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Britain: Huge march against austerity; defiant protest is only part of the answer

Peoples Assembly march, London, June 20, 2015. Photo by Steve Eason/RS21.

Socialist Resistance editorial

June 22, 2015 -- Socialist Resistance, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- One home-made banner on the Saturday, June 20, London demonstration against austerity seemed to put into words the inarticulate howl of anguish of millions. In colourful letters it read “Fuck the fucking fuckers”.

It was a reminder of just how visceral hatred of the Tories [Conservative Party] is and just how all-encompassing their social counter-revolution aspires to be. The People’s Assembly is claiming 250,000 marched from the Bank of England to parliament.

There was a strong trade union presence, lots of families, groups of friends, environmentalists and activists from across the progressive spectrum. Mainly though it was a gathering of the young, the angry and defiant who were announcing that they understood what a Tory government means and are ready to stand up to it. Singer Charlotte Church is representative of this generation, with her passionate, reasoned expressions of contempt for the new government.

Scottish politics after May 7 Westminster general election

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon.

Click for more on left politics in Scotland

By Murray Smith

June 4, 2015 – International Viewpoint, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- The day after the May 7 Westminster [British] general election, George Kerevan, newly elected Scottish National Party MP for East Lothian, was walking through his constituency. He was approached by a group of young working-class women who recognised him, proudly declared that they had all voted SNP and wanted to take “selfies” with him. When Kerevan asked why, they replied “because this is history”.

They were of course right. The day before the SNP had taken 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland, leaving the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour parties with one each.

Scottish socialists: UK election a 'bitter-sweet' result

By Colin Fox

May 11, 2015 -- Scottish Socialist Party, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In the end the polls got it wrong, badly wrong. And all the commentators who placed so much faith in them looked foolish. There was no hung parliament. No horse trading between Westminster parties, no weeks of instability before a coalition government was formed. The Tories thumped Labour and won a clear majority.

Britain: Tory majority with 36.9% vote; Scotland moves left as SNP demolishes Labour

After her party won more than 1 million votes but just one seat, Greens leader Natalie Bennett said: "The fight for a fairer, more democratic voting system begins today."
By Stuart Munckton

May 9, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party won a clear victory in Britain's May 7 general elections. In Scotland, however, the Scottish National Party (SNP) dramatically rose from six seats to 56 out of 59, in a clear sign of opposition to the brutal austerity backed by the major parties in Westminster.

The big loser in Scotland was the Labour Party, which was nearly wiped out. Previously the largest party in Scotland, it kept just one seat. It was ruthlessly punished for its support for austerity and its role in opposing Scottish independence. Although the “no” vote won, Labour paid the price for a nasty campaign in which it appeared as just one more voice of the London establishment.

Why Scottish votes will be decisive in the outcome of the UK general election

Rally for A Just Scotland. October 18, 2014.

By Alister Black, Edinburgh

May 4, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International journal of Socialist Renewal -- Britain's May 7 general election is set to be the closest in living memory. In the polls, the two leading parties, Labour and the Conservatives (Tories), are within points of each other. The polls have not shifted despite the best efforts of Tory Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband to secure a breakthrough.

Why are the polls so close?

British election: Labour Party prefers Tory government than deal with Scottish nationalists

May 2, 2015 -- Irish Republican News, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- With just days to go before a potentially historic Westminster general election on May 7, a further rise in support for the Scottish National Party (SNP) is already creating a crisis in British politics which will likely have implications for Ireland.

Most recent polls indicate that the SNP will sweep almost all of the 59 Westminster seats in Scotland, and is well placed to win the balance of power in London. The development appears to have taken the British establishment by surprise and thrown the opposition Labour Party into chaos.

All but one or two of the 59 MPs elected by Scotland could now be won by the SNP by the time counting concludes, creating a political imperative for independence which is directly comparable to the 1918 "Sinn Fein" election in the aftermath of the Easter Rising in Ireland.

A confused Labour Party leader Ed Miliband told a television election special that he would refuse any pact with the SNP -- even if it meant giving up the chance of power to David Cameron’s Conservatives (Tories). On May 1 he repeated that there would be “no deals or coalitions”.

Scotland: Labour’s love lost? Behind the Scottish Labour Party's collapse

Tony Benn discussing politics with Ralph Miliband (right) at the Socialist Society Conference, Chesterfield in 1988. Photograph: John Harris/reportdigital.co.uk.

By Andrew Perchard

April 16, 2015 -- History Workshop, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In the midst of last year’s Scottish independence referendum campaign, a friend and fellow historian of modern Britain, visiting from the north west of England, recounted his Damascene moment in grasping the national conversation in Scotland.

