Tag Archive: transport


TUSC, The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition to challenge for a seat on London Assembly

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), made up of trade union members and socialists, is to stand candidates in the Greater London Election on 3 May to challenge the all-party support for the government’s austerity cuts and pay freeze.

The coalition expects to win support from trade unionists and other voters who are angered by the recent statements of Labour leader Ed Miliband and the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, in which they stated that they will not reverse the Government’s cuts and that they support its pay freeze.

A list of candidates will challenge in the ‘top up’ section of the election and if it wins at least 5% of the vote across the whole of London it could win at least one place on the 25-seat Greater London Assembly.

The coalition has already selected prominent London trade union leaders such as Alex Gordon, the national president of the RMT rail and maritime union and Steve Hedley the RMT’s London Transport regional organiser, Ian Leahair, the Fire Brigades Union executive committee member for the capital, Joe Simpson, assistant secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association and Martin Powell-Davies, who is the London representative on the national committee of the NUT teachers union.

The Labour Party will be concerned that many public sector workers who participated in the 30 November pensions’ strike may be moved to vote for this coalition because of the failure of Labour leaders to support the walk-out.

Labour leaders will also be worried that rank and file union members of Labour affiliated unions could press for their funds to go to a party like TUSC instead of to Labour.

Steve Hedley, whose RMT union was expelled from the Labour Party in 2004 for backing the Scottish Socialist Party, said, “We need candidates who support the ordinary man and woman. TUSC is the only organisation that opposes all cuts, defends pensions and benefits for all working people. Labour just wants a compliant, silent union movement to hand over its money. TUSC will be a voice for all workers and will support trade unions in struggle.”

TUSC national committee member Nick Wrack, who is also a candidate, said, “London is a city of stark contrasts. There is a huge amount of poverty amidst the plenty. Corporate bosses and bankers still get their million pound pay and pension packages while one in six London workers is paid less than the Mayor’s £8.30 per hour living wage. Millions are suffering from the cuts to services and benefits yet last year the city paid out over £4 billion in bonuses. It’s extremely hard even for those on better wages to make ends meet. We believe that there is an opportunity for a party that will speak up for working-class London to make a real break-through and that would begin to change the nature of political debate in Britain today.” TUSC believes it can get a candidate elected if it wins at least 150,000 votes across London.

Candidates selected for the TUSC GLA list so far include (in alphabetical order):
April Ashley, UNISON National Executive Committee

Alex Gordon, RMT President
Steve Hedley, RMT London regional organiser
Ian Leahair, FBU National Executive Committee
Martin Powell-Davies, NUT national executive
Joe Simpson, POA assistant secretary
Jenny Sutton, UCU Chair, London Regional Committee (FE)
Nick Wrack, TUSC national committee member (former chair of Socialist Alliance and Respect)
There will also be candidates from the CWU postal union and the PCS public service workers union.
(All standing in a personal capacity)

The final list is not yet decided. Other candidates are still being considered.
The FBU has 5,500 members in London.
The RMT has over 12,000 members in London Underground alone

 TUSC CONFERENCE: Saturday 28 January 2012,
11:00am – 4:00pm, University of London Union, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HY
http://www.tusc.org.uk

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

 

Activists from around the UK are planning to occupy Hyde park for the night, after the March 26th TUC demonstration against the cuts.

Their plan, says organisers, is to participate in the TUC demonstration and various actions on March 26th, then occupy Hyde Park as a temporary free zone. A village in the center of London where people can camp, organise, relax, eat, dance and hatch plots.

“Hyde Park should be used as a launch pad and base for actions, and demonstrations for the following 24 hours. A safe convergence space for spontaneous marches and demonstrations throughout the weekend”. “A space to create a micro society based on mutual aid, respect and combined power to hold a siege of London which will have those in power running for the panic room”.

Marching from A to B, listening to some speechifying bureaucrats, and then going home empty-handed is not an option. Thousands have already pledged their support. The Facebook event has 1500 people attending –and the number is growing daily.

