Tag Archive: surrey university

“Councillors say they are ‘trimming the fat’. However, the fat went years ago and they have been gnawing on the bones ever since”.

 Cuts and closures are already being felt in Surrey, which people usually see as a place of leafy suburbs and stockbrokers. However the county’s less well-known trade union struggles and local, grassroots campaigns are beginning to fight back.

Across Surrey, people are mobilising against the cuts. Brooklands College was saved after a huge local campaign by staff, students, parents and local people. Parents, governors and staff at Shortwood School turned out in their hundreds at public meetings. They organised street stalls and collected a petition of over 1,000 signatures in a campaign to save their school. Working peoples’ creativity and organising ability has shocked the local council.

March 15th saw the launch of  the Save Our Services in Surrey (SOSiS) campaign, sponsored by Surrey Unison. The campaign will coordinate anti-cuts activity, support local campaigns, and bring local trade unionists together to defend jobs and services.

Paul Couchman, Tusc Parliamentary Candidate for Spelthorne, West Surrey and founder of Save Our Services in Surrey said at the launch rally: ”We face threats to close Shortwood infant school in Staines, threats to hundreds of essential bus services, a ‘review’ of fire services with a clear intent to reduce the number of fire stations -and swingeing cuts to community hospital services. -And this is before the county council’s £180 million cuts package over the next few years.”

Paul Couchman is also the secretary of the Surrey County Council Trade Unions (SCCTU), representing all trade unions within the council. They have formally affiliated to the campaign. Speaking at a joint SOSiS and SCCTU lobby of Surrey Council, at Kingston Town Hall on 23rd March, Paul said: “Public sector workers and local communities who need public services, will be asking who to vote for in this year’s general election. Most trades unionists already see that New Labour no longer represents working class people and that whoever wins, the next government will take the axe to public services.”

Richard Jones, Surrey FBU branch secretary spoke at the lobby. He said: “We’ve reached a point where fire crews are turning up at emergencies and having to tell the public that they cannot make a rescue because they have to wait for more staff to turn up. These cuts put lives at risk. We turn up to incidents without enough crew and have to wait for back-up before we can safely enter the building. Fire-fighters are going in understaffed and risking their lives. The public is in danger, fire-fighters are in danger, enough is enough!”

Richard Jones continued: “If these cuts go through, Surrey will be spending less per head of the population on fire services than any county in Britain. It will mean the loss of fire engines and station closures. It’s life or death in the fire services and if these cuts continue the Grim Reaper will be taking up residence in Surrey.”

After the lobby, Paul Couchman told the rally: “We’ve sent a message to the councillors that our public services are vital and we won’t tolerate cuts to them. The politicians spent billions bailing out the bankers, and they want us to pay the price. The local hospital has lost most of its wards including the A&E Dpt, local fire stations face the axe and bus routes are being slashed.”

Paul is Chairman of the Elmbridge Care Homes Campaign. Reffering to the Campaign he said: “We have decided to draw a ‘line in the sand’ and say no more sell-offs. We are fighting to preserve the excellent services provided by the care homes”.
Paul explained the importance of working class people having a political voice, now that New Labour has joined the Tories in cutting and privatising public services. “Its necessary to fight together, trade unions and the community, to maximise the pressure on politicians and councils to fully fund public services.”

Alan Greenspan, head of the US federal reserve during the boom years – once treated as a god by capitalists and now reviled as being responsible for the crisis – recently excused his role by saying: “Unless there is a societal choice to abandon dynamic markets and leverage for some sort of central planning, I fear that preventing bubbles will in the end turn out to be unfeasible. Assuaging their aftermath seems to be the best we can hope for.”

Greenspan is right, capitalism, an unplanned blind system driven by profit and not by social need, will always have periods of crisis like at present. Anxious to restore their profits, the capitalists’ way out of the crisis will always be to try to trample working class people a bit further into the dirt.  All of the things won through struggle – are under attack. The NHS, education – the list is considerable,  The crisis is being used to unravel and dismantle all of those social gains. We’re told that poverty must now increase and that we should meekly accept the growing gap between the richest and the poorest in society. However the public are not fooled.

A Mori survey in the FT showed the public was utterly unconvinced of the need for cuts. Only a quarter believed there’s a need to cut services to reduce the national debt. 50% don’t think cuts are necessary at all -and 48% think more, rather than less, should be spent on public expenditure. The recession is the result of massive market failure. It’s entirely technically and financially feasible to create at least a million new jobs, by investing in insulating homes and public buildings, investing in renewables, through a sustainable publicly run transport system, and utilising the skills and know-how in society for socially useful production. None of this will happen if we leave it to the market.


Join Save Our Services in Surrey F/b Group:
Join Guildford Against Fees And Cuts F/b Page:

Model Motion Of Support & Invitation to Affiliate

1)      We note with concern the pre-election commitment of the leaders of all three major parties that public services will be cut in order to fund the public budget deficit.

2)      We deplore the attacks made by David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Lord Adonis together with the right wing media on those workers trying to defend their rights, conditions and pay such as the     BA cabin crew.

3)      We believe that working people should not have to pay for a deficit caused by this government nationalising the gambling debts run up by the bankers.

4)      We also note that cuts are already being implemented in higher education, council services, schools and the NHS even before the introduction of any overall austerity package.

5)      We deplore the attempts by unelected European Union and International Monetary Fund officials to foist a full blooded austerity package on the people of Greece where pensions and wages are being cut and services slashed, but welcome the resistance being shown by Greek trade unionists, pensioners and students.

6)      We welcome the decision of the Right to Work campaign to hold an emergency post-election conference on Saturday 22 May aimed at uniting workers, students, pensioners and all those rely on   public services in building and developing attacks on our services, jobs and living standards.

7)      This body agrees to support the conference and to send …. delegate/s.

8)      Further we agree to affiliate to the Right to Work campaign.

