May and the Tories must go!

May and the Tories must go!

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Tories out! Fight for socialism!

The following is an article by Hannah Sell, the deputy general secretary of the Socialist Party following the election results. We are holding a public meeting in Coventry on Tuesday at Methodist Hall, CV1 2HA, starting at 7.30pm where we will be discussing how we can step up the fight for socialist policies following the election. Come along and join the discussion and get involved!


Organise to fight for Corbyn’s policies!

Theresa May’s failed election gamble is a nightmare for the capitalist class in Britain. Seven weeks ago most of Britain’s elite were hopeful that May would succeed in dramatically increasing the number of Tory MPs, thereby buttressing her government to be able to weather the storms of economic crisis, to carry out vicious austerity against the majority in society and to implement a Brexit in the interests of the 1%.

Instead she is now a ‘dead prime minister walking’, only able to temporarily cling to power by leaning on the reactionary, sectarian Democratic Unionist (DUP) MPs, describing them as her ‘friends’ on the steps of Downing Street.

The DUP, founded by Ian Paisley, are anti-abortion, anti-LGBT rights and deniers of climate change. However, it will not only be the Tories who are dirtied by this new ‘coalition of chaos’.

The DUP’s base is mainly among a section of the Northern Irish Protestant working class who are badly affected by Tory austerity.

It seems that the DUP have already demanded the dropping of May’s plans to abolish the winter fuel allowance for the majority of pensioners as a condition of co-operation.

Tories Out! There is no mandate for May

The Tories are split down the middle and now have a leader with no authority inside or outside the party.

She is only remaining in place because the Tories can find no other alternative for now, and fear falling apart if they attempt a leadership contest.

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have rightly called on May to resign and pledged to put their programme to parliament and challenge MPs to support it.

Now we need to build a movement for the implementation of their policies, whatever the parliamentary arithmetic.

The general election result was a complete vindication of Jeremy’s anti-austerity stance. On 18 April, the day the election was called, the Socialist Party declared that: “If Corbyn fights on a clear socialist programme – for a Brexit in the interests of the working and middle-class – he could win the general election.” At the time that was met with derision by many including the right wing of the Labour Party: who wrongly thought a general election would give them the opportunity to unseat Corbyn.

Let’s not forget that just last September arch-Blairite Peter Mandelson told the press that he ‘prayed every day for a snap general election’ as it would mean the end of Corbyn’s leadership.

Corbyn strengthened

Instead this general election has enormously strengthened Jeremy Corbyn’s position in the Labour Party and potentially in society.

Labour got over 40% of the vote compared to just over 30% in 2015, the biggest increase in the vote share for any party since the Attlee government in 1945.

This was against the background of a phenomenal increase in the popular vote of 3.5 million, from 9.3 million in 2015, to 12.8 million this time.

This was almost entirely accounted for by the streams of young people that flooded to the polls. The very opposite of apathetic young people participated in a mass electoral revolt to demand a future.

Some estimates suggest that as many as 72% of young people on the electoral register voted, compared to 43% in 2015.

Two thirds of them voted for Corbyn. The Liberal Democrat’s hope of winning young, middle class voters by claiming to be the ‘true remainers’ largely fell flat.

Instead Nick Clegg finally got his just deserts for increasing tuition fees in 2010. Corbyn’s programme of a £10 an hour minimum wage, abolition of tuition fees, rent controls, and council house building inspired young people to take a stand.

The resulting politicisation of young people will not be reversed, and lays the basis for the development of mass support for socialist ideas.

The support for Corbyn among young people was widespread among both the working and middle class; demonstrated by Labour’s victory in Canterbury, which didn’t elect a Tory for the first time since 1918.

This reflects the increasing radicalisation of middle class young people who, as a result of low pay and astronomical housing costs, are increasingly being pushed down into working class living conditions.

It is wrong and scandalous, however, as some in the capitalist media have done, to paint this election as ‘young versus old’. This is a conscious attempt to divide the working class which both generations should consciously attempt to overcome by standing in solidarity with each other, whether over tuition fees or winter fuel allowance.