The idea of the occupation is to reach out to layers of trade unionists and others who would otherwise just get the coach home. People who share the view that the TUC leadership’s gestures and speechifying aren’t enough- but who are not yet ready to occupy buildings or break the law. We need to find a way to reach out to people like this – and this could be it.

The vision is for the “Temporary Occupied zone of Hyde Park” to be the RED BASE from which a hundred tentacles reach out. Hyde Park will prove to be as big and as powerful as the March itself, and who knows what a radicalising  experience it might be compared to a deflating coach ride home? The demo itself will be a truly historic occasion with over 1 million people expected to attend. The largest march of its kind in UK history. It’s the first national demonstration called by the TUC since 1926- And that one ended in a general strike.The STAY 4 1 DAY will only work if people keep spreading the word on social networking sites. So make the effort to spread it round. Think of the Ceaucescu like look on Brendon Barber’s face as the cry of STAY reaches him from the back of the Park. The game will be up

Egyptian oil workers hear of the Hyde Park occupation in London

 

Facebook event for STAY 4 1 DAY – http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=196454957048306 Spread like wildfire!

Remember: There is subsidised travel leaving from Guildford. Just £2.00 RTN (If you don’t fancy staying and partying in Hyde Park)
Coaches are subsidised by Surrey Unison. All are welcome. Buy a ticket online at www.saveourservic.es or email: guildfordagainstfeesandcuts@yahoo.co.uk.

For more details see the events page on Guildford Against Fees And Cuts Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Guildford-Against-Fees-Cuts/167151436659040?v=app_2344061033&ref=ts#!/event.php?eid=178381258861986&index=1

EMA – If they won’t give it to us
we’ll have to take it!

The abolition of the student support grant, the EMA, in England will affect some students’ ability to reach class, college principals say.

As travel fares rise and cuts bite, there are particular concerns for those in rural areas, some of whom travel up to 35 miles (56km) to get to college. Principals fear poorer students may not be able to follow the preferred course, due to unaffordable transport costs.

In the Spending Review, Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to axe the scheme, which was designed to keep students coming to class, saying it had very high “dead weight costs”.

The findings come from a survey of 160 Association of Colleges (AoC) members. Some 94% said they thought the abolition of the grant, worth up to £30 a week for the poorest students, will affect students’ ability to travel. The agreed the EMA is a critical factor in students’ decisions about staying in education.

The majority (78%) of colleges provide some form of financial assistance. The average spend is about £140,000 a year. But figures are far higher for land-based colleges which specialise in agricultural and horticultural courses and tend to be in rural areas.

AoC President Chris Morecroft said: “There is a danger of students getting caught in a pincer movement between cash-strapped colleges and local authorities, which have also seen severe budget cuts. “Our members are concerned that local authority subsidies may be at risk, and even where subsidies remain, fares still may be out of reach for the poorest students.

“The abolition of the EMA (education maintenance allowance) will simply compound this, leaving the most disadvantaged students struggling to get to college to gain the qualifications they need to prepare themselves for a fulfilling and productive life.

“This may be an unintended consequence of the funding cuts faced by our colleges, local government and our students, but it flies in the face of the coalition government’s avowed desire to improve social mobility.” The AoC is urging the government to reconsider its abolition of EMA funding.

A Department for Education spokesman said it was determined to make sure that no young person was put off staying in education because of transport problems. “Local authorities have a statutory responsibility to enable 16 to 18 year olds to attend education and training by making sure that transport is not a barrier”. “And we are reviewing all home to school transport including looking at transport for pupils who live in rural areas.“But let’s be clear, the deeply worrying state of the public finances has meant we’ve had to make some tough decisions. EMA was an expensive programme, costing over £560m a year with administration costs amounting to £36m, and only increased the participation in education of a minority of students”.

Kingston students marching against fees and the scrapping of the EMA. November 24th.

