Austerity – not one day more

2nd July 2017

Not One Day MoreProtesters demand an end to austerity – London 1st July 2017

To say that top Tories are revolting is hardly news worthy of banner headlines. To say that they are in revolt, over the lack of investment in the public sector, is altogether something else. Following the recent General Election the penny has finally dropped for many Tories that, whatever their views about austerity, it is not a vote winner. One national Sunday weekly suggests that Tories are joining a “chorus…of demands for a radical state overhaul for public services as Cabinet ministers and senior Conservative MPs backed higher pay for millions of NHS workers, more cash for schools and a “national debate” on student debt.”

The paucity of the Tory manifesto for the election was breathtaking, especially when contrasted with the bold and imaginative programme which Labour put forward, central to which was the message that austerity is not working, is not desirable and is not even necessary. The outcome for the Tories is that they are in the embarrassing position of having to steal some of Jeremy Corbyn’s clothes. They may balk at the full wardrobe but will certainly have a close look at anything they think may make them look respectable again in front of the electorate.

Since the election the Tories have stumbled from one crisis to another while the Labour campaign machine has kept rolling on. Jeremy Corbyn’s appearance at the Glastonbury festival last weekend drew stormy applause from thousands of young people when he proclaimed,

“Politics is actually about everyday life. It’s about all of us, what we dream, what we want, what we achieve and what we want for everybody else.”

Corbyn demonstrated that the Labour manifesto slogan, “For the many, not the few”, still has resonance. In London yesterday thousands took to the streets to protest against ongoing austerity. Not having to comply with its electoral ‘balance’ obligations the BBC appeared not to notice this protest. They did not report that Jeremy Corbyn described the Grenfell Tower disaster as a “towering inferno in which the poor died in the richest Borough in Britain.”

The media have been slow to expose the fact that, of the £55m collected in rents by Kensington and Chelsea Council, only £40m was re-invested back into Council housing, something the ring fenced housing revenue account is supposed to guarantee. More could be made of the fact that Kensington and Chelsea Council have £249m in reserves, more than the annual budget of many Councils in the country. Perhaps the public inquiry will reveal all. We shall see.

As ever there are still voices within the Labour Party looking to undermine the unity which the election result should have engendered. The Chuka Umunna amendment to the Queen’s Speech, which sought to rule out withdrawal from the EU without a deal and “set out proposals to remain within the customs union and single market” was an unnecessary tactical diversion at a moment when maximum opposition to the ongoing austerity crisis should have been the priority. The shallow posturing of Umunna and those around him is a measure of the extent to which there remains much personal antipathy towards Corbyn beneath the surface with many Labour MPs.

Fighting with one hand tied behind his back however is not new for Corbyn. The engagement of the wider movement and direct appeal to voters, which has carried him so far, is likely to remain central to his approach.

The Tory deal with the loyalist thugs of the DUP, and a remarkable ‘money tree’ discovery of £1 billion over two years for Northern Ireland, has gotten Theresa May through a Queen’s Speech and into a summer recess. For many Tories it is only the lack of an alternative candidate, credible or otherwise, that has got her this far.

Increasing pressure from the public against austerity could yet make it a long hot summer for the Tories. The People’s Assembly Against Austerity, organisers of yesterday’s London demonstration, are calling for mass mobilisation at the Tory party conference in Manchester on 1st October, to demand an end to austerity. It will be interesting to see how close to an election that date is and whether Theresa May will be anything more than a piece of Tory history.

http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/

 

 

 

US blockade is tightened by Trump

24th June 2017

Che with Crowds

 International Solidarity: May Day Havana 2017

On Friday 16 June, President Trump set back Cuba-US relations and any prospect of ending the US blockade in the near future when he announced his new policy on Cuba.

It is clear that Trump succumbed to pressure from hardline pro-blockade politicians in Florida who have been lobbying to reverse Obama’s Cuba policy for the last two years.