 To affiliate to the national Right to Work campaign (cost £30 – send cheques payable to Manchester TUC and marked “RtW Affiliation” to the above address.)
Delegate costs for 22 May, £8 per delegate, cheque payable to Manchester TUC to the above address, enclose name/s of delegates, body they represent and contact details.

 Trade Union and Socialist Coalition

“The £11 million spent on Labour by the Unite union does nothing else than allow them to kick us in the teeth” said Hannah Sell, deputy leader of the Socialist Party as she opened last night’s launch rally for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition.

The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, ‘TUSC’ is standing in many constituencies across the country to give voters an alternative to Labour in the general election. Chris Baugh, assistant general secretary of the PCS union said “we are all being told to pay the cost of the bosses’ crisis.” This coalition can “restate the idea that another world is possible.”

Last month’s launch rally was attended by more than 300 delegates and a large media presence. Speakers included Karen Reissman, a mental health nurse who was sacked from her job for ‘whistle blowing’ over patient care. She is standing for the Manchester Gorton constituency.

Brian Caton, leader of the Prison Officers Association spoke from the platform as did Dave Nellist, a Socialist Party Councilor standing in Coventry North East. Some of TUSC’s London candidates delivered strong speeches about their campaigns. Steve Hedley, of the RMT London region announced the breaking news of strike action on the railways.

 We won’t pay for their crisis
A key argument from speakers was that billions have been given to the rich bankers, whilst workers and public services are being made to pay the cost. Chris Bough spoke about the propaganda campaign by the media to enforce this injustice.

To laughter in the audience, and in a snub to the media he joked about the number of hedge-fund managers who have recently appeared on the BBC’s Newsnight programme. He said the media had launched a “torrent of abuse” against trade unions, with the British Airways strike being a good example. But he said, “The public are with the unions. They are way to the left of the politicians. 50 per cent of the public don’t think that cuts are necessary”.

Karen Reissman agreed and continued along this theme. “People say to me: we’re glad you’re standing, representing what we think.” She said, “There are millions of people who don’t think they should be made to pay.” Tottenham candidate Jenny Sutton, a college teacher, said that education was a good example of what is happening to public services everywhere. “We are being absolutely hammered.”

We need a new party
Brian Caton said that working class people need a new political party “by the people, for the people. It’s time for socialism to become real. I supported Labour all my life and got nothing in return.”

Dave Nellist also called for a new workers’ party. He said the difference between Labour and the other parties could be reduced to whether the full extent of public sector cuts are brought through in “six years or seven.” “Indeed, last night, Alasdair Darling told the BBC that Labour would cut deeper than Thatcher.”

Nellist went on to say that success for TUSC won’t just be measured by the number of votes, but will “plant it’s flag in the ground – saying that an alternative is possible.” He said that TUSC could be the start to building an “independent trade union and socialist voice.” Hannah Sell said, “This is the modest beginning of something historic. We hope this will start the development of a mass party.”

Some TUSC candidates should do quite well – at least save their deposit. Karen Reissmann and Jenny Sutton (London regional secretary of UCU), for example. Dave Hill of Socialist Resistance is expected to do well in Brighton– And of course Paul Couchman in the Spelthorne constituency in Surrey. If 5-6 candidates save their deposits or do even better, then the pressure for a new party would be very high.

Paul Couchman is a paragon of what a candidate for a new workers’, anti-capitalist party should be. A Socialist Party branch organiser, he is a Unison branch secretary. He has consistently been involved in the community over many years and takes an active part in many local groups. He is the founder of “Save Surrey Services”, and is the founder and organiser of the campaign to save Surrey’s care homes. Paul is well known and respected throughout West Surrey and is known for his campaigning to keep schools and hospitals from closure. 

For an anti-capitalist party!
When the capitalist parties like Labour, Tories and the Lib Dems are about to launch such a huge assault on working class people, it is important that many TUSC candidates and supporters recognise that we need a new party to defend ourselves.

But speakers also made clear that there are many obstacles we will have to overcome to form such a new party. Onay Kasab, a Unison branch organiser standing for Greenwich & Woolwich spoke about how he had been witch-hunted by the Unison leadership. The union is currently victimizing left-wing activists. He told us that a memo had gone round to branch secretaries telling them that to lobby for non-Labour candidates in the general election would result in expulsion from the union. He told a disgusted audience that the Unison orders were “gobs shut for Labour.”  This is a declaration of war by the Unison leadership – vote Labour or else!

Steve Hedley said that the RMT union would only be supporting left-wing Labour candidates, although he admitted that these candidates were standing for the wrong party. He said that we urge left MPs like Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell to break from Labour.

In doing this, RMT leaders are stepping back from the kind of fight that is necessary for a new party. Some candidates, including the Workers Power candidate in Vauxhall, Jeremy Drinkall, were barred from standing for TUSC because they were standing against ‘left’ Labour MPs (in Vaxhall this is Kate Hoey). PCS leaders have been similar in their procrastinating, whilst the Labour government have been laying the way for civil service job cuts by attacking redundancy pay.

Despite the potential of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, its weakness is that left-wing trade union leaders ultimately have a veto over all the decisions that are made. The launch meeting was very weak on the question of socialism with almost no mention of a goal for the coalition how to achieve it.

The PCS, RMT and other unions outside Labour – along with groups like the Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party should have organised a mass conference to decide on the politics and policies of this coalition. They could have used it to galvanise support from workers and youth all over the country who are in struggle against the economic crisis with the explicit aim of forming a new political party to destroy capitalism for good.

This new formation should be federated and it’s members free to belong to other political organisations which support the new party. The branches of such a formation should act as pluralistic campaigning groups, and encompass anarchists, radical environmentalists and syndicalists as well as trades unionists and socialists. In-fact, all those who appreciate that capitalism is not working and that we need to fight for a better future, free from the rule of profit, the threat of war, fascism and global warming.

