Tag Archive: 2013


lionFrom Animal Rights UK
This is Millionaire Banker, Tory Advisor and member of the Countryside Alliance Sir David Scholey.

David Scholey is one of many wealthy individuals who are willing to spend in excess of £60,000 for the privilege of shooting a lion in South Africa. These lions are bred to be shot in so called canned hunting operations which have grown significantly in South Africa over the last decade.

They breed the lions from cubs often bringing in tourist to play and walk with them boasting on their conservation work. The young animals are then prepared to be released into shooting areas where they will be brought out via meat baits in front of the guns of so called trophy hunters. In many cases the shooters will have been drinking and will blast wounding the animal many times before its killed.

Some operations even allow the use of high powered bow and arrows to kill lions. To make matters worse the hunt operations will provide the head and skin of the lion for use as a rug and a wall trophy and keep the bones which they will then sell into the Asian medicine trade at great profit. This trade is leading to a huge increase in the poaching of wild lions across Africa (little over 200,000 left). None of this seems to worry Mr Scholey who seems very proud of his kill.

The Countryside Alliance and US National Rifle Associations are vey happy for their members to participate in these trophy hunts despite the obvious cruelty and its impact on the future of a threatened species. Next time the Countryside Alliance start attacking the RSPCA don’t forget to ask them when will they throw out African trophy hunters from their membership like David Scholey.

Note: there is now a petition to have his knighthood removed please sign here
http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-cameron-remove-sir-david-scholey-s-knighthoodenemy is at home

VOAG-Logo-(Brick)5-transparThe VOAG joined the Surrey United Anti-Capitalist Students Society (SUAC) For Freshers Fair 2013, at the University Of Surrey. 

One small step for the proletarian revolution, one giant leap for the Surrey United Anti-Capitalists, as the SUAC Students Society Romps home with 72 new members recruited at this years Surrey University Freshers Fair.

The VOAG salutes and congratulates those (they know who they are) who made this year’s Freshers Fair the most successful freshers fair ever. And not a swappy in sight!

The stool looked amazing, featuring picture boards of recent activities, a looping slide show, as well as various flyers. Props to all those that helped!    

SUAC is the only left group on campus. The SWP have tried in past years to start a student group, but to-date have always failed to get enough members to establish themselves. This year the SWP stayed a home.

Whilst the Lib-dems and Tories have abandoned Surrey University,  there is, on paper, a Labour Club. It keeps its head well low, never campaigns and doesn’t ever meet. The Labour Club appears out of thin air every Freshers Fair, and then hibernates until the next. 

The Green Party managed to arrange a stool, and sent two elderly, woolly jumper types. The VOAG ventured over to the lonely couple, but was scared off, fearful of frostbite, The Socialist Fight magazine the VOAG was carrying, alerted them that the VOAG was outside their target audience, and an icy chill deended on their stall.

The nearest thing to politics in the University of Surrey, outside the SUAC, is the Go Green Society. The VOAG went over to their Freshers Fair stall out of curiosity and to investigate if there were any issues of mutual interest that we might work together on.

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Even fellow Tories distance themselves from this “crazy fascist”

Yesterday, The VOAG re-published a story about John Butcher, a Conservative Surrey County Councillor for Cobham ward. He has worked out a brilliant scheme for pushing up property values in the county – by driving out everyone who is fat, takes recreational drugs, gorges on junk food or has ‘self-inflicted’ health problems of any kind. As a member of the council’s health committee, he has sent an email to staff suggesting a two-speed NHS in which “patients with self-inflicted morbidity, (mainly smoking, alcohol, narcotics or obesity) or an injury through ‘dangerous activities’ are placed in a much slower-moving queue”. https://suacs.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/john-butcher-surrey-heath-tory-councillor-health-committee-nhs
In a response to the Elmbridge Guardian, which first broke the story, John Butcher added: “If sports can ban performance-enhancing drug use, then entertainment etc. should ban narcotics and alcohol abuse”.

“Everyone in, or aspiring to, a position of public responsibility and everyone in a position to influence the public, including entertainers etc, should be asked to sign a voluntary pledge not to take illegal narcotics or consume excessive alcohol, or drive when so affected”.

“Anyone who fails to sign that pledge, or who signs it and breaches it, should be excluded from positions of public responsibility and influence. All public organisations, including regulated broadcasters etc, should agree to impose this exclusion”.