End the US blockade – Join the Cuba Solidarity Campaign today

By choosing to make the announcement in a Miami theatre named after a Bay of Pigs veteran, Trump will further antagonise relations between the two countries and undo much of the goodwill that US and Cuban diplomats have worked hard to build since diplomatic relations were re-established.

The announcement also flies in the face of US public opinion which according to a recent poll shows 65 per cent of citizens in support of improving relations with Cuba.

More importantly, it will be a huge disappointment to the people of Cuba who saw a glimmer of hope that the blockade may end when relations were re-established between the two countries in December 2014.

The aim of the blockade has always been to inflict economic hardship and suffering on the Cuban people to bring about a change in government and these measures are a continuation of this policy. Reducing the ability of US citizens to travel to the island and limiting the number of Cuban state companies that US businesses can work with is a blatant attempt to damage the Cuban economy and create unrest in the country with the ultimate aim of regime change.

Trump’s actions serve as a reminder to friends of Cuba that the blockade is far from over. In the forthcoming months it is critical that we maintain pressure on the United States’ government to continue on the path to normalise relations with Cuba, and ultimately to end its 55 year blockade against the island and illegal occupation of Guantánamo Bay.

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The Cuba Solidarity Campaign team

 

Grenfell Tower – the poor pay again

18th June 2017

Grenfell

 Local protestors converge on Whitehall to demand justice

It is always the poor who pay.  It can be a poorly designed sweatshop building in Bangladesh, collapsing and killing many.  It can be the unemployed and underpaid black community in the United States of America suffering shootings and police brutality.  It can be the working people of the UK suffering the slow torture of austerity year after year, as they struggle to feed the kids and pay the rent.  It can be the residents of a high rise housing block in North Kensington who, through no fault of their own, become victims of an approach to housing and an emphasis upon profits which ultimately costs them their lives.

The disastrous events at Grenfell Tower this week once again exposed the weakness and inhumanity of the Tories, personified in their leader Theresa May’s failure to meet victims until prompted to do so by enraged residents and an astonished media.  Citing security reasons for her actions, the beleaguered Prime Minister’s thin excuse was hopelessly undermined by the visits of the Queen and other Royal Family cohorts, clearly less concerned about security than Theresa May.

The final irony came when May did deign to visit, only to be greeted by protests, boos and jeers from the local community now feeling the shock of events turn to rage.

Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was not only in amongst the community hearing directly the stories of grieving friends and relatives, but has been quick to call for the widest ranging inquiry possible into the causes of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

In a letter to Theresa May (16th June 2017), welcoming the decision to hold a full and independent public inquiry, Corbyn states that the inquiry,

“…must be empowered to consider all the steps that were, or were not, taken leading up to and contributing to this most terrible incident.  It must also identify the urgent steps that need to be taken in relation to fire safety standards for other buildings of this nature.

In addition to finding facts, the inquiry must be empowered to make recommendations for the avoidance of any similar future disaster – and in doing so, to consider recommendations arising from previous similar fire-related deaths.”

What happened this week in Grenfell Tower was a tragedy but, more importantly, it was a crime.

Social housing, or Council housing as it was mostly, was one of the cornerstones of the post war Labour government’s drive to rebuild Britain after the Second World War.  Pre-war slums were cleared and a massive programme of house building, under the ownership and control of Councils across the country, gave access to decent modern houses for millions.  Combined with a National Health Service free at the point of use and a comprehensive education system, the opportunity for working class people to improve their situation had never been better.

Since the 1980’s those building blocks have been systematically dismantled as the ruling class in the UK, through the Conservative Party, have sought to reduce the engagement of the State to support working class people and sharpen its capacity to oppress them.  This has inevitably been presented by the Tories as its opposite, proclaiming such changes as empowering working class communities, giving them the opportunity to get on and improve.

