I will be attending this meeting on Thursday as a member of the Coalition Organising Committee and hope that as many people as possible from London and the South East will also.
"It is time to organise a broad movement of active resistance to the Con-Dem government's budget intentions. They plan the most savage spending cuts since the 1930s, which will wreck the lives of millions by devastating our jobs, pay, pensions, NHS, education, transport, postal and other services." –
from Tony Benn's call for a Coalition of Resistance
MEETING FOR SUPPORTERS AND SIGNATORIES OF THE COALITION OF RESISTANCE STATEMENT
HELP BUILD THE RESISTANCE TO THE CON-DEM CUTS
7pm, Thursday 2 September
Room 3A, University of London Union, Malet St, WC1E
As a result of this sort of political direction organisations like the Fawcett Society are taking the government to the High Court on the grounds that it widens inequality, especially towards women. Now there are signs that Nick, call me Nick, Clegg is going to get a rough ride at the Lib Dem conference. Many Lib Dem MPs and especially party activists are deeply unhappy about the direction that the Orange Book Lib Dems, led by Clegg, are taking the party.The attacks on the poor, the old and the disabled are without parallel in modern British history, even Thatcher did not go this far - a fact which some of the Tories, such as Francis Maude, feel it is worth boasting about.
Now rebel Lib Dem MPs like Mike Hancock are warning Clegg that unless the institute's analysis can be disproved that there will be serious unrest at the autumn conference. With support among voters collapsing, dissent in the ranks and the increasing signs of capitulation to the Tory agenda on all sides, the party is in for a turbulent time. Clegg, of course, continues to assure everyone that it will be all right in the end.
An example of what is likely to come is the defection of Lib Dem councillor in Totnes to the Greens.
A guest post from Dr Larry O'Hara a long time Green Party activist and member of Green Left on why the proposal to have a Green Shadow Cabinet being proposed at next month's Green Party autumn conference is wrong for the Green Party and Green Politics. I support his view. If we have learnt anything from the failed politics of New Labour and its offspring 'Next Labour' it is that this sort of 'professionalisation' of politics has failed and has turned people off politics and politicians in droves. People want a radical and an alternative form of politics and not simply a recycling of the stale old game. And real leadership means mucking in and getting involved and leading from the front - not making pronouncements from a beach in the south of France when there are important elections underway in your home patch.
"No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?"
- George Orwell, Animal Farm, Ch. 5
Mimicking the parliamentary game of leaders and "shadow cabinets."
As a Green Party member for over 20 years, and a Leftist for 15 years before that (and still one), might I take fundamental issue with the argument for a ‘Green Shadow Cabinet’
1) The current trend towards centralisation of power within the Green Party is anathema to fundamental Green principles–and should not be taken further.
2) Power can not flow “upwards” if it is centralised in a mimicking of the parliamentary game of Leaders & “shadow cabinets”. A Green shadow cabinet would be another step on the road the Greens becoming a pale shadow of their former selves, a group of New Labour-lite clones representing no threat to the current political/economic system whatsoever. The point is not to “participate in government” but to use any power we get to encourage a fundamental transformation of society. In that, our strategic guide would far better than any parliamentary cretin, be Gramsci–fighting a ‘war of position’ prior to a ‘war of maneouvre’.
3) Green politics needs to be more than “the environment & peace”–it needs to be linked to social justice, opposition to racism, support for those workers & communities struggling against capitalism, including the current Condem attacks on basic living conditions. That is exercising voters far more than Cabinet games.!
4) Talk of seeking to “mirror the activity of government” is hardly helpful. The point is not to ‘mirror” the status quo, but transcend it. We should learn, and quickly, from the disaster of the Irish & German Greens in government …It would be unfair tp mischaracterise opponents of the Shadow Cabinet idea as suggesting we “sit on the sidelines and whinge”–if the GP followsthat model, that’s all we’d be doing, within parliament.
5) Certainly, the GP should contest elections–but should understand politics is about far more than elections, and that centres of social power are not all in parliament. Hence, as the disaster of the Irish & German Green Parties shows, those who naively imagine ‘getting in government’ (or a share of it) is the summit of our political ambition will be doomed to failure. The Shadow Cabinet supporters vision of democracy is people ceding power to (no doubt besuited) ‘professional’ Green ‘leaders’ who act on their behalf (‘mirroring’ the status quo while they do so). My vision, for within the Green Party as well as out, is delegate democracy/decentralisation of power. Rather different, but at the very least, not less democratic. Being elected is just one facet of overall transformation, to be elected alone will change nothing. It is the context of elections, and how it relates to popular struggles, that counts.
6) I do not think we will win by orienting ourselves primarily to what people watch on TV. Some say we “need to work in a world where most people get their politics through the media”. Not only can the GP not rely on the mainstream media to give us a fair hearing if/when we look like we are getting somewhere, the two forces who have nade electoral headway in the last 30 years or so–Liberal Democrats & the BNP (sadly)–both made ground by going direct to communities, not primarily through the estsablished media. I also doubt whether Sinn Fein’s initial electoral surge came through the media and so on. The implication of those who support this view is that if we don’t dance to the mainstream media’s tune, they will attack/misrepresent us. Well of course they will, as they will too if it looks like Green politics are challenging vested interests successfully (I remember 1989). The question is do we anticipate and prepare for this, or give up in advance in the hope we’ll be left alone. If even Nick Clegg was vilified in the Tory media when the Lib Dems surged in the pre-election standings, don’t you think the Greens would (and hopefully will) be attacked. I do
We need to be ready and prepared for it, not give in before a shot crosses our media bows.
The point is not just to reject the Shadow Cabinet idea: but to get out there and do some real politics…
Last year I spent a week in Ireland and wanted specifically to visit Drogheda, a city on the East coast where my family used to spend a few days every spring and which is one of the most historic in Ireland. Drogheda is one of the only cities in Ireland which still has the remains of some of the old city walls but it is because of its role in the terrible massacre of 1649 during Cromwell's conquest of Ireland that it has passed into legend. 2,500 Irish soldiers and even more civilans were put to the sword in what was, even in its day, regarded as a bloodbath. I specially visited some of the main historic sites associated with that event , including St Peter's Anglican church, where many of the inhabitants of the city had taken shelter and where Cromwell's troops torched the church with all of the civilians inside. I also visited the Millmount, which was the main fortification in the city and where the garrison were massacred even after they had surrendered. The Millmount is now a museum and a must to see for a history of the city and the surrounding Boyne Valley, which has featured heavily in Irish history.