Fellow Councillor, Karen Randolph was also quoted in the paper. She  said: “The views expressed by Councillor Butcher challenge the very credibility of Surrey County Council’s Health Overview Scrutiny Committee, of which he is a member. It is highly disturbing that the Conservative administration at SCC has deemed it appropriate to appoint to this committee a councillor who clearly does not support the NHS and who holds such extraordinary views about the responsibilities of the state to its citizens.”

Cllr John Butcher also sits on Elbridge Borough Council, where he lists his chief concerns as “Challenging wishy-washiness” and “nebulous do-goodery”.

Simon Cook, a Conservative councillor in Cullingworth, Yorkshire called John Butcher “a real deal health fascist” and blogged yesterday: “So if you smoke, drink, drive fast cars round a track or climb rocks (not sure whether Cllr Butcher’s ‘dangerous activities’ includes horse riding and playing rugby) you’ll be made to wait longer in the hope that you’ll move away from Surrey. Indeed, it seems that Cllr Butcher thinks that, by doing this, all these people with “self-inflicted” illnesses will move to places where the authorities believe in equal treatment”.

The real question is: How would John butcher’s proposals push up house prices in Surrey, and to whose benefit would it be? John Butcher’s argument is that people with illnesses will be repulsed from Surrey, whilst “healthy people will be attracted to the better healthcare that Surrey could afford, having been freed from the burden of treating sick people”.

What the councillor is really saying is drive out the poor and less affluent from Surrey (the sick, disabled, smokers obese et al, who are by-and large the less well off) to make lebensraum for his wealthy friends. Bring on the concentration camps.

But let’s give the councillor a chance. Let’s take his comments on face value. There are 1.08 million residents in Surrey. According to Surrey County Council, one in four adults in Surrey are smokers. Surrey NHS estimates there are 455,000 “hazardous”, “harmful” or “binge drinkers” in Surrey. http://www.surreydaat.org.uk/pdf/Alcohol%20Needs%20Assessment.pdf

The Obesity rate in Surrey, lower than the national average, is estimated by Surrey PCT to be at 20% of the population. http://www.guildford.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=569&p=0 As for drugs use, there are no statistics for Surrey, but in the South East, according to the ONS, 8.6% of the adult population took illegal drugs last year, with 3.3% of the population described as frequent drug users. http://data.gov.uk

The councillor extended his attack on the unfit and unwell to people engaged in “risky past-times and sports”. It’s plainly obvious that this is just a smoke screen to hide his real agenda, which is to chase the less affluent, who have a propensity to be less fit, out of Surrey. I can’t believe the Councillor is thinking of his horse riding, rugby playing chums when he talks of “dangerous sports”. However, taking Cllr Butcher at his word again, we have to take account of horse riding, rugby, perhaps even motor cycling, and a host of other recreational pass-times that might be considered potentially hazardous.      

For example, according to Surrey County Council’s 2007 Rights Of Way report, there are 20,000 horses in Surrey. A 1998 Gallop poll found 6% of Surrey residents had gone horse riding in that year. http://www.surreycc.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/176058/ROWIP-main-text.pdf

Where’s all this going, what’s the point of all these statistics? Well, by my reckoning, if the Councillor had his way, they’d be no-one left in Surrey. His policy certainly wouldn’t produce the rise in property prices that he and his chums so desire.     

As an aside to these arguments; according to the ONS, Excise duty & VAT raised by the UK Drinks industry amounts to £22bn annually, whilst alcohol consumption costs the nation, through the health service, crime, lost production etc £20bn.

Estimates of the costs to the NHS from smoking varies greatly, one study estimated an annual cost of £610m. Another study (Allender, S- The burden of smoking-related ill health in the UK) estimates the cost to be £2.7bn – whilst the Centre for Health Economics estimates the cost to be between £1.4bn and £1.7bn.  According to the HMRC (Revenue & Customs) Tobacco tax revenue last year amounted to £12.1bn.

Another argument, developed by the University of Public Health, Rotterdam indicates that smoking may even save the NHS money. Their study shows that since smokers on average die younger, they do not incur the costs of a lengthy old age or the costly diseases that are associated with it. Their study concluded that the average health cost of a non-smoker was $83,400 whilst the average health cost of a smoker was $72,600.

These fiscal arguments, which clearly show the tax payer incurs no cost from smoking and alcohol consumption, can be equally applied to the sporting activities Cllr Butcher appears so against. In each and every case revenue exceeds the costs.

