Tag Archive: nus


Miliband’s Plans To Break The Labour Party / Trade Union Link

Editorial of Newsline, Wednesday, 10 July 2013
Miliband wants to break with unions so Labour can form a national government with the Tories STANDING with the ‘One Nation’ Tory slogan behind him, Labour leader Miliband yesterday outlined his intention to wrest the Labour Party completely away from the trade unions and the organised working class that founded it.  He said: ‘I am here today to talk about how we can build a different kind of politics. That is what I mean by “One Nation”.’

He continued: ‘We will do so by shaping a Party appropriate for the twenty-first century not the twentieth century in which we were founded. We will represent the national interest.’  This is a joke, since today living standards are being driven back towards that period of history, and will get there once they have privatised the NHS and the Welfare State.
 Miliband added: ‘A hundred years ago the trade unions helped found the Labour Party. Decade by decade, from Neil Kinnock to John Smith to Tony Blair, we have been changing that relationship. And now in this generation, we must do so again to build the new politics, we need to do more, not less, to make individual trade union members part of our Party.’
Organised trade unions are to be put out of the party, and only allowed to donate to it – like the situation between the AFL-CIO and the Democrats in the US.

 In fact, the trade unions founded, built and financed the Labour Party to advance the cause of the working class, and used their block vote to keep the party from getting into the hands of the ruling class via the antics of middle class careerists who sought to make their political careers out of it.

 The case for the working class having that kind of class-based party today is huge, but this time to put an end to capitalism through revolution and not to try to reform it.  Miliband intends to continue from where Blair and Brown left off, to break the link between the organised working class in the trade unions and the Labour Party, and recognise only individual membership by trade unionists. He intends to end the remnants of the block vote that the unions have today, to turn the Labour Party into another US Democratic party.

The new politics ‘involves a diversity of candidates, from all backgrounds, selected in a fair way’ he says. This way turns out to be the introduction of US-type primaries to choose candidates in elections.
He added: ‘We live in a totally different era than when the Labour Party was founded. That is why Labour is increasingly becoming a community organisation.’  He continued: ‘Since I became Labour leader, we have opened up our policy making process and opened up the Party to registered supporters. People who do not want to join Labour but share our aims.

‘But I want to go further’. So I propose for the next London Mayoral election Labour will have a primary for our candidate selection.  ‘Any Londoner should be eligible to vote and all they will need to do is to register as a supporter of the Labour Party at any time up to the ballot.  ‘And Ray Collins will examine how to pioneer this idea elsewhere too. Such as in future Parliamentary selections where a sitting MP is retiring and where the local party has dwindled, and a primary could make for a more properly representative selection process.’

The Labour Party is to be just another bourgeois party, organising local campaigns governed by the national interest, that is the interests of the bosses. Today we have a Labour Party leadership that supports the Tory cuts, is pledged not to end them, and is pledged to bring in even more horrendous measures if they become necessary to save capitalism.
 This is why he wants the organised trade unions out of the Labour Party. He is freeing the Labour Party from the trade unions all the better to form a national government with the Tories to do what Ramsay MacDonald did in 1931, as the capitalist crisis worsens. The trade unions must fight Miliband’s plan tooth and nail. They must end all financing of the party till Miliband quits and Labour decides to fight the Tories and their austerity programme instead of, as currently, supporting them.The VOAG

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The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts is calling for maximum turnout for the NUS week of action on March 12th to 16th – with a national walkout on March 14th. There is now less than a month to go until we’re on the picket lines!

This strike is an opportunity for students and staff everywhere to take the fight to the government over its programme of cuts and privatisation, and make a stand for publicly funded, accessible education. We need to make a nation-wide impact, and demonstrate to Vice Chancellors and university managements that they must back us in our fight, not collaborate with the government.

Because the walkout and week of action is being called by NUS, students’ unions should be taking a lead on organising it. But we have to be ready to take on the fight if our local unions don’t, and to make sure that the walkout actually happens.

On March 14th, shut down your university.

  • Don’t attend classes or lectures
  • Organise picket lines at entrances and ask fellow students not to cross them
  • Engage with students and staff: hand them leaflets and hold meetings to discuss the fight against fees and cuts
  • If you can, occupy!

In the lead-up to the 14th, especially during the week of action:

  • Hold meetings on your campus about fees, cuts, and the white paper
  • Do banner drops and short sit-ins
  • Organise city-wide or regional meetings to co-ordinate the strike
  • Link up with staff on your campus – especially UCU branches – and get their support
  • Help local school students to mobilise

SEVEN MORE REASONS WHY WE ALL SHOULD BE MARCHING FOR THE ALTERNATIVE ON MARCH 26TH

Disabled Housing Benefit Slashed
Government figures show about 450,000 disabled people will see their incomes cut under one of the changes planned to housing benefit. From April 2013, housing benefit for working age people in social rented homes will be linked to the size of property councils ‘believe they need’.

An assessment from the Department for Work and Pensions shows the change will leave 450,000 disabled people an average of £13 a week worse off. Many disabled people will have to leave their current home. The government will not even guarantee an alternative.

The government’s Communities Department has announced a review of councils’ statutory duties. Under the reviews proposals, councils would be allowed to decide not to provide any services to disabled people, including residential care and respite for families and carers. This is a very real threat to the lives, security and future of disabled people.

