“You shut down our parliament – we shut down the streets”

August 31, 2019

Thousands of people demonstrated today against Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament. On the London demonstration, the slogan that worked best, in my view, was: “You shut down our parliament – we shut down the streets.”

Several hundred people set off from Whitehall, where there was a much larger crowd, and shouted it as they blocked Westminster bridge. There was a similar action on Waterloo Bridge.

That slogan says: power is not something to be quarreled over by government, parliament and the judiciary. It is something that all of us need to fight for. It says: by taking action on

My favourite

the streets, people themselves can impact on this tug-of-war between different branches of the state. It says: democracy is something we all create. It is not something that John Major goes to remind a judge about, so that he can remind Boris Johnson.

Whatever happens next, we need to expand that democracy – on demonstrations, in communities, in workplaces, in our organisations – against the most right-wing government the UK has had for the best part of a century.

Whether or not the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October, this government will continue to claim victims: the thousands of people who have lost their jobs due to Brexit Read the rest of this entry »

Tomorrow’s world, yesterday’s wages

August 31, 2019

Staff at the Science Museum in London went on strike Friday demanding a pay rise, after seven years of pay settlements below the rate of inflation.

The lowest paid staff earn less than the London living wage – while the Museum Director has had 5% a year increases for the past five years, plus an annual bonus of more than £20,000.

“Our pay has decreased by 13% in real terms in the past four years alone”, said the Prospect Union, which represents the workers

“Science Museum Group employees are among the lowest paid in the museum sector.

Unlike other national museums, SMG does not pay the Living Wage Foundation’s rate of £10.55 an hour in London and £9 an hour elsewhere.

“This year, SMG offered a pay increase of 1.5% to more than 75% of its staff – well below the rate of inflation again.”

The Science Museum is one of the great educational establishments of which London can be proud.

It is always full of school pupils – and many of the staff on strike yesterday work as Read the rest of this entry »

Zealots and ditherers

August 15, 2019

The UK government seems hell-bent on crashing out of the European Union without a deal on 31 October. This leap into the unknown carries the threat of economic hardship and disruption, constitutional crisis and the reconfiguration, or even break-up, of the UK.

The political uncertainty since the 2016 Brexit vote, on top of a decade of austerity,

“FcK Boris” demonstration, 24 July 2019. Photo by Steve Eason

is causing most Brits anything from stress to nervous exhaustion. And the next ten weeks are unlikely to be any less worrying.

Can the manic “no deal” crusade be stopped? The short answer seems to be: it’s difficult, but may be possible, provided parliament gets its act together. Suggestions about how that might happen are being made daily by “left” and not-so-left writers who know more about parliamentary procedure than I do.

This article focuses, instead, on what this frenzy tells us about the crisis of the Tory party and the property-owning class it represents. Because, to develop radical politics in the face of this insanity, we need to understand more clearly what generated it.

Our enemies are divided

It’s not the prime minister, Boris Johnson, who is driving the “no deal” process, as far as I can see. Rather, he is the enabler of zealots: Dominic Cummings, chief of Read the rest of this entry »

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