He had been visiting friends several weeks before and was taken to a bar one night in a former mining village in central Scotland. There he had been struck by the overwhelming number of those in the bar, whose politics he typically associated with the Labour Party, who openly declared they would be voting in favour of Scottish independence.

Review: Why Scotland will never be the same again

The People’s Referendum: Why Scotland Will Never Be the Same Again
by Paul Geoghegan
Luath Press 2015
177 pages

Review by Alex Miller

April 16, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The UK-wide general election for the Westminster parliament scheduled for May 7, 2015, looks set to be a very close, perhaps even closer than the 2010 election that resulted in the Labour Party being replaced by a Conservative Party-Liberal Democrat coalition government.

Ireland: Sinn Féin launches a 'People's Pact' for Westminster election

Click for more discussion of Irish politics.

March 30, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams TD points out that Sinn Féin's progressive politics is the only alternative to austerity.

Gerry Adams said:

Sinn Féin is totally and absolutely opposed to austerity north and south.

Any parties, which contemplate endorsing or supporting a cabinet of millionaires who are behind budget cuts, cuts to public services and cuts to social protections are ignoring the needs of the people in favour of narrow self-interest.

The people need to have the opportunity to have their say and their voice needs to be heard.

The parties at Westminster are committed to further austerity.

Sinn Féin’s progressive politics and commitment to the rights of citizens is the only alternative to that.

We want to see a society based on equality, inclusion and safeguards for children with disabilities, adults with severe disabilities and the long term sick.

Britain: A short history of Green Left current within the Green Party

By Mike Shaughnessy

March 12, 2015 -- London Green Left Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Green Left grouping was formed in 2006 when a small number of members of the Green Party of England and Wales met at spring conference and drafted the Headcorn Declaration. Later in the year, in June, 37 members met in London to formally adopt the name Green Left (the original prototype grouping was called Green Revolution) and amended and adopted the Headcorn Declaration. I was one of those members.

The thinking behind the need for such a grouping within the Green Party was that the party should "raise Green Party politics to meet the demands of its radical policies" and to "act as an outreach body that will communicate the party’s radical policies to socialists and other anti-capitalists outside the party". Green Left would also promote ecosocialism as a solution to our social and ecological ills. 

Britain: Greens surge on back of anti-austerity anger

Rail union RMT president Peter Pinkney with Greens MP Caroline Lucas. Pinkney is standing as a candidate for the Greens, who support re-nationalising Britain's railways.

By Derek Wall, London

February 23, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal --  A Green surge has hit Britain. Thanks to an ongoing growth spurt, the Green Party of England and Wales has now hit 54,000 members, on top of nearly 10,000 members in the Scottish Green Party.

Opinion polls put the party on the rise, frequently beating the Liberal Democrats, who are governing in coalition with the Conservative Party. The Greens now have more members than the far-right anti-immigrant UK Independence Party (UKIP), whose growing support has generated much media attention.

British politics is changing, the Greens are part of this. The Green Party's success has been built by moving to the left.

The most obvious manifestation of the Green surge has been large rise increase in party membership. At the start of last year, membership in the the Green Party of England and Wales was about 14,000. This grew to 34,000 by the end of the year.

Membership growth this year has been explosive, with nearly 20,000 members signing up in January. On several occasions, the party website broke down and at one point, people were joining at a rate of one every 10 seconds.

Social democracy and neoliberalism: victim or vanguard?

By Damien Cahill, Sydney

December 4, 2014 -- Damien Cahill: Thoughts on Politics, Economy and Culture, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Earlier this year Ed Miliband, leader of the British Labour Party, addressed a specially organised gathering of business leaders with the following words: “I would be a prime minister who champions the rights of the consumer and the rights of businesses to succeed and make profits in a competitive market at the same time.”

That such sentiments could be expressed by a Labour leader in the neoliberal era is unremarkable. Social-democratic parties have been falling over themselves during the last few decades to reassure capital that, not only have they jettisoned their socialist inheritance, they are also firmly on board with the neoliberal agenda.

For British Labour, Miliband is just the latest in a series of leaders that have driven the party to embrace neoliberalism.

Escocia: El Partido Socialista Escocés después del referéndum

[English at http://links.org.au/node/4123.]

Por Dick Nichols

12 de noviembre de 2014 -- Viento Sur -- La iglesia Augustine United Church de Edimburgo es un lugar frío cuando sopla el viento, como era el caso cuando el Partido Socialista Escocés (Scottish Socialist Party, SSP) celebró su conferencia anual de 2014 el pasado 25 de octubre.

