Sunday, April 21, 2019


Ten-Minutes-a-Month-for-Socialism Campaign

A Global Social Media Experiment

We are informing you about an exciting new project. We urge you to become involved in it. If you know of others who might be sympathetic, even if they are not members of our organisation, encourage them to become involved as well.

Basically, this is an experiment.  But it is an experiment on a large scale. In fact, it is the first serious attempt ever to organise the practical collaboration and cooperation of socialists right across the world.  The purpose of the exercise is to significantly boost the amount of publicity that we, as a movement, receive by using the immensely powerful tool of the social media to draw attention to the literature, websites and existence of all the companion parties of the WSM.

The idea is very simple and it requires an absolutely minimal amount of effort on your part.  That is why it is called the “Ten-Minutes-a-Month-for-Socialism” campaign. It will take up only 10 minutes of your time every month (although, of course, you are welcome to spend more time on it if you so wish!)

If you have internet access, the chances are you have a Facebook account. If you are on FB you are probably a member of several FB groups. There are, of course, countless thousands of FB groups but what is being proposed here is that you join a few of these that are of a political nature. It’s probably best to focus more on Left-leaning groups than others as the members of these groups are more like to be receptive to what we have to say.

Here are just a few random examples; you probably know many more:

If you are not on Facebook, and do not wish to be on it, there are many other forum websites to join such as Quora (where several of us are already active) or Reddit. If you don’t wish to reveal your identity, for whatever reason, it is very easy to use a pseudonym.

So how does this project work? The idea is so simple. Let us say you have joined 10 Facebook groups of a political nature. What you do each month is create a post with a link to a particular piece of socialist literature. Perhaps it could be a particular article in this month’s Socialist Standard. You can add a simple comment like “Great article!” or “This is interesting...”. You can then copy and paste your comment plus the link in all 10 of your Facebook groups - it would take about 10 minutes to do everything – and sit back and wait for the responses! That’s pretty easy, isn’t it?

The point is that anyone clicking on the link you posted will be directed to the SPGB’s website at   

Once there, the chances are they will begin to look around that site and read other material. The more of them who do this, the more publicity contacts we create. And the more publicity contacts we create, the greater the possibility of more individuals eventually coming to join our movement. We now know for a fact that, these days, internet is becoming more and more THE main route through which people come into contact with the socialist movement and join it.

Of course, we need to promote not just the SPGB but other Companion Parties too. These also have their own literature and websites. Linking to them will help to provide publicity contacts for these parties too.  
Here is a list of them:

As stated, this project or experiment, is the first serious attempt to mobilise possibly hundreds of individuals across the world in a coordinated attempt to promote our cause.  As isolated individuals it is very difficult to make any kind of impression on public opinion. But, by working together collectively as a movement, we can benefit greatly from the Reinforcement Effect. We can begin to make serious progress in attracting more workers to the socialist cause.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, as the saying goes.  We strongly urge you to join with us in this collective effort

PS: If you do know of good websites on which to post links to WSM literature, let other people know! Contact your Party HQ and share the information. This will attract more people to use the website you recommend and, therefore, your own interventions on this website will become more effective through the power of reinforcement!

Mesmerised by Myths

The Provisional IRA was not born out of popular consensus among northern Catholics for an all-Ireland Gaelic state. On the contrary, it was the rejection of the demand for jobs and homes and a widening of the franchise, to put them on a basis of perceived equality with Protestants within the northern state, that created the conditions out of which the Provisionals emerged. In other words, had the Unionist government been able to abolish unemployment and solve the disastrous housing problem in 1969, the Provisional IRA would never have emerged. Those people who rejected the IRA in 1956, when the IRA advocated the old nationalist shibboleths to muster support, only offered sympathy to the Provisionals after the Unionists had met their social and economic demands with violence. We would add that those who propped up the Provisionals were predominantly located to a few areas of absolute social deprivation.

