The politicians and economic pundits can't decide whether to hoist a storm warning or pat us on the head and say all will be well. They swing from outbursts of near-panic to soothing words about new jobs opening up in the service industries.
There are, it's true, some new job vacancies here and there, but we all know there are jobs and there are jobs -- few of the new ones will be a fair swap for the skilled engineering work that is disappearing by the day.
And in any case the service sector will only be able to absorb a small fraction of the manufactunng job losses since it too is falling victim to the econormc crisis and is already starting to shed labour itself.
Above all, this cavalier attitude to Britain's manufacturing base ignores the fact that the production of goods is the bedrock of any industrial economy -- it is the real economy and if it is weak the whole economy will also be fundamentally weak.
The government and opposition politicians will not be spelling out the cause of these recurring economic crises because that would mean pointing the finger at the system of capitalism itself -- the system they all support.
Nor will they tell us what the answer to the crisis is because they do not have an answer -- the system is so full of contradictions that every apparent solution only serves to make the problem worse. That is why every "expert" has a different formula for staving off economic disaster.
The favourite idea at the moment is to cut interest rates. Up to a point this is a welcome move as it may help to weaken the pound and make exports more competitive.
But this will not solve the underlying crisis or make the recession go away. The auto giants are not piling up unsold cars just because the pound is too strong. Their real problem is the difficulty of selling products in a saturated market caused by the worldwide crisis of overproduction. And this is the case with all manufactured goods, not only cars.
History shows us what Karl Marx taught us, that times of capitalist crisis are periods of barbarism in which the big bankers, giant monopolies, transnational corporations and wealthiest sections of the capitalist class viciously step up their attacks on the working class. Unemployment, poverty and increased exploitation will be unleashed in order that the small, wealthy elite can survive and continue to prosper.
They will measure their success by the extent to which the rest of us are ground down.
For the vast majority of people there is only one answer -- to scrap the capitalist system altogether and replace it with a system that seeks to meet the needs of that majority -- a socialist society in which the economy is planned, where unemployment is no longer a scourge, where poverty is overcome and where people can live without fear of war and want.
THE recent trial of Michael Stone for the murders of Lin and Megan Russell and the attempted murder of Josie Russell has once again highlighted the dangers of a mental health system which fails to give adequate care to people suffering from severe personality disorders.
It is argued that people suffering from these conditions, though their problems may lead to tragic situations, cannot be successfully treated. Therefore, it's said, there is little the health service can do.
This is a very peculiar argument. There are many physical illnesses
which cannot be completely cured, but that is not regarded as a reason
to deny such patients a hospital bed or proper care and support.
Surely the truth of the matter lies in the serious underfunding of Britain's mental health services. If there were not a shortage of mental health beds and if there were adequate numbers of trained staff both in hospitals and in the community these arguments to justify neglect would not be used.
What it boils down to is yet another example of rationing in the NHS.
The Borders rally was unprecedented in that area for its size and for bringing together all sections of the community.
But the cold winds that are sweeping through the Borders are also chilling the rest of Britain.
And it is the industrial sector which is suffering most.
The Scottish Borders is blighted by the global epidemic of over production in the new information technology industries and which has already devastated the Far East.
Over production is also freezing the motor industry.
Last week unions at Rover were told by their new German BMW bosses that they must accept a package involving 2,400 redundancies and the introduction of German-style flexible working -- or the whole plant shuts.
BMW is also asking fora £300 million subsidy from the British government, saying it wants to "be treated as a new investor". And it is holding the 14,000 jobs at the Rover plant in Longbridge hostage.
Fords has gone over to a four day week.
The press last week made much of an unfortunate remark by bank of England Governor that interest rates should remain high when he said that job losses in the North-East were an acceptable price to pay for curbing inflation in the South.
But the south is not immune from job losses either.
The banking sector in London has taken several big hits lately, including 300 jobs lost at the Japanese-owned Nikko Europe bank.
And up to 600 jobs are to go after the Norwich Union announced it was buying London and Edinburgh, the country's sixth largest general insurance company, -- which adds a rather nasty taste to its recent advertising campaign which uses a well known trade union song "You can't get me. I'm part of the union." Clearly the company is not think ing of its own workers in that respect.
The government is responding by suggesting a scheme to train redundant factory workers as teachers -- to meet the desperate shortage in that profession.