Disability Alliance policy director Neil Coyle said: “We’ve been contacted by people who’ve said that if they lose the kind of support that helps them get to work for example, if they’re no longer entitled to that support, they’ll lose the ability to be independent”.

The Great Pensions Robbery
The Hutton Report into pensions was published on 11th March. Hutton wants to raise the retirement age to 66 by 2020. Hutton claims that retiring early, say at 55, is no longer acceptable when people are living longer.

Hutton wants to do away with “generous final salary” pension schemes. Instead they will be set at the average salary across a person’s career. Thirdly, Hutton says workers should up their contribution to the pension scheme from 6.4% to 9.4%: i.e. a 3% pay cut or, with inflation running at over 5%, an 8% real pay cut. Scandalously, many unions have already agreed to this increase.

There isn’t anything generous about public sector pensions. The average pension is about £4,200 a year. The Coalition has already linked pension increases to the lower, CPI rate of inflation, so they will depreciate – by as much as £10,000 over the average retirement. http://www.workerspower.com/index.php?id=47,2797,0,0,1,0

As Unemployment Rises – Job Centre Cuts
Around 7, 000 staff in Jobcentre Plus (JCP) call centres have begun voting this week in a strike ballot over intolerable working conditions. The ballot widens a dispute which led to two days of strike action in January by more than 2, 000 workers in the seven newest contact centres, who have been forcibly moved from processing benefit claims to handling enquiries by phone.

The union says managers have “an obsession” with hitting call centre targets at the expense of providing a good quality public service. The oppressive conditions are resulting in high levels of stress and sickness, and staff are leaving at an alarming rate. Since April 2010, more than 2,700 staff have left – over 20% of the total call centre workforce of 12,800.

The ballot also follows an announcement by senior managers that they want to close more of the department’s benefit processing offices and call centres. JCP is planning to reduce staff from its current 73,000 to 65,600 by 31 March 2012. This is down from a peak of 84,000 at the end of 2009.

HSE Health And Safety Visits May Be Cut By A Third
A leaked letter from the Health and Safety Executive outlines plans to withdraw inspections from entire sectors of industry, including some where “significant risk” remains. Unannounced workplace safety inspector visits may be cut by up to a third. The possibility of an unexpected visit from either an HSE or a local authority safety inspector helps keep employers on their toes; even now, workplaces can go decades without ever seeing an inspector.

 NHS Job Cuts
50,000 NHS staff posts are set for the axe, destroying government claims that the NHS is in safe hands. The news was reported by the Anti-Cuts website False Economy, from information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

David Cameron famously claimed before the election that he would “cut the deficit, not the NHS”. However 10 months into the coalition government, the reality couldn’t be more different, with NHS cuts across the country as local health trusts struggle to save £20bn from their budgets.

The total confirmed NHS staff cuts across the country currently stands at just over 53,150 posts – and that’s before a host of trusts are expected to announce staff cuts over the next four months. The national total is already twice the previous estimate of 27,000 job cuts, published by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) last November.

Here in Guildford, the Royal Surrey has already seen four hundred job losses, together with a reduction of beds per ward. Many NHS trusts are seeing job losses of around 20% of the workforce. http://falseeconomy.org.uk/blog/more-than-50k-nhs-job-losses

Unemployment
It was reported in the guardian last week that the IMF held a conference about the financial crisis. The policy to emerge from the conference was “internal devaluation”

The idea is that countries with high labour costs relative to its trading partners will get its costs in line by lowering wages. The way they lower their wages is to force workers to take pay cuts under the pressure of high rates of unemployment.

An alternative, argued some would be to promote higher inflation in surplus countries. A higher rate of inflation would have the effect of eroding debt in real terms. A higher inflation rate will also increase the costs of the surplus countries relative to the costs of the deficit countries. It would allow the deficit countries to regain competitiveness.

The IMF and the central banks however have reaffirmed their programme of austerity and mass unemployment. Under our Capitalist system no government or bank is going to compromise its own competitiveness –however short term – for the common good.

Here in Britain, the unemployment rate is now 8%, with youth unemployment running at 20.6%. There are 2.54million presently unemployed according to the ONS, (Office of National Statistics) and another 1.19 million in part-time work because they can not find a full-time job. https://suacs.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/voice-of-anticapitalism-in-guildford-unemployment/  Unemployment is at a 17year high and is set to rise much further once the cuts proposed by the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review are implemented.

Apart from the threat of unemployment and the cuts to pensions and wages, a further attack on wages comes from the government’s plans referred to as the big society. Legions of volunteers, the government hopes will take over the running of public services where skilled workers were previously employed. The unemployed are also to be dragooned into working for their unemployment benefits, to take over the jobs once performed by fellow workers.

Families Could Lose Over £2,700 A Year Despite The ‘No Losers’ Welfare Pledge
Low and middle income families will suffer annual benefit cuts of over £2,700 a year by 2013, despite the government’s pledge that there are to be ‘no losers’ in the setting up of the new universal credit system, the TUC warned last week.

The government has said that no worker will be financially worse off when universal credits replace the current system of tax credits and benefits in April 2013. But in order to fulfil the ‘no losers’ pledge the government will have to reduce benefits before the changes take place in 2013, and so is making swingeing cuts to tax credits and benefits that will leave families thousands of pounds worse off in the run up to the April 2013 changeover.