This has not been done. TUSC drafted its manifesto in secret meetings behind closed doors, asking workers to ‘like it or lump it’. As a result there are major weaknesses with the TUSC programme reducing it to an ‘old Labour’ manifesto seeking to reform capitalism, rather than abolish the rotten system for good.

Such a conference should still be called, to start preparing the ground for a new party. The next few weeks are due to see a huge number of strikes – highly unusual in the run-up to the general election. Why not call for such a conference now and bring in the BA, RMT and British Gas workers, civil servants and teachers who are all taking industrial action to save their jobs? Then socialists could start having the arguments around the kind of action and international solidarity needed to protect the class as a whole. -And begin to build an alternative society with an alternative economy – where workers and communities are the ones who control it.

Almost a year ago, during the G20 demonstration in central London. The police indiscriminately assaulted hundreds of people in an attempt to spark a riot. Hundreds were clubbed and assaulted. One person was murdered. Many others were attacked on their way home, up to half a mile from the demonstration. One, relatively tame incident, was caught on camara. The policeman involved was charged with assault. Today he was acquitted. Below is a Youtube video of the incident. Make your own mind up.- And when you’re at the next demonstration remember: Self defence is no offence. Fight Back!!!! 

 A riot squad officer who allegedly twice hit a female protester with a metal baton has been cleared of assaulting the woman.


A riot squad officer who hit a G20 protester twice with a metal baton has been cleared of assault. Metropolitan Police Sergeant Delroy Smellie, 47, clashed with Nicola Fisher outside the Bank of England last April.

The officer, a member of the controversial territorial support group, went on trial accused of assault by beating last week. He was cleared at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court. But he could still face misconduct proceedings over the incident. Smellie, who was standing in the dock for the verdict, smiled widely and gave two thumbs up to his supporters as he was cleared.

District Judge Daphne Wickham said there was no evidence that his use of the baton was not approved, correct or measured. She said the officer had a “mere seven seconds” to act and other witness also feared for his safety. She said: “It was for the prosecution to prove this defendant was not acting in lawful self-defence. I have found the prosecution has failed in this respect and the defendant has raised the issue of lawful self-defence and as such is entitled to be acquitted.”

Ms Fisher, 36, ran in front of Smellie hurling abuse during a vigil to mark the death of Ian Tomlinson the previous evening. District Judge Wickham, who heard the case without a jury, watched video footage of the incident and looked at dozens of photographs. Nicholas Paul, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said Smellie lost his self-control because of Ms Fisher’s irritating, aggressive and confrontational actions. He said the officer was justified when he shouted at her, pushed her back and struck her with the back of his hand, knocking off her sunglasses.

But Mr Paul said the officer went too far when he struck Ms Fisher across the thigh with the extendable metal weapon, known as an asp. The clash attracted attention worldwide when amateur video footage of it was posted on the YouTube website. Ms Fisher, of Brighton, failed to attend the trial claiming she was suffering depression and did not want to be in the public spotlight again.

Last month we discussed the real, human cost of the war in Iraq. We discovered amazingly that 1.2 – 1.6 million people have died due to the Iraq conflict, approximately 1:18 of the population. This month we are told 15% of the population, 1:6 has been displaced by the war.  

Seven years after the March 2003 US-led invasion, Iraq remains deeply divided. There are few prospects of durable solutions for the approximately 15 per cent of the population who are displaced inside and outside Iraq. It is thought that there are almost 2.8 million internally displaced people (IDPs), close to half of whom were displaced prior to 2003. Daily life for all Iraqis is precarious. Public health, electricity, water and sanitation services remain inadequate.

Here we forward this newsletter and would encourage everyone to subscribe. It comes once a month in email form- And is packed with interesting items about the war.

Iraq Occupation Focus
Newsletter No. 142
March 25th, 2010

Sign up to receive this free newsletter automatically – go to: http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/i raqfocus. Please also ask all those who share our opposition to the increasingly brutal US-UK occupation to do likewise.

Police: US troops kill Iraqi reporter and husband
AP reports (March 12th): U.S. troops opened fire on a car in western Baghdad, killing an Iraqi journalist and her husband, a police official said. Morgue officials confirmed the deaths and said the bodies of Aseel al-Obeidi and her husband were riddled with bullets.

UK government violated human rights of two imprisoned Iraqis, court rules

The Guardian reports (March 2nd): The UK government was condemned for violating the human rights of two Iraqis accused of murdering two captive British soldiers in 2003. Faisal al-Saadoon and Khalef Hussain Mufdhi, Sunni Muslims and former officials of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party, have been detained for almost seven years. They are currently being held in the Rusafa prison near Baghdad. The European court of human rights in Strasbourg unanimously foundthe pair were “at real risk of being subjected to an unfair trial followed by execution by hanging” in Iraq.

Former murder squad chief to head inquiry into Iraqi killings allegation
The Guardian reports (March 9th): An investigation into claims that British troops killed and abused prisoners will be led by a former head of a Scotland Yard murder squad. The case will involve seeking evidence from witnesses to a fierce battle in southern Iraq six years ago. The huge task was announced at the launch of a public inquiry into allegations that British soldiers murdered 20 or more Iraqis after the “battle of Danny Boy”, named after a checkpoint in Maysan province, north of Basra, on 14 May 2004.

Interference Seen in Blackwater Inquiry
NY Times reports (March 2nd): An official at the United States Embassy in Iraq has told federal prosecutors that he believes that State Department officials sought to block any serious investigation of the 2007 shooting episode in which Blackwater Worldwide security guards were accused of murdering 17 Iraqi civilians, according to court testimony. David Farrington, a State Department security agent in the American Embassy at the time of the shooting in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, told prosecutors that some of his colleagues were handling evidence in a way they hoped would help the Blackwater guards avoid punishment for a crime that drew headlines and raised tensions between American and Iraqi officials.

