John Riddell: Democracy in Lenin's Comintern

How did Communist parties handle issues of internal discipline and democracy in Lenin’s time? The recent intense discussion within the British Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) and beyond has heard claims that the SWP rests on the traditions of democratic centralism inherited from the Bolsheviks.

John Riddell: Democracy in Lenin's Comintern

Richard Atkinson: Death and the Bedroom Tax

Some extended thoughts about Stephanie Bottrill, the woman who committed suicide because of the bedroom tax.

Richard Atkinson: Death and the Bedroom Tax

Dave Renton: Who Was Blair Peach?

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the killing of Blair Peach by the police. David Renton looks back at Blair Peach’s life as a poet, trade unionist and committed antifascist

Dave Renton: Who Was Blair Peach?

Bunny La Roche: Nasty Little Nigel gets a rude welcome to Kent

Bunny La Roche of RS21 on Nigel Farage's visit to Kent

Bunny La Roche: Nasty Little Nigel gets a rude welcome to Kent

Financial Appeal

We're up and running! An appeal for funds to kickstart the IS Network

Financial Appeal

Cactus Issue Zero

Cactus Issue Zero

Cactus Issue Zero. The prototype edition of Cactus, the journal of the ISN. You can download a free version or make a small donation (50p) as you wish

PDF, 144pp, 2013

(50p donation)

Autumn 2013 ISN National Newsletter

The Autumn 2013 National Newsletter is available for download.

2 pages; PDF format

IS Network Politics Conference Meeting Minutes

IS Network Politics Conference Minutes
. Debates, discussions and votes from the 2013 IS Network Conference

PDF, 25pp, 2013


IS Network Conference Bulletin #1

Conference Bulletin #1 2013. Motions and proposals for the 2013 IS Network Conference

PDF, 32pp, 2013



View / Listen to the bulletin using Natural Reader >>



  1. Introductory Note: The Outgoing Steering Committee
  2. Towards a new anti-fascism: Rich T (Bristol)
  3. Rank and file strategy: Tim N (Bristol)
  4. Motion on climate change: Brian C (Leeds)
  5. United Front party: Steve F (London)
  6. Towards a Developed Understanding of Education and Strategy: Samuel B (Colchester)
  7. The IS Tradition: Steve F (London)
  8. La Fête de l’Humanité: Ian S (Hastings)
  9. Revolutionary regroupment lets go: Tom W (London), Keiran C (London), Kathryn B (Cardiff)
  10. Revolutionary Unity: Kris S (London)
  11. IS network Disability and accessibility: Oliver W (Sheffield)
  12. Women and liberation: Ashleigh F (Birmingham)
  13. 21st Century Women’s Voices... Alison L (London), Kat B (Cardiff), Ashleigh F (Birmingham), Jessie H (Sheffield), Hazel C (London), Rich T (Bristol)
  14. The Steering Committee a purely administrative body: Oliver W (Sheffield)
  15. Proposed constitution: Kris S (London) and Tim N (Bristol)
  16. Constitution commentary: Kris S (London) and Tim N (Bristol)

The Spark #2

The Spark #2. Paper of the Leeds Uni RevSoc Group. Sep 2013

PDF, 16pp, 2013



Resist the NHS sell-off

Resist the NHS sell-off. IS Network leaflet against Tory plans for the NHS.

PDF, 2pp, 2013




At the 2010 general election David Cameron lied to the electorate. There would be no major NHS reform and health spending would be “ring fenced”. The Etonian Cameron could not do otherwise to “neutralise” an issue voters simply did not trust the Tories with. Even so, the Tories only just scraped into office with the help of their equally duplicitous partners in crime, Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems.

In reality the Tories were plotting the privatisation of health by stealth. The increasingly not‑so‑covert privatisation of the NHS got a big boost when the Tories pushed through the Health and Social Care Act in 2012 with the help of their Lib Dem friends.


Today the private healthcare sharks like Virgin Care, Circle, Serco and others are not just circling but taking big bites out of the NHS. Today the Tories are doing everything to engender a sense of “crisis” in the NHS to hasten privatisation and marketisation. The promise of “no NHS cuts” was entirely hollow. They have squeezed health spending by slashing £20bn in spending between 2011 and 2015.

There has been a 4% annual cut in spending while costs have increased 4% annually. On the government’s own figures the NHS will have a £30bn deficit by 2020. Some Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) will begin to run to run out of money by the end of 2013. NHS “rationing” will increase, meaning the range of free treatments available will fall as patients are encouraged to start paying for certain treatments in the burgeoning private sector for an expanding number of so‑called “non-essential” treatments or operations. A healthcare postcode lottery will develop further. Already some insurance companies are talking of introducing health policies to cover for these “top ups” as the irrational vista of the US model of health looms.

The other effect of starving the NHS has been more job losses. 6,000 nursing posts disappeared between 2010 and 2012 and there has been a 6% reduction in the number of acute beds with the return of rising waiting lists and increased pressure on hospitals.

In this age of Tory‑made austerity, private healthcare has bucked the economic gloom by being awarded a growing slice of the annual health spend. At the end of 2012 smug Branson’s Virgin Care was named the preferred bidder to run the whole of Devon’s children’s health and social care. That meant Virgin Care took over 1,100 staff, formerly employed by the NHS but now transferred into the private sector along with 2,400 vulnerable children.

Virgin Care currently provides 200‑plus community and intermediary services like GP surgeries. Its biggest contract is in Surrey where it has been given the running of a number of services worth £500m.

Increasing numbers of NHS healthcare professionals, whether nurses, doctors, paramedics, therapists, porters, cleaners or clerical staff, are tipped into the private sector. Sometimes health workers are even unaware they don’t work for the NHS – often used as a “kite mark” by private clinics and surgeries.


This reflects the scandalously passive role of the leadership of the trade unions, especially the main health union, Unison, led by Dave Prentis. It was Prentis who led the way in abandoning the pensions battle against the Tories. Prentis marched on the huge “N30” march in 2011 on the Saturday but then sat down with the government on the Tuesday, conceding the fight and the opportunity to force the Tories onto the back foot.

For many years Unison has had a damaging policy of “partnership” with the management of the NHS and the government, preventing it from either effectively defending its members or the NHS from the stealth marketisation that was first foisted on the sector when Tony Blair’s government introduced Foundation Trusts. It was also “New Labour” who introduced the costly wheeze of PFI for new hospital buildings, saddling many hospitals with unsustainable debt.

For those staff who are still NHS employees, wages are stagnant or falling and morale is very low. Across the NHS many staff in higher pay bands have been made redundant to cut costs while healthcare assistants on the lowest bands have been taken on to do the physical graft while nurses give out medication.

Many NHS hospitals are understaffed and many more are like pressure cookers. Many nurses on middle bands are frustrated because they are unable to find employment by moving up the pay bands. Bullying, workloads and demoralisation have all increased.

Those who rely on the NHS for healthcare – the big majority of society will require the NHS at some point in our lives – need to make common cause with the workers who are the service’s lifeblood to defend the NHS and keep it public.


Like the patchy resistance to Tory austerity in general, that campaign has not really taken off yet for a variety of reasons. Trade unionism in the NHS is not known for its militant temper and trade unionists and socialists in the NHS need to patiently build or rebuild organisation on the wards and in the branches.

Militant trade unionism is not irrelevant to the NHS – neither to its workers or the public. Effective trade unionism will be needed to provide the steel in a broader campaign to defend the NHS and stop the increasingly open privatisation of the service.