Between April 2011 and April 2013, the government is introducing a series of welfare cuts which include reducing the amount of childcare costs that can be met by tax credits, freezing elements of working tax credit and child benefit, ending government payments to the child trust fund, and ending child benefit for higher rate taxpayers.

In addition, switching the measure for rating benefits from RPI (Retail Price Index) to CPI (Consumer Price Index) will reduce the value of key benefits over time, saving the Treasury £5.8 billion by April 2015, says the TUC. Housing benefit cuts will also lead to significant reductions in family incomes, including those of many working households. A TUC analysis shows that changes to the tax credit and benefits system alone could leave working families £2,700 a year worse off by April 2013.

Join the TUC demonstration against cuts in London, March 26th. There are coaches leaving from Guildford, subsidised by Unison. Only £2.00RTN. Click on the link at the top of the page for details.

Notes from Save Our Services in Surrey (SOSiS) meeting in Staines on 3rd March 2011. Recorded and typed by Paul Couchman.

We had expected a smaller turnout than usual due to the long distance from other parts of Surrey but there were about a dozen activists present – almost all from the Staines and surrounding area. A number of people from the newly formed West Surrey branch of the Revolutionary Socialist Youth group also came along and were fully involved in the meeting. A key decision to advertise anti-cuts council candidates was taken, see below.

AROUND THE TABLE
There were reports around the table about cuts taking place (or planned):
*Staines Fire Station (and other Surrey stations) threatened. Night fire cover being axed.
*Cuts in colleges and universities – the University College Union (UCU) balloting for strike action.
*Threatened closure of 11 libraries
*Axing of the entire Mobile Library service
*Commissioning of Youth Services
*Closures of Childrens Centres and Surestart Centres
*Childrens Homes
*Adult Social Services – major job cuts and changes threatened in terms and conditions – UNISON balloting members around industrial action.

OFFICERS REPORTS:
CHAIR
Chris apologised for tinkering with the SOSiS website and bringing it crashing down. A replacement website has been set up and Chris is working on saving all the original information. Coach tickets for 26 March can still be bought online and the mailing list is unaffected.

 ORGANISER
Paul outlined some of the people and organisations he has been making contact with on behalf of SOSiS:
*Staines Labour Party (LP) – Paul spoke for SOSiS at the demonstration organised by the local LP to save night time fire cover at Staines Fire Station. One of the organisers was at the meeting.
*Close contact has been made with the ‘Friends’ groups at New Haw and Godalming libraries.
*A letter appeared in the local paper from the Surrey NetMums group saying they were fighting cuts to childrens centres and Surestart. Paul has made contact with them.
*MenCap (learning disability charity) have organised a series of anti-cuts roadshows and Paul is attending the Surrey event this Tuesday.
*Paul and Chris met with the leaders of Save Our Surrey Community Hospitals, which has organised big demonstrations in defence of local health services. They are open to joint activity around the NHS.

Surrey County Council Trade Union group (SCCTU) have always bee fully supportive of SOSiS and again pledged support at their last meeting – with a specific motion passed to support the Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance in their difficulties with the university management. The UCU reps said they wanted to work more closely with SOSiS around their current dispute.

Lastly, Paul was hoping to get a local NW Surrey anti-cuts group off the ground and the support and turnout at the meeting made that look very likely.

 TREASURER
Thelma was unable to make this meeting. It was reported that we have around £1,000 and that local groups and campaigns should make use of this by requesting funding for specific leaflets etc.

YOUTH AND STUDENT ORGANISER
Craig gave a full and detailed report of the amazing work and activities going on in Royal Holloway (RHUL) and in other universities and colleges in Surrey and in London.
* Lots of students turned out from RHUL and Strodes to an anti-EMA demo in January in London.
* Dan Cooper, leading anti-cuts campaigner, was elected President of NUS at RHUL.
* RHUL organised a debate on the ‘Big Society’ with a range of speakers, including from SOSiS, from the RMT and ‘False Economy’.
* RHACA (Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance) organised an occupation of a university building in London (with other * London students), setting up an anti-cuts space which was ended by bailiffs coming through skylights and dragging people out.
* It was also reported that leading anti-cuts campaigners and the RHACA have come under attack from RHUL management. SCCTU sent a message of support to the students.

REGIONAL ANTI-CUTS ASSEMBLY
It was reported that plans were under way to try to organise a regional assembly at RHUL but due to the management position this was now very unlikely. An offer has come from the UCU at University of Surrey (Guildford) to try to secure space there for an assembly after March 26th. Craig suggested that close links with the UCU at RHUL may mean pressure could still be brought to bear on the management there to allow the meeting to take place. Negotiations continue but it is our firm intention to hold a regional assembly in the near future.

 MARCH 26TH TUC DEMONSTRATION
A discussion took place and it was generally agreed that we believe this will be the biggest demonstration in the UK for decades. Coaches and trains have been booked from cities, towns and villages across the country. Every trade union is mobilising their members. UNISON in Surrey have booked four coaches from Staines, Woking, Guildford and Redhill – tickets are £2 each and selling fast. Craig informed the meeting that a student feeder march was planned on the day.