I was also aware that the Irish historian, Dr Micheal O'Siochru, had written a new book on Cromwell's campaign in Ireland with the title of 'God's Executioner'. The book formed the basis of a television series on the campaign made by Irish television, RTE. The work is eminently readable and excellently researched.
For my birthday this year I was given a gift of the book and also of another work on Cromwell's campaign in Ireland. It is interesting that in England, especially for English nationalists, Cromwell has a positive role in British history, and that his statue stands outside the British parliament. He is also regarded as one of the founders of parliamentary democracy and the liberty of the citizen, whereas in reality he dismissed parliament at the head of an armed troop and made himself dictator.
In Ireland Cromwell has no positive associations and is regarded as someone who most clearly carried out the colonialist and imperialistic project of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Even worse he regarded his project as driven by religious impulses and allied religious intolerance and racism as the driving forces of his campaign.
I was reminded of this again on Saturday, reading an account in the Independent by the journalist Robert Fisk, of a lecture he recently gave in St Canice's Cathedral in the Irish city of Kilkenny. Fisk is one of those whose writings on Iraq and the Middle East, as well as Afghanistan, and whose knowledge of those parts of the world is second to none. He also has mounted an excellent critique from the beginning of the disasters which have been the West's interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fisk writes:
"Fresh from the slaughter at Drogheda, Cromwell would spare the citizens of Kilkenny, but not its Cathedral of Saint Canice whose stonemasons packed their bags in 1285. Cromwell smashed the stained glass windows, stole the bells, threw the baptismal font to the ground and turned the cathedral into a stables. His soldiers broke open the tombs and hurled the bones of their lords and ladies into a pit in the churchyard. The half-Irish writer Constantine Fitzgibbon noted almost 40 years ago: "If Cromwell and his people had possessed the technical ability to build gas chambers and drop Zyklon B upon the Irish Roman Catholic subhumans ... they would undoubtedly have used such methods."
So much, then, for the Great Rebellion of 1641. So much for the king's men. The New Model Army was the first ideological battle group since the Crusaders. Why, had not the Parliament of England passed a decree for the absolute suppression of the Catholic religion in Ireland? Traitors and infidels. Smash their graven images. Smash the Buddhas of Bamian, for that matter. The real Taliban used explosives. Cromwell's armed puritans used the sword. No dancing. No music. No films or television or kite-flying. Read the Bible – only the Bible. Read the Koran – only the Koran. What's the difference? Cromwell and Mullah Omar did everything in the name of God.
Thus did I reflect as – in those slightly grim moments that always precede a lecture – I prepared to bore a cathedral audience of hundreds with my usual paint pots. Treachery in the Middle East, Iraqi slaughter, Afghan bloodbaths, the connivance of governments and journalists, the lies inherent in our words of war, the need for our military – with their guns and tanks and Apache helicopters – to leave the Muslim lands."
Yes England had its own Taliban and has been pointed out before, most recently in the BBC television series on the history of the Normans, Ireland was England's first colony and the place where experiments such as ethnic cleansing, introduction of settlers, suppression of native language and culture and finally extirpation of its native people, would be practised assiduously over the centuries. Fisk, with his grasp of history and his contempt for the meanness of contemporary geopolitics in the halls of Washington and London, can see the big sweep of history. All political movements have had their Taliban and those who resisted their narrow and exclusionist views on both religion and politics. A lesson for all those involved in politics today.
Below is a message from the Australian GP Campaign Coordinator.
We had 49 volunteers out campaigning in London under the able leadership of Mat Hines, former Hobart councillor and now London Federation member.
"The Greens are the breakthrough story of this election"
I want to make sure you're the first to understand how significant these results are—and that we couldn’t have achieved them without your support.
Yesterday, the Greens won the balance of power in the Senate, as well as our first lower house seat at a general election in Melbourne. We've achieved so much together this election that it's hard to quantify, but here are some numbers that tell part of the story:
We won a Senate seat in every State, including our first ever Greens Senators in Queensland and Victoria. This gives us the power to shape the agenda of the new Government and achieve real outcomes on issues like climate change, a fair go for asylum seekers, same sex marriage, and improving public schools and hospitals;
Our first ever lower house Greens Member of Parliament has been elected in a general election - congratulations to Adam Bandt who won the seat of Melbourne with a massive 13% swing to the Greens on primaries!
More than 4,500 of you signed up online to volunteer over the course of the campaign - knocking on doors, handing out how to votes, holding Greens stalls and events, and much more;
Together, we raised more than $300,000 from small online donations to run our fantastic, positive campaign advertising on TV, on billboards in capital cities, in major newspapers, and to build the biggest online advertising presence we've ever had; (with special thanks to the talented creative team at Make Believe for all their work on this campaign)
More than 20,000 people became Facebook fans of the Greens- and dozens of State and local Facebook groups sprung up to spread the Greens' message online
For me, as Campaign Manager, the last few months have been both exhilarating and exhausting. What's kept me going is the knowledge that you - the people out there reading these emails - have been working tirelessly in your own communities.
You've shared the Greens' positive vision for Australia with your neighbours, your colleagues and your families, and that's what's led to these stunning results.
You are the heart and soul of the Greens.
Having the balance of power in the Senate from July 2011 isn't a magic wand, but it does mean we'll be in a powerful position to make legislation better, introduce new ideas to the Parliament and push both sides of politics to deliver smarter, more constructive and progressive outcomes for our nation. The results of this election won't be clear for another few days - or even weeks - and the Senators and I will be in touch with the latest developments.
But for today, I just wanted to say thank you.
You've believed all along that we can make tremendous change to Australian politics, and yesterday, your votes created a powerful change in the Parliament. It is truly an historic achievement for the Greens and it has been my absolute pleasure and privilege to be a part of it.