Many older workers, disillusioned with Blair’s Labour, put a cross next to a Labour candidate for the first time in decades in order to support Jeremy Corbyn. In Wales, despite the Tories dreaming of gains at the start of the election, Labour made significant gains.

The figures are not yet fully clear, but the UKIP vote did not simply collapse into the Tories as May had hoped.

Among some who voted UKIP in 2015 (undoubtedly including some ex-Labour voters) May’s false posturing as being ‘tough on Brexit’ meant that they voted for her this time.

Had Jeremy Corbyn not made an early concession to the Blairites by reluctantly agreeing to campaign for ‘Remain’, and instead stuck to his own historic position (and that of the Socialist Party) of calling for exit from the EU bosses’ club, on an anti-racist, internationalist basis, May would never have been able to make the gains she did among working class voters.

Nonetheless, the position Jeremy adopted during the election campaign – of explaining he would fight for a Brexit in the interests of working class people – was able to win over a section of workers including some who had previously voted UKIP.

Even Nigel Farage had to admit that Corbyn had ‘pulled off’ winning the support of both young ‘remainers’ and working class UKIP voters.

The fundamental reason that Jeremy Corbyn started the election campaign so far behind was that the majority of the population had not heard what he stood for.

Of course, this was partly because of the inevitable hostility of the big-business media, but that was – if anything – stepped up in the course of the election campaign, yet support for him soared.

The difference was that, instead of staying quiet in a vain attempt to appease the Blairites, the Corbyn wing of the party took their programme to the country.

The right tacitly accepted this, hoping that Jeremy would then ‘own’ the defeat – instead he ‘owns’ the highest Labour vote since 1997.

This would have been even higher if Jeremy had earlier and more clearly stated he supported the right of self-determination for the people of Scotland, including a new independence referendum if they so wished.

As it was, increasing disillusionment with the SNP’s implementation of austerity in Scotland, meant that Corbyn was able to win increased votes in some working class Scottish heartlands, but it was far less than could have potentially been achieved.

At the same time the Tories made considerable gains in more affluent areas of Scotland, largely by mobilising a certain ‘anti-independence’ vote. (For more information see Socialist Party Scotland article: May Must Go! – Build mass struggle to drive out the Tories).

Trade union mobilisation needed

Jeremy Corbyn’s success now needs to be urgently built on. The trade union movement should call an immediate national ‘Tories Out’ demonstration against austerity – calling for the scrapping of the Tory attacks on the NHS and schools, and for the abolition of tuition fees.

Such a demonstration could be millions strong and the springboard for a 24 hour general strike. This in turn could force May to call a new general election.

At the same time Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left should make a clear call for Labour councils to stop implementing Tory cuts.

In a short campaign very impressive numbers were convinced to vote for Corbyn despite their initial scepticism about whether he would implement his programme.

This scepticism is a result of the betrayals of New Labour in office, and the experience of Labour councils at local level that have presided over 40% cuts in services since 2010.

To consolidate the enthusiasm that was generated for Corbyn in the election it is necessary to now make clear that he opposes any more council cuts, and that this Tory government is too weak to force Labour councils to implement them.

This is particularly important in urban areas, where the surge to Corbyn was strongest, and where every council in England has elections next year.

Transform the Labour Party

“Big up Jezza for reviving so many ppls hope in politics. If Labour was united behind Corbyn this past year he coulda won this outright!” said Riz Ahmed of the hip-hop trio Swet Shop Boys (one of the many musicians who supported Corbyn) – stating what is obvious to many Corbyn supporters.

Jeremy has not only faced the relentless hostility and sabotage of the capitalist elite, but also from the Blairites – the representatives of capitalism inside the Labour Party.

In the immediate aftermath of this election they will not dare to try and launch another coup against him, but we can’t be fooled into thinking that they are reconciled to his leadership. Labour remains two parties in one.

For the capitalist class Jeremy Corbyn’s policies, and even more the hope they are creating for millions, are a real threat.

Therefore their representatives in the Labour Party will search for a new way to defeat Corbyn. Even in the week of the election right-wing Labour MP Joan Ryan openly attacked Corbyn and banned Labour canvassers from using leaflets which mentioned him! Now in the aftermath of the election Blairite Hilary Benn has poked his head above the parapet to mutter about how ‘Labour must learn from its third electoral defeat’.