Students have held protests at about 30 schools and colleges in England against the scrapping of the EMA study support grant, campaigners say. But this is just the start. There are more protests planned for the 26th and 29th of January. The government says the allowances of up to £30 a week for low-income students aged 16-19 are wasteful. But the college lecturers union said their research sugested that 70% of the poorest students would drop out if it were cut.

The UCU polled more than 700 students, in the 30 colleges and schools with the highest proportion of students receiving EMA in England. 38% of those polled said they would not have started their courses without EMA, while 63% said they received no financial support from their family for college costs.

Education Maintenance Allowances were introduced by Labour to encourage young people from deprived backgrounds to stay in education and training after they reach 16. Students whose parents’ earnings fall below certain thresholds receive payments of £10, £20 or £30 a week. These can be spent however the student chooses, and are used by many students to cover the cost of course equipment, books and transport.

There have been many walk-outs and demonstrations already this year at colleges around England. The University and College Union said it knew of about 30 lunchtime protests that had taken place, in colleges ranging from London, to Liverpool, to Newcastle and Cornwall.

One of the biggest was at Dudley College, where several hundred students rallied, some in fancy dress. Students in Leeds were planning to hold a silent protest later in the day, while young people at City College Norwich were to light a candle for every student at the college who receives EMA.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU said the government’s decisions over the EMA had been a “complete shambles”. “First they pledged they would not axe it, now they say they will”. “They clearly have no understanding of how important the EMA is or the difference it makes to so many people’s chances of improving themselves,” she said.

The government says it has had to make “tough decisions” because of the state of public finances. But let US make it clear 500 million pounds is a drop in the ocean compared with the amount of tax avoidence in this country. Vodafone alone owes the public purse twelve times that amount.

We know it’s about priorities. We need to take to the streets on the 26th and 29th January. -And build for the big one, when students and workers will march sholder to sholder against all cuts and for a better future on March 26th.

Join Guildford Against Fees And Cuts Facebook page. Get in touch if you would like to help at our events (see events page).
http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Guildford-Against-Fees-Cuts/167151436659040

Save Our Services in Surrey have booked subsidised travel to the March 26th demonstration in London. This March is going to be the biggest Britain has ever seen. All the unions are backing it and organising coaches from all over the country.

Travel to the demonstration is only £2.00Rtn. To reserve a place on our buses go to www.saveourservic.es  Use the PayPal donate button and in the name field include the words “for bus” in brackets.Alternatively leave a message on the Guildford Against Fees And Cuts Facebook page and we’ll get back to you.
http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Guildford-Against-Fees-Cuts/167151436659040

STOP THE WAR COALITION
NEWSLETTER No. 1144
04 March 2010

IN THIS NEWSLETTER:
1) WHAT GORDON BROWN COULD HAVE DONE WITH £8.5BN
2) INTERNATIONAL PROTESTS IN SUPPORT OF JOE GLENTON
3) BRITISH SOLDIERS GONE AWOL 17,000 TIMES SINCE 2003
4) MICHAEL FOOT 23 JULY 1913 – 3 MARCH 2010

1) WHAT GORDON BROWN COULD HAVE DONE WITH £8.5BN
Gordon Brown happily signed the cheques for the Iraq war. In 2005 he said, “I would have behaved exactly like Tony over the war.” This is why Stop the War will be protesting outside the Iraq Inquiry on Friday 5 March, when protestors will try to deliver Brown a giant cheque for £8.5 billion, the total spent by Britain on the illegal war in Iraq. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Brown was the paymaster general for the Iraq war. Instead of spending £8.5 billion on mass slaughter of Iraqis, Brown could have funded:
* The recruitment and retention of over 25,000 new teachers for ten years.
* All NHS maternity care for four years.
* All NHS Accident and Emergency provision for four and a half years.
* All government spending on the railways for five years. http://bit.ly/avwT4v
But not content with this astronomical waste, Brown is now spending sums on the war in Afghanistan which at £12 billion and rising fast, dwarf his Iraq spending. (SEE http://bit.ly/4bRSM)
PROTEST FRIDAY 5 MARCH: BLOOD ON GORDON BROWN’S HANDS
@ THE IRAQ INQUIRY. ASSEMBLE 8.30AM, 
QUEEN ELIZABETH CONFERENCE CENTRE, BROAD SANCTUARY , WESTMINSTER SW1
(Nearest tubes St James’s Park or Westminster)

