Spain

Socialist politics to combat new virus surge

We want furlough and the ban on evictions extended, and rent "holidays" added. We want full isolation pay for all. The Tories' £500 one-off self-isolation dole for workers on benefits is a concession, but inadequate Social care should be taken into the public sector, and its staff put on regular public sector pay and conditions. Test-and-trace should be taken out of the hands of Serco and the other profiteers, and made a coordinated public health effort. NHS logistics, at present also a mess of profiteering subcontractors, should be put into public ownership, and industry requisitioned to...

Private hospitals: don't subsidise, nationalise!

According to the Financial Times (16 June) the government is considering a longer term deal with private hospitals. In late March, as the first wave of Covid 19 was on the rise, the government worried that health resources in the UK would be overwhelmed, as they had been in Italy. The government made a deal with private hospitals — a rolling deal that can be terminated. The deal gives the NHS access to the facilities and staff of private hospitals. The government pays all overheads, including lending commitments and rent, for the private hospitals at an estimated cost of £100-120m per week...

Requisition and workers' control to get tests and PPE

In the Thursday 8pm “clapping for the NHS” on 2 April 2020, many people chanted “Test! Test! Test! PPE!” Health workers are pressing the government on its failure to meet its promises to expand testing hugely, to make PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] available to all, and to agree adequate PPE guidelines for health workers. So, even, are NHS bosses. NHS Providers, a confederation of NHS hospital, mental health, community, and ambulance trusts, said on 3 April: “There are still trusts that are unable to begin testing, and lack of swabs, reagents and test kits is a continuing concern”. They...

Marxists and “left governments”

“We are not a government party; we are the party of irreconcilable opposition… Our tasks... we realise not through the medium of bourgeois governments... but exclusively through the education of the masses through agitation, through explaining to the workers what they should defend and what they should overthrow. Such a “defence” cannot give immediate miraculous results. But we do not even pretend to be miracle workers. As things stand, we are a revolutionary minority. Our work must be directed so that the workers on whom we have influence should correctly appraise events, not permit...

Populism: a dead end for the left

In recent decades, there has been much discussion of “populism” as newly significant form of political movement. Some on the left even say we should embrace it. Admittedly, there are major conceptual difficulties when discussing “populism”. Even if we limit ourselves to examples on the ostensible left, movements labelled “populist” can be so different in their substantive politics and theoretical groundings that they conflict directly. On the one hand, there is Chantal Mouffe’s highly pluralistic and heterogenous “left-populism”, which is very much oriented towards liberation politics such as...

Free Catalan political prisoners!

A wave of unrest has swept through Catalonia following the harsh sentencing of pro-independence leaders by the Spanish Supreme Court. Twelve politicians and civil society leaders were found guilty of crime including sedition, misuse of public funds and disobedience following their involvement in the 2017 referendum on and subsequent declaration of Catalan independence from Spain. That referendum had been declared illegal. The Spanish constitution contains undemocratic vetoes on any region declaring independence without the consent of Spain as a whole. Defendants were sentenced to hefty fines...

"We belong to history": the end of coal and the miners

In the summer of 2012 a small group of ex-miners and labour movement activists met in a pub in Sheffield. We had just heard of the Spanish miners’ strike against the attempts by the right-wing government of Manuel Rajoy to withdraw subsidies to the mining industry and thereby, in effect, close it down. A ‘fact-finding’ trip to Spain then followed and on returning to the UK a Spanish Miners Solidarity Committee was formed, raising 28,000 Euro in something like six weeks – money that went to support the families of the strikers. After which time the miners called off the strike. Nevertheless, I...

25 years of jail for Catalan leaders?

On Friday 5 November Spain's Supreme Court Prosecutor called for sentences of up to 25 years for the Catalan nationalist politicians jailed after the 1 October 2017 referendum on independence for Catalonia. The prosecutor's case is that the Spanish constitution says that such a referendum could be called only with the agreement of the Spanish government. The Spanish government did not agree: in fact it mobilised state forces to try to disrupt the referendum. The referendum ended inconclusively - 92% for Catalan independence, on only a 43% turnout. A December 2017 election for the Catalan...

Climate resistance must be built from below

In his new book Burning Up, A Global History of Fossil Fuel Consumption (Pluto Press), Simon Pirani notes that the world economy tripled in size between 1945 and 1973. And the world began to burn as much fossil fuel, every three years, as in the whole of the nineteenth century. That depended on cheap oil, which averaged at around $1.80 per barrel during the 1960s. In Simon Pirani’s view, this period of “transition to an oil- and electricity-dominated system... was not directed at providing electricity access or improving lives; if we can speak of an aim or direction, it was to do with capital...

Sánchez to keep Rajoy’s budget

Through all its confrontations with Catalan separatists, Spain has been under a minority government. On 1 June that political levitation act finally expired. Parliament voted no confidence in the conservative PP government of Mariano Rajoy. Through a never-tested-before provision of the 1978 Spanish constitution, the new government will be led by, and probably made up solely from, the PSOE, Spain’s social-democratic party, although it has only 84 seats in the 350-seat parliament. The new very-minority government will probably be forced into a general election soon. Realistically new prime...

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