Even those Blairites who temporarily make statements supportive of Jeremy cannot be trusted. They will do so in order to try and surround him and force him to retreat from his radical programme.

What else does the ultimate Blairite and would-be assassin of Corbyn, Peter Mandelson, mean when he talks about Corbyn needing to ‘show respect’ to all wings of the party? It was the rights attempts to gag Jeremy which were largely responsible for most people not knowing what he stood for before the election.

We cannot allow this to happen again. Instead a campaign needs to be immediately launched to transform the Labour Party into a genuinely anti-austerity, democratic party of workers and young people.

This requires the introduction of compulsory reselection of MPs. The next general election could be at any time and Labour must not face another election with the majority of its own candidates opposing Jeremy Corbyn.

This should be combined with the democratisation of the party, including restoring the rights of trade unions, and welcoming all genuine socialists in a democratic federation.

These measures could create a party which was genuinely able to bring together all the young people, socialists, workers and community campaigners who are inspired by Jeremy Corbyn into a powerful mass force.

Fight for Socialism

This general election campaign has introduced socialist ideas to a new generation. That is enormously positive.

It has also given a glimpse, however, of how far the capitalists would go to try and sabotage any attempts to introduce policies in the interests of the many not the few.

The hostility Jeremy Corbyn faces in opposition is only a pale shadow of how they would attempt to derail a Jeremy Corbyn led government.

To prevent this will pose the need for far-going socialist measures including nationalising the 100 or so major corporations and banks that dominate Britain’s economy, in order to be able to introduce a democratic socialist plan.

This would allow a socialist government to begin to manage the economy in a planned way under democratic workers’ control and management – that really would be “for the many, not the few.”

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Eight billionaires own as much wealth as half the planet – the real face of capitalism

Eight billionaires own as much wealth as half the planet – the real face of capitalism

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Poster produced by the Socialist Party in Ireland

A report published by Oxfam today has once again laid bare the growing gap between the richest and poorest people in the world. Just eight billionaires own the same amount as the poorest half of the world’s population – that’s 3.6 billion people.

Even the capitalists are starting to realise that growing inequality represents a threat to their system. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report for 2017 placed inequality at the top of the list of threats facing society. But despite this realisation, under capitalism the wealth of the super-rich and the gap between “them and us” will inevitably continue to grow. Even during the financial crisis Britain’s billionaires doubled their wealth between 2009 and 2015!

Oxfam CEO Mark Goldring says that this shocking inequality shows that “our economics is broken”, and argued for “a more human economy”. But the system isn’t broken – capitalism is designed to make the rich richer, and it’s doing that perfectly. This report lays out the problem clearly – but its proposed reforms don’t address the fundamental issue of who controls the wealth in society. Workers create the wealth in society, but the super-rich keep it – to change this system we need to take the wealth off the 1%, and fight for a socialist system that will mean we can plan the world’s resources for the majority of people!

Are you angry at inequality? Do you want to join us in fighting the system that creates it? Fill in the form below!

 

Thursday’s elections showed anger and fragmentation

Thursday’s elections showed anger and fragmentation

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While the media has attempted to spin last week’s elections as a disaster for Jeremy Corbyn, the reality of the situation is far more complex. The 25% increase in the Socialist vote in Coventry reflects a growing radicalisation and dissatisfaction with the right-wing policies of Labour in Coventry. The below article by Hannah Sell reflects on the situation nationally. Hannah is the deputy general secretary of the Socialist Party and will be speaking at our post-election rally on Thursday 12th May.

Running up to the May elections the Labour Party right wing – with the full backing of the capitalist class – set out to damage their own party’s chances in order to achieve what is, for them, a greater goal: undermining Jeremy Corbyn. The anti-Semitism uproar – initially relating to comments made by Naz Shah when Ed Miliband was leader – was a cynical attempt to try to prepare the ground for a coup against Corbyn, hoping that the local election results would then provide further ammunition.

Widespread predictions were made by Blairite MPs and in the right-wing media – now included in which is the Guardian – that Labour was on course to lose 100 or more council seats because of the supposed unpopularity of opposing austerity. That didn’t happen.

