Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Events This Weekend

A number of left events in England this weekend - First, the Demonstration planned at RAF Brize Norton. I reproduce the press release below from our Green MEP, Caroline Lucas' office.



Event: Green MEP addresses national ‘Stop the War’ rally at RAF base
Place: Recreation ground, off Alvescot Road, Carterton, Oxfordshire
Time: Saturday, December 2nd, 2.15pm.

GREEN Party Euro-MP Caroline Lucas will add to the pressure on the
Government over Iraq on Saturday when she will demand it brings British
troops home at a peace rally outside RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

“Families are losing their sons and daughters, children are being orphaned,
and with every month that passes Iraq becomes a more and more dangerous
place to be,” she will say during the national demonstration, which has been
organized by Stop the War and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

“It’s time to wake up to the fact that the UK occupation is part of the
problem – not the solution – and bring the troops home safely now in time to spend Christmas with their families here in the UK.”

RAF Brize Norton is the UK’s largest military base, and transport hub for
all British troops going in and out of Iraq. It has been used to forcibly
expel asylum-seekers back to Iraq.

The demonstration, which is expected to attract thousands of peace
protestors from across the country, will hear calls for an end to British
involvement in conflict across the region. RAF Brize Norton should be used
to co-ordinate bringing the troops home.

Participants will lay flowers outside the RAF base as a mark of respect for
all who have died, of any nationality, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dr Lucas, who is a member of CND’s national decision-making council as well as co-founder and co-president of the European Parliament’s cross-party Peace Initiatives Intergroup, will say: “Our message today is very simple:
Tony Blair, bring the troops back home from Iraq now – men and women are
dying and all the while your disastrous policy is making conditions in Iraq
worse, not better.”

The rally will assemble at Caterton at noon before marching past the base,
leaving at 1pm. The Green Euro-MP for South-East England will address the
rally at about 2.15pm, shortly after the march passes RAF Brize Norton.
Other speakers include Jeremy Corbyn MP, CND Chair Kate Hudson, Stop the War’s Lindsey German and Andrew Murray and a speaker (tbc) from the British Muslim Initiative.

The rally has been called by CND and Stop the War. For more see: here

Secondly , the big Latin American Solidarity event in London on Saturday -

Linked here

Guest speakers include:
•WAYNE SMITH: Former Head of US Interests Section, Havana

•DOLLAN CANNELL: Director fo the documentary: 638 Ways to Kill Castro, C4

•AIDA AVELLA: Former Colombian Congresswoman, Patriotic Union

•CESAR NAVARRO: Head of the MAS group in the Bolivarian parliament

•HAROLD PINTER: Nobel Prize Winner, author, playwright, political activist

•TARIQ ALI: Broadcaster, author, (Pirates of the Caribbean and Axis of Hope), Telesur advisory board


•VICTORIA BRITAIN: Journalist and playwright

•COLIN BURGON MP: Chair, Labout Friends of Venezuela

•JOHN CRABTREE: Research Associate, Oxford University Centre for Latin American Studies

•FRANCIS O'GRADY: Deputy General Secretary, TUC

•HUGH O'SHAUGHNESSY: Journalist and author

•JEREMY CORBYN MP: Vice-chair, All Party Latin American Group

•KEITH SONNET: Deputy General Secretary UNISON


Thirdly Socialist Resistance (the newspaper involving the ISG claimants to British representation of the "Fourth International" and others) is organising a conference on Ecology and Socialism with the guest speaker being Michael Lowy, joint writer of the Ecosocialist Manifesto with Joel Kovel.

2.12.2006 London: 'Ecosocialism or Barbarism'
Speaker Michael Lowy
Day long conference on climate change hosted by Socialist Resistance
ULU, Malet St, 10.30am till 6pm
£10 waged, £4 unwaged

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Stop the threatened deportation of Mercy Murua and Peter Gichura

I am posting this urgent appeal from Winvisible (Women with visible and invisible disabilities) regarding two disability activists in Britain under threat of deportation.

Dear friends

We ask you to take action and speak out in support of Mercy Murua and Peter Gichura, two disabled activists who face almost certain persecution and death if they are deported back to Kenya (see enclosed information). Ms Murua is in WinVisible, and Mr Gichura takes part in our joint activities, including the “Claim the Buses” transport action day by wheelchair users, organised by Transport for All in August 2006. You may have seen them on ITN’s London Tonight news feature.

All of us who are working for disability rights and against all discrimination, including prominent people in the disability community, must be concerned about this official refusal to recognise the persecution of disability activists, and the refusal to grant asylum for life-saving medical treatment and living conditions.

Please contact us if you need more information.

WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)


Support Mercy Murua and Peter Gichura, disabled activists at risk of deportation


Ms Murua and Mr Gichura are disabled activists from Kenya. In 1997, they set up the Mwanzo Disabled Development Society (MDDS), a group of disabled street hawkers. Mr Gichura was the chairperson and Ms Murua was the treasurer and spokeswoman for women. In 2000, MDDS was allocated a plot of land by the City Council, where they planned to live and work. When MDDS challenged the corruption of the Council in not handing over the land, the police made death threats and their hawking licenses were revoked. Fearing for their lives, they fled Kenya in 2001. Despite elections in 2002, fighting has continued in the country and both fear their lives will be in danger if they are returned.

Ms Mercy Murua, a wheelchair user, a disability activist and member of WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities), is at imminent risk of deportation. Her claim for asylum on grounds of political persecution, ethnic persecution, access to medical care and refuge from rape has, so far, been rejected by the Home Office.

As a baby, Ms Murua contracted polio and was placed in a children’s home. Almost all of her childhood was spent in care. In 1992, her parents who are of Kikuyu decent, lost their home in a land-grab by Kalenjin people and others, Kalenjin people being the tribe of repressive President arap Moi. Ms Murua moved to Nairobi, and in 1997, started street hawking to survive.

Street hawkers who are Kikuyu were targeted by the Nairobi police. Those who could, ran off, but disabled people could not escape. They were beaten with staves, brutally loaded onto lorries, often without their crutches, etc., taken to the police station and detained. Ms Murua was particular vulnerable as a woman. Local police jeered that she could not fight them off and she suffered repeated sexual abuse and rape, including while detained in a police cell. As a result of one attack, she became pregnant and gave birth to her daughter. Anne Neale of Women Against Rape says: “Rape by police should be recognised as persecution and so as grounds for asylum, but when Ms Murua spoke about her traumatic experiences, she was accused of embellishing her claim and her case dismissed.”

Mr Peter Gichura is a father, a wheelchair user and disability activist. He applied for asylum from political persecution and for medical treatment without which he would die. His most recent application in 2006, when his spinal injury worsened, was refused with the words: "a person's medical condition must be at such a critical stage that there are compelling humanitarian grounds for not removing them to a country which lacks the medical and social services to prevent acute suffering before death". Is it acceptable that the right to life under the European Convention has been reduced purely to the right not to suffer unduly while dying?