The Socialist Standard wrote that analysis back in 1988. We now read echoes of it in a Guardian report following the callous murder of Lyra Mckee:

...Here [the Creggan housing estate] almost two-thirds of children are born into poverty. Many grow up angry and alienated – fertile soil for dissident republicans...They’ve no hope. They get sucked into paramilitarism, they get chucked into crap,” said Sharon McCloske...The number of children removed from family homes because of neglect in Derry hit a record high point last year. In a survey, 95% of young people questioned said that they saw no future in the city...”

The problems of the working class in Northern Ireland were, and remain, the problems of the working class of the world and originate in the class stratification of capitalist society. The New IRA is composed mainly of young workers unaware of the economic pressures that had given rise to the struggle. They are fighting for a phantom Ireland. Their “Ireland” is an abstraction, an “Ireland” opposite of what they know and live with. The aspiration to have a nation which belongs to you is in reality a desire to have a society which is yours — where you can feel a part of because it belongs to you. It is a reflection of alienated workers who want a place which they can call their own. Workers are right to seek a community which they can call their own, but which belongs to humanity and locals alike, something they can take pride in and no longer feel to be mere tenants in a country owned by others. But it is not an One-Ireland but a One-World.

Experience has shown us that under capitalism peace does not automatically mean prosperity. But the absence of killing, maiming and intimidation can bring an improvement to the quality of working class life in Northern Ireland and, especially, it can help the victims of capitalism to focus on the real cause of their problems. Behind all the ideologies that underlie all wars and all violence are the conflicts created among peoples by the divisive interests of capitalism. It follows that the only real ‘peace dividend’ is to end capitalism. It is left to a few socialists to rationally explain the irrationality of a system that imbues its wage slaves with deliberate disguises to hide the fact that, whether we perceive ourselves to be Catholic or Protestant. British or Irish, our way of life is dictated by our class position in society. It is our class position, and not the colour of the rag at the end of a flag-pole that inflicts on all of the working class its poverty and degradation. The problems of workers in the Creggan housing scheme are the same problems of wage slaves everywhere and they will not be solved separately from the rest of the working class.

Challenge Capitalism for Climate Change Cure

In London they can find no better use for the excretion of four and a half million human beings than to contaminate the Thames with it at heavy expense" - " Karl Marx

The docility of people has contributed greatly to keeping intact the rapacious society that is capitalism. Because people believe there is no alternative to capitalism, it keeps on existing. However we are increasingly witnessing a challenge to that passivity in recently with the school-student strikes and the protest blockades of Extinction Rebellion

Marx was scathing of the capitalist economic notion that the air, rivers, seas and soil can be treated as a "free gift of nature" to business. Marx’s analysis of the environment under capitalism shows how saving the planet is inextricably linked to transforming our society. According to Marx, capitalism is an economic system profoundly at odds with a sustainable planet. The exploitation of nature is as fundamental to the profit system as the exploitation of working people. The market system is incapable of preserving the environment for future generations because it cannot take into account the long-term requirements of people and planet. The competition between individual enterprises and industries to make a profitable return on their investment tends to exclude rational and sustainable planning. Because capitalism promotes the accumulation of capital on a never-ending and always expanding scale it cannot be sustainable. It is very feasible that we can organise society in harmony with nature's limits. But it is impossible unless the profit motive is removed from determining production in human society.

The problem for many in the climate change protest movement is that they want to retain the market system. While many of the declared aims of the environmentalist campaign appear to be desirable these are contradicted by that fatal flaw They stand for the continuation of the market system and this means the continuation of the capitalist system which is the cause of the problems of global warming in the first place. The market, however, can only function with a constant pressure to renew its capacity for sales and if it fails to do this, production breaks down, people are out of employment and suffer a reduced income. It is a fundamental flaw and an insoluble contradiction in their argument that they want to retain the market system at the same time they want a sustainable society with reduced productive activity. These aims are totally incompatible with each other. They are firmly wedded to a form of capitalism, holding a belief that capitalism can be reformed so as to be compatible with achieving an environmentally sustainable society. Endless growth and the growing consumption of nature-given materials this involves is built into capitalism. The ecology activists have never been able to answer the question which is how it can achieve a zero growth, sustainable society whilst retaining a market system which includes an irresistible, built-in pressure to increase sales for profit and where if sales collapse, society tends to break down in recession, unemployment and financial crisis.

