Britain

Ian Parker has a track record as an ecosocialist political activist in Britain. He is a committed but non-dogmatic Marxist and a psychoanalyst so, unsurprisingly, anything he writes is likely to be serious and challenging.

Despite a strong theoretical and academic background, however, Parker writes in a very engaging and interesting fashion.

Delegates to the recent Labour Party conference in the English seaside town of Brighton seemed not to notice a video playing in the main entrance. The world’s third biggest arms manufacturer, BAe Systems, supplier to Saudi Arabia, was promoting its guns, bombs, missiles, naval ships and fighter aircraft.  

It seemed a perfidious symbol of a party in which millions of Britons now invest their political hopes. Once the preserve of Tony Blair, it is now led by Jeremy Corbyn, whose career has been very different and is rare in British establishment politics.

The world media’s attention has focused on the very real humanitarian crisis gripping hurricane-ravaged nations in the Caribbean and regions of the United States, but the “world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe” (in the words of The New York Times in August) is in Yemen.

The unfolding disaster in Yemen is entirely human-made, is worsening and is the result of policies pursued by the United States and Britain.

Dave Randall is an activist and guitarist with the band Faithless and his own band Slovo. He is the author of the recently released Sound System: The Political Power of Music. Green Left Weekly’s Barry Healy spoke to him about music and politics.

Everyone sensed the new energy at this year’s Labour Party conference, held in Brighton from September 24-27.

The reality of the conference was something not seen in Britain for a long time: thousands of determined and self-confident members of a Labour Party that boldly stands for what they believe in.

Sound System: The Political Power of Music
Dave Randall
Pluto Press Left Book Club, 2017
210 pp, $38.99

As a teenager, British writer and musician Dave Randall unwittingly attended a music festival in his home town where he heard the Special AKA sing “Free Nelson Mandela”. He experienced an epiphany.

“I had no idea who Nelson Mandela was,” he writes, “but I knew by the end of the first chorus I wanted him to be free.”

Britain’s main trade union confederation, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), held its 149th annual conference in Brighton on September 10-13. The gathering brought together hundreds of leaders, organisers, delegates and activists from more than 50 TUC-affiliated trade unions.

The conference discussed and adopted motions of support and campaign plans to oppose the austerity measures of the Conservative-Democratic Unionist Party government of Prime Minister Theresa May.

Miss Muriel Matters
Robert Wainwright
ABC Books, 2017
376 pages

In 1909, Muriel Matters planned to rain on the parade of King Edward VII to the ceremonial opening of parliament. She aimed to drop a shower of “Votes for Women” leaflets on his head from a chartered air balloon trailing streamers in the white, gold and green of the Women’s Freedom League (WFL).

The strike at two branches of McDonald’s in Britain was “just the start”, Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell said on September 4. Speaking at a rally outside Parliament the day before, the shadow chancellor hailed the striking workers as an “absolute inspiration”.

Workers at the burger giant’s restaurants in Cambridge and Crayford, south-east London, downed aprons in protest at the harassment of workers and the victimisation of union members.

Nathan is a young London-based activist who has joined the British Labour Party as a supporter of the platform of socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn. A student who is part of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts and a member of Socialist Resistance, Roberts was recently in Australia for the Radical Ideas conference in Melbourne organised by Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance over August 18-20.

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