When experts like Rachel Hurst OBE (Disability Awareness in Action and member of the Advisory Group to the government Office for Disability

Issues) confirm that, if deported, Mr Gichura, as someone with a spinal injury, would almost certainly not survive for long -- how much more “compelling” or “critical” can someone’s situation be?

Mr Gichura was detained in Harmondsworth detention centre, most recently in August 2006, in appalling conditions where he was unable to use the bathroom and toilet properly, was searched in a painful and threatening way, and on the first occasion (February 2006), given the wrong medication. He has launched a legal case under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and Human Rights Act (HRA), however, if removed, he will be denied even the basic right to be present to prepare his own case.

Payday, a multiracial network of men, says: “Peter Gichura is a valued member of our network. He was persecuted for defending the rights of disabled people. We now defend him from almost certain death. With his life and organising experience he makes an enormous contribution, which neither we nor the community in general can be deprived of.”

Support has come from hundreds of individuals and organisations, including representatives of five major disability charities who appealed to Liam Byrne, Minister for Immigration.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, writing in support of Mr Gichura, said: ’I would underline the wider social consequences of handling cases like these in ways that entrench . . . a perception that the UK immigration regime is unbalanced, unjust and inhumane. I recall . . .the European Convention on Human Rights, “Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law” ’. He proposes discussion with the Home Office “to find some more humane middle ground” than the current refusal of medical grounds (Letter to Liam Byrne, 12 October 2006).

People with disabilities have not only the right to life but also the right to live free from fear. We are calling on everyone, and especially those who speak for the disability community, to defend Mercy Murua’s and Peter Gichura’s right to protection and safety, towards establishing rights and protections for all.


Please write to or email the Immigration Minister Liam Byrne, demanding that Mr Gichura (HO ref: G1053958) and Ms Murua (Home Office reference M1116337) be granted the right to stay – see model letter on WinVisible’s web pages - or write your own.

Liam Byrne MP
2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF
fax 020 7219 2417
email and

Please copy to:
Anne McGuire MP, Minister for Disabled People
fax 01786 446513 email
Malcolm Wicks MP (Mr. Gichura and Ms Murua’s MP)
fax 020 8683 0179 email
WinVisible fax 020 7209 4761 email
Payday email


Donations are greatly appreciated towards the cost of phone and publicity. Please make your cheques payable to Payday or WinVisible, saying clearly that your cheque is for this purpose.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Latest From Defend Council Housing Campaign

Here is the latest from Defend Council Housing who are rallying support for Labour Campaign group MP Austin Mitchell's Early Day Motion on decently funded council housing:

Austin Mitchell MP has tabled a new motion (EDM 136 Funding Decent Council Housing) following the Queens Speech. Ask MP(s) to sign to demonstrate their support for the ‘Fourth Option’ for council housing, a ‘level playing field’ and real choice for council tenants (email your MP).

149 MPs backed motion EDM 48 in the last Parliament. Ask all tenants and trade union organisations to write to local MPs urging them to sign up. Tell your MPs to lobby the Treasury for the ‘Fourth Option’ to be included in the Comprehensive Spending Review next spring and ask them to join the House of Commons Council Housing group.

Majority of tenants’ ballots voting NO

The majority of ballots in 2006 have gone against privatisation including 4/4 ballots in Scotland. Tenants, trade unionists and councillors opposing privatisation are still massively out resourced by one-sided council campaigns but we have showed we can stop them when we organise effectively. If a council is pushing transfer, ALMO or PFI in your region please help campaign against (see list available on DCH website) in forthcoming ballots to finally kill privatisation off.

Meeting at DCLG

On Tuesday (Nov 21) Austin Mitchell led a delegation to meet DCLG officials to examine the financial issues. This meeting was promised a year ago by David Miliband and Yvette Cooper. They were unable to defend Ruth Kelly’s dramatic assertion at the Labour Party conference that the ‘Fourth Option’ would cost £12billion and we are now demanding a detailed costing of how much it would cost to meet Decent Homes for all council housing.

Debt write off
The No votes in Scotland very starkly put the focus on a ‘level playing field’ on debt write off. If the Treasury will write off council housing debt on privatisation why won’t they write off (or take over) council debt when tenants choose to keep the council as their landlord? Put this question to all politicians – including those who are considering standing for Leadership and Deputy Leadership of the party in government.

Affiliate, order material and donate

Encourage tenants organisations and trade unions to distribute copies of the DCH national newspaper and the ‘Case for Council Housing in 21C Britain’ pamphlet. Make sure your organisation is affiliated and agree a generous donation to enable DCH to campaign locally and nationally.

Please forward this email to tenants, trade unionists, councillors and others…

Further information on the campaign website

Also browsing today I discovered the interesting web site of Tom MacFarlane - called Democratic Deficit. Tom is a retired teacher who harvests interesting stories from the media on the ongoing destruction of our liberties, services, welfare and environment in the name of neo-liberalism. Tom comments in an informed way, referencing philosophers and thinkers such as Polanyi. He also has some pretty sites of photographs.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

On Books, Links and Reading Lists

The Green Party of England and Wales Economics Spokesperson Molly Scott-Cato has recently produced what sounds like a very interesting book - Market, Schmarket - Building The Post-Capitalist Economy. The book is published by New Clarion Press - read their advert for it here.

Caroline Lucas, Green MEP, has said that "For those who want to see through the deception of the money system and have dreams of a more just society there can be no better starting place". In his review in the latest Green World, Bob Young says it is a "gripping and highly entertaining introduction to some of the key concepts of classical economics". Any book that can make economics "gripping and entertaining" certainly has my support!

New Clarion are publishers of another book of essays including one by Caroline Lucas and Colin Hines, one by Molly Scott-Cato and another by new Green Party Male Principal Speaker Derek Wall.

Here at G.O.O. I try to do my own little bit for greater understanding of green and left theory and history with the Documents section in my Links column. (Further suggestions for links to online texts, essays and programmes of note are very welcome!)

An informal Green Reading List for members of the Green Party of England and Wales is being put together over at the Green Reading List Blog. Contributions and suggestions from sympathetic bibliophiles are welcome there too.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Transport - A Lack Of Vision From Government And Opposition

Interesting article here on the forthcoming government-backed report on the transport situation in Britain. The fact that the report, to be released next month, comes from a former British Airways Chief Executive, Sir Rod Eddington, does not exactly inspire confidence from the start. The call for a major expansion of rail capacity is welcome, but the detail of the proposal is characterised by the unambitious 'prudence' of Gordon Brown's financial rule.