They are setting out to impose on capitalism something that is incompatible with its economic laws. The Socialist Party places itself unambiguously in the camp of those who argue that capitalism and a sustainable relationship with the rest of nature is not compatible. The excessive consumption of both renewal and non-renewable resources and the release of waste that nature can’t absorb that currently goes on are not just accidental but an inevitable result of capitalism’s very essence. The only way in which climate justice can be achieved is through socialism. Only by replacing the profit system can we give the environment the priority it deserves.

If the environmental crisis is to be solved, this system must go. What is required is political action - political action aimed at replacing this system by a new and different one. There can be no justification, on any grounds whatsoever, for wanting to retain an exploitative system which robs workers of the products of their labour, which puts privileged class interests and profit before the needs of the community, which robs the soil of its fertility, plunders nature of its resources and destroys the natural systems on which all our lives depend. Many in environmental movement do realise that are up against is a well-entrenched economic and social system based on class privilege and property and governed by the over-riding economic law of profits first but by no means do they all understand the situation.

Saturday, April 20, 2019


The New England Stop & Shop strike entered its eighth day Friday as the grocery store's parent company continued to refuse to honor the union's demand for a fair contract. 

At the heart of the dispute is an inability for Ahold Delhaize, a Dutch grocery conglomerate that owns Stop & Shop, and the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UCFW) to reach an agreement on a new contract. The sticking point is Ahold Delhaize's refusal to back down from its demand that the grocery store's workers take a cut in benefits—even as the parent company is reporting billions in profits. 
"We want our pension to be left the way it is, our healthcare not to be taken away from us, to keep our time and a half," striker Chris Pacitto, explained "Everything that we fight for every day."

It's the largest strike in at least three years for a private company. The strike, which affects 240 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Ahold Delhaize claims that Stop & Shop employees are better paid than direct competitors and that they are the only unionized food retailer in the region. Be that as it may, that is no excuse to take what their workers have labored for.

I've been working paycheck-to-paycheck my entire life," striker Shaunna Beck told Rhode Island news channel WPRI. "I depend on this job."

UCFW rep Melissa May told local NPR affiliate WAMC that "the support from customers has been unbelievable."

"They have supported us in many ways, first and foremost by not crossing our picket line, which we are asking everybody not to do," said the union rep. "But they have also continued every day to come out with coffee and donuts, with pizza, with personal donations, with gift cards to other stores, just with well wishes too—keeping our spirits up and making sure they won't come back until we get a fair contract."

The strike started April 11 with 31,000 Stop & Shop grocery workers walking out. It is the largest strike in the U.S. retail sector since the Southern California grocery workers’ strike of 2003-2004. Almost 2,000 Teamsters who work as truck drivers for Stop & Shop or its vendors and suppliers are refusing to make essential food deliveries during the strike, leading to bare shelves. If the company succeeds in weakening the workers’ health care and pension plans, and lowering the rate for Sunday pay, it will try to impose concessionary contracts on its workers in other states (New York State has more than 200 Stop & Shop stores, and the company also owns the Giant and Food Lion grocery chains). A management victory would also give encouragement to other unionized food retailers seeking to reduce costs and boost profits by slashing employee benefits.