In Scotland Labour suffered a resounding defeat. That was partly inevitable given the hatred of Scottish workers for the role Labour played in the Scottish independence referendum, acting as the voice of big business’s Project Fear campaign. However good Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Scotland, he would not have been able to quickly overcome workers’ view of Labour as ‘red Tories’.

Unfortunately, however, Jeremy Corbyn has not taken a clear position of supporting the right of self-determination for Scotland which would have begun to win some credit back for Labour among the Scottish working class. Of course, had he adopted the pro-austerity ‘red Tory’ approach demanded by the Blairites – who are now blaming Corbyn for the result – Labour would have fared even worse in Scotland than it did.

But in England Labour maintained the same number of councils and only had a net loss of 18 seats, while slightly increasing its share of the vote from the general election. Far from a mass exodus from Labour in the south of England, Labour retained control of key councils including Southampton and Exeter. Significantly, it won the mayors of Bristol and London – the sixth biggest city and the capital – with clear majorities.

The racist campaign by the Tories in London backfired and London is now the first city in Europe with a Muslim mayor, while Bristol – a city built on slavery – now has the first mayor in Europe of African-Caribbean descent.

Labour won the two parliamentary byelections in Sheffield Brightside and Ogmore, with an increased majority in the former. That inconvenient fact may have temporarily stayed the hands of Corbyn’s enemies. Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party, openly appealed on Radio 4 to Labour MPs to “have patience” – suggesting not that they should support Jeremy Corbyn, but that they couldn’t move against him yet given the election results and the size of his mandate.

Labour’s right and left

That has not prevented, however, an escalation in the civil war in the Labour Party. Endless successions of Labour MPs are touring the TV studios to explain why – even though their dire predictions did not materialise – this was still a truly terrible election result for Labour. Leading the charge has been the newly elected London mayor Sadiq Khan who, as we predicted, is setting out his new position as a platform against Jeremy Corbyn. Unfortunately, the leadership of Momentum, which purports to organise Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters, has spent recent weeks uncritically mobilising in support of Sadiq Khan, without even warning its membership about the role that he – a man who has said he wants more billionaires in London – was clearly set to play.

The pro-Corbyn wing of the party has not as yet fought back like it should against the blows being rained down on it, but has vainly attempted to paper over the gaping chasm. Left MP Clive Lewis has appealed to Corbyn to “compromise, reach out”, including on policy questions. As if events of the last weeks don’t prove conclusively that there is no compromise that could successfully pacify the Blairites.

For the right of the Labour Party – and behind them the 1%, the capitalist class – are desperate to once again make their party safe for big business. That means routing the nascent anti-austerity movement that thrust Jeremy Corbyn into power. The only way to defeat the right is not to retreat but to continue to build that movement around a clear pro-working class programme.

Expressions of the anger

And last Thursday’s elections in no way demonstrated that anti-austerity ideas are unpopular. On the contrary, anger at the misery this government is inflicting on the majority is growing. It was not by any means, however, channelled exclusively in the direction of Labour. Instead it was fragmented.

While many voted Labour, others’ view of that party – which has implemented pro-big business policies in power and at local level for decades – had not changed. Some refused to vote Labour because – while Jeremy Corbyn has correctly opposed austerity, saying it is a political choice – local Labour councillors and the Labour-led Welsh Assembly have passed on savage government cuts to local public services.

Right-wing Labour councillors and Assembly Members that lost their seats are trying to lay the blame at Corbyn’s door. But they did not stand on Corbyn’s policies, they stood on a pro-austerity programme. That is why some voters showed their opposition by voting for what they saw as anti-cuts parties, whether that was Plaid Cymru in Wales, the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Scotland, the Greens, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), or even in a distorted way for Ukip.

Plaid Cymru’s leader Leanne Wood succeeded in defeating Labour in the Rhondda, a traditional Labour stronghold. Her party also increased its share of the vote, making it the second party in the Welsh Assembly. Charlotte Church will not have been alone in voting for Plaid Cymru while continuing to support Jeremy Corbyn, because she recognised that the leadership of Labour in Wales is not anti-austerity.