However, the response from the Tories is also revealing. I have said before how John 'Vulcan' Redwood's continuing high rank and credibility in the Tory Party gives the lie to Cameron's claim to be creating a more green and socially responsible organisation that reins in big business. Redwood has responded with some classic Martian claptrap comparing roadbuilding to opening new hospital beds and then says any expansion of rail must be paid for by the private sector - i.e. more snouts in the public trough to continue the PPP/PFI rip-offs New Labour are saddling us with.

'The government doesn't say "Put in a few more hospital beds and people will only use them, so they will all get blocked again". They just offer more beds. The same must be true of rail and road capacity.'

A completely dishonest comparison. Because it is a proven fact that opening new roads does encourage more traffic and more road based journeys in private cars. That is to say that preventative healthcare is a very good idea, just as are preventative measures to reduce traffic (i.e better public transport)- but to compare the two areas of expenditure and the implications of expanded capacity is silly. In one area meeting need is necessary, but does not significantly increase demand, in the other area the opposite is the case - and road and rail transport cannot be lumped together as most of the time they are competing forms of transport.

But if Redwood's inanity is enough to give you hope that the government's judgement is better, first have a look at Eddington's CV - his list of jobs and appointments is like a roll of dishonour of corporations progressives love to hate.

It seems we will have to wait a while longer before any significantly radical new thinking on transport emerges from either government or so-called opposition.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Results Are In! (Part 4 - RMT elections)

Apparently the elections in the British Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, RMT (which is one of Britain's most militant unions and whose general secretary Bob Crow has addressed a Green Party of England and Wales conference) have resulted in victories for left-wing candidates. The union is outside the Labour Party and a welcome thorn in the side of the Blairites. Today they have organised a lobby of the London Labour Party on the subject of tube privatisation. This courtesy of Dave Osler's Blog from yesterday -

It’s a really good day for lefties being elected to things today. According to a press release from RMT, tubeworker John Leach has been voted in as the union’s new president, beating Ray Knight by 6,865 to 5,141 after the redistribution of votes from three eliminated candidates.

Bristol-based Alex Gordon, another leftwinger, was elected unopposed to represent South Wales and the West on the RMT executive. Congratulations to both.

John Leach is 39, a London Underground worker and the youngest RMT President for many years.

The London Federation of Green Parties issued a statement on some of the ongoing London transport issues last week -

The London Federation of Green Parties passed two motions on Monday night:

(1) Calling for the tube contractor Metronet to be sacked and for the work to be brought in-house.
(2) Supporting the strike by Metroline bus drivers.

The following went out after the meeting:

Sack Metronet!

The London Federation of Green Parties last night passed a motion calling
for the sacking of tube maintenance firm Metronet and for its work to be
brought back in-house.

London Green Party Chair, Noel Lynch said "Commuters have suffered too
long from the application of a flawed ideology. Metronet makes £1,000,000 per week but cannot produce even a minimum acceptable service. Only a week ago the company was slated by the independent PPP arbiter for failing to do it's job properly. Their inefficiency caused severe disruption to over 1 million tube travellers, affecting peoples' lives and even putting a strain on the ambulance service. Enough is enough they need to be fired now!"

Green Party of England And Wales 'Policy Pointer'(pdf) on Transport.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

The Results Are In! (Part 3 - Green Party Male Principal Speaker)

Pleased to announce that fellow Green Left blogger Derek Wall (of Another Green World) has just been elected Green Party of England and Wales Male Principal Speaker. (The Party has two principal speakers, one male and one female - the female principal speaker is currently Sian Berry who is also an occasional blogger and is curently the Green candidate in a hard fought local council by-election in Kentish Town, North London)

Congratulations Derek - I am sure you will do a good job!
Derek, a former principal speaker from the Green Party's electoral breakthrough year of 1989, has written and co-written a number of books, including one which encouraged me to get active in the Green Party once again.

Derek's election statement -


I am pleased, flattered and surprised to be elected as Green Party Male Principal Speaker. I have dedicated my entire adult life to the promotion of green politics since realising as a 14 year old back in 1979 that green politics is the politics of survival. Infinite economic growth is impossible on a finite planet, today we consume on average globally 85 million barrels of oil a day. This cannot continue, to sustain the diversity and beauty of life on our planet means we must think deeply about how we transform our economy, our lifestyle and our political institutions.

Green politics based on the four principles of ecology, social justice, non violence and grassroots democracy is the only way forward. The greenhouse effect is just one symptom of an unsustainable and unjust system.

I have taken direct action against road construction in the 1990s, written five books on green politics, contested numerous elections and I look forward to promoting the Green Party with energy and creativity.

For me environmental concerns are vital but they can only be solved through social and economic change. Green Party policies in the Manifesto promote such an understanding and I aim to publicise them as widely as possible.

Finally I would like to thank everyone involved in the election process, in contrast to the Labour Party where challengers face huge obstacles to even getting on to the ballot paper, democracy in the Green Party is vigorous and open to ordinary members.

My success was inspired by the people I consider my mentors especially Nandor Tanczos, New Zealand MP who prefaced my book Babylon and Beyond, and the late Walt Sheasby who sadly died in 2004 as result of the Nile Virus, spread in California by rising temperatures. Walt’s commitment to the US Green Party and his ecosocialist activism must never be forgotton.

I would call on all those who oppose war especially the suicidal conflict in Iraq, who believe that people are more important than profit, who oppose assaults on civil liberties and care about the natural world, to join the Greens and work for change.

I blogged some time ago about the Sustainable Communities Bill Campaign
Many Green Party members have been working hard to support the Sustainable Communities Bill. Yesterday, the Tory Nick Hurd, MP for Ruislip-Northwood, was the first MP drawn in the Private Members Ballot and he has agreed to adopt the Bill and take it through Parliament. The Local Works campaign wishes to express its thanks to all of the Green Party members who have supported its work, and asks for their continuing support.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Results Are In! (Part 2 - Top Green Bloggers)

Yes, the long awaited list is complete, and G.O.O. is pleased to have come in at number 26, "Son of Moto" template and all!
Well done and thanks to Jim, who has put a lot of work into this via his blog, Daily (Maybe)
The Top 100 UK Green Bloggers list includes some great sites, and some interesting new ones that I have not come across before. Some of them may even find their way onto my Links column. Jim is allowing a public poll on the Top 10 which is currently topped by Kitchen Witch, which was a new one to me, and the more familiar blogs of Peter Tatchell and George Monbiot.

Elsewhere today there is news of Brian Haw celebrating 200 days of anti-war protest outside the British Parliament. Haw will be joined by Green Party London Assembly Member Jenny Jones and would-be Labour leadership contender John McDonnell MP.