Urgent Appeal for releasing the prisoners detained in Iraq prisons
Brussells Tribunal reports: (March 11th): World Association of Arab Translators and Linguists are appealing to the Secretary General of the United Nations for the release of Iraqi prisoners: “The USA occupying forces in Iraq have locked up more than 162,000 Iraqi citizens in more than 50 prisons and detention camps including 28 camps run by US occupying forces, in addition to many undisclosed investigation and incarceration centres over Iraq.

The number of detainees registered in International Red Cross records is around 71,000, the other detainees are not recorded with the IRC because they are arrested at US detaining centres where visits by the Red-Cross representatives are denied by the occupying forces and thousands of war prisoners and old age detainees have been imprisoned and detained for more than six years suffering from unbearable and painful living and health conditions..

Among the detainees there are 520 women detained by the US forces as hostages in place of their husbands or sons who have escaped detention by the US occupying forces. In prisons run by the US occupying forces there are also more than 900 children of less than fifteen years of age and 470 of them are less than twelve years of age. In the government prisons there are 1400 children less than fifteen years dumped into crowded and filthy cells. There are also 12,000 persons detained by mistake or under suspicion who are still detained for many years.”

Fallujah doctors report rise in birth defects
BBC reports (March 4th): Doctors in the Iraqi city of Fallujah are reporting a high level of birth defects, with some blaming weapons used by the US after the Iraq invasion. The city witnessed fierce fighting in 2004 as US forces carried out a major offensive against insurgents.Now, the level of heart defects among newborn babies is said to be 13 times higher than in Europe. British-based Iraqi researcher Malik Hamdan told the BBC’s World Today programme that doctors in Fallujah were witnessing a “massive unprecedented number” of heart defects, and an increase in the number of nervous system defects. She said that one doctor in the city had compared data about birth defects from before 2003 – when she saw about one case every two months – with the situation now, when, she saw cases every day.

2.8 million Iraqis remain internally displaced
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre reports (March 4th): Seven years after the March 2003 US-led invasion, Iraq remains deeply divided. There are few prospects of durable solutions for the approximately 15 per cent of the population who are displaced inside and outside Iraq. It is thought that there are almost 2.8 million internally displaced people (IDPs), close to half of whom were displaced prior to 2003. Though Iraq is no longer in the grip of a humanitarian crisis, daily life for all Iraqis is precarious. Public health, electricity, water and sanitation services remain inadequate.

Iraq’s trade ministry hit by £2.6 billion fraud
The Times reports (March 7th): Rampant government corruption emerged as one of the biggest issues in the election campaign, with the exposure of a huge fraud at the trade ministry. Sabah al-Saadi, head of the Iraqi parliament’s anti-corruption committee, said documents showed that $4 billion (£2.6 billion) had gone missing from the ministry, but that the total could be as high as $8 billion in the past four years. Saadi said he was pursuing 20,000 legal cases for official corruption, most of which had been delayed until a new government was installed.

Voter fraud allegations
Juan Cole reports (March 5th): Aljazeera Arabic reports that parties are attempting to buy votes among the often penniless refugees. Al-Hayat [Life] reports in Arabic that over a million Iraqis took part in early voting. An official in the Independent High Electoral Commission, Hamdiya al-Husaini, confirmed to al-Hayat that soldiers had been pressured to vote for a certain party, which she would not name, and even that some soldiers arrived at the voting station only to find that someone else had already voted on their behalf. She promised an investigation by the High Electoral Commission. The voting process was chaotic, and many soldiers’s names could not be found at their voting stations on the registration rolls. Some soldiers even staged demonstrations over being disenfranchised in this way, in response to which the High Electoral Commission promised them redress. Nevertheless, thousands are estimated to have been unable to vote.

Iraq opposition alleges ‘flagrant’ election fraud
AFP reports (March 12th): A senior member of Iraq’s main secular opposition bloc protested of blatant fraud in favour of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki during Iraq’s general election. “There has been clear and flagrant fraud,” said Intisar Allawi, a senior candidate in ex-prime minister Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc, the main rival to Maliki’s State of Law Alliance. “There were persons who manipulated or changed the figures to increase the vote in favour of the State of Law Alliance.” She said that Iraqiya’s own election observers for last Sunday’s poll had found ballot papers in garbage dumps in the northern disputed province of Kirkuk.

Ayad Allawi accuses Nouri al-Maliki’s group of fraud in bid to retain power
The Time adds (March 12th): Ayad Allawi told Western officials that aides to Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, had hidden ballot papers and falsified computer records in an effort to retain power. “They are stealing the votes of the Iraqi people,” his spokesman told a press conference called to set out the main claims. Several violations alleged by Mr Allawi have been confirmed by diplomats and election observers. Mr Allawi also claimed that 250,000 soldiers were denied the chance to vote, and that an election monitor had found ballot papers with votes for Mr Allawi dumped in the garden of a polling station in the northern city of Kirkuk.

Number of Iraqis killed jumps as election nears
AP report (March 2nd): The number of Iraqis killed in war-related violence increased by 44 percent between January and February, according to a count by The Associated Press, with civilians accounting for almost all of the casualties.

Iraqi children’s rights violated
The Brussells Tribunal reports (February 2010): Under the American occupation, lack of security, sectarian violence, deterioration of health care systems, poverty, massive imprisonments, clean water shortages, limited or no electrical power, environmental pollution and lack of sanitation all contributed to grave violations to children’s rights and a drastic increase in the child mortality rate. It has been reported that one out of eight children in Iraq die before their fifth birthday.

Iraq’s Christians demand justice
Al Jazeera reports (February 28th): Iraqis in Baghdad and Mosul have protested a recent wave of attacks on their minority religious communities, following the murder of eight Christians in less than two weeks. Holding olive branches and the national flag, demonstrators vented their anger over the poor security afforded them in the wake of a series of killings. Shouting slogans such as “stop the killing of Christians”, hundreds of demonstrators called on authorities to guarantee their protection as they marched round al-Ferdus Square in central Baghdad.

