Britain steps up its presence in Afghanistan

The deployment of 3300 British troops, mainly from the 16th Air Assault Brigade, in the southern Helmand province of Afghanistan has been given the usual government and media spin. They will supposedly bring the resurgent Taliban under control, enforce law and order, and reduce opium production... This is the same government that told us everything was going to be fine in Iraq after the fall of Saddam.

Vauxhall: massive walkout against lay-offs

The article below was written and published on our website a few days before General Motors confirmed that 900 jobs were to go at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant. The government sent Gordon Brown and the Trade Minister Alistair Darling to reassure the workers that “We will do what we can for each and every one of the workforce who may lose their jobs” but the workers know how tough it is going to be to find similar work, which partially explains why the wildcat strike was supported so solidly...

British imperialism: the difficulties of maintaining an independent role

The last few months have seen no let up in the violence and chaos ravaging many parts of the world. In Iraq the civil war kills and maims hundreds every week. In Afghanistan the worst fighting since the war has shown that large parts of the country remain beyond the control of the central state. In the midst of this stand the world’s greatest powers, with the US, as the greatest of them all, at the very centre. Bush junior’s ‘war on terror’ is now mired in blood and destruction, just as Bush senior’s ‘new world order’ before it resulted in bloody disorder and helped to spread terror around the world.

Behind the row over reforms the state cuts education funding

The government is having difficulties with its new plans for education. There’s open rebellion from many backbench MPs, as well as opposition from leading figures such as ex-Labour leader Neil Kinnock and ex-Blair press secretary Alistair Campbell. Among the most provocative proposals is the idea that every Primary and Secondary school should become a “self governing trust backed by a business, charity, faith group, university or parent organisation”.

A short history of British torture

When the House of Commons was debating how much to increase the time limit for detention without trial the question of torture came up. Officially this was limited to the nice considerations of whether it was all right to send people to places where torture is used and whether Britain can use information collected by the use of torture in other countries...

Democracy hones the tools of terror

Since the London bombings in July the ruling class have put a lot of energy into the discussion of counter-terrorism legislation. Immediately after the bombings the leaders of the three main parties got together to discuss proposed new powers – even though they had actually been planned beforehand.

Heathrow: Unions sell defeat as victory

The dispute at Gate Gourmet has been brought to an end. The 670 catering staff were sacked in August for taking unofficial action when they heard of the scale of the attacks their employers were planning to implement. The dispute lead to a secondary walkout by British Airways baggage handlers and ground staff at Heathrow airport, which led to massive disruption for several days.

Strikes at Heathrow: Class solidarity is our only defence

The solidarity shown by the workers at BA and Gate Gourmet is an example to the whole working class. The article below, written by the ICC shortly after the strike by BA workers, draws out the main lessons of this action. These deserve to be studied and understood by everyone who really wants to defend the working class. The weeks since then have provided a lesson of a different kind, but one that is equally important and worthy of study. It is an example of how the ruling class works together against the working class.

Execution at Stockwell, London: Today's democratic "shoot to kill" prepares tomorrow's death squads

Since the bomb attacks of the 7th July the British government has used every available opportunity to boost the image of the state as the only thing which can protect the population from attack. The media were simultaneously calling for ‘national unity’ whilst decrying the forces of ‘Islamic terror’ present in our midst. The massive media barrage was repressive in itself, as it sought to overwhelm the population’s consciousness, and it undoubtedly contributed to the huge rise in racist attacks that followed the bombings. With the general fear in the population on their side, the chance arose to increase the repressive apparatus.

Editorial: Class struggle, not the vote, will decide humanity's future

All the forces of the bourgeoisie, the left, the right, the far right and the extreme left, not to mention the trades unions, all came together in the grand electoral orchestra, whether in France and Holland for the referendums on the European constitution, for the parliamentary elections in Britain, or the Länder elections in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany's most heavily-populated region).

Britain’s EU rebate: Blair’s phoney war

After the No votes in France and Holland for the new European constitution, a storm suddenly blew up over the British rebate and the spending on the CAP (the common agricultural policy of the EU). These well worn themes were rolled out by the French and British bourgeoisie to distract attention from the complete failure of the European states to convince their populations of the benefits of the European ‘project’...

Strikes at the BBC: management and unions keep the workers under control

The dispute at the BBC that led to a strike on 23 May is an indication of the difficulties facing the working class. Ever since the plans were published in December last year they have been presented as unavoidable; and the whole argument has been presented as being about how best to preserve the supposed excellence of the BBC...

The state arms itself against future class battles

The election campaign has further strengthened the atmosphere of fear about terrorism, crime, anti-social behaviour, asylum seekers and foreigners. This atmosphere is not only the result of the crude stirring up of the most bestial passions by both Labour and Tories. It is part of a calculated process aimed at justifying the strengthening of capitalism's repressive apparatus.

Strikes in Devon and Cornwall: Workers respond to brutal pay cuts

In Devon and Cornwall at the end of April, the Police Executive sent out letters to its civilian support staff - from cleaners, canteen workers, and telephone staff to people working in forensic labs - informing them that the new pay evaluation meant pay cuts of up to 28% for hundreds of workers. The response was immediate...