Stop & Shop management wants to cut workers’ health and pension benefit plans in order to reduce costs and give even more money to its major investors, but the company does not need to do so in order to remain profitable. Management is essentially seeking to make more short-term profits for its shareholders off the backs of its lowest-paid and most vulnerable workers, many of whom have given years or even decades of service to the company. The issue is not really the competition that Stop & Shop face from non-unionized Walmart; rather, it’s their desire to adopt the same low-road practices of poverty-level wages and lousy benefits.

Assimilate - Resistance is Futile

So Tony Blair has chosen to be British society's guardian. He has criticized multiculturalism as being a cover for immigrants who refuse to integrate into the British way of life. Until recently the dominant opinion amongst those in charge of the British state was to make a virtue of necessity and pursue a policy of “multiculturalism”. It didn’t work. In fact, it has encouraged division, by getting people to identify with their “culture” rather than with the British “nation”.

Anders Breivik, who carried out the Norwegian slaughter berated what he called in his manifesto  “Marxist multiculturalism”. 

Gary Younge once pointed out in the Guardian: “Cultures are dynamic, and emerge organically from communities. None exist in isolation or remain static. So the presence of a range of cultures in Britain or anywhere else is not novel, but the norm.” There’s nothing wrong with that. A diversity of languages, festivals, music and food is something to be welcomed and enjoyed.

The other kind of multiculturalism which advocates policies for encouraging and supporting cultural differences at the expense of working class unity is something to be opposed as much as the alternative policy pursued by some states of inculcating a single “national identity”.

 Workers should be encouraged to think of themselves as members of a worldwide class with a common interest, not as members of different “nations” or different “ethnic” or “cultural” groups with their own different, competing interests.  We understand that working class people of all cultures need to come together as equals to fight for issues that unite them as a class. And that’s the only way we’ll ever achieve a society where we can work together for things that unite us all as human beings, regardless of skin colour, religious beliefs, cultural or national origin, or individual difference.
Socialists see “multiculturalism” as divisive as it gets workers to identify with some other group over and above their class.

Immigration causes a problem since immigrants, having been brought up under some other state, have not gone through the same process of brainwashing and conditioning as have the “native” population. Those born and brought up in Britain have been taught, through what’s been drummed into their heads at school and through what they continuously hear on the media, to regard themselves as British. In school they are taught the history of the kings and queens, and of the wars in which the British ruling class has been involved in over the centuries. The media reinforce this by reporting news from an almost exclusively British angle and encourage identification with “the nation” via identification with “our” sports teams and performers.Who can forget that once doyen of conservatism, Norman Tebbitt’s annoyance, that 2nd and 3rd Generation immigrants refused to support the English cricket team and continue to support that of their country of origin?

Hence a change of policy is under way, a swing to “assimilationism” which  Blair's home secretary Blunkett began many years ago that people seeking British nationality should be required not just to have a knowledge of “the British way of life” but also to publicly swear allegiance to the queen. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Baby Deaths Rising for the Poor

Newborn baby deaths appear to be rising among the poorest groups in England.

Infant mortality had been stable or dropping for eight of the 10 years from 2007. But in 2015 and 2016, the trend appears to be starting to go the other way. In 2015 there was an increase in the newborn baby death rate for the two groups with the lowest incomes and, in 2016, infant mortality went up in four out of five income groups – all but the most affluent.

Frank Field is concerned that rising infant mortality may be linked to increasing poverty caused by austerity and changes to benefits. “2015 started the cuts in benefits and goodness knows what else,” he said. “So prior to that we had caps and limitations on rises to 1% and so on. Then we got into the serious business from 2015 onwards of actually cutting benefits in money and certainly real terms. Often mortality data are the canary down the mineshaft,” he said. “Those that are fragile are most vulnerable to harshening conditions.”