EI protests against the continued harassment of union leaders
Education International reports (February 26th): Education International is very concerned about the continuous governmental interference the Iraqi Teachers’ Union (ITU) is experiencing. The ITU, an organisation currently applying for EI membership, continues to face extreme attacks from the Iraqi government which wants to control the union. Iraqi teacher unionist al-Battat was arrested and then released on 22 February after an eight-day detention period. He was involved in strike actions, and his home came under fire after he refused to hand over the union memberships lists.

Women Miss Saddam
Abdu Rahman and Dahr Jamail report for IPS (March 12th): Under Saddam Hussein, women in government got a year’s maternity leave; that is now cut to six months. Under the Personal Status Law in force since Jul. 14, 1958, when Iraqis overthrew the British-installed monarchy, Iraqi women had most of the rights that Western women do. Now they have Article 2 of the Constitution: “Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation.” Sub-head A says “No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam.” Under this Article the interpretation of women’s rights is left to religious leaders – and many of them are under Iranian influence.”The U.S. occupation has decided to let go of women’s rights,” Yanar Mohammed who campaigns for women’s rights in Iraq says.

New Fraud Cases Point to Lapses in Iraq Projects
NY Times reports (March 13th): Investigators looking into corruption involving reconstruction in Iraq say they have opened more than 50 new cases in six months by scrutinizing large cash transactions — involving banks, land deals, loan payments, casinos and even plastic surgery — made by some of the Americans involved in the nearly $150 billion program. Some of the cases involve people who are suspected of having mailed tens of thousands of dollars to themselves from Iraq, or of having stuffed the money into duffel bags and suitcases when leaving the country, the federal investigators said. In other cases, millions of dollars were moved through wire transfers. Suspects then used cash to buy BMWs, Humvees and expensive jewellery, or to pay off enormous casino debts.

25th March 2010


 On Thursday the government announced how cuts to higher education will be distributed between the universities. The long-awaited report confirmed the fears of many that education would be made to pay the price of the £1 trillion given to the rich bankers. The report from the Higher Education Funding Council of England shows that four out of every five universities in England will face real-terms cuts. A total of £573 million in cash cuts (7.23%), have been announced for next year alone. This is nothing short of a catastrophe for education in England.

In order to make the cuts seem less bitter, slight increases have been made to teaching and research funding but this is still a real terms fall. The cuts by and large fall in the ‘capital funding’ bracket – mostly the money that universities are allowed to claim for new buildings. This may not seem like it will immediately effect students, but many university buildings are unfit for purpose and will be replaced by universities using funding from other areas – effectively sacking teachers and replacing them with bricks. This is currently happening at King’s College, where staff are being sacked at the same time as management are forking out £20 million for the grandiose Somerset House on the bank of the river Thames.

Just for profit, not for students
Research funding will be narrowed into a smaller number of ‘elite’ institutions, creating a two-tier system.
The general trend is to give more money to the universities that already have the most, by taking it away from the others. Oxford University’s research funding has increased by £7.1million up to £126million, and a third of the total research fund is distributed to just five key universities – Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Imperial and Manchester. Less fortunate universities are set to become little more than teaching factories providing degrees aimed at workplace skills with much less funding to develop research practices. But although these richer universities are more protected from the cuts, some are still making academic staff redundant as part of a drive towards “restructuring” – providing only courses that are profitable in the world of business, and deprioritising education that is for the pursuit of knowledge.

Education for the rich
Many university managers want to shift the central funding crisis onto students – by campaigning for higher tuition fees. Shortly after the general election, the review into ‘Higher Education Funding and Student Finance’, headed by ex-BP chief executive Lord Browne, is expected to increase the tuition fee cap from £3,225 per year to £5,000 or even higher.

Some universities such as Oxford are pushing for the cap to be abolished altogether, allowing them to charge whatever they like. Fees have already been shown to put working class students off entering university, and the higher fees proposed are likely to mean that more prestigious universities such as those in the Russell group will become almost exclusively playgrounds of the rich. The combined effect will be that working class students will pay to be trained in careers, while rich students will receive a traditional ‘liberal’ arts and sciences education leading to cultural elitism. This would be a serious regression back in the direction of a Victorian style education.

Stealing our future
But with money, or without it, the HEFCE is threatening to keep higher education well out of reach of thousands of students in Further Education colleges who want to carry on their studies.
Entry quotas have been given to universities, and they will be required to keep within the limits or face financial penalties. At a time when unemployment is so high, many young people are desperate to start earning money, or continue education and are now being denied the opportunity for either, with an estimated seven applicants for every university place this year, leaving youth on the scrap-heap.

Courses cut – exec pay rockets
Many universities have already begun cutting staff and even whole departments. Sussex has lost linguistics, Leeds is losing classics, UCL is cutting language courses and Westminster is slashing IT. The cuts are not just a response to anticipated central government funding cuts, but university managers are cynically using them as an excuse to remove unprofitable courses and academics who perform useful research, but without immediate financial value to businesses.

This is part of the trend towards neo-liberalism in universities where academics have to justify their jobs based on economic value, ignoring the far more important value non-profitable research can have for society. The move towards business-orientated universities has expressed itself in other ways – vice-chancellors have seen their pay increase to a level similar of Britain’s largest national corporations, many earning in excess of £300,000 per annum. At the same time their numbers have increased by a third, meaning a disproportionate amount of money is spent on management while academic jobs are being cut. This is

Britain’s role in the shady European ‘Bologna Process’ plan, which is attacking education across Europe, and has provoked mass uprisings of students from Italy, to Greece, to France, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and many more. The process coordinates efforts by the leaders of 42 countries to standardise universities, allowing them to compete with one another – creating a market in education, where institutions that best serve the needs of business will thrive, whereas the others will be cut back. The global financial crisis seems to mean that the bosses are accelerating the process.