2) INTERNATIONAL PROTESTS IN SUPPORT OF JOE GLENTON
On 4-5 March, there are international protests in eight countries- Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Russia, Turkey, USA and the UK are demanding that the Ministry of Defence drop the charges against Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, who refuses to return to fight in Afghanistan. (SEE http://bit.ly/bveMzx). If convicted, Joe could be jailed for two years. Stop the War has called a picket of the court in Colchester at which Joe is due to be sentenced on Friday 5 March. He faces up to two year imprisonment. If you would like to join the picket and want information about transport, please contact the national Stop the War office: Call 020 7801 2768. Email office@stopwar.org.uk

3) BRITISH SOLDIERS GONE AWOL 17,000 TIMES SINCE 2003
Joe Glenton is by no means alone. Official figures from the Ministry of Defence show that there were more than 2,000 cases of soldiers going absent without leave last year, with 17,470 incidents recorded since the Iraq invasion in 2003. (SEE http://bit.ly/dCNvRu )

4) MICHAEL FOOT 23 JULY 1913 – 3 MARCH 2010
Former Labour Party leader Michael Foot has died, aged 96. In February 2003, he threatened to lead a mass trespass of Hyde Park when Tony Blair’s government tried to ban its use for the Stop the War demonstration. The government capitulated and February 15 saw the biggest political demonstration in British history. Michael Foot was one of the speakers in the Hyde Park rally at the end of that memorable day, when two million people gathered on London’s streets to say “not in my name”.

Blog Statistics – The first two months
Well it’s already two months since we started our blog. 
Click on the link below to see how many visitors we’ve had. Find out what have been the top posts.

Blog Stats 19-12-09 

STOP THE WAR COALITION NEWSLETTER
No. 1128 30 November 2009
Email office@stopwar.org.uk

IN THIS NEWSLETTER
1) THE ONLY SERIOUS EXIT STRATEGY FOR AFGHANISTAN
2) THE IRAQ INQUIRY CATCH PHRASE: “NOT ME, GUV'”
3) VIVA PALESTINA CONVOY TO GAZA: 5 DECEMBER
4) SUPPORT GROWING FOR MILITARY FAMILIES PROTEST
5) DON’T FORGET JOE GLENTON

1) THE ONLY SERIOUS EXIT STRATEGY FOR AFGHANISTAN
Inevitably the news of yet another British soldier dying in Afghanistan coincided with Gordon Brown’s announcement that he is sending 500 more British troops to fight in a war which in the latest poll 71 per cent of the British public opposes.

We are witnessing a very dangerous escalation of the war. With Barack Obama likely to announce a surge of around 30,000 troops, and other Nato allies adding a further five thousand, the total number of foreign troops occupying Afghanistan will equal that deployed by the Soviet Union in the 1979-89 Afghan war, which ended in its catastrophic defeat.

Gordon Brown’s troop surge is a response to failure after eight years of war. All the various war aims have been shown
to be false. The war has not made Britain safer from terrorism, but has made it more dangerous. The war is not being fought for democracy, but to protect one of the most corrupt governments in the world. The troops are not engaged
in a humanitarian mission, but in a war of occupation opposed by the majority of Afghans.

Brown and Obama both claim that this dramatic increase in the number of troops is the  beginning of an exit strategy. It is nothing of the sort. It is the signal that the major powers are planning to continue a war ,which after Vietnam is the second longest in American history for years to come.

Just as in Vietnam the US claimed that sending more troops was the key to bringing peace, Obama and Brown are proposing more war as necessary for their “exit strategy”. There is only one serious exit strategy: that is to recognise that Britain and the other Nato powers have no right to be in Afghanistan, and far from escalating the numbers Gordon
Brown should be withdrawing all British troops now.