The data was collected by the Office for National Statistics. It shows that the infant mortality rate has declined markedly since 2007, when it was 6.2 in the lowest income group. By 2014, that was 4.8 per 1,000 (860 deaths). But in 2015, the rate rose to 4.9 (874 deaths) and in 2016, it was 5.1 per 1,000 (913 deaths). A similar pattern is seen in the next to lowest income group, from 3.5 to 3.8 to 4 per 1,000 (612 deaths).
Prof Sir Michael Marmot, director of the UCL Institute of Health Equity in London, and the author of a seminal 2010 study called “Fair Society, Healthy Lives”, said "Inequalities are increasing. Infant mortality is low in all groups – a welcome trend – but the trends are in opposite directions: going down in the higher socioeconomic groups, going up in the lower.”  Marmot pointed to housing costs as well as changes in taxes and benefits as causes of poverty.

Climate Change: The Facts

David Attenborough was on the TV with a documentary in what has been described as a “rousing call to arms” to combat what he called “our greatest threat in thousands of years”.

In contrast, Home Secretary Sajid Javid was telling the police to use the “full force of the law” against Extinction Rebellion protesters. “They have no right to cause misery for the millions of people who are trying to lead their daily lives.”

But the fossil fuel industries can, apparently, place themselves outside the law and put the lives of billions in jeopardy.

Police said the demonstrations were peaceful and although demonstrators’ tactic of lying down meant four officers were needed to make an arrest and that there was no legal justification for more draconian tactics, such as kettling and mass-arresting groups.

Can capitalism ever go green? No, say the Socialist Party. Rarely a day goes by when our attention is not drawn to the various issues of environmental degradation and how the increase in human activity is impacting on the natural environment globally, foremost climate change. Capitalism is not a rational system when you consider that the capitalist class have their own agenda which is totally blind to the creation of a common interest. The only interest the capitalist class have is to obtain profits through the quickest and easiest way possible so that the accumulation of capital continues. Capitalists by necessity have to compete within the market. If they don't compete they go under. This rivalry among the capitalist class always results in consequences in some form or another such as the extensive damage to the environment. Socialists are hardened by now to meeting the opinion that the system of production for profit is essentially sane and efficient. The opposite is true. The profit motive cannot work efficiently. Capitalism cannot cater for the needs of its people. It produces waste and it produces want and both are profitable only to the minority who hold positions of privilege.

Even if we act now to change the system it may be too late to stop serious ecological damage. Capitalist business, despite a few token fetters, has not only been able to waste and destroy in its mindless quest for the fast buck, but it has also affected the future, perhaps for generations. Socialism will be stuck with the legacies of capitalism and it will need every human resource and ingenuity to deal with them.

Profit-driven production in capitalism generates huge quantities of waste. It's not hard to imagine, in a social system designed around production for use instead of sale, how common sense would be applied to the mountainous problem of waste. Capitalism can of course address the problem of waste to some extent, but it doesn't have the power to stop trying to sell, sell, sell. We however have the power to switch off capitalism and its energy-hungry displays of consumerism. Socialism is still on stand-by. We just need to press the button.

One of the socialist society's aims will be to eliminate waste of all kinds. All use and re-use of materials will be carefully assessed as to their most advantageous and least harmful outcomes. Not accepting the requirement of growth per se, the aim will be conservation and the achievement of a steady-state with the philosophy of 'do no harm' – to animal, vegetable or mineral. Quality goods will replace built-in obsolescence and whole new approach to transport, energy and infrastructure will bring about a truly sustainable society. Short-termism and consumerism as we have come to know them will be replaced by an understanding of the consequences of ignoring externalities. Capitalist corporations now largely ignore externalities; they don't factor the negatives into their equations. Cleaning up their mess robs them of their profits; the costs in human health and environmental problems are not their concern. Individuals, being captives of the current system, are almost powerless to be in any way effective against the mighty machine. Material and human resources will no longer be wasted. People will devote their energy and talents to healing a poisoned planet and devising an ecologically sustainable way of life.

