Conference Newsletter of Green Left Autumn 2019
-What is a Green New Deal?: A Partial introduction
Slogans can be useful. It’s easier to write ‘Green New Deal’
on a placard than ‘An economic arrangement designed to
create employment in new ecologically friendly industries as
they replace carbon intensive ones in order to counter
climate change.’ But is this what everyone who uses this
on a placard than ‘An economic arrangement designed to
create employment in new ecologically friendly industries as
they replace carbon intensive ones in order to counter
climate change.’ But is this what everyone who uses this
As the New Economic Foundation notes, advocacy of a Green New Deal was initially a response to interlinked ecological and economic crises of 2008. This was an adaptation of the New Deal policies applied in the USA in the 1930’s by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to combat economic depression.
These policies owe much to the ideas of John Maynard Keynes, who advocated government spending targeted at increasing the spending power of the poorest in order to stimulate demand. Keynes hoped that stabilising capitalist economies would preserve democratic political systems against the threats of left and right totalitarianisms.
Would a Green New Deal also achieve this?
Paul Mason argues that; “It is likely that, given the scale of the endeavour, we will need decisive, centralised state action and ownership.” Whereas Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, who identifies as a ’democratic socialist’ but often has to address an audience which is basically sympathetic to capitalism, presents a US version of GND, with a far more Keynesian emphasis “Federal Government-led mobilizations during World War II and the New Deal created the greatest middle class that the United States has ever seen….”.
Labour (at least according to Clive Lewis MP) takes a seemingly more radical stance, saying “ the Green :New Deal can’t just be about “tinkering” and instead called for “emergency socialism”, which he described as a “whole new political economy”.
Caroline Lucas strikes a similar note, although less specific about how a GND is to be achieved: “It is not good enough to tinker with the status quo – we must reprogramme our economy so that it works for everyone. It’s about sharing our country’s wealth fairly and acknowledging that our planet’s finite resources cannot magically regenerate in an instant. This is purposely radical territory. We must push the boundaries of what is seen as politically possible.”
However, there are common concerns in that all these variants of GND advocate tackling poverty via employment creation as well as climate change. The differences lie in how far its advocates are prepared to go in describing what role the state should have in its implementation.
It is worth remembering that FDR’s New Deal did not of itself end the 1930’s depression; it took the massive expansion of the US military-industrial complex in WW2 to do this. Does this indicate that a GND cannot both be effective and maintain existing political and economic systems? If so, how far are GND advocates prepared to go to change these?
JMKeynes 1936 The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money https://neweconomics.org/2008/07/green-new-deal https://neweconomics.org/campaigns/green-new-deal
My manifesto for a post-carbon future by Paul Mason 19 July 2019 issue of the New Statesman,
Ocasio-Cortez, Alexandria (February 12, 2019), H.Res.109 – 116th Congress
(2019–2020): Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on May 19, 2019, retrieved May 19, 2019
Labour members launch Green New Deal Marianne Brooker The Ecologist'
| 23rd July 2019
Yanis Varoufakis and the Green New Deal for Europe | DeepDive
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctqUTsZfFWg Trump Doesn’t Know How Cars Work
Scotland. Laura Moodie Member, Elections & Campaign Committee,
Scottish Green Party.'
May’s EU Elections were a wake-up call for the Scottish Greens. While our friends in England, on the island of Ireland, and across Western Europe, were celebrating the Green Wave, our vote share broadly stagnated. With less than two years until the crucial Holyrood 2021 elections, we can’t stand still.
A group of, mostly young, Greens from across the SGP want to move on from a period of internal reflection and reform and start using the considerable campaigning and organisational skills of party members to map out and deliver the Green Wave in Scotland. That grouping is the Green Future Group (GFG) and over the summer all seven of the candidates on their slate were elected to internal positions. Several are now standing for selection to the Holyrood list.
The GFG believe the Scottish Green Party must be a movement that;
• Tells a compelling story via clear messaging
• Is an active and effective campaigning force in communities across the country
• Has a vibrant and engaging internal culture and democracy We want to represent the voices of ordinary branch members across the country, foster the next generation of Scottish Green elected representatives, and deliver the campaigns that will win. Our platform is simple and built on three ideological priorities:
• A Green New Deal: The party launched their blueprint for this on Thursday 29th August.