But the current attacks on education are no foregone conclusion, and the movement for education is starting to win victories. Occupations, demonstrations and strikes at Sussex, Leeds and London Met have already won some impressive victories along the way to defeating the cuts, and the similar struggles of our brothers and sisters in Europe show a potential to organise internationally – if we could do that imagine how powerful the student movement would be. The lesson – we need to organise and fight for learning, not profit

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Recent Posts On

The Voice Of Anticapitalism 

 National Campaign Against Fees And Cuts – Statement of intent(6th February 2010)

Sussex University Student Occupation 2010 -The Full Story

 Sussex University Students Union – Letter To Students

 The Sussex University Front Line And Other Stories (A round-up of student actions in the UK)

 Education Campaign – After The Occupation – What To Do Next

 Join our F/b Page.
 Guildford Against Fees And Cuts

  Time for an Anti-Fascist Defence League!!

The English Defence League (EDL) continue to pose a threat to our cities and towns across the UK with their racist campaign against extremist Islam. EDL demonstrations are both increasing in size and the level of violence.

In Stoke, January, EDL supporters daubed a mosque in racist graffiti. Threats were made to an Asian run taxi service. Asian and Muslim businesses came under attack.
This month, the EDL were able to march on the Houses of Parliament in London, whilst police used violence to break up the antifascist demonstration that was present.
If the EDL marches continue – and there is no reason to think otherwise– sooner or later we will experience attacks on communities on a scale of those seen on the European continent.
We need to organise self-defence for ourselves if we are to protect our own demonstrations and our
communities from fascists and the police, and to stop the EDL in their tracks.

We need to form our own ANTI-FASCIST DEFENCE LEAGUE

Download this Call for an Anti-Fascist Defence League Workers Power AFDL Flyer
Alternative Call for an Anti-Fascist Defence League AFDL (2)

Sussex University Students Union – Letter To Students

The Voice of Anti-Capitalism has obtained a letter from Sussex University Student Union to the students of Sussex. It was sent to students a couple of days before the UCU went on strike on Thursday. The letter urges students to support the UCU strike and we think it is a principled position for all student unions to take.  Sussex has consistently led the student response to the education cuts. Sussex University Student Union – Letter To Students

Sussex University Occupation (March 12th – 18th:  https://suacs.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/sussex-university-student-occupation-2010-the-full-story/

Round-up of This Student protests against Fees & Cuts. https://suacs.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/322/
Join the F/book page: Guildford Against Fees And Cuts
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 The Sussex University Front Line And Other Stories

Rounding up a few of this weeks
“Campaign Against Fees & Cuts” action.

Sussex Occupation Sussex University Update (18th March)
Newcastle University Aberdeen
Westminster   Westminster Update
Leeds University Leeds Update
University Of East Anglia Kings
Kings College London Update What We Say
Links & acknowledgements What We Say Update

The Sussex Occupation
On March 3rd fictions about hostage-taking led to an unprecedented police deployment at Sussex University. This resulted in two arrests and the imposition of a high court injunction criminalising “occupational protest.” Shortly afterwards six students were suspended on political grounds.  

The occupation has organised a programme of meetings, discussion, films and other events, designed to strengthen opposition to the cuts. The Student Union has called an EGM to discuss and vote on the motion: “This union has no confidence in the Vice-Chancellor.” Further details below.

 Since taking office, the Vice Chancellor, Michael Farthing has disbanded several key departments, including the renowned Linguistics Department — a move condemned by Noam Chomsky as “a serious blow to the intellectual life of the university.”

Sussex University Students Union
Motion of No Confidence in the Vice Chancellors Executive Group (VCEG)This Union notes:
The proposals by management to make 115 redundancies, close Unisex, privatize the crèche, dismantle the student advice services and cut the student union block grant.
University management’s unwillingness to consider the alternative proposals presented by the lecturers union (UCU) as well as various Schools.The Equality Impact Assessments required by law were insufficient and contained no data
The creation of a fictitious hostage situation during the Sussex House occupation (03.03.10) in order to justify the use of riot police on   suspension of 6 students on political grounds following the protest.
With the largest turnout in a UCU ballot, the campus lecturers’ union voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action (76% in favour with an 80% turnout)This Union believes:
If allowed to go through, the proposals will have hugely detrimental effects on education and student experience at Sussex
The injunction issued against all staff and students for the purposes of preventing peaceful protest is a human rights violation.The six suspended students have been scapegoated for the actions of the wider student community, and more specifically, the Stop the Cuts campaign. Cuts to USSU’s block grant will not allow the union to provide adequate services and representation for the student body The VCEG have been the architects and administrators of the above actions, and should resign with immediate effect.This Union resolves:
That it has no confidence in the Vice Chancellor’s Executive Group at Sussex UniversityProposer – Richa Kaul Padte
Seconder – Claire Laker-Mansfield

The UCU (lecturers’ union) are set to strike on Thursday 18th, after a 76% majority voted in favour of industrial action. The UCU Sussex branch president, Paul Cecil, said: “Industrial action is an absolute last resort, but the university’s unwillingness to enter into meaningful negotiations has forced our hand. The bottom line is that serious job losses will impact massively on the quality of education and services here at Sussex”.

 USSU President Tom Wills said: “We are right behind Sussex staff. We understand that strike action may be the key to winning this battle and we will do everything we can to support it. We will hold university management responsible for disruption to our education resulting from the strike – but more over we will hold management responsible for the devastation that will be wrought on our education if they succeed in pushing through their cuts proposals.”

 On Friday, an open letter signed by students and SU officers urged University employees earning over 70,000 per annum to take a “voluntary 10% pay cut, in order to help protect the welfare of all staff and students at the University”. http://www.youtube.com/user/sussexnot4sale
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hl9k0pfHJ0I Who occupied Sussex House?
 An Update:-  At the EGM 18th March, over 1000 students voted overwhelmingly “No Confidence” in the Vice Chancellor and the Senior Management. A great blow to the management’s legitimacy.