Last night I was interviewed by 'The Emerald Hour' a radio programme for the Irish community which is part of the community radio station, Radio Verulam based in St Albans. I was asked to speak about the political situation in Ireland and I am afraid that I gave a rather gloomy picture. Anyone who goes to Ireland regularly or who follows events there could not do otherwise. Lydia, one of the presenters, introduced two shocking new facts about Ireland which she asked me to comment on.
The first was that the Irish Green Party, currently in the coalition government with Fianna Fail, had, according to Lydia, stated recently when she was over in Ireland that further expenditure on railway construction was not necessary as the motorways built during the Celtic Tiger boom made any such plans redundant. I found this astonishing and said that it was very short term thinking. I referred to the recently opened West Coast line running from Galway to Clare as a real step forward but was also concerned about the possible closure of the rail link from Wexford to Rosslare, which links up with the ferries coming from Wales. If this report re the Irish Greens is true, then it is simply appalling. Ireland has terrible pollution and traffic congestion problems because of its undeveloped rail network and at one point several years ago it stood in second place to Luxemburg in the EU for the amount of pollution produced from motor traffic. The only reason why Luxemburg's figure was higher was because so many cars from other EU countries pass through the Principality.
The second shock from Lydia was to discover that Brian Cowen, the current Fianna Fail Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of the Irish Republic has been voted one of the top ten world leaders by Newsweek magazine. At first I thought it was a joke, but no it is true! Newsweek described him as 'The Fiscal Taskmaster' and stated that he had shown firm leadership by administering hard medicine to the Irish people and economy. My response to this was to express surprise and to tell Lydia that I was aware that he was one of the most highly paid world leaders with the exception of President Obama. When asked why I thought that Newsweek had awarded him this accolade my reply was that somone must have crossed their palms with silver!
On reflction, I think that my initial reaction was not that far off the mark. Newsweek clearly likes Cowen, because he is administering the harsh medicine to the people of Ireland which the captains of industry and the US corporations and Wall Street want. The same article described the Irish people as "an ungracious lot" who showed no appreciation for his efforts. However, 'Newsweek' acknowledges that Mr Cowen's measures have won greater respect abroad than at home, and warned he can expect "a drubbing" in the General Election. No Taoiseach in the history of the State has seen his satisfaction rating as low as the 18pc currently held by Mr Cowen. I suspect that the Irish people will award Mr Cowen another accolade at the next general election, when he finally summons the courage to call one. Some constituencies in Ireland have had no parliamentary representation for over a year as the government is running scared of calling an election, certain that they will lose their majority. I would argue that this manipulation of the political system displays naked opportunism and fear rather than leadership.
The sooner that Mr Cowen is thrust into the nearest wastepaper basket along with crumpled copies of Newsweek magazine the better for the Irish people and Irish politics.
Coalition's 100 days: Poor and vulnerable hit by cuts, says TUC
Given the high number of unemployed people and the record number on the housing list Lambeth is going to be badly hit by the coalition cuts and benefit changes. The TUC has today set out the implications of decisions made in the Coalition's first 100 days:
Some of the UK's poorest families have been hit by more than 100 unfair spending cuts during the first 100 days of the new Government, a TUC analysis of departmental spending reveals today
.The TUC research, published in advance of the 100 day anniversary of the coalition Government tomorrow (Thursday), shows that cuts which impact more on the poorest families in the UK have been made across the board in services including education, health, housing, welfare and social care.
Examples of cuts the TUC believes are unfair include:
•Free school meals - The cancelled measure would have extended entitlement to free school meals to about 500,000 families in work on low pay from September this year. Cost £125m.
•Every child a reader - This programme to provide early support to children with literacy difficulties (focussed on inner-city schools) will be cut by at least £5m and its future is not guaranteed.
•City Challenge Fund - This programme aimed to provide extra support to under-performing children in the most deprived areas, but has been cut by £8m this year.
•Building Schools for the Future - This scrapped programme was the biggest-ever school buildings investment plan. The aim was to rebuild or renew nearly every secondary school in England. Cost £7.5bn.
•Housing benefit - Nearly a million (936,960) households will lose around £624 a year as a result of changes to housing benefit. Londoners will be worst hit.
•Homes and Communities Agency - Cuts to programmes including Kickstart (for restarting stalled house building programmes), affordable housing, gypsy and traveller support and Housing Market Renewal (improvements to housing in deprived areas). Cost £450m.
•Young Person's Guarantee - £450m has been cut from the Guarantee, which will be abolished in April 2011. This Guarantee promised unemployed young people access to a job, training or work after six months of unemployment.
•Working Neighbourhood Fund - This fund, which aimed to help unemployed people in deprived areas to move into work, has been cut by £49.9m.
•Domestic Violence Protection Orders - Scheme to create two-week banning orders so that victims of domestic abuse can look for protection in the safety of their own house.
The TUC is calling on the Government to reconsider its plan of swingeing spending cuts to public services, and focus instead on other ways to reduce the deficit, such as a Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions that could raise up to £20bn a year
Ewa Jasiewicz, a freelance reporter who was on the Freedom Flotilla recently, has been incensed by last night's Panorama programme and has asked that her comments and those of the Iraqui journalist Kamil Mahdi are publicised and that people contact the BBC to complain. I am happy to carry both of their comments here. This is part of a long record of pro-Israeli bias from the BBC.
Just got this below from Kamil Mahdi, a brilliant Iraqi academic and activist based in the UK. Briefly, anyone who missed the BBC Panorama documentary on the Freedom Flotilla attack tonight should catch it on the bbc website, its just 30mins.
Jane Corbin and her team reduced the Israeli navy's violent attack on six ships down to the attack on the Mavi Marmara. It was clearly the worst attacked, but by singling it out as an exception/provocation and ignoring the fact that each ship was extremely violently attacked by Israeli commandos who fired fired as they boarded and passengers from each ship put up resistance, served to split and isolate activists on the Marmara from the rest of the movement.
The Freedom Flotilla was reduced to a 'Turkish' one-boat show and an 'Islamist' one (the whole tone and framing is utterly islamophobic and racist and demonising of muslim activists) with IHH cast as a 'terrorist' group in tone and insinuation ignoring the facts about the organisation and that the whole flotilla that was made up of a coalition of groups and representative of a diverse and unapologetically political - solidarity
NOT charity focused - movement).