 MAY COUNCIL ELECTIONS
A discussion was started by Paul and Chris and a motion moved by Paul regarding how SOSiS can intervene in the May borough council elections without supporting any one political party. It was agreed by everyone that SOSiS needed to have a position and be able to inform the public and trade unionists regarding the anti-cuts position of candidates.

Paul moved the following motion, which was agreed unanimously after discussion:
That SOSiS puts aside a space on our website to list any and all candidates for council office who agree to sign up to the following pledge:
“If elected, I pledge to vote against ALL cuts in jobs, services, pay, terms and conditions. I will work with the trade unions and anti-cuts campaigners to defend all public services”.
That SOSiS circulates this message widely and invites candidates of all political parties and affiliations [except far right, racist and fascist parties] to contact us and sign our pledge.
This motion is completely in line with our founding principles and does not infer SOSiS support of any individual candidate or party.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Paul announced that there will be a lobby of the Labour Party Local Government Conference in London this Saturday 5th March, organised by the NSSN, the RMT and other trade unions – calling on Labour Councils not to impose cuts.

NEXT MEETING
It was agreed that we should aim to hold the next meeting on 24th March in Redhill and invite a speaker and use the meeting as a rally prior to the big TUC demo. We will also firm up and communicate any important information at that meeting regarding coaches, stewarding etc. Chris will make contact with the Redhill group to organise a venue and consider speaker/s. To make it more possible for people from this end of Surrey to attend, lifts can be arranged and/or a minibus booked. Activists who wish to go but need support to get there should contact us.

STAINES AND NORTH WEST SURREY ANTI-CUTS ALLIANCE
The majority of those attending were from the local area and, after the main meeting, all agreed to be part of a local group affiliated to SOSiS. We now have a solid group in Redhill and fledgling groups in Woking, Guildford and Staines.

There will be a SOSiS street stall on Saturday 19th March from 11am till 2pm in Staines to advertise the TUC demonstration and recruit new local activists. More details will be sent out nearer the day.

For Updates, news and events visit www.saveourservic.es or join Guildford Against Fees And Cuts Facebook page.  Email: guildfordagainstfeesandcuts@yahoo.co.uk

REMEMBER: There are Subsidised coaches to the TUC National Demonstration in London, March 26th. All are welcome. Only £2.00 RTN. Coaches are leaving from Staines, Guildford, Redhill and Woking. Buy a ticket online using a secure paypal at www.saveourservic.es or email www.guildfordagainstfeesandcuts@yahoo.co.uk

 

The latest in a series of Save Our Services in Surrey meetings was held at Staines Community Centre on 3rd March.

The meeting was considerably smaller than previous meetings, but a very positive one. Although it was called at short notice, people still braved the mid-week freezing conditions. Most people were new faces, which was especially welcome.

Five of those attending the meeting, came from the newly constituted West Surrey branch of the Revolution Socialist Youth group. Revolution has been growing throughout the country with several new groups springing up. ‘Revo’s increasing popularity stems from its principled response to the cuts in education and rises to tuition fees. Revo were the main organisers of the Days Of Action against fees and cuts last year. It was Revo members in the Campaign Against Fees And Cuts that initially called for them.http://www.socialistrevolution.org/

Protest with REVO on the March 26th TUC march against cuts. Join the student feeder march outside the University of London Union, Mallet Street. (Nearest tube Goodge Street)

Unfortunately The VOAG was late for the meeting, but arrived in time to catch Craig from the Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance in Egham, give a report on their latest developments.  The Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance is one of several anti-cuts groups affiliated to Save Our Services in Surrey. Craig, who is the SOSiS Youth Officer, spoke about the violent eviction of an occupation staged in the Central London campus of the Royal Holloway University.

Craig went on to speak about the University’s clamp down on the anti-cuts movement on his own campus in Egham. The Anti-Cuts group is being intimidated and slurred by the University authorities. Police and security have entered their meetings; and the university has even tried to label them as racists. The University recently banned a meeting of theirs about the conflicts in Palestine. It featured eye witnesses who had recently been volunteering on social and economic projects in the West Bank.

Craig announced his candidature for the NUS Executive Officer for Campaigns; and went on to tell the meeting that Daniel, another member of Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance, had been elected to be their next Union President. The VOAG wishes both of them every success!

Paul, a SOSiS and Surrey Unison officer, spoke to the meeting about the coaches he had booked for the 26th March TUC demonstration against the cuts in London.

Coaches have been booked and subsidised by Surrey Unison. They will leave from Guildford, Woking, Redhill, and Staines. Tickets are only £2.00 Rtn. Buy a ticket on-line at www.saveourservic.es through the secure paypal, or email:guildfordagainstfeesandcuts@yahoo.co.uk

The VOAG doesn’t need to emphasise how important this demonstration is. It will be truly historic. There are more than two hundred Unison coaches coming from the South East region alone. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000336574245#!/event.php?eid=165255660190758

Chris from Save Our Services introduced the idea of distributing a pledge to all Labour Council candidates in the forthcoming election. The VOAG thinks this is an excellent idea. The candidates will be invited to sign the pledge, and join an on-line list of candidates who have signed.

A member of the PCS announced her members at the DWP were balloting in Surrey for strike action.

A Save Our Services street stall was arranged for 19th March at Staines High Street. And the meeting was told about a rally due to take place in Redhill, March 24th. This is being organised by Redhill Against Cuts, another group affiliated to Save Our Services in Surrey.