The selling of Council housing was dressed up as the ‘right to buy’, giving everyone the right to own property.  This was linked to the de-nationalisation of key industries and the opportunity to be a part of the ‘share owning democracy’, another branding ploy perpetrated by capitalism under the Thatcher government.  The dismemberment of local education authorities started with the process of local management of schools.  The wanton destruction of comprehensive education is culminating in the academy process, making secondary education little more than a market place.  The real drive behind all of these Tory policies was to eradicate local democratic control, open up opportunities for the private sector and reduce the influence of the state.

Whatever the shortcomings of the Council house system there was at least a clear line of accountability back to locally elected representatives.  Much Council housing is now with external landlords, as at Grenfell Tower, whom the Council will monitor as part of a service level agreement.  They will in turn engage a myriad of contractors to carry out repairs and maintenance work, often with a lack of clarity in terms of oversight and management.

As Thomas Lane, editor of trade journal Building Design, pointed out,

“There was a time when local authorities had their own architecture departments, some of them quite famous.  Nowadays its all done externally.  You’ve got disparate people, design teams, surveyors, project managers, a whole army of people.”

It is also widely acknowledged that the privatisation of the building inspection regime leads to a race to the bottom, in order to reduce fees and limit the number of safety inspections carried out.

There is an increasing body of evidence to suggest that the external cladding applied to Grenfell Tower was a key factor in the rapid spread of the fire.  It is also the sad culmination of many years of local government underfunding and successive governments settling for cheap accommodation for poor people.

The contrast between the stacked Grenfell Tower block and the empty properties owned by the rich in South Kensington, as part of their property portfolio, should not be overlooked.  It is a symbol of the class differentiation across the UK, brought into sharp relief in one community.  Corbyn has asked for these properties to be requisitioned in order to house those who have lost their homes in Grenfell Tower.  It is a demand that will only grow as the crisis for bereaved families deepens.

In his letter to Theresa May, Corbyn goes on to say,

“It is important that justice is served in as comprehensive and timely way possible.  This must include, of course, ensuring that legal funding is available to support those involved in the inquiry and any inquests.  I would also like to support the request of the Mayor of London for an interim report to be produced which I believe is important for the community to feel as if justice is being done in a timely manner.”

In short, moving swiftly to avoid a cover up is essential.  Working class communities across the country will be watching the government response closely.  When the next election comes, as it will soon, there is no doubt that their voices will be heard.

Hope

11th June 2017

Hope

The outcome of the UK General Election has left the media and the Conservative Party baffled. How could it be the case that a snap election, called to bolster Theresa May’s hand in Brexit negotiations, has resulted in the Tories losing their majority in the House of Commons? How is it that as a result the Tories will be reliant upon confidence and supply arrangements with the Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the political wing of loyalist paramilitary thugs, to get any legislation through?

There is a school of Tory thought that May simply fought a bad campaign. That with a better ‘performer’ the Tories would not have suffered such a major setback. May’s brittleness on TV, inflexibility under questioning and her inability to engage with anyone other than handpicked Tory stalwarts certainly played a part. It is no doubt soothing to the Tory ego to believe that these are the main factors in their remarkable collapse in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

This belief will soothe Tories further over the summer, when they persuade themselves that, having allowed Theresa May to stay in No 10 for a respectable period of time, they will need to move her out for an alternative candidate. A new Tory leader could not do any worse, could they? Based on the premise that this election was purely down to the personalities of the candidates, this Tory daydream may have some merits. The Theresa May brand was all over the election campaign, with its now wholly ironic ‘strong and stable’ slogan, with any mention of the Conservative Party reduced to the small print.

For those Tories who think that a better ‘brand’ of leader will be the answer to their troubles there is likely to be more grief ahead. The May brand undoubtedly became more toxic as the campaign progressed. The greater focus there was upon personality, the less points May scored. However, the real turning point in the campaign was not the focus upon personality but the launch, preceded by the advance leaking, of the Labour manifesto, For the Many, Not the Few.