The BBC's 'scoop' is apparently that the flotilla was not a charity aid mission but a political action - obviously ignoring the whole politics of the solidarity movement which were clear from the start and opting, solidly, throughout, to tow the Israeli govt propaganda line.
Israeli propaganda including the 'go back to auschwitz' recordings which are clearly false - I heard everything myself in the wheelhouse of the challenger 1, we had every channel open - and which have been discredited were reported by the BBC as fact, along with claims that activists shot commandos.
New depths have been sunken to with this documentary, really people need to get out and complain about this appalling whitewash of Israeli crimes masquerading as 'journalism'.
This is from kamil:
If you have just watched Panorama on the Mavi Marmara, please complain in the strongest terms to the BBC about outrageous Israeli propaganda being passed as investigative journalism. Please also circulate this.
You can still watch the disgusting programme on: https://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/
Here are the BBC complaints contacts:
Make a complaint
Phone: 03700 100 222*
Textphone: 03700 100 212*
Write: BBC Complaints
PO Box 1922
The programme gives none of the real Gaza background: the prison camp reality, the extent of the blockade, the humanitarian catastrophe, continuing incursions, the huge destruction of the last invasion, the fact of occupation of Palestinian land, etc. Instead, it says there is no shortage of food and medicine and shows contruction going, albeit with some difficulty and none of the rubble of Israeli destruction. It repeats the talk about Hamas not recognising Israel and thousands of rockets fired at apparently peaceful Israel.
The Israelis are given most of the programme time to tell their story and their claims are not challenged, while the people on the Mavi Marmara are subjected to an inquisition rather than asked for their story. Simple facts such as people being shot in the back and shot repeatedly are not given. The huge number of casualties is just reported and not questioned. Israel's alternatives in stopping the ships are not considered. Israeli surveillance and prior knowledge of readiness to obstruct the takeover are not considered, leaving the claims of Israeli spokepeople unchallenged and the premeditated nature of the massacre ignored. The illegality of the Israeli piracy is not even mentioned and the BBC simply claimed that Israel is co-operating with a UN
investigation, ignoring the fact that they have sought to prevent it for so long. Israeli allegations of "terrorism" coming from the ship and IHH's alleged terrorist links are given BBC credence (for what it is worth). The whole tone is also disgusting.
News today that an appeal has been launched in France to repay the terrible debt which Haiti was forced to pay France in 1825 by the last of the Bourbon kings, Charles X, for the loss of France's slave plantations. This is truly one of the great injustices of history and should be righted by France.
This is exactly the text of a motion which I have drafted for the Green Party's autumn conference calling on our party to press the French government and the French Greens to see that this appalling historical wrong is addressed. Haiti really needs the money in the aftermath of the terrible earthquake it suffered this year and many economists have argued that it was the cost of the debt repayments to France which ensured that Haiti remained the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. For the temerity of ridding itself of its French colonial masters and becoming the first black republic, Haiti was forced to repay the debt until 1947.
France's role in the overthrow of the Aristide government, which was taking international legal action to have the debt repaid, is also clear. As Sarkozy unleashes the forces of the state against immigrants and Roma in France itself, which has even led to members of his own political party being outraged, it is time for France to live up to its historic responsibilities and the sins of its colonial past. France must repay Haiti now!
Housing benefit cuts will increase homelessness, Green Party leader warns
“Conservative-Lib Dem cuts will hit the poorer people in society”, says Lucas
Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green Party and MP for Brighton Pavilion, has warned that the coalition government's cuts to housing benefit could result in increasing social problems with serious debt and homelessness.
The Green Party leader was commenting on a recent report published by homelessness charity Crisis (1). The report highlights the social risks of housing benefit cuts, which will affect 936,960 households across the UK who are currently claiming local housing allowance (LHA). On average, these households will lose over £600 a year (2).
The report also warns that cuts to housing benefit could have hidden costs in the future, in order to deal with the social problems of homelessness, including health problems and providing accommodation.
Housing benefit cut is equivalent to big increase in income tax for poorer people
Caroline Lucas MP said:
“Consider someone earning £16,000 (after tax-free allowance) and receiving housing benefit. If they lose £728 that would be the equivalent of paying an income tax rise of over 4.5 per cent (3, 4, 5).
“These particular Tory-Lib Dem cuts will leave more people struggling to pay the rent, more people falling into serious debt and ultimately more people becoming homeless.
“This is very unfair, coming at a time when many of these people are facing economic uncertainty or even redundancy.
“Once again we see the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition’s cuts hitting the poorer people in society. The government could avoid these cuts by properly tackling tax avoidance and tax evasion perpetrated by some of the wealthiest, which could raise billions of pounds a year (6).”
1. The report by Crisis can be found at http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/1008HBCuts%20formatted.doc. Crisis comments, “The Government announced cuts of £1.8bn to housing benefit in its emergency Budget soon after coming to power. According to an impact assessment by the Department of Work and Pensions, every one of the 123,000 households in the region reliant on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) — the form of housing benefit paid to tenants in the Private Rented Sector — will be affected. On average, claimants in the South East will see their LHA cut by £12 per week, or £624 per year.”
2. Figures from “New figures reveal areas hardest hit by housing benefit cuts”, Crisis news release of 12 August 2010: http://www.crisis.org.uk/pressreleases.php/403/new-figures-reveal-areas-hardest-hit-by-housing-benefit-cuts.
3. £728 is the extra rent that people in one-bed properties in Caroline’s own constituency, Brighton and Hove will be forced to pay annually due to cuts in housing benefit. The amount will vary from area to area due to the government’s method of calculation. The calculation of housing benefit is complicated. The level of benefit you can claim is linked to local rents in the area and is calculated at the median rent level. The government is moving the basis of calculation of entitlement from the 50th to the 30th percentile (of rental costs of properties in a given area). The reason for the relatively high figure in Brighton and Hove is that there’s a bigger gap between the 30th and 50th percentiles. This is because there’s an especially large private rented sector in Brighton and Hove, so rent levels are more spread out, hence the bigger gap, hence the higher average cut in benefit.
4. £728 as a percentage of £16,000 = 4.55%. Of course taking into account tax-free allowance, the actual percentage would be much higher.