2) THE IRAQ INQUIRY CATCH PHRASE: “NOT ME, GUV'”
The evidence given to the Iraq Inquiry in its first week saw a
series of establishment figures trying to absolve themselves of any blame for their part in the build up to war, implying
all responsibility lay with Tony Blair.

It appears that Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General who
notoriously changed his advice about the legality of the war just days before the invasion, is getting his “not me, guv'”
in early even before he appears at the inquiry. The details of a letter he wrote to Blair eight months before the
invasion, in which he stated categorically that the war was illegal, were revealed over the weekend. You can read the
details here: http://bit.ly/6Tk6w7

Apparently Gordon Brown is worried that in the run up to the general election all these revelations about Iraq will remind people of why they opposed  the war in the first place. Stop the War is taking every opportunity to ensure that the issues remain in the public eye, not least the key question of holding the war criminals to account. Stop the War held a protest on the first day of the Chilcot inquiry, which received worldwide media coverage. (See http://bit.ly/5IYYCK). We will announce soon a major public meeting on the issue.
And we await with much anticipation the appearance of  Tony Blair before the Iraq Inquiry likely to be in January or
February, when we will organise a large scale protest to ensure he is warmly welcomed.

3) VIVA PALESTINA THIS WEEKEND
On 27 December, the anniversary of Israel’s barbaric invasion at the turn of 2009, convoys from Britain, the United States and Turkey, packed with aid donated by the people of those countries, will converge on Gaza to break the inhuman siege which prevents essential resources reaching Palestinians in the world’s most densely populated area.
The British convoy leaves London this weekend. Details of the departure place and time will be available shortly on the Viva Palestina website: http://www.vivapalestina.org/

4) SUPPORT GROWING FOR MILITARY FAMILIES PROTEST
Support is continuing to build for the Military Families Against the War protest at Downing Street at 5pm on Monday 21 December. As well as many families who have lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, or have relatives serving in the Afghan war, there will be a number of former soldiers joining the protest, when the Bring the Troops Home petition will be handed in to Downing Street. The military families also plan to demand to see Gordon Brown.

All the local Stop the War groups across the country have been asked to sponsor military families in their area to come down to the Downing Street protest and to send delegations in support. The families are asking for the widest support possible. Please help publicise the event as widely as you can. For further information: http://bit.ly/4Z3eCR

5) THURSDAY 28 JANUARY: DATE FOR YOUR DIARY
Gordon Brown has announced that he is organising an international conference on Afghanistan in London on Thursday 28 January 2010. As well as organising a protest at Brown’s conference, Stop the War will in response hold its own alternative meetings and conference. Please note the date now. We will publicise further details soon.

6) DON’T FORGET JOE GLENTON
Send messages of support to Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, in prison for speaking out against the Afghan war and facing
court martial for refusing to return to Afghanistan. Email messages of support to: defendjoeglenton@gmail.com
Write letters, cards to:
Lance Corporal Joe Glenton
Military Corrective Training Centre
Berechurch Hall Camp
Colchester CO2 9NU

7) XMAS PARTY: FROM BLIAR TO STOP BUSH
If you live in London, Stop the War’s Xmas party on Friday 11 December is not to be missed. As well as food, drinks and music, the party takes place surrounded by a showcase of Stop the War’s history, drawn from our archive which is now housed at the Bishopsgate Institute.

The displays will include many of the posters and placards going back to our earliest demonstrations, including the now iconic designs by artist David Gentleman, leaflets, pamphlets, press cutting, photographs etc. Admission is free.

 Spotlight On Committees Of Action

As Labour and the Tories compete over who will deliver the most savage cuts, and the bosses and bankers demand the working class pay for their financial crisis, we need to think strategically about how we can organise the fightback. Joy Macready explains Marxist tactics

The mainstream parties’ assessment of the extent of the pubic sector cutbacks needed – an estimated 10-20% cuts in the health sector, £2bn cuts in education, 10 per cent savings across government departments – is staggering. Their representatives and their loyal friends in the media, however, never mention that it is caused by the gaping hole left in the public purse from the £1.3 trillion bailout of the banks.

