Issue 247 of SOCIALIST REVIEW
Published December 2000
Copyright © Socialist Review
Review of 2000
The year resistance went global
Karen O'Toole looks at some events around the world which encapsulate the anti-capitalist mood and the crisis of reformism
|The Serbian Revolution
The ghost of Labour's past greets Blair's millennium in the form of Ken Livingstone's candidacy for mayor on the Labour list. Frank Dobson is cajoled into standing against him. As health minister, Dobson pushed through New Labour's privatisation in the NHS and caused the winter beds crisis. A report reveals that the UK has the lowest health spending in Europe. Russia continues to bomb Chechnya, displacing a third of the population, described by Russian prime minister Putin as bandits. In Ecuador 40,000 indigenous peoples march on the capital, Quito, demanding an end to IMF cutbacks, and a new form of democratic government. President Mahaud flees.
The inquiry into the Southall rail crash begins amid protestations that Railtrack will never again place profits before safety. The London mayoral race becomes a referendum over tube privatisation. A Unicef report on the state of the world's children reveals that between a third and a fifth of British children live in poverty. Some 250,000 protest in Vienna over Nazi Jörg Haider's Freedom Party's electoral success.
Ken Livingstone, the candidate with mass popular support, loses in Labour's electoral college. Livingstone announces he will stand as an independent. Rail profits continue to be put before safety when John Prescott announces that the government and Railtrack will buy the cheaper form of train protection system, TPWS, saving £700 million. Rover bosses at Longbridge announce the closure of the plant. Tony Blair backs Russia's war in Chechnya. In France 800,000 teachers strike against cuts in education. Ecuador's new president announces IMF-imposed laws to deregulate the labour market and impose the dollar as the national currency.
Some 80,000 demonstrate in Birmingham against the closure of Rover. Blair announces a 6 percent rise in the NHS budget, 3 percent below the European average. The press whip up a bigoted frenzy against asylum seekers as Jack Straw announces 'dispersal' plans to move nearly 30,000 refugees around the country. In France protests force the education minister to resign. Aircraft workers at Boeing in the US win a six-week strike over health insurance, whilst 35,000 protest in Washington DC against the IMF and World Bank. In Argentina thousands demonstrate outside Congress over plans to cut welfare and privatise the public sector.
May Day anti-capitalist protests inspired by Seattle hit hundreds of cities around the world. An Office of National Statistics report reveals that the gap between rich and poor is as unequal as ever. Ken Livingstone wins the race for London mayor, with Labour losing over 600 seats in council elections. Chancellor Gordon Brown raises £22 billion through the sale of mobile phone licences. Ford announces the closure of its Dagenham plant.
The bodies of 58 Chinese asylum seekers are found in the back of a lorry at Dover. London Socialist Alliance candidate Weyman Bennett gets 10 percent of Labour's vote in the Tottenham by-election after the death of Bernie Grant. Post office workers' CWU union threatens to break from Labour at its annual conference. General strikes across Latin America against IMF cutbacks include Ecuador, Honduras and Paraguay.
New Labour's own figures reveal it spends less than the Tories on public services. 50,000 demonstrate in Millau, France, over the prosecution of farmer José Bové for damaging a McDonald's. Ralph Nader's presidential campaign gains momentum when he attacks the role of corporate sponsorship in the US elections. The price of a barrel of oil reaches $30, the highest since the Gulf War, as a result of cuts in production.
|The fuel crisis and pensioners demonstrate
British bank bosses celebrate huge profits as a result of job cuts, branch closures and forcing debt repayments from the Third World. Meanwhile a government report reveals that the effect of the 75p increase in the pension earlier this year has been to increase poverty. Peugeot workers in Coventry strike for the first time in 20 years, and win against attempts by bosses to impose new working practices. Campaigners against the asylum voucher scheme protest outside supermarkets across Britain. Hospital workers in Dudley begin a series of strikes against PFI. Blockades against high fuel costs sweep across France and then Spain. An Argentinian judge condemns the IMF for damaging the economy by favouring foreign and national private companies as 5,000 demonstrators surround Congress.
Blair's cabinet descends into chaos as 3,000 road hauliers and farmers adopt French tactics, blockading oil refineries and paralysing Britain amidst wide popular support. New Labour's conference coincides with the Prague mobilisation against capitalism and the solidarity Brighton counter-conference. Blair is defeated over the issues of pensions and asylum, his first major conference defeat.
Oil companies announce record profits. Four more lives are lost on the railways in a derailment at Hatfield. Revolution in Serbia as workers and students bring down Milosevic. A renewal of the Palestinian intifada begins as Israel embarks on a new spree of repression.
The presidential elections in the US make New Labour's London vote-rigging seem amateur. Anti-corporate Green Party candidate Ralph Nader receives over 2 million votes amidst accusations that he lost Gore essential votes. The giant Korean car firm Daewoo declares itself bankrupt and workers face big job cuts.
European TUC calls a demonstration to defend the right to strike and decent pensions.
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