Thursday, April 10, 2014

Big Pharma makes you sick

The fact that the UK government alone wasted £473m on a drug for flu that works no better than paracetamol is an expensive example of how Big Pharma can actually harm your health at the taxpayer’s expense rather than improve it.

A lack of expertise at government level, corporate secrecy and media scaremongering combined to induce panic-buying of the drug Tamiflu by the state from 2006 onwards. At the time, some were predicting that a pandemic of bird flu could kill up to 750,000 people in Britain.

The drug was widely prescribed during the swine flu outbreak in 2009. Tamiflu was stocked by 96 countries and got on to the World Health Organisation’s list of essential medicines. Manufacturer Roche were laughing all the way to the bank. Last year the world’s third largest drugs company with revenues last year of over $52 billion.

At most, a dozen pharmaceutical corporations control the research, manufacture and sales of drugs. Naturally, they keep their drug trials secret and secure. Some are tested on unsuspecting, desperate people in developing countries.

Scientists at the Cochrane Collaboration had to fight long and hard to get their hands on the Roche research data. In November 2012, a researcher suggested that European governments sue Roche and that doctors and others boycott the company’s products until it published all its data on oseltamivir (Tamiflu).

Finally, have wrenched the data out of the reluctant Roche, the Cochrane Foundation scientists now say that the drug did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications, and only slightly helped symptoms. As to the claim that Tamiflu could slow the spread of the disease to give time for a vaccine to be developed, the report's authors said "the case for this is simply unproven" and "there is no credible way these drugs could prevent a pandemic".

Worse than that, Tamiflu could have actually made people sicker. Carl Heneghan, Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford and one of the report's authors, told the BBC: "I think the whole £500m has not benefited human health in any way and we may have harmed people. The system that exists for producing evidence on drugs is so flawed and open to misuse that the public has been misled."

Oseltamivir was first produced towards the end of the last century and had little success at first. So Roche’s public relations team went to work to stoke media interest and create political pressure to buy the drug.  The corporation’s PR adviser Edelman worked with the company to create “a hybrid network of twelve local public relations agencies to take advantage of flu as a breaking news story and launch Tamiflu in the top 100 local markets when flu was in the area”.

In September 2009, the BMJ reported that doctors were raising concerns about side-effects and that it was clear that Tamiflu could not contain a local outbreak within a defined area. The report added: “Yet orders continue to grow. In the UK, oseltamivir has practically become an over the counter drug, with one distinction: it is handed out free after callers provide a simple description of their flu symptoms by telephone, bypassing the need to see a doctor.”

The Tamiflu scandal is just one of many that beset the industry. For example, Big Pharma – the handful of corporations that control the global industry – haven’t produced a new range of antibiotics for 20 years because there’s little profit in selling this type of drug.

During that time, the over-prescription of antibiotics by health practitioners and their intensive use in livestock farming to make meat cheaper has spawned new bacterial strains that are immune to existing drugs. Others have become so difficult to treat that they kill some 25,000 Europeans yearly.

In 2013, the top 10 pharmaceuticals had astronomical revenues totalling over $300 billion. Much of it comes from drugs we don’t need and from denying developing countries the right to sell generic equivalents at lower prices.

When it comes to holding on to patents to enforce monopolies, Big Pharma has an appalling record. Dylan Gray’s film “Fire In the Blood” documents how the corporations and governments blocked access to low-cost AIDS drugs – causing millions of unnecessary deaths.

He says: “At the industry's behest, governments in the US and Europe use a dizzying variety of trade mechanisms, threats of sanctions and so on to curtail supplies of affordable medicine in the global south. The potential impact of these measures in human terms is nothing less than cataclysmic.”

There are solutions we could pursue if the profit motive was not the main driver. First, over-prescribing has to stop. Doctors have to put patients first instead and abandon the quick-fix approach as well as misplaced loyalties to drug firms.

Secondly, we should note that  84% of worldwide funding for drug discovery research comes from government and public sources, against just 12% from drug companies. Apparently, researchers have already discovered new antibiotics but haven’t got the funds to develop them. So the science is there. However, the technology and capacity to turn knowledge into products is in the hands of Big Pharma.

