Social Struggles

1 December 2019Review

Pluto, 2017; 256pp; £16.99

The term ‘austerity’ reminds me of comedian Stewart Lee’s quip that: ‘if political correctness has achieved anything, it’s forced the Conservatives to cloak their inherent racism in more creative language’.

This collection of essays brilliantly and engagingly covers everything from food and fuel poverty to welfare reforms and environmental degradation, reminding us that all spheres of life are affected by austerity measures.

Infant mortality rates have risen for the…

1 August 2019Review

Pluto Press, 2019; 352pp; £19.99

 ‘Never have so many people decided so much in Portugal as between 1974 and 1975’. The peaceful revolution which kicked off this period, on April 25th 1974, is extraordinary. Not a single shot was fired by the revolutionaries, who risked everything to oust the country’s fascist regime and push the backwards state into the future. Raquel Varela is right to celebrate what followed, not just the day of the revolution. Workers took control of the factories, strikers won long sought-after rights…

1 August 2019Comment

Seattle teachers end standardised testing 

Examination, 1940, Australia via Wikimedia commons

GOALS:
1) To end mandatory administration of the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test at Garfield High School.
2) To prevent Seattle public school district administrators from disciplining teachers who refused to administer the MAP test.

SUCCESS IN ACHIEVING SPECIFIC DEMANDS / GOALS: 6 points out of 6
SURVIVAL: 1 point out of 1
GROWTH: 3 points out of 3
TOTAL: 10 / 10

In the 1970s…

1 June 2019Review

Lawrence & Wishart, 2018; 226pp; £18

In August 1976, women employed at the Grunwick photo processing plant in north west London walked out on strike. 30 years later, in 2006, women employees at Gate Gourmet, a factory that prepared in-flight meals for British Airways, also walked out.

This book describes how these two groups of women were led to take industrial action – and their subsequent betrayal by the trade unions. Their stories are set against an academic account of migrant settlement, work and family life in…

1 February 2019Comment

‘But I dare, I want, can I? Yes, I dare, go and want!’

On 24 October 1975, 90 percent of Iceland’s female population participated in a full day strike. Paid and unpaid work was not done.

At the time, women who worked outside of the home earned less than 60 percent of what men earned.

Many industries shut down for the day as a result. There was no telephone service and newspapers were not printed since the typesetters were all women. Theatres shut down for the day as actresses refused to work.

The majority of teachers were…

1 February 2019Review

Princeton University Press, 2018; 328pp; £14.99

There is a certain harmless air to tales. They are always fun to read and listen to because they conjure up worlds beyond our own doubtful and complex one.

What is fascinating about the stories collected by Michael Rosen in this book is that they give us a glimpse into a time – the late 19th/early 20th century – when the ideas and concepts of socialism were being tested and acted out in fictional realms peopled with elves, spirits, talking poultry, Martians and, especially, giants…

1 February 2019Feature

Participatory movement is forcing France to reckon with the impact of austerity on the working class

Mouvement des gilets jaunes demonstration in Belfort, 19 January.Photo: Thomas Bresson via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 4.0)

At the beginning of January, 50,000 people flooded the streets of France for the first protest of 2019 organised by the yellow vests, or gilets jaunes.

This protest was a continuation of a national movement for economic justice that has shaken the country since November. While mainstream French and international media have largely characterised…

1 October 2018News

Voter registration drives happening in over 40 states in run up to November mid-terms

Following a massive wave of civil disobedience in May–June which led to 2,500 arrests (see PN 2620–2621), the new Poor People’s Campaign in the US has committed to a voter registration campaign in over 40 states.

Without endorsing particular candidates, the aim is to make poor people a significant force in the mid-term elections on 6 November. That’s when all members of the house of representatives, a third of senators, most governors and many local officials across the US will be…

1 August 2018News

New Poor People’s Campaign says: ‘Another America is possible’

Led by Ana Ilarraza Blackburn (right), Poor People’s Campaign protesters

Over 2,500 arrests were made this summer during a massive wave of nonviolent civil disobedience across the United States in a new ‘Poor People’s Campaign’, 50 years after the original campaign led by civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

The original Poor People’s Campaign ended with 3,000 activists camping for six weeks in May–June 1968 on the National Mall in the centre of Washington DC.

In…

1 August 2018Review

Accent Press, 2018; 368 pp; £15.99

Achieving 40 percent of the vote – a record-breaking 10 percent increase on its 2015 performance – Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party carried off one of the biggest political upsets ever at the 2017 general election, dealing a serious blow to the Tory government and broader neoliberal ideology.

Steve Howell, deputy director of strategy and communications in the Labour leadership team, gives a detailed and engaging insider account of the election campaign. There are no big reveals, but…

1 August 2018Review

OR Books, rev ed 2018; 388 pp; £10.99; ebook £7. Purchase online here

Alex Nunn’s engaging style makes Corbyn’s journey from jam-making backbencher to leader of the opposition seem both exciting and totally rational.

Last year, The Candidate won the Bread and Roses award for radical publishing. That first edition traced Corbyn’s rise up to the attempted coup by right-wing Labour MPs in mid-2016.

This new edition includes a 100-page(!) chapter covering last June’s snap general election and the incredible surge of support for…

1 June 2018News

House of Commons declared 'crime scene'

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) occupied the central lobby of the Westminster parliament in London just before midday on 18 April. DPAC taped out a ‘crime scene’ with the outline of a ‘murder victim’ laid on the floor. They demanded the scrapping of Universal Credit, a working-age benefit. DPAC claim it produces ‘crimes against claimants’, including 160,000 children losing free school meals and the increased use of foodbanks in areas where it’s been introduced.

After the…

1 June 2018News in Brief

As PN went to press, the French government was expected to try again to evict la ZAD (‘the zone to be defended’), a huge occupied site near Nantes in western France.

As reported previously, the French government officially abandoned plans to build an airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes in January, but confirmed that it wanted to clear the ZAD. (PN 2616–2617)

A massive eviction operation failed in April (as it did in 2012), though more than 300 zadistes…

1 June 2018Review

Zed Books, 2017; 384pp; £10.99

This book analyses contemporary struggles for social justice against the spinning backdrop of New Labour’s Cool Britannia. Using pop culture subjects such as the all-women pop group, the Spice Girls, the rebranding of the British royal family, the class war of Britpop, and the public reaction to the Young British Artists (YBAs), the author shows how, while New Labour celebrated the image of a visibly diverse, post-colonial Britain, in reality the roots of our present struggles for justice…

11 October 2017Blog entry

Ian Sinclair talks to George Lakey, Matt Kennard and Alex Nunns

Ian Sinclair writes: My new Peace News article ‘The biggest fight of our lives’ includes comments from George Lakey, Matt Kennard and Alex Nunns. Due to space considerations I could only include a small portion of the commentary each of them sent me in the article itself. Below are their full comments.

Why is Jeremy Corbyn seen as such a threat to the British establishment?

Matt Kennard,…