Editorial: Shambles at Sharm el-Sheikh

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper in the run-up to the twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties to the UN climate convention (COP27) – held in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh from November 6-20 – the USA’s climate envoy John Kerry lamented how climate negotiations over the past year between China and the US, the world’s two largest economies and responsible for around 40% of global carbon emissions, had been interrupted “due to events that are nothing to do with climate”. (26 October)

“I personally vehemently disagree with that” said Kerry, who was the US Democratic Party’s presidential candidate against George W Bush in 2004. “Climate is a universal issue, a universal threat. Without political ideology, without political party. It does not represent global competition. It represents a global threat to the world”.

The twelve months since the last COP summit in Glasgow have seen double digit global inflation for the first time in nearly 40 years and the prospect of a world economic slowdown or recession.

There has been the Russian invasion of Ukraine in which, for the first time since the end of the cold war 30 years ago, a significant world power with nuclear weapons is attempting to impose by force of arms its own capitalist economic, territorial and strategic interests against another capitalist nation state militarily supplied by the US.

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The long demise of the Tory Party

As the Tory government limps on, under the rule of the fifth Tory prime minister in six years, HANNAH SELL analyses the economic and social roots of the Conservative Party’s long decline.

Over recent months the Tory Party has teetered on the brink of collapse. First Boris Johnson was ousted as prime minister amidst an avalanche of scandals. His replacement, Liz Truss, lasted just 45 days, making her the shortest-ever serving prime minister.

Then, over the weekend following her resignation, with the Tories at an all-time low of 14% in opinion polls, it appeared that Johnson was going to make a comeback. He claimed he had the 102 nominations from Tory MPs needed to appear on the ballot paper. Had his name been on the ballot of Tory Party members, it was overwhelmingly likely he would have re-won the leadership. He could not, however, have governed the parliamentary Tory Party, which would have finally imploded. Just one indication of this was the widespread reports of Tory MPs threatening to defect to Labour had Johnson been re-elected.

In the end Johnson didn’t stand, possibly because he didn’t get the nominations necessary, or because he didn’t want to lose the gargantuan fees he is making on the celebrity speaker circuit. He may well also have had an eye to a future return at a more propitious moment and did not wish to bear the tag of ‘loser’, as he might have been in the vote among Tory MPs, and almost certainly at the next general election. What is certain, though, is that he came under huge pressure from large sections of the capitalist class not to act so irresponsibly and finally destroy what was once the most successful capitalist party on the planet.

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Is Enough is Enough enough?

The Socialist Party’s annual Socialism weekend in November included a session on the cost-of-living Enough is Enough! campaign launched this summer. Published below is an edited version of the contribution to the discussion made by CLIVE HEEMSKERK, a Socialist Party executive committee member and the national election agent of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

When the agenda was being discussed for this year’s Socialism event the answer to the question posed in the title of this session – ‘Is Enough is Enough enough?’ – was potentially more open than it is today.

The national strike action, in particular that on the railways by the RMT transport workers’ union which began in June – followed by the national strikes by the Communications Workers Union (CWU) in BT and Royal Mail in July and August – touched the consciousness of millions of workers, in Britain and also internationally.

The capitalist establishment politicians and their media, led by the ‘state-affiliated’ broadcaster the BBC, didn’t know how to deal with the biggest strikes by the RMT since the union’s formation in 1990. They veered from questioning how ‘impactful’ they were, often reporting from an empty station platform as they did so, to implying that ‘selfish’ union members were ‘holding the country to ransom’.

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The social and the national struggle are one

Faced with the UK Supreme Court ruling against a referendum organised by the Scottish parliament, and a new round of ‘eye-watering’ austerity unresisted by the Scottish National Party and Green Party government in Holyrood, the struggle for Scottish independence can only succeed as a mass movement against capitalism and its consequences, argues PHILIP STOTT.

The Scottish government’s latest policy paper in the ‘Building a New Scotland’ series was unveiled in October. Titled A Stronger Economy with Independence, the policy paper was signed off by the Scottish National Party (SNP) leadership but also the Scottish Green Party ministers.

In truth, it is a reheated reprise of the 2018 report published by the Sustainable Growth Commission, set up by SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to make recommendations on economic policy for an independent Scotland. Socialist Party Scotland described that document as “nothing more than a tired old case for capitalism, which also marks a shift rightwards compared even to the 2014 independence blueprint. As such it offers nothing for the working class and young people facing austerity, falling incomes and deteriorating public services”.

Against the backdrop of a rapidly deteriorating economic crisis this updated manifesto for capitalist independence – and that’s exactly what it wants to be – is utterly deficient. It cannot possibly resolve the multi-faceted crises facing capitalism, including in Scotland. Not least because it is predicated on maintaining the same profit-driven system untouched.

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Global Warning: The Scottish Greens, a case study

The Scottish Green Party operates a de facto coalition with the SNP at Holyrood. There was much made about the historic agreement that, in August 2021, saw Greens take up government roles for the first time in any of the UK legislatures.

The deal does allow for public disagreement between the parties but only around issues such as aviation policy, green ports, direct financial support to aerospace, defence and security businesses, field sports and the economic principles related to concepts of sustainable growth and inclusive growth.

Basically it means that the two Green Scottish ministers agree to support the government budgets, including its recent slashing by £1.2 billion. Many will ask: what difference have the Greens made to the fundamental positions taken on opposing austerity and the fight against the cost-of-living crisis?

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Introducing Marxism: How can women’s oppression be ended?

Continuing our Introduction to Marxism series, CHRISTINE THOMAS looks at the roots of women’s oppression and explains how socialism offers real choice and liberation for women.

According to the World Economic Forum on present trends it would take 132 years to achieve gender parity globally. Around the world, women are more likely to experience low pay and suffer from poverty, and they carry out the majority of childcare and domestic work. Violence against women, sexual harassment and sexism continue unabated. Why is this still the case and what can be done about it? How can we end gender inequality and oppression?

For Marxists, women’s oppression is a class issue. This doesn’t mean that only working-class women suffer from oppression. Clearly that’s not the case. They are especially economically disadvantaged, but when it comes to violence against women, attacks on reproductive rights, sexual harassment and sexism, these affect all women regardless of their class background, although class, ethnicity, etc, will impact on how they experience that oppression.

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