This is a cash rich industry – the top 20 corporations have an estimated $150 billion in resources – that is now more interested in protecting patents than developing new drugs against common diseases, or in persuading people to buy “lifestyle” drugs they don’t really need. Big Pharma has an unhealthy grip on society’s collective throats that requires a strong dose of revolutionary medicine to loosen.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor


Friday, March 07, 2014

People's Inquiry into 'Our future beyond capitalism'

The Ukraine-Russia crisis is just one expression of dramatic changes that are taking diverse forms in different countries. Nevertheless, there is an essential unity to a fast-moving global crisis that embraces economy and finance, ecosystems, democracy and politics, culture and ideology.

There is undoubtedly an eco-social impasse on a global scale. The old order cannot manage the contradictions within the existing system or meet the aspirations of countless millions in countries from Brazil to Ukraine, from the UK to the United States, from France to Greece.

Hierarchical political-state systems which are superficially democratic are compromised by their collusion with corporate and financial power and their subordination to market forces. Climate change is one consequence. So too is resurgent nationalism, creeping authoritarianism and mass state surveillance.

There is worldwide opposition and resistance, but as yet no shared strategy for getting beyond capitalism socially, politically and economically. That should surely be our goal and we assert that another world is not only possible but entirely necessarily for all our futures!

So after more than six years and 1,700 blogs, usually at the rate of five a week, A World to Win is proposing a switch of emphasis. There is a genuine need to deeper our understanding of the connected parts of the dramatically altered world and to use this knowledge to change what goes on in favour of the 99%.

We’re suggesting that this takes the form of a People’s Inquiry, with “Our Future beyond Capitalism” as the subject to be investigated. It will be open to individuals, campaign groups, trade unions, academics and students and anyone interested in working on solutions in a collaborative way. We have suggested six areas for the inquiry:

  1. The ecosystem, including climate change and species loss
  2. Global economy and finance, where the 1% rule over the 99%
  3. The state, democracy and social rights (like health and housing)
  4. Ideology and philosophy – dialectics of liberation   
  5. Culture, education and sport – how they can help set us free
  6. Networks/organisations/strategies for revolutionary change

When the People’s Inquiry is launched next week, you will find links from this site to these different areas. In each area, we have suggested some questions to focus our initial work. A World to Win is proposing a three-stage process:

1. Gathering evidence through papers, web references and contributions from individuals and groups. People can bear witness about their own situation or campaign, through text or by sending video or audio files. 
2. Face-to-face meetings in different locations, and on-line meetings, to assess and discuss the evidence, draw conclusions and make proposals.
3. A working group, which contributors will be invited to join, will discuss the results and collaborate on the contents of a draft final report that maps out a way forward.

This will be a simple registration process that will enable you to post to the inquiry, which is hosted on our network platform. This is your invite to take part. Please accept and use it.

Paul Feldman

Communications editor

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Get fracking - corporate plans for Ukraine's future

An independent, modern, prosperous Ukraine was the vision of the young people that took to the streets to get rid of the Yanukovych regime and many think there is a better chance of that in partnership with the European Union than under Russian influence. But the fact is that the EU, US and their transnational corporate partners (and the home-grown oligarchs) have very different plans

And these do not hinge upon the prosperity and wellbeing of Ukrainian citizens and their environment. Fracking on a massive scale will be a prime focus for EU and IMF "loans", and Shell and Chevron, who signed deals with ousted president Yanukovych in 2013, will be joined by all the usual suspects.

Ukraine has an estimated 42 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale gas reserves, the fourth largest deposits in Europe behind Poland, France and Norway. Since France is so far not in the market, Ukraine's deposits are even more attractive. The US Energy Administration  suggests Ukraine could be exporting shale gas by 2020. With almost every Russian gas pipeline running through Ukraine, it would be possible to create parallel infrastructure exporting shale gas.

The Russian government says it objects to fracking in Eastern Ukraine because of fears about water pollution when its actual fear is competition. That is not to say water pollution won't happen, but it isn't stopping Russia's own fracking plans for large areas of Siberia.

The corporations are moving into other areas of Ukraine’s economy too. Ukraine's former collective farms were seized by oligarchs like Oleg Bakhmatyuk and grown to the point where his agricultural business UkrLandFarming is the worlds second biggest egg producer, and the eighth largest grain exporter.