Churchill and the counter-revolutionary intelligence of the British bourgeoisie, Part 2

As the bourgeoisie marks the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the second world war as the "victory of freedom", the second part of this article focuses on Churchill's wartime role and what it reveals about Britain's real motives and interests in a war supposedly fought for democracy against the evils of Nazism.

Immigration: Bourgeoisie stirs up fear and loathing

Expecting a general election soon, the political parties of the ruling class have united in a campaign round immigration, refugees and race. The Daily Telegraph (7/2/5) thinks that “a chasm remains between the two main parties on immigration … No one can complain that the country is being denied a genuine choice.”

Class solidarity is the only answer to massive redundancies

The announcement by Ford in September that it intends to close the Jaguar factory in Coventry by September 2005, with the loss of some 1,150 jobs, has once again posed the question of how workers can respond to such attacks and defend their working and living conditions. The logic of capital continues to impose itself. The chairman of Jaguar was quite blunt: "The fact is despite significant sales growth and excellent levels of quality in recent years, we have not been able to keep pace with significantly larger competitors. We have too much capacity and this is our underlying structural problem." ('Plan Announced to Put Jaguar Back on Track',, 17/9/04). The Ford motor company is not unique in facing such a chronic problem. In September GM Europe announced plans to cut 12,000 jobs because of overcapacity, which led to a 6-day walkout at its Bochum plant in Germany (see below). Indeed, the Austrian automotive analysts Autopolis estimate that "The world as a whole has about 30% more [car] factories than it needs. That's about 170 factories around the world, and most of these, quite frankly, are surplus to requirements" (BBC Online, 14/10/04).

Postal workers’ strike

Despite all the talk about the 'end of the class struggle' over the past decade or so, the spectre of the class war just won't go away.

In May and June in France, government attempts to make drastic attacks on the pension system led to a huge number of strikes and demonstrations by public sector workers. Austria and Greece saw large-scale mobilisations by state employees against similar attacks. There have also been a growing number of smaller spontaneous walkouts, like the one at Heathrow last summer. Perhaps even more important is the mounting evidence that workers everywhere are beginning to ask questions about what future capitalist society - with its plunge into poverty, war and environmental destruction - holds in store for us all.

Workers faced with the war campaign

When deputy prime minister Prescott announced legislation to impose a pay deal on the firefighters "particularly given the conflict in the Gulf and the heightened threat of terrorism" (BBC news website, 20.3.03), this was just the latest stage in the long-running campaign around the danger of keeping 19,000 troops on standby to cover industrial action at time of war. It is a campaign that started months ago with the first 48 hour firefighters' strike.

Divisions in the ruling class behind the Hutton inquiry

During the summer, the Hutton inquiry into the death of Dr. David Kelly meant there was no let-up in the allegations, evasions and accompanying documentation on dossiers, intelligence and weapons of mass destruction. Usually the ruling class is quite happy to let politics take a rest during the newspapers’ ‘silly season’: it’s clearly a serious dispute that shows no sign of disappearing. What we’re witnessing is partly propaganda, and partly a very real crisis within the ranks of the bourgeoisie on the right policy for British imperialism. Lies about capitalist peace

Government and unions lay trap for firefighters

In Britain 52,000 firefighters are pitched against a government determined to hand out a defeat that will be held up as an example to the rest of the working class. The stakes are plain: defeat for the firefighters will not only mean they won't have caught up on all the years their pay has lagged behind, but also draconian attacks on their working conditions in the name of modernisation and a 20% cut in the workforce. This struggle has important implications for the rest of the working class because the defeat of the firefighters will have a powerful impact on the whole working class's confidence in its ability to defend itself. This is all happening at a time when massive lay-offs and attacks in the manufacturing and financial sectors are spreading throughout the working class.

In defence of discussion groups

In the last two issues of World Revolution we have published articles concerning discussion groups: in WR 257 we reproduced a text on the Paris Commune of 1871 that introduced a discussion in the Midlands Discussion Group; in our previous issue, WR 258, we published a brief history of the MDG. In the following article we want to look at some more general aspects of what a discussion group is, what function it fulfils and what in our view a discussion group is not, and what objectives it shouldn't try to serve.

Union manoeuvres to isolate firefighters

For the first time in 25 years there is the threat of a national fire-fighters' strike. This prospect has been the focus of workers' attention in Britain for months. As with nurses and ambulance workers, fire-fighters are respected by other workers for doing an important job which can involve saving lives. This strong feeling of support for the fire-fighters has tended to take the form of sympathy for a 'special case'. The work of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has helped undermine prospects of sympathy being transformed into real working class solidarity. Attacks on the fire-fighters

A contribution to the history of the Midlands Discussion Group

The Midlands Discussion Group (MDG) has existed for more than two years now, involving people from Leicester and Birmingham from various political backgrounds - left communist, councilist, anarchist, environmentalist, leftist. The aim of the group is to discuss the proletarian alternative to capitalism, like other discussion groups that exist or have existed in Mexico, India, France, Spain, Switzerland and Australia. Discussion circles: important moments in the development of class consciousness


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