For a list of Save Our Services in Surrey events go to the events tab on the Guildford Against Fees and Cuts Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000336574245#!/pages/Guildford-Against-Fees-Cuts/167151436659040 
Or for a diary of activists’ events in Surrey and the surrounding counties, click the Events Calendar on the right hand column on this page.

Now that’s entertainment!

The Voice of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford is always going to stand up against cuts. But disturbing news has reached us from the University of Surrey.

Could it really have been necessary for the University to have spent over £90,000 in one hotel alone, on entertaining over the last year? I realise that visiting professors often need to be accommodated, but crikey £90,000 is a lot of accommodation.

This staggering figure has been spent on events like entertaining around forty people at the “Royal Economica Annual Social”, at a cost of nearly £5,000. A similar amount was spent on a jolly for the Post Graduate Medical School. Even “9-5” meetings are costing the University over £2,500 a time – just for the privilege of chatting in posh surroundings with a few sandwiches at lunch time.

The most disturbing news was that Student Union officers have also been beneficiaries of the University’s generosity. Over £2,500 has been spent on entertaining NUS officers at just one hotel alone, over the last few months. Several officers have even stayed overnight at the University’s expense.

The VOAG is beginning to wonder whether these little treats, which are thrown to the union sabbatical, are connected in any way to their unwillingness to campaign on behalf of students. Is their deep conservatism in any way influenced by a three-course meal and an occasional night out at the University’s expense?

Perhaps it’s time for student officers to be ‘scrutinised’. Perhaps they should be forced to declare any benefits they receive over and above their salaries.

In the midst of so many occupations, demonstrations and protests, The Voice Of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford finds it hard to believe Surrey University could remain so quiet.

Just up the road in Egham, the Royal Holloway University has seen an unprecedented campaign against fees and cuts. They regularly hold vibrant meetings and workshops, and have organised several occupations and protests. They also discuss wider issues, host debates, and join with other groups in the community to organise against the cuts. The Royal Holloway has just elected a socialist to be the next president of their union.

If Royal Holloway University is the norm, Surrey University must be the exception. The Student Union reluctantly booked coaches to take students to the NUS Demonstration in London on 10th November. The demonstration was officially supported by the NUS, so they felt obliged to book coaches, but they did nothing to publicise their free transport.

In similar fashion, the University’s Student Union reluctantly agreed to support a lunch-time demonstration on the 24th November, “National Day Of Action”. A small lunch-time meeting outside the student union was their answer to the wave of protests elsewhere across the country that day. The union did nothing to inform students of what was being planned and even kept it out of the student newspaper.

Students at Royal Holloway, Surrey University’s nearest neighbour occupied their university – while a thousand students demonstrated outside Kingston University, Surrey’s other close neighbour.

In a quiet meeting behind closed doors with two student activists, just prior to the November 24th protest, union officers made it clear they did not want to see a campaign against fees and cuts on the campus. They said they would not support a campaign or provide it any material assistance.

The student’s response to their union’s implacable refusal to campaign has been muted, those students that presented themselves as activists have shied away from a confrontation with the union clique.

However it has been shown up and down the country that where there has been a principled response to education cuts and rises in fees, campaigns have always gained popular support among students.

The VOAG is watching!   The VOAG is everywhere!

Aaron Porter – This Is Your Life!

What a month it was for Aaron Porter, NUS President. The Voice Of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford looks back at the lows and lows of a Tory low-life and bids farewell.

On the 29th January, Aaron Porter was invited to speak at the closing rally of the NUS/UCU “A Future that Works” demonstration in Manchester. As protesters gathered at the starting point on Oxford Road, about thirty activists from Hull and Leeds Universities accosted Porter and demanded that he justify his record. Instead of engaging with the students, Porter turned and hurried off. In true Benny Hill style, he found himself being followed by a growing number of demonstrators. Within a couple of minutes he was literally being chased through the streets of Manchester by almost half of those who had gathered for the march – perhaps about five hundred people – with chants including “Students, workers, hear us shout, Aaron Porter sold us out” and “Porter – out”. Eventually he took refuge in Manchester Metropolitan Union, protected by a heavy cordon of riot police.

Aaron Porter is escorted in to the Manchester Met University, pursued by 500 protesters

Unsurprisingly, Porter did not turn up to speak at the closing rally. NUS Vice-President and Further Education officer, Shane Chowan spoke in Porter’s place. He was drowned out by hostile chanting and pelted with eggs and was unable to finish his speech. Most of the speakers were heckled repeatedly.

After the rally, about a thousand students marched back into the city center. They were met by a huge and violent police presence, and were kettled in central Manchester’s Deangate.

The following day, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail reported that during Porter’s pursuit through the streets of Manchester, he was subjected to racial taunts and chanting. The Mail’s article was titled: “Student leader faces barrage of anti-Jewish abuse at rally as protesters accuse him of being a Tory.”

When activists contacted the two newspapers, The Mail claimed a photographer was the sole source of their story but refused to name him. The Telegraph said there were only two sources for their story, a PA photographer, and the NUS itself. The NUS official who heard the chants, is “believed to be an aide to Porter”, an NUS Press Officer said: “We cannot allow you to speak to the person directly. There is an ongoing police investigation into the allegations, and we feel it is not appropriate to discuss the matter.”