UkrLandFarming recently sold a 5% share to multinational agri-chemical giant Cargill for £200m. Cargill already have a big operation in Ukraine, with feed mills, oil production and grain silos.

Ukraine is poised to become the world's third biggest grain exporter in 2014 overtaking Russia and Argentina, another blow to Russian hegemony. But all this wealth will not be produced to benefit ordinary Ukrainians. It will enrich the oligarchs and their global partners whilst it further destroys Ukraine's land and ecology.

There is terrible air pollution throughout Ukraine, because of the coal-burning industries of eastern Ukraine and poor regulation of transport. The rich dark soil of the steppes is already suffering from erosion and land slips due to over farming. Grain production is being sustained by the application of huge quantities of chemicals and recent low rainfall has led to a need for more irrigation.

The great rivers  – the Dnieper, Dniester, and Donets – are seriously polluted with chemical runoff. The diversion of fresh water has made the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea more saline, damaging marine wildlife and reducing fish stocks.

Ukraine must also go on coping with the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion. Vast areas of farmland and forest are contaminated with radioactivity including Strontium 90, but small farmers are still working it.

Ukrainians just have to look across the border to Poland to see that EU membership is not necessarily a route to modernity. Poland is still a focus for dirty industries with low levels of regulation that EU giants France and Germany would never permit on their own soil.

And the Polish government has put thousands of hectares of prime agricultural land on the market in recent years – multinational purchasers are accused of planning to exploit a legal loophole to start growing GM crops. Polish farmers have been blockading the land sales agency with tractors continuously for a year.

Millions of Ukrainians are now set to join the economic and environmental struggles facing all of us on the planet - they are more than welcome!

Penny Cole

Environment editor

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Welsh co-ops report points the way forward

Parallel announcements of  job cuts across the UK underline the price of the so-called “recovery” as it affects the lives of the majority of ordinary people caught up in the global economic crisis. A timely report from the Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission sets out a new path.

Steelmaker Tata, part of an India-based transnational conglomerate comprising over 100 operating companies in seven business sectors, is reducing its workforce by 123 in Newport, South Wales in response to reduced demand for its electrical steels.

This is much more than ironic because coal, iron, steel and even railways were exported from Newport and Cardiff to India and other parts of the then British empire at the height of the industrial revolution.

Shared Services Connected Ltd (SSCL) is a little-known joint venture formed last November between the Cabinet Office and the UK arm of French IT services group Steria with the aim of cutting the costs of the government's back office functions.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) expects its members’ new employer to close offices in Cardiff, Sheffield and Leeds with additional losses in Blackpool, Newcastle, Peterborough and York, amounting to 500 jobs, many being transferred to cheaper sources of labour overseas.

A cynic might say that this is just business as usual, the unfortunate consequences of the operation of the global “free market” in commodities produced by the application of capital and labour. And to some extent – stripped out of the immediate historic context -  they’d be right.

But the crash of 20007-8 showed that the credit-induced period of globalisation of that system had reached its limit. The recession that followed has resulted in huge over-capacity in many countries, including in China, the world’s second largest economy.

This new round of job cuts and capacity reduction comes after five years of ultra-low interest rates set by central banks around the world, the lowest in their history, have failed to bring about a real recovery. Manufacturing production in the Chinese powerhouse of globalisation is not slowing but shrinking, and it’s not being replaced elsewhere.

So it is high time to think about and begin the process of bringing an embryonic new system fully into existence, taking the place of the one which has burnt out. And we can look to South Wales for that, too. As Professor Andrew Davies Chair of the Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission, writes in the report
Many have argued that we are faced with an extensive and systemic breakdown of trust in our society: between citizens and many of the major institutions in civil society and between the individual, the state and the political process. 
Much of this suggested breakdown derives from the global banking and economic crisis in 2007 and the continued world economic down-turn and the anaemic recovery in the UK, triggered by scandals in the banking sector and recent corporate failures in other sectors which has led to extensive questioning of the ways in which our economy and society is run….
 The orthodoxy of the neo-liberal, free market philosophy which has dominated governmental, political and economic thinking over the last forty years is now being widely challenged for the first time in many years. This widespread disillusionment has led many people to look for alternative, more ethical and socially responsible ways of organising businesses and services, particularly those run on a co-operative, mutual or not-for-profit basis. 
The report “aims to create a culture and policy environment in which co-operative ways of doing business are the norm, not the exception”. It’s easy to argue that the report doesn’t go far enough. But it’s a great place to start.

