Poverty and inequality

Work or full pay!

Published on: Tue, 07/04/2020 - 07:41

As of 1 April, 950,000 new people had applied for Universal Credit in just two weeks. Usually new applications run at about 100,000 a week. Hundreds of thousands, or millions, of people have lost their jobs because they were on casual contracts, and because they worked for businesses which have laid them off or simply shut down.

Many small employers have laid off workers, but also big ones, like universities.

Many who are self-employed — really self-employed, or formally self-employed while really being wage-workers — are not able to use the government’s scheme for aid to the self-employed,

Hunger in Italy

Published on: Tue, 07/04/2020 - 07:33

According to the mainstream Italian daily Corriere della Sera (30 March): “There is an increasing risk that a social powder keg will be created in the South [of Italy].

“In Campania, as in Sicily, episodes of night thefts or small assaults in supermarkets are multiplying...” Police have now been stationed outside supermarkets in some areas.

In Naples, an exhibition hall has been converted to a food aid centre. On 31 March the city of Palermo set up an online facility to register for food aid, and it was quickly flooded.

In Italy’s South, many people have depended on insecure jobs, petty

Scrap all energy bills in the lockdown!

Published on: Mon, 30/03/2020 - 15:25

Luke Hardy

All energy bills for residential customers should be scrapped for the period of the lock down. This is a demand that should be made of the government now.

Heat, light and energy for homes should be a basic right not a privilege. Yet millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people do not have secure supply.

Energy supply companies are not allowed to cut off vulnerable customers, the elderly or those with children. But in many cases they don't have to. If a household has a top up pre-payment meter, and doesn't have the money, they self disconnect anyway by running out of credit.


The $360 trillion

Published on: Sun, 29/03/2020 - 13:36

Aso Kamal

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

I was worried, like all the other people in the world, about the lack of treatment for this virus epidemic, so I asked the WHO [World Health Organisation] this question:

“Do you have any global statistics on the lack of treatment, nurses, doctors, hospitals and medicine around the world, and how much funding is needed to overcome this epidemic?”

WHO replied:

“WHO has deployed technical support teams since the beginning of March to Iran and Italy to help local and national health authorities design mitigation policies and strategies, prepare and equip

Lessons from past pandemics

Published on: Wed, 25/03/2020 - 08:12

Martin Thomas

The nearest historical precedent to the Covid-19 pandemic is the “Spanish flu” which swept the world between March 1918 and March 1920, in three successive and distinct waves.

On the best estimates, made decades later because no one counted well at the time, that strain of flu infected about one-third of the world’s whole population and killed between 50 and 100 million, possibly more than World War 1 and World War 2 combined.

The deaths peaked sharply in the second wave, between mid-September and mid-December 1918. Most strains of flu disproportionately kill the elderly and the very young.

Pause Brexit now!

Published on: Wed, 25/03/2020 - 08:04

From Labour for a Socialist Europe

Whatever our differing views on Brexit, the whole Labour Party and labour movement should call and campaign for the Brexit transition period due to end on 31 December to be extended significantly – at least an extra year, maybe the full two years permitted under existing rules.

Even before the Covid-19 crisis, the possibility of the UK striking a deal with the EU in time looked tenuous. The Tory government has been threatening to walk away and prepare for a No Deal Brexit if the essentials of a deal are not in place by June!

Now the next round of UK-EU talks

Strength and audacity we have never before known

Published on: Tue, 10/03/2020 - 16:45

Jill Mountford

“…the Ford women have definitely shaken the women of the country.” (Rose Boland, one of the leading women in the Equal Pay Strike at Ford Dagenham,1968)

“We have achieved more in six weeks than the politicians and trade unions have in years.” (Mary Denness, one of ‘Headscarf Revolutionaries’ who changed health and safety laws for fishermen working on the trawler ships, Hull, 1968 )

“It felt like the culmination of something. It didn’t feel like the absolute beginning.” (Sally Alexander, in an interview 20 years on from the first Women’s Liberation Conference in 1970. Sally was one the two

Letters: HS2, Democrats' history

Published on: Wed, 04/03/2020 - 11:18

No strong case for HS2

There is a lot to agree with in Mark Catterall’s letter in Solidarity 536 - but I am less optimistic about the capacity argument for HS2.

High speed direct rail services between major cities could help to free up congestion, but at this rate the second stage of HS2 could be completed somewhere between 2035 and 2040, far too late to have significant impact on carbon emissions and reduce the amount of freight and commuters moved by road.

And where will capacity will be freed up? As I read it HS2’s congestion relief to the WCML is compromised by the failure to provide

Barbarism or barbarism?

Published on: Wed, 19/02/2020 - 10:42

Paul Cooper

The South Korean film Parasite, a satire of social and economic inequality, has made quite an impression on two major institutions of world cinema.

At the Cannes film festival it won the Palme d’Or, and then it won Best Film at the Oscars.

It is not difficult to satirise such things, especially when there is an appetite for such in the institutions and audiences of the bourgeoisie. These are feel-good films because they help maintain the myth that world cinema is in fine aesthetic and moral health.

In his previous works (The Host, Mother, Snowpiercer, and Okja) director Bong Joan-ho follows

The potentialities of Acorn

Published on: Wed, 12/02/2020 - 10:51

Dan Rawnsley

Since the general election, the "community union" Acorn has been growing.

On 22 December the Guardian reported on Acorn’s “glut of applications” after the 13 December exit poll. Acorn UK national organiser Nick Ballard was quoted saying “We’ve had hundreds of new members join.”

Acorn has branches in Bristol, Sheffield, Manchester, Newcastle, and Brighton, and is best known as a renters’ union. The organisation has been able to turn out pickets of a hundred people to block evictions and has pressured Santander, TSB and NatWest to get rid of rent increase and “no DSS” clauses in buy-to-let

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