Brian's landmark date comes at the time when the Cabinet is due to address the issue of Trident nuclear missile replacement with Blair putting forward the idea of a White Paper on the subject. This is in line with the usual New Labour approach of pre-empting decisions, as Kate Hudson of CND points out that a Green Paper would be a more open discussion tool. CND recently launched their own "alternative White Paper" on the subject supported by a number of Labour and other parties MPs.
Richard Norton-Taylor has an article commenting on the issue in the Guardian today. The chorus of voices demanding a proper debate on this dangerous and expensive white elephant grows louder.

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The Results Are In! (Part 1 - Dutch Election)

The final shape of the new Dutch government is yet to become clear, but the results are in and show something of a polarisation.

It looks like the Socialist Party appear to be the main gainers, according to the BBC.

I think the Greens (GroenLinks-GreenLeft) got 7 seats, and may have lost some of their potential votes to the "Animal Rights" Party, The Party For The Animals ....hmmmm.

Here is the Wikipedia entry on the election.

The growth in the Socialist Party vote is certainly welcome as a swing to the left from the (Social Democratic) Labour Party, but the votes of the right bloc, with their scapegoating and neo-liberal policies remain strong enough to seriously affect the direction of the country's politics.

Hopefully GroenLinks will act wisely to maximise the power of the left and protect civil liberties, rather than engaging in some of the self defeating compromises of some other European Greens when they get a sniff of power.

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Oliver James on the British Socio- Psychological Malaise

I recently found this interesting article by Psychologist Oliver James that was published by Resurgence and thought some of my readers might be interested. James is always good at pointing to why so many people in such an allegedly rich nation are basically unhappy and screwed up.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Awaiting the results.......

A hush of fevered anticipation hangs over the Green section of the Blogosphere as we await the result in a tight struggle for peer group approval. No, not the Green Party of England and Wales Male Principal speaker election contested by ecosocialist blogger (Another Green World) Derek Wall and media-friendly actor Ashley Gunstock against the incumbent Keith Taylor - the real money is on the Top 100 Green Bloggers (UK) run by Green Left blogger Jim at the Daily (Maybe). G.O.O. is quite relaxed about this, already forewarned that those of us using the boring old Son of Moto template on Blogger sit with the green blogging equivalent of a Dunce cap in the corner! Hopefully, now that I am blogging in new-improved Beta, then when I get round to it I can individualise and prettify my template to compete in future blogging beauty contests. 'Til then I will soldier on with this grim socialist-realist style to the dismay of our more style-oriented comrades. Anyhow, good luck to all competing in both these contests.

Elsewhere, on a more serious note the Dutch election is taking place - it will be interesting to see if the predicted swing of voters from the Labour Party (PvdA) to more radical left forces like the Socialist Party and GroenLinks (GreenLeft) takes place as media pundits are saying.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New Pynchon Novel

Keen observers of my links column will have noted that I am quite keen on the work of Thomas Pynchon and similar writers who feature on The Modern Word website.

With this in mind I was happy to be reminded by the interesting The Quiet Road blog that Pynchon's new book is coming out. Let us hope it does not disappoint.

Here is the Review of "Against the Day" on The Modern Word by Allen Ruch. Apparently the book is "massive" and took Pynchon ten years to write. But it sounds good - here is Ruch's appraisal -

As the committed Pynchon fan will have certainly noted, Against the Day continues the author’s life-long obsessions: the border between magic and science, the reduction of commerce to transactions of flesh, the destructive capacity of classification, and the projection of new worlds. All the lines are indeed singled up: Against the Day shares the historical breadth of V., the lyrical clarity that illuminates the enigmas of Lot 49, the lunatic cast and hybrid vigor of Gravity’s Rainbow, the spirit of political inquiry that humanizes Vineland, and the manic, creative density of Mason & Dixon.

Can't wait!

Meanwhile, also at The Quiet Road, I enjoyed this savaging of the Euston Manifesto.


Red and Green Stars

Housmans, the famous peace movement and left-wing bookshop in London is a great resource for all things radical - books, newspapers, magazines, posters and badges. They also have interesting events for those able to access central London easily.

One thing that they sell that G.O.O. is pleased to promote is the metal/enamel red and green star badge, matching the ecosocialist flag colour scheme. They are £2 each, and if you are buying within the UK postage would be 37p. They also sell a range of other badges, political, humourous and classic.

Orders can be sent to -
Housmans Bookshop
5 Caledonian Road
LONDON, England
N1 9DX, UK

The more our symbols and colours get out and about and become familiar, the better. The stars are striking enough to be a talking point.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Brief History of Modern British Politics!

In response to a query on the Urban 75 boards from someone who said they were not originally from Britain and wanted to understand how British politics got to where it was and what various things meant, I and various other posters offered up our humble contributions. An edited version of my contribution is reprinted below. Please let me know if you spot any inaccuracies of fact (as opposed to interpretation!)

Greenman's Brief History of Modern British Politics

The roots of the three largest British political parties go back to the 18th, 19th and early 20th Centuries. The Tories (Conservatives), after some occasional early regional dalliances with the alternative (Catholic/Absolutist) Jacobite claimants to the British throne, evolved into the "Kings Men" - backing Church (i.e. Anglican/High Anglican) and Hanoverian monarchy (The Georges etc) against the Whigs who were more liberal (though also loyal to the Hanoverian succession) and had connections to the radical wings of the aristocracy, the rising merchant class and the nonconformist religious sects who had ridden high at the time of the English Revolutions in the 17th Century. As the vote was gradually expanded to more of the "non-propertied" classes the Whigs came to represent the middle classes - and so supported mercantilism, the more 'enlightened' of the new factory owners, and gradually an imperialist policy overses (liberal imperialism). Toryism came to represent the rural landlords, aristocrats and more reactionary elements of the mercantile and industrial classes. In the 19th Century working class radicalism rose with Chartism, demands for suffrage, republicanism and nascent socialism, trades unionism etc. The struggle for Catholic emancipation and that for independence for Ireland also had an effect across the whole British Isles. Whilst there was for some time a movement called "Radicalism", for the most part the early electoral representatives of the working classes had to deal uncomfortably under the Liberal banner.

This situation gradually became more intolerable for the politically aware working class and various small socialist groups and trade unionists began to move towards independent political organisation (something that Blair and some New Labour ideologists now are believed to have seen as a mistake which "divided the left" - i.e divided the working class from the radical bourgeoisie and industrialists - hence their creation of "New Labour" in the Labour Party as an attempt at recreating the old turn of the century Liberal Party.)