It’s not the first time John Butcher has hit the local headlines. A council employee lodged an official complaint against him in February 2010.

Council proceedings start with a prayer, during which no one is allowed to enter or leave the council chambers. Cllr Butcher arrived late to the 2010 February council meeting- and finding that prayers had already begun, and the door to the chambers closed and guarded by an attendant- he lost his temper. He aggressively forced his way in to the chambers, thrusting the door in to the face of the attendant, injuring him and bruising his face.

An eye-witness told the Surrey Advertiser: “During prayers I became aware of someone attempting to gain entry to the council chamber, through the door being ‘guarded’ [by the officer], using his body to keep the door shut. It quickly became apparent that this someone had not been deterred by the efforts and they again tried to enter the chamber in a more forceful manner. I then recall [the officer] turning his head towards the door as if to indicate through the frosted glass to the person on the other side that prayers were still ongoing. A very short time afterwards I recall hearing something of a thud as the door hit [the officer] on the side of the head and I witnessed John Butcher stumbling/forcing his way into the chamber through the partially opened door.”

After the incident John Butcher refused to apologise to the attendant and denied injuring him, even though there was a council chamber full of witnesses.

Not only are John Butcher’s views abhorrent, but as I hope I’ve shown, they don’t even make sense or stand up to any kind of reasoning. Rather than exile the less-well-off, the sick and the disabled from Surrey, it’s time to kick John Butcher out of Surrey. Do not re-elect John Butcher to Surrey County Council or Elmbridge Borough Council.
John Butcher
18 Bramble Rise
Cobham Surrey
KT11 2HP
Tel: 07899 891685
jbutcher@elmbridge.gov.uk

A motion in support of the Irish Republican Prisoners Support Group (IRPSG) was passed at the Labour Representation Committee (Chair John McDonnell MP) Conference on 19 November by 250 votes to 6. It is a model motion for all Labour movement bodies, Labour CLPs, Trades Union Councils and other political and community organisations. Comradely Gerry Downing, Sec IRPSG.

Defend Civil Liberties: Political Status for Irish Republican Prisoners,
repeal the Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) powers.

The situation of Irish Republican prisoners in the north of Ireland continues to deteriorate; they are subject to frequent beatings and brutal strip searches in Maghaberry. From May 2011 some have been on dirty and no-shave protest, evoking memories of the blanket men and hunger strikers of the late 70s and early 80s. More than 13 years after the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) on 10 April 1998 there are still 62 Irish Republican Prisoners in Ireland and 2 abroad, not counting remand prisoners, according to the Irish Freedom Committee – POW List of 28/8/2011.

These prisoners are in jail because they oppose the partition of Ireland via the British occupation of the six north eastern counties by British Imperialism and the GFA which they contend merely seeks to legitimise this partition and occupation. None would be in jail if Britain did not occupy the six north eastern counties of Ireland.  Under the terms of the GFA those republicans still opposing the GFA and continuing to fight for a united Ireland have lost their Special Category status and are treated more or less as common criminals.

In August 2010 after a protest that went on since Easter of that year an agreement was reached and signed by the prisoners’ representatives and by the prison authorities in Maghaberry Prison. The agreement conceded the two demands of the prisoners, freedom of movement and an end to strip searching. A body scanner was provided instead. But the screws broke the agreement within weeks, the first prisoner going out to court was brutally strip searched. Colin Duffy was strip searched 8 times for a 4 day court hearing, so brutally that he had very obvious injuries and appeared in court naked from the waist up because he refused to wear a prison uniform top.

The frame up and revocation of the licences of some of those released under the GFA constitute a hidden form of internment of those who wish to continue the Republican struggle.  Human Rights campaigner Monsignor Raymond Murray has this to say on the framing of Michael McKevitt; “Evidence of paid and schooled informants resembles internment, where persons were put in jail on the suspicion, prejudice or dislike of anonymous agents. The social and political consequences of accepting evidence of a long-term paid informant like Rupert (highly paid informant David Rupert) are very serious and long-lasting. … (The document) The Framing of Michael McKevitt, (presents a) strong argument for the innocence of Michael McKevitt”.  