The Tory spin machine had fallen victim to the line pedalled by their cohorts in the unholy trinity of the Daily Mail, Telegraph and Express, that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn was on the brink of meltdown. May’s Chiefs of Staff, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, persuaded her that a snap election would catch the Opposition on the hop and that all indicators suggested that a landslide was on the cards. Timothy and Hill are both now looking for other employment, having been forced to resign.

Their miscalculation was twofold. Firstly, they calculated that May could outperform Corbyn with the media. Repeating the mantra that she would provide ‘strong and stable government’ in order to lead the UK in Brexit negotiations, was deemed sufficient to keep on board what was regarded as a largely compliant nation. The fact that the referendum outcome itself was tight and that only 37% of those eligible to vote, voted for Brexit, should have sent out some warning signals.

Corbyn, on the other hand, did not engage in repeating ready made formulas. He engaged with the issues. He outlined the concerns of much of the country that the NHS was underfunded, that housing was at crisis levels, both for those renting and first time buyers. Corbyn identified the crisis in the jobs and training regime in the UK, which requires so many highly skilled jobs to be offered to overseas candidates, as one which needs to be addressed. Corbyn tapped into the fact that, after seven years of austerity, the majority of the population have had enough of paying off the gambling debts of the bankers and need a positive message of hope for the future.

The second miscalculation of May’s handlers was that the policies which Corbyn was articulating would have no appeal. The publication of For the Many, Not the Few brought together the key issues Corbyn had already touched upon and codified them into a costed programme, which could move beyond the arid politics of austerity. The issue in the election was not just about May’s inability to sell the Tory message but that she actually had nothing to sell. More austerity was hardly a vote winner and for most people Brexit was too abstract to be a real factor in the election. However, put the case for jobs, health, education and homes in front of people, as Labour did, and they can understand that. They can see a package of proposals that addresses the real issues that affect them on a day to day basis. They can see a set of proposals that offers hope.

Combined with a political leader, in Jeremy Corbyn, who has stood for these values, principles and policies throughout his political career, who is not prepared to be diverted according to whichever way the wind blows and you have a factor in politics which the right wing media and May’s spin doctors could neither understand nor handle.

The DUP, apart from their history of supporting terror against the Catholic population in Northern Ireland, are anti-abortion, against gay marriage and are climate change sceptics. They are essentially a Protestant sect, borne out of the particular configuration of politics in the six counties of Ireland annexed by Britain, in order to prop up the fiction of the so-called United Kingdom. A United Ireland would not even see the DUP in Westminster at all. If there was ever a time to reach for the phrase that ‘the tail will be wagging the dog’ then this is it.

Labour are preparing an alternative Queen’s Speech, based upon their manifesto and the expectations of much of the population. It will be interesting to compare with what a Tory/DUP alliance comes up with. There is no doubt that hope will be at the heart of the Labour alternative. If the Tories have learnt anything, they will have to offer some additional funding for the NHS, the police and social care. In short, they will have to steal Labour’s clothes, a tactic most people will see through.

The General Election date may have passed but the job is still only half done. Theresa May and the Tories are wounded but not yet dead. The job is to finish them off. The struggle continues.

 

Running Scared

4th June 2017

May statement_image

Photo: Theresa May talks tough but says little

The latest terrorist murders in London have resulted in justifiable expressions of outrage from all political parties and resulted in a further suspension of general election campaigning until tomorrow.

In response to the latest outrage UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, offered a four pronged approach to the issue of tackling terrorism.  She suggested defeating the ideology, which preached terror and hate, winning hearts and minds to “pluralistic, British values”.  She suggested that international co-operation to regulate cyberspace was vital.  She suggested that “we need to review Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy to make sure the police and security services have all the powers they need.”