In an email to NUS members printed in the Financial Times, Porter said; “Just before the march started, I was surrounded by a particularly vicious minority of protesters more intent on shouting threatening and racist abuse at me rather than focusing on the issues.”  On January 30th, He sent a tweet that read: “I Will not back down to intimidation, and certainly not to racial abuse”, and in a Times article on January 31st he wrote of the protest: “However, before I was able to speak to the rally of thousands, a small group of people started to chant abuse to try to intimidate me, and there were audible anti-Semitic comments.”

Porter later admitted that he had not himself heard any racial abuse “The NUS had only confirmed the story when journalists contacted them for a comment”. In a statement through the NUS Press Office, Porter said: “I was not certain what was said by those shouting abuse at me, however I was informed by others present that amongst other things anti-Semitic comments were made. I have not made a specific complaint to the police as I did not clearly hear the contents of the chants myself.”

Allegations of racist chanting or abuse have been strongly denied and contemptuously shrugged off as a highly cynical attempt to salvage a sinking political career.

Two YouTube videos have emerged since the protest. One shows the moments before Porter was escorted into the Manchester Metropolitan Students’ Union. Another substantially longer one, which is largely uncut, shows most of the protest. At no point are there anti-Semitic chants, nor chants of “no to racism,” which was reported in the Telegraph article but not in the Mail.

There was a BBC reporter outside Manchester Metropolitan Students’ Union where Porter was taken. The BBC news reports made no mention of anti-Semitic chants.

Like the WMDs in Iraq, this looks like noxious New Labour spin. May be the weapons will turn up and video evidence of racial abuse will be made available, but I doubt it. Although no eyewitnesses have come forward to corroborate the Mail or Telegraph‘s claims, several have come forward to say that they heard no racist abuse.

A member of the Campaign Against Fees and Cuts said on their website: “We were at the front of the crowd which chased Porter, and thus would have heard any racist chants – let alone a “barrage”! We were also in possession of two of the four megaphones involved”.

Josie Hooker, a student at the University of Manchester was about 15 metres away from Porter for the majority of the march. She also claimed not to have heard anti-Semitic chants or the chants of “no to racism”. “At no point did I hear anti-Semitic abuse and at no point did I hear anyone shout ‘no to racism,’” she said. “Due to my position on the march, I believe that if a 20 strong group of people were shouting ‘no to racism’ in response to anti-Semitic or racist abuse, myself or one of the 15-20 odd friends and acquaintances present in various positions among the protesters would have heard it.”

She also suggested that the photographer who heard the chant “Tory Jew Scum” simply miss-heard “you’re a fucking Tory too,” which was chanted throughout the protest.

Peter Campbell, a medical student from Newcastle, also claimed to have heard no racial abuse. Referring to the “Aaron Porter we know you, you’re a fucking Tory too” chant, he said: “It is a chant of disgust at a man who has repeatedly set back the student movement. It is certainly not pleasant, it’s not meant to be. However, it is not anti-Semitic.”

Chris Marks, from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, when asked if there were any anti-Semitic chants said: “Absolutely and categorically not. I was at the front of the group which instigated the protest. If there had been anti-Semitic chants we would have heard and challenged it. Anything shouted was jovial.”

Porter, kettled in Glasgow cries for the police

On the 12th February, Porter was in need of police protection again, when he was chased through the streets of Glasgow. As he left the Labour Students Conference at Glasgow University, where he had been speaking, he encountered a group of student activists. Occupiers from Glasgow University, who are battling against cuts on their campus.

The protesters crowded around the entrance as he left. In the words of one protester: “Having been sacrificed to us by his Labour bosses, so they could clear the door of the clearly terrifying mob, Aaron was kettled by us. Much screaming of “I don’t expect to be filmed!” and “I don’t want to be hit!” followed – nobody was hitting him, in fact he broke someone’s camera.- until he did a total comedy run away”. Showing uncharacteristic swift and decisive action, Porter immediately dived between one of the protesters’ legs and fled. Porter was forced into hiding somewhere on the Glasgow University campus. Even the Labour Club didn’t know where he was hiding. It’s an indictment of the disgraceful policies of the NUS leadership when even the Labour Students and Young Labour delegates appeared, to say the least, unconcerned about Porter’s wereabouts.

Porter’s recent betrayals began when he condemned the occupation of Millbank, whilst keeping silent about the much more extreme police violence. Secondly he flip-flopped, saying he had been “spineless”. He announced support for student occupations and promised he would obtain legal aid for occupiers which he didn’t do. Then he voted against NUS support for an anti-fees demo, instead choosing to back a useless “candelit vigil”.

The Daily Telegraph reported on 8th December that they have seen emails from Porter to the Government, leaked by his close associates. Trying to persuade ministers at the Department for Business to enact their planned 15 per cent cut in higher education funding without lifting the cap on fees. The NUS leadership urged ministers to cut grants and loans as an alternative to raising tuition fees. Aaron was ready to call for cuts of up to £800 million in grants behind the back of students.

In one email to the Department for Business, dated Oct 1, Porter suggested that £800 million should be “deducted from the grants pot” over four years. That would cut total spending on grants by 61 per cent. Porter also proposed the “introduction of a real rate of interest” for student loans.