5. This and all other raw figures here are derived from the aforementioned report by Crisis, citing two government sources: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/local-authority-staff/housing-benefit/claims-processing/local-housing-allowance/impact-of-changes.shtml and http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/impacts-of-hb-proposals.pdf.
6. See Cuts: The Callous Con Trick by Caroline Lucas et al, http://www.financeforthefuture.com/TaxBriefing.pdf. See also Green Party news release of 19 June 2010, “Cuts ‘destructive and unnecessary’ says Green Party leader”, at http://www.greenparty.org.uk/News/2010-06-19-callous-cuts-report.html.
You know you are getting somewhere when you get attacked. And with Caroline Lucas being successfully elected as the first Green Party MP, the attacks are coming.
One has to be self-critical, especially when it comes to green politics.
However, a lot of criticism of the Green Party and Lucas is unwarranted. Perhaps predictably the most recent attacks have been over homeopathy and socialism.
Lucas, along with MPs from six other parties, has signed an early day motion (EDM) defending homeopathy. But rather than criticising all those who signed, commentators have launched a number of specific attacks on Lucas for doing so. This suggests they might have more to do with bashing the leader of the Green Party than discussing the problems of alternative medicine.
The EDM argues that the availability of homeopathy should be the choice of “local NHS service providers and practitioners,” and Lucas has suggested that the NHS should support a range of therapies.
While it would be wrong to uncritically support “alternative therapies,” there seems to be a much wider problem when it comes to NHS treatments.
The research and marketing of pharmaceuticals is controlled by a small number of huge corporations which spend millions marketing their products and influencing clinical decisions.
In the same way that debates over climate change are distorted by the millions paid by oil and coal corporations to “sceptics,” the science of health care is shaped by self-interested multinationals.
With their monopoly profits, big pharma can spend money manipulating the media and public opinion including the rubbishing of alternatives.
So while she does not, as far as I know, specifically endorse homeopathy, Lucas is absolutely right to support both patients and medical practioneers if it is a choice they wish to make.
Separately, an astonishing article appeared in Tribune magazine recently from a member of the Labour Party attacking the Greens for not being on the left.
Carl Rowland criticises Lucas’s contention that Greens represent part of the “true left in the British Parliament.”
He argues that the Green Party of England and Wales fails to challenge capitalism and that European Green parties have moved to the right. For example, he rightly criticises the Czech Green Party’s support for “George W Bush’s plan to station America’s missile defence on Czech soil.”
What he fails to mention is that the majority of Greens strongly challenged Bush’s drive to war while the Czech Greens, essentially hijacked by the right, are discredited and have now lost all of their parliamentary seats.
Of course, the Labour Party leadership in Britain supported Bush’s bloody invasion of Iraq while Greens globally helped build the anti-war movement.
Rowland also picks on the example of the Irish Green Party which has moved from radical green politics to a catastrophic alliance with the right-wing Fianna Fail. He further hints that members of green movements might see unemployment as a positive experience.
Now of course Rowland is quite right about the Irish Green Party, but guess what? Prominent members of the Green Party of England and Wales have been highly critical of the Irish experience too, including Lucas who told a Compass conference that it was a textbook example of how not to build a coalition.
Rowland’s article ignores the existence of the green left. There is an international movement for eco-socialism that, while most advanced in Latin America, spans the globe. Lucas herself has been at the forefront of a vigorous movement against spending cuts.
In fact, unlike the Labour Party, the Green Party of England and Wales pointed out that with the scrapping of Trident and higher taxes on the wealthy there was no need for cuts in services.
The 25 per cent cuts which threaten to devastate Britain, tipping us back into recession, accelerating unemployment and crushing the most vulnerable in society, are primarily a product of our neoliberal government - Labour Party support for slashed spending has been part of the process.
So the Green Party challenges cuts as a central part of our general election campaign, while Labour supports cuts. Yet the Greens are told off for not being socialist enough. Does that make any kind of sense?
Lucas has been showing real leadership urging members of the Green Party to get involved in anti-cuts campaigns and using Parliament as a platform for opposing government plans to bring further free-market misery to Britain.
Our Green Party is often described as one of the most left-wing Green parties in Europe - this is largely down to Lucas’s leadership, but it is also because green socialists have organised in the party by launching Green Left.
Members of Green Left get stuck into both internal debates in the Green Party and wider campaigning.
It is certainly not sectarian. Green Left often promotes joint events with another British eco-socialist organisation, Socialist Resistance, even though it is a member of the Respect Party.
Many Green Left members support Labour Party activists who genuinely fight to make the Labour Party more socialist, like Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.
We also get involved with more anarchistic non-party Greens like the Climate Camp and, of course, we have been strong supporters of trade union activism, such as at Vestas where workers opposing the closure of their wind turbine factory mounted an occupation.
Green politics in Europe would be strengthened by similar eco-socialist groups operating within Green parties and there is clear evidence that greens in Europe are moving left.
Indeed, at the European Green Party conference in Estonia in October the star platform speakers will be professor Elinor Ostrom, a strong advocate of alternatives to the market, alongside our own Lucas.
If Rowland really wants to make an assessment of the possibility of Greens introducing the fundamental changes necessary to resist the economic and environmental chaos of unrestrained capitalism, he might want to consider taking a closer look at the work of Green Left.
Incidentally not all members of Green Left will agree with me about homepathy, but I think they would agree this is more about bashing the Green Party than a genuine concern with medical ethics, especially given the way that Lucas has been singled out.
An announcement below from Jonathan Buckner, Youth & Student Officer of the London Green Party.
The Young Greens have organised for a hustings between the two Deputy Leadership candidates to take place in London. The hustings will be held at 1b Waterlow Road on Friday 20th August at 7pm, and both Adrian and Derek have confirmed their attendance. It should be a great chance to turn out and quiz the candidates! If you do plan to come though, it would be very handy if you would email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) some time in advance though, since due to the limited space at Waterlow Road we may have to relocate if interest is high!
I'm sure you're all familiar with the campaign websites for both candidates, but here they are again just incase: http://derekfordeputy.blogspot.com/ and http://www.lucasramsay2010.org.uk/
The hustings are open to all Green Party members in London.