A further element of May’s approach is worth quoting in full, as it plays to a mentality that will not only oppose extremism but opposes anything or anyone who is in any way different.  She said,

“..while we need to deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online, we must not forget about the safe spaces that continue to exist in the real world.  Yes, that means taking military action to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  But it also means taking action here at home.  While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.

So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out – across the public sector and across society.  That will require some difficult and often embarrassing conversations, but the whole of our country needs to come together to take on this extremism – and we need to live our lives not in a series of separated, segregated communities but as one truly United Kingdom.”

Quite what May means when she states that there is “far too much tolerance of extremism in our country” is the first point here.  Who tolerated the stabbing of a policeman outside the Houses of Parliament and the killing of innocent civilians on Westminster Bridge in March?  Who has tolerated the murders of 22 innocent people at Manchester Arena last week?  Who is tolerating the stabbings on London Bridge and Borough Market last night, resulting in another seven deaths?

Apart from a few hard core Islamic fundamentalists there is no evidence that anyone across the UK, whatever their race, creed or religion, is tolerant of such extremism.  People of all faiths and none, people of all political persuasions, have united in condemning such actions and condemning extremism of this nature.

Community cohesion is certainly one of the keys to counter terrorism but it has to be a cohesion based upon mutual respect and understanding.  There are a multiplicity of different communities in the UK some of which have become “segregated”, to use May’s phrase, some of which may as a result become prey to extremist ideology.  May’s inference is that those communities are all Muslim but Irish Catholics could be characterised in the same way, Scottish nationalists, Welsh speakers, the disaffected white working class, for example.  Where does it end?

May’s appeal to “one truly United Kingdom” is a pipe dream to play to the Daily Mail readers of Middle England, as a decisive General Election victory slips further from her grasp.  The real issue is that the bigotry, which is an overt part of the UKIP programme, is only just beneath the surface of May’s remarks and the whole tone of the Conservative Party approach.

Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has called upon all communities to come together, emphasising that

“Our strength is the strength of our community unity.  That was shown in Manchester straight after the horrible event there and it will be exactly the same in London.”

Corbyn has already called for a wider review of the entire foreign policy approach of the UK, in particular to end wars of aggression in the Middle East, and to adopt a more holistic approach to the threat of fundamentalist terrorism.  The bigots in the right wing press and media will caricature this as ‘weak’ and no doubt applaud Theresa May’s call to “say enough is enough.”

However, tough talk, empty rhetoric and a foreign policy tied to the apron strings of the United States and NATO are what have brought us here today.  It is not working, it is time for us all to say “enough is enough.”

Thursday, 8th June presents us all with the opportunity to make that statement loud and clear.  There can be no excuses.  On every level from personal, public to foreign policy the Labour programme lays out clear alternatives.  It offers a vision of a society which offers hope, aims to work towards the resolution of differences and is based upon mutual respect and understanding.

The Tories are running scared because they have nothing new.  They are falling back upon the same old tired ideas of more austerity for the many, more tax cuts for the few and more ways to sound tough, while not keeping the country safe.  Those who do not vote Labour on Thursday, deserve everything they get if Theresa May is back in Downing Street on Friday.

 

Tory cynics exploit Manchester murders

27th May 2017

MayTrump

Partners in Crime: Theresa May talks with Donald Trump at the G7 summit in Taormina, Italy 

It was inevitable that the Tories would, in their ususal cynical way, attempt to gain political advantage from the murder of twenty two people at Manchester Arena earlier this week.  The suspension of political campaigning in the General Election has allowed Theresa May, as Prime Minister, an almost free run in the media to express horror and outrage at the murders.  A G7 summit in Italy this week also gave May a further platform on which to strut on the international stage and garner more media headlines.

Not content with this, with the resumption of campaigning yesterday May, and her key Tory henchmen, have launched an extraordinary attack upon Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, for suggesting that UK foreign policy ought to be part of the debate around how to address the prevention of future attacks.

