Place: UK

Don Trudell 1940-2018


There is no way that I am qualified to write a proper obituary for Don Trudell, a longtime member of the British IS/SWP who taught history and media studies at the American School in London (ASL) when I was a student there. I do not know where he was born, or went to college, or even his full name. The last time we spoke was in the early 1980s, and the last time I spent any significant amount of time in his company was when I was still in high school. Although I dined at his house a couple of times, and chatted with him after class on innumerable occasions, I can’t say that we ever became friends. But he was a singular individual and he left an indelible impression on how I think about the world.

Why class still matters: a reply to Paul Mason


This article is a response to Paul Mason’s recent essay ‘Labour must become the party of people who want to change the world, not just Britain’, in which he argues that there can no longer be any privileged position for organised labour as an agent of socialist change. This reply will respond to that question specifically, leaving aside some other aspects of Mason’s essay, and argue that the working class remains the key strategic actor for overhauling capitalism.

Business warms to Corbyn: getting our bearings in a new political world


It is now seven months since Theresa May called a general election with the aim of increasing her majority and the Daily Mail published a front page headlined “Crush the Saboteurs”. The spring of this year, as regards parliamentary politics, seems like another world.

How to Go Forward from June 8th

A Report from Great Britain


The 8 June election result has re-energised Labour’s activist base and helped put basic working-class demands back on the agenda. The increase in turnout among young voters, and the huge Labour lead among young voters, signal a major shift in British politics. All of this opens up a new period of Labour revival and recomposition.

Labour, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism


Last April a row engulfed Ken Livingstone, former Labour mayor of London, and Naz Shah, Labour MP for Bradford West, following remarks they made about Israel and Zionism. They were suspended from the Labour Party, with Naz Shah having the parliamentary whip withdrawn. Shah has been reinstated, and though Livingstone has demanded that he too be reinstated, a decision has yet to be made by Labour’s National Constitutional Committee.

Richard Seymour's "Corbyn": Not Gloomy Enough?


Richard Seymour, Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics. New York: Verso, $19.95. 256pp.

This time last year I believed Jeremy Corbyn was wrong to stand for the Labour leadership; he would, I thought, get a derisory vote and merely reinforce right-wing hegemony and the marginalisation of the Labour left. Since then the unexpected has happened, and perhaps we should all be a bit cautious in pronouncing on what is and is not possible.

Making sense of the Brexit tide of reaction and the reality of the racist vote


The Leave / Brexit vote in the referendum came in the end as a surprise, a narrow win for Remain was expected. This may be because the core Leave vote was in the run-down white working class communities of the now desolate English and Welsh industrial zones. A population trapped in conditions of long-term unemployment and poverty who no one really pays much attention to anymore.

Brexit: A Victory for the Populist Right


The British electorate issued a stunning rebuke to the establishment by demanding, by a surprisingly respectable margin, withdrawal from the European Union. Just weeks ago, this outcome was considered remote. For David Cameron and the Conservative mainstream, it was – or so it seemed – a clever gamble.  Let the nativists of the right, the Tory backbenchers and the UK Independence Party bigmouths test their outsized claims to speak for Britain.


An Insider’s Look at What it Takes 
to Get By

In 2001, Professor Danny Dorling wrote an essay entitled “Anecdote Is the Singular of Data.” In it he explored how, during his teenage years, he grasped the idea that the places people live impact the lives they lead. Dorling opens the essay by describing a pedestrianized subway near his childhood home. The subway had four entrances, each leading from a different housing development.

Film Review: The Price We Pay


The figure of a gryphon, the legendary feral, clawed, winged creature that nests above the one-square mile City of London, Britain’s financial industry (akin to Wall Street, but with its own legal authority, too) is an apt symbol for an untrammeled center of global capital. A creature of prey, it is redolent as the guardian of ill-gotten, even murderous gain. What else is the financial center of the United Kingdom, which introduced the tax-free zone that modeled capital flight around the world?  The City predates the Cayman Islands or Switzerland as tranches for tax avoidance and is a main locus for starving the welfare state.

"What we’ve achieved so far": An Interview with Jeremy Corbyn


Leo: Your remarkable campaign for the leadership not only doubled the party membership but galvanised some 400,000 people overall to associate with the party. This is frankly unheard of anywhere in terms of party mobilisation on the left in recent decades. What do you think this reflects about the possibilities for a new politics, not only in Britain but more broadly – especially in Europe? 