The Labour Party was formed from trade/industrial unions and groups with Syndicalist, Socialist, and radical democratic ideas (- also influenced by radical Methodism, a populist split from the established Anglican Church), and for much of the 20th Century the Party held the alliegance of most of the British working class and a good portion of the radical middle class too. They instituted various reforms that served class interests, democracy and progress, but had the common 20th Century flaws of centralism and state bureaucracy, later amplified by the supposed success of the 'command economies' of the East - something which seems funny now, but that was how it was seen up to the 1950s/60s or so with the rapid industrial development and nuclear and space achievements of the Soviet Bloc)

Britain never had a significant Communist Party like other European countries, though their industrial militants did punch above their weight from say the 1930s to 1970s. The New Left came about in the 1950s and 1960s following disillusion of Labour members with bureaucratic social democracy and CP members with the repressive nature of the Soviet bloc shown by events in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The development of youth culture in 1950s and 1960s Britain and America also affected the development of this new left. The British new left was also influenced by and to some extent included the Trotskyist movement that had existed in Britain since the the period around the second world war (with exiles and refugees playing prominent parts at the start) This meant that in Britain the Trotskyists were the most influential current on the left outside Labour and the CP by the 1970s, and were more influential than the CP, and influential inside (entryism) the Labour Party by the 1980s. Unlike some other parts of the world, Britain never had more than a tiny Maoist movement

Labour's success and changing economic conditions at the end of the post-war 'boom' provoked a rethink on the right which was inspired by Eastern European exile anti-communists and free-marketeers. This led to the Thatcherite political 'revolution' of the 1980s and 1990s that dismantled the post war social-democratic consensus in Britain and led to the privatisation of almost all state controlled or owned sectors with the exception of Civil Service and Security Services, Police, Military, Health Service and Education.

In turn the New Labour experiment was forged in the fire of battles with peak of their influence Trotskyism and new leftism in the Labour Party of the 1980s. Large numbers of the Trotskyists were harassed and expelled out of the party, and the soft-left cowed into obedience. The Blairites (Mandelsonites or Giddensites really - as these were their heavyweights, Blair is just a figurehead) capitulated to a whole sector of Thatcherite thought, whilst cynically using reformist left ideas (of Gramsci-ite Eurocommunists and mutualists, co-operativists and libertarian socialists) as "left cover" for their real project (the reinstitution of 19th Century mercantile liberalism and liberal imperialism as the best vehicle for the 'progressive elements' of the British ruling class). 'New' Labour came to dominate the Labour Party by the mid 1990s and so formed the core of the 1997 Labour government. The government has shifted farther right and become more authoritarian since the first term - the left have been further marginalised. The soft left can still win conference votes, but the Blairites have rigged the Party so that the leadership can effectively ignore the conference. The Blairites have pushed the Thatcherite agenda even further, moving towards privatisation of the remaining disposable state assets - education and health, whilst vastly strengthening the repressive and surveillance arms of the state. At the same time they have pursued a social control agenda which has had some reditributive effects to keep the soft left happy. However, their authoritarianism and arrogance, control fetishism etc - inherited from earlier manifestations and aspects they share with the similar ex-leftist 'neo-cons' of the USA - and the Iraq war (liberal imperialism in action) - seem likely to be their undoing.

Meanwhile the New Left has developed along with the environmental, peace, feminist, and identity movements into the broad movement of NGOS (Non Governmental Organisations) we see today. These have also affected the rise of the Green Parties, (which often had conservationist and conservative roots, but gradually evolved to the left and gained activists with socialist and anarchist backgrounds) The left nationalist parties (Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru) have increased in influence in Scotland and Wales. These relatively new forces to some extent combine the ideas of the New Social Movements with some of the old radical socialist ideas and the longer democratic and (social)libertarian traditions of the 19th and 20th Century. Battles between left and right are not very far beneath the surface of these organisations either, though perhaps conducted in a more civilised manner than in some of the main parties. The pressing ecological imperatives and decentralist tendencies are likely to continue as major drivers for the growth of these currents.

The situation is very fluid, but currently the Tories appear to be reverting to the protectionist/ruralist 19th Century model as opposed to Thatcherite neo-liberalism, tempered with Heathite "one nation Toryism". New Labour is in crisis as the 'success' which kept the left at bay begins to evaporate in the face of the contradictions of their support base, policies and philosophy. Meanwhile the focus of the Liberal Democrats (the fusion of the social democratic split-off from Labour - when the left dominated in the 80s - with the rump historic Liberals) appears to be becoming more like their European counterparts - i.e Thatcherite economically but socially liberal - though even this element is under attack from the 'Orange Book' right.

All this leaves the old working class in the cold, particularly when the remaining left appear to them to over-focus on segmented groups like the muslim community at the expense of issues directly concerning the whole class. Hence the growth in support in some working class and lower middle class areas for the BNP (British National Party) - who combine Tory protectionism with Labour statism and reactionary, authoritarian, racist elements. This has had a response on the left in the form of the IWCA (Independent Working Class Association) who concentrate on 'working class' issues and communities - but they are tiny and relatively localised compared to the Far Right and traditionalist/Leninist Far Left.

Apart from all this popular movements and demagogues can spring from nowhere in the climate of political alienation (Fuel Protests, Countryside Alliance, some environmentalist campaigns, Tax protests) and electoral turnout is erratic.

One thing is certain - British politics definitely appears set to change over the next five years as economic and environmental factors make waves.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Taylor Exposes New Labour Arrogant Mindset

One of Tony Blair's chief advisers and policy wonks has been sounding forth on what he thinks are the challenges and opportunities of "e-democracy". As reported here on the BBC website, Matthew Taylor told a conference on e-democracy that -

"The internet has immense potential but we face a real problem if the main way in which that potential expresses itself is through allowing citizens to participate in a shrill discourse of demands.

"If you look at the way in which citizens are using technology and the way that is growing up, there are worrying signs that that is the case.

"What is the big breakthrough, in terms of politics, on the web in the last few years? It's basically blogs which are, generally speaking, hostile and, generally speaking, basically see their job as every day exposing how venal, stupid, mendacious politicians are.

"The internet is being used as a tool of mobilisation, which is fantastic, but it only adds to the growing, incommensurate nature of the demands being made on government." .

Oh dear, oh terrible that the public should "make demands" of the government. How terrible that they should have the temerity to blog on the wrongdoings of our saintly political class. (That is not to say that I do not agree that some criticism of politicians is not broad brush and unfair.) However, Taylor seems to be objecting to any criticism or even reportage of negatives - he would prefer that "... people who understand technology, ... move from that frame of mind, which is about attacking the establishment into one which is about problem-solving and social enterprise."

So we should really be concerning ourselves with oiling the wheels of New Labour's transmission belt whereby publicly owned and democratically accountable bodies are shifted to arms-length status to be picked off and cherry picked by the corporates, in the guise of "increasing choice" and "social enterprise".

Just in case we were in any doubt about Taylor and New Labour's attitude to the British voter, Taylor gives us this pearl of wisdom -

"We have a citizenry which can be caricatured as being increasingly unwilling to be governed but not yet capable of self-government," Mr Taylor told the audience.