Very remiss of me I know as a serious blogger not to have posted since Tuesday but I have been quite busy (honest). On Tuesday lunchtime I attended the regualar meetings of the Coalition of Resistance against the Cuts at Housmans bookshop and we had a very productive meeting - lots of things are being planned for the months ahead, and more on that anon. That evening I met Moritz from Aachen, who is one of the leading lights of Grune Linke (German Green Left) and we discussed the Green Party here and in Germany and the views of German Greens on a number of issues. I also shared with him my experience of attending a number of European Green Party conferences and some of the anecdotes resulting from that. It appears that Aachen, and I was also told several years ago that Munster too, is a centre for radical German Greens. I was able to relate to Moritz that I had not been in Aachen since 1989, when as a first year student of German, I read in the German newspapers that autumn that the Berlin Wall had fallen and the GDR was in the process of collapsing! I subsequently studied at the Free University in Berlin during the period of the economic union of the two Germanies and a few years later as a EU academic programme exchange student at Hannover University during the early years of German reunification, so I have always had a good grounding in German history and politics.
Anyway we have agreed to remain in regular contact and a seminar for European progressive Greens will be organised in Aachen at some point over the next six months. As International Officer of Green Left and also a member of the international committee of the Green Party, I am particularly keen on developing links with other European Greens who see themselves clearly on the Left.
Over the last two days, apart from working, I have been trying to organise things at home as well as trying to catch up on my reading. I also met my Green Left colleague and friend, Andy Hewett, who told me about his experiences at the Edinburgh Festival (which I have never been to but which sounds really fascinating) and also his impressions of where the Left is in Scotland - the answer appears to be nowhere.
Mention of things German reminds me that although a fan of German literature and culture, as well as of music, I don't often get an opportunity to go to German theatre. I used to go often when I lived in Berlin but it is not often that a classic German play is performed here, with the possible exception of some Brecht classics which grace the stage of the National Theatre - and I have to admit that I am a big fan of Brecht. When I spotted that 'The Prince of Homburg' by Heinrich von Kleist was being performed in London I thought that I must go and see it. Kleist is one of the most famous of the German Romantics of the early 19th century and probably could be compared to Shelley here. Kleist was also a philosopher and much of his writing is philosophical in nature.
He had a turbulent life and eventually killed himself at a very young age in a suicide pact with his lover, which was typical of the life of a Romantic poet/playwright in the early 19th century. He has had a very bad press in the 20th century because the Nazis held him up as a patriotic and nationalist writer. He was at the forefront of those German writers and poets who developed German nationalism as a reaction to Napoleon's conquest and occupation of most of the German states. But then the Nazis used a lot of German composers and writers of the past as part of their intellectual backdrop and that does not necessarily diminish their art or their message.
The play is part of the German classical canon and I am off to see it tonight. The leading prize in German literature is the Heinrich von Kleist award and is a mark of how highly his writing is regarded in Germany. An interesting footnote which I have discovered is that the play was banned during his lifetime as one of the Prussian queens, who was related to the Prince of Homburg of the title, regarded the play as an insult to the honour of her ancestor, so was only performed after Kleist's death. The play deals with the issues of orders and intuition and when it is necessary to disobey etc. An intesting question in itself and even more so for one involved in party politics.
Having known Derek in the Green Party for a number of years, I am aware of the high regard in which he is held by so many different types of people – black and ethnic minority communities in the UK, students, economists, representatives of indigenous peoples in Latin America and all those who thirst for justice and equality. I have seen how Derek is respected both nationally and internationally and his stature has increased over the years. He is very respected, for example, by the governments of the new left leaning countries of Latin America and has regular invitations to their embassies etc.
As someone involved in the Coalition of Resistance organising committee, whose statement was launched last week against the massive cuts in this country which are going to devastate the welfare state and the health and education systems, I am aware that one of the major battles ahead will be over alternative economic strategies. This is where Derek will come into his own as an economic thinker with a proven track record and someone who has published many major works on the issue.
The role of a Deputy Leader is also to enthuse party members and activists and Derek can do this in spades.Not being a councillor or an MP he is not tied up in committee meetings and council chambers and can get around the country to meet those members, particulary in regions which have not seen much sign of the party leadership, to engage with them and bring their concerns and views back to the party Executive and other relevant party bodies such as GPRC. He has stood in a range of elections over the years ranging from the European elections to the local ones and understands the concerns of candidates and local parties.
He is also a firm constitutionalist and is steeped in the bottom up and grassroots democracy of the Green movement and would ensure that power in the party remains with the membership and its representative bodies. Dianne Abbott is already running on a programme of restoring democracy to the Labour Party membership - Derek would ensure that members never lost that power in the first place. He would be a 'tribune of the membership' and a voice for minorities within the party as well as others.
Derek is someone who speaks truth unto power and represents the new type of politics which so many both here and abroad are clamouring for - not just the same old and tired political mantras and comfort zones which others cling to like a used blanket. If the Green Party is to look outwards and take a lead at the head of a broad and popular movement against war, inequality and climate change, then Derek is the person who is required at the head of the party. His passion and intellect and above all his vision are what the Green Party requires in the years ahead, especially now that politics in this country stands at an important crossroads.
Derek is having two book launches in the near future of his book The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Politics. The first, is at the Green Party conference in Birmingham on Saturday 11th September at 4pm and the second is in the Bolivarian Hall of the Venezuelan Embassy in London on September 14th at 7.30pm.
For a Deputy Leader who will water the grassroots and lead the charge, vote for Derek Wall.
Peter Tatchell has called for support for this very important campaign and I completely echo what he has said. It is vital that this institutionalised homophobia in Iran is challenged. I do not use the word lightly but these actions of the clerical theocracy in Iran are truly 'evil'. Please write to those who Peter has specified.
Iranian judges defy their Supreme Court to hang teen
At the end of this article, see the action you can take to help save Ebrahim
Must a man hang because he is accused of being gay?
Eighteen year old Ebrahim Hamidi has been sentenced to death by a court in the Iranian city of Tabriz, on charges that he sexually assaulted another man. His accuser has since withdrawn the assault claim in a sworn affidavit, admitting that he lied under parental pressure. But Ebrahim is still scheduled to hang.