• Eco-Socialism: Capitalism cannot solve the climate crisis, or the deep social & economic inequalities that plague society.
• Independence: Flags don't mean much on a planet wracked by inequality and climate breakdown. Greens back Independence as part of the social and economic transformation we know we must deliver via the Green New Deal.
A report from the Young Greens’ convention
by William Linegar
Since joining the party in August 2017, I have had a good impression of the Young Greens and their more radical edge. I’m happy to say that I’ve come away from the 2019 Young Greens Convention with that impression renewed and fortified.
There was interest in my Green Left stall throughout the weekend with several people positive about signing up, and keen to have discussions with me about a range of topics while perusing the copies of Watermelon I had available.
The Convention attracted big names like new MEPs Ellie Chowns and Magid, as well as Siân Berry and various activists who work in areas like homelessness support and trade unionism. A talk dispelling Tory lies about employment and austerity from Rosie Rawle was particularly striking, and she was re-elected as Young Greens co-chair the following day. I am also pleased to report that several candidates for the YG Executive election used the words ‘I am anticapitalist’ during the hustings. There is no doubt about the ecosocialist credentials of the newly elected Executive and of the Young Greens more generally, as evidenced by the Convention talks on topics like strikes, migration, and homelessness.
I was also encouraged by the passing of motions including one which called for recognition of British colonialism’s role in climate breakdown, as well as one which called for a shift in dialogue around migration to stop dehumanising migrants as economic units and to recognise the non-economic benefits of migration.
Aside from the encouraging signs from Convention, the Young Greens’ electoral might is a key reason to support them and explore potential areas of cooperation going forward. I am part of their ‘buzz team’ which promotes the work and success of Young Greens around the country and I have been to several of their local election campaign days and can safely say they are a force to be reckoned with. They can mobilise scores of keen activists to assist local parties with canvassing and leafletting and their thousands of cumulative hours of volunteering played a key part in several local election campaigns earlier this year, one of which was my local campaign in Reading which bore fruit in the shape of four Green councillors, a new record.
I will continue to be involved with the Young Greens locally and regionally and I look forward to Green Left recognising them as a real force for good, as I do.
See also ‘ROSIE RAWLE explains how the youth wing of the Green Party is committed to radically changing the economy and environmental policies, as ‘critical allies’ to Corbyn’s Labour ‘ https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/f/what-young-greens-are-doing-planet
William Linegar is Youth and Students’ Officer of Green Left
IRELAND – DANCING ON THE VOLCANO:
I am writing this on the verge of visiting the Irish border town of Newry for British and Irish Pride as a delegate of my union UNITE. As I leave London, following protests about the suspension of parliamentary democracy, my mind is full of questions about the future of both my country of birth (Ireland) and the country I have lived in for 35 years (UK). For many years some socialists in the North of Ireland claimed that the UK was a progressive state and that for any real social or political progress the six counties of the partitioned island of Ireland needed to be linked to that state, as the alternative was a backward, priest-ridden South where divorce, contraception and abortion were banned and the Irish Republic was ruled by the Catholic Church and non-Catholics could never achieve equality.
This world view has been turned on its head; those holding such views remind me of the deluded Brexiteers who still believe, despite the right-wing coup in the UK, that Brexit is a process which will lead to socialism and a state founded on British liberty and equality. Instead the Republic, for all its faults, is turning into a modern, social democratic European state with both marriage equality and abortion referenda having been passed by large majorities and the role of the Catholic Church diminished. It has a written constitution and a President whose role is to protect the constitution against the actions of the executive, unlike the UK’s feudal constitution. The Republic has huge problems of economic inequality, housing and labour rights, but which of the two states is heading in the right direction now? Northern Ireland is the poorest region of the UK. It also remains a sectarian, partitionist entity with wealth concentrated in the area east of the River Bann, the area mainly represented by the DUP which has dominated the North for many years. This party, now supporting the suspension of parliament and being promised another bung by Boris Johnson, remains compromised by its period in office in the Stormont administration, where it presided over graft and corruption. For over two years it has blocked the formation of another administration, refusing to budge on marriage equality, abortion and Irish language rights. The DUP are viewed with contempt by growing numbers of young people in the North of Ireland. Seven Sinn Fein MPs were returned in the 2017 parliament. The support of the DUP is a shortterm measure and there are many who believe that Johnson will throw them aside when it suits him. Both demography and economics are against the continuation of the partitionist state. Times have really changed when a centrist journalist like Simon Jenkins can argue that partition was supposed to be a temporary measure and it is time for a united Ireland. Brexit, with all it means for the restoration of a hard border, a return to violence and the collapse of the economy in the North of Ireland, may be the final nail in the coffin of the Unionist enclave formed by another imperialist British government in 1921.
