Saturday, 22 November 2014

On 3 December George Osborne will be giving his Autumn Statement in London, the People's Assembly is organising two events:

On 3 December George Osborne will be giving his Autumn Statement where he's set to triumph the success of austerity and announce further cuts and privatisation.

In London, the People's Assembly is organising two events:
Thursday 27 November
Economic briefing ahead of Osborne's Autumn Statement | #AusterityMyths
Austerity Lies and Myths: what the government doesn't want you to know
6.30pm, NUT HQ, Hamilton House, Maybledon Place, London WC1H 9BS
The panel includes:
Owen Jones Journalist, James Meadway Senior Economist, New Economics Foundation, Dr Faiza Shaheen Head of Inequality & Sustainable Development, Save the Children (personal capacity), Micheal Burke Economist. Chaired by: Christine Blower General Secretary, National Union of Teachers
Join our panel of leading economists, journalists and trade unionists for discussion and debate on the true state of the economy and the lies underpinning the Government's austerity programme.

Limited space so please register your place:
Click here to register
Protest: Tuesday 2 December
Protest on the eve of Osborne's Autumn Statement | #AusterityFail

Austerity has failed: Sack George Osborne
From 5:30pm, Downing Street, London

Please share & invite your friends on Facebook

On the 2nd of December, dozens and dozens of George Osbornes will descend on Downing Street before the real penny-pinching George gives his Autumn Statement. But while he will be hiding the truth from us, our gaggle of Georges will be doing no such thing.

In a rare moment in politics they will all be telling the truth about austerity, busting the myths that the ConDem government want us to believe are facts, and admitting all the ways they have stolen from us and our public services.

But honesty is tiring work for a politician so the Georges will be sitting down to a feast as well. While they treat themselves to champagne, our volunteers will be helping the public by giving away a sweet version of the scraps our government allows us to have.

So come along to Downing Street on Tuesday 2nd December at 5.30 pm and join the hundreds who will be showing what austerity really is. Help us tell the truth about the damage of the Budget before George Osborne makes his excuses. Maybe you’d like to play a Greedy George, or share the sweet scraps with the passersby. Or maybe you just want to stand with a placard held high and be heard.

The People's Assembly Against Austerity

London Federation of Green Parties speakers' meeting 20/11/2014: Health devolution, Animal testing, Land Value Tax

London Federation of Green Parties speakers' meeting 20/11/2014: Hugh Small: "How Devolution Solved a Victorian Public Health Crisis" London Federation of Green Parties speakers' meeting 20/11/2014: Caroline Allen: 'The Scientific Case Against Animal Testing' London Federation of Green Parties speakers' meeting 20/11/2014: Dave Wetzel: 'Land Value Tax' London Federation of Green Parties speakers' meeting 20/11/2014: Questions and discussion

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The next Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group meeting

The next Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group meeting will be from 12.00 - 3.00 on 6th december 2014 in Committee Room 4 at Camden Town Hall (Judd Street entrance), Euston Road, London.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

No more deaths from fuel poverty demo 28/11/2014

No ethnic cleansing in the Caribbean, Boycott the Dominican Republic

Caribbean Labour Solidarity have asked for our support to picket theEvening of Dominican Cigars, Music and Rum
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No ethnic cleansing in the Caribbean

Caribbean Labour Solidarity have asked for our support to
Picket the Evening of Dominican Cigars, Music and Rum
on Wednesday 26th November
at the  Royal Geographical Society,  Kensington Gore, SW7 2AR from6.30pm

It is "Dominican Week" next week in London and the Royal Geographic Society are hosting an Evening of Dominican Cigars, Music and Rum for the Dominican Ambassador and guests. It is appalling to celebrate the country in this way, particularly as three weeks ago the Dominican Republic informed the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of its intention to withdraw its membership, a reaction to the international criticism it received following the 2013 Constitutional Court ruling and subsequent acts of discrimination against Dominicans of Haitian descent in the country.

The Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic made a ruling in September 2013, which retroactively stripped the birthright citizenship from tens of thousands of children, women and men, many of whose parents and grandparents were brought to work in the Dominican Republic’s sugar industry. The ruling covers citizens resident in the Republic since 1929 and their descendants.  