Two years ago, the alleged sex attack victim was caught by Ebrahim damaging his father's crops. There had been a history of feuding between their families. A fist fight ensued, involving Ebrahim and some friends. During the fracas, the accuser's trousers slipped down 20cm, which he claimed was evidence of a sexual assault.
Two hours later, Ebrahim and three friends were arrested on sodomy charges and tortured in a detention centre for three days. Ebrahim was hanged upside down by his legs and badly beaten. To stop this abuse, he signed a confession.
There is no evidence that Ebrahim is gay or that a sexual assault took place; just the word of one person against another and a confession under torture, which was later retracted.
At his first trial in 2008, Ebrahim was sentenced to hang on the the basis of the "knowledge of the judge" - a bizarre legal protocol whereby, in the absence of sufficient evidence to convict in sodomy and adultery cases, a judge is free to assess that a person is guilty.
Ebrahim's death sentence is in defiance of the Supreme Court of Iran, which has twice rejected the local court's guilty verdict and ordered a re-examination of the case, citing errors in the legal investigation and an "issue of doubt." These two Supreme Court rulings against conviction and execution have been ignored by the judiciary in Tabriz.
At the third and most recent trial in June, Ebrahim's three co-defendants were acquitted. He was not. Two of the five Tabriz judges cleared him of all charges but the other three upheld his execution order.
Soon afterwards, a third appeal was submitted to the Supreme Court. Alas, at this crucial stage in his appeal, Ebrahim suddenly has no legal representation, which puts him in great peril. His lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, was forced into hiding after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He has since fled Iran, fearing that the government was planning to jail him over his highly publicised efforts to stop the stoning to death of a 43 year old woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, on charges of adultery. She, too, was sentenced by a Tabriz court.
Without a lawyer, Ebrahim cannot further challenge the death sentence. If the Supreme Court this time confirms his execution, he could be hanged in a matter of days. Hanging in Iran is not by the trapdoor drop method, which breaks a person's neck swiftly. It is by sadistic strangulation. The noosed victim is hoisted by a crane, which causes them to writhe and convulse. They die a slow, painful death from asphyxiation.
Ebrahim's case highlights the flaws and injustices of the Iranian legal system. It is further evidence that innocent people are sentenced on false charges of homosexuality, often after torture.
To avoid the hangman's noose, Ebrahim's best hope is to persuade the Chief Justice of Iran, Sadeq Larijani, to veto his hanging. I have written to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, urging him to press the Chief Justice to halt Ebrahim's execution, annul the death sentence and order a re-trial. I hope MPs, and the public, will lobby the Iranian Ambassador, to save both Ebrahim and Sakineh.
What you can do to help save Ebrahim
Write a polite letter of protest to the head of the judiciary and to the supreme leader of Iran, urging Ebrahim's release:
Head of the Judiciary
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737, Iran
Email: email@example.com or via the official website: http://www.dadiran.ir/tabid/75/Default.aspx
Supreme Leader of Iran
Sayed Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street - Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Email: via the official website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)
The organising committee of 'Coalition of Resistance. Can't Pay, Won't Pay' received the following message from Spanish workers over the weekend. I know that I have some Spanish readers of my blog, as my partner is from the Basque Country and some people there take an interest in my political activities. So Hola Companeros y Companeras en Espana y en el Pais Vasco. The Spanish general strike against the cuts is on September 29th and we have to build towards a pan-European resisteance to what these Spanish comrades call "the dictatorship of the free markets". Viento del Pueblo.
Solidarity from Spain
Support and solidarity from Spain. All we, European citizens and workers, are involved today in the same struggle against the dictatorship of the "free" markets. From Greece to UK, from Poland to Spain, we need a "viento del pueblo" (a "people's wind", as our revolutionary poet Miguel Hernández said) to defeat the present and clear danger of the new financial fascism. Un fuerte abrazo,compañeros y compañeras de las Islas, juntos podremos, ¡arriba losque luchan!
Greens celebrate Pride in first Member of Parliament
Brighton Pride: Thank you for voting Green!
The Green Party will celebrate their first Member of Parliament, Caroline Lucas, at tomorrow's Pride in Brighton and Hove . Human Rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, will join the Green Party’s float. The theme of this year’s Pride is Pride and No Prejudice.
Caroline Lucas MP said:
"It's a privilege to have been elected by the voters of Brighton Pavilion constituency in May, as the country's first Green MP.
"Part of my job as your MP is to fight for fairness and equality to ensure LGBT people are respected and empowered - which isn't easy anywhere - even in such an LGBT-friendly place as Brighton and Hove.
"Many who identify from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities put their faith in me in May's general election so thank you.
"I'm sorry I can't be at Pride this year, as I was last year, as I have family commitments this time, but I wish you all well on this special day of the year. Have fun and celebrate!"
Phelim Mac Cafferty, National Chair of LGBTGreens added:
“We are incredibly proud of the historic achievement of the election of our first MP, Caroline Lucas, and want to thank the people of Brighton Pavilion for putting their trust in us.
“Caroline has already used her first weeks as an MP to speak out against prejudice and will continue to campaign for LGBT equality. While naturally, we want to emphasise a sustainable approach to Pride we also want to show our gratitude to the people of Brighton Pavilion.
“The float will be built in the form of the Houses of Parliament and has been created according to sustainable standards: all of the wood used for the creation of Parliament is sourced from sustainable sources. While the face of Big Ben will be adorned with solar panels which will power the DJ rig on board the float – using sustainable energy in exactly the way we’d like to see the actual Houses of Parliament powered. The truck will also run on a biodiesel blend. Greens demonstrate in our own small way how alternatives can be found to depleting fossil fuels, and we are confident that because the people of Brighton have elected Caroline that they will share our Pride in pushing for a sustainable future.
“Greens are proud to be once again on the streets celebrating the LGBT communities and we are looking forward to a reflective time but one where we can also enjoy Brighton ’s biggest, best, free event. As well as having a float on the parade, we will have a community stall in Preston Park where more information about LGBTGreens is available. On behalf of LGBTGreens, can I take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and sustainable Pride.”