In an email the following day, Graeme Wise, an NUS political officer, urged ministers seeking cuts to start with the “student support” package of grants and loans. Graeme Wise also suggested that the cuts in support could be imposed on students currently at university.The NUS’ plans also called for 2.4 billion to be cut from the universities’ teaching budget over four years, a reduction of 48 per cent.

The NUS have also been calling on NUS officers at different universities not to oppose hikes in fees, describing them as “relatively progressive” – completely at odds with what they said publicly. Another leaked memo told NUS officers to “engage” with university leaders rather than campaign for lower fees.

In response, the President of Cambridge University Students’ Union, Rahul Mansigani, said: “It is disappointing that anyone views as progressive a scheme that students up and down the country have campaigned against”.

Porter has been universally condemned by both students and NUS officers as a “sell-out”, a Tory and a careerist. He has been accused of giving into the government without a fight; spending more time condemning student protesters than arguing against the tuition fee rise; and more concerned with ingratiating himself with politicians than standing up for students

When newly elected, last summer he said in a Guardian interview, he would “define success as ensuring that a market in fees does not emerge”. Failure, he said, “would be a real market in fees coupled with cuts from the government”.

The Guardian interviewed him again on the 28th February and asked him, How then can you possibly claim to have been a success? His responses were almost delusional: “I still believe we’ve run a successful high-profile campaign. A disastrous campaign would be one that made no impact whatsoever. This made an indelible imprint in the public’s consciousness and in the political landscape. Did we get what we wanted? No, we didn’t. Would I have signed up to the proposals for trebled tuition fees? Not in a million years. But I think it would be wrong of me to say that this was not a successful campaign. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say the coalition was under real pressure.”

The VOAG would argue that the campaign’s impact was achieved not by the NUS, but by the occupations and by the protesters, condemned by Porter, who invaded Millbank Tower back in November. Had students not organised outside the NUS structures, and had they not stormed Millbank; had 50,000 students simply marched peacefully through London, tuition fees would not have developed into the high-profile issue it has become.

Many Liberal Democrat candidates signed an NUS pledge before the election that they would vote against any fee increase. The breaking of this pledge by the Lib Dem leadership became a focus for Porter. Porter declared to the guardian  “Committing them to oppose any rise in tuition fees was a master-stroke”. The journalist replied: “Well it would have been a master stroke, I agree, if the Lib Dems had felt bound by it – but in the event they just tore it up”.

“I still think that it was a remarkable campaign tactic”, said Porter. “Because the pledge meant that one of the parties could not run away from it”. “It was the most effective campaign of 2010”.

“But they did run away from it”, replied the journalist, “didn’t they”? “They did,” he conceded, without missing a beat. “The preferred outcome from the pledge would’ve been that the Liberal Democrats stuck to it – but they didn’t.”

On the 21st February, Porter announced he would not be standing for re-election in the Student Union elections in April. Porter said that the campaign over fees is “moving into a different landscape” and the union needs a new president.

In an email to members, Porter wrote: “So this new regime brings with it a new landscape, and I believe the NUS needs reinvigorating to enter into the next phase of this campaign. After considerable soul-searching, I believe there needs to be a new President to lead the student movement into that next phase. As a result, I’ve resolved not to seek re-election at the National Conference this year”.

This is only the second time in over 40 years that an NUS President has not run for a second year in office. In a guardian interview following his announcement, Porter maintained he would be certain to win the presidency if he chose to stand. “Oh, without a doubt”. He predicted the NUS will elect a successor very much in his “image” – and said his tenure “had been a terrific success”.

Regarding the student protests, he told the Guardian, “I cannot see, on the issue of tuition fees, how illegal protest is helpful.” “Well tuition fees, whilst I disagree with them, are not the biggest evil in society. It is not the worst decision that the Labour government made to introduce them, and it is not the worst decision this coalition has made to increase them.”

He concluded his Guardian interview with: “For me the question is about what next year would’ve been like. And I think that the NUS, and also me personally, need to be able to draw a line under the tuition fee debate, and I suspected that my continuation as NUS president would’ve inhibited us to move on from the tuition fee issue”.

Aaron Porter then, leaves us with a sigh of resignation for the inevitable. ‘We lost, now lets move on’.  The Voice Of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford also gives a sigh, a sigh of utter contempt. What a waste of space.

There’s nothing inevitable about the education cuts, fee rises, or the implementation of the Bologna process and the marketisation of education. There is everything to play for. Education is only one area of the public sector that is under attach from the ConDem government. Workers And Students Unite is not an empty slogan,  together we can stop all cuts. There is an alternative, but we must first see the end of this government.The TUC National demonstration on the 26th March is the first step and a spring-board to develop anti-cuts groups in every town, college and university in Britain.There are coaches subsidised by Surrey Unison leaving from Staines, Woking, Guildford and Redhill. Everybody is welcome. Tickets are only £2.00 Rtn. You can buy a ticket on-line at http://www.saveourservic.es or email:guildfordagainstfeesandcuts@yahoo.co.uk

I can’t quite believe what I’ve just read. Robin Hood just got shot with his own arrow and no-one even noticed. He’s laying there now, bleeding on the floor, but we’re all going to step over him on the way to work. The Sheriff of Osborne-ham finally cooked up a plan so cunning there’ll be no more robbing from the rich to give to the poor Ever.