Sin embargo, el ambiente se caldeó cuando los más de 200 miembros presentes del SSP pasaron a abordar los retos que plantea un vibrante nuevo periodo que se ha abierto en la política escocesa, marcado por una implicación popular sin precedentes en el activismo y el debate sobre el futuro de Escocia. Esta fase comenzó con la derrota de los defensores del “Sí” por un 55 % contra un 45 % en el referéndum por la independencia del 18 de septiembre. El efecto más sorprendente de esa victoria para el establishment del Reino Unido es el hecho de que el “victorioso” Partido Laborista Escocés, el principal partido impulsor de la campaña “Better Together” (“Mejor juntos”) contra la independencia, está ahora en crisis.

Review: 'Britain’s Communists: The Untold Story'

Britain’s Communists: The Untold Story
By John Green (with contributions from Andy Croft and Graham Stevenson)
Artery Publications 2014, 335 pages.

Review by Alex Miller

November 10, 2014 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) was founded in 1920, as one of the parties of the Third International promoted by Lenin and the Bolsheviks as an alternative to the Second (Socialist) International, whose member parties had discredited themselves by supporting their national governments in World War I.

Spirited Scottish Socialist Party conference tackles post-referendum challenges

The Scottish Socialist Party played an important role in the Yes campaign. This video explores the aftermath for the party and the future of Scotland.

For more on the Scottish Socialist Party, click HERE.

By Dick Nichols

October 29, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Edinburgh’s Augustine United Church is a cold place when the wind is howling, as it was when the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) held its 2014 annual conference there on October 25.

However, any feeling of chill disappeared when the 200-plus SSP members present got down to tackling the challenges of an inspiring new period in Scottish politics, marked by unprecedented popular engagement in activism and debate over Scotland’s future.

Britain: Left Unity leader Kate Hudson on creating a new party for the left

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras with Left Unity national secretary Kate Hudson.

October 27, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- Left Unity is a new political group in Britain created out of a call last year by filmmaker Ken Loach for a new party to the left of Labour, which has moved rightwards in recent years and supports anti-worker austerity measures. The call was supported by thousands of people and Left Unity held its founding conference in November last year. Green Left Weekly's Denis Rogatyuk spoke with Left Unity's national secretary Kate Hudson, a veteran campaigner who is also general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

* * *

Left Unity’s platform consists of socialism, feminism, environmentalism and anti-racism, among other features. How was this platform conceived? What was the decision-making process behind it?

The origins of the Left Unity project came in November 2012 out of the common struggle across Europe against austerity. There was a coordinated general strike across Europe on November 14 and we wanted to participate in that in Britain.

Escocia: Esta derrota lleva las semillas de la futura victoria

[English at http://links.org.au/node/4076.]

Por Murray Smith

28/09/2014 -- Simpermiso.info -- Tras una campaña que ha durado dos años, Escocia votó el 18 de septiembre a favor o en contra de la independencia, Sí y No. Y fue el No el que se llevó la victoria por una mayoría del 55% frente al 45%. De modo que fue una victoria para el establishment político británico y una derrota para las fuerzas de la independencia. Y como buenos demócratas, los perdedores han aceptado el veredicto.

Écosse: Cette défaite porte les graines d’une victoire future

[English at Scotland: Independence loss contains seeds of future victory.]

Cliquez ICI pour en savoir plus sur l'Ecosse et de l'indépendance.

Cliquez pour plus de français.

Par Murray Smith

Après une campagne qui aura duré deux ans, l’Écosse a voté le 18 septembre pour ou contre l’indépendance – oui ou non. Et c’est le non qui l’a emporté. C’était donc une victoire pour l’establishment politique britannique et une défaite pour les forces de l’indépendance. Et en bons démocrates, les vaincus ont accepté le verdict des urnes.

Scotland: Independence loss contains seeds of future victory

By Murray Smith

September 25, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- After a campaign that lasted two years, Scotland voted on September 18, for or against independence, yes or no. And it was the No that carried the day, by a majority of 55 per cent to 45 per cent. So it was a victory for the British political establishment and a defeat for the forces of independence. And as good democrats, the losers have accepted the verdict.
Yet those who were expecting to see the supporters of independence dispirited and those who hoped that the issue of independence was settled for at least a generation were quickly disappointed.

Scotland: Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams comments on referendum result

September 19, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, commenting on the result of the Scottish independence referendum, said, "all of us now need to focus on getting the Westminster elites, the British prime minister and the leaders of the two other main political parties to honour the commitments made -- not least about the north [of Ireland] -- where PM David Cameron said there needed to be extra powers given."

He went on to say, "London was notorious for making and breaking commitments but we will try and keep them to that."

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