In Scotland the SNP won 46.5% of the vote for the Scottish parliament, an increase of 1% from four years ago. It had a small fall in its number of seats only because of the vagaries of the electoral system.

The Greens had a net loss of four councillors in England but increased their vote in many areas, overtaking the Liberal Democrats to become the fourth party in terms of vote share. In Scotland they increased their MSPs from two to six and in the London Mayoral contest they scored their highest ever share of the vote.

Similarly they doubled their vote for the Liverpool Mayor to 10,609. Combined with the creditable 4,950 votes for TUSC’s candidate Roger Bannister, this meant that 15% of voters in Liverpool consciously chose to vote for candidates that they perceived as being to the left of Labour and more anti-austerity. Even the votes for Ukip, who won 10% of the votes across council elections in England and came second in both parliamentary byelections, primarily reflect anger and disillusionment with establishment politicians.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Unfortunately, all of those parties, with the exception of TUSC, have implemented cuts when in power at local or national level. TUSC, in which the Socialist Party participates, was alone in standing 100% opposed to austerity and cuts in public services, which are destroying local government. That is why the Birmingham Post called TUSC “arguably the fiercest defenders of local government itself”.

Despite limited resources and a boycott by the national media, it was vital that TUSC stood candidates, in order to offer a socialist and working class alternative to austerity (see www.tusc.org.uk for more detail on TUSC results).

TUSC is a coalition of socialists, trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners – including the transport workers’ union, the RMT – which stands in elections in order to oppose cuts and give workers a voice at the ballot box. We wrote to Labour candidates before the elections urging them to take a clear anti-cuts stand and pledge not to stand against those that did so. However, where Labour candidates voted for cuts – from library closures to bedroom tax evictions – we were prepared to stand against them.

The 58 Labour-led councils that had elections on Thursday hold over £4.5 billion in general reserves. Pooling these would mean that no Labour council would have to make a single cut this year. They could use the resulting breathing space to build a mass anti-austerity movement capable of defeating a weak and increasingly divided Tory government.

Tory divisions and retreats

In the coming weeks the EU referendum campaign will dominate the political agenda. Historically Jeremy Corbyn has correctly opposed the EU as an undemocratic club acting in the interests of the bankers and big business. If he had stood by that position it would have transformed the EU referendum campaign – which is currently dominated by right-wing big business politicians on both sides. Unfortunately, under huge pressure from the Labour right and the capitalist class, Jeremy Corbyn retreated on this issue.

Nonetheless, the Tories remain split down the middle over Europe. Already they have been forced to retreat on a whole number of issues, including now on the forced academisation of schools. In the aftermath of the referendum Cameron, and potentially the Tory Party, could be ejected from power. A powerful, united movement could bring a halt to austerity and force the Tories to call a general election. Building such a movement requires united strike action – building towards a 24-hour general strike – but it also requires creating a clear anti-austerity political alternative.

Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide election as Labour leader showed the potential for creating a mass anti-capitalist party. Unfortunately, however, the majority of Labour MPs and councillors remain pro-capitalist and pro-austerity. Labour is two parties in one: a pro-capitalist party and a potential workers’ party.

To defeat the right means starting to mobilise the currently fragmented anti-austerity mood into a mass, democratic movement. This will not succeed if it remains trapped within the current undemocratic structure of the Labour Party, vainly trying to compromise with ‘the 4.5%’ – the Blairite representatives of big business in the Labour Party. Instead it means building an open, democratic movement – organised on federal lines – that brings together all of those who have been inspired by Jeremy Corbyn and want to see a determined anti-capitalist party.

Coventry Socialists announce 2016 election campaign

Coventry Socialists announce 2016 election campaign

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TUSC activists rally against cuts

Election nominations are closed and we can now confirm that Socialist candidates will be standing in all 18 wards in Coventry for the local elections in May. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), backed by the RMT transport workers union, will be standing anti-cuts candidates across the country.

Before making the decision to stand, we wrote to every Labour candidate in Coventry and asked them to meet with us to discuss whether they would be willing to vote against cuts – cuts that will lead to the closure of libraries, public toilets, adult education centres and community centres. None of them would even agree to meet us. Ann Lucas and her colleagues have also signed up the city up to George Osborne’s West Midlands Combined Authority, without even allowing Coventry people a vote.