Gerry Gold

Economics editor

Monday, March 03, 2014

Defend Ukraine's right to self-determination

Russia’s occupation of Crimea and the threat to invade other parts of Ukraine on a trumped up pretext, is a reactionary response to a popular uprising for democracy in Kiev and a diversion from serious economic problems confronting the Putin regime.

As leaders East and West seek to blame one another, the key issue – Ukraine’s right to self-determination is being swept under the carpet. The excuse for the invasion of Crimea – that the Russian-speaking majority had to be saved from “fascists” – is part of a fake narrative dreamt up in Moscow and one used down the ages.

Moscow claims that the Maidan uprising in Kiev has been run and financed by Western reactionary forces and is aimed at suppressing Ukraine’s Russian speakers. Yet the Maidan uprising which began in November 2013 was first and foremost a popular revolution, which included many elements in Ukrainian society, amongst them – but not led by – right wing nationalists against a corrupt, autocratic regime. 

Many Jews took part in the uprising, for example. An ex-Israeli special forces soldier led a Kiev fighting unit against the Yanukovych government. Volodymyr Groysman, a former mayor of the city of Vinnytsia and the newly appointed deputy prime minister for regional policy, is a Jew.  


A language law introduced last week by Kiev’s parliament to reverse a provocative act by ex-president Yanukovych was yesterday vetoed by Ukraine’s caretaker president Turchynov. He acknowledged it had been a mistake.

While Putin’s provocative actions are a blatant infringement of Ukrainian sovereignty, the Russian bear has found some allies in strange places. British media commentators including Jonathan Steele and former British ambassador Rodric Braithwaite are calling for NATO and John Kerry to “back off”. As Timothy Snyder writes in the New York Review of Books:

"Interestingly, the message from authoritarian regimes in Moscow and Kiev was not so different from some of what was written during the uprising in the English-speaking world, especially in publications of the far left and the far right. From Lyndon LaRouche’s Executive Intelligence Review through Ron Paul’s newsletter through The Nation and The Guardian, the story was essentially the same: little of the factual history of the protests, but instead a play on the idea of a nationalist, fascist, or even Nazi coup d’état.”

The first time Ukraine saw even a glimpse of nationhood in modern times was in 1919 when the Zluty unity agreement was signed and the Ukrainian People’s Republic came into existence. Areas of the country were, however, ceded to Poland.

Early Bolshevik policy strongly asserted the right of all nations to self-determination in the former Tsarist empire and elsewhere. During the 1920s, under Mykola Skrypnyk’s Ukrainization policy, the Soviet leadership encouraged a national renaissance in the Ukrainian language, literature and the arts.

Crimea became an autonomous part of Ukraine in 1954 after being gifted by Nikita Khrushchev. It was his effort to make up for Stalinist oppression, when 7.5 million people – mostly Ukrainians – died in the Holodomar, a terror-famine deliberately imposed by Stalin in the early 1930s. Since 2006, the Holodomor has been recognized by Ukraine and several other countries as an act of genocide.

The Stalinist policy of starvation and repression was followed up from 1944 by ethnic cleansing with the forcible deportation of over 200,000 Crimean Tartars. Even Tartars fighting in the ranks of the Red Army were demobilised and sent to labour camps.  

Not too surprisingly, Stalinist repression had led some Ukrainians to welcome German forces after the invasion of the USSR in 1941. Nonetheless, the vast majority of Ukrainians fought with the Soviet Red Army and Moscow named Kiev as a hero city.

Ukraine’s longing for nationhood re-emerged as a powerful force encouraged by Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost policy and, finally, the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union. It inspired the human chain of 300,000 Ukrainians which led to independence of today’s Ukraine.
After Ukraine declared its state sovereignty in 1990 and its independence in August 1991, a dispute flared up over the status of the Crimea. It was settled by an agreement in 1992, by which Crimea was granted autonomous status within Ukraine.