For the last four nights students, staff and supporters have been occupying the ARTS A2 Lecture theatre in defiance of a High Court Injunction. Around five hundred students are occupying the theater in support of the Sussex Six, still not fully reinstated, and in support of workers facing compulsory redundancy. The protest demands the University reverses its plans to make redundant 115 teaching staff and make 8million pounds of cuts over the next two years.

The University Senate voted to re-instate the Sussex 6, and to organise an independent investigation into the events surrounding the calling of the police on the 3rd of March. The only members of the Senate who voted against these motions were the unelected senior management.

With regard to the proposed cuts, management agreed to extend the consultation period until June 7th. The Senators mentioned amongst their concerns the significant lobbying from MPs and councillors and the strength of the students’ response on campus.  If the VP doesn’t comply with the senate’s decission, he will be breaking the law.

The campaign in support of the Sussex Six has been entirely successful. Surrey United Anti-Capitalists salute the  Sussex students. Today 18th, 50 people joined the picket lines at the front of the University as lecturers and campus workers in the UCU closed down the campus with strike action against compulsory redundancies.

Union President Tom Wills captured the mood when he told BBC Breakfast News, “This isn’t just about Higher Education, it’s about the fact they have given billions to the bankers, and now they are asking working people and students to pay with a massive programme of public sector cuts.”
Letter from USSU to all students urging support for the UCU strike. https://suacs.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/sussex-student-union-letter.doc

Newcastle University’s Free Education Network will be holding a rally against cuts 18th March, as a shot across management’s bows. The University is rumoured to be planning in secret a raft of cuts across its departments. The rally will be joined trade unionists and student activists.

On Wednesday March 17th students at the University of Aberdeen held a demonstration in defence of education on campus. It followed the collection of over 1500 signatures on a petition demanding that the University management give assurances that departmental budgets at the University will not be cut. The students complained that theses cuts come as the Principle, Duncan Rice is receiving a 17% salary increase.  
Update: March 18th, The students returned today and occupied the University’s management offices for a twenty-four hour occupation. They ended their successful occupation when the Vice Chancellor agreed to a meeting with the campaign regarding the cuts.

Last month, a mass meeting of students, lecturers and staff at Westminster University voted ‘no confidence’ in their Vice-Chancellor. This was their response to 10% budget cuts across the University with 190 academic and 90 administrative job losses. It follows the recent closure of the ceramics department and nursery. Management salaries have gone up an average of 25% over the last year.

On March 1st, 250 students and staff, against the cuts, stormed the governors’ meeting and took over the Vice Chancellor’s office. They occupied the University’s main management and administration rooms for three days. The students challenged the Vice-Chancellor Geoff Petts and the board of governors to explain why the management is pushing through cuts- while the university was carrying out a $61 million refurbishment of buildings and had made a several million pound surplus the previous year. Although his answers were typical management double-speak, he had no answer.

The protesters had the full support and backing of the UCU, but Westminster Students Union distanced itself from the occupation. It tried to play the impartial mediator between the University and the “No Cuts At Westminster” campaigners. The SU said on its web site: “We fully support the aims of the campaign but do not believe the occupation is the right course of action. The Students’ Union is doing its utmost to maintain constructive conversations with the protestors and the University”. We at SUACS find the Student Union’s attitude cowardly and distasteful in the face of such devastating cuts.

The students sent a letter to the Vice Chancellor, Geoffrey Petts demanding no compulsory redundancies; -all documents pertaining to the university’s finances be made freely available to the unions (UCU, Unison, Student Union) -and a guarantee that no staff or students involved in the demonstrations would face repercussions. The letter warned the Vice Chancellor that actions would continue now and in the future unless he concedes to the demands. 17th March a rally was held at the Marylebone Campus with representatives from the UCU.
Update: March 18th. Around two hundred students and staff held a rally outside the Cavendish campus.
Westminster is currently in the front line in terms of cuts. Around 300 jobs will go by the end of July. The UCU and Unison are balloting and will hopefully be taking strike action over April and May, including over the exam period.

Leeds University
On 1st March, the anti-cuts campaign joined UCU members for a demonstration against cuts. The demonstration highlighted that the University was set to cut 35 million pounds off the budget- roughly 10% per school. This is despite making a profit of £11 million last year, having £80 million in reserves and engaging in massive building works across campus. The UCU has passed a motion of no confidence in the Vice-Chancellor, and is already in dispute with the university. The cuts will mean up to 700 job losses.

The students and staff demanded to know why there was is a £20 million pounds error in financial forecasting within the university’s budget, as reported in the press. The demonstrators also criticised the NUS for not organising a campaign. Leeds UCU is due to hold a strike on Thursday 18th and is due to hold an EGM on the 16th, to consider further strike action on 20th and 21st April. 

The UCU has forced Lord Mandelson, in his capacity as Lord President of the Council, to put the
University’s cost cutting plans on hold. A formal challenge accuses the university of bypassing the body responsible for its academic mission, the senate, breaking the University’s charter and key statutes. http://www.leeds.ac.uk/aut/200910/alternative%20vision.pdf

The ‘Education First’ campaign, set up earlier this month, urged Leeds students to send an automated email to their departmental staff in a bid to avert a possible campus-wide strike. The Student Union sent automated emails to students for them to fire off to their tutors asking them not to strike. The results of a UCU ballot over industrial action are about to be released. The Leeds UCU claimed it has won the strike because all its demands have been met. However their demands were only that the cuts be brought in slower. The 600 redundancies shall be fulfilled by not filling vacancies. And voluntary redundancy is still a possibility. Up to 70 immediate compulsory redundancies have been agreed, postponed till 2011.  These are massive cuts the union leadership is conceding. 
Update:  Today’s planned strike was called off after the UCU (lecturers union) had their demands met by university management. While the concessions relate to the process of consultation and review, rather than guarantees to protect jobs and education, it remains a significant victory in the struggle against the bosses’ devastating £35m cuts.
Leeds Anti Cuts Campaign pdf

University Of East Anglia

At the University of East Anglia a well-attended protest on March 3rd was accompanied by a heavy police presence disgracefully called in by the university management. The Vice Chancellor was alarmed by the occupation that had started two days ago in Westminster- and was worried because the protest coincided with a University open-day.Two days before the protest the Senior Management team sent the anti-cuts campaign a letter offering direct talks and consultation on the implementation of the cuts, which the letter claimed was being imposed on the University from without.  