Like "teenagers", people were demanding, but "conflicted" about what they actually wanted, he argued.

The examples he gives to support this are breathtaking in their hypocrisy -

They wanted "sustainability", for example, but not higher fuel prices, affordable homes for their children but not new housing developments in their town or village.

But rather than work out these dilemmas in partnership with their elected leaders, they were encouraged to regard all politicians as corrupt or "mendacious" by the media, which he described as "a conspiracy to maintain the population in a perpetual state of self-righteous rage".

Whether media was left wing or right wing, the message was always that "leaders are out there to shaft you".

Aside from the fact that often the demands and resistance often come from two different sets of people, not the same ones - has it ever crossed his mind that there is no smoke without fire? That New Labour might have just the teensiest bit of responsibility for the real disconnect between the political process and the majority of ordinary people? That rather than explaining things properly or engaing in real discussion with people they pronounce from on high based on the latest plan of some bright young things in Whitehall and rig some pathetic "consultation" to get the answer they want? If you take increasing spheres of life out of democratic control and acountability and hand them over to corporations, is it any wonder if people begin to wonder what the political process is for or if there is "something in it for the politicians" when the goodies end up with their big business friends?

And for a New Labour mouthpiece to attack the media when they are currently playing up to and consolidating every last prejudice of the Daily Mail, Express and Sun! Completely without shame!

Part of the problem, he added, was the "net-head" culture itself, which was rooted in libertarianism and "anti-establishment" attitudes.

Long may these attitudes and values prevail! Clearly Mr Taylor would prefer a tame corporate interest dominated Internet, where people calmly discuss the neo-liberals' latest plans for screwing the national and international working class, and offer their contributions and suggestions for cheap sticking plasters to deal with the effects of letting the free market rip.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Light Relief

Friday Joke:

Q: How many Tony Blair speech writers does it take to change a light bulb?

A: "Light. Not darkness. Illumination, illumination, illumination. Tough decisions. Verbless sentences.... er, what was the question?"

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Liz Windsor's TB Script and John McDonnell

So, His Majesty TB's 'legacy' plans were set out yesterday by Mrs Windsor and did not contain many surprises - basically a roll call of Daily Mail/Daily Express Dog Whistle issues and a concerted attempt to paint New Labour as the Nasty Party in contrast to an allegedly "wet liberal" Tory party. In short the Blunkett/Reid pugilistic thug line. In doing this the New Labourites seem to be playing a very dangerous game, as it was the perception of the Tories as the Nasty Party by a significant section of the voting public that led to their last few defeats. The Climate Change element was as toothless and detail free and lacking meaningful yearly targets as we expected.

Elsewhere the would be left wing Labour leadership challenger John McDonnell set out his alternative Queen's Speech - reasonably good as far as it went, pushing all the buttons to meet the immediate demands of the current movements and campaigns of the left. McDonnell also had an interesting and quite revealing interview by members of the AWL on this blog.

McDonnell's campaign raises various issues regardless of what we think of his chances of getting on the ballot paper or getting a majority if he does. Dave Osler raises some of these on his blog. Whatever we see as a route to a Britain, or even a Europe that is closer to socialist, green, anti-militarist and anti-imperialist ideals, the key questions of how we deal with the inevitable attacks of both international capital and the security and possibly military apparatus of the international (and particularly US) ruling class will raise its head at some time. Likewise, in a shorter time frame, the issue of what kind of movements and structures are needed at both a national and crucially international level is one that must be addressed.

By some accounts certain members of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs and others on the soft left would prefer Michael Meacher standing to Mc Donnell as they would see him as more likely to have a broader support base. Meacher has set out his stall on an environmental footing, but has not yet declared leadership intentions as was suspected. However, for many on the left he is irreparably damaged by the Mark Thomas programme that focussed on his multiple homes.

Many of us are in the Green Party without regrets because we could not see any defeat of New Labour within the Labour Party in the foreseeable future. At the moment defeat of New Labour by the Tories seems more likely. The Union argument is also much weaker now that some of the most radical unions are outside the Labour Party, and those that remain are afflicted with some of the same problems as the Labour Party itself. The argument over whether to back McDonnell or a more "realistic" challenger like Meacher does not inspire much confidence in the labour left either.

Those of us who organise outside of Labour are also aware that we can spend our time campaigning, organising and getting our ideas across rather than fighting interminable procedural and legal battles with bureaucrats and rightists in the Labour Party that are largely irrelevant and incomprehensible to ordinary working people. John McD in his article says he is in Labour because pragmatically you can at the moment only get to be an MP through one of the main parties in FPTP elections. Whatever we may think of Galloway, he gives the answer to this. Similarly Greens and the SSP have shown that they can get elected in Assemblies and EU elections run under PR as well as District and County Council elections under FPTP.

If the campaign of John McDonnell helps to pull together the decent labour left again, then great - the more unity and organisation on the left the better, regardless of what organisations people are in. What is needed is the presence of mind across the left to have a broad strategy that seeks maximum numbers of elected members from all the parties and internal groupings of the left, as well as renewed international links and organising. Our strategy must combine electoral and non-electoral, direct action and community and workplace organising.

The coming interlinked crises of climate change, energy, imperial overstretch, nuclear proliferation and rise of China to challenge US domination demand a united response. The ruling classes of Europe, having hacked away at social protection and gradually increased the power of the surveillance state are preparing to make the ordinary working people of Europe pay - big time - for these crises. Given the risen aspirations of large numbers of Europeans and their wider awareness and interlinked nature due to new technology, a classic J-curve situation may well arise.
The left and broader labour movement in Britain needs to regroup and prepare - hopefully Green Left can play their part in this process of debate and networking.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Questions for New Labour about housing

I just received the following action alert from Defend Council Housing:

Tonight “The prime minister will use a Labour party broadcast to encourage members of the public to email or text their questions on the Queen's speech and other political issues.” (Guardian 15/11/06)

Defend Council Housing has ten questions council tenants, councillors and trade unionists might like to use as a basis for putting questions to Tony Blair and Ruth Kelly:

1. Government says it believes in ‘choice in public services’. Will Ministers now respect the decision of council tenants who have voted to keep the council as their landlord and for the local authority to carry out improvement to our homes and estates direct?

2. This government was elected in 2005 on a manifesto commitment "By 2010 we will ensure that all social tenants benefit from a decent, warm home with modern facilities." Will Ministers keep that commitment to council tenants?

3. Labour Party Conference backed the ‘fourth option’ for council housing for a third consecutive year. Are Ministers listening?

4. Year on year government is siphoning money out of tenants rents and profiting from ‘right to buy’ receipts. Will Ministers give a clear commitment to ring fence all the money that belongs to council housing so that democratically elected local authorities can use every penny to improve our homes and estates?