One recent event showed the potential for a new North of Ireland and Irish state. The first visit of Boris Johnson as PM to the North of Ireland was met by two demonstrations outside Stormont. One by the workers from the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast facing closure, and the other by language activists calling for equality for the Irish language. The shipyard workers were organised by their union UNITE and come from a traditionally Unionist workforce. At one point the shipyard workers joined the language activists calling out in Irish “Save our shipyard”. This was a glimpse of a future new Irish state uniting both traditions and with links to the labour movement. Not for nothing has it been said that Johnson may be the last Prime Minister of the UK state. The growing dictatorial nature of the UK state, its wilful ignorance of Ireland and xenophobic pursuit of hard Brexit may be the signal for the reunification of the island of Ireland and the creation of a new Irish Republic, where in the words of Wolfe Tone in 1798 Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter would be equal.
HANDS OFF OUR LAND: AN ECOSOCIALIST VIEW
Since 1979, privatisations have included British Rail, water, gas, electricity, NHS services, school and college playing fields, Royal Bank of Scotland, local authority services, council housing, national power, British Coal, Royal Mail, and many others, including land.
The recent book by Brett Christophers (1) identifies land as the largest privatisation. Christophers cuts through the obscurities of land law to expose and quantify this vast land grab. It is still in progress. 10 % of the entire British land area – 2 million hectares – has been transferred from public to private hands since 1979. It matters who owns land. In
England 50% of the land is owned by 1% of the people.
Christophers’ analysis of land privatisation excludes the land privatised with the major public enterprises, since he is interested in the privatisation of land per se, but includes the land sold with council housing, where land is the major element. His conclusion is an emphatic rejection of the reasons for, the processes and the outcomes of the privatisations. He describes land privatisation as the ‘new enclosure’, with good reason. It has been justified by regarding this land as ‘surplus’ in an allegedly wasteful public sector, requiring more efficient, and profitable, use. The original enclosures of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were similarly justified: common land was seen as wasted, used inefficiently. Marx (2) recognised those enclosures as ‘first accumulation’, depriving commoners of their livelihood, driving them to work for capitalists as the source of surplus value in the industrial revolution.
The facts of the original land enclosures are well documented (3, 4). There were more than 5,000 Acts of Parliament for enclosures, in addition to private agreements. 5.6 million hectares of common land were enclosed during the two centuries, with loss of rights and access. Less than 3% of land in Britain remained as common land.
Perhaps the only voice of a victim of the original enclosures is that of a poverty-stricken agricultural labourer suffering illhealth for much of his life, the poet John Clare (1793-1864). His village of Helpston near Peterborough was enclosed by an Act of 1809 when Clare was sixteen. He saw trees felled, habitats destroyed, fences going up, with ‘No Trespassing’ notices (5). Selected lines from his poems illustrate the impact of the enclosures on the villagers (6). Clare’s ‘The Mores’ made clear his view:
Inclosure came & trampled on the grave
Of labour’s rights & left the poor a slave
& memorys pride ere want to wealth did bow
Is both the shadow & the substance now
In a plainly political poem, Clare identified those responsible for the theft of the commons:
Each little tyrant with his little sign
Shows where man claims earth glows no more divine
On paths to freedom & to childhood dear
A board sticks up to notice ‘no road here’
In the manuscript margin of another poem, ‘The Village Minstrel’, Clare’s publisher John Taylor, concerned about offending Clare’s wealthy patrons, wrote ‘This is radical Slang’:
Justice is made to speak as they command
The high road now must each be stinted bound
- Inclosure thourt a curse upon the land
& tastless was the wretch who thy existence pland
[retaining Clare’s original spelling and punctuation]
In his poem ‘The Lament of Swordy Well’, Clare attributes a voice to the common land, not only protesting the enclosure, but opposing subsequent mining for grit and sand – literally theft of the land:
I couldnt keep a dust of grit
Nor scarce a grain of sand
But bags & carts claimed every bit & now they’ve got the land.
