Alex Miller

Prime Minister Gordon Brown looks set to break Labour’s 2005 election manifesto pledge to hold a referendum before Britain signs up to a new European Union constitution. At an August 22 press conference with German leader Angela Merkel, Brown announced that there was no need to hold a referendum and that the matter would instead be decided by parliament.
The official left-wing of the Scottish Labour Party has failed to get a candidate onto the ballot paper in the election of the party’s next leader. The August 22 Morning Star reported that “Any leadership candidate needed a minimum of five other MSPs [members of the Scottish parliament] to support them, but the Scottish Campaign for Socialism was only able to muster four names in total as nominations for the post closed at noon on August 21”.
On August 14, Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), revealed his minority government’s plans for a referendum on Scottish independence.
The Culture Struggle
By Michael Parenti
Seven Stories Press, 2006
143 pages, US$12.95 (pb)
<http://www.sevenstories.com>
The head of Britain’s Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has called for police to be given the power to imprison “terror suspects” indefinitely without charge.
Freedom Next Time
By John Pilger
Bantam Press, 2006
356 pages, $35.00(pb)
Available from http://www.resistancebooks.com
On June 27, Tony Blair finally stepped down as prime minister, exiting Downing Street to the sound of loud jeers from anti-war protesters and families of soldiers killed in Iraq. His successor, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, gave a brief speech at the door of Number 10 in which he used the word “change” no less than eight times. Many British trade union leaders have been hoping that Blair’s departure and Brown’s ascendency may signal a move away from the neoliberal agenda pursued by three successive Blair governments. This was always a vain hope, as Brown was Blair’s treasurer for the entire 10 years of his reign and architect of many of New Labour’s most reactionary policies, including the infamous Private Finance Initiatives that have brought many National Health Service trusts to the brink of bankruptcy.
Bad Food Britain: How a Nation Ruined its Appetite
By Joanna Blythman
Fourth Estate 2006
318 pages, £7.99
Why Boycott Israeli Universities?
British Committee for the Universities of Palestine 2007
35 pages, £2.50
Visit <http://www.bricup.org.uk>
On May 10, British PM Tony Blair finally made his long-awaited resignation statement. Blair will stand down as prime minister with effect from June 27. He will also stand down as leader of the Labour Party, and preparations for the election of the next Labour leader — who will simultaneously become PM — got underway immediately.
In the May 3 elections to the Scottish parliament, the Scottish National Party (SNP) won 47 seats out of a total of 129 — a rise of 20 seats compared to the 2003 election. Labour lost four seats, emerging with a total of 46; the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats lost one seat apiece, winning 17 and 16 seats respectively. The results mean that for the first time in Scottish political history, the SNP won more seats that any other party, although not enough to command a working majority in parliament.
Having recently slated Ian Thatcher's woeful 2003 biography of Trotsky (GLW #696), I approached David Renton's contribution to the Haus Publishing "Life and Times" series with some trepidation: would this be another piece of incompetent anti-Trotsky hackwork?