There is a long history of racism, xenophobia and violence directed against Haitians and persons of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic, which cannot be disassociated from this latest injustice. It would do us well to recall that the last time there was a major governmental crack-down against people of Haitian heritage in the Dominican Republic, during the 1937 "Parsley Massacre" by the forces of Dominican President Rafael Trujillo, over 20,000 men, women and children were rounded up, then beaten or hacked to death for just being Haitian or simply looking as if they were because they were black. 

It is scandalous that the Dominican court has chosen to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the 1937 massacre by stripping Dominican-born men, women, and children of Haitian descent of their citizenship, rendering them not only stateless but unable to attend school or make a living while becoming even more vulnerable to all kinds of hostilities including, increasingly, physical violence.

download a leaflet...

Boycott the Dominican Republic
No holidays in a country that strips its citizens of their rights
Do not drink their rum, do not smoke their cigars

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Statement from Caroline Lucas MP & Davy Jones (PPC for Brighton Kemptown) on the ICES decision

Davy Jones

Nov 18 (1 day ago)

Here is a statement from Caroline Lucas MP & myself (PPC for Brighton Kemptown) on the ICES decision yesterday:

We are disappointed that at yesterday's Brighton & Hove Council Policy & Resources Committee meeting some Green Group councillors including the Council leader Jason Kitcat, voted to accept a Health & Well-Being Board recommendation to out-source a local NHS service (ICES) to provide specialist equipment for people with disabilities to a private sector provider.

It is a complicated situation - the Sussex Community NHS Trust was threatening to pull out of the service, "cost shunting" the responsibility over to the cash-strapped local Council that only provides a small component of the service currently. This is deeply regrettable. But we believe the Council has made a mistake in allowing itself to be forced by the NHS Trust to out-source this service to a private sector provider.

There was no necessity to make this decision earlier today – the existing contract runs until September 2015, leaving plenty of time to seek alternative solutions to keep the service in public hands.

We are particularly disappointed in today’s decision as it is not one that is in line with national or local Green Party policy, that unreservedly opposes the privatization of NHS services. Neither was the ICES decision brought before the local Green Group or Green Party in advance for discussion. The Green Party councillors on the Council recently successfully proposed a motion to the full Council meeting opposing privatization of NHS services.

We reiterate our outright opposition to the out-sourcing of the ICES service and to support the staff in the NHS in their campaigns to remain in the public sector, and NHS campaigners fighting against privatization.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Why "we" (Left Unity) should take the Green Party seriously

October 23, 2014
Sean Thompson gives his view of what Left Unity’s position should be on the Greens

Two resolutions to our national conference in November mention the Green Party; one calls for ‘structured collaboration… between serious forces on the left at the 2015 election, including the Green Party’, while the other states that ‘we will not call for a vote for… the middle class Greens’. Clearly, we need to get our act together and decide on the sort of relationship we want to develop with the Green Party. In my view, it is essential that we not only have a realistic understanding of the party’s politics and its support base, but that we develop a positive (but critical) working relationship with them wherever we can.

It’s only a bit more than eighteen months since our Ken, appearing on BBC’s Question Time, said that what Britain needed was a ‘UKIP of the Left’ and so kick-started the initiative that was to become Left Unity a few months later. However, since May it has started to look more and more as if it is the Green Party which is beginning to match that description. Membership of the Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) is booming: it now stands at around 23,000 – a near 60% increase since the beginning of this year. Membership of the Young Greens (party members under 30 or full time students) has more than doubled over the same period and now stands at over 8,000. In the week since the TV companies announced that UKIP would be invited to take part in the election debates between the party leaders next May but that the Greens would not be, the party received an incredible 2,000 membership applications and in five days an online petition demanding its inclusion in the debates received over 185,000 signatures. Given our very modest size and limited visibility and the utter irrelevance of all the old far left sects and (except for a couple of areas) TUSC, the Green Party is increasingly being seen as the only alternative to the left of Labour.