Meanwhile, private sector bosses are using the recession to relocate production, sack workers, cut their wages and steal from their pensions. Share prices and profit margins may be recovering, but this is not enough for the greedy capitalists; they want to inflict further damage on working class families and communities.

Solidarity
But already we see the signs of a militant fightback. Occupations are leading the way: Visteon, Two Sisters, Prisme, Waterford, and Vestas, to name a few. Parents and teachers in Glasgow and Lewisham occupied their schools to prevent closure. Postal workers are balloting for a national strike against redundancies and reductions in hours and wages. Tower Hamlets College lecturers took all-out indefinite action for four weeks, while Leeds bin workers are still all out.

The list of struggles shows that it is not just the public sector that is under attack, but also the private sector; it is not just workers fighting back against service cuts, but the users of worsening services. Although the public sector is in the direct firing line of the government, all workers will be affected by cuts in housing, healthcare or education.

As Marxists, we do not just live in the realm of ideas and theory, but we put our theory into practice. The challenge is to find a way to link these struggles together, overcoming the division between public and private, between providers and users, and between the various unions. Those struggles listed above are inspiring but all are isolated to a degree.

Within the different struggles, Workers Power has argued for local committees of action to unite activists at a community level. The Vestas solidarity committees, which attracted workers from many different unions, community and green activists, and socialist organisations, were an encouraging step in this direction. But we need a more permanent form of organisation that goes beyond the limited scope of one struggle, one strike or one issue – committees of action that can be mobilised to fight on a number of fronts at the same time.

Such committees can react quickly to events, overcome divisions between workers in different unions, and also bring into struggle the unemployed who have been thrown out of work. They should also include users of public services; as the government and bosses try to lay the blame for deteriorating services at the feet of public sector workers, pubic opinion must be won to the struggle of these workers for quality services.

Unity from below
Britain has developed organs of class struggle like this in the past. During the 1926 General Strike, councils of action were built by the trades councils in each town and city – all working class political, industrial, co-operative and unemployed organisations were represented, and, importantly, women were also heavily involved. They counteracted the “poisonous and pernicious propaganda” of the government and the employers’ organisations and even took control of food supplies, organised defence corps against scabs and the police and army, and directly controlled the strike locally.

In 1984, during the Great Miners’ Strike, a network of Miners’ Support Committees criss-crossed the country, providing vital solidarity like food supplies, Christmas presents for the miners’ children, speakers to factories to explain why the miners’ needed support, campaigning against police harassment of strikers and mobilising support for the picket lines.

But, say the sceptics, Britain today is not at that level of class struggle – the working class does not have the “confidence” or the fighting spirit to create committees of action. This is a self-defeating argument. In every area where there is struggle, strikers can put out the call for committees of action and rally support from others. The committees will in turn help to boost confidence and raise fighting spirit.

Take the Vestas struggle, for example, where workers occupied a plant that made blades for wind power when bosses announced its closure. It was the solidarity movement – the climate camp and Campaign Against Climate Change – that encouraged the workers to occupy the plant. If solidarity committees could be built for Vestas, then why not for other struggles? By building committees of action in every town and city, more workers will feel able to take militant action and the general level of the class struggle will rise. But to do this, they must do more than simply raise donations, hold meetings and stand on picket lines, crucial though these acts are. They can start to become an alternative centre of power in society.

Alternative power
What do we mean by “an alternative centre of power”? Three things.

First, we know from bitter experience that the trade union leaders often sabotage our struggles, selling them short, calling off action, disuniting strikes. Committees of action can help thwart such treachery by building unity from below.

Second, committees of action can also lay the basis for a political alternative to Labour – a basis from which to build a new anti-capitalist party in Britain, one that will fight for the interests of the working class.

Committing to a new party is not a precondition to joining the local committees of action – many workers who still look to Labour or who are against all parties can be rallied to them. But, because these will be engaged in the local struggles, because they will be coming up against the government’s cuts and attacks, many will begin to realise that only a working class political party can secure general, society-wide victories for our class through fighting for the overthrow of the capitalist system and the formation of a workers’ government.