School standards minister Estelle Morris said the workforce of factories such as Fujitsu and Siemens in the North East contained people with skills, qualifications and experience, especially in technology, to be useful to schools.
But measures like this are hardly going to be able to absorb all the jobs that are threatened by the coming recession -- or even a significant fraction of them.
Both trade unions and industrial bosses are still calling on Eddie George to cut interest rates to lessen the effect of the coming recession.
And now doubt has been thrown on official statistics on pay rates -- which Mr George uses as an indicator of what interest rates should be.
It seems these capitalist financial experts have been getting it all wrong even by their own standards.
The truth is that whatever they try to do within the capitalist system they cannot stop it having financial crises of over production. It is part of the nature of the beast.
In the end there is no other solution but socialism.
This marks the victory the women have been fighting for three years since they were sacked for striking against cuts in their jobs and conditions.
The women began their struggle in October 1995 after their cleaning jobs at the hospital were transferred to the private company Pall Mall.
This company immediately introduced swingeing 20 per cent cuts in pay, conditions and holidays. The women took industrial action and were sacked for it.
The union, Unison, backed them all the way for the first year as they kept up a constant picket outside the hospital.
Union leaders then advised them it was time to call it a day and negotiated a compensation package. The women were adamant that they wanted their jobs back and would not stop fighting until they got them.
The women carried on their struggle through thick and thin when many reckoned their chances of success were remote.
They did succeed in drawing attention to the cheapskate practices of bosses like Pall Mall and the company lost other similar public sector cleaning contracts it was hoping to win.
Pall Mall disappeared from the scene at Hillingdon Hospital and was replaced with the firm Granada Healthcare Services -- who claimed the women's fight was nothing to do with them and they had no responsibility in the matter.
The chances of the women getting their jobs back seemed even more remote than ever.
Then in July this year, Unison's legal department took up the women's fight again at an industrial tribunal.
They brought the case under the Tupe laws, which are supposed to protect the terms and conditions of workers' whose jobs are transferred to the private sector.
This threw the responsibility back the women's original employer -- the hospital itself.
Then earlier this month the tribunal ruled in favour of the women's
right to get their jobs back and now negotiations are underway for them
to return to work.
So Prime Minister Yevgenny Primakov, upon whom there is more and more reliance, stepped in. But before the next tranche of £2.6 billion IMF bailout is forthcoming, a comprehensive anti-crisis plan is awaited.
Time is of the essence now as Winter closes in. A draft plan has been "leaked" to the key Russian business paper Kommersant. Primakov's concern is to build a "social market economy". But the bandit capitalists are giving nothing up.
Even though it has yet to be finalised in a full discussion in the Russian parliament, the Duma, tomorrow, many of its emergency measures, particularly on tax, may simply remain on paper unless the big industrial and commercial enterprises cough up in a big way.
How far the programme is designed simply to secure more aid remains to be seen. But a related factor has to be borne in mind about how the United States regards Russia.
According to Sovestkaya Rossiya, Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright told a Russian-US Business Co-operation Council in Chicago on
2nd October said that three quarters of US aid to Russia had gone on de-nuclearising
the country. The nuclear potential had been "significantly weakened". And
economic aid will be "on the regional and human level".
Indeed, it has already become clear that regional authorities have adopted measures of their own without waiting for a grand plan from the federal government. De-nuclearisation plus overseeing economic aid allocation to regions and not the centre smacks of tightening US control of Russia.
Yobloko faction leader and Harvard favourite Gennady Yavlinsky, interviewed in Komsomolskaya Pravda last week said Primakov's plan will fail. He said financing would normally come from three sources: people's savings, the capital that has flown and foreign loans. They will get none, he said.
The oil companies have told Primakov's finance minister Mikhail Zadomov that there will be no tax deals, despite some limited sweeteners from Gazprom -- the biggest oil & gas company. Meanwhile, the collapse in oil prices has bit oil-rich regions expecting boom towns to emerge.
Entire cities, the majority of the inhabitants having benefited nothing while mafiosi entrepreneurs set up in splendour, are socially and economically disintegrating.
And many, if unpaid working is included, regard whole towns and cities as being unemployed while farms and local kitchen gardens have been exhausted.
The awaited harvest result turned out to be slightly less than the feared low of 50 million tons of grain. But while some officials argue there will be no famine in Russia this year because there is sufficient in reserve, no independent evidence has been forthcoming to substantiate the claim.