5. Since council housing is cheaper to build, manage and maintain than the alternatives and the private sector (including so called Registered Social Landlords) are failing to meet housing need will the government allow local authorities to improve existing and build new council homes?

6. Privatisation of council housing costing a fortune: millions spent on glossy PR campaigns, consultants and set up costs. Local authorities are now asking for nearly £1 billion of public money in ‘gap funding’ to subsidise stock transfer. Why can’t this money be spent allowing councils to improve homes which is what tenants want?

7.Isn’t it a public scandal that Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) receive billions of pounds in public subsidy yet are sitting on “reserves of £10.8 billion, of which £5.1 billion are revenue reserves, and a pre-tax surplus of £276 million.” (Inside Housing, 4 Feb 2006). Why can’t this money be taken back and given to democratically accountable local authorities to invest in housing improvements and new homes?

8. Tenants in 55 authorities with Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) were promised that the new arms length companies were not a vehicle to privatise their homes and that they would be able to revert back to direct council management once the Decent Homes standard has been met. Will Ministers keep that promise?

9. Council tenants have a unique ‘secure’ tenancy, lower rents and can elect their landlord. Will Ministers commit to defending ‘secure’ tenancies and oppose recent calls for our ‘life-long’ tenancy to be taken away forcing council tenants and others to buy or rent on the open market?

10. Why is government diverting public subsidies to encourage home ownership when 1.5 million households are on council housing waiting lists, many of the 3 million existing council tenants and their families chose to remain as council tenants and the DCLG Select Committee, Shelter and others have expressed serious concerns about this policy?

See latest DCH eight page newspaper, new pamphlet and campaign website for background information, facts and figures.

Sign the Open Letter to Tony Blair online. Get your MP to sign the new EDM (to be tabled this week).

Please Bcc DCH into any emails you send to Ministers – and send us their replies.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Follow up to yesterday's posts

After I blogged on the Respect Fighting Unions conference yesterday it now seems that more first hand reports are appearing about the weekend event. Dave Osler links to a number of reports from his blog Dave's Part. Suffice it to say that most commentary outside the SWP and allies is not complimentary..........

My other blog entry yesterday gave useful links to sites scrutinising media spin, contrarians and corporate lobbyists. Over at the Guardian Comment Is Free site George Monbiot has a marvellous pugnacious article laying into the latest darling of the climate change sceptics and contrarians, Viscount Monckton. Over the last week or so green bloggers and commentators have endured the tedious triumphalism of the naysayers and dupes praising Monckton's Sunday Telegraph "expose" of climate change ( apparently it is all a hoax and left wing conspiracy working through the UN - it is only a matter of time before these so-called sceptics start ranting about "black helicopters" and "contrails".) I even had someone quoting it at me and the similarly environmentally concerned secretary at a local community meeting.

Monbiot wipes the floor with Monckton - a man with few scientific credentials to justify his intervention on the topic, but with a family connection to the Telegraph. The contrarian-right gadflies who cluster around Monbiots blog comments page are left spluttering now their hero is exposed as arguing a load of nonsense. Most of them are reduced to the usual smears and abuse about greens and environmentalists being "priggish, moralistic and hair shirt" (the equivalent level of argument to saying "don't listen to them, they smell of wee!") and that we are -horror of horrors- socialists! Guilty of that in my case, though the type of ecosocialism that I and Green Left tend to favour has nothing in common with the totalitarian caricature that the conspiracist right love to wheel out. Our efforts are towards promoting a democratic and libertarian politics equal to the intellectual challenge presented by triumphant neo-liberalism, not some rehash of bureaucratic failure or Stalinist nightmare. We ecosocialists have an audience, but even I must admit that the influence of socialist ideas in the green movement as a whole, (let alone the broader consensus of scientific and political opinon around this particular issue) is as yet rather modest.........
Still, stick it to 'em, George!


Monday, November 13, 2006

An injury to one.....

Not too much comment on Brit left blogs so far on the "Fighting Unions" Conference put on by George Galloway's Respect Party at the weekend. They have a report on it here. The conference attracted a fair bit of comment in advance, with an article in the Morning Star contrasting it with the RMT's recent Rank-and-File-centred conference, and the predictable responses from Worker's Power and the AWL. The rival Socialist Party's Campaign for a New Workers' Party even saw fit to publish their correspondence with Respect on the issue. (Riveting!)

The Socialist Workers Party (SWP, largest remaining left grouping inside Respect)invested a lot of time and effort in promoting the conference. Whether this will pay off for them remains to be seen. The larger question is - what is the way forward for radical trade unionists in the current British situation? - a question which must surely be related to the key issues of how the unorganised are to be organised and how the legal restrictions on workplace actions and activities are to be overcome.

The JJB dispute puts this into some sort of perspective. Last week a scab driver injured some GMB union members on the picket line as reported in the local paper in the North West of England. Stroppyblog have also been keeping their eye on the dispute.
The British section of the IWW also report on events in the JJB dispute. Another item that caught my eye on their website was the initiative to get together rank-and-file building workers to discuss the situation as regards the 2012 Olympics projects.

Brit IWW member Dan Jakopovich has an interesting article recently posted on their website, discussing 'green unionism', with reference to US experience and Australian "Green Bans". The IWW traditions of direct action, uncompromising solidarity, organising among marginalised and precarious workers and democratic, autonomous unionism has much of value in the current re-appraisal of ways forward for workers in Britain. And speaking of environmental direct action - news on Indymedia of the ongoing actions around nuclear waste transport in Germany.

Meanwhile, the IWW's fellow radical union organisation in Sweden, the SAC, are boldly mobilising for action against the new right-wing government's welfare plans. The legal situation in Sweden is even more complicated than that in Britain, if that were possible, due to the legacy of decades of corporatism and stodgy social democracy. The SAC are using their unique position and the cracks in the law to maximum effect as reported here.


Useful Research Links

I have revamped the Resources and Research section of my sidebar to make it more useful in these well spun, PR'ed, spooked, contrarian-ridden times.
Lobby Watch is an excellent UK resource, with lots of stuff on the obnoxious corporatist-'libertarian' ex-Trots of the LM crowd, as well as a range of corporate PR groups, fronts and spin doctors.
Media Lens is a sometimes controversial site and group that scrutinise the mainstream media in Britain in a Chomskyian manner.

Source Watch is one of the useful projects of the US based Center for Media and Democracy, as is PR Watch
Their British version is Spinwatch which has a timely spin-off scrutinising the current corporate and government nuclear push - Nuclear Spin

Corporate Watch is a well known resource amongst UK activists, and there is also a US version - US Corporate Watch

State Watch looks at the encroachments of the prying, authoritarian state in Britain and Europe.