Meanwhile, for what’s left of Nature, time is running out. No matter what cures are proposed, if they do not take into account the basic, cut-throat nature of capitalism, they are doomed to failure. Only by changing the social and economic system which generates the conditions which cause starvation, resource-squandering and pollution will we ever see an end of such despoliation and such ecological insanity. Unfortunately, the environmental lobby do not recognise this simple and obvious fact. They do not attack the system of production for profit as the cause of climate change. They believe it is enough merely to regulate the system so as to legislate against its worst excesses. Members of the Socialist Party are again and again struck with bewilderment at the way humanity can go on tolerating a world so out of balance with its real needs and interests. In the name of commodity production and profit, capitalism wastes an enormous amount of the world’s resources and its people’s abilities. We’ve got the technology to reuse, repair and recycle much of what we throw away, but its use isn’t encouraged enough by our current system. Before we can find more sensible and practical approaches to using our resources, capitalism itself needs to get thrown onto the rubbish dump.

 Climate change is happening. Mass extinction is happening. The time to act is now.

Vigilantes at the Border

Armed rightwing militia members such as the  United Constitutional Patriots detained a large group of migrants at the US-Mexico border and coordinated with US border patrol agents to have them arrested, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, in a series of actions the civil liberties organization called a “kidnapping” and a flagrant violation of the law.

Several videos taken at the border in New Mexico this week appeared to show men belonging to a group that calls itself the United Constitutional Patriots approaching migrant families and children, ordering them to sit down, calling federal agents on them, and at one point potentially misrepresenting themselves by saying “border patrol” as they approached.

“The Trump administration’s vile racism has emboldened white nationalists and fascists to flagrantly violate the law,” the ACLU of New Mexico said in a letter to the state’s governor and attorney general, urging them to “immediately investigate this atrocious and unlawful conduct”.

The ACLU described the group as “an armed fascist militia organization” made up of “vigilantes” working to “kidnap and detain people seeking asylum” and accused the group of directly making illegal arrests.

The group has repeatedly appeared in local news stories in recent weeks, expressing support for Donald Trump’s proposed border wall and presenting themselves as “volunteers” aiding border patrol efforts.

War on War

 Former US president Jimmy Carter referred to the US as “the most warlike nation in the history of the world,” a result of the US forcing other countries to “adopt our American principles.”

Carter then said the US has been at peace for only 16 of its 242 years as a nation. Counting wars, military attacks and military occupations, there have actually only been five years of peace in US history—1976, the last year of the Gerald Ford administration and 1977-80, the entirety of Carter’s presidency. The US has also invaded or bombed dozens of countries and supported nearly every single right wing dictatorship in the world since the end of World War II. It has overthrown or attempted to overthrow dozens of foreign governments since 1949 and has actively sought to crush nearly every single people’s liberation movement over that same period. It has also meddled in scores of elections, in countries that are allies and adversaries alike.

Carter said. “How many miles of high-speed railroad do we have in this country?” he asked. China has around 18,000 miles (29,000 km) of high speed rail lines while the US has “wasted, I think, $3 trillion” on military spending. “China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that’s why they’re ahead of us. In almost every way.” [Although China, too, spend billions in preparations for war - SOYMB blog“And I think the difference is if you take $3 trillion and put it in American infrastructure you’d probably have $2 trillion leftover. We’d have high-speed railroad. We’d have bridges that aren’t collapsing, we’d have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of say South Korea or Hong Kong.”

According to a November 2018 study by Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs, the US has spent $5.9 trillion waging war in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nations since 2001.
While there is a prevalent belief in the United States that the country almost always wages war for noble purposes and in defense of freedom, global public opinion and facts paint a very different picture. Most countries surveyed in a 2013 WIN/Gallup poll identified the United States as the greatest threat to world peace, and a 2017 Pew Research poll found that a record number of people in 30 surveyed nations viewed US power and influence as a “major threat.”

War On War

There is only one war which is worthy of men and women that is class war for the social revolution. The working class has no country. The differences which exist between nations are all superficial differences. The capitalist regime is the same in all countries. Patriotism serves as the bulwark of the privileged class.

