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Tony Blair

Editorial: The cracks start to show

Eighteen months on and the Blair project is looking increasingly hollow. Government resignations, charges of "cronyism" and sleaze plus the apparent feuding between Blair and Brown. It seems like a far cry from the happy days of May 1997.

This is not all. There is the NHS crisis (nothing new about this of course), a looming recession and government plans to join the Euro which could prove tricky.

For our part, we did argue at the General Election that the New Labour project would be a damp squib. Unlike the leftists, we did not feel that the working class should have to experience yet another Labour government to realise that it would be anti-working class. We were arguing that reformist politics is anti-working class before the Labour Party was even properly formed! We feel the current government has not disappointed us—it has demonstrated yet again that capitalism cannot be reformed in the interests of the working class.

Voice From the Back

The cost of living (I)

A Smethwick woman who was heavily in debt plunged 100 feet to her death from a tower block flat seconds after council bailiffs called to evict her. (Evening Mail, 5 November.) Police and Sandwell Council officials said that the woman owed nearly £1,500 in rent arrears alone and her death was being treated as suicide. Council bailiffs discovered the woman's body outside the Ashcroft tower block off Windmill Lane, Smethwick, after forcing the door of her 11th floor flat to evict her.

The cost of living (2)

Rise and Fall

Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does society. As every political trend or moral code becomes outdated and is abandoned, another fills its place. The recession was a turning point where many of society's preoccupations changed. In the second of a two-part article we examine what's new.

Sociologist Ulrich Beck asserts that we are faced with "manufactured uncertainty" because of the growth of human knowledge. In other words, the more we learn, the more uncertain we become of our achievements. In the past we could rely on social institutions to provide us with some certainty. As these institutions--organised religion, the welfare state, trade unionism, the left/right divide, state capitalism--become increasingly dated or discredited, humanity has had to find a new moral framework.

Editorial: Welfare cuts - the government's austerity programme

Many people are worried about the welfare state--and so they should be. The Labour government, like so many governments around the world, is attempting to cut back on social spending because the capitalist class can no longer afford to pay for it at its previous levels. In times of economic difficulty welfare spending is always the first element of state expenditure for governments to look to cut back. For the last two decades in particular governments across much of the industrialised world have been trying to cut back social spending--indeed, this was a project of the Tories in Britain when they were elected in 1979.

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