The Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) campaigns against police surveillance on political dissent and the regular smearing of activists and groups as “domestic extremists”. Kevin Blowe explains how the police are closing down the space for protest in the UK.
The UK's labour party is inspiring grassroots and workers mobilisation and showing increasingly credible leadership. Its recent annual conference and the concurrently run World Transformed Festival give hope.
This summer I was going to meet with Jeremy Corbyn at a conference in Ufa, Russia. He asked for a few days to think it over promising to come unless something unplanned and significant would happen. It did. He was nominated for the leader of the British Labour Party.
The uncertainty about UK's election results reflects an important opening up of politics and expectations in the UK and an opportunity for social movements to push for anti-austerity and progressive policies
Campaigners for a more evidence-based drug policy are horrified. "It’s a classic and appalling example of gutter politics,” says Martin Jelsma, Director of the drugs policy programme of the Transnational Institute. “Accusing the Lib Dems of being ‘soft on drugs and thugs’ is a cheap populist slogan that tries to hide the Labour Party's own co-responsibility for destroying the future of thousands of people by giving them a criminal record for no good reason at all."
Statistics can be a limited and limiting way to understand social issues. When we focus on how many people are affected by a problem, or how much the government spends on tackling it, we start to see numbers instead of people. The opposite is also true, though: without statistical evidence, it’s hard to understand the scale of a problem.
No British politician who has also served in government was ever subjected to as much hostility and calumny from the Tory Party, from the mainstream media, or even from senior colleagues in his own Labour Party as was Anthony Wedgewood Benn.
The Beckley report, Licensing and Regulation of the Cannabis Market in England and Wales: Towards a Cost-Benefit Analysis, grasps of the economic consequences of a regulated market, as opposed to the current prohibitionist model. This is essential for evaluating the impacts of possible drug policy reform. The report outlines the factors which must be included in further cost-benefit analyses. The report costed 60.000 pounds and 3 years to create. Reliable data was often lacking and more evidence is needed.
Keynes, convinced of the power of ideas over that of “vested interests”, famously held that “Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.” Now there’s little doubt that the social life of ideas helps explain the astonishing persistence of ‘Thatcherism’.
Bolivia will again belong to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs after its bid to rejoin with a reservation that it does not accept the treaty’s requirement that “coca leaf chewing must be banned” was successful Friday. Opponents needed one-third of the 184 signatory countries to object, but fell far, far short despite objections by the US and the International Narcotics Control Board.
Sweden joined the United States and the United Kingdom in objecting to the re-accession of Bolivia to the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs after Bolivia had denounced the convention and asked for re-accession with a reservation that allows for the traditional age-old ancestral habit of coca chewing in the country. Italy and Canada also objected, but the objection of Sweden is particularly disturbing.
It is clear that voices all across Europe and beyond, and from all across the political spectrum, are opposed to this treaty. Many are urging the Irish people to reject it and, if given the chance, would be campaigning for its rejection by referendum in their own countries.
The first-past-the-post voting system in the UK has led to the slow death of a critical political culture. Saying yes in the referendum on a proposed Alternative Voting (AV) system would at least give oxygen to debate.
The new and extreme austerity measures being introduced by the UK's conservative government will mean that one fifth of everything the national health service does will stop; and this will disproportionately hit cancer patients.
The massive concentration and growth of corporate power poses a major threat to what remains of public services, highlighting the ever-deepening crisis of democracy, and the urgent need for people to reclaim the state.
The ideological reasoning behind UK government policies is that the market is the only way to make public services 'efficient'. Isn't it time we talked about social efficiency, maximising public benefit rather than maximising profit?
What we saw in the UK election campaign and the recent coalition deal is the level of opportunism amongst the political parties, and the real absence of politics and ideas on how to deal with major crises in the economy, over climate change and of our political institutions.