Finally, a government of the workers would be based not on an unelected civil service bureaucracy, unelected generals, unelected millionaires in the boardrooms, and 600-odd MPs who are elected every five years but are free to break their promises itself. It could be based on democratic organisations of working class delegates from below, workers’ councils with all delegates recallable by the workers who voted for them. The formation of committees for action is a step in that direction – a step towards an alternative centre of power for the whole of society.

Surrey United Anti-Capitalists Song

We want jobs, we want to live
This is something that war and unemployment cannot give
We will fight to take their power
We will strike their ivory tower
Revolution comes closer by the hour

We are marching through Europe together
Youth from all countries unite
We’ve a future to win and nothing to loose
Take the power, complete the final fight

We want jobs, we want to live
This is something that war and unemployment cannot give
We will fight to take their power
We will strike their ivory tower
Revolution comes closer by the hour

Labour and Tories want to smash us
They want to destroy the working class
There is no way that we can reform them
‘Cos their so called democracy’s a farce

We want jobs, we want to live
This is something that war and unemployment cannot give
We will fight to take their power
We will strike their ivory tower
Revolution comes closer by the hour

The army and police they want to kill us
With bombs and missiles by the score
So we’ll seize their armouries and take the power
And put an end to third world nuclear war

We want jobs, we want to live
This is something that war and unemployment cannot give
We will fight to take their power
We will strike their ivory tower
Revolution comes closer by the hour

Thursday, December 03, 2009
Climate Change: A Dire Emergency

           Only Socialist Revolution Can Prevent Ecosystem Collapse

 Climate change poses an immediate threat to the survival of all life on this planet, the scope and urgency of which cannot be underestimated. Many scientists have concluded that we are at or close to the point at which, even if we drastically curtail greenhouse gas emissions immediately, planet Earth will still undergo major climatic change. If we fail to take such measures, the results will be absolutely catastrophic. In as short a time as a few decades, our planet could experience such a swift, massive rise in temperature that human civilization would have little or no chance to survive. (For details, see below.)

Obama has pledged to achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. A reduction of that magnitude is impossible under capitalism. We cannot rely on national governments or other entities (such as the United Nations) that are controlled by the capitalist class to do that job. No matter how “progressive” capitalist politicans purport to be (see discussion of Evo Morales below), the inherent conflict between the profit motive and the good of society makes it impossible for them to enforce the necessary sacrifices on corporate-controlled industries.

But even if a miracle happens, and Obama’s pledge is fulfilled, it will still be much too little, and way too late. The human race needs to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions almost entirely within the next 10 to 30 years if it wants to survive.

The bottom line is that only workers’ control of the means of production can avoid the imminent climate change catastrophe. This means that a successful socialist revolution is needed within a decade or two. If the working class waits to overthrow capitalism for another 30 or 40 years, it is likely to be too late.

Even after the socialist revolution, the catastrophe cannot be averted unless we take immediate action. The planned economy will have to impose draconian measures against greenhouse gas emitting industries, and retool all of our energy generation and consumption to run on green, environmentally friendly, sustainable tech­nology. This change will have to be implemented extremely rapidly, and will require the involvement of practically everyone on the planet, if we are to prevail.

The current crisis of capitalism presents an opportunity for us to spread the message to the struggling working class about the gravity of the situation. We must tell the workers, and every middle class and progressive person who supports their struggle, that time is running out. The working class must combine its struggle against capitalist exploitation, and against the current economic crisis, with environmental consciousness. It must fight for workers’ control of industry in order to implement dire emergency measures to transform the current, outmoded technology of industrial production to green and sustain­able technology.

Ultimately, this urgently necessary trans­formation can only be accomplished if the working class and its allies get rid of capitalism via the socialist revolution. Every living soul that cares about our planet and the fate of humanity, please be aware: The game of trying to “reform” capitalism must come to an abrupt end. The stakes are no longer socialism or barbarism. They are socialism, or else the end of life on this planet as we know it.