But Vladimir Putin – following in Stalin’s footsteps, has never accepted Ukraine’s right to exist. In 2008, he said to George Bush that if Ukraine joined NATO, Russia would annex Crimea and eastern Ukraine: “Don’t you understand, George — Ukraine is not even a nation! What is Ukraine? Part of her territory is Eastern Europe, and part, a considerable part, was given by us!”

A succession of leaders representing either a Western-leaning bourgeois or oligarchs looking to Russia have failed to develop Ukraine and played one community off against another. Corruption became endemic with Tymoshenko and then Yanukovych enriching themselves. Now Ukraine is bankrupt. The European Union, for all its mouthing about democracy, has no intention of bailing out any leader in Kiev.

Underlying Putin’s aggressive nationalism is his deep fear of a people’s uprising within Russia itself. The superficial success of the Sochi games was accompanied by a contempt for the corrupt abuse of public funds, disdain for local people’s rights and ecological devastation.

Russia of course has huge oil and other natural resources. But the recent growth of some sectors, which saw the enrichment of oligarchs and parts of the middle classes in the 1990s and noughties, is in crisis. Interest rates have shot up, the stock market fell 9% this morning and the rouble is at an all-time low. A massive capital flight has been under way for years. Much of it has ended up in luxury homes in Knightsbridge, laundered by Western banks or in the shape of football clubs.

Putin has quickly reversed the pre-Sochi cosmetic release of opponents, like Pussy Riot. He closed down one of the few remaining television stations that criticised the monstrous Sochi Olympics. Protests by anti-invasion activists in St Petersburg and Moscow were quickly suppressed by riot police.  He remains what he has always been: an autocrat presiding over a corrupt capitalist oligarchy who brutally suppresses and kills his opponents.

It is indeed rich of Kerry, Hague and other Western leaders to mouth criticisms of Russia’s military intervention – bearing in mind the US-UK-NATO invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq and bombing of Libya along with remote killing by drones in Pakistan.

Opposing Putin’s act of aggression in no way, therefore, implies support for NATO and the EU. They can no more represent the aspirations of Ukrainians than Yanukovych or Putin can, while the new government in Kiev has no solutions either. All the people of Ukraine, whatever their mother tongue, have the right decide their own future free of interference from outside forces. That principle is an absolute.

A World to Win editors

Friday, February 28, 2014

How Miliband called McCluskey's bluff

If Len McCluskey were an investment banker, he surely would have been fired a long time ago. Instead, his position as general secretary of the Unite union is secure even though the return on capital invested in Labour leader Ed Miliband is beyond measurement because it’s so low.

Tomorrow, McCluskey and fellow union bureaucrats from affiliated unions will, not unlike turkeys at Christmas, vote for their own slaughter at the hands of Miliband and his party leadership.

Miliband will formally complete a process of “reform” – was ever a word so misused – in party structures that began in the early 1990s, and carried on by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown when they got the unions to vote to abandon the socialist Clause 4 of the constitution.

This time Miliband has gone when even Blair feared to tread. Out goes the historic links by which members of affiliated unions had a portion of their subs handed over to Labour. Out goes the way Labour leaders are elected, with the unions having a substantial say through a ballot of members.

Out goes the collective and in comes individualism. Margaret Thatcher would be the first to applaud, especially as Miliband gave her a glowing reference recently.

Labour’s national executive confirmed the plans earlier this month with only two votes against. Tomorrow, a special half-day conference will rubber stamp the proposals. After the Nec, one shadow cabinet member is reported as saying:

"At the start, the unions were shocked, but in the end the unions had no option. Ed Miliband was their choice for leader and he wanted these reforms and, 18 months out from an election, they could not defeat him. Unite may be in a different place, but Falkirk [the constituency troubled by a selection row] meant it was impossible for them to lead a rebellion. They feel they have done nothing and are badly bruised.”

McCluskey, in particular, has egg all over his face. Miliband was his choice as leader and in return he has been humiliated. In a belated attempt to recover some poise, McCluskey is now threatening to cut his union’s affiliation fees by £1.5 million because a poll shows that only 40% of Unite’s members vote Labour.

He said: "I know there are some people internally in the Labour party that are beginning to panic because of what we are considering. I am not sure why because it was self-evident from last summer when Ed Miliband made his proposals that there would be consequences. I said that having been challenged by Ed to consider the status quo, I suddenly felt it was untenable. We have one million members paying into the political fund and affiliate the full one million members to the party…. Looking at it, I thought it was difficult to justify even from a moral standpoint".