John Clare’s poetry reveals a profound first-hand understanding of nature and ecology. Together with his poems of protest at social injustice (7), including the long satirical poem ‘The Parish’, and his prose writings, Clare sounds a recognisably early eco-socialist voice. His words surely resonate with relevance today: opposing the new enclosures, fracking, Great Barrier Reef degradation, Amazon fires, land grabs and displacement of indigenous peoples, migrants, climate change and destruction of ecosystems.
Christophers writes that land has become further concentrated in the hands of the capitalist class, but we have quietly acquiesced. Resistance has been localised. ‘Our Ground’ in Liverpool, a Nottingham campaign to save a town hall, the
New Economics Foundation ‘Save Public Land’ campaign, ‘Save our Spaces’ in 2018, the 2010 campaign against selling
the public forest estate. In London, council estate redevelopments involving land transfers to private development partners have met resistance. The Haringey Council scheme, HDV, involving at least 36 hectares of public land, was opposed by local groups leading to the resignation of the council leader and the abandonment of the plan. It’s essential that public landowners demonstrate the benefits of public ownership of land. The Scottish Land Commission has made a start, and Community Land Trusts in Bristol and other cities are making an impact.
1 Christophers, Brett, 2018, The New Enclosure, Verso
2 Marx, Karl, Capital, volume 1, p.889, 1976, Pelican
3 Harrison, J.F.C, 1984, The Common People, Fontana
4 Morton, A.L., 1984, A People’s History of England, Lawrence & Wishart
5 Goodridge, J & Thornton, R.K.R, 2016, Clare, The Trespasser, Five Leaves Publications
6 Dawson, P.M.S., Robinson, E, Powell, D., 2000, John Clare, A Champion of the Poor, Carcanet Press.
7 Attack, R.S., 2010, John Clare: The Voice of Freedom, Shepheard-Walwyn
Ende Gelände 2019 by Phil Fletcher
In June this year, unreported by most of the UK media, 5,000-6,000 managed to close the largest coal mine in Germany for almost 2 days. The Hambach Coal Mine is currently expanding, and when completed, will be 85 km2. It is the deepest open cast mine in Germany - 299 metres below sea level; owned by RWE (the Rhenish Westphalian Electricity company. RWE also own N-Power. Germany will be unable to reach its greenhouse gas commitments to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees if it continues with coal fired power stations.
The expansion of Hambach Coal Mine is also destroying the last ancient woodland in the area – Hambach Forest. Massive protests had forced
North Rhein Westphalia to declare a moratoriumor 18 months, but this is being ignored by RWE.
The edge of the Mine has now reached the roots of the trees
I would love to write exiting first-hand reports of direct action, but. I have osteoarthiritis, so I could not take part in long marches, and, apart from going to a demonstration on the Saturday to the edge of the Mine, I helped supporting the site, So what I have to report are reports from others. I was last there in 2012. Since then villages have been demolished, and roads in the area had been blocked. The camp was in a large park on the edge of town. Over 5,000 arrived and the camp mostly had been sorted into affinity groups These were organised into 6 or 7 umbrella groups, or “fingers”, of about 1,000 people,
Various actions had been planned over 3 days. It was planned to enter the mine occupy a railway line in the mine, supplying coal to surrounding power stations, One large group was to enter the Mine from the North, and another from the South and occupy the railway line, so that the surrounding power stations would not receive any coal. All participants were equipped with space blankets and disposable decorators’ suits. as the mine is very dusty and hot – over 40 degrees! There was also to be a vigil and rave at the gates of one of the power stations.
On Friday, a first group of about 1,500 set off. They were soon followed by another group 2,000, at midday. One group had planned to travel by bus from Viersen Station to a vigil and a rave (which had been notified with the police) outside the gates of one of the power stations but were kettled at Viersen Railway Station for 12 hours. However, about half managed to break away and walked about 12 miles to the farm of a supporter who apparently stood at the entrance to hand out food as they arrived! Another group managed to reach the railway line which feeds the power stations, holding their position for 45 hours.