The Methane Time Bomb Is Already Ticking!
As a result of the global warming that has already occurred, the ice that covers the Arctic Ocean is disappearing very fast. Many scientists predict that in the relatively near future, it will be entirely gone in the summer. Even now, an ever-increasing portion of the ice melts to open water each summer, making it darken and thus absorb more solar heat. This causes a positive feedback loop of increased warming.

The rise in the surface temperature of the Arctic means that the bottom of the Arctic Ocean is also warming rapidly, to the point where it is now only a few degrees below freezing in the summer. This situation threatens to compound the problem of global warming by quickening its pace exponentially. The reason is that the seabed beneath the Arctic Ocean contains a time bomb of unimaginable proportions: a huge amount of frozen methane, a greenhouse gas many times more powerful than carbon dioxide. If the ocean temperature rises above freezing, a massive amount of this methane could be released into the atmosphere, causing global warming to increase drastically in a matter of years or decades. A similar phenomenon is now believed to have caused the Permian Extinction, or “Great Dying,”which wiped out almost all life on earth 250 million years ago. (For details and links to source material, see http://open.salon.com/content.php?cid=65747.)

We are now threatened with the very real possibility that catastrophic climate change, leading to mass extinction, could happen again. Worse, it could happen so fast that it would be impossible to develop and implement any technological solution that would allow us to preserve the human race from a reversion to barbarism, or even extinction.

The Limitations of “Progressive” Politics
In December 2008, the United Nations held a conference on climate change in Poznan, Poland. In a speech given in connection with the conference, Bolivian President Evo Morales – widely viewed on the Left as a leading progressive figure – correctly proclaimed that “Competition and the thirst for profit without limits of the capitalist system are destroying the planet,” and that “As long as we do not change the capitalist system …, the measures that we adopt will be palliatives that will [be] limited and precarious in character.” (Morales’s speech can be found online at
http://links.org.au/node/769.)

Unfortunately, Morales failed to follow this thought to its logical conclusion – i.e., that in order to save the planet, we must do away with capitalism. His solution? He proposes that we “Debate the structural causes of climate change.” “Debate”? While the ecosystem collapses around us? What is needed now is not debate, but action.

Neither Morales nor any other politician or public figure, no matter how “progressive” or even anti-capitalist they purport to be, can offer a realistic solution to the threat of catastrophic climate change unless they are also willing to build a revolutionary movement with the power to overthrow capitalism. As long as the capitalist ruling class holds power, all politicians must capitulate to the limitations inherently imposed by the profit system, which will not permit them to implement the measures that must be taken to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, transform the means of energy production, and increase the efficiency of energy use. Only a planned economy, democratically run by the workers and their allies in the interests of society as a whole, can forestall the destruction of the ecosystem.

The Need for Transitional Demands
In the current financial crisis of the global capitalist system, the workers will inevitably be the ones who suffer most from the misdeeds and greed of Wall Street. This creates an opening for socialists to argue to a mass audience that we must replace capitalism with a different system, one that puts the needs of all human beings – including the necessity to preserve our planet – ahead of the voraciousness of the privileged few who seek ever increasing wealth and power.

As workers struggle today against the effects of the crisis on their basic rights and standard of living, they need to fight for democratic working class control over the mean of production. A big part of this struggle for workers’ control should be the demand for the immediate transformation of all industries to produce and utilize “green” non-polluting technology. Scientists and other technical experts should join together into massive, democratically run unions to demand that all available resources – trillions of dollars – be devoted to researching and implementing sustainable, environmentally positive technologies. Ultimately, the struggles and demands of the workers and their allies should lead to the socialist revolution, since there is no way that capitalism can implement them.This essay was copied from the “Redrave” blog.
Redrave is the loud mouth of members of the Communist Workers’ Group of Aotearoa/New Zealand.
http://redrave.blogspot.com/2009/12/climate-change-dire-emergency.html