The Point
Last updated: 19 June 2017.

...red sky thinking for an open and diverse left

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In Praise of Beethoven

Arthur C Clarke - A Very Modern Odyssey

Tackling Private Landlords

Investigating the Value Form

The Eternal Dark Heart of Empire

If You Build Them, They Will Come

The unions, the fight against austerity, and the possibilities for a general strike

Gregor Gall

 

The approaching 20th October ‘A Future that Works’ demonstrations in Belfast, Glasgow and London will be a critical barometer of where the anti-cuts and anti-austerity movement is in terms of its size, vitality and future direction. Last year, the two highpoints of this struggle were the 26t March London demo and the 30th November mass strike on public sector pension reform.

Anything between 250,000 to 750,000 citizens were reported to have attended the March 2011 demonstration. Given its unprecedented size and the fact that there are, this time round, three regional demonstrations rather than just the one national one, it would seem likely that the 20 October London one will be smaller than the March 2011 one. It will not climb the lofty heights of reaching one million as some on the far left are arguing. The media will no doubt jump on this in order to speculate upon the death of the anti-cuts movement.

But probably far more important than this in determining the turnout in London and elsewhere is that there has been a considerable loss of momentum in the anti-cuts movement since 26 March 2011. This demo represented such a highpoint as the first big – indeed, truly massive – show of opposition against the coalition government.  People were left feeling exhilarated and asking ‘So what are we going to do now?’ There was a genuine sense of expectation and bated breath thereafter.

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Nato - No Ta


The proposal by SNP Defence Spokesman Angus Roberston to change long-standing SNP party policy that an independent Scotland should not be part of NATO caused shock and dismay, not just amongst long-standing SNP members but amongst the wider independence cause, and within the peace and nuclear disarmament movements. SNP MSP's Dave Thompson and John Finnie have been amongst those leading opposition to the proposed change.

NATO and Trident



Dave Thompson writes

In Scotland today I think there is just cause for optimism, because, when I envision Scotland's future I see great potential and great opportunity for us as a nation to choose what is good and right. In just over two years, in the 2014 independence referendum, we will be given the chance to choose who we want to be, what we want to do and where we want to go.

The independence referendum is, however, about more than just standing on our own two feet, and managing our own affairs. It is also about harnessing the potential of our nation and shaping the future, and there are few issues as pressing and urgent as Trident. The Trident nuclear weapons system is unjustifiable, immoral and grossly expensive and we must use this opportunity to get rid of it.

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The Curious Case of Kate Middleton's Breasts

         

 

Gillian Wales

In some ways writing this article belies my true level of interest in the Royal breast fiasco. This matter is increasingly being used as some sort of crusade on privacy (but only for the wealthy) as well as rights to the body. For me, it is far, more simple. Kate Middleton slipped up. Even after all the media training she has undergone and her many years’ experience of the paparazzi, she misjudged the situation. She forgot who she was and how in some people’s eyes she holds some form of status…the royal feminine. One statement released highlighted that she is a ‘young woman, not an object’. This is, of course, completely correct. However, this also stated that she had undergone much ‘suffering’ in relation to this issue. Suffering? Seriously? My alternative version of events goes like this: young royal went topless on holiday, said breasts were ‘papped’, photos published in French media, leading to a severe ticking off for inappropriate behaviour, particularly in light of forthcoming royal visits abroad. And now this whole situation is being used to make a statement about privacy and sexism.

The privacy laws are a slightly different debate; however, the hypocrisy is highly irritating. Press officers, acting on behalf of the rich and famous, continually manipulate stories to maximise impact and positive effect. They then complain when something unfavourable comes out that does not fit into their contrived agenda. Access to money and power facilitates this vicious game playing, via legal action and injunctions, which further remove everyday people from what constitutes truth. The PR industry contradictorily helps to create some form of allure, which perpetrates the myth that the Royals are different, a special kind of human being, whilst at the same time attempting to demonstrate how ‘normal’ these people are. The lie being sold here is that Kate Middleton’s breasts are no ordinary breasts; they are special, royal breasts whilst simultaneously selling the image of her as representative of many young women today.

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Matters of Life and Death

Steve Mowat – The NHS, an international comparison, and where private profit ultimately leads

Following World War II the British people collectively realised something.  If money could be spent killing fellow human beings in millions, it can be used to cure and prevent illness. This revolution of ideas had resulted in the commissioning of an official report into healthcare. The Beveridge report recommended the working populace pay a small national insurance, guaranteeing free health care at the point of necessity. This system has sustained the population for over fifty years. The National Health Service (NHS) is a proud symbol of democratic achievement.

The funding of this icon has come under increasing pressure in England and Wales. Here private corporations are given expansive responsibility for health provision. The government recently attempted to ditch duty for upkeep via shoddy wording of a health care bill. The following article is a word of caution on dismantling public accountability for the private profit. These words are based on personal experiences of a healthcare system operated for profit, as a business. The realities are startling and grotesquely inhumane. 

Imagine if you will you are nineteen years old. Your first year at University is a roaring success, the family is rich. Life in a large home complete with landscaped grounds and a maid is relaxed. Your father has spent an age engineering road projects all across his country. Drawing in expertise from Japan and Europe, he does well for his country and his family.

Envisage then your father became critically ill inside hospital in his mid 50s. Lying in his bed nurses and doctors refuse to treat him. This is because medication is not paid for on the spot. Visualise: if you don’t pay for the bed, medicine, meals, and consultations they will be withheld. If you need to shell out, you use a credit card. It could be that’s not enough, maybe your finest watch, a television, fridge, furniture, and car are sold. Perhaps the sale of these things will secure the existence of your Dad. After all what price can be put on human life?

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