The next day a 3rd Group set off and were able to take busses and trains and reach the mine. Simultaneously, about 7,000, part of the 40,000 from a demo in Aachen the day before. came to join the protestors. This group succeeded in reaching the northern edge of the Hambach Mine. There was also a demonstration and concert at the village of Keyenberg, . German Friends of the Earth and die Linke had stands there, but not the Green Party. (Although members of die Linke told me that many Green MPs had been acting as legal observers).
Keyenberg is next to the mine, so many used the opportunity to enter the mine. There was also a rainbow finger – a group of disabled who were invaluable in blocking a strategically important crossroads, enabling the red finger to get into the Mine.
The police acted violently, several people having to be hospitalized – including a broken eye socket. Mounted police were also used. However, the police were overwhelmed, and the demonstrators held the mine until the next day,
The Action was to cease on Sunday at 10 am as had been planned by the organisers However, the police kettled those in the mine at 9 am. Anyone who wanted to leave was beaten up. They were eventually let out several hours later.
Many demonstrators came from outside Germany,
notably from France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Endegelaende has also set an example in other European countries. This year there have been protest camps against open cast coal mines in Poland (Krzkowice in southern Poland) and the Czech Republic (Bilina). A large group from Germany and Austria also took part in the Reclaim the Power Camp in July near Broxbourne.
It is heartening to see that, despite Brexit, such ties between groups with the same aims are actually increasing.
“Are pensioners to blame for brexit?” – A personal view by an enraged EU citizen
You’ve heard this before: ‘The older generation is responsible for brexit, they voted to leave.’ You may also have heard this: ‘The younger generation is responsible for brexit; they did not bother to vote.’ Both generalisations are obviously incorrect and annoying to those misrepresented. We can see on every march, on every campaign event, at any leafleting street stall, how many silver-surfers are actively opposed to breaking up our relationship with our European neighbours.
It is likely to be worse still for older pro-EU activists in areas regarded as ‘leave-supporting’. But even in locations exceeding 70-75% this still means that one out of four or five of those who actually voted chose ‘remain’ across all age groups. How do they feel being lazily, and incorrectly, labelled? Of course, this goes both ways – London is regarded as strong pro-EU territory but 1.5 million voters still opted the other way.
The younger generation has over the last three years jumped at the chance to brush off the accusations of apathy and indifference – be it through political engagement, campaigning at concerts and events and a whole new ecological dimension, based on the realisation of a climate emergency. Perhaps not every campaign and protest step taken has turned out to be flawless, nevertheless there’s an engaging energy-flow transcending topics ranging from the climate crisis via social injustice to free movement and an internationalist outlook. And they make sure they are visible on social media.
And how is the older generation being portrayed in the media? There are the odd news stories, bordering on quaint quirkiness in their reporting; about grandmothers being ‘exposed’ as secretly chalking antibrexit messages. The endearing impression in the visual media still remains the image of a cloth-capped gent or a scarf-wearing lady talking in a regional accent about how ‘we will take back control’; with all other nuances of views conveniently ignored.
But hasn’t the older generation only itself to blame for this sorry state of affairs? If statistics are anything to go by, ‘We, the Elders’ had the highest leave-vote ratio in the referendum of any age group. And how much effective energy have ‘We, the Elders’ invested into changing the perception of us as a stubborn, obstinate age group?
At this point we could usefully add some observations along with some empathy. The older generation does have something that younger generations are still in the process of acquiring: a potential for broken dreams, combined with the challenges of advancing years. The austerity decade has had a profound effect on all segments of society, accentuating problems with precarious life-planning by people already struggling to stay afloat to keep their self-respect intact. Experiences such as these tend to affect middle-aged or older people disproportionally if their options keep diminishing at the same time. In my own 20s I had the energy to make a new start in a new country. Now, in my 60s, I can understand the resentment by people who feel their struggles to feel valued and respected to be under threat. Civic pride is easily eroded with constant media exposure to alleged, or indeed real, incidents of a society in crisis with the accompanying blame-game and appeal to the ‘strong’ personality to make everything right again.