Wars are fought to protect the interests and advantages of the capitalist, or expand capitalist profits, and extend colonial possessions. The causes for the war are to be found in the very process of capitalist production, distribution and exchange which creates the growth of multinational corporations which seek to establish control over markets, sources of raw materials and areas for exploitation. Unfortunately, no ruling class ever admits going to war for such sordid objects. Wars are present as necessary to defend ‘freedom’ and for ‘humanitarian' reasons.

This search for expanding areas for exploitation comes up against existing national borders controlled by those industrial and financial powers who were first in the field and secured the main territorial advantages. The late-comers are driven to contest the positions already claimed and established. This struggle for re-division of the world has dominated world politics. It creates ceaseless conflict. The struggle does not begin when a Government – serving one group of trusts – declares war on another nation. It goes on all the time, taking many forms; some open, some concealed. Diplomatic negotiation and manoeuvres, agreements and alliances between states, subsidised economic warfare, small proxy wars waged ostensibly between small powers, actually on behalf of great ones, and the greater disciplining and exploitation of the people – all these are manifestations of the same conflict. A formal declaration of war – nowadays more and more dispensed with – is merely the continuation of this same struggle in a more open form. Victory by one over another does not end this struggle for the losses of one nation are the gains of another country which gives rise to other future conflicts.

The organised workers cannot conquer political power by struggle against foreign capitalists but only by struggle against those in their home country who hold to and maintain the existing social structure. It is impossible to support a war and the government waging it and to hope to create revolutionary situation which will radically change that social system. The Socialist Party believe that modern wars spring from causes which are deep within the present capitalist system of society; and that to get rid of war permanently we shall have to remove those causes by overthrowing capitalism and building in its place a free socialist society. We stand against the war-mongers and the war-makers.

Those who replace the red flag of world socialism with the jingoist flag of patriotic war must be denounced. Clarity is an essential The hope for all mankind depends upon the determination and courage of the working men and women of the world to reject capitalism and its wars. Let us rise to our task.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Press Freedom?

The US fell down the Reporters Without Borders (RWB) annual World Press Freedom Index and is now classed as a “problematic” country for journalists to work in, ranking below the likes of Romania, Chile, and Botswana.
This follows inflammatory comments from the president and a broader hatred of the media which resulted in the shooting of five newspaper staff at the Capital Gazette in Maryland.
Among other issues in the last year, Trump branded several mainstream news outlets the “enemy of the American people”, while political reporters covering the White House have had to seek additional security measures and newsrooms have been repeated targeted with bomb threats.
“If the political debate slides surreptitiously or openly towards a civil war-style atmosphere, in which journalists are treated as scapegoats, then democracy is in great danger,” said RWB’s secretary general, Christophe Deloire. “Halting this cycle of fear and intimidation is a matter of the utmost urgency for all people of goodwill who value the freedoms acquired in the course of history.”
The report’s authors warned the UK remained one of the worst-ranked western European countries “largely due to a heavy-handed approach towards the press, often in the name of national security”.
Among other issues, RWB cited the lack of protections for British journalists and whistleblowers in the government’s new Investigatory Powers Act; the UK’s mass surveillance regime, which was found to violate the European convention on human rights, and new counter-terrorism legislation which critics say puts journalists’ data at risk.
It also highlighted the case of Northern Irish investigative journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey who were arrested last year following their reporting on the Loughinisland massacre. The pair had their journalistic materials confiscated, and remain on police bail seven months after being arrested.

Top five countries for press freedom

  • 1 Norway
  • 2 Finland
  • 3 Sweden
  • 4 Netherlands
  • 5 Denmark

Worst five countries for press freedom

  • 176 Vietnam
  • 177 China
  • 178 Eritrea
  • 179 North Korea
  • 180 Turkmenistan