There is no point in our trying to deny it: the Green Party is certainly now a party of the left and is even – somewhat fuzzily – anti-capitalist. Caroline Lucas has said on TV that she is proud of the party’s ‘socialist traditions’ and both she and the party’s current leader, Natalie Bennet, have publicly said that they are comfortable with being described as ‘watermelons’ (green on the outside but red on the inside; the epithet thrown at socialists in the party by right-wingers and the title of Green Left’s conference bulletin). There is little in its formal list of policies that any of us would take violent exception to; the party is opposed to Trident and NATO, and in favour of the renationalisation of the railways and public ownership of buses, water, gas and electricity. It is opposed to the privatisation of the NHS and its education policy is all but identical with the NUT’s. It is opposed to current anti-trade union laws and the proposed TTIP and supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel. Oh, and in addition to publicly supporting the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, the party supports CAMRA’s Beer Drinkers and Pub Goers Charter! In other words, most of the time we agree with each other on most things.

However, its politics are syncretic and impressionistic, having developed out of and still marked to some degree by, a narrow and moralistic environmentalism. The nearest thing it has to a clear statement of political position is its ‘Philosophical Basis’ document, 3,000 mind numbing words of well meaning flannel. As a result, the party’s politics are to a large degree built on sentiment rather than rigorous analysis. This is compounded by the fact the the party has a very weak tradition of organised internal debate (apart from its six monthly conferences) and no tradition at all of political education.

The political strategy of the Green Party is based on the unspoken assumption that politics is virtually entirely about fighting elections and political success is entirely about winning them. Thus the whole structure of the party, such as it is, is organised as a rough approximation of an election machine which apes the three major parties. In those areas where the party is organised enough, its activities are for the most part confined to fighting elections and in between, preparing for the next one by distributing newsletters/leaflets and canvassing. Its presence on demonstrations and in broad labour movement campaigns is usually limited to members of Green Left, the Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU) and increasingly the Young Greens.

The GPEW is no longer just an environmental one trick pony – it is a left-social democratic party and implicitly (and to a modestly increasing degree, explicitly) anti-capitalist. The trouble is, it has no real analysis of capitalism, the state, or who, where or what are the agencies for change. As a result, it has no overall strategy for how to get from where we are to where we want to be beyond getting an ever increasing number of people to vote the goodies into office rather than the baddies. The problem with this sort of voluntaristic radicalism, based on a personal moral imperative and unreinforced by much in the way of analysis or understanding of class politics, is that when push comes to shove, no matter how principled and progressive you are personally, you do tend to get shoved – as they did (and continue to do) when they ‘took power’ as a minority administration in Brighton.

Nonetheless, the more or less conscious move to the left of much of the party’s membership over the past few years, away from the the narrow environmentalist niche politics that were, and to some degree still are, its comfort zone, in combination with the recruitment of large numbers a younger generation attracted by its increasing emphasis on egalitarianism and social justice, has been extremely positive. While it is is true that the average Left Unity member is to the left of the average Green Party member, the Greens are clearly significantly to the left of Labour. They are, whether they realise it or not (and many of them do, in a muddled sort of way) – or whether we like it or not – part of the broad and inchoate movement that has to be brought together to be the basis of a new mass party of the left that can earn the active support and involvement of millions of working people.
Clearly, the Greens are not that party – actually it has not even occurred to much of the older membership that that should even be an ambition. The party’s membership is overwhelmingly middle class (although I suspect not that much more so than ours). By and large, the areas in which it has done well – Brighton, Norwich, Bristol, Lancaster and pockets of some of the major cities – have a larger than average percentage of young, leftish, well educated middle class inhabitants (eighteen months ago, an internal survey found that 38% of the Green membership had a postgraduate degree). However, the Greens have started to pick up a modest increase in support in a few working class areas, particularly in the West Midlands.

The problem is that their niche market – the progressive middle class vote – is highly contested and unstable. At the last General Election a good slice of the Greens’ ‘natural’ supporters went to the Lib Dems. Since then, of course, the Lib Dem vote has collapsed and in the elections in May 2014, many of those who chose it in 2010 because of New Labour’s shameful record in government returned to Labour, which has exercised a hegemony over progressive middle class politics for the best part of a century. What will happen next May is anyone’s guess. At the moment the Green Party is neck and neck with the Lib Dems, with the latest Ashcroft poll showing them at 8% to the Lib Dems’ 7%. Caroline Lucas will, with any luck, retain her seat in Brighton (although the party will be hammered in the council election there) but its chances in its other target seats are rather slimmer than it claims. Their electoral support is very evenly spread so they are likely to pick up a very respectable number of votes which are unlikely to translate into many, if any, additional seats.