In like manner Michael Campbell was set up in a ‘sting’ operation by MI5, the Irish and Lithuanian intelligence agencies and jailed in Lithuania on 21 October 2011 for 12 Years. The spooks had in fact initiated the arms deal on which he was convicted. His lawyer, Ingrida Botyriene, said: “He would never be involved in arms deals and would never go to Lithuania for such an affair if he had not been provoked by secret agents.” 

Marian Price – a founder-member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement – is one of a number of political activists held without trial. To be a member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement is by no means illegal, nor is it a criminal offence to support or join this organisation. It is not proscribed by law, nor is the Irish Republican Prisoner’s Welfare Association (which Marian Price helped found) and was until her arrest and (illegal) detention that group’s secretary. Her ‘crime’ apparently is she ‘poses a significant threat to society.’! She held a piece of paper for a masked man who read a speech from it!

Marian Price was released from Armagh Prison in 1980 having been granted an RPM – a Royal Prerogative of Mercy – as she was suffering from anorexia and tuberculosis brought on by forced-feeding and ill-treatment. This means the Secretary of State was not legally entitled to order her return to prison as she had been released by Royal Prerogative of Mercy – and not on licence. The Price legal team are now thought to be preparing to launch a legal challenge in the light of this information. 

Lurgan man Martin Corey, who had served 20 years in Long Kesh, was arrested in April 2010 and his licence, was revoked, according to British Secretary of State Shaun Woodward who had him arrested. He was not released on licence either and had served an extra two years having refused to sign any such licence agreement  so as to be able to politically campaign for his republican beliefs. He is still held in Maghaberry. In October, 2009 Brendan Lillis was arrested and had his license revoked despite no charges being pressed against him for alleged involvement in an attempted robbery. He suffers from a chronic medical condition called, ankylosing spondylitis which causes the spine to fuse and, though now moved to an outside hospital he remains interned.

Mohammed Hamid was found guilty in early 2008 of “soliciting to murder” under legislation dating back to 1861, despite never actually instructing anyone to any specific act. Months of surveillance, both through undercover agents and covert recording produced no evidence at all; everything was inferred and circumstantial. He was given an extremely severe sentence of 7 ½ years, together with the “imprisonment for public protection (IPP).” This sentence is extremely controversial, amounting to a life sentence unless an individual can prove that he is no longer a risk to the public. As Hamid, based on the evidence, was never accused of a violent act, how would he be expected to demonstrate that he has reformed and is no longer a risk to the public if there was never any risk to begin with?

According to Brian Barder’s website, “Nearly half of the more than 6,000 IPP prisoners in our prisons have completed the punishment and deterrence element in their sentences: they continue to endure the harsh punishment of imprisonment, not for anything they have done — they have already been punished for that — but because our risk-terrified society is scared to release them for fear that they might one day, in some way, re-offend. They are being brutally punished for offences they haven’t committed and which they might well never commit if released. And it’s worse than an ordinary prison sentence because the IPP prisoner can have no idea when or even whether he will ever be released.” http://www.barder.com/294

These conditions in Ireland, taken together with the Islamophobia highlighted by Mohammed Hamid’s conviction are a full-frontal assault on civil liberties and threaten the liberty of every serious trade unionist and political activist. Any  serious opponent of the capitalist system would never be released if arrested under these IPP powers.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an African-American writer and journalist, author of six books and hundreds of columns and articles, who has spent the last 29 years on Pennsylvania’s death row. His demand for a new trial and freedom is supported by heads of state from France to South Africa, by Nobel Laureates Nelson Mandela, Toni Morrison, Desmond Tutu, by the European Parliament, by distinguished human rights organizations like Amnesty International, city governments from Detroit to San Francisco to Paris, scholars, religious leaders, artists, scientists, the Congressional Black Caucus and other members of U.S. Congress, the NAACP, labor unions, and by countless thousands who cherish democratic and human rights – and justice -the world over.

We therefore demand:
 1. Immediate implementation of the Agreement of August 2010 conceding freedom of movement and an end to strip searching.
2. Restoration of Political Status to all Irish Republican political prisoners in the north of Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and abroad.
3. Repatriation of Michael Campbell and no extradition to Lithuania of  his brother Liam, framed by the same secret intelligence agencies.
4. Release of Marian Price and Martin Corey and an end to arrest using the excuse of revoking the GFA license – this amounts to political censorship and a reintroduction of internment in another name.
5. Repeal the “Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection” laws: free Mohammed Hamid, free Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Download: Free Marion Price:  An IRPSP Newsletter.