It is possible to be a proud and engaged citizen of a great country and still have an open internationalist outlook, while acknowledging the challenges faced by society. Evidence for this can be found across Europe. Sadly, it is not easy to recreate such a mindset once it’s severely damaged. And how would this be done, given the media landscape responsible for much of the damage?
I conclude that a generational blame-game is unhelpful in our political circumstances. Emphasising a path forward based on green ideas, a Green New Deal, resisting austerity- and encouraging a confident internationalist outlook – all embodied in the Green Party Manifesto – might be the one sensible way forward, in a confident and cooperative partnership as a proud member of the European Union. Done sensibly, with empathy and understanding, giving people a chance to re-evaluate their choice without being labelled, and promoting policies that empower rather than disempower, this approach would have a chance to bring together all affected communities instead of setting them off against each other.
(Erwin Schaefer – West Central London Green Party secretary and membership officer) 28 August 2019
How participants in post-18 education are funded has an enormous bearing on the future of society but has had sparse attention compared to proposed loss of free TV Licenses for the Over-75s. Right wing tabloid newspapers campaign against the latter but seem to have disregard for student finance issues. On Wednesday May 22, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty concluded his heavily researched report into poverty in the UK, stating that poverty in
Britain is ‘Systematic’ with ‘tragic consequences’.1
Commenting on the Augar Review of post-18 education,
Former Hereford 6th Form College Head Jonathan Godfrey states, “The unwieldy and unfair student loan system remains and the excessively high interest rate is retained. The period before a write-off is extended to 40 years and the salary threshold at which the loan has to be repaid is reduced. Both will disadvantage less welloff students who will pay more not less” (Talking Point, Hereford Times, June 6).
I had it tough in getting my BA, but things get worse for my successors, and ‘key decision makers’ have little regard for ‘tragic consequences’.
My parents were told in 1978 by the Social Worker of a
Government run ‘Employment Rehabilitation Centre’, “Yes, Alan [then aged 24] has an academic brain, but he’s too slow to ever benefit from any further education or training. He’s too slow; it just wouldn’t be worth it.” In Higher Education’ my Social Research Methods lecturer a differed, “I believe you would be ideally suited to postgraduate study and research. Your understanding of Sociology is greater than that normally expected of a graduate.”
A cocktail of bureaucratic machinations, stress-induced illness and Jobseekers Allowance legislation led me to leave grant funded uni attendance in 1997 with insufficient academic credits for full BA (Hons) in Interdisciplinary Studies, a JSA embargo on my Credit Accumulation & Transfer Scheme modular course completion, and £4K student debt that had risen above £5K through interest before it was written off at age 60.
Is Mass Higher Education really about equipping learners and society for the future, or is its covert curriculum oriented to the idea that poor people are inferior and worthy of a life in subservience to their supposed ‘betters’? The most useful stuff I’ve learned has been self-acceptance, making my contribution to society transcend ‘market forces’. What of future generations though?
Alan Wheatley, BA in Interdisciplinary Studies (1997)
The Peterloo Massacre: 200 Years of Class
The Durham Miners Gala was held on Saturday 13th July 2019. I have seen reports that suggest that 200,000 people turned out to support the Socialist Movement and the struggle for a free and fair society. Last month was the 35th anniversary of the Battle of Orgreave; an event that, as a young man, I saw unfold at firsthand; watched with disbelief as a rightwing government attacked its own people ~ people protesting to maintain their ‘Right to
The laughing gods of Amazon sat upon their mound of unpaid tax ~ a mound that I have to admit I shamefully contribute to on a regular basis ~ anyway these laughing gods decided to make available the excellent film ‘Peterloo’ by Mike Leigh. It is a film based on a brilliantly researched book by Dr. Jacqueline Riding; a superb account of one of the defining moments in modern British history.
If you can’t read the book, then I urge you to watch this movie. It is an amazing portrayal of the life of the oppressed; of the employed working class. Working people living in complete poverty. Starving, struggling to survive and yet they still have a stoic pride. A refusal to submit to the degradation that is heaped on them. Pride and hope are their mainstay; the belief in a better, fairer society; a new political system. A system that does not condemn the poor for starving; Universal
Suffrage; Universal Representation.