Corbyn was quite clear in an interview with Andrew Neil, when he said yesterday,

“The attack on Manchester was shocking, appalling, indefensible, wrong in every possible way.  The parallel that I was drawing this morning was that a number of people ever since the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq have drawn attention to the links with foreign policy, including Boris Johnson in 2005, two former heads of MI5, and of course the foreign affairs select committee.”

Corbyn made it clear that the UK interventions had contributed to the creation of “huge ungoverned spaces” in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

That those spaces have fuelled the rise of al-Qaeda, Islamic State and contributed to the destabilisation of the Middle East cannot be denied.  The unravelling of the Western imposition of borders from 1916 onwards and a policy of supporting a succession of Western leaning dictators across the region, was never going to be easily managed away.  The fact that it has fallen apart so spectacularly is a reflection of the arrogance of Western foreign policy, in assuming that the leaders of the capitalist world could continue to impose leaders in their own image upon the nations of the Middle East.

The people of those countries have, not surprisingly, wanted to choose their own leaders.  However, the exploitation of those countries over the decades by the West has fuelled the rise of fundamentalist politics as the alternative, with devastating consequences.

Western policy has struck a rock in Syria, with the resistance to external intervention by the Assad government continuing to hold off a coalition of US and UK forces, aided by a range of Arab dictators and Islamic State, circling like vultures to carve up the remains of Syria.  The impact upon the Syrian people has been devastating, the migrant crisis which has resulted from the war in Syria continues to impact upon European borders and there can be little doubt that the whole adventure is a foreign policy disaster.

When Jeremy Corbyn suggests that the war on terror is not working these are the realities that he is drawing attention to.  The calamity in Syria did not just happen of its own volition; the migrant crisis did not happen by accident.  These consequences are all tied up with foreign policy choices and actions.  To make this point, to raise this question, is not to be ‘soft’ on terrorism or in any way attempt to justify the actions of those who engaged in murder in Manchester this week.

So, for Theresa May to respond to Corbyn’s comments with such vitriol is either a sign of wilful misunderstanding or an inability to grasp the complexities of international policy.  It could simply be an attempt to muddy the waters in order to reinforce the ‘strong and stable’ message with those voters who will be swayed by the headlines of the right wing tabloids.  In a press conference at the end of the G7 summit May said,

“I have been here with the G7, working with other international leaders to fight terrorism.  At the same time Jeremy Corbyn has said that terror attacks in Britain are our own fault and he has chosen to do that a few days after one of the worst terrorist atrocities we have experienced in the United Kingdom and I want to make something clear to Jeremy Corbyn and to you: there can never be an excuse for terrorism, there can be no excuse for what happened in Manchester.”

Later in the day Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, jumped on the bandwagon with a flurry of trademark rhetorical bluster, stating that it was,

“…absolutely extraordinary and inexplicable in this week of all weeks that there should be any attempt to justify or to legitimate the actions of the terrorists in this way.”

There is no attempt by the Tories to offer any way of addressing the problems of international terrorism, or any hint that considering the bigger foreign policy picture should be part of the debate.  These are not the actions of serious politicians who want to seriously address the issues facing the people of their country.  They are merely the rhetorical rantings of a narrow class wanting to hang onto and defend their privileges.

Behind the Tory cynicism is one crucial reality.  Their campaign is not working.  Labour is gaining in the polls.  The past week has been a hiatus that the Tories are cynically attempting to turn to their advantage.  There is little time left before the 8th June.  We must use that time to make sure that it is still time enough for voters to see through the Tory smokescreen.  The people of Manchester deserve better; the people of the UK deserve better.

Iranian elections – no chance for change

21st May 2017

Rouhani-victory

Heralded as a reformer by certain sections of the Western press, re-elected Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani (pictured), has spent four years in office without doing a thing to improve the human rights record of the Iranian regime.  Rouhani has done nothing to support the development of trade unions or advance the position of women in Iranian society.  His neo-liberal economic policies have seen inflation rampant while unemployment has soared.

