drive: “Crush the saboteurs”. That is, strengthen her position against all who ask questions, raise criticisms, demand information.

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Labour council losses expected

Author: 

Keith Road

Labour are 18 points behind the Tories according to the Guardian/ICM survey produced on the eve of Corbyn’s launch of Labour’s campaign for the May Council and mayoral elections. Labour could lose as many as 125 councillors across England, Scotland and Wales. Particularly damaging in Scotland where Glasgow Council is likely to fall to the SNP.

Corbyn is right to highlight the vast cuts being made by the Government and to welcome those councils that have sought to improve pay and training for care workers. However this completely fails to recognise the significance that these cuts are being implemented by Labour councils who are now engaged in some serious industrial battles with their own workers.

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Re-elect Len McCluskey!

Author: 

Ann Field

Ballot papers for Unite the Union’s General Secretary and national Executive Council elections have been sent out to the union’s 1.4 million members. Voting runs to 19 April, and the result will be out on 28 April.

West Midlands Unite full-timer Gerard Coyne is the right-wing challenger to Len McCluskey, the incumbent General Secretary seeking re-election for a third time. Ian Allinson is also standing as the candidate of rank-and-file democracy.

Unite members should vote for Len McCluskey in the General Secretary election. But that is no more than the first stage of the campaign needed.

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What’s happening on 11 March?

Author: 

Simon Nelson and Keith Road

The Momentum Grassroots conference on Saturday 11 March (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Conway Hall, London, WC1R 4RL) presents an important opportunity to shape and coordinate the work of local groups after the 10 January coup in the organisation. We hope for a large turnout, with delegates representing groups from around the country.

Momentum still has a huge pool of resources and a membership of over 20,000. To walk away and squander the biggest opportunity the left has had in a generation to transform the Labour Party is wrong and should be resisted.

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Alt-right threat opposed at Berkeley

Author: 

Simon Nelson

Milo Yiannopoulos is an editor at Breitbart, a news site of the so-called alt-right. He is a self-described “super villain”, a viciously right-wing internet troll who publicly attacks women, black people, Muslims, immigrants. Unsurprisingly he is a great supporter of Donald Trump. So bad is he, he is permanently banned from Twitter.

The alt-right have gone into online overdrive, attacking their opponents for being unable to handle opposing views, calling “liberals” illiberal etc. But in the age of social media, this is not so much a free speech restriction as a question of access to certain platforms.

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