There was a well attended teach-in held at Kings College London, last week, organized by the No Cuts at Kings campaign and the UCU. (lecturers’ union). It was noted that restricting all managerial salaries at Kings to £100,000, about four times the national average wage, would save £9 million, while the proposed cuts  would  see the back of 10% of staff and the closure of at least one department. This is a familiar story for many universities. The humanities Department is also set to lose another 22 teaching staff. The UCU are currently voting in a strike ballot.

Update: 19th March. The first demonstration was a great start to the No Cuts campaign. Over 100 students gathered outside the Strand building to show their opposition to the cuts plan being imposed by King’s College Principal Rick Trainor. Over the summer 30 people were made redundant and the College Council took the decision to close the Engineering Department. The management intends to make another 10 percent of cuts across all departments at KCL and has already put in place a voluntary redundancy scheme to encourage staff to leave. Demonstration: Saturday March 20th. 12 noon outside Strand. http://nocutsatkings.blogspot.com/

What We Say
Peter Mandelson has announced a reduction of £449million in overall higher education spending this year. He claims the treasury needs to claw money back from public services after the bank bailout and the recession. – But hang on. Apparently the banks were given a trillion pounds of our money. £449million is only .05% of what the banks received in state subsidy. Is the government really prepared to trash a generation in-order to raise a tiny proportion of National Debt. The debt is the result of thirty years false accounting and fictitious capital. That’s fraud to you and me. There’s people driving down my High Street with smug grins on their faces, clothed and jeweled in our taxes, pensions and education. We really have got to end this system – And it’s so easily done.

The politicians and University managers would argue that education is about improving job prospects for graduates – and, like any professional service, that implies that the customer must pay accordingly. They argue Universities operate (or should operate) as free-market entities, on a global stage. Unless they effectively compete, Universities in other countries will draw all the talent away.

Yet these claims – which dominate and define the terms of debate are highly questionable. The claim regarding the competition of Universities for talent needs to be subject to critique. Since global league tables are based on assumptions that presuppose this free market model it is not surprising that they will by and large reflect that in their rankings – the more ‘competitive’ the University the higher it will rank. Furthermore, beyond the scientific disciplines, for instance in the humanities, the journal citation indexes are hegemonised by dull, US based publications which generally spew out predictable, boring research that simply aims to justify the status quo. Academic talent, as measured by publication in these journals, is a race to the mediocre middle – not based on based on novel thinking, or the ability to inspire students.

Studying for long periods of time is, perhaps, economically unproductive use of time – and it is exactly on that basis that we must claim it as a common good. Education is a good in itself; just as are the arts; just are most of the things we really value in life. The attempt by government to justify these things in the jargon of productivity, competition, social cohesion, or whatever, are fallacious and demoralising to the extreme once they become internalized in University culture.

These are the arguments that need to be made. But arguments are not enough. Politicians and University administrators no longer want to have an argument. For politicians liberalising tuition fees is simply what has to be done; the only problem is sneaking it past the electorate, or tarting it up with enough social democratic window dressing to make it palatable.

More than 80 university heads now ‘earn’ more than £200,000. Some have seen their salary double or even triple in ten years. In contrast, HE lecturers have received an average increase of 45.7 percent over the same period. So inflated are the highest salaries that a rationalisation of top incomes would free up large amounts of money.

This is why the Surrey United Anti-Capitalists (SUAC) unequivocally supports student occupations. We support the upcoming industrial action of the UCU and demand the right to free education. We hope the student and worker protests heralds the start of a real fight here in the UK, when the next government (Tory or Labour) will almost certainly push for caps to be lifted on tuition fees.

Activists around the country should use the inspiration they have ignited across the student movement and amongst campus workers to build a mass movement. After all, the money is there – it’s just been given to the bankers. Let’s demand it back.

Update: 18th March. The government’s HEFCE announced its proposed funding cuts today. The announcements do not provide a breakdown of what cuts will be implemented in each department, but do give an indication of the level of cuts faced by the universities. For example: Leeds funding is to be reduced by 0.5%; Westminster by 0.7%; And the UEA by 0.1%. Oxford’s has been increased by 1%; Essex has gone up 1.1%; and Leeds Met by 0.9%. These increases still represent funding cuts in real terms.

What these announcements teach us- is that University managements, for example in Sussex, Leeds and Westminster are using government cut backs of 1% as a smoke screen for closing departments and forcing through changes of 10% cuts and more. University management teams are using this opportunity to make huge cuts of their own, in-order to restructure their Universities and orientate them towards a financial competitiveness within a ‘free-market’ of education. The neoliberal transformation of universities is an internalisation of the logic of competition, so that universities, departments and individual academics are all pushed to treat each other as rivals in the struggle for resources.

 What will follow is a “liberalisation” of the fees structure – And whilst the top Universities will concentrate on attracting rich students from abroad. The majority of people in the UK will be excluded from an education. –Or at best, will take-on huge debts in exchange for a second rate, de-valued, second-class university education.    

When they say cut back – We say “String ‘Em Up”
The Universities will be receiving their funding letters from the treasury on 18th March. This letter is a public letter. Why not ask your VP for a copy.

Download Word File Here: Sussex University Front Line – Word File

Acknowledgements To:
Revolution Socialist Youth http://www.worldrevolution.org.uk/
“The Commune” http://thecommune.wordpress.com/

Guildford Against Fees And Cuts

Campaign Against Fees And Cuts