In spite of this, following the outcome of the 19th May elections in Iran, Rouhani has secured a further four years in office.  He did not be stand on a platform of extending the misery of the Iranian people, though this is a likely outcome, but as the man who delivered an end to international sanctions through the 5+1 deal with the United States and European Union.  The deal, whereby international sanctions will be softened in exchange for Iran accepting strict controls on its nuclear energy programme, was barely bedded in when the US electorate returned Donald Trump as president.

Trump has been a vociferous opponent of the deal with Iran and, if his foreign policy concerns were not already overburdened, with airstrikes on Syria, bombing Afghanistan and the developing face off with North Korea, rewriting the terms of the deal may have been further up his agenda.  Which is not to say that Trump will not return to the subject of Iran, no doubt he will.  It is likely to form part of the discussions in his current visit to Saudi Arabia.  Rouhani’s second term may well be shaped by how he deals with the US president over the next four years.

The more conservative elements in the clergy fielded little known Ayotollah Ebrahim Raisi as their election candidate.  Regarded by many as a likely successor to Khamenei, but lacking political experience, the presidency was seen as a possible route to paving the way for Raisi to take over as Supreme Leader.  With Khamenei rumoured to be in the advanced stages of prostate cancer the need to locate a successor may come sooner than anticipated.

Raisi as a candidate was however problematic for the regime, bringing his own baggage.  Although little known as a politician, he does have a reputation as a ‘hanging judge’, particularly in relation to the massacre of thousands of the regime’s opponents in an especially brutal episode in 1988.  The commemoration of the executions, known as the national catastrophe, is a significant event, taking place each September in Iran, and Raisi’s role is well known.

Rouhani securing a second term is based on the fact that the Iranian leadership want to continue the normalisation of diplomatic relations and cooperation with the EU and US.  They want to see the sanctions lifted and thus remove an immediate existential threat to the survival of the regime.  A Rouhani administration is considered to be a grouping of mainly able technocrats, many educated in the UK and US, who are best placed to oversee this process of detente.  The attitude of the Trump administration remains a potential barrier to this strategy.

One certainty is that there is little hope in prospect for the Iranian people from the election outcome.  Negotiations with the government have been ongoing for some time in order to set a national minimum wage, based upon an agreed basket of goods and services.  Over the last year the cost of the basket of goods and services that could provide an acceptable living standard for workers has, according to the National Statistical Centre, risen from $863 to $924 monthly.

The government committee setting the minimum wage in March determined the rate for the current financial year at $287, based on the argument that the employers and the government were not prepared to accept an increase of more than 14.5% on the previous year’s figure.  The basis of the decision was the official inflation rate.  The employers have said that they will not consider a higher rate, in spite of the fact that the official rate of inflation is widely accepted as being well below the actual rate in the economy.  So, Iranian workers will be condemned to another year of poverty.

The regime has been trying to open the labour market to foreign capital.  They argue that the Iranian worker is educated, skilled and is cheapest in comparison with similar countries.  However, the labour law, one of the few legal protections for Iranian workers, is an obstacle to inward investment as far as the government is concerned.

Since his election to the presidency in June 2013 Hassan Rouhani’s government has attempted to persuade the parliament to change the law.  Trade unions and workers organisations organised a mass demonstration outside the parliament on 15th November as the law makers were due to start their work.  Under pressure the parliament sent back the proposed legislation to the government.  However, given the outcome of the presidential election, there can be little doubt that the government will once again try to reverse one of the few legal protections afforded to Iranian workers.

The rate of unemployment is a significant factor in generating discontent amongst the people of Iran and in particular the younger population.  While education outcomes remain generally positive in the country the likelihood of finding gainful employment is clearly diminishing.

International factors have no doubt played some part in determining the outcome of elections in Iran.  It may be however, that internal factors will yet play a significant role, as protests against the government become an increasing feature of Iranian politics following the election outcome.