Last October, the company that owns the Grangemouth petrochemical plant threatened to pull out unless the union agreed to new harsh terms and conditions. McCluskey’s bluff was called and he rushed up to Scotland to overrule local officials and impose a shocking deal on his members.

So perhaps Miliband knows that the Unite union leader is mostly bluster and that when push comes to shove, McCluskey will not rock the boat with just over a year to the general election. In any case, McCluskey has said: “Even if we reduce our affiliations we can still give direct donations to the national Labour Party".

The truth is that investment in Miliband has produced precious little for Unite and its members. One Nation Labour as it prefers to be called as it careers further and further into naked populism, is pledged to uphold austerity and ConDem spending cuts, a public sector wage freeze and to retain markets in the NHS and other services.

Vote for that? You have to be joking!

Paul Feldman
Communications editor

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Standard Life threat shows where power really lies

Standard Life's statement that in the event of a “Yes" vote in the Scottish referendum they would leave Edinburgh, forcing 5,000 employees to choose unemployment or emigration, shows up the narrowness of the independence debate so far.

The insurance company said it would have no choice because Westminster has ruled out a currency union with an independent Scotland which would be denied the possibility of retaining the pound.

The Edinburgh-headquartered company’s statement serves as a reminder of where power really lies, and the reality that political power, whether located at Westminster or Holyrood, means nothing without economic and financial authority.

Just as Standard Life was putting the boot, the Royal Bank of Scotland posted massive losses for the sixth year running. The essentially bankrupt bank announced that it has decided to pull out of some of their riskier activities and focus on "bread and butter banking".

Is that the right or wrong thing to do? One thing is for sure, we were not asked though we as taxpayers nominally own the bank. RBS CEO Ross McEwan declines to say if the bank will leave Edinburgh if there's a vote for independence in September’s referendum.

But no way can a few million Scottish taxpayers bail out that behemoth when the next crisis strikes. They would just have to crash, taking thousands of jobs and millions in savings with them. The same goes for the Bank of Scotland.

The problem is there is no real transfer of power on offer as a result of the referendum. Alex Salmond's business-loving, oil-addicted party do not present a materially different future as a result of independence. So the SNP has a very narrow platform. In effect all they can offer is "Scotland ruled by Scots" and "no more Tory governments".

Given that the SNP and One Nation Labour are equally willing to kow-tow to ruthless corporations (remember the shocking betrayal at Grangemouth last year), that's pretty uninspiring.

The SNP had no answer to the question, what will happen if Scotland is excluded from a shared currency? They simply called Osborne-Alexander-Balls "bullies" and said they would never carry through the threat.

They didn't point out the obvious, that this shows that the three main parties are entirely in agreement on economic and financial issues, with absolutely no difference between them. That's because the SNP share the same ideology!

It couldn't have been clearer this week, when the ConDem Cabinet met in Aberdeen and the SNP Cabinet met just down the road at Portlethen. They may have been separated by a few miles, but they simultaneously presented the same fawning, acquiescent policies to the giant oil corporations.

This independence referendum is certainly putting questions of democracy and the realities of state and economic power into sharp relief. It is a disruption of the status quo that is causing huge distress, particularly for Labour.

If the SNP cannot give any powerful reason why people should vote for independence, nor can Labour give any meaningful reason why they should not. A strange scene yesterday at Westminster underlines this.

SNP MP Pete Wishart went into the voting lobby to see which Scottish MPs had turned up to vote in a motion on the bedroom tax. Scottish Labour MPs failed to even turn up last time, to their eternal shame.

East Renfrewshire MP Jim Murphy rushed up to Wishart screaming "fuck off, fuck off, fuck off....." over and over again. It was a bizarre scene by all accounts, but I would argue this unbearable tension felt by Scottish Labour is about more than loss of seats and personal incomes.

As Labour cannot advance either a socialist case, a working class solidarity case for the continued union of Scotland and England or principled support for self-determination, then what have they become? Demonstrably, undeniably, another party of big business, a process that began with the Blair governments. Neverthless, Labour’s crisis over Scotland is an  historic moment for the party of Keir Hardie.

Penny Cole