‘Hope…I hope ’cos hope is all we has…’
At the same time the film exposes the vivid comparison between the poor workers and the uncaring ruling class; aloof in their opulence. Surrounded by grasping high~bourgeoise toadies; scared of loosing their privilege and fortune ~ and their source of cheap labour.
After all the French Revolution was still a vivid memory and the Napoleonic war had ended just a few years perviously.
‘Strike! How dare they do this to me…I put bread on their table.’
The comparison with today’s society is stark and immediate. The reflection of the Battle of Orgreave is ominous. The relevance of the political machinations of the Rees-Mogg’s of this world and their ‘Gammon’ brethren is graphically unequivocal.
Is history repeating itself…again? Is there a lesson here? Political radicalism is polarising. The revolution is coming. I hope it will be a peaceful, educated, disciplined, and organised revolution of civil disobedience based on outrage.
‘The terror of the French Revolution lasted for ten years. The terror that preceded it and led to it lasted for a thousand years
~ Edward Abbey.’
Kevin Donoghue, Eco Socialist, Green Party Member
Scarborough & Whitby 14th July 2019
* Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre ~ Dr. Jacqueline Riding
[ Kindle, Amazon, Barnes Noble & all good book shops; Digital Services ]
** A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Vox Clamantis en Deserto) : Notes
from a Secret Journal ~ Edward Abbey ~ (1990) ISBN 0312064888 p.21, RosettaBooks 
[ Amazon, Barnes Noble & all good book shops]
Manchester Peterloo massacre – 16th August 1819
Fair representation where every vote counts: the battle for electoral reforms continues
Nicole Haydock – Convenor to the Reform Conference Voting Working Group Bury Green Party, Greater Manchester
On 16th August 1819, 60000 people rallied peacefully in
St Peter’s Field in Manchester calling for “Liberty and Fraternity” and electoral reforms. They were expecting speeches and a good day out. What they were not anticipating was violence carried out by troops sent in to disperse them so aggressively that 18 people, including women and children, were butchered and more than 650 were injured in the bloodiest political clash in modern British history.
Whilst what happened in Manchester 200 years ago remains a milestone in the long road to electoral reform, it would be another 13 years before a limited measure of parliamentary electoral reform was passed – and that did not give the working men and women gathered in St Peter’s field the vote either. They would have to wait many decades for that, and women did not get the vote until 1918.
Whilst universal suffrage has been achieved, the battle for a fair and democratic voting system where every vote actually counts in the UK is however not over.
As all the evidence has shown since the result of the 2016 European Union referendum where every vote did count, and the almighty constitutional crisis its outcome has triggered with a Parliament elected under first-pastthe-post where the winner takes all, how much longer will we have to wait for a new Act of Parliament to deliver a fair and democratic electoral voting system?
As members of a minority party aspiring to play a key role at all levels of political decisions, Greens are naturally in favour of changing the voting system where every vote counts. But why is it that our campaign for proportional representation seems to have lost its momentum?
Why are we allowing Nigel Farage and his “no deal” Brexit Party to pick up our banner for proportional representation when it has been our aim and policy for decades? We appear to be failing to grasp the unique opportunity presented to us by the historical constitutional crisis provoked by the unexpected outcome of the 2016 EU Referendum to renew our efforts to press for electoral reforms.
Two hundred years ago in Manchester, people died in
St Peter’s Field for the right to vote and hundreds were maimed for life, unable to work and support their families.
With the prospect of another General Election looming large where all the indications are that neither the Tories nor Labour will have the numbers to form a government on their own - thus opening the prospect of a long period of coalition government - time has surely come now for us to stop blinking, be assertive and put electoral reforms for proportional representation firmly and uncompromisingly at the very top of our election strategy.
REVIEW OF “FOR WALLS WITH TONGUES: AN
ORAL HISTORY OF STREET MURALS 1966 TO
1985.” Eds. Steve Lobb and Carol Kenna
Published by Greenwich Mural Workshop isbn 9781870100076
Floyd Rd Mural by Greenwich Mural Workshop 1976
Art, culture and politics have long existed in a complex and fascinating interrelation. This is the territory that “FOR WALLS WITH TONGUES” explores as it happened in regard to the creation of public murals in Britain in the late twentieth century.