I am one of the signatories to this statement of resistance. The fightback starts now! To add your name to the statement send an email to the address at bottom.
The time to organise resistance is now
We reject these cuts as simply malicious ideological vandalism, hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. Join us in the fight
The government claims the cuts are unavoidable because the welfare state has been too generous. This is nonsense. Ordinary people are being forced to pay for the bankers' profligacy.
The £11bn welfare cuts, rise in VAT to 20%, and 25% reductions across government departments target the most vulnerable – disabled people, single parents, those on housing benefit, black and other ethnic minority communities, students, migrant workers, LGBT people and pensioners.
Women are expected to bear 75% of the burden. The poorest will be hit six times harder than the richest. Internal Treasury documents estimate 1.3 million job losses in public and private sectors.
We reject this malicious vandalism and resolve to campaign for a radical alternative, with the level of determination shown by trade unionists and social movements in Greece and other European countries.
This government of millionaires says "we're all in it together" and "there is no alternative". But, for the wealthy, corporation tax is being cut, the bank levy is a pittance, and top salaries and bonuses have already been restored to pre-crash levels.
An alternative budget would place the banks under democratic control, and raise revenue by increasing tax for the rich, plugging tax loopholes, withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, abolishing the nuclear "deterrent" by cancelling the Trident replacement.
An alternative strategy could use these resources to: support welfare; develop homes, schools, and hospitals; and foster a green approach to public spending – investing in renewable energy and public transport, thereby creating a million jobs.
We commit ourselves to:
• Oppose cuts and privatisation in our workplaces, community and welfare services.
• Fight rising unemployment and support organisations of unemployed people.
• Develop and support an alternative programme for economic and social recovery.
• Oppose all proposals to "solve" the crisis through racism and other forms of scapegoating.
• Liaise closely with similar opposition movements in other countries.
• Organise information, meetings, conferences, marches and demonstrations.
• Support the development of a national co-ordinating coalition of resistance.
We urge those who support this statement to attend the Organising Conference on 27 November 2010 (10am-5pm), at Camden Centre, Town Hall, London, WC1H 9JE.
Caroline Lucas MP
John McDonnell MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Mark Serwotka, general secretary PCS
Bob Crow, general secretary RMT
Jeremy Dear, general secretary NUJ
Michelle Stanistreet, deputy general secretary, NUJ
Frank Cooper, president of the National Pensioners Convention
Dot Gibson, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention
John Hendy QC
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary NUT
Cllr Salma Yaqoob
Lee Jasper, joint co-ordnator ,Black Activists Rise Against Cuts (Barac)
Zita Holbourne, joint co-ordinator of Barac campaign and PCS national executive
Ashok Kumar, VP education and welfare,LSE student union
Hilary Wainwright, Red Pepper
Francis Beckett, author
David Weaver, chair, 1990 Trust
Viv Ahmun, director Equanomics UK
Paul Mackney, former general secretary NATFHE/UCU
Clare Solomon, president ULU student union
Lindsey German, convenor, Stop the War Coalition (personal capacity)
Andrew Burgin, archivist
John Rees, Counterfire
Romayne Phoenix, Green party
Joseph Healy, secretary Green Left
Fred Leplat, Islington Unison
Neil Faulkner, archaeologist and historian
Alf Filer, Socialist Resistance
James Meadway, economist
Cherry Sewell, UCU
Alan Thornett, Socialist Resistance
Peter Hallward, professor of modern European philosophy
Back last night from the Green Left Summer Camp in Cambridge which was really enjoyable and productive, good to meet GL comrades from all around the county and to welcome a visitor from Grune Linke (Green Left) in Germany, Moritz, with whom I hope to meet up again in London before he returns to Germany. Lots of workshops and discussions, mainly centred this year on the internal workings of the Green Party but also examining issues such as campaigns in the months ahead and a session on 'Working with the Left'.
One of the things we will be doing on this last question is giving some financial support to Convention of the Left in Manchester on September 24th to 25th as one of the organising bodies and I will be speaking on the panel on international issues at the Convention on the evening of September 24th. We also discussed regional organisation of Green Left around the country and outside "the London Village" and the Summer Camp saw the inaugural meeting of Green Left in the Eastern region. We also discussed the need to have good radical candidates standing for all internal posts in the party at conference and especially for the Executive and the committees.
One of our main campaigns, in which we are already involved, is the Can't Pay, Won't Pay international campaign against cuts and myself and Romayne Phoenix are already attending the weekly organising committee meetings of this campaign. The campaign is about to issue a public statement signed by many leading people on the UK Left, as well as trade unionists and people active in the world of the arts. We are also looking to organise a major international conference in London on November 27th as well as a smaller event and demonstration on September 29th to coincide with the Spanish general strike and the European TUC's call for a Day of Action against the cuts across Europe.
Here is the Marxist geographer Professor David Harvey's animated version of the Crisis of Capitalism, based on a recent lecture he gave in London to the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). Says it all really.
Joseph Healy stood as the Green Party's Parliamentary Candidate for Vauxhall at the last general election.
Joseph was also Number 4 on the Green Party's European list in London.
He was Male Co-Convenor of Green Left, the ecosocialist, anti-capitalist platform within the Green Party, for two years and was the Secretary for the last year. He is an officer of Coalition of Resistance, the leading anti-cuts campaigning organisation. He resigned from the Green Party this February in protest against the Green Council in Brighton & Hove voting through budget cuts.
He has also been recently elected as the Treasurer of Queers Against the Cuts.
He was also the Green Party's delegate to the Stop the War Coalition and an active anti-war campaigner.
He is an active trade unionist and a member of UNITE.
He was working for four years as director of a Pan London disability charity in Brixton (Transport for All) campaigning for better accessible transport for disabled people and is himself disabled. He currently works for Lambeth's main disability organisation, Disability Advice Service Lambeth on a part time basis.
After having been Vice Chair of the London Ambulance Service Patients Forum, the largest public and patient involvement group in the NHS, he was elected Chair in 2010 and re-elected Chair in 2011.
He was also active as a pioneer in the LGBT rights movement in the Irish Republic in the 70s and early 80s and has campaigned strongly in London on issues connected with HIV and health.
Joseph lives in Camberwell with his partner and his cat.