You’ll probably hear a lot today about the banker’s levy being made permanent. Osborne has announced (ahead of the budget) that an extra 800 million will be taken from the banks, making a total of £2.5 billion over the year. The bank levy will stay in place, making it a permanent feature.

Not a Robin Hood tax, not nearly enough, but a step in the right direction eh? Well, erm…no.  George Monbiot in the Guardian outlines a change to corporation tax that he calls the “heist of the century” a “kind of corporate coup d’etat” and “the biggest and crudest corporate tax cut in living memory”. What’s more, he points out that yet again, no-one knew about it, it wasn’t in any manifesto and it’s so complicated, that most people would never understand it anyway without expert guidance.

Effectively, £6 billion from Vodafone or a few quid from Wayne Rooney has just turned into small-fry. In fact fry so tiddly, it’s barely visible to the naked eye. This move will save big business endless, eye-watering, startling billions.

“At the moment tax law ensures that companies based here, with branches in other countries, don’t get taxed twice on the same money. They have to pay only the difference between our rate and that of the other country. If, for example, Dirty Oil plc pays 10% corporation tax on its profits in Oblivia, then shifts the money over here, it should pay a further 18% in the UK, to match our rate of 28%. But under the new proposals, companies will pay nothing at all in this country on money made by their foreign branches.”

“Foreign means anywhere. If these proposals go ahead, the UK will be only the second country in the world to allow money that has passed through tax havens to remain untaxed when it gets here. The other is Switzerland. The exemption applies solely to “large and medium companies”: it is not available for smaller firms. The government says it expects “large financial services companies to make the greatest use of the exemption regime”. The main beneficiaries, in other words, will be the banks.”

Monbiot goes on to ask: “So how did this happen? You don’t have to look far to find out. Almost all the members of the seven committees the government set up “to provide strategic oversight of the development of corporate tax policy” are corporate executives. Among them are representatives of Vodafone, Tesco, BP, British American Tobacco and several of the major banks: HSBC, Santander, Standard Chartered, Citigroup, Schroders, RBS and Barclays.”  Well, surprise surprise.

It’s not good enough to say “Oh well, it’s the Tories, you expect this kind of thing from them”. On the same day that even Warren Buffet is saying that we need to raise inheritance tax to tackle a growing “entrenched” plutocracy, Little-Lord-Osborne has decided that we need to do quite the opposite.

In case you’d forgotten, David Cameron told the Sunday Telegraph at the weekend that he: “would love to see tax reductions, but when you’re borrowing 11% of your GDP, it’s not possible to make significant net tax cuts. It just isn’t.”

He really is breathtakingly dishonest isn’t he? As Monbiot concludes, this government has decided on a course of PR that, as with so many of their other policies, treats us like complete and utter fools.

STOP THEM before they make the rich staggeringly richer on the quiet, dismantle and privatise the NHS, bring back a two tier education system under the guise of “free schools” and cut budgets faster and deeper than has ever been attempted before.
Demonstrate, Protest, Occupy – March 26th.

The Fire Brigades Union is warning that cuts to the fire and rescue service will put lives at risk, after a spate of high-profile house fires. The union advises the public to “get out and stay out” in the event of a fire and to call professional fire-fighters to tackle any blaze.

However the union is warning that cuts will worsen the service. Government figures show that average response times to house fires have slowed over the last decade from 5.5 minutes to 7.3 minutes.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary said: “Every second counts when there’s a fire. Our job as fire-fighters is to rescue people and we aim to get to every incident as quickly as we can.

“But the public should know that cutting fire-fighter jobs, fewer fire engines and other cuts will delay our intervention. The planned cuts to the service will cost lives if they go ahead. They must be stopped. The FBU wants fire services and councils across the UK to follow the example of the Scottish government and investigate how to improve response times to house fires”.

Here in Surrey, the council is preparing to cut the fire service by 25%. Many stations will loose their night time cover. Others will see a reduction in fire engines and redundancies are planned across the board.

For example Conservative Council is shutting Staines fire station from 7pm to 7am every night, leaving Staines without night fire cover.

Residents and anti-cuts activists will be converging on Staines fire station at Falcon Drive, Stanwell, to protest against the cuts.

The protest is supported by Save Our Services in Surrey, Guildford Against Fees And Cuts, Staines Labour Party, local unions and of course The Voice of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford- as well as many others.

Your support will be very much appreciated. Yet again, Tory cuts are taking priority over people and in this case human rights. But together we can reverse the cuts.

So please try and make it to Staines if you can.  Saturday, February 26 · 11:00am – 2:00pm

DETAILS:
Assemble on the green in Falcon Drive for 11:00am
Protest down Flacon drive and turn right into Claire Road.
Protest down to Town Lane and take a left towards Staines fire station to hear talks from the unions and the labour party.

Speakers from:
-FBU
-GMB
-UNISON
-Save Our Services In Surrey
-The Labour Party

Please join the Facebook events page for more details and to show your support. http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=103785973033803

Please don’t forget about the TUC National demonstration against the cuts in London, March 26th. There is subsidised coach travel leaving Staines, Guildford, Woking and Redhill. Just £2.00 Rtn. All are welcome. See Facebook event for details:  http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=103785973033803#!/event.php?eid=178381258861986

To buy a coach ticket on line visit www.saveourservic.es
Or email: guildfordagainstfeesandcuts@yahoo.co.uk