Public Citizen (US) is a long established guardian of the public interest against corporate power in the US.

My fellow Green Left supporter Larry O’Hara is a leading light in Notes From The Borderland which seeks to shine a light on the activities of various spooks, fascists and dubious characters who concern themselves with left, progressive and anti-establishment causes in Britain.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Welfare Reform Bill Protest and Lobby in December

Just got this from Treelover, over on the Urban 75 boards:

The Coalition Against the Welfare Reform Bill

National Lobby of Parliament and Rally
4th December 2006
11am to 5pm

Bring your Voice
Bring Your Friends
Bring Your Questions
Bring Banners

Welfare Reform not Welfare Destruction!

Rally will be opposite the St Stephens Entrance to Parliament, from there we want groups and individuals to go and lobby their MPs, and challenge them about their position on the Welfare Reform Bill. Event starts at 11am (main speakers 1.00 pm) to give people a chance to come along as they have time, during their lunch etc.

Challenge the Bill…

After the vibrant lobby by the newly established Coalition at the Labour Party conference in Manchester, which heard speakers including Alex Kemp, national officer of the NUS Disabled Students’ Campaign and John McDonnell MP, CAWRB has arranged a Lobby of Parliament and a Rally outside it, to let the Government know that we oppose the current Welfare Reform Bill.

These reforms are the most significant in sixty years, in many ways redefining the relationship of the state to disabled people claiming benefits. If passed the bill will bring in a form of US-style workfare, it will see disabled people threatened with the loss of benefits and possibly forced into unsuitable work or medical treatments, a massive intervention by the state into an individuals personal health, on top of abolishing housing benefit in the private rented sector. In the present bill, even when someone is “unable to see, unable to hear, unable to stand, unable to dress, even incontinent of bowels four times a month,” they will not be exempt from the provisions of the Bill!

The Bill fails to address major issues such as incorrect medical assessments and discrimination by employers. CAWRB is also very concerned about the involvement of major charities and their potential conflicts of interest. Many disabled people are very concerned and very angry about these changes. We say that the disability benefits regime is almost unbearable now.

More at:

Indymedia Sheffield Posting

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Friday, November 10, 2006

US Mid Term Elections

The problems with my ISP are sorted for now, but Blogger related issues remain, so I may post less frequently until these are solved as posting is now a more laborious process if I am to get round the problems.

Meanwhile, some reflections on the US mid term elections from my fellow Green Lefters Jim Jay at the Daily (Maybe) and Derek Wall at Another Green World.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Technical Problems

I apologise for the lack of posts at the moment - and hope that this one manages to publish! Experiencing some technical problems at the moment from both Blogger and my ISP. Normal Service will be resumed ASAP.
The Climate Change Demo was great - various pictures, including a great 360 degree shot of a packed Trafalgar Square, are linked to from the UK Indymedia site. Also comment from various Bloggers including Derek at Another Green World.
As I say, I hope this manages to publish, and normal sevice will be resumed ASAP.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Good Luck To All Climate Change Demonstrators

Not much time for blogging today and tomorrow, with the big climate change actions coming up. Good luck to all who will be demonstrating around the world - I hope to see some readers of Greenman's Occasional Organ in London!
Meanwhile, congratulations to the Prophets of Hope people for this action pictured on one of Calvin Jones' blogs.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Mobilise for 4th November Climate Actions!

Preparations for a massive wave of international protest are in their final stages for November 4th. May I add the modest voice of Greenman's Occasional Organ to the calls for mobilisation. It is now clear how urgent the need for action is - the UN reports I blogged on yesterday show this, the much debated Stern report shows this, the forthcoming Nairobi conference shows this. Latest updates on Climate Change research can be found at the website of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

What is needed is a huge public increase in the pressure being applied to current and future decision makers - it is important people are kept informed on what they can do and what the arguments are. The Prophets of Hope Website seems a good resource on this for UK readers. They have a page of links relating to actions people can take.

Protests, actions and demonstrations are taking place around the world over the next two weekends. Information on action, and links to concerned organisations in your part of the world can be found on the Global Climate Campaign website.

For the London demonstration Green Party branches, networks and friends are meeting in Grosvenor Square (probably on the South side, just look for the Green Banners, flags and placards) from 11am onwards on Saturday to attend the rally and then join the march to join the I-Count event in Trafalgar Square. Come and join us!

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

UN Reports Expose Hot Air From World Leaders

Two United Nations reports have exposed the hot air from world leaders who have been assuring us since Kyoto and the 2004-5 world poverty campaigns that things are going in the right direction, and all we need to do is trust them. The facts on global poverty and emissions are not reassuring.
The reports come in the run up to the big UN Climate Change Conference in Nairobi later this month.

Ten years after global leaders first made a pledge that they would seek to halve the number of the world's hungry, almost no progress has been made, says the report from the UN Food And Agriculture Organisation. Worldwide about 854 Million people still suffer from undernourishment. In the developing world the undernourished population in 2001-3 declined by just 3 million from the 823 million estimated in 1990-1992 - a fall that is within the boundaries of statistical error.

In the 1970s and 1980s, before the current global neo-liberal 'consensus', the number of hungry people in poor countries fell by 137 million. Latest estimates, dating from 2003 show that after further dipping by 26 million during the 1990s, the number hungry in the developing world rose again by 23 million at the beginning of the new century. Population increases mean the percentage of those suffering from malnutrition in the developing world has dropped from 20 percent to 17 percent since 1990-1992.

On emissions, the industrial world's emissions of greenhouse gases are growing again, despite efforts under the Kyoto protocol to cap them to stave off global warming, the UN reported recently. This is the latest in a series of reports that do not inspire confidence in the efforts or seriousness of the current batch of global political leaders. Emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases declined by 3.3% in the 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union and shutdown of polluting industries in Eastern Europe. The rebound of these economies contributed to a 2.4 percent rise in emissions by industrial countries between 2000 and 2004. Under the Kyoto accord 35 industrial nations have given a commitment to reduce emissions by an average 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The agreement is still subject to US disapproval, and the US is the biggest overall emitter. Of the 41 countries classified as industrialised, 34 increased emissions between 2000 and 2004, the UN reports. In the US emissions grew by 1.3 percent in that period and by almost 16 percent during the full 1990-2004 period.

Among Kyoto signatories Germany - which for some of the time being scrutinised (though no longer) had Green participation in government - achieved an emissions drop of 17 percent between 1990 and 2004. Britain's emissions dropped by 14 percent, but this must be weighed against the closure of polluting industries that have been exported to other countries, rather than being purely the result of progressive emissions control and investment in new technology.
Kyoto signatories Japan, Italy and Spain have all recorded emissions increases since 1990.
Source - Morning Star.

Time for redoubled efforts by the global green left and progressive movements.

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