When I was in the Green Party I repeatedly pointed out to my comrades in Green Left that the party, while being many times larger than all the far left sects put together, was just as much a sect as any of them. The Green Party may be an unusual sect, in that it is left reformist and fairly democratic and tolerant, but it is a sect nonetheless. Like other sects it is obsessed with the Full and Correct Programme (in this case its Policies for a Sustainable Society rather than the Transitional Programme of 1938 or the British Road to Socialism) which, if presented to the unenlightened masses for long enough, will lead them to recognise their previous shortsightedness. Like other sects it tends to view actual concrete struggles through the distorting prism of its own programmatic priorities – including many programmatic points which are good in themselves of course.

To its credit, it doesn’t share with most far left sects an obsession with the Leninist conception of the party (although, arguably, neither did Lenin) but on the other hand it doesn’t have a class analysis (or much of any kind of analysis) of society and the state. And it doesn’t have any of the other various laughable programmatic tics and obsessions of the ‘old left’ grouplets – but then it doesn’t need them as it has plenty of its own.

While it is therefore unlikely that the Green Party, left to its own devices, will break out of its political niche, it has demonstrated that it has considerable potential to grow within it. It is at least three times as large as all the groups on the radical left (including Left Unity) put together, if not larger. Its youth wing (which will be discussing a proposal to formally declare itself socialist at its next conference) is growing at a rate of knots and is the biggest political grouping on an increasing number of campuses. And thanks to the efforts of Green Left (which now has four members on the party’s national executive, including Trade Union Liaison Officer) and GPTU, it is beginning to have some very modest influence in a number of unions at national level.

It would be a grave mistake to just write off the Greens as ‘middle class’ or, regardless of their policies and their involvement in progressive campaigns, tacit supporters of the status quo. Many people, particularly younger people, are increasingly seeing them as the only viable organisation to the left of Labour – and in many parts of the country they are. In Australia, the Green Party has effectively filled the space to the left of the right wing Labor Party by default, due to the irrelevance (and tiny size) of all the orthodox groupings of the radical left. That was the situation, too, in Germany for many years – and even now Die GrĂ¼nen, compromised and discredited though it is, still constitutes a major block to the development of our sister party Die Linke. Given that we are less than a tenth of the Greens’ size it would be ludicrous for us to dismiss them as irrelevant.
The vast majority of Greens see themselves as left wing and a large proportion are happy to describe themselves as anti-capitalist, including Caroline Lucas and Natalie Bennett. Many consider themselves socialists, and the fact that many more don’t really know whether they are or not is as much a condemnation of the sectarianism of the far left groups as it is of the poverty of political theory in the Green Party.

I believe that building a mass party to the left of Labour has to involve the Green Party, or at least a large part of its membership, in some way. Rather than reject or ignore them I think that we should attempt to engage with them in practical ways and develop a relationship as critical friends. In May, the Green Party will be standing in at least 300 seats and in the majority of them are likely to be fielding the only left of Labour candidates. No doubt some comrades might be able to construct some sort of argument for not supporting them in those contests, but it would be an example of the sort of bone headed sectarianism that has been so typical of the British Left over the past few decades and which has been in large measure responsible for us being so discredited and marginalised now.
If, in the future, we want them not to put up candidates against us in some areas, or wish to persuade them not to stand against the handful of decent Labour MPs (or Plaid in Wales) – or not to stand in the two or three places where TUSC has a chance of a more than derisory vote – then we need to take the initiative in backing them as we did in the North West in the Euro elections, at least in constituencies where there is no other left candidate. There is no chance of us negotiating a national agreement with the Greens in time for the May elections, but there is time for us to start to talk to them at local level and begin to discuss how best to co-operate in practical ways.