Social and Economic Policy

If not more police and stiffer sentences, what will tackle violence against women?

In March this year, the news broke that Sarah Everard had been snatched when walking home in South London, and murdered by a serving police officer. People came together, in person and online, to mourn her death and to share their own stories of fear and of anger, of harassment and abuse. At Clapham Common, her local park, thousands gathered for a vigil and protest that was violently broken up by the police. The history of how gendered violence has been treated in law tells us a lot about how sexist our society is. In 1857, a man was able to beat his wife, so long as the implement he used to...

High wages? Start with strong unions

The Tories want to present anti-migrant policies and the labour shortages caused by those by policies, by Brexit and by poor wages and conditions in key industries like road haulage and social care as a boon for workers. That was the pitch of Boris Johnson’s speech to Conservative Party conference, promising a “high-wage, high-skill, high-productivity economy” in place of “the same old broken model with low wages, low growth, low skills, and low productivity, all of it enabled and assisted by uncontrolled immigration.” The Tories are being aided in this misdirection by the lack of serious...

Interview with Billy Hayes: Time for socialism, time for PR

At Labour Party conference, a motion supporting proportional representation was defeated 42-58, with constituency votes heavily for but union votes heavily against. Billy Hayes is a member of the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform (LCER) executive and former Communication Workers' Union general secretary. He spoke to us in a personal capacity; these views are his alone. A cut down version was published in the print version of Solidarity 608 with the headline "We need socialism, but democracy helps". The CLPs voted 80% for PR. What we've yet to do is convince the bulk of the unions. Only four...

Common ownership is key for climate

On 13 September, BBC Newsnight asked shadow business and energy secretary Ed Miliband about Labour for a Green New Deal’s Labour Party conference motion calling for public ownership in energy, water, transport and other sectors: “We’re in favour of common ownership… Keir Starmer said in his leadership campaign he was in favour of public ownership in those areas. We haven’t changed that commitment... And why is that? Let me just explain this to you. Because in particular, in relation to natural monopolies, if we’re going to make this green transition, then public ownership is the right way to...

Increase pay, training, and open borders

The Confederation of British Industry is concerned about labour shortages, especially in areas that could impact on food supply. They want the government to make it easier for migrant workers to come to those jobs in the UK. The government’s response is that they should hire British workers. But, even leaving aside the nationalism here, the work talked about most in the press is HGV drivers. The other jobs the CBI identifies labour shortages in are butchers, construction workers, engineers and IT specialists. None of those jobs can be done by someone immediately. Some jobs listed as having...

Tax the rich for social care, pensions, benefits

Care and Support Workers Organise protest in Manchester on their day of action, 4 September TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady is right to respond to the talk of National Insurance increases by arguing that “it’s time to raise taxes on wealth to fund social care properly”. A section of the right is are using phrases like “intergenerational fairness” to justify removing the triple lock which guarantees substantial increases in the basic state pension (by average earnings, inflation or 2.5%, whichever is higher). Others say that social care should be funded by squeezing older people more...

Command-economy growth

Environmental devastation in the Soviet Union Tony Southwell (Solidarity 603) is right that calling on capitalist states to reduce our consumption for climate reasons is hopeless. And he’s right that a socialist planned economy could dampen the drive for people to own more “stuff” (more cars, etc.) He suggests, though, that Stalinist-type planned economies could also avert the “more stuff” compulsion. I can’t believe that the growth-target focus of those economies was just coincidence that the individual choices of the bureaucrats all went that way. Their system was organically tied to...

Momentum hides banks policy

In April members of Labour left organisation Momentum voted in a “policy primary” for motions to promote for this year’s Labour Party conference. Two of the eight motions decided called for public ownership and democratic control of the banking and financial sector. Yet as XR’s action targeting finance and climate change unrolled, on 27 August Momentum social media put out a video with economist Grace Blakeley calling for “regulation” of the banks to tackle climate change. The Facebook status and tweet promoting the video also call for “regulation”. Not public ownership or democratic control...

Is socialist revolution possible? Is it desirable?

At the Workers' Liberty summer school, Ideas for Freedom, on 10-11 July, Ruth Cashman debated John Strawson on "Is socialist revolution possible? Is it desirable?" Ruth Cashman We live in a murderous system of inequality and exploitation. In sub-Saharan Africa, one in every 13 children dies before their fifth birthday, the vast majority due to health conditions linked to malnutrition. The number of child labourers stood at one hundred and sixty million at the start of 2020, which is an increase of 8.4 million child labourers in four years. From January to June 2021, it was estimated that 827...

Get socialists organised!

What do we mean by socialism? More here The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a right-wing think tank, is mildly alarmed. It takes its new research indicating that young people are mostly sympathetic to socialism seriously, and urges supporters of capitalism not to dismiss it as “social media hype”, temporary “student radicalism” or a “passing fad which ended with Jeremy Corbyn’s resignation”. It calls its findings a “wake-up call” and a “challenge”. They are also, and even more, a challenge for socialists. The research commissioned by the IEA involved polling just under 2,000 people in the...

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