FWWT mainly concentrates on formally trained artists who sought, in various styles, to make accessible art by painting large murals in places such as street walls and gable ends, where their work was freely viewable.
The work of thirty-one muralists is included both through striking and beautiful illustrations, and via transcripts of interviews, supplemented with five essays about artists, on their motivations, as well as the techniques, problems and influences that contributed to their artistic creations.
During the time covered by the book most such work was often funded by local and national state bodies, for instance the Arts Council, and the Greater London Council. This is discussed in an introductory essay by the editors.
The economic, cultural and political contexts of the time often led to works which were in some senses ‘against’ dominant cultures and structures Some works explicitly depicted and promoted causes and movements such as nuclear disarmament, anti-racism and feminism. Also, many of the more figurative murals drew on artistic traditions of depicting workers, or local residents of working class areas, as deserving of as much attention and celebration as that customarily accorded to high status powerful individuals in artworks. Arguably, even an abstract mural in a working class neighborhood is a political act, as it has taken art out of museums and galleries, where it might only be viewed by the relatively privileged.
An essay by Professor Bill Rolston about murals in Northern Ireland, includes a place where there was, and is, a different mural tradition, not coming from formal art education, but related to political and physical conflict between republican and unionist communities.
Could a similar movement to the muralists covered in FWWT exist in contemporary Britain? Surely the emergence of climate change as a mainstream political issue must provide muralists with a fantastic wealth of subject matter. However, the drastic cutbacks made to public funding of art, and to almost every other area of society, probably means that we won’t see the like of this public art movement, at least in England, until the stranglehold of neo-liberal economics over public life is broken.
Murals and other public in the spirit of the works presented in FWWT still are being made but in a less friendly climate and new creations may be made in ways which involve different interactions between trained and untrained art workers. Whatever the increasingly uncertain future holds, the work shown and described in FWWT provides an example of the great potential of genuinely accessible public art. Steve Lobb and Carol Kenna have done an excellent job in presenting this
to us. P.Murry 9/2019
At the last GPEW conference in June the following emergency motion was passed:
“The Green party regrets Ford's decision to close its Bridgend engine plant, announced on 6/6/2019. This threatens the workforce with unemployment and potentially inflicts a devastating blow to the local economy. We support the policy of Just Transition, so that when jobs are lost in environmentally harmful industries, such as petrol vehicle engine manufacture, workers are offered jobs in ecologically friendly industries with appropriate retraining. We don't support petrol vehicle engine manufacturing, but we do support workers' rights to decent treatment."
Sadly this now seems like foresight because a very similar thing is now happening at the Tata steel works in Newport where GPEW conference is taking place ( see “Tata Steel to close Newport factory, putting 400 jobs at risk : https://www.theguardian.com @ByRobDavies Mon 2 Sep 2019), As mentioned in joseph Healy’s article above, there is also threat over The Harland and Wolf shipyard where like the Lucas aerospace workers in the 1970’s , workers want to put their skills to better use (see https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/harland-and-wolff-belfastoccupation-nationalisation-labour-john-mcdonnell-a9071536.html)
Even as heavy industry is being battered to bits in Brexit-threatened Britain, outsourced workers in service industries are being squeezed down to poverty wages like the striking Medirest staff at Northwick Park
Hospital. To whom gptu has sent a message of support
So the struggle goes on, but many are concerned not just to defend threatened workers but encourage awareness and support for green issues because projects such as the Green New Deal offer hope for a better future, a recent example of this are the educational materials produced by the Greener Jobs Alliance which has just produced an excellent A Trade Union Guide to Just Transition available FREE at http://www.greenerjobsalliance.co.uk/courses/
We are the bald monkeys,
From a planet in the milky way.
We rush around in our tin cans,
From place to place to place.
We can make machines of wonderful power,
And also vast heaps of trash.
We'll kill wild forests and elephants,
We'll turn our planet to ash.
We are such curious creatures,
We always want to know,
So we cut others up to see how they work,
And when they're dead, we know.
We think that we are so intelligent,
But don't seem to realise,
That there is no planet b
For us to colonise.
So unless we treat earth and it's life,
With care and with respect,
The oceans will rise and erase us,
As a failed experiment