It is now estimated that 44 million Russians (30 per cent of the population) are living below a dire poverty line, perhaps more accurately -- destitution line. The Red Cross do not rule out mass starvation. They have targeted 1.4 million people in a critical position.
Many local administrators have warned Yeltsin that "a state of emergency" now exists. Fearing the worst, a third of Russia's regions and republics have so far ordered embargoes on the shipment of various food stuffs.
But Primakov's other anti-crisis plan doesn't mention measures taken in the wake of the 7 October protests. According to Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies, what it calls " mass protests" are now prohibited -- in a decree claimed to have been signed by Yeltsin -- in Moscow between 1Opm and 7am.
The agencies said a limitation of five days duration has been imposed to remove pickets and encampments -- targeting miners in particular.
Nevertheless, a month on from those demonstrations and a further
spate of actions are expected on 7 November, called by Gennady Zyuganov's
Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF).
In the five years since the black teenager was murdered by white racist youths, there have been other racist murders and relatives and friends have come together in campaigns for justice for their loved ones.
An informal network of black community groups has grown up bringing these families and the whole black community closer together.
The Black Racial Attacks Independent Network (Brain) is a national network of grassroots black voluntary organisations which has been formed to take up issues of racial violence and policing in local communities.
The members of the network offer support to victims of racial violence and police harassment.
Last Saturday, 25 October, at their opening conference, chairperson Barry Mussenden paid tribute to Neville and Doreen Lawrence, without whose "tenacity, courage and determination" to obtain justice for their murdered son, the inquiry would never have happened or revealed so much.
The Lawrence family were not alone on the platform. With them were the families of Ricky Reel and Michael Menson who all gave very moving accounts of the tragic end to young lives.
All the accounts told a similar tale of the brutal and callous attitude of police towards all the families at a time when they were suffering from shock at hearing of the death of their loved ones.
Doreen Lawrence was still visibly upset even though five years has passed since the death of her son and some months have passed since the public inquiry into the police handling of the case began earlier this year.
She said she was amazed at the attitude of the officers who dealt with her son's death. "They did not care that a young black man had been killed," she told the conference.
Ricky Reel went missing a year ago after being racially abused. He was last seen alive running from them. A week later he was found dead in the river Thames.
His mother told the audience that the racial incident was immediately reported to the police but they took no action. "His friends and family were left to search for him".
At the end of that week the police finally set up a "serious incident room" on the day that Ricky's body was found.
Unbelievably, that same evening, the police concluded that the death was "an accident" and further investigation was not necessary. No effective police action has been taken to investigate the incident or the cause of death.
His family are now urging the Home Secretary to intervene and install a new team of police investigators.
The death of Michael Menson was another disturbing case. He was set on fire by four white youths near a telephone box in north London.
Passers by who saw Michael's back ablaze contacted the emergency
services and he was rushed to hospital. He was in intensive care for a
week before he had a cardiac arrest and died.
Although he suffered 30 per cent third degree burns on his back,
he was able to speak to his family and tell them about the incident.
The police, despite pleas from the relatives, failed to take a statement from him.
Senior police officers did not even consider racism as a motive for the attack, suggesting that Michael had set fire to himself. So they did not seal off the scene of the crime, thus losing vital evidence.
Hospital staff, including doctors and nurses, confirmed that Michael had told them he had been attacked and four expert witnesses, including two fire experts, have confirmed that in their view Michael did not set fire to himself.
As in the Stephen Lawrence case, police incompetence and blunders have been blamed for the failure to find the murderers.
The Lawrences, the Mensons and the Reels all expressed their dissatisfaction with the police officers' conduct of the cases, saying that "talk alone won't do, we need action now". And not much confidence was displayed in the outcome of the Lawrence inquiry.
Even so, the inquiry has brought the black community closer together and raised the issue of racist violence to the top of the agenda.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Condon last week agreed to launch a new investigation into the death of Ricky Reel, after meeting with his parents, Sukhdev and Balwant Reel.
The new investigation will be headed by assistant Commissioner John Grieve, the director of the new racial and Violent Crime Task Force.
Home Office calls for a significant increase in the number of black and Asian recruits taken into police forces throughout the country have been postponed because of funding cuts.
The West Yorkshire force, which includes areas of high ethnic
diversity like Bradford, is facing recruitment restrictions. The Assistant
Chief Constable for that force explained that this year they have recruited
only 16 new officers, one of whom is Asian. Next year they will not be
able to recruit any new staff.