Jeremy: I think our campaign excited people who were very depressed by the election result and very depressed by the analysis that was being offered at the end of it, which was essentially that Labour wasn’t managerial enough and we had to be better managers in order to do better in the future. I only really got on the ballot paper because of a combination of people – from those who just absolutely wanted an alternative to be put, to those who thought that there ought to be a democratic debate in the party. This kicked off the social media campaign that encouraged others to get involved. 

ISIS in Syria: Stop the march to war – There are alternatives


Militant Islamic State fighters parade on military vehicles along the streets of Raqqa (Reuters)

In the wake of the murderous massacres in Paris, the demand for violent retaliation against Islamic State (IS) is gaining momentum. David Cameron now plans a renewed bid to secure parliamentary approval for UK air strikes against IS in Syria.

At one level, this is an understandable reaction to the fascist-like tyranny and brutality of IS. But understandable reactions and effective reactions are often two different things. The desire for retribution, no matter how seemingly justifiable in response to the slaughter of so many innocents, is not a sound basis on which to frame political and military policy.

Film Review: “Suffragette”

The movie Suffragette is the first feature film that dramatically depicts the monumental struggle for women’s right to vote in pre-World War I England. (Please erase from your memory the horrible, and I mean horrible, portrayal of suffragettes in the Disney monstrosity Mary Poppins.)


Directed by Sarah Gavron, with screenplay by Abi Morgan, the project also had the support and star power of Meryl Streep in a brilliant-as-always portrayal of Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the militant suffragette organization, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).

Jeremy Corbyn versus the Third Way

A development which no one expected now appears inevitable. Barring either otherwordly intervention or old-fashioned political dirty tricks, Jeremy Corbyn, long on the left wing of the British Labour Party, is slated to become that party's new leader.


And the rabidly pro-capitalist heirs of long-gone "New Labour" leader Tony Blair, as well as the traditional right wing of the Labour Party, are absolutely apoplectic.

Britain's End Austerity Now: Revival of Radical Political Left


On Saturday, June 20, a quarter of a million people marched in London from the Bank of England to the Houses of Parliament in order to protest against the Conservative government’s planned spending cuts to public services. This was the largest single demonstration against austerity to date and reflected to a degree the revival of a radical political left in Britain after decades in the wilderness.

The Left Unity Project of Britain

ImageThe origins of the Left Unity project came out of the common struggle across Europe against austerity. The specific moment was the first coordinated general strike across Europe on November 14, 2012. Many of us active on the left, already working with the anti-austerity movement across Europe, saw the need for British engagement too, and from that day onwards, Left Unity has been in development. 

Dreamed a Dream by the Old Canal…….


This year marks 100 years since the birth of Ewan MacColl. Born James Henry Miller in Salford on January 25,1915, he adapted the stage name of Ewan MacColl to acknowledge his strong Scottish heritage. 

Lost to Idealism: The British Left Choose Rhetoric over Reality


In the United Kingdom, we are accustomed to progressives conducting their arguments in confident terms of complete inevitability. Progress is a one way street, and we are marching ceaselessly along it towards the end of history, almost without trying. 

The Scottish Independence Referendum: A Socialist Perspective

ImageOn September 18, 2014, the Scottish people had the opportunity to withdraw from the United Kingdom and become an independent country. The unity of Scotland and England has existed since 1707, so the vote could have broken with three hundred years of history. After a long and bitter campaign, the proposal to leave the UK was defeated by a margin of 55% to 45%.

Spot-On After All These Years: Robert Tressell's The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

We don’t think of philanthropists as ragged: louche, maybe even a tad shabby, as with
trust-fund hipsters or Palo Alto billionaires, but never ragged. In writing his early-twentieth-century British classic, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell (the pen name of Robert Noonan) wanted to drive home his point. The biggest benefactors of the rich are workers. His is a portrait of hard-pressed working people and their counterintuitive respect and political and economic support for their rulers.

Women and Austerity in Britain

Since the Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition came into power in Britain in 2010, there has been a vicious attack on both the public sector and the social welfare state that is being justified as a response to the “high deficit.” Austerity is being introduced for two related reasons. First, the low profitability and resulting stagnation following the economic crisis of 2008 led employers to squeeze wages in order to keep profits up.