Our candidates include Dave Nellist in St Michaels, as well as leading trade unionists, young workers, students and community activists.

Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, wants to fight austerity .We support Jeremy’s anti-austerity policies – it is regrettable that Coventry Labour Councillors have voted to implement the Tory cuts on our city with some Councillors more concerned with attacking Jeremy than fighting the Tories.

As we have done previously, the Socialist Party and TUSC will set out a programme to fight the cuts – including the use of some of the £84 million of reserves that the Council has. This could fund services and delay the cuts, buying time for the building of a mass city wide campaign involving unions, local communities and anti-cuts groups to win back the money stolen from our city by the Tories.

We will also make the case that the Panama Papers tax scandal shows that the money exists in our society for decent public services and housing for all – the problem is that it is in the hands of the 1 per cent at the top. It is austerity for us, tax evasion for the rich! That is why we need socialism.

Will you be voting for the Socialists? Can you help with our campaign by leafleting, putting up a poster or donating? If so, fill in the form below!

Our best pictures of today’s protest

Our best pictures of today’s protest

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Off to London – Tories out!

Over 50 people from Coventry and Leamington joined the anti-austerity protest in London today, including a number of members of Coventry Socialist Party. Below are some of the best pictures we took today!

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Time for Cameron to go – and take the rest of the Tories with him!

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The FBU fire engine!

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Teachers say no to forced academisation

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Tories out – time for a general strike!

Live: Coventry Socialists join London protest against austerity

Live: Coventry Socialists join London protest against austerity

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On the bus to London – Tories out!

Coventry Socialist Party members are joining a march against austerity in London today. Trade unionists on the Coventry bus represented a number of unions including Unite, UNISON, Coventry TUC, NUT, CWU and PCS.

Jane Nellist from Coventry NUT said “We are joining the march today because we have to ensure that we build a fightback against Tory plans to destroy our public services.”

Socialists will be building the fight against austerity and arguing for a socialist alternative to capitalism. The Tories are split, the trade union movement needs to organise a 24 hour general strike to co-ordinate the fightback!

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NUT and CWU members from Coventry

Fifa: invest in working class sport, not profits

Fifa: invest in working class sport, not profits

Coventry City fans protest against owners SISU

The below article from The Socialist was written by Socialist Party member Jane Nellist, who is joint divisional secretary of Coventry NUT and the secretary of Coventry Trades Council.

Fifa, football’s corruption-ridden international governing body, elected its new president on 26 February.

I’m a lifelong Baggies supporter (West Bromwich Albion). Like millions of working people across our planet, I enjoy the thrills, as well as the frustrations, of a game of football. It offers 90 minutes of escape from the drudgery of living under capitalism and the pressure of work and austerity.

But just as workers in their workplaces are exploited by big business, those at the top of the organisations that run football exploit the fans.

It’s often described as the ‘beautiful game’. But behind it lie ugly, bribe-taking, pro-big business organisations, the biggest being Fifa itself.

Even a scene from the new Sacha Baron Cohen film Grimsby refers to this. The main character, Nobby, a football hooligan, is told by his brother, a top spy: “Meet the head of the biggest crime syndicate in the world.” Nobby replies: “What, she runs Fifa?”

The big question for football fans around the world is: can Fifa reform itself? New president Gianni Infantino spent €500,000 of European football organisation Uefa’s money to travel the world in the run-up to the election.

Can Infantino fumigate this multi-billion pound organisation of the stench of corruption? I don’t think so. It’s too infected with greed and bribery for us to have any faith in it.

Football’s huge profits should be democratically controlled by fans, and invested in local communities across the world. To enable boys and girls to enjoy the true spirit of the game. The social interaction, team work, discipline, exercise – the joy of playing.

As the Socialist Party’s John Reid has excellently argued in his sell-out book Reclaim the Game: “the fight to democratise football is linked with getting rid of big business domination within it.” It’s time to show Fifa the red card!

  • ‘Reclaim the Game’ by John Reid: a socialist approach for football – £3 from leftbooks.co.uk