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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


Republic of Palau: "Meanwhile, in other news, UK Quietly Reauthorises Slavery"


Thanks to Republic of Palau for this important insight from across the atlantic - thanks RoP!

For all the pious hooha that's been spouted this past few weeks by the likes of that vain, permatanned former ANC member Peter Hain MP and the risible Deputy PM John Prescott about the sanctity of William
and the Abolition
they somehow failed to mention, as lenin points out, that quietly, New Labour has been repealing employment legislation, thus allowing the effective reinstitution of slavery - not in some far-off, easily hidden colony this time, but on its own soil.

Slavery in the UK. posted by lenin

It seems Tom DeLay was not the only one to learn from the perfect petri dish of pure capitalism. New Labour is to abolish laws that provide the most basic protection for migrant workers.

Workers who receive visas to enter domestic service are "legally entitled to leave their employer if they are abused or exploited and to receive basic protection - including the minimum wage - under UK employment law."

Now, if they are abused or mistreated by an employer, either they must suck it up or flee back to their country of origin. Even Barbara Roche, the former Home Office minister who used to put on a hideous freak show by appearing at the docks and interrogating lorry-drivers about any human cargo they might inadvertently be carrying, is alarmed: "These new proposals are a very retrograde step. Workers who suffer abuse from employers will feel absolutely alone. I can't believe a Labour government which has taken such a firm stance against trafficking will want this to
happen." Oh, you'd be surprised, Barbara.

This comes as a recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found an enormous amount of slavery operating in the UK. There are said to be 10,000 gangmasters operating in the UK, who supply labour that operates under the threat of extreme physical violence to various sectors of British capital.

These include everything from domestic service, where the new laws will apply, to agriculture, manufacturing, restaurant workers, food processors, care work, hotels and so on. Among these are tens of thousands of sex slaves, who include thousands of children - and not all of those children come from overseas. If you try to protest about your treatment, you "may be beaten, abused, raped, deported or even killed."

Read the whole post.

Those of us on the anticapitalist left have long been derided as out-there hysterics when we've warned that the increased slavery and exploitation so apparent elsewhere is spreading to the developed world and that this is the natural outcome of the neoliberal economic polices that Blair and Brown have been pursuing.

Blindly tribal Labour supporters who still harbour the hope that Gordon Brown's ascendance to the premiership would herald some sort of shift towards humanity and away from rapaciousness, when Brown himself willingly enables that rapaciousness is out of their tiny mind.

Just look at the money the party has just taken from private equity groups - largely unaccountable conglomerations of private money which buy take private and proceed to asset-strip other companies, They're run by fund managers, unlike publicly regulated corporations they have no shareholders and they have little social accountability compared to public companies. Plus the Gordon Brown gives them a tax break!

Anyone who's still with Labour despite everything, (and that includes a number of people I was once was close to and thought highly of) deserves to go down with the rest of them.

Did you ever think, staunch union activist and Labour loyalist, when you were sitting under that tree at Tolpuddle with the union banner at your feet and a cold pint in your hand and thinking of Labour's glorious past fighting for freedom, that your party would